Regarding Resurrection – First 1000 words

*If you arrived here from my “5 by 5” vlog on YouTube, you’ll know all of this already, but, in the extraordinarily likely event that you arrived here by accident whilst looking for something infinitely more interesting… Below are the opening 1000 words (ish) of my first novel, “Regarding Resurrection”. I plan to share this book online, chapter by chapter, once I have a sufficiently large following to make it worthwhile.*



Walter climbed the last of the worn wooden steps and pleaded with the portly chap by the lever, one last time.

‘Nobody likes to be hanged, Mr Lewis. But it’s what we do here.’

This response was of no help to Walter whatsoever, and he shuffled over to the trapdoor.

The Hessian bag being placed over his head was itchy, and stank of sweat and bad breath, which may well have been his own. The biting freshness of toothpaste and the slippery caress of soap had long been absent from his life. The only caress he could look forward to these days was that of “Gums” Jensen; who had recently taken to “snuggling” Walter in the mornings, caring little for his objections.

‘That comfortable, Mr. Lewis?’

The voice came from outside the sweaty bag, as the rope was placed over Walter’s head and the knot tightened behind his right ear. It was an absurd question under the circumstances, but answering in the negative would only buy him a few seconds and Walter just wanted the whole thing over with now. He nodded his head slowly.

It was very quiet in this room. Never like the sort of executions you might see in a film about some eighteenth century folk hero, stepping bravely up to the gallows to the mournful cries of big-breasted women and admiring men. Walter was no hero. And the only person in here with large breasts was the guy in the apron who pulled the lever.

No-one would call at the last minute to stop the execution. No screams of “How will I ever live without you?” emanated from the crowd. There were only three people in the room besides Walter, and one of those was his executioner. The other two could just be heard in the corner, discussing their dissatisfaction with the vending machine in the lunch room.

Walter heard the creak of the large wooden lever that would release the trapdoor, and had just enough time to draw one last breath, before the floor fell away from him. He inhaled deeply – filling his nose with the aroma of stale sweat – and the rope tightened around his neck, marking the end of his short fall with an almost imperceptible, muffled snap. And then it was dark.

He awoke, as always, with his head in a barrel of cold, but very dirty, water before being pulled out by his hair. He looked at the hangman through blurry eyes, and rubbed the back of his neck.

That’s gonna hurt tonight.

The hangman made a tick on his clipboard, ‘Same time next week then, Mr Lewis?’

Walter really hated Fridays.


The walk back to General Population was a long one, but Walter didn’t mind. It was the only time he had to be alone with his thoughts, most of which involved escape. Today though, he walked even more slowly than usual.

Today had been his 1299th date with the hangman and, although not normally superstitious, it seemed to Walter that 1300 was a fairly unlucky number when it came to executions. What had been his crime after all? He was no angel, but he didn’t consider himself up there with murderers and rapists.

Right on cue, he heard the unmistakable sound of “Gums” Jensen, whistling “Dancing Queen”, on his way down the corridor to receive his own weekly punishment.

Walter began to hyperventilate; something he had done sporadically since his teens. It was an unpleasant, panicky sensation which he managed to come to terms with if it happened to strike whilst strolling in the park, thinking about the plummeting price of his shares. But, in an atmosphere where every breath filled your lungs with fire and your nasal passages with the stench of rotting flesh, it was never ideal to be taking more of them than you really needed to.

He ducked into one of the many rooms that lined the dark and rusty steel corridor, and leant against the sticky wall to steady his breathing. Almost immediately, he began to wish he had taken his chances with “Gums”.

An altogether more terrifying, and even more familiar, voice was approaching the door of the room in which Walter had foolishly chosen to hide. Without thinking, he flung open one of the rusty cupboards on the opposite side of the room and jumped inside; closing the door behind him.

Walter’s plans had gone like this his whole life, and seemed destined to do so for his whole death. During his senior year in high school, he had planned to get together with some of his friends and place a firecracker into one of the pans in the girls’ toilets; somehow detonating it at the moment when Alice Gardner, who had refused to sleep with him the previous week, entered and sat down. That he found himself in the faculty toilets, with absolutely no plan at all – and for that matter, no firecracker – was most likely the main reason for his being caught. The reason none of his friends had been caught was partly because everyone knew that this sort of feeble-minded prank was typical of Walter; but mostly because he had no school friends, largely on account of this very annoying habit.

Walter’s impulsive, ill-conceived ideas in school, and later in college, had not left a sufficiently deep impression on his mind or his bank account to dissuade him from doing exactly this sort of thing once he left school. He was determined to succeed in business, by whatever means necessary. He did have an eye for what would make money, but lacked the talent to pursue it. His only friend wisely refused to go along with any of these ideas, and Walter had ultimately looked to someone else for help.

It was exactly that someone, whose voice Walter had correctly identified before ducking into his cupboard full of…

Fluffy toys? Walter examined one that had been digging into his back. It was a weird thing to find in this of all places, but he was more concerned with the arrival of his former business partner.


A New Dope


Well… where to begin?

I shall try not to move anything in here lest the resulting dust cloud cause a local storm scare or something.

I’ll go into more detail in a later post, about all that has happened in the past 18 months, but… long story short: I got really busy with lots and lots of other things after returning to England.

If there are any remaining readers of this blog who can remember its very early days, then I’m sure I don’t need to explain who The Swedish Flowerpot is. However, since most of my original readers ran away when I was foolish enough to untie the ropes and let them out for 5 minutes of fresh-air (rookie mistake!), I should just explain that The Swedish Flowerpot was a lady living in Newfoundland, who began writing her blog at roughly the same time as I did before moving back to her home country of Sweden. A mutual appreciation for one another’s  writing and sense of humour led to a “WordPress friendship”… then later a “facebook friendship”… then a “Skype friendship”… then a meeting in real life… then a romantic relationship (I’ll skip the quotation marks for that one)… then an engagement… then a move to Sweden… then a marriage… then a move back to England… and, now… an impending Sleepless-Flowerpot-Knight-Swede-WordPress baby!

Yup! I am writing this because the tiny little newborn product of this complicated and exciting romance is due to drop into our lives at any moment…

No… literally… any moment. That was not hyperbole. The child of Sleepless Knight and The Swedish Flowerpot is now six days overdue.

So that’s where we are. In limbo. The flat has been tidied and re-tidied; the garage has been cleaned out; the flat has been re-painted; the nursery (well… alcove really) has been set-up; all the shopping has been done. I daren’t take on another audio-book project at the moment because they usually have fairly tight deadlines, and there will be a screaming, newborn baby in this house any day now, which I think deserves at least a week of my undivided attention before I get back to work.

Just an hour ago, I was playing “The Imperial March” to the bump, in an attempt to imply that Lord Vader and/or The Emperor, were most displeased with her apparent lack of progress, but evidently she found my lack of faith neither disturbing nor amusing. So… I’m here talking to you people (or, more likely, myself).


I actually had the opportunity to return to this blog a few weeks ago, but I started making an image for my triumphant return and, as usual, got waaay too carried away making a whole “epic scene”. I then became unwilling to return properly until I had made the image as amazing as I hoped it could be. Wait until you see it… you’ll love it. Actually you probably won’t even notice, but if the adulation of others was my reason for doing things I think I would have stopped getting out bed the first time a teacher said to me “Stop that! It’s not big and it’s not clever!”

I mean Donald Trump is not big… and 25 seconds of listening to one of his speeches will certainly cure you of any notion that there is anything clever about him, but look where he is. And from nothing! Starting with nothing but a “small” loan from his father of $1,000,000!

Well… I promised myself this post would be about nothing but the baby so I will go now before I get sidetracked still further.

I have just finished recording a book for an author on Amazon, so I will put in a link to that once it goes on sale, but until then… get on with your lives as normal and await further instructions.

The Final Countdown – Zero

Well… that’s it. I’m leavin on a jet plane, and all that other Jonny Denver type stuff. As they say where I come from: “It’s all over bar the shoutin'” Of course, in this particular case, “the shoutin” involves packing my few remaining possessions; dragging 50kg of luggage (each) in 3 seperate cases (each), through the deep snow to the subway station; catching a train, then a bus, then a plane; being picked up from the airport, and living under someone else’s roof for the next week or so until my wife and I find somewhere to live. So if we’re gonna stick with the fighting analogies, I haven’t even spilled the other bloke’s drink yet. But it’s all over as far as the blog posts about my moving are concerned. I am writing this post on Monday the 26th, and it is scheduled for release at the exact minute we are due to land in the UK. Plane landing by sunrise So… once again, you must endure the anguish of my absence. At least for a little while. What will I be blogging about when I return? Your guess is as good as mine. Well… I suppose I could make a slightly more educated guess than you guys and say that it’s likely to be about my new house, and my new job (back to being self-employed now). I do have one or two things in the pipeline to keep you occupied until next we meet, and they have been a very long time coming. So, I will see you again soon. If you don’t believe me… take a look at this video. And the next time someone hears me say “Hmmm… I think I’ll kill myself off in this weeks video. I just want to try out this new effect!” STOP ME and say: “Jimbot… don’t do it. The storyteller in you is a perfectionist monster, and you know where this will lead.” Normally I sign off by saying goodbye, but on this occasion I will just say those 3 little words I have been desperately waiting to say for almost 3 years: I’m back baby!!

The Final Countdown – 3…

I should really be packing. I could totally do that. I went to fetch boxes today and everything. Turns out I’d much rather talk to faceless people on the internet, and put off packing for another day.

The irony of that just hit me. In other circumstances that sentence might have little relevance, but it was talking to faceless people on the internet (and in fact, on this very blog) that got me to Sweden in the first place. If you don’t understand this reference click here for the beginning of an explanation. I’m not going to call it a “quick” explanation, because there is no such thing where this subject is concerned, but if you’re a fan of romance you might like it. If you’re really sentimental and mushy you can go all the way back to the post that started this crazy snowball rolling back in 2011, by clicking HERE and read the posts and comments (the lady commenting as “theswedishflowerpot” is now my wife), but if you are middle-aged already I would advise against it; you only have so many years left.

Anyway, it is because all of those things happened that I ended up in Sweden, and now that I am moving (with theswedishflowerpot) back to England, I am doing this list of Things that I will miss vs Things I have missed.

Everyone caught up? Goood. Let’s crack on then.

What I will miss #3: The Swedish work ethic


Before we get off the wrong foot… I am not saying the Swedes are lazy; quite the opposite. They can manage to get the same amount of work done in half the time that it takes most Brits. And what do they do with the rest of their time? Whatever they want to!

I love the way the Swedes view work!

You see, although I have had many different jobs, I have rarely (until very recently) had a job that I enjoyed. Normally I have done whatever work I could get that enabled me to pay the bills. What I like about the Swedes is that most of them seem to have the same opinion of work that I do. And what I think of it is this:

Work isn’t life. It’s the thing you do in order to pay for life.

Maybe I worded that badly, but I’m going to elaborate whether you want me to or not, so don’t jump to any definitive conclusions just yet.

My ex-partner was one of the busiest people I ever met. But she busied herself doing things that need not have taken that long, because she stopped often to do other things that weren’t necessary. When she asked me to do the same things, I did them in a lot less time, not because I am a hard worker (I am precisely the opposite) but because I like my free-time. Consequently I often do not sit down (even for a drink) until the necessary work is done. That way, when it is done I can completely relax. This has driven most of my partners insane, because I often don’t eat until very, very late because I don’t like having to get up and do things after my dinner. It’s just the way I do stuff. My time is MY time.

Now that isn’t exactly the way the Swedes do things (everything stops for Fika here for example), but the concept of “as much free-time as possible” is definitely one that the Swedes have embraced.

To illustrate the point, I will paraphrase someone I met whilst working here in Stockholm.

The company I worked for in my capacity as a Tour Guide was owned and run by a Polish family. Now, for those of you who are unaware, the Polish work ethic is pretty much polar opposite (no pun intended) to the Swedish one. The Poles too like to get as much work done as possible in the shortest time possible. Where they differ drastically from the Swedes (and from me) is that, once all the work is done they don’t go home… they just go looking for more work. And they look hard.

I was assigned one day last year to work with my Boss’s niece. She was over from Poland, where she worked for another branch of the company. During a brief period of the day there was nothing for us to do. No guides had called with problems; tickets and vouchers had all been tallied; no buses were due to leave or return for at least the next hour; no-one from the cruise line had any problems or questions… She seemed very restless so I tried to make conversation.

“How do you like it here in Stockholm?” I said.

She shook her head… “I never like working in Sweden!”

“Oh?” I said, “Why’s that?”

“The Swedes don’t like to work” was her answer. “They spend so much time at home, or out with friends. I would go crazy!”

I naturally thought she was being sarcastic, but when pressed to elaborate, it turned out that she was genuinely puzzled that anyone would want to be anywhere but at work.

Weird, but unfortunately strongly connected with…

What I have missed #3: 24 Hour Shopping


Did you ever hear the expression “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please Sleepless Knight any of the time”?

No? Well, start using it because I’m thinking of having t-shirts made.

That’s right; if no-one at all worked long hours, there would be no 24 hour shopping at all.

What to do?

Robots? Once they take over TESCO, what’s to stop them taking over the world? Not us. We’ll be too busy sleeping or buying ice-cream in our slippers to do anything about it.

So, for the time being at least, somebody has to work these sorts of hours. And this is further evidence of the Swedish work ethic; because there are precious few stores in Sweden that open 24 hours a day. I live in the capital, and I’m not aware of any. But perhaps my Swedish friends can correct me on that point. At any rate my conscience is clear.  For one thing, I have done more than my fair share of working 12 hour shifts, both day and night, to shy away from enjoying the pleasures of 24 hour shopping. For another, I will probably be working through the night quite often even when working for myself because… that’s when I’m awake.

See I don’t call myself Sleepless Knight without good reason. I have struggled with sleep since I was a small boy, and have come to be all too familiar with the wee small hours. And, though the hours may be small my sudden need for Doritos is usually not.

And what of pregnant ladies, whose whims must be pandered to on pain of castration? What are we to do when they say “It’s 3am, and I need 2 bags of unshelled walnuts, 1 bottle of strawberry flavoured fabric softener and a large spoon! NOW!”? I say go get it for them but, at the risk of repeating myself (no laughing), I like going out in the wee small hours almost as much as I like my genitals where they are.

So, the question remains, how do we balance working fewer, more sociable hours, with the luxury of being able to shop through the night?

For now, it will remain one of those “first world problems” which facebook memes are constantly reminding us of…

Do I walk to the store in the rain, or risk getting water spots on my newly waxed Mercedes?

My diamond earrings are scratching the screen of my iPhone!

One pillow is too low… two pillows is too high!

I have to write 2 more of these blog posts because I started my “moving to a better life” countdown at 10 instead of 7!

No pleasing some people. See you tomorrow.

Pressed together

A big hello to my meagre handful of readers. Those of you foolish enough to read this blog on regular basis will know that my wedding is coming up in 9 days from now. This might be something you don’t want to hear very much about, in which case I suggest you go read another blog, and come back after the next 9 days are over…

Still here? Very well.

Since I met my lovely wife-to-be through WordPress (right here on her blog), I thought it might be appropriate to celebrate that fact by writing about it, in brief chapters, one every day between now and the big day. The chapters will be published every day at 14.30, because that is the time our wedding ceremony will be held, on the 27th of July. This means, that if you read them as soon as they are published, you will be reading the last one at exactly the same time as we are saying our vows to one-another.

Our story has one or two slightly odd twists and turns, so I hope you are at least mildly entertained by it. We’ve had what seems like a very, very long road to get here, and if any WordPress employees are reading this… thank you very much. We could never have reached this point without you.

A Friendship based on weirdness”

-Newfoundland to Lincoln via WordPress-

In 2011 James decided to launch a new YouTube channel, start his own blog, and attempt to get his novel published at the same time. On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, a young lady named Amkiram, had finally caved and decided to make a blog of her own. Both parties had chosen WordPress as their blogging platform. James, because that was the blog engine his sister used, and Amki because it was the one her friend, Janna used.

After several months of posting, under his old chat-room name “Sleepless Knight” James began to wonder if anyone was ever going to read his posts, and decided to take the advice of WordPress themselves, who suggested spreading the word about his blog by visiting other bloggers and leaving comments on the ones he liked, in the hope they would do so in return. He found one or two that were good, several that were simply “ok”, and then, by clicking on the tag “weirdness” in one of his own blog posts, he found himself on the page of a blog entitled “Only Human”, written by someone calling themselves “The Swedish Flowerpot”. The person who wrote this blog seemed to share many of his opinions about life in the 21st century, and her writing impressed him. He left a favourable comment, and moved on down the list.

When Amki read James’s comment, she visited his blog in return (just as WordPress had said), and found she liked his writing too. James was even more impressed with her writing once he discovered that English was her second language. The two bloggers continued reading the other’s blog posts and commenting.

Finding herself more and more familiar with how Sleepless Knight seemed to think as the weeks went by, The Swedish Flowerpot recommended that he visit a blog named “Hyperbole-and-a-half”, believing that it was just the sort of thing he would find amusing.

He did…

Stop 1

Guest Post #1: J V Farnsworth

Well, here it is. It took some encouragement on my part, and I’m not sure whether it will turn out to have been a particularly good idea, but Mr. Farnsworth finally decided to honour us with a guest post. Being one of my crew, I admit I had kind of hoped his post might in some way relate to filmmaking and all we are doing here at Sleepless Knight to restart the economy, feed the world’s starving children, make peanut M&Ms rain from the heavens, cure the world of Baby Jesus, and generally make the planet a better place. Alas… It seems he missed the point of a Sleepless Knight crew-member commenting on Sleepless Knight’s blog. For what it’s worth: I’m sorry!

So I made the mistake of telling Jim I would write a guest blog post for him. I’m not particularly good with promises, so for all intents and purposes this is not a blog post. It is merely an extract from the novel I am writing (and definitely not lying about), entitled “The Juggler’s Oven”; the tale of an out of work chef that joins the circus. It’ll make you laugh, make you cry. It will change your life.

She sat nervously beside him. The smell of Tippex jostled its way into her single nostril, like a late traffic warden. She had been here before, but in a slightly different location. He reached toward her, with fingers like cheap breadsticks. Just as the savoury-snack-like appendages brushed her dancing cheek, she awoke. As she removed the yoghurt from the window-pane and cleared away the last of the tinsel , she swore it would be the last time she accepted a Tic-Tac from Mr Bovril.

And there you have it. Let this be a lesson never to make a promise you can’t keep, and not to accept minty goods from people with strange names.



So… there it was. I would imagine it won’t happen again for quite some time. Mr Farnsworth will be appearing in the upcoming SK videos scheduled to appear between now and Christmas.
It would be nice to get a guest post from Richard (recently dubbed by Farnsworth as “Silent Knight”… and not without good reason), but first we need Chloroform, a very large butterfly net, and the spell which summons him from the underworld.

Enjoy the rest of your week. I will do my best to return at the weekend as usual.

Out of the ashes

So, we’re back! We’ve been away for far too long, and certainly much longer than I had hoped or expected, but, as you may be aware, I recently turned my life upside-down and shook it to see what would fall out, which, to my surprise, revealed more than just lint and unused tickets to the outside world. So… to put any rumours to bed: We have not been stacking teabags for the under-refreshed, or returning injured squirrels to the sea. I have mentioned, several times, that the main reason for the huge gap in Sleepless Knight’s videos was over-ambition, rather than a lack of it. I spent 3 months planning a really special video, only to fall at the last hurdle. But, that’s no excuse.

By now, it’s possible that either one of the people reading this may have clicked the Sleepless Knight link above and jumped to the conclusion that I’m lying. Well… that’s not strictly true. While there is no new video on the channel at the moment, it is at least filmed now. So (to invoke Obi-Wan) what I told you was true… from a certain point of view. As far as the SK crew are concerned, we are back in the saddle. As far as our legion (or, more accurately, very small and inexperienced patrol) of subscribers are concerned, there will be new content in the next 10 days or so.

See? I'm not lying!

The bad news is that I was unaware until filming was complete, just how very poorly Sleepless Knight’s standard definition camera had become. Very, as it turns out. Since filming on the first video is now complete, I will simply make my peace with it, and clean it up in the edit.
It’ll be alright! Well… it won’t; it’ll look like crap, but it will be well intentioned crap; which I think we can all agree is the best kind.

Anyway… the main thing is that the crew were back together, and in front of the camera, or behind it in my case. There are new faces; JB and Ben. And there are familiar ones, like owner and operator of the charity for re-homing aging, insomniac bloggers; James Farnsworth, as well as the ever dependable, thoroughly enthusiastic and all together lovely, Kitty.
JB was required to drop his trousers in front of Kitty, before they had even been introduced; James and Ben hopefully learned that “The clapping noise means we’re rolling… please shhh!”, and that it is in no way helpful to add extra claps to a piece of film which will later have to be synced with a separately recorded sound track.
There was a brief demonstration of Sleepless Knight’s dazzling pyrotechnic expertise, when we failed – several times – to ignite gunpowder with a naked flame, as well as a moment of genuine disgust on Kitty’s face, after we neglected to mention that the “goo” she was required to pour from a charred boot, stank to high heaven and contained sticky red lumps. Good times!


The purchase of one or two minor props left James and myself to exist on a couple of raw carrots, several dust-bunnies, and half an onion, so our meals for the rest of the week yielded less nourishment than a barbecued ice-lolly, but that wasn’t going to keep the SK crew down. All-in-all, a good time was had and everyone is looking forward to the next one.

It is worth mentioning at this point, that a six month break from filming had affected our enthusiasm in much the same way that tarmac affects the structural integrity of a free-falling goose egg… so we will certainly try to ensure that it does not happen again. There is much to film before Christmas, and it scares me a little, but I remain quietly… Nope! That’s bullshit! I’m absolutely terrified. WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!

Don't try this at home... like we did.

OK… panic over. I’m sure we’ll manage. I have to say we’ll get it done, even if I don’t always believe it, because the fear of disappointing people is often all that keeps me from saying “Screw it! The condiments aren’t going to re-arrange themselves into alphabetical order!”

That’s all for this week, apart from a side note that I was challenged to squeeze a certain word into this post. If you can guess what it was, maybe I’ll let you pick the next one (I’ll give you a hint: It isn’t one of the really obvious ones).

Enjoy your week… or don’t… it won’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of mine.

Return to Life

When I sat down to write this post, I knew exactly what it was going to be about: Tease a couple of Canadians, bring down other nations, build them back up with the stuff I love about them, bring down my own nation and leave it there – for it is old enough to look after itself by now – and end on a note of good humour and goodwill. But for some reason, as I sat looking at the screen in front of me, the world seemed suddenly to fall very still and silent, and that eerie yet exhilarating “Eye of the storm” feeling, reached in, grabbed me by the stomach, and squeezed until my heart began to race.

The weirdness of this past month never really did completely disappear after all. With its dying breath, September gave England a week of clear skies and temperatures we would normally be lucky to see in a good week of July. October, for me at least, is not likely to be any less strange, and as we begin the downhill slope towards Christmas I have the feeling that autumn is going to show up with a very loud knock; saying “Sorry I’m late! What did I miss?”

So… before I turn into one of those miserable old shits that everyone avoids at parties, here are some updates:

The Observers have been put on a “keep warm” setting until I can find a solution to the problem which caused the whole project to fall at the final hurdle. You WILL see them later; I’ll be damned if I let 3 months of work go to waste. For now though, we will go to plan B for bringing me back from the grave.

Filming will begin again in mid October (once we figure out what plan B actually is), and we should be live and kicking on a YouTube channel near you, by the end of the month. My hope is to release 4 more videos before the New Year, and then return in February, fresh as a daisy and with a whole new set of diabolical plans for 2012. Some of them are a bit ambitious, but we’ll be ending 2011 with many more crew members than we had at the beginning, and an upcoming change in circumstances will make it much easier to collaborate and film on a regular basis throughout next year.

There is also a new camera winging its way towards the SK office, so we will hopefully be able to shoot behind the scenes footage which I hope will make a half-decent “End of Year” video, to be released between Christmas and the New Year. There will, I’m sure, be lots and lots of bloopers for those of you who only watch our videos for the moments when we F**k up.

On a slightly sadder note; this might be my last blog post for a couple of weeks. (Stop cheering at the back!) It might not turn out that way at all; I may be on here next week without a hiccup but I wouldn’t want to get your hopes up (Whoever is laughing; see me after!).

I’m at a bit of loss for an image this week, so I’ll put up a few pics of the completed, but temporarily shelved, Observer “Bridge” set, and I’m sure you’ll see the little guys in 2012.

I’m going now.

Hatch leading to the escape pod; where Grunkin keeps his porn!

Pilot (Pankin) Panel

Navigator (Grunkin) Panel... Try to ignore the "Cerne Abbas Giant" type image near the middle.

Seriousity strikes again

I’d like to start by telling you it has been an eventful week for Sleepless Knight. I’d also like to tell you that Justine Ezarik has selected me as her sole companion on the long and lonely 3 year voyage to upload the first YouTube video-log from the surface of Mars, but frankly, there’s even less chance of that than there is of finding a Wayans brothers movie in my DVD collection.

Richard was here all week. We rehearsed and recorded the audio track for an upcoming video, before deciding we might not need it. He then helped me work out all the things we need done by the end of the year, before going home and leaving me to do them.

The Sleepless Knight office is quiet again except for the sound of tapping keys, a clicking mouse, and the slow drip, drip of my brain melting onto the desk. Anyway… as fun as it might be to watch my brain melt on a 300 fps video playback, it’s nothing but tedious to watch in real-time, so rather than tell you there’s nothing going on with the channel or the novel, I’ll just say there’s nothing interesting going on, and instead, talk about a scary statistic.

Now, before you say “OMG! If he’s starting to find statistics scary, then I’m definitely switching the channel.”, I should make a few things clear. Firstly, I’m afraid I do find statistics interesting, but  normally only in a fun way. I am a kind of statistics nerd, but I don’t take them seriously. Secondly, the particular statistic I’m going to talk about is very real, very serious, and if, by the end of this blog post, you don’t agree that it’s a scary number… you probably weren’t paying attention.

I don’t want to downplay the rest of the week’s news stories; while the tragic premature death of Amy Winehouse was perhaps inevitable, much less so were those of the many poor Norwegians who lost their lives on Friday. However, the story closest to my own heart this week was the final flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

As I’m sure most of you must know, the Atlantis touchdown on Thursday morning marked the end of the iconic spacecraft; one which has been in service for most of my life. What you may not know, if you don’t follow the progress of human spaceflight, is that this represents the end of an era in a  much larger context than the end of the Orbiter program. For the first time since Alan Shepard (not John Glenn) became the first American in space, in 1961, the Americans no longer have the capability to put astronauts into space. Ironically they must now hitch rides from the Russians, aboard spacecraft whose design pre-dates the Apollo moon landings.

Wait! I hear you cry. You’re doing it again. How does any of this relate to the title of the post?

Well… whilst talking to someone about this, yesterday, I heard those little words that boil my piss, and cause the inner astronaut to burst forth from my chest and nut someone with his visor: “What’s the point of going into space?”

I honestly believe that anyone who asks that question with a straight face must either be a religious zealot who genuinely thinks that the Earth is at the centre of the universe, and the “Shtars are jusht pinholesh in the curtain of night”, or else they are so mind-bogglingly short-sighted that it must take them completely by surprise when the sun goes down each day and everything goes dark. If I was to sit here and list all the benefits of space travel, we would be here for a very long time. Even if I was to list all the benefits we have already seen from human spaceflight (you wouldn’t be reading this without it, for example, since neither the internet nor the microchip would exist), this post would be very long indeed. So let’s cut through all that. We’ll even ignore all that rhetorical bullshit like: What if there were no new frontiers to explore? If you’ve read my about page, you’ll already know that I’m baffled by people who can look up into a clear night sky and not want to know what’s out there, but this is not about my opinions of the universe…

It’s like this: We must go into space. The long-term survival of the human race depends on it. Take your pick of extinction level events: Super-volcano… Coronal mass ejection (no giggling at the back)… Global warming… Asteroid collision. Most of these have happened before, and never mind that without space exploration we would likely be unaware of approaching asteroids or other near earth objects… in the immortal words of Mr Miyagi: “Best defence… no be there!”

Listen… I’m not some apocalypse obsessed doomsayer; I leave that to Roland Emmerich. I don’t buy into this Mayan prophecy, 2012 nonsense either; I’ve survived the end of the world too many times already. But I’m going to leave you, finally, with the statistic I talked about earlier. It isn’t made up. It’s not a product of Hollywood, or of paranoia. It is simply a very large, inescapable, factual number. You can see it on any number of websites. I visited a few while researching the novel. Here is one of my favourites. Wherever you find it, it represents the number of people on this planet, to the nearest few million:

The human race has been around for roughly 200,000 years, give or take. After 199,000 of those years, the population of this planet was still only about 300 million. It reached the landmark level of 1 billion, just 200 years ago. When Alan Shepard made his 15 minute, sub-orbital spaceflight, that number had reached slightly over 3 billion. So that’s almost the whole 200,000 years of human existence to reach 3 billion people…

In the 50 short years since that day… the population of this planet has more than doubled. There are now almost 7 billion people walking around down here. When I checked the population clock, earlier today, I left it ticking while I went to make a cup of tea. Now, alright, I like a strong cuppa, but it still only takes me 5-6 minutes to make. When I sat back down at my desk, there were 1000 more people on this planet than there had been when I went into the kitchen!

How much longer do you think we can stay here?

Close Contact with Armadillos

Since I am one of those bloggers whose audience consists largely of people who have been encouraged to read it because they owe me a favour, I considered asking this question on the Sleepless Knight YT channel, until the following things occurred to me:

  1. My YouTube audience consists largely of people who have been encouraged to watch it because they owe me a favour.
  2. A rapt audience is not a requirement for asking rhetorical questions.

So, to hell with it… Is the internet the worst thing that ever happened to human development?

I’m not going to tell you what I think, and I suppose if you’re reading this I really don’t have to ask what you think either. Still, I did say it was a rhetorical question so I guess I’m off the hook there.

What really struck me about this absurd statement, was that I read it in a YouTube comment. Now you’re going to say to me: “Well it was obviously a joke, Jimbo.” Mmmm… that’s what we all thought at first. But no; as people responded (I kept my hands in my pockets, obviously) it became very clear
that this person was not only very serious, but genuinely did not seem to see the contradiction. They must also have met some very unpleasant matriarchal figures, if their comments about some of our mothers were any indication of their background.

This person went on to assert that “People have access to too much information these days.” Really? Do you work for the CIA? Are you typing frantically with your nose as the nurse taps on the window with a syringe; waiting for security to break down the door. Or do you just live in Texas? Seriously; what information can you possibly be referring to? Justin Beiber’s favourite colour perhaps? The precise temperature at which Johnny Depp prefers to eat his Asparagus? I mean sure, there is a proliferation of porn out there, but that has always been available to anyone with money in their pocket and the means to reach the top shelf. Unless you are speaking on behalf of some organization, dedicated to protecting the purity of penniless midgets, I think you might be kidding yourself there… Alright, alright, you’re talking about the children. Look, if you’re trying to prevent kids from discovering porn, don’t keep your stash in a box under the bed in the spare room. It should’ve been perfectly obvious that was where Han and Chewie were going to hide from Boba Fett and his legion of rogue Stormtroopers.

Er… anyway… this “too much information” business, is what really gets under my skin. Nonsense. Why just last week I learned that the archives of Harvard Business School contain, amongst other things, a 1940s board-game entitled: Blondie goes to Leisureland, and a tortilla from 1897. And, that
it is possible to contract Leprosy from Armadillos. I can’t imagine where I would possibly have learned such a valuable piece of information before the advent of the internet. That might save my life one day (not the board game thing, obviously… that’s just silly).

As anyone who reads this blog ought to know by now, I am not only a blogger but a YouTube filmmaker, a social network user, a film fan, and an unabashed geek, so it should go without saying that the internet is a huge part of my daily life, and I cannot abide the kind of people who make these
ridiculous statements. I discovered a blog by a fellow YouTuber the other day, upon which a reader had commented that the blogger’s YouTube films were too silly for a real film producer. Not only has this commenter not been paying attention to Hollywood over the years (Spielberg’s CV contains “1941”, as well as “Schindler’s List” y’know), but he also completely failed to see the point of making films for YouTube: It’s fun, and it gives creative people access to an audience they could never have reached 10 years ago.

“The world isn’t what it used to be!” No… neither is nostalgia. If these people can’t start to open their minds to new ideas, perhaps they should confine themselves to the company of equally closed-off individuals… I suggest, Armadillos.

Trying to learn how bats navigate are we? Not on my watch. Now clear off, before I give you leprosy!.