2066 – Janek recording his thoughts again

Friday 10th June

Record date 20661020

At long last a date has been agreed for my stage two conjoining.  This has never been attempted before, and there was no way that a computer simulation could be run either.  How can you possibly sim a Hypercom meshing with a human.  What will the com make of my mind, my connections, my thought patterns.  Well, we will see.  I predict it will be less confused than I was receiving the com’s ‘brain’ into my own.   The process is similar to stage one conjoining except that the transference is reversed.  All the data in my brain is to be transferred back to the hyper-computer network.  Or not exactly.  Again the caution of those in charge means that my memories, my feelings, my emotions will be held in abeyance, on a separate unlinked section of my hyper-computer twin.  It will then be analysed, and checked for any potential risks before being completely linked with the network.  Of course the memories will not actually leave my brain at all.  They will still be there, but copies, imprints if you like, will be transferred.  In a process similar to the unfolding of dna itself, an unraveling will take place, almost exact copies of my memories and emotions, the thoughts and feelings, the whisper of the breeze on a summer’s day, the sound of a symphony tuning up, the smell of sex itself, everything I have ever felt or thought will be replicated and shared for my Hypercom twin.  Just as the computer shared its data with me, I will be sharing mine with it.

But what it will do with it; with this imperfect and yet incomprehensibly complex form of intelligence is still unknown.   The hope, indeed the fervent wish of those running the programme, is that the Hypercom will learn to think in a human way but with Hypercom speed.  The sort of artificial intelligence the Hypercoms run on is logical, straight-line thinking, building block on block of knowledge, it learns in a formal way, checking and rechecking data to ‘learn’ the best way of solving problems, going back time and again to tried and trusted formula’s.  So, still in essence a machine, if an incredibly clever one.  The hope is that those leaps of imagination, those intuitive jumps which the human brain is capable of will enable the Hypercom to ‘think’ like a human.

But no-one knows for sure if it will work.  So I will still therefore have to wait until stage three before a final two-way link is established.  I have tried to persuade them to press on, not to wait until the Hypercom has digested my memories, worked out how my synaptic connections can reproduce not only accurate memories but the impressions of those memories.  Just as the Impressionist painters of nearly two hundred years ago managed to evoke feelings from blobs and blurs of paint, rather than just trying to reproduce as exact an image as a photograph, or daguerreotype in all probability.  Reality was never their goal, but the essence of, the distillation of a feeling, a mood.  So too, our brains not only remember but remember remembering, and cast over both a cloak of feelings and impressions and emotions that subtly changes the reality of what was into what we had hoped or feared might have been.  But they barely listen to me.  They hear my words and go back to their charts and their projections and their secret little conferences, but they don’t really listen.  They nod, and smile and treat me like a small child who thinks he might know better than Mummy, but understand they do not.  Superior in intelligence to them I might be, but as helpless as that small child I am too.

So, I wait and do what I am told, and I am told I must learn to be patient.  Though this is the patience a parent must have with a recalcitrant child who is taking forever to learn to feed itself.   The parent has to keep trying, letting the child deposit food everywhere but in its own mouth, willing to step in to ensure that at least some food is actually consumed, while all the time the stubborn child is determined to feed itself.  No, I am not the child; I am the patient parent waiting for the refusenik childish powers that be to acknowledge that I was right all along.  And meanwhile the food is getting cold.   Ah, enough of talking in metaphors, if I were using ZoroAstrian it would be just as hard to make them see.

But patience is hard to learn, especially when I know that I am right.  (and to be fair, better informed than they are)  After all, I have access to all their data, but have analysed it from the inside out, rather than from the outside in.  I also know my own brain far better than they do.  They can only see one side of the coin; they can only see their data.  They cannot see, as I can, my own mind and how it will react to a final conjoining.

In all other respects I am progressing brilliantly.  I can now walk and run, though exercise does tire me out quickly.  My manual dexterity and senses of touch and smell are over ninety percent returned to their former levels.  I feel great.  I haven’t had a moment’s depression or any feelings of doubt or inadequacy since my first conjoining.  My emotions seem to be mostly happy and contented; misery has disappeared from the range of emotions I feel.  Melancholy, my almost constant former friend has waved goodbye, it has got on a train and departed, forever I hope.  Though I can of course rerun those dark, dismal days whenever I fancy – I do occasionally, in fast-forward mode, my brain skims in and tastes the discordant broth I stewed in for so long.  But the taste does not linger, it is gone as quickly as I had summoned it up, and I return to my slightly euphoric but ultimately contented self.

I have even requested and received a session of syn, and I can tell you that all my equipment is working very satisfactorily indeed.  It was actually a bit weird being able to experience those incredible sensations at the same time as analysing and recording the minutiae of every wave of pleasure completely simultaneously.  Having recorded the memory perfectly I can replay it with all the accompanying sensations whenever I want, without the cumbersome syn tube, and helmet.  So, even the problem of sex being very ephemeral is now dispensed with.  It is still ephemeral, (wasn’t it ever) but the crystal clear memory can be recalled instantly, and the experience is the same.  Ephemeral or not, it is quite sensational; every graze of moist lips, every fingertip touch, every sticky taste is there, bright and clear as holo-tv, only I can slow it down, or speed it up, rewind and experience those few pre-orgasmic seconds time and again.  I have in fact become a veritable sex-machine myself.   If I were using simple terms I might say it was mind-blowing, though of course my mind is never blown, and not yet even full-blown either.  That was another joke by the way, just in case you were wondering.

The Trouble With Capitalism

Thursday 9th June

Capitalism is based on greed, that most corrosive and destructive of human emotions.  Over the years various Governments in different countries have tried to regulate or moderate it; with little success.  In my book ‘2066 – a personal memoir’ I imagined a future where, with every financial transaction recorded and checked by Government computers (and the replacement of money with cred), Capitalism could finally be tamed; they would be allowed to make a certain level of profit but would have to employ people, even though computers could do the job better, and would have to continually plough back most of the profit into improvements in their factories or offices.  A pipedream I am afraid, but not impossible  – if we wanted it.

On Tuesday we had the unedifying spectacle of Mike Ashleigh, a self-made millionaire admitting that he paid his staff below the minimum wage, kept them on zero-hours contracts and fined them for lateness and illness.  Today we will have the equally bullish Sir (for the moment) Philip Green trying to defend his behaviour as boss of BHS.  A few years ago we had the collapse of banks brought about by financial greed, for which we are still suffering Austerity and Benefit and other cuts, and nobody has been punished for this abject failure of Capitalism.  I doubt that either Mr. Ashleigh or Mr. Green will lose much sleep in their featherbedded mansions.  They certainly will not be punished, even though Sports Direct has broken the law they will simply be fined and promise to behave better in future.  As for Philip Green, what can we say?  He may have broken no laws at all, but if every Capitalist boss acted in this way we would soon be in a sorry state.  What then is to be done?

Maybe Government should create a code of conduct which major employers sign up to, and those who refuse would be named and shamed.  It is surely in Capitalism’s long-term interests to behave in a socially acceptable way, respecting their employees and not treating them like modern-day slaves.  Well, we will see…

N – is for Harry Nilsson – A Sad End

Wednesday 8th June

Harry Nilsson hated playing live, and barely ever performed his songs on stage.  Maybe that is one reason he never really made it.  After the hit that was “Without You” he quickly released a poor album “Son of Schmilsson” which flopped.   He made two albums of old American Songbook classics which while beautifully sung, hardly propelled Harry into the stratosphere, he was becoming more and more eccentric and his records were very much mixed bags; one or two great songs, a couple of stupid comedy numbers and a lot of fillers.   Harry was drinking heavily and in the company of Keith Moon, Ringo and John Lennon, who was in the middle of his own ‘lost weekend’, behaved pretty badly and got thrown out of many L. A. nightclubs.

There was one exception.  In 1977 he released Knilsson, maybe his finest record.  However even this he tried to sabotage with a terrible cover photo.  The record is brilliant and harks back to the sound of his earlier records and his voice is deeper and rounded and curls itself round the lyrics like a lazy cat.  There is a comedy song ‘Who Coulda Done It?’ a take on Agatha Christies ‘Ten Little Niggers’ and is wonderful as Harry gets hanged in the end. Every song is superb, a real treat – and Harry said that this was his favourite record too.  But bad luck seemed to dog his heels.  He had moved to London and had a flat in Curzon Street; Cass Elliot was found dead of a drug overdose in one of the rooms and a few years later Keith Moon died in the same room of drugs too.  Harry moved back to L. A.

He wrote songs for the film ‘Popeye’ and recorded a couple more nondescript records and he was deeply affected by the death of his friend John Lennon.  In 1990 Harry discovered that his manager had embezzled almost all the receipts from his million selling records and he was broke.  Harry suffered a heart attack in 1993 and a year later he died while attempting to record a new album.

His records have been re-issued lately on CD and are now collector’s items, sought after by fans old and new.  Such a pity he couldn’t hold things together a bit longer.

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Bring Me Sunshine – (for Maxine and Graham)

Tuesday 7th June

I have been accused of being miserable, I know – hard to believe, isn’t it?  I wrote a blog a few days ago about the weather “It Will Be Better Tomorrow” in which I commented that although it might be raining today, people keep telling me that it will be sunny tomorrow.  It was actually a metaphor for our politics and for life in general; although we may be suffering now – don’t worry, it will be better tomorrow.  A few people thought that I was just moaning about the dreary wet weather we had been having.  And it was, to a degree, but my point – obviously lost – was that people’s optimism in the face of experience was typified by our attitude to the weather.  And actually in a way they are right; it will be better tomorrow, or maybe the day after that, or possibly in a week’s time.

And it is.  Today, Monday (as I write this) and all of yesterday afternoon it was gorgeously warm and sunny, not too hot either – in fact, perfect weather.  And it was worth waiting for.  We spent some time Karchering the drive, and it came up gleaming in the sunshine.  Then we went out to see a rose garden at St. Aubin de Cadelech, a village not far from here.  It was a huge garden with swathes of rolling lawns and bordered by winding paths and hundreds of roses.  Truly spectacular, they were serving cold drinks and a few nick-nacks and roses in pots ready to plant.  The Dutch owners are actually selling up and moving back to Holland; it will take a special type of gardener to buy and continue cultivating this wonderful garden.  We met a few people we knew and sat in the late afternoon sun chatting.  A perfect way to spend an afternoon in the sunshine.

So, it was better tomorrow after all, though it will probably rain soon (hahaha).

A Short Post War History Of Britain

Monday 6th June

1945 – 1951.  Labour, under Atlee, swept to power after the war with a large majority and a mandate for change.  Achievements – Creation of the NHS, introduction of Old Age Pensions, free education, unemployment benefit, nationalised railways, steel, coal and public utilities and the Bank of England, granted Independence to India, Burma and Ceylon.  All against a background of huge debts from the war and the coldest winter in 50 years.  Mistakes – failed to lift rationing.

1951 – 1964.  The Conservatives were returned with a tiny majority which was increased under Macmillan.  Achievements – ended rationing and presided over large increases in the standard of living, granted independence to Malaya (after a war) Nigeria and Kenya.   Mistakes – Suez.

1964 – 1970.  Harold Wilson came to power with a small majority and held a snap election in ’66.  Achievements – reformed laws on Abortion and Homosexuality and Divorce and banned Capital Punishment, a whole raft of African colonies granted Independence.  Mistakes – devaluation of the pound and general economic crises.

1970 – 1974.  Edward Heath won a surprise victory.  Achievements – Joined Common Market, introduced Decimal Currency.  Mistakes – three day week, Miners strike, Internment in Northern Ireland, calling an election on the slogan “Who Governs Britain?”

1974 – 1979.  Return of Labour under Wilson and the Callaghan. Achievements – the creation of the Open University.  Mistakes – Winter of Discontent.

1979 – 1997. Margaret Thatcher, first woman Prime Minister won a small majority. Achievements – won Falklands War, Defeated the Miners.  Mistakes – Sale of Council Houses, Privatisation of BT, British Airways, British Steel and British gas and Electricity, Poll tax. John major took over and continued to Privatise Railways.  Achievements – replaced Poll Tax with Council Tax, joined first Gulf War against Iraq and stopped sensibly at the Kuwait-Iraq border.  Mistakes – black Wednesday, being kicked out of ERM and pushing through Maastricht treaty against opposition from own party.

1997 – 2010.  Tony Blair won three elections in a row.  Achievements – Northern Ireland Peace, Devolved power in Scotland and Wales, increased funding in NHS, banned smoking in public places, National Minimum Wage, Family Tax Credits.  Mistakes – Private Finance Initiative, Invading Iraq, creation of Student loans and fees.  Gordon Brown took over in 2007.  Achievements – can’t think of any.  Mistakes – being the man in charge when Global Financial Crisis struck, but he probably saved millions of investors from losing savings when he saved RBS and Halifax.

2010 – 2015.  Coalition of Tories and LibDems.  Achievements – after a recession the economy eventually recovered but probably would have done so anyway, legalised Gay Marriage.  Mistakes – Austerity, tax cuts for rich, tripling of University fees, failing to eliminate Deficit.

2015….   Cameron won an unexpected majority after scares over SNP and a weak Labour party lost ground to UKIP.  Achievements – ahem (too early to tell).  Mistakes – calling the Euro Referendum.


There Is No Other News

Sunday 5th June

It seems that the referendum is now the only game in town, as far as the news media are concerned at any rate.  All other news is being relegated to a lower division, with little hope of gaining promotion until after June 23rd.  And even then the aftermath of that decision may well sweep us all away in a torrent of new news stories.  There are already rumours that Cameron will face a challenge to his leadership even if he wins; and the consensus is that if he loses he will be toast…

Well, much as I would relish seeing him singed on both sides and being ejected from Number 10 when his time is up, I don’t think the gain (short-term until some other Tory is elected in his place) will be anywhere near worth losing the referendum for.  I may well feel a bit sick when he stands outside Number 10 and declares victory, but the very fact that the polls are too close for comfort means that a large, or shall we say a comfortable, margin is looking unlikely at the moment.   My best guess at the moment is that he will scrape through by maybe 4 or 5 %, which he will immediately declare a great victory.  However when the analysis is done and it is discovered that it was the cities and Wales and Scotland who voted overwhelmingly to stay (all Labour or anti-Tory SNP areas) and it was the shires of England and small towns which voted overwhelmingly to leave – and that his “victory” was indeed anything but an endorsement by his own party or a resounding applause for his so-called ‘re-negotiation’, but actually a rejection of the mainstream Tory philosophy which seems to be a yearning for times long past, last seen half-way through the last Century when Britons were white and deferential to their natural rulers (if ever such a time really existed).  If he wins by anything less than a decisive margin it will not either solve the European issue for a generation (look what has happened in Scotland) or the huge divisions in the Tory party.

And Labour are also divided, with the membership overwhelmingly in favour of some real Socialism, while the M.P.s and a still sizeable minority, and possible a huge majority of traditional Labour voters wishing for a more moderate approach.  Where this will leave us all I really do not know.  I cannot see even Boris managing to unite the Tories and there is no alternative to Jeremy on the Labour side now that Andy Burnham has decided to try to become Mayor of Greater Manchester.  The LibDems are still in the doldrums and UKIP are hardly likely to make much headway either.  I see a new coalition looming, though exactly what composition it will be I have no idea.


N – is for Nilsson – Early Promise Realised

Saturday 4th June

Ah, Harry Nilsson, who remembers him.  Who could forget him?

I first heard the name Nilsson, thinking it must be Nealson, when the Beatles were asked in ’68 or so who they liked musically at the moment, and I think it was John who said he liked Nilsson, and the others all agreed “Nilsson is really cool.”  But who was he?  And where were his records; I couldn’t find them in HMV Oxford Street even.  Then came the film Midnight Cowboy, and the haunting song “Everybody’s Talkin” (written by Fred Neill) and as the credits came up, there was that name again ‘Nilsson’, it was Nilsson singing so wonderfully.  And it was always just Nilsson that he seemed to be referred as.  Well his records slowly started appearing and they were magical; a beautiful clear voice and a great choice of eccentric songs, though he did cover a few Beatles numbers and ‘River Deep and Mountain High’, the Ike and Tina Turner blockbuster.  But even on covers Harry (that was his name) added something unique.  He even recorded a whole album of Randy Newman songs.  Then he made an album narrating a children’s story he had written about a boy Oblio, who didn’t have a point; he speaks and sings and though the story is silly the album ‘The Point’ is simply amazing.  But it was with (possibly) his best and certainly biggest selling record “Nillson Schmilsson” that all that early promise was fully realized.

At the time I thought it was THE perfect album; it had everything, a handful of Nilsson originals, a couple of real rockers “Let the good times roll” a great drum solo even, a comedy song “Coconut” and a couple of ballads.  The crowning moment is “Without You” a song originally written by a member of Badfinger who later committed suicide, and it is the ultimate song of loss and yearning, which soon became a major hit and is still played on the radio quite a lot.  And an even sadder song closes the record ‘I’ll Never Leave You’ where Nilsson’s voice just goes off into another Universe.  So, there Harry was, a star at last, one of the best voices in Pop music and the whole world there for him to take; what could possibly go wrong?

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It Will Be Better Tomorrow

Friday 3rd June

That is the refrain we keep hearing, both here in Eymet about the weather, and back home of course from our politicians.  We have had some pretty awful weather over here of late; in fact pretty much all year so far.  It has been wet.  And here I should apologise to my English friends who have had to put up with miserable wet weather for months, if not years.  But here in South West France it really shouldn’t be like this at all.  We were down here full-time last year and had visited every Whitsun for a few years and it was never this cold, never this wet.  And what makes it almost worse is the constant stream of weather experts popping in to the Café and reporting via various internet predictors or Apps that though it might be raining today – it will be better tomorrow.  And of course, you guessed it – tomorrow never comes.  Or if it does it is rarely exactly what was predicted.  We have had only a handful of hot and sunny days so far and though it was freezing when I left Stansted on Monday morning and gales were battering the East Coast it was cold and wet here too.

And our politicians are just the same.  We must suffer just a few more years of rainy Austerity before the sunny uplands of Prosperity will be revealed in all their splendour.  Just vote for us one more time and we will bring you sunshine.  And just as the target for clearing the deficit keeps moving one year ahead at each budget, so the good times fade into the mist of the future too.

Anyway by the time you will be reading this it will be sunny and warm again here in Eymet, or so I am assured by everyone (and we will be one day closer to those Elysian Fields our Politicians regale us with too).  And the amazing thing is this confidence in the future is never dented by the reality of experience…..

2066 – Do we detect a change in Janek?

Thursday 2nd June

Record date 20660922

Recording again.

I am now transferring these words directly to the screen by simply thinking them.  I have been practising the method in my brain, and it is simply a matter of discovering and synchronizing with the screens wireless link to the keyboard.  Most problems are solvable.  In fact I anticipate that all problems will be solvable in the near future.  It is more than anticipation, it is a certainty.

I have slowly, far more slowly than I would have imagined, regained almost complete use of my limbs, though dexterity in my fingers is still limited, but slowly improving.  I can, rather ungainly I must admit, walk again.  I had never realised before what an achievement it is for every human baby to learn to walk. No wonder it takes months to accomplish and years to perfect. It is not simply a matter of willing ones muscles to comply, there are complex issues of balance and constant calculations taking place.  Amazing that such simple creatures as humans actually accomplished it at all.

I am now beginning again the regime preparatory to my second conjoining.  I am certain that it is unnecessary.  The humans who devised the programme were worried about the physical shock to potential conjoinees bodies, but actually the real changes are all neural.  The shock of the conjoining knocks out many of the neural pathways.  It is this process of repair that takes time.  However despite my objections I am not listened to.  I try to contain my frustrations, and inwardly am sure that after full conjoinment my opinion will be the orthodoxy, at least I can take some comfort from that.   I have resumed my weightless pod sessions, but now that my brain is filled with so much data I find it quite impossible to empty my brain of all thoughts.  In fact I do not want to.  Why, when I finally have the ability (at last) to think straight should I wish to not think.  I am in discussions with the lead scientists about these issues, and am sure that my superior logic will prevail.  Besides I do not think my body is at all ready yet to resume the physical punishments of the gym.  Yet, or at any time in the near future, I might add.   I predict that as we evolve we will need the encumbrance of a body less and less, especially such a poorly designed one.   As to the assessments, they are obviously redundant.  I am far faster than the computer at not only answering correctly, but anticipating in nano-seconds the nature of the question.  These have now been abandoned.  I could have told them that.

I am aware that patience is a virtue, or so we are led to believe, but I have very little patience with the powers that be.  Their caution is quite misplaced.  As no-one has ever had a stage two conjoining, and no-one, beside myself, has survived such a complete stage one conjoining, who knows best do you think?  But of course all of you are blessed with normal human brains, so thinking is a painful slow process with you all; I can almost hear the gears crunching as you pump away with the clutch, whereas I have fully automatic transmission.  (I used an old-fashioned metaphor on purpose; for decades now all automobiles have automatic transmission and are controlled by GPS guided SuperurbanWay computers, but I thought it might be slightly amusing to conjure up the image of the hapless vehicle driver of fifty years ago to represent the panicky workings of un-conjoined minds.)  And still some of you think my sense of humour may have been impaired.  Immeasurably improved and refined I would say.

I have run all the data I received about the process and am certain that not only is all this preparation unnecessary, but is actually unhelpful.  The longer the gap between conjoinings, the more risk there is of parts of my brain slipping through that very gap.  My brain is almost crying out for second stage conjoining.  I, it and I, both feel incomplete without a second conjoining.  It is as if I am only half-formed, some halfway house, a creation only partly complete, one lego brick short of a house, I am desperately waiting for my inner child to clip the missing piece into place.  Hahaha.  Humour, you see is not always transferrable, but humour or not, please humour me and grant me a quick second conjoing.   It is as if my brain is crying out for complete unification with its twin.  Only then will it feel at one with itself.  I am filled with a raging desire for unification; I feel I am only half a person.  I need completion.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Wednesday 1st June

Leon Russell emerged in the late Sixties, and along with Delaney and Bonnie, and Joe Cocker embarked on the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour.  Leon was a piano-playing rocker from St. Louis and sang in a long drawn out Southern Drawl infused with the blues of the Deep South.  In the early Seventies he released his most famous album “Stranger in a Strange Land”.  It was one of many I bought in those years and I played it to death.  But it is the sentiment of that title that I think I associated with almost more than the song.  What was it like to be a stranger in a strange land.  Well pretty strange really, but in a way I had felt like that for years.  After all I ran away from School and Home at seventeen, and partly – maybe mostly – that was because I did indeed feel a stranger in Suffolk, and at school, though I played the part of the clown very well, I never really got the joke myself.  Or maybe I was the joke.  I felt I shouldn’t really be there most of the time.  I was living inside my own mind, daydreaming my days away, drawing as a form of escapism from a life I felt a stranger in.

So I left.  And London was another strange land.  All too quickly I became a father, and though I played the part well, I was just another stranger in the world of work, my colleagues or work mates had nothing to do with me, they were all free and single for a start and I was a single parent.  It was only late at night with Justin tucked in bed as I put another record on the Garrard deck that I felt at home.  And it has been like that, on and off, ever since.  I have tried the conventional route several times, subsuming my own personality even in an effort to fit in.  Maybe that was part of the reason I continually failed – who knows?

And maybe we are all strangers in a strange land.  It is impossible to really imagine what anyone else is thinking, so maybe they are thinking that they too don’t really fit in, are square pegs in round holes.  And the strangest thing is that it only becomes really clear to me when I am squeezed out of that round hole.  And yet I continually struggle to fit into them.  And all the time, smiling and agreeing with people I can never quite let myself believe that this is really me.  I am always looking down on me and observing and wondering if I am true, or just pretending.  And as I look around me at all the familiar people and things sometimes none of it seems real; I am just a stranger in a strange land and one day I will wake up and none of it will have happened.  Where will I be then? Back in my childhood bedroom, or tucking my son to sleep, or head-phoned and drifting into oblivion as I listen to that Southern Drawl of Leon once more?

Anyway, enough of all this introspection.  Tomorrow I will forget all this nonsense and be fine.  Maybe.