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I have known a hypomanic woman for over twenty years – the first four months, as a companion.

The only differences between her and Trump are; she is a short woman from the Midlands of Britain, while he is a tall man from New York – and she types using shouty ALL-CAPS, while he restricts his use of capitals to just SOME words (clearly realising that not to would be a dead giveaway).

And she refuses to use medication. Trump – who knows?

According to Wiki, hypomania (literally “under mania”) is characterized by persistent disinhibition and pervasive elevated (euphoric) mood, with or without irritability. Hypomania is distinct from mania in that there is no significant functional impairment, but it may have psychotic features.

Characteristic behaviours are that the subject is extremely energetic, talkative, and confident – commonly exhibiting flights of creative ideas.

While hypomanic behaviour often generates productivity and excitement, it can become troublesome if the subject engages in risky or otherwise inadvisable behaviours.

Like with my friend, I would not give Trump the keys to my car – yet the NSA have given him the Launch Codes.

So this is how it ends.

We are all going to die.

…also known as The Purpose… The Secret… and so on.

Being exactly one month short of his 65th birthday, you can understand why this writer has been giving these matters some thought.

And those thoughts divide roughly into six parts…

(1) RELIGION.

The reasons Man made up his myriad religions are threefold. First, the need for a father-figure, once he grows up and realizes his dad is not a god. Second, the need for answers to the impossible questions (like this one). Third – and most important – the need for some sort of afterlife.

But if one allows oneself to be sucked into these myths and superstitions, one quickly realises religion has no answers. In fact, I’ve already wasted seventy-eight words on the subject, where ONE would have sufficed. So…

(2) SCIENCE.

The MAIN concern a man approaching the end of his life has – IS its end.

Although science has a number of ways to forestall that. However, none of them attract.

Organ transplants; like putting a new engine, gearbox, whatever – into a clapped-out Cortina. It will still go GLONKALONKALONG for five seconds every time it hits a speed-bump. The paint will still peel. The sun will still blaze off the thousands of scratches on the windscreen. And it is pricey.

Hibernation; just means putting OFF the issue until science has advanced far enough to give us another shot at existence. However, the chances of re-animating the frozen bodies (or heads) that currently earn companies offering this service BIG bucks – is about the same as back-engineering three chickens from a plate of scrambled eggs.

Upgrading; like dumping your consciousness into a nice new genetically-organically-created body – or a computer.

We have all seen that old movie where some victim is strapped to a chair, wearing a crash-helmet stuffed with lights and wires (the victim, not the chair – keep up) while some nutty professor hits knobs and switches on a slew of techy devices (doubtless rescued from junk shops, yard sales and council dumps by the props department) in order to transfer the person’s consciousness into another – or the machine itself.

And had we not been so intent on getting jiggy with our companion, we might have considered the prospect – and reasoned that since computers and human brains are remarkably similar, that might actually be possible.

But since those days, we have discovered far more about both…

(3) BRAINS vs COMPUTERS.

In Britain’s Golden Year – 1967 – in “2001: A Space Odyssey” HAL 9000 achieved emotion and ultimately, some level of consciousness.

However, in the real World, this is as absurd as religion.

The human brain has a number of levels. At the bottom is memory. Then come its operating systems. Followed by processing (broadly speaking, intelligence). Then we have the more exotic qualities: personality, tastes, morals, character traits, etc. After which there comes what many believe separates us from machines; emotion. And only THEN – that pinnacle of achievement in Thought – the afore-mentioned CONSCIOUSNESS.

But only the bottom TWO levels are achievable by machines.

Over the FIFTY YEARS between “2001…” and now, while many more films showing machine intelligence have been made – and vast sums have been offered to anyone who could demonstrate that they had actually achieved this – we are no closer to AI than we were back in ’67.

Computers have certainly become much bigger and faster than they were then – the one I am typing THIS on probably has more power than all the ones that got Neil and Buzz to the Moon in ’69 – but NOT SMARTER.

Ultimately, they are just number-crunchers.

Which means the day that you can plug a lead from one into a USB port on your head and go flying – without a plane – to the Rio Carnival and bonk a hundred of the girls (or boys) there…is NOT coming any day soon.

Or indeed, probably ever.

The fact is, even the most STUPID person you know is a gazillion times smarter than a computer.

To “interface” with one, despite its similarity to our brains (synapses = pathways, neurons = transistors, both with terabytes of data storage) is impossible (aside from a few basic connections to enable disabled people to control machines without physical movement).

And transferring one’s consciousness into an ORGANIC body cannot be done either. We can relay a few simple thoughts to another person using basic telepathy – but to download the entire contents of our brains that way would take MILLENNIA.

However, there is ONE hope of escape from the slowly sinking ship that is your body…

(4) MEDICINE.

Better Living Through Chemistry (more likely, some kind of “procedure”) could slow, stop and ultimately REVERSE our “body clock” – meaning for the first time in History, we could actually “cure” AGEING.

Research into “telomere lengthening” has been promising.

But do we really want to LIVE LONGER?

Elsewhere in these ramblings I have said, “When a person reaches sixty, they should have learned all they needed to, experienced all they wanted to and achieved all they are likely to.”

And I still hold that to be true. If, at sixty, you have a “bucket list” – you are deeply SAD. This is because you are now too damn OLD to do the stuff you should have done in your twenties, thirties, forties or even (provided you managed to stay fit, open-minded and curious) fifties. You had your chance and BLEW it.

Imagine looking like you did at twenty-three – but with seventy years of memory and experience (not to mention scars) – trying to score with a twenty-year-old at the Ministry Of Sound. Bugger off, Grandad.

Of course, you can never go back – nor should you want to. We humans have evolved an inherited (hard-wired) life-plan, whereby we expect to live eighty years, in twenty-year slices: 0-20, growing up – 20-40, young adult – 40-60, middle-aged adult – 60-80, old geezer – then DEATH.

We can handle that. Granted no-one wants to die today – but no sane person wants to live forever. Do you wonder that Doctor Who is asexual?

No, eighty years will do – but what happens THEN…

(5) THE BOX.

Okay, this is where things take a turn.

All of our lives, we have EXISTED – we are used to that. But the prospect of NOT existing is SCARY.

Then again, what IS existence? We now know plenty about our brains and bodies. Like computers, controlling machines, they are fed by the calorific energy of food, which we convert into electricity.

However, as stated above, we are very different from – and surprisingly, superior to – machines.

Because we (and the higher-functioning animals) not only utilize the two lower levels of thought that computers can handle; but also intelligence, personality, tastes, morals, character and emotion – which they cannot.

And they will NEVER possess CONSCIOUSNESS.

But we DO. And so the $64,000 question is – where the F@%K does it go when we DIE?

The thing is, we live in a box. And in that box are we and everything our senses can detect (the five classic senses – plus about twenty more that scientists have discovered we also possess, over the years) and all that our instruments can see.

Which is a LOT. Seven-milliard-three of us, bazillions of animals, all on a gigantic planet. And that in a universe with (long scale) trillions of stars like our Sun – each with an as-yet-to-be-determined number of planets going around them.

But let us concentrate on us. We. Ourselves.

Our brains may each have terabytes of data, like computers – but when their energy source dies, so do THEY.

A computer can retain data perhaps CENTURIES after the plug is pulled.

But our data dies with US. In MINUTES.

Which means our consciousness – AKA self-awareness – AKA sentience – is only a TEMPORARY part of this box. As a Continuumist, I recognise that my “earthly remains” (ash and ground-up bone) will live on – but what about my bloody DATA…

(6) THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX.

Continuumism aside, before I was born, there was NOTHING. Blackness. Non-existence (I’m not even discussing reincarnation – it’s bollocks).

And after I have croaked, nothing will return. Blackness. Non-existence.

Or WILL it?

Science can explain our planet’s life (evolution and all that) and our own brains (the physical makeup and all of the functions).

But after we are gone, it merely states the neuroscientific view; which is that consciousness fails to survive brain death and along with all other mental functions, is irrecoverably lost.

Plus, it explains Near Death Experiences as hallucinatory states caused by neurological factors such as cerebral anoxia and hypercarbia.

(And don’t think I didn’t copy most of the last two paras from Wiki).

All of which is probably true – but supposing it is not?

Perhaps there is a SECOND box?

And the REAL we/us/ourselves are in THAT.

And this existence is just a temporary EXTENSION of that one.

And having served our apprenticeships in this box, there will be more boxes to follow.

Yes, I am going with that.

…a few days later… …an ADDENDUM.

Also in 1967, there was a “Prisoner” episode where Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) BROKE a super-computer which the then-current Number Two (Colin Gordon) claimed could answer ANY question.

And it was revealed Pat did so using Epistemology (look it up). He simply asked it – WHY?

Of course, that would not actually work. But then, back in ’67 few people understood computers (GIGO) – and still fewer OWNED one.

Nevertheless, the principle is SOUND. Science is very good at answering questions that begin with how, when, where or who(m) – but LOUSY with ones that start with WHY…

And thus it is that while science can explain everything in The Box, it is clueless when it comes to what may lie Outside.

Inside The Box is us, the World we inhabit – and apparently, many (long scale) trillions of others. And science can explain how all of that came to be (although the further BACK you go, the fewer FACTS it has – and the more THEORIES it is forced to serve up).

And therein lies the Achilles’ heel of science – its value is totally reliant on provable, repeatable data.

But when it comes to the BIG questions – there IS none.

Like, WHY is there all that stuff in The Box? Surely, it makes more sense for there to be NOTHING – blackness, silence, zip, zilch, nada.

And if we cannot develop interstellar travel, what is the point of all those OTHER worlds?

Things were simple in the Dark Ages; we lived on an island surrounded by sea, with a lit dome above. The Sun in the day – and a night-light.

But now we know all that we know (or BELIEVE we know) it seems highly illogical. This Place alone just should not BE.

All of which provides fuel for the argument; there must be SOMETHING ELSE – OUTSIDE that box.

But before the god-botherers start on me, science rationalises THEIR crap as well – religions’ origins, development and the reasons they survive are logical, easy to understand – and POINTLESS for explaining existence.

They merely BUCK-PASS. If God made everything – who made HIM?

No, the answer to this Ultimate Question will be a lot more complicated than some Cosmic Santa Claus.

It has rightly been said that even if the answer WERE forthcoming to us, it would be like trying to explain gravity – or an iPhone – to a primitive.

Despite our best efforts, our limited intelligences and experiences would probably render us too DUMB to comprehend it.

But if anyone out there (from ANY dimension) wants to try me, go ahead.

Anyhoo, I think that really IS it, now. Surely, there has to be SOMETHING after we peg out? But as to WHAT – your guess is as good as mine…

Back at Copleston High in the Sixties, our thing was to use teachers’ “catch-phrases” to lampoon them. And since head of fizz-ed and sport, Jack Adams often said “in actual fact” – he became Jack Fact.

This is not to say we disrespected him – Jack was all right; a good man and a good sport. And of all of our teachers, he may be the only one who still lives (he was young and fit).

In fact (DYSWIDT?) had he taught any other subject, me and him might have been closer. But FIZZ-ED – and SPORT – YECH!

A waste of a Tuesday morning (fizz-ed) and a Friday afternoon (sport).

I mean, Football; twenty-two morons chasing a bag of air for an hour and a half, where the perfect score is nil-nil.

And Cricket; you get a score – but it’s incomprehensible – and declared a draw if it rains.

I could go on; but to cut a long and painful story short, the only sport I was even passable at was the Cross-Country run – and the Shot Put.

Shot Put; you walk into a circle – lift the shot up and down a few times, to limber up – throw it up at forty-five degrees, as far as possible – leave the circle at the back – and hit the showers.

The whole thing is over in less than a minute.

However, since Track And Field only occupied part of the year’s activities, the cross-country running and shot-putting only gave me relief from the other crap for a few weeks a year, at best.

But when we were about thirteen, I had an idea…

The venue for the annual Cross-Country was the local heath – and the next event was imminent. So I pitched an idea to Jack Fact; how about if a bunch of us did Cross-Country PRACTICE?

To my surprise, Jack agreed – but warned that he would pop over from time to time and CHECK on us – and we had BETTER be running (which he did just ONCE – but luckily, we were running at the time). Also, we had better score highly in the upcoming event.

In fact (again) looking back on it, I can see his reasoning; neither I nor any of the chaps I recommended were remotely likely to reach Olympic standards – and we were big enough to beat off any perverts we might encounter on said heath. Let me put that another way…

Anyhoo, come the day, we all streaked off and came home in the top ten percent – except for fat Potter, who rolled in last.

But Jack had everyone give him a round of applause (I told you he was a good sport).

However, my joy was short-lived when I realised we would now have to return to blasted SPORT again.

So I did one of the most audacious things I have ever done; I asked Jack Fact if we could CONTINUE our Cross-Country practice – for NEXT year.

And after a few seconds thought – Jack AGREED!

Of course, the same situation existed – we were all USELESS at sports and just in the WAY – and given our size and strength, would be unlikely to come to harm – plus we could be trusted not to get up to mischief.

It would never happen today – along with many other non-PC things that Jack did – but it ensured that while all the other boys toiled through a Friday afternoon of mostly-pointless bloody SPORT – me and my chums went off for a nice rural Walk-And-Talk instead.

THANKS, Jack.

[respectfully dedicated to the Copleston ’69-ers]

Verily, this is the year of the flashbacks.

Currently, we are getting eighteen eps of S3 of Twin Peaks – S2 having finished twenty-five years ago.

Then, in late September, we will have a dozen new eps of Will & Grace.

And later still, eight more of Roseanne.

Of course, Will & Grace only ended eleven years ago, so the cast are still relatively young. And even the Roseanne people are not too long in the tooth (Barr, John Goodman and Chuck Lorre are all MY age – born in ’52).

But the Twin Peaks people are ANCIENT. Several have died (three during the SHOOTING, over most of last year) and old Harry Dean Stanton now literally looks like a WOMAN. Then again, he is ninety.

Anyhoo, here in The Land Of Smiles, the first eight eps ended up getting “streamed” (actually, marathoned) on Digger 2 – with the rest running right after US transmission.

Given it is on Showtime, and these days that network is owned by CBS, it is surprising that Luxy (RTL/CBS) did not get it. Particularly after the recent fiasco with US House Of Cards (Netflix SNATCHED it back, after Luxy had promoted it).

So what of the forthcoming Will & Grace? And Roseanne? These days, there are alternatives to broadcast TV (Cartoon HD, Watch Series). Time alone will tell.

Anyhay, after some backing-and-forthing, David Lynch (like his co-writer and -creator Mark Frost, a year YOUNGER than me) agreed to direct all of the eps of the new Twin Peaks – which is ESSENTIAL.

The original show died on its arse half-way through S2, largely due to Lynch abandoning it to “pursue other projects” – hell, Diane Keaton even helmed an ep.

But THIS time, it is ALL Frost and Lynch.

Ep eight was a mindfokker; clearly a nod to Kubrick’s “Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite” – fokknose what they’ll do next (ep ten airs next Sunday).

Meanwhile, despite composer Angelo Badalamenti now being EIGHTY and vocalist Julee Cruise, sixty (and seemingly semi-retired) Lynch’s musical tastes (turn-of-the-60’s – plus dreamy techno) will ensure the mood of the original is maintained by a bunch of NEW people.

Like, check THIS out… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGUboLZx3Tk

And luckily most of the original cast were still alive and were happy to do it again. However, the scuttlebutt has it that the Man From Another Place (the dwarf) went BONKERS when propositioned – and demurred.

But the Giant is still there and the series is BUNGED full of one-ep star cameos, eager to be a part of the thing.

And the Log returns. I still think it knows more than it is telling…

I am FAR from being a computer wizard. In my mid-50s, I began learning computing from scratch (with a little help from a couple of books) and am now able to do all I NEED – quite well.

My current computer – “Hercules” – runs Microsoft’s Windows 7 Ultimate.

I had begun with “TIM” (depending on context, This/That/The Infernal Machine – it was a piece of crap) running Windows Vista Home Premium.

Today, Microsoft keeps pestering me to adopt Windows 10, but they can stick that where the sun don’t shine – it’s for TOY computers.

And Windows 8 is a misbegotten version of 10 (there IS no Windows 9).

So here I am with a Windows system that is no longer “supported” by Microsoft – which means you no longer get “updates” – HAH!

I turned their poxy updates OFF, YEARS AGO.

At first, I allowed them to JUMP IN any old time they wanted, but that resulted in them DUMPING, without warning, anything I was working on.

Which is why I eventually acquired Google’s Gmail – it was a tad busy for my taste (like Windows 10, it’s designed for KIDS) but it had “auto-save” facility, unlike the then-current Microsoft e-mail service.

But they were still wasting my time, so I changed my “options” – forcing them to ASK PERMISSION to download their updates, at MY convenience.

This was fine for a while (and their e-mail service finally – BELATEDLY – acquired an auto-save facility; so I now use both) but ANOTHER Microsoft issue had been a constant pain in my arse – the updates THEMSELVES.

The thing is, you expect the OCCASIONAL cock-up, even from a service like Microsoft (hell, WordPress is far from perfect). But the number of ROGUE updates that were frigging up my computer was UNACCEPTABLE.

Every time I got a bundle of updates that screwed him up, I had to do a “system restore” – then use the “half-split” method to isolate the faulty one (with another system restore each stage) – then “quarantine” and “hide” the sonofabitch – all of which took HOURS.

So after a couple of YEARS of this – I began dumping the WHOLE BATCH of updates that caused any problems (just ONE system restore).

But as the Microsoft blunders continued, I finally REBELLED. I went and did something “not recommended” by them – yes, I switched the bastard things COMPLETELY OFF.

Since which time, Hercules has run perfectly fine. As we have seen, their “security patches” don’t protect people from viri, like WannaCry – where as thus far, Avast’s free antivirus DOES.

So who NEEDS Windows updates? Or Windows 10?

Not THIS computer dummy, that’s for sure.

On the last ep of Doctor Who (at the time of typing) Bill found herself in Scotland, during the Roman invasion.

She asked a centurion how come he spoke ENGLISH. He replied that he was speaking LATIN.

Bill looked puzzled – then opined that it must be the T.A.R.D.I.S. acting as a Universal Translator. “Funny how it synchs the lips though,” she added.

This was clearly a dig at Star Trek.

Right from the Original Series, the writers tried to keep the tech as REAL as possible. Which is why today, we have solid state hard drive modules, flip-type mobile phones (out of date, now) and tablets – possibly like the one you’re reading this on NOW.

However, some tech remains theoretical – like inertial damping (stops you becoming an integral part of the WALL when Kirk dials up warp 11) gravity plating (saves having all those 2001-type rotating WHEELS) and of course, the afore-mentioned WARP DRIVE (without which, travel to other solar systems would take DECADES).

But ONE piece of tech defied all efforts by the Trek’s writers to even DESCRIBE. Yes – the Universal Translator.

When Star Trek first aired, in ’66, it did not take long for viewers to wonder why – given the rest of the tech was explained – there was no word on how come almost all aliens spoke ENGLISH (and with an American accent, to boot).

Various explanations were vaguely hinted at – like, English had spread widely through the galaxy, in the early days of exploration (which also hinted that America had pioneered space travel, galaxy-wide – cheeky).

But in TNG, the now-somewhat-enhanced comms badges were said to connect to the ship’s computer and thus supply the universal translations.

Which was totally impractical – and left viewers asking how come the lips were still in synch. At which point, the techies said, “Oh FFS, YOU sort it out – it’s only a TV show, you know.”

When I were a young lad, there were four aphorisms that made NO sense to me. They were, in no particular order…

(1) “If you save someone’s life you become responsible for them.”

(2) “Before embarking on a journey of revenge first dig two graves.”

(3) “May you live in interesting times.”

(4) “No good deed ever goes unpunished.”

First, let us examine the origins of these axioms. The first three are said to come from China – indeed, number three is generally described as a Chinese CURSE. And inevitably, they are all attributed to Confucius. But there is little evidence for ANY of that.

In fact, only number four can be reliably ascribed – to twentieth-century American authoress, Claire Boothe Luce.

Whichever whatever, all four are widely used and to a young person seem irrational, to say the least.

I mean surely, if you save someone’s life, THEY should at least offer to be responsible for YOU.

And why TWO graves?

And who would want to live in BORING times?

And should one not be REWARDED for doing a good deed?

Well, this author is now approaching sixty (tragically, from the wrong direction) – and these days, fully understands all FOUR.

However, to explain it to his YOUNG self – or any young person – would take some doing. But he will now TRY…

(1) Imagine if, like me, you had rescued three cats, four dogs and a woman – would you then want to see ill befall them? NO. And the only way you can ENSURE they prosper is to look after them yourself.

(2) This one depends on the RELATIONSHIP you have with the one you wish to NAIL. If it is an EX – FORGET it. Walk away. Because in the future, all you will remember about the affair that MUST have had some NICE moments – will be the mean, spiteful thing you did at the end.

And even if your target is a STRANGER, you still damage your KARMA by doing evil things to ANYBODY.

But conversely, if you just turn the other cheek EVERY time some monkey jerks you around, your SELF-WORTH will suffer.

So do as I do; only clobber SOME of those you do NOT know – and leave it until about six months later. Then they’ll have no clue who screwed with them and will not RETALIATE. And if they accuse someone they RECENTLY messed with, they might receive a knuckle sandwich from them. Result.

(3) 2016 and (thus far) 2017 have certainly been “interesting times” – do I really need to go further?

(4) While Luce is generally credited with the maxim that every good deed you do ineluctably turns round and bites you in the ARSE, there are many variations on this observation – some going back centuries. It is not a new notion.

Your humble scribe actually RESEARCHED this last adage; one definition states it is “…used to express the idea that beneficial actions often go unappreciated or are met with outright hostility”. Okay. Another might simply claim it to be one of Murphy’s Laws. But I prefer the FACT that we live in a BLOODY OBTUSE WORLD – and that’s all you need to know!