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30/11/2002: Talkin' bout my evolution, pt 2

Plagiarism my ass.

Anyway, recently, I went to Flamingo Land with a "friend," and, when he was on the verge of vomiting up the previous month's food along with a large proportion of his vital organs, he decided to wander round the zoo area for a bit. I assented. I mean, I may not like the guy, but I don't actually want him to die.

Well, not when he's nearby, anyway.

Still, seeing all those animals sent me thinking about evolution. My mind works that way. But seriously, think about it. With the way we've warped the natural world, what's going to become of the plants and animals we see around us, in years to come?

Well, I can appreciate that this may be rather heavy material to think through, so I consulted my supercomputer, which I stole from Yahtzee's home over the weekend.

I spent a few hours teaching it how it was sinful to impersonate characters from Red Dwarf, another two trying to drive home the concept that as an inanimate object it was not entitled to sneer at my inferior intelligence, and another 20 seconds threatening to kick it in the GDI resource heap, and eventually it co-operated.

The author would like to assure you at this point that subsequent nerd jokes will be kept to a minimum.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is what it told me about the world to come.

Cats/Dogs - Growth hormones will be suppressed beyond the age of about 6 months, resulting in the creature remaining a sickeningly cute puppy/kitten for the rest of its natural life. Both will develop special teeth designed to slice open tin cans, and/or dextrous limbs capable of operating a ring-pull. Especially successful specimens will develop sufficient vocal talent to express their preference in food brand, and learn that making aggressive motions towards the crotch areas of nearby bipeds is likely to yield the desired items. The few prodigies of development will found species unions to ensure the continued effectiveness of these tactics.

The future.

Dolphins, Seals, Sea lions, etc - These and other assorted sea creatures will be born with an innate attraction to rubber balls, and a pressing desire to mimic human actions, such as clapping, kissing, and organising crime syndicates. Mothers will instinctively abandon their young 2-3 days after their birth on beaches close to nature sanctuaries. After a time, all baby sea-creatures will be thrown using primitive ballistae into these establishments from a safe distance.

The Great Apes - Our closest relatives will make the logical move to continue climbing the evolutionary ladder, and move towards our own current state. It is estimated that by 2020, the majority will have mastered some essential phrases, such as "Get yo hands off meh, bitch," "Where's mah soft fruit, bitch?" and, indeed, "Give me half the monthly profit, or I'll tell people about what you do with poor old Cuddles." By 2050, the Monkey Mafia will have been formed after bestiality-fearing zookeepers armed a small group with M60s and a light APC division, and by 2060 it is estimated that the Monkey Mafia will have subverted most of human government, though humans will still be kept around, if only to grow fruit.

The Big Cats - Just as the butterfly grew to have eyes on its wings to scare away predators, the big cats will develop "I'm fuckin' ENDANGERED" on one side, and "Feed me or I'll die and sue you" on the other, and will forgo their normal red meat diet for a succession of alfalfa cubes and chunks of fruit. Hunts will be replaced by walks through city streets, as litigation-fearing humans flee, dropping food as they accelerate beyond physical limits in the opposite direction.

I could go on to detail how man will become perfectly adapted to sue those who violate their personal space by shouting too loud, but there's only so many times I can say "plagiarism, my ass" in a given day.

Time to go abuse my pet monkey while it's still helpless and unarmed, methinks.


Are you still here?

28/11/2002: Novel Uses of Time, pt 2

More old novels of mine for us to laugh and point at!

Book 4. "The"

In a future society set on a planet connected to another planet by two huge mountains, some bloke breaks curfew regulations on the one planet and is sent down for hard labour on the other planet. From there he would ... actually I haven't a clue. I think there'd be something about revolutions, and a long-dead alien civilisation, and some such shit.

PROS: This was when I was actually starting to write semi-well. Some good bits.

CONS: I had absolutely no idea how to continue it, I couldn't even finish the second chapter, and the title was far too pretentious for words.

Book 5. "Middlesex"

Some research centre accidentally create a third gender (or Middle Sex) who hates all mankind and wants to kill them all. Meanwhile, a young anti-hero named Adolf Stalin and his best friend Bloxham go in search of the Lost Golden City of El Dorado, which they believe to be underneath the aforementioned research centre.

PROS: The paper it was printed on could be useful as kindling should I find it while lost in the jungle.

CONS: Again, I had no idea where it was going. Plus it was written too much like a Robert Rankin novel.

Book 6. "101 Ways To Avert A Nuclear Holocaust"

Seconds before a global nuclear holocaust in the near future, some scientist sends a message back in time to a present-day bloke warning him of the forthcoming disaster, enclosing a list of events that should be averted to prevent it and instructions on how to construct a time machine. He and his two degenerate friends eventually find that the stuff on the list starts happening and that it's all true, so they build the time machine and try to go back to prevent things, failing at every turn.

PROS: Sort of not too painful.

CONS: Sort of relied on the reader not to ask funny questions, like "Why the hell would they need a time machine anyway?" or "Why didn't the bloke who sent them the message invent the time machine himself and save the world himself?" or "Why am I reading this crappy book?"

Book 7. "No Experience Necessary"

An unemployable lout accidentally mentions to the job centre people that he has no friends or family, so a secret organisation assigned to manipulating the world offer him a job as a field operative. He does quite well until he is required to assassinate someone, at which point he attempts to flee the company, receiving unexpected help in the process from his immediate superior.

PROS: This was my most recent novel before Articulate Jim, so it was actually quite well written even if I do say so myself. Half-decent plot, and I actually knew how it was going to end.

CONS: It was so fucking DULL to write. I hate having to write about serious stuff and moral dilemmas and people struggling against adversity, which is why I canned the thing while I was on chapter 5 and started work on a silly pirate adventure story. Also, since all the women characters were evil and the main bloke and his supervisor end up running away together, there were some rather blatantly homosexual undertones.

And that pretty much sums up all my novel attempts up to the present day. Of course there are others in the Novels section from my 'Bored? Start a new novel!' phase of life which I will not profile here. Read them yourselves and establish your own opinion. I promise I won't hold anything against you for it.

27/11/2002: Novel Uses of Time

Fresh from having changed the title of my novel from something I hate to something everyone else hates, I have now completed the whole thing. Twenty-four chapters and over 100,000 words of pirates and adventure. I can't believe how much editing I've been doing lately, changing even some of the most fundamental parts.

I've drastically altered chapter 2 to make it slightly more pirate oriented, changed the second half of chapter 8 and have done untold hacking and slashing to chapters I haven't even released yet. Since there are now broad differences between my finished novel and the chapters of the novel I have on this site, I can no longer release new chapters. If for no other reason, my eventual publisher would probably disapprove.

So, no more chapters for you. It pains me to do this, as now I have to write a proper article every single Friday again rather than shoving in a novel chapter. By way of compensation, I am now going to profile some of my old novel attempts.

Yes, I've always had my head in the clouds. Ever since I was ten or twelve, which is about the time I wrote the first one shown below. You know, at the time I genuinely believed I could get them published for an adult market. Looking back, I have to concede that my younger self was a complete twit.

So, without further ado, let's begin my humiliation.

Le sigh.

Book 1. "The POWER of the PYRAMIDS!"

This exciti... erm... this thrilli... this book was about a pair of male housemates who won a trip to Egypt and who passed through a magic door inside a forgotten tomb that led to a magnificent fantasy world where they met some wizard who told them to go collect a bunch of magic crystals and do battle with some evil wizard or something. One thing I particularly remember is that the good wizard's servants were called Cash and Carry, which at the time I genuinely believed was a hilarious joke.

PROS - This was the only novel besides Articulate Jim that I ever finished. Also I was very young when I wrote it, and as such it can be excused.

CONS - Very brief and very badly written. No female characters at all, which raises difficult questions about the sexuality of the main characters. Also, at this time I believed the chief language spoken in Egypt was 'Egyptian'.

Book 2. "I can't even remember what I called this one"

One too many nights watching Dalziel and Pascoe led to this: a story about two police detectives who get embroiled in the machinations of an evil rich bloke called Rudolph Include, who had invented a device that could transport people to alternative dimensions. There was also a parallel storyline which was COMPLETELY UNCONNECTED TO THE MAIN ONE about a bloke called Peter who discovers he is a God.

PROS - There were actually some semi-amusing bits in this one, like the concept of an organisation of people who drop jellies on people from a hot air balloon for no good reason.

CONS - It was really going nowhere. I was planning to have the two detective blokes sent to different parallel worlds and just make it up from there as I went along, but I never got that far. Also I knew absolutely fuck all about police procedure, so I endeavoured to refer to it as little as possible, and it shows.

Book 3. "I can remember what I called this one, but I'm embarrassed"

Some American bloke called Phil goes to a gypsy fortune teller who tells him that something really, really, effin' bad is going to happen, and gives him a potion which, when rubbed on a mirror, will turn the mirror into a magic portal to any other mirror on Earth. Just as he's wondering what the hell he's supposed to do with it, the moon smashes into the Earth, killing nearly everyone, and sends the planet spinning relentlessly towards the sun. Phil uses his magic mirror cleaning fluid to meet up with one of the other last survivors and together they go on a journey to find some crystals that must be placed in the centre of the earth to stop the disaster.

PROS - I realised how fucking stupid this was fairly quickly and dropped it like a hot coal.

CONS - I was asking the reader to accept quite a lot of unexplained things. It's not explained why the moon smashes into the Earth. It's not explained how Phil knows he needs to get the crystals. It's also not explained why, if the portals he opens are only supposed to lead to other mirrors, he comes out at one point at the top of Nelson's Column.

Actually there are still more novels I haven't covered yet. I'll save them for tomorrow, because if I embarrass myself too much in one session I fear my head may explode.

See you then!

26/11/2002: Poor Little Rich Girl

So. Great Britons.

That's a laugh.

If you've just joined us, allow me to explain. There's been a recent series on the BBC called Great Britons, in which the great viewing public vote on who they believe is the greatest Briton of all time. 30,000 people were consulted and a top 100 was worked out.

The great viewing public, however, is fundamentally stupid.

Here's an example. Guinness, that most popular Manichean beverage, once decided they didn't need to advertise anymore. Everyone knew the name, they thought, so they felt they needn't bother. And I think you know me well enough to know that I thoroughly approved. However, their sales started plummeting. Why? Because the great viewing public are fundamentally stupid, and the only things they consider 'real' are the things they see on TV.

Which explains why 30,000 representatives of the great viewing public felt that the following names should have been included in the list of greatest Britons that have lived in the last 2000 years: David Beckham, a footballer who gets insane amounts of media coverage. Robbie Williams, a pop singer who also gets insane amounts of media coverage. Tony Blair, who personally I wouldn't put in the top 100 prime ministers, got in there not because some people genuinely felt he was a great man, but because he's the only prime minister who's been on TV the most lately.

Wordsworth. H G Wells. Shelley. That bloke who fought the Romans whose name begins with C that I forget. None of these names got into the top 100. And who was in the top 10? Only the most famous historical names. Shakespeare, Cromwell, Nelson, Newton, Churchill, Darwin, Elizabeth I. But they've also got John Lennon in there, and DIANA FUCKING PRINCESS OF WALES. Who is incidentally, at time of writing, sitting at number 2. At number one is Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who I hear is only there because of alleged vote rigging.

While I heartily applaud any vote riggers who didn't feel Diana Princess of Wales should be voted as the greatest Briton who lived in the last 2000 years, I really think they should have picked a more believable subject. Churchill, perhaps, or Shakespeare. Most people would never have heard of Brunel. It's things like this that can really give the game away.

I'm not saying that the majority of the general public are idiots who only do what their televisions tell them to do. Individuals are intelligent. It's just people as a whole that can't be trusted with important decisions. Leave that to the scholars and the great leaders. Leave the general public with decisions like who's going to be voted out of the Big Brother house next.

Diana Princess of Wales. Greatest Briton who ever lived. I'm sorry, I'm alright when I put the two sentences apart like that, but when I try to imagine them hand in hand my brain shuts down in self defence and I have to keep thinking about really horny sex before it comes back online. "Don't get me wrong," said Jeremy Clarkson as he discussed the case for Brunel. "I'm sure Diana was a very lovely person, but hardly the greatest Briton who ever lived."

Hit the nail on the head there, JC. Although I suspect he only included the 'very lovely person' part because of the ridiculous media-fuelled posthumous notion that Diana was some kind of saint. Speak a word against her and get thoroughly trashed in the popular press, that's how it goes. Well, this isn't the popular press, and I don't have the name recognition to be trashed in it. So here goes.

"Nope, don't smell anything. I suppose you did wash your hands after you went to the toilet, darling."

Diana Princess of Wales (the comma was eventually dropped) was a selfish, grasping member of the royal family who shagged around endlessly and lived in obscene luxury from the taxpayer merely because she was married to someone who was related to the Queen. She also showed many signs of mental illness and an obsession with being in the public eye. But when this spiralled out of control and the media became obsessed with her, she tried to make herself out as the damsel in distress, an act which no-one bought for a second. Then she died, and the popular press enthusiastically kissed her rapidly stiffening buttocks to distract from the fact that they were responsible for her demise. A bewildered British public, taking everything they read in the papers and saw on TV at face value, sculpted this fictional image of a people's princess which has inexplicably endured to the present day.

Diana does not deserve to be the Greatest Briton of all time. She does not deserve to be in the top 100, not even if it was the top 100 members of the royal family. She led an undeserved life of privilege and luxury and cried when the slightest thing went wrong. What's more, the papers never shut up about her, and it's been proven that the great viewing public will buy more copies of a newspaper if there's a picture of Diana on the cover.

She's been dead for years. I think it's about time we buried the poor bitch.

25/11/2002: Nappiness

I have long ago decided that I will never have children.

Maybe it's because I'm young and free and adventurous, but the whole business has always seemed to be on a par with suicide to me. You get your wife knocked up and you can't touch her for nine months, then when they're born they piss and puke and poo everywhere and scream their little heads off while you're trying to sleep, then they get a bit older until they learn to speak and start demanding ice creams everywhere you go, then you have to pay for them to go to school, then they're kind of bearable for a while, then they become teenagers and start resenting you, then when they finally leave home you have to face up to the fact that you've lost twenty-odd years of your life to an ungrateful little tick. I know all this because this was exactly what I was like.

So, no babies for me, thank you. A dog can give you exactly the same benefits and you don't even have to buy it ice cream. And am I really the only one who finds the concept of pregnancy to be ... a little horrible? There's a woman bloated with this horrible little thing growing inside her, leeching off her like a fucking parasite, which only decides to come out when it's far too big to comfortably fit through the available hole. It's like something out of H. R. Giger. Obviously I am the only one who sees things this way, as last time I checked the species isn't extinct yet.

Now that I've decided I'll never have children, there are things I now won't have to deal with. Like nurseries, or maternity wards, or ... nappies. I really do not understand nappies.

Allow me to clarify my point. Thank you. There are only three universal certainties in this society - that (1) there is no conceivable way to be the first in the queue at a post office, (2) those alarms they put near the entrance of a shop always go off when you're buying condoms, and (3) there will be a new, improved kind of nappy brought out every other week.

I noticed this years ago, but didn't at the time have a public forum on which to air it. Nappy manufacturers are constantly bringing out new, improved nappies. It's like buying a computer; ten seconds later they're obsolete. We've had nappies which absorb more. Nappies with stretchy waistbands. Nappies that are easier to put on. Nappies that are easier to take off. Nappies with comfortable grips. Nappies with defense shielding and built-in laser cannons. If you want to take some future technology back to the past to show people how mankind has advanced, all you'd need would be one of these nappies.

"Core Integrity" apparently means "your baby's shit goes here"
Not pictured: nanofactory, aircraft hangar

Nappy breakthroughs aren't made by accident. You aren't sitting in a nappy factory making them when suddenly a computer malfunction produces, by some million to one chance, the nappy Holy Grail. Every new design has to be researched and tested before finally being mass-produced and sold. They probably have some really magnificent brains working on their R&D teams. Correct me if I'm wrong, but couldn't the time of these smarty men be better spent? I don't think, when they graduated from Boffin University, they saw themselves designing nappies for the rest of their lives. They want to be making rocket engines and nuclear-powered warp drives, they shouldn't have to sit around applying their considerable brains to the problem of how to temporarily store baby poo.

When you think about it, a nappy is one of the simplest machines in the world. It's a pair of absorbent pants that babies can shit in. When it's full, take it off, throw it away, get a new one. Besides, the period in which you can wear nappies without ridicule is one of the shortest periods of the human lifespan. As beneficial as all the new nappy developments are for ickle babbies, I would much rather, say, have a television with a 3D holographic output, or a dial-up modem that can download fifty million megabytes in ten seconds. This is like captaining a fifty-year-old clapped-out submarine and installing a vibrating, fully adjustable, computerised armchair in one of the guest quarters.

Mark my words: some day the nappy development cycle will end. Some day we will have made a nappy which cannot be topped, no doubt with an onboard nanofactory that converts baby waste products to a healthy, filling cheese dish. Once we have reached this zenith, all the smarty brains will finally be released from the nappy factory. Only then will they be able to start producing all the cool stuff like laser guns and teleporters. So, if anyone from the nappy industry is listening, I want to say this: release your captive scientists now, for the good of society. Do as I say. I have photographs you might want back.

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All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved and other legal bollock language