When a fudge comes back to haunt you, or how to rappelle using the Dulfersitz

Not so long ago, I complained about the timeline in Vokhtah being out by three days. After a LOT of time and effort, which included combing through book 1 to see exactly what I happened when, I discovered that the timeline was actually out by 17 days. -pulls hair and screams-

The problem with the timeline goes all the way back to the very start of the book in which I guestimated that the journey to and from Deepwater gather would take about 50 days. As guestimates go, that fudge would not have been catastrophic had I gone back at the end of the book and worked out exact times spent. But I didn’t. 😦

I solved my timeline problem, but it’s left me very wary of any and all fudges, so when I went back to book 2 and came across a scene that involved a bad iVokh rappelling down into a ravine to chase a good iVokh, my fudge-alarm went off straight away.

Why? Because everything I know about mountaineering comes from a couple of old Hollywood movies. I think one of them starred Sylvestre Stallone:

Clearly, I could not allow the fudge to stand, so I’ve spent most of today doing research on mountaineering. To my utter surprise, the scene I wrote is actually possible using a method invented way back at the start of the 20th century by a climber called Hans Dulfer.

To use the Dulfersitz, [I think that translates as Dulfer-sit] you secure one end of the rope at the top of the cliff or wherever you happen to be, wrap it around your body a certain way, and then ‘walk down’ the near vertical face of the cliff suspended only by the friction of the rope against your body:

You can see exactly how to do the wrapping in the short video from which the still shot was taken: https://youtu.be/CLQ0IltdYd0 While revolutionary for its time, the Dulfersitz was not exactly painfree:

‘For quite a long time the Dülfersitz was the most common way of abseiling and it’s still remembered today, mainly with nostalgic memories of those gorgeous burns on the right side of your neck and shoulder along with some far less pleasant ones right next to your genitalia.’

http://stara.emontana.cz/dulfersitz-emergency-rappel/

As I don’t particularly care if the bad iVokh gets highly painful rope burn, I’m more than happy to use the Dulfersitz method. One fudge down, yay! 🙂

cheers
Meeks


Update August 30, 2021

I’ve had to re-post the ‘Profiting from Brainiwashing’ article in order to break the link to the original, which I have now deleted. Why? Because a Trump-won-the-election-supporter linked to the post with the following comment:

What the….?

I was so shocked, I commented with this:

I honestly don’t know whether this person somehow interpreted what I wrote as some kind of validation of his/her own worldview, or simply wanted to use my work as a ‘see, this is what the enemy are saying’ kind of thing. But I won’t be used in this way.

Apologies. I’m still in shock. 😦
Meeks

Covid19 may make economies crash and burn, and cause hundreds of thousands to die gasping for air, but Big Tech has never had it so good.

Why?

Because social media is pretty much the only safe way for most of us to stay connected at the moment, certainly in Australia.

But, like all good things, there is a downside to social media, and it’s called profiling. Profiling is where supposedly randomised private data, from a whole lot of different sources, is combined to produce an eerily accurate picture of us.

What data?

  • Where we live and where we go. Thank you, Geo location,
  • Who we see and what we say to those people. You guessed it, all forms of social media because hey, it’s good to share, right?
  • What we buy. Our bank details may be sacrosanct, but our purchase transactions are fair game. Now think about all the things you buy online from milk to sex toys! Should I mention money spent on porn sites? Or on gambling?
  • And of course, what we look like, or what our kids look like, or their friends etc etc. All thanks to those pics we love to share.

Back in the day when humans had to find, record, and search data manually [or with the help of a ‘dumb’ database search engine], collating stuff about specific people from a whole lot of different data locations was about as easy as finding a needle in a haystack.

But that was then. Nowadays, it’s not people who sticky beak on our lives, it’s bits of code performed millions, nay, zillions of times per minute. These algorithms don’t stop for sleep, or food, or coffee breaks… Bye, bye haystack.

But profiling is only one side of the coin. Having collected all of this data about people, what do you do with it?

To find out, Facebook selected 689,003 random users and divided them into two groups. Then:

‘…Facebook elected to show only negative content to the first group for a week while showing only positive content to the second. They monitored each group’s behaviour.’

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/captive-mood-how-big-tech-manipulates-your-emotions-to-serve-advertisers/

What Facebook found was that people in both groups responded to the conditioning by changing their behaviour. What happened? Negative conditioning resulted in people creating more negative posts while positive conditioning saw them creating more positive posts.

Do you know what conditioning is? I’ll give you a hint – it’s sometimes called ‘brain washing’. Facebook brainwashed over 600,000 users without their permission for a week:

‘In other words, our moods and behaviours can be influenced by our online interactions, which can be controlled by whoever runs the algorithms responsible for what newsfeed we read and what ads we see.’

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/captive-mood-how-big-tech-manipulates-your-emotions-to-serve-advertisers/

We all know about the role Cambridge Analytica played in both Brexit and the election that saw Trump gain the Whitehouse. That was brain washing at work, yet millions of people still believe that losing their privacy is no big deal.

Profiling is not about exposing anyone’s nasty little secrets. It’s about turning us all into ‘products’, products that can be manipulated according to the needs of the highest bidder.

‘And it is not just advertisers that want to use our data this way. Employers, health insurance provider, law enforcement agencies, the tax department and pretty much anyone who can pay the price to get access to our profiles, can do so.’

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/captive-mood-how-big-tech-manipulates-your-emotions-to-serve-advertisers/

In case anyone missed the links under each quote, you can read the entire article here: https://www.michaelwest.com.au/captive-mood-how-big-tech-manipulates-your-emotions-to-serve-advertisers/

Apologies for all the angry posts lately. NSW recorded 1,029 new Delta cases yesterday. My state, Victoria, recorded 80 and the trend is up, in part because of people who’ve been brainwashed into believing the pandemic is just a beat up. I’m becoming more glass-half-empty by the day.

Stay well and stay safe,
Meeks


80% vaccination target – what does it really mean for Australia?

I’ve read the Doherty report on which the Federal government’s 4-phase plan is based. The modelling in that report is based on vaccination rates of 70 and 80%…of people 16 and older.

Hmm, I wonder how many children and teens there are under 16?

To find out, I went to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website and downloaded a spreadsheet of population data by age. This is what it looks like:

I added up the numbers [shown in red] the old fashioned way:

1,556,615 +
1,628,393 +
1,595,700 +
296,168 +
———–
5,106,876
———–

So, 5,106,876 out of a total population of 25,698,093 won’t be counted at all. AT. ALL. That’s a lot more than I was expecting.

Hmm, if we subtract all those kids from the total population, how many people are left?

25,698,093 –
5,106,876
————–
20,591,217
————–

So, only 20,591,217 Australians are actually eligible for the jab.

Hmm, how much is 80% of 20,591,217?

It’s 16,472,973 Australians. [I looked it up]

If we take that number away from the total population [ 25,698,093 ] it means that 9,225,120 Australians of all ages will remain unvaccinated. 9 million people who will be vulnerable to Delta when we reach 80% and the need for lockdowns becomes ‘unlikely’.

Unlikely? We’re going to throw over 9 million people under the Delta bus but yay, we won’t have to have lockdowns?

‘Oh, but kids don’t get that sick…’

At least 1,245 Indonesian children have died from coronavirus since the pandemic began, although the actual number is thought to be higher, given the low level of testing for the virus in remote areas.

The majority of those who died were under the age of five.

According to the Indonesian Paediatric Society (IDAI), more than 100 Indonesian children have died every week since July from COVID-19.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/16/devastated-indonesian-parents-mourn-children-lost-to-covid-19

‘Oh, but those that refuse to be vaccinated have only themselves to blame…’

Almost five million people deserve to get sick and possibly die? What sort of a sick society are we?

And what about those for whom the vaccine doesn’t work? Oh…you didn’t think of that, did you?

You know when a vaccine is said to be 90% effective [e.g. Pfizer and Moderna], have you ever wondered what happens to the other 10%?

Well, for that 10% of people, the vaccine won’t work, or will only work partially. And AstraZeneca has an even lower effectiveness rate.

‘Oh…but herd immunity will take care of that!’

Herd immunity is ‘Abracadabra!’ the magic phrase that will solve all our problems. Except it won’t, not with Delta and this first generation of vaccines. Why? Because herd immunity works by surrounding unvaccinated people with a ‘fence’ of vaccinated people. That ‘fence’ stops Covid from being able to reach the unvaccinated people.

But what if there’s a hole in the fence?

In fact, there are two holes in the herd immunity fence. The first one is that breakthrough infections happen, and when they do, the fully vaccinated person is as infectious as if they hadn’t been vaccinated at all. The second is that this crop of vaccines do not provide permanent protection from transmission.

In fact, that protection looks as if it might wear off rather quickly after just four months. This basically means that the fully vaccinated could well end up infecting the unvaccinated themselves…which means:

There will be NO herd immunity.

In a year or two, there may well be vaccines that protect us from serious disease AND from infection. Only then will we finally achieve herd immunity.

Getting back to the Doherty report, their modelling included a number of assumptions based on data from March this year. Back in March, there was very little Delta circulating. Now, it’s running wild. Back in March, we were also delighted to discover that the vaccines provided good protection from transmission. Now we know that protection is short-lived.

Things have changed, but our politicians are still flogging the same plan. Living with Covid is smoke and mirrors with a generous dash of tricky numbers.

Meeks


Delta update – CDC reports, France and anti-lockdown protests

My go-to person for Covid19 information is Dr John Campbell, and in the video below, he explains the 3 most recent CDC reports on the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines. There are links to each report.

The second half of the video is an update from France which addresses government strategies to encourage vaccinations:

Of particular interest to me was the comparison between the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. I was also interested in the report from France as some politicians here in Australia are talking about giving vaccinated people privileges over unvaccinated people. This strategy hasn’t gone down well in France, leading to ongoing protests.

Here in Melbourne, we’re only just starting to count the cost of the ‘protest’ staged by a crowd of roughly 4000 people yesterday. Some were obviously trying to keep the protest peaceful, but a far greater number were out to have a brawl with police.

Take a look at the gorilla parading around on top of the tram stop shelter.

He’s miming throwing something…a spear perhaps?

Take a good look at those faces. Do they look like people who care about an ideal? Or do they look like a bunch of thugs using the protest as an excuse to have a punch up?

I don’t know who is organising these protests, but I would really like the AFP [Australian Federal Police] to investigate:

  • Sky News/After Dark [Murdoch-run Newscorp] see Alan Jones below, the Guardian article is an eye-opener.
  • Alan Jones – radio shock jock
  • Craig Kelly – Liberal National Party politician
  • and less influential politicians such as George Christensen and Matt Canavan.

All of the above have worked tirelessly to undermine Australia’s health response against Covid19. Why? My guess is:

  • money
  • influence
  • political support
  • ego

No one has the ‘right’ to act in a way that endangers others. And I don’t give a flying fuck if they believe the Covid conspiracy theories or not. Saying ‘I don’t believe in Covid’ is like saying ‘oh but I didn’t believe the gun was loaded when I pulled the trigger.’

Not one of the morons listed above is medically or scientifically qualified in any way. Not even a little. They are spouting opinions, opinions based on belief. Or perhaps not even belief. Perhaps they simply see a way to exploit this awful pandemic for their own benefit.

They are scum.

Meeks


Tolkien, and his vision of Middle Earth

My thanks to Candy Korman for this video about Tolkien’s drawings, paintings, maps and notes about Middle Earth, the setting for The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was, and is, my hero:

cheers,
Meeks


When pantsters become plotters

I’ve been struggling a bit of late. Part of that is due to our sixth lockdown, and part is due to the difficulties of writing one long story over a number of volumes.

The first volume is a joy because the world and its people are yours to create. The second volume is a pain in the proverbial because…some things are now set in stone. In other words, I’ve written things in the first volume that I cannot, must not stuff up in the second.

-sigh- And that, my friends, means doing some serious plotting.

At the moment, I’m back in book 1 of Vokhtah, trying to reconcile the timeline I created there. I wrote that there were only 51 days to go before the torrential rains of Kohoh stopped all travel. Therefore the ‘hero’s journey could only take 51 days.

Then I wrote about the character spending XX number of days at this spot and that spot and t’other. Unfortunately, I’ve just discovered that I’m three days short – i.e. if the journey follows a certain pattern, it will have taken 54 days rather than the allotted 51:

I can fix this shortfall, but I’ll have to adjust the map I originally created to show the route of the journey. This is what it looks like at the moment:

The dotted line marks the route…and now some bits have to be closer together to make everything fit…

Don’t judge me! I know exactly how anal this all sounds. 😦

Anyway, I’ll update the map etc in the next couple of days and explain why this level of detail is needed to get things right in book 2.

Stay well!
Meeks


Dark Water

Ebru – painting on water. I have /never/ seen anything like this in my life. Prepare to be amazed.

My OBT

Garip Ay

View original post 228 more words


I’ve been interviewed! -dance-

I’ve been a huge fan of author D.Wallace Peach [Diana] since I read her speculative fiction novel, The Bone Wall , so when she asked if I’d like to be interviewed about Vokhtah, I felt honoured. Then I read her questions, and I could barely contain my joy. Here’s a taste:

THE most original sci-fi book I’ve ever read is Vokhtah by Andrea Flory. The depth of her world-building and character-construction is highly creative and intensely alien, right down to the language these insect-like creatures use. I’ve been wanting to interview her and finally got the chance. Welcome Andrea!

1. You decided to create an alien world without humans. Lots of authors do that, but their characters are often “human in disguise” with human-ish thoughts and emotions and cultural variations. Your characters are definitely NOT human. What inspired you to create a completely alien species?

Aaaah Diana! Thank you for inviting me, but…you’ve opened a real Pandora’s box here. What inspired me? I could say it was the original Mr Spock played by Leonard Nimoy, or the character of Dexter, the ‘good’ psychopath, or the aliens of The Left Hand of Darkness by the late Ursula K. Le Guin, but that would only approximate the truth.

To give you a genuine answer I would have to change your question to ‘Why do so many humans create aliens in the first place?’

To that question, my answer is that we’re looking for answers about ourselves.

You can read the whole interview, and Diana’s review of Vokhtah here:
https://mythsofthemirror.com/2021/08/05/vokhtah-sci-fi-world-building-with-acflory/

I’m off to chat to people on Diana’s blog, and I’d love to see you there as well.

Hugs,
Meeks


Why the vaccinated have to keep wearing masks

In the coming days, the leaked information from the CDC is going to be misrepresented by every anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist and general nutter in the world, so we will need facts to counter the inevitable surge of crazy. We will also need to understand the implications of this data for ourselves.

Point number 1.

We have to understand that all this data is about the Delta variant. Delta is a mutation of the original Covid19 virus and its an order of magnitude more infectious.

The graphic below [taken from the CDC powerpoint slides] compares various forms of infectious diseases. The higher up a disease is located on the graphic, the deadlier it is. The further to the right it is, the more infectious it is.

As you can see, Delta is not very high up on the graphic – i.e. it’s nowhere near as deadly as say Ebola – but it is a long way to the right. That means it is as infectious as chickenpox. And chickenpox is the second most infectious disease of all.

Point number 2.

All of the current, first generation of vaccines were developed in a mad rush…for the Alpha variant of Covid19 – i.e. the original version of the virus. We’re only now starting to get reliable data about how well these vaccines work against Delta.

Point number 3.

Emerging data shows that none of the current vaccines work as well against Delta as they do against the Alpha [original] variant. When it comes to reducing the severity of disease and the likelihood of death, however, they still work extremely well, with a few exceptions.

Point number 4.

The exceptions include people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. For them, the vaccines do not work as well. The operative phrase here is ‘as well’. That means people with cancer who are on chemo, or those with autoimmune diseases being treated with immuno-suppressant drugs, or steroids or a whole range of other immune system related conditions, all of these people must continue to take extra precautions. These include the wearing of masks, social distancing, not congregating in crowds, hand hygiene etc.

Point number 5.

Apart from the immuno-compromised, the vaccines do NOT provide 100% protection against infection, even for normal, healthy people who are fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, 35 thousand fully vaccinated people out of a total vaccinated population of 162 million are likely to get what’s called a breakthrough infection. This is when you become infected despite the vaccine. In percentage terms, this is 0.02% of fully vaccinated Americans spread throughout the US.

Point number 6.

Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections are still far better off than those with no vaccination at all. The graphic below, also taken from the CDC powerpoint slides, shows a side-by-side comparison of vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people:

The green bars represent the unvaccinated population, and the levels of disease, hospitalization and death that they suffer from Delta.

The small blue bars represent the vaccinated population who experience disease, hospitalization and death as a result of breakthrough infection. It’s like comparing an ant to an elephant.

Point number 7.

In my last post I talked about Israeli data showing that Pfizer protection against transmission – i.e. the chance of infecting others even though you yourself are unaffected – drops to about 39% after four months. CDC data shows that if you are fully vaccinated and get breakthrough infection, you will be just as infectious as someone who has no vaccination at all.

This, more than anything else, is why both the US and the UK have mandated mask wearing again. To protect both the unvaccinated AND the vaccinated.

To put this transmission problem into context, we have to remember that these first generation vaccines were designed to reduce serious disease and death if you caught Covid. No one knew whether they would provide any protection against transmission at all.

Then we started getting data from Israel and other places that suggested that yes, not only did the vaccines protect against serious disease and death, they protected against transmission as well! Hooray.

Unfortunately, we did not have all the data back in January and February, 2021. Now in July, we know that the protection against transmission is temporary, at best.

Point number 8.

The implications of this new data are that we will have to continue all the OTHER pandemic precautions as well as getting vaccinated. That means wearing masks in public, social distancing, stringent hygiene, restrictions on congregating in crowds etc. Not the news any of us want to hear, but still miles better than dying.

There will be deaths though. Most will be amongst the anti-everything crowd who won’t get vaccinated, won’t wear masks, won’t accept lockdowns and other public health orders. Sadly there’s not much anyone can do to save those who refuse to be saved.

Our job is to protect ourselves and those we love by continuing to live cautiously until we see what effect booster shots have on Delta. With luck, the boosters will do the trick. If they don’t, we’ll have to live cautiously until the next generation of vaccines are ready.

We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to get vaccines so quickly, even if they aren’t a magic bullet against Covid. Now we just need to be sensible…and patient. Covid is not finished with us yet. Stay safe. -hugs-

Meeks

References

For a full list of the powerpoint slides leaked from the CDC go to : https://context-cdn.washingtonpost.com/notes/prod/default/documents/54f57708-a529-4a33-9a44-b66d719070d9/note/753667d6-8c61-495f-b669-5308f2827155.#page=1

For Dr John Campbell’s explanation of the CDC powerpoint slides [this is where I based my own understanding of the data] go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsRdICFRHcc


Vegetarian red sauce for pasta

I’m writing this recipe for myself as much as anyone because this is the first time I’ve managed to make a really great tasting, purely vegetarian red sauce. And I want to remember how I did it! lol

So, just had the sauce with pasta for dinner, and it was rich and delicious. Please note though, I called this a ‘vegetarian’ red sauce. Not vegan. The ingredients include a bit of butter and some cream cheese. That said, you could leave out those two ingredients and I think it would still taste as good, just perhaps not as ‘rich’.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a brown onion, chopped fine
  • 1/3 of a red onion [leftover] chopped fine [the red onion adds a bit of sweetness but if you don’t have, simply add a bit more brown onion]
  • 1 medium tomato with seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 a sweet red capsicum [bell pepper?] chopped fine
  • 2 large cloves of garlic – minced [I do it with a knife rather than the squeezy gadget as you lose too much garlic otherwise]
  • 1 sachet of Leggo’s tomato paste [2 tablespoons]
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika powder [the Hungarian one if you can manage it]
  • a pinch of chilli flakes [for just a little bit of ‘heat’. Substitute a small pinch of cayenne if you don’t have the flakes]
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut oil [or olive if you prefer]
  • cream cheese [2 of the Philadelphia Snack tubs, 34gms each] or 2 tablespoons of either cream or sour cream

Method

  1. Place the oil in the frying pan with the butter [if using] and very gently cook the two kinds of onions and garlic until the onions are almost translucent. I used a heavy cast iron frying pan which gives a very even heat. If you don’t have one, turn the heat down as low as possible so the onions ‘sweat’ very gently. You do NOT want them to brown.
  2. Add the capsicum, chopped tomato, salt, black pepper and chilli flakes and keep cooking until the two vegetables have softened a little.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir in.
  4. Add the paprika powder and stir in.
  5. Add about 1 tablespoon of water and stir in [just to stop the paprika from burning].
  6. Cover with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes.
  7. Check the sauce and add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook while you boil the pasta.
  8. After the pasta has cooked [approx. 15 minutes], check the sauce. It should now be fairly thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  9. Take the sauce off the heat and swirl in the cream cheese [or cream or sour cream].
  10. Drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and pour over the sauce. Toss and voila! Dinner is served.

I never seem to put enough salt into anything I cook so you will probably have to sprinkle some over the pasta after serving. From a health point of view, this is probably not such a bad thing as too much salt isn’t good for. 😉

And finally, you may have noticed… that there is no picture of the dish. That’s because we ate it all before I remembered that I needed one. Sorry.

cheers
Meeks


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