Protect the Victims

One of the problems we are experiencing today in the era of 24 hour news, is that news stories break quicker, and without as much oversight, or even thought going into them.

Journalism is struggling, as news is more easily, and cheaply, found online. This has led to the amateur journalist, from full time self-employed or freelance, to the occasional blogger like myself, entering the field. This has led to the professional to try and compete with the amateur on their terms. This is a bad thing.

Of course, sometimes it is a necessary evil. In some states, where freedom of the press comes second to freedom of the government and powerful, bloggers and online amateur journalists are very useful holding despots to account. Syria and the Arab Spring come to mind, particularly in Egypt.

But the press have changed their customers. The customer is no longer the people, those in a quest for news reports of the highest quality and most in depth analysis. Nowadays, newspaper customers are those who buy the advertising space. And in order to demand the high revenue of advertising space, the paper has to sell well. In order to sell well, the paper has to write stories the readers want to read. Essentially ‘click bait’ on the written page.

So this brings me to the crux of my current angst. The newspapers currently name people for crimes prematurely. And in a major crime, the name of the accused is going to be in a far bigger font than any later retraction. Especially if the paper speculated on the individual itself.

In the UK, a ‘60s singer called Cliff Richard got accused in a modern ‘witch hunt’ post Saville. For non-UK readers, Saville refers to Jimmy Saville, who was an incredibly well known DJ and TV celebrity who became so powerful in the media that dozens of cases of sexual abuse and paedophilia. Of his 200+ victims, 80% were children and young people. He even boasted of necrophilia. But his charitable works were such (he raised some 40 million for charitable causes) that most of this was overlooked as rumour, jealousy and hatred.

So we have one innocent man, and one guilty man.

We should always, always, listen and believe a victim. This is the default position. In Richards case, we did this. In Saville’s case, we did not. The newspapers led the charge in Richards case, in Saville’s case, until the very widely held rumours were investigated by the police (after his death), Saville was treated like a saint. The BBC broke the story, not the written press.

Here’s the thing though. At this point, both Saville and Richards became victims. And you should always believe victims. They were victims because their names were out there. Of course, Saville was dead at this time, but he had family. The papers rapidly switched to a stance of guilty until proven innocent, which is different from the law of most democracies.

Now, it has been proven that Saville was an evil, evil man. To put it in context, Harvey Weinstein (who at the time of writing is still innocent in the eyes of the law until his trial), allegedly preyed on women who were seeking fame, some of which became powerful in their own right, and even these powerful women didn’t come forward until decades later (as far as I can see, he is only on trial for 2 offences). Saville preyed on vulnerable adults and children – around 214 of them (4 under the age of 10). Richards did nothing wrong, yet was held in suspicion of these offences in the minds of many because he was a Christian and in his 70’s, but had no relationships of any kind (with either males or females), which made him appear ‘weird’ in some peoples eyes. It is not illegal to be weird or I would be in jail for being autistic. Yet even now peoples enduring memory of Richards will be the police ‘storming’ his house in 2014, not of the Crown Prosecution Service saying there was no evidence to prosecute in 2016. For two years he lived under this weight of accusation, despite being innocent until proven guilty. (For parity – the BBC was heavily criticised for their part in the media storm. I mention this as they were instrumental in Saville’s conviction as mentioned. Nobody is perfect and mistakes in judgement happen).

We should protect the victims. And both parties are victims, and innocent, until the trial. The job of the Court is to decide who is telling the truth, not us. At that point, one party lose their ‘victim’ status. Not before.

The press and journalists, of either professional or amateur standing, need to remember this in their reporting. And I need to remember it in my daily life.

When people come up to me and complain about someone else, they deserve to be believed. But then the object of their complaint deserves to be believed as well. In my workplace, if my people accept my judgement, I can usually iron it out. And in most cases, it is purely perspective issues. Everyone is the hero of their own story, and most people don’t set out to be the ‘bad guy’.

For those that do, even death is not an escape. Saville’s ornate headstone was destroyed by his family and sent to landfill. His body was exhumed, it is thought it was cremated. His estate was divided up amongst his victims. His name was removed from street signs in his honour, and his honorary doctorates and freedoms were stripped, including a Royal Marine beret. Like the beret, his Knighthood and membership of Orders, such as a Papal Order and the Order of the British Empire expire on death, so there is no requirement for revocation. However, in most cases, Saville’s name was stripped from the records, and in the case of the Royal Marines, his name will never be uttered again. His ultimate legacy is obscurity.


Diet Day 6


So I had been challenged to measure the size of the Universe if the Milky Way Galaxy was the size of a cup of coffee. I worked it out to 92km.

These are the things I do to stay occupied.

Of course, as I was doing this, I thought ‘how big is the Milky Way Galaxy if the Solar System was a cup of coffee. This was slightly tougher, because we tend to think the Solar System finishes around Pluto, which is 4.7 light hours away. But it is much bigger. To get to the end of the Solar System your really need to go to where the Suns gravity has no influence. This is about 1.9 light years away. The Voyager probes ain’t there yet, despite media reports saying they have left the Solar System. It all comes from your definition. If we say that our Solar System is defined by gravity, and was the size of a cup of coffee, then the Milky Way Galaxy measures 50km. But if we go by the orbit of Pluto, then if that was the size of a cup of coffee, then the size of the galaxy would be a staggering 177,500km. If there was a road running around the Earths equator, you could drive around it nearly 4.5 times, or if you could drive to the Moon, you would also get to come about halfway back.

Space is big.

Then I realised I forgot breakfast. Ah! Autism. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Breakfast, a vanilla shake, I have late. I do wonder if this is going to affect the weight loss, as my metabolism hasn’t been kick started for several hours – my ‘fast’ hasn’t been broken.

Although I am not on shift now, I am still in my work accommodation because I have lots to catch up on. I am on a course for two weeks next week and have stuff I just cannot put off. So I manage to stay active.

I pull out a jacket I got 11-12 years ago. Last time I put this on, it was so tight I had to ‘chest breathe’ as the belt around the waist was so restrictive. Now, although snug, the jacket fits. There aren’t even stretches around the buttons. The only indication that it isn’t a perfect fit is the small 3mm popper on the belt that holds the belt down after the buckle doesn’t like staying fastened. Regardless how much weight I lose, I take this as a win.

Mid afternoon I have a chocolate bar again. I have a slight panic after this, as I forget my timings are skewed and briefly wondered if I impulse snacked.
Into the evening I realise I haven’t drunk nearly enough today. I just haven’t felt thirsty. I make sure I drink about 750ml through the rest of the day. Since I think my weight gain was due to dehydration (my body held onto water because I wasn’t drinking enough) not drinking is going to be something to watch out for.

Dinner tonight is the Lighterlife Chilli. I think this is my least favourite dish now I have had it twice. I don’t lay this at Lighterlifes door though. I like my chilli and am fussy about it. To reduce the calories, too much stuff that for me makes chilli, chilli, was left out. It is a shame, as I hoped this would be my favourite. Maybe I expected too much of the sachet!

I am slightly worried my next weeks supplements won’t arrive in time. I ask Emma what I could do in the meantime. She says I can’t exceed 800cal a day (preferably keeping my diet around 600cal) and no more than 40g per day. If the package doesn’t arrive at least I can have 6 boiled eggs then. Emma tells me at a push, Superdrug have the food-packs. So, I won’t starve (more than I plan).

Diet Day 2

I arose surprisingly without hunger. This was an unexpected bonus.

I spoke to Emma who suggested today might be harder than yesterday.  HA! I laugh in the face of (moderate) hardship! However the advice was keep up the fluids. Water, green tea, coffee (black, no sugar) etc.

My fast was broken by a chocolate shake.  Once again, I enjoyed this. It was thick and tasted good.  I followed Emma’s advice and added coffee to the mix as well.

I am completely sold on Lighterlifes water flavourings.  Both ‘pink grapefruit’ and your basic ‘orange’ are fine by me. A sachet does a litre of water, and costs £1.  This might be expensive for squash, but cheap when you consider how much soft drinks or energy drinks cost. I consider it a saving. Emma warns me the drinks have a laxative effect to counter the constipation you can get with the other products.  I shrug this off – body fat can only leave 3 ways, exhalation, urine and excrement.

I finish writing my rant on ‘Crime and Punishment’ for the blog, and venture out to see the EBE (evil bitch ex, you will remember).  Daughter is there with her boyfriend.  I kind of like him, he is scared of me, which is precisely the kind of attitude I intend to cultivate.  I have proudly shown him my collection of katanas (Japanese Samurai swords), including my shinken (true sword) which is sharpened for the purpose of tameshigiri (cutting targets – or misbehaving daughter’s boyfriends).

EBE is after a summer house, so we begin by shopping for these.  EBE finds some way out of her budget, but she has a way of making plans happen…it is one of her bipolar superpowers. Like autists like me, bipolar-bears have a hyperfocus when close to mania.  A neuro-typical can concentrate for 45 minutes on a good day.  We can concentrate for 12 hours.  The problem is, we can’t always choose what we concentrate on.

Before our next task, I have lunch, which is the toffee chocolate bar.  Once again I enjoy this, which surprises me. It is smaller than a chocolate bar I would usually buy – but my usual purchases have left me in the condition of needing to go on a damn diet so I better accept that the diet is right and I am wrong – for now.

Our next task for the day is quite emotional.  EBE and I tried for children (daughter is step-daughter – but nobody’s perfect).  We had a series of pregnancies, but all resulted in the babies born sleeping.  At our local graveyard our babies who nearly made it are buried, along with a memorial tree we had planted and blessed for all babies born-sleeping.  There is a tendency to forget that a bond has already formed between the mother and baby while the baby is still cells and many mothers need some form of closure. Our tree has slate hearts where mothers can write their babies names and have a place to come and mourn them.

We tidy up the graves and the tree. We clean away debris, repair the damage done by the over zealous lawnmower, weed and make it all look good.  We trim back the bluebells at the base of the memorial tree.  The babies grave is next to my father’s grave, so we tend to that. I pour miniature whisky into the soil for him. He loved his whisky.

I get a bit choked up at this point. I am genuinely happy EBE is moving on with her boyfriend, but maybe a bit jealous.  I am mid 40’s, overweight and autistic. The chances of me finding any meaningful relationship are remote. Emma is my closes female friend, and she can’t handle me for extended periods, so any other woman has no chance.  This isn’t a pity party, but I reminisce about all the family and friends I have lost.  I miss my dog.

However, life is too short to dwell on these things, and depression is a shadow on the soul. I snap out of it.

I return home and EBE and I have a cup of tea with mother.  As there was no animosity between the EBE and I, nobody else seems to harbour any bitterness either, though some do express regret.  This means EBE is still welcome everywhere.  I am drinking Spanish Orange tea, as I can’t really do tea unsweetened and black yet.  Maybe after my taste-buds get used to less sugar, less sugary stuff will taste sweeter. They natter about my diet and the things that they are both getting up to.  I drift off while they are talking – my thoughts pondering if bird-houses are council housing for birds…

I drop EBE off at home before returning for my third food pack of the day.  This is spaghetti bolognaise.  It delivers nearly a bowl full of food.  This is a surprise, as portions are small.  Don’t get me wrong here, there isn’t a huge amount, but compared to the other dishes it is a pleasant surprise.  The dish only wants for a bit more spaghetti, and a touch more bolognaise, and it would be perfect!

For the first time in the day, I get a touch hungry.  It doesn’t last long. Emma tells me I am learning the difference between real ‘physical’ hunger, and emotional hunger.  It makes sense. I just ate. I don’t feel weakened or anything, and I have gone longer without food.  I decide to go and see another friend, Ken.

Ken knows I am on a diet.  He supports me in the way I would expect him too, he puts ‘MasterChef’ on the telly.  Ken is a c**t.

However, Ken has been in a worse place than I physically.  He will never have the body of a racing snake, but he has lost a whole lot of weight.  He was a chef in a previous career and doesn’t trust any chef who is skinny.  Now he cooks very nice food at home, and is helping daughter shift some puppy-fat that she struggles with because she can’t do all the exercise she wants to without dislocating her joints.  Ken lost his weight though Crossfit. I have been wary of Crossfit in the past because some gyms are a tad cultish. Kens gym is more family though.  The coaches are brilliant and have really brought on his self-confidence. If I lived closer, I would be using them as well.

Returning home, I have my last meal of the day, a butterscotch mousse.  This is my first problem, and a surprising one.  It is midnight and I forgot to eat.  I FORGOT TO EAT!  The butterscotch mousse is great. So far, the only thing I haven’t downright enjoyed is the chocolate mug cake yesterday, and frankly that could be because I am used to having sweet stuff so often.  Emma tells me that the Chocolate Mug Cake does divide people, some of whom think it is too sweet. I will try it again another day.  I made jelly for tomorrow, I haven’t had jelly for ages, so that is something to look forward too.


Absence – and a New Hope

A long time ago….

I started this blog.  Then after a while and a whole load of stuff I didn’t need, I closed it down.

Then I restarted it…and vanished after just a few posts.

Well, you might ask why?

I separated from my wife, and got quite ill.  This resulted in a long time off work and a long recovery.  I have re-entered the workforce, but as my illness was in my brain, it took its toll on my energy levels.  I couldn’t concentrate for all that long and I was extremely fatigued at the end of the day.  I got diagnosed with autism, and now at the age of slightly less than the half century find myself rebuilding my life and personality from scratch (what you do when your entire existing personality is a symptom.

But what this does do, is gives me time to catalogue the weirdness and path that leads me to…where-ever I end up.

So.  My objectives:

  1. I got fat!
    This started with jumping out of a helo in Iraq with full gear and weapon which did something bad to my spine.  Of course, most guys just ‘man up’ (a silly expression when most women I know are far stronger than I would believe). Then I thought it was a muscle problem in my leg (turns our the nerves were inpinged). So no longer able to do the same exercise I did but eating the same, and getting older, has had its effect.  I need to lose weight.
  2. I lost my connection to ‘the Force’.
    I am a kundalini survivor. I went through in 1999.  I started off calling myself a ‘Jedi’ and referring it to the ‘Force’ as a way to avoid awkward questions, and for the most part it works. However, since my brain injury I have lost connection to it. I suppose this is akin to losing any other sense.  Anyway. I need to get it back, so will describe my process here.
  3. I stepped back from the ‘world’.
    Frankly, people were testing the limitations of my medication. I was exhausted by people.  Reading peoples expressions became extremely difficult and social interaction tedious as I have never been good with small-talk. I had a wife to deal with that. Now I am alone (and let’s face it, with my loveable personality this ain’t gonna change soon) I have to deal with this ‘people’ business myself. That means online and…going outside.  If there is anything worthwhile to report, I will place it here.

I have friends who will help me, one in particular. I will change their names and locations because their privacy isn’t mine to destroy just for some selfish need for expression.

I hope this will be in some way entertaining for you.