rashbre central: March 2021

Saturday 27 March 2021

What's it about? - An Unstable System

This novel is about Matt Nicholson, who was the inventor of the cyber mine in Coin. This time, he gets invited to Geneva to work on a new Artificial Intelligence system called RightMind. 

There he meets Simon Gray, who links him back to his friends Amanda and Grace in SI6 and GHCQ.
The Geneva lab is being run by Brant Industries, and it is surmised they want to use the AI for militaristic purposes. Amanda calls on The Triangle gang comprising Jake, Bigsy, Clare and Christina, who dig deep into what is happening at Brant. 

A couple of totalitarian states have an interest in proceedings and there's also Duncan Melship, a dodgy British politician, lurking in the background. Coin was written as a stand-alone novel, but by the time An Unstable System and Jump have played out, there should be a linkage from Coin right the way through to Edge. 

 And here's a useful diagram of PoincarĂ©'s conjecture – a feature of torus mathematic's homeomorphism and showing what happens if you wear a magnetic induction hat too close to a Hadron Collider.
Of course, Matt, in the novel was a genius teetering on the Edge of madness, so none of this should come as a surprise. And Steven Hawking liked the bagel/universe theory.

Saturday 20 March 2021


To my surprise, the published printed copy of my latest novel has arrived. It's not due until 21 May 2021. It seems to be up on Amazon already, too and can be expensively pre-ordered from Apple. 

Here's the Universal Book Link  

Strange that my preceding novel, "Corrupt" isn't even published yet.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

An Unstable System



There's a few things I didn't ever tell the others about the invention of the cyber-mining device. 


The most obvious one is the way that I was boosting my thought processes. Those that know me will understand. Writers and other artists sometimes use substances to boost their creativity. 


Native American Indians said that peyote took them to heaven, but white missionaries would say, with equal assurance, that it offered them only a glimpse of hell.


Jean-Paul Sartre tried mescaline, and according to his companion Simone de Beauvoir, had a very bad trip: ‘The objects he looked at changed their appearance in the most horrifying manner: umbrellas had become vultures, shoes turned into skeletons, and faces acquired monstrous characteristics…’ 


By the 1950s, Aldous Huxley was writing Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell under the influence of mescaline, the synthesised version of peyote. Then he moved to LSD, which became available to adventurous writers, intellectuals and therapists. 


William Burroughs and the Beat writers of the 1950s and 60s reconfigured the psychedelic landscape by moving hallucinogens out of the drawing room and into the streets, pursuing their organic roots in the third world. 


Burroughs wrote portions of Naked Lunch under the influence of yage, or ayahuasca, the DMT-containing hallucinogenic brew concocted in South America: ‘New races as yet unconceived and unborn, combinations not yet realised pass through your body. Migrations, incredible journeys through deserts and jungles and mountains... The Composite City where all human potentials are spread out in a vast silent market’. 


Allen Ginsberg, the beat poet, took peyote in Mexico and yage in South America. His poem Junky describes Burroughs’s peyote experiences, and portions of Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl were also written under the influence of peyote. 


And we shouldn't forget Earnest Hemingway, who first coined the phrase 'Write Drunk, Edit Sober.'


My approach whilst trying out new ideas had some similarities, although I used electronic instead of chemical stimulation. I'd seen several brain booster devices on eBay and in Wired magazine and decided 'How difficult can it be?' to make one.


The technical term is transcranial direct current stimulation (or tDCS), and it involves hooking up electrodes to the skull and then turning on a small electric current, typically powered by a 9-volt battery.


There's a small community citing this as its inspiration. Some studies that have found tentative promise for tDCS to enhance memory, alertness, and the ability to learn new tasks, and to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Anecdotally, users report that tDCS also helps them ease into a flow state (i.e., being “in the zone”), where they can get many tasks done without distraction. Others will do this by listening to Mozart.


Of course, I'd read the literature. The jury was divided. Some said it would boost thinking, others said it would create limits. There were further warnings about the voltages. It wasn't like overclocking a cpu. The desired maximum voltage seemed to be 9 volts or the equivalent output of a single PP3 battery. That's oblong battery you find in the old-fashioned smoke detectors. Then it would be at around 1 or 2-milli-Amperes and to run it for about 10 minutes.


I priced up some components and ordered them from a couple of electronic specialists. The electro-pads were hardest to get, and suppliers wanted to prove they were medically certified, which added cost.  I improvised instead with some Medium Wave ribbon antenna and a few Band-Aids. The entire system, including power transistors and some veroboard, cost me less than £20. 


I'll be honest. At the time I didn't want the others in the flat to see me wired up, so I hid everything around the back of a chest of drawers, which was conveniently in the middle of the floor in my room. And I had the whirring clicking machinery of the cyber coin miner on the other cupboard which made a great distraction. 


Now I could fulfil my dream to play Tom Waits and attempt to jack my brainpower at the same time. Maybe listening to "What's he building in there?"

Friday 5 March 2021



I've just been catching up with WandaVision, which is a show about superheroes trapped inside decades worth of sitcoms. 

We get a very 50s-style laughter track 4:3 format mono episode to start, reminiscent of old Dick van Dyke/I love Lucy shows, and then by Ep2 we've moved into Bewitched territory and in Ep3 into the world of Hey Hey we're the Monkees style color, with the end of the episode already drifting out to a 16:9 format.

I'm not really a fan of the superhero genre of shows with everyone flying around and bashing things with big mallets, but I quite like this show with its teasing hints of a parallel universe. 

I've only seen three episodes and it reminds me of a riff with Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma whilst strange events occur in the World As Portrayed. Or maybe in British terms the idea from Life on Mars or its follow-up show?

I get the feeling that we are watching something from inside someone's projection, but I could be wrong and haven't read ahead to find out. Because I'm not familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there could well be other characters already lurking in the cast about to pop on their superhero suits. 

I also enjoyed the series Jessica Jones, which was another sliver of MCU, but similarly played for real instead of with whizz-bangs all the time. Admittedly WandaVision has a few more Bewitched style moments, but I assume some of that is playing to the genre of the individual shows. 

Anyway, sufficiently intriguing for me to watch the next six episodes with interest.

Update: It eventually broke the 4th wall, slightly too soon for my preference,  and then we were able to see outside into a fantasmagorical Real World, with superhero hardware sprinkled throughout it. 

I suppose it needed a superhero vs villain punchup at some point to be able to use all the special effects. I wonder if it could have been more enjoyable if they used the secret powers covertly. Still, an interesting show.  

Wednesday 3 March 2021

The House always wins

I notice the omission of non-dom restriction tightening in today's budget. 

Mind, there's only 113,000 non-doms in the UK. 

It must weigh on Sunak's mind, what with his wife holding income-generating assets abroad and being a shareholder in her father's company Infosys? 

And the hedge fund that Sunak owns with his Swiss-resident buddy. Luckily they invested in Modena, one of those virus-busting drugs. But of course, Sunak is now the 'blind trustee' of the fund, so we'll never know what goes on. 

 Those last couple of items would play against the positive brand that the Chancellor has been at pains to curate. 

 But, of course, it's other news today of the hike in Corporation tax unless your business makes less than £50k, in which case it stays the same at 19%. 

And then there are the free-ports where one can import items without incurring tariff charges. Less paperwork? I'm sure there will be other advantages to be gleaned, once the lads have had a look into it. 

The Casino is quietly opening.