More Palettes than Many

No two people can inhabit the same world. Beliefs, opinions and prejudices distort reality the way mass warps the path of light. Circumstance can mean that, though we might agree that chair is red; it’s green to someone with a specific form of colour blindness. They may concede that an absence or dysfunction of long wavelength cones in the eye causes deuteranopia; but ultimately to them, the chair is green.

I’m no philosopher and I’m certainly no scientist. I simply cannot escape the significance of an analogy like this. The chair is green in the subjective. It is only red by consensus. Let’s find an alternate dimension where deutans are in the majority – now what are you sitting on?

Colour Blind Awareness states that, globally, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women live with some form of this condition. 8% of my gender live their lives with dissonant chroma. My cousin ranks amongst them, as did my maternal grandfather. That we’re not inundated with stories of cars piling through traffic lights because of misread signals is deeply encouraging. A mutation which could dramatically impact upon the day-to-day of a great many people has become well managed and almost completely anonymous.

In 2005 researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne used multidimensional scaling (MDS) to explore ‘the colour dimension that is private to the deuteranomalous observer.’  The study emphasised an important correlation between “colour normal” and deuteranomalous observers – that they are both formally trichromatic (requiring three primary lights to ‘match all possible spectral power distributions.’) Despite the differences in colour perception, there is no inherent deficit or dysfunction:


MDS studies of anomalous trichromats have, however, always had a phenotypic bias: stimuli have been selected to be discriminable for the normal observer and the anomalous space has typically been found to be contracted compared to the normal. Such results reinforce the categorization of anomalous trichromats as ‘color deficient’, but this represents the viewpoint of the majority phenotype.

Interestingly the study refers to a potential evolutionary advantage gifted to anomalous/alternative trichromats. Research suggests that the efficacy of camouflage is threatened by ATs, particularly when it resembles natural foliage or terrain. Food sources and predators may become easier to clock; practical applications expressed in some primate species. Genetic drift may have allowed such individuals to make an advantageous contribution to our earliest, socialised ancestors. Hunter/gatherer parties including, though not wholly comprising ATs may have been ahead of the curve.

As expressions of the worth and wonder of re-thinking how we determine what is and isn’t a disability – as well as opening eyes to the potential benefits of any “anomaly” – discussions of colour blindness offer a delightful elegance and simplicity. Clearly, on the spectrum of what we consider disabilities, disorders, diseases…et cetera, not all animals are going to be equal. Issues will never be (ahem) black and white.

All I would say is consider the alternatives whenever you consider or encounter anyone with anomalous expressions or characteristics. Maybe you’ll find yourself ahead of the curve too.


Vlogbrothers – Giving it 1200%

On JJ’s advice I have begun watching the entertaining and hugely informative Nerdfighteria vlogs produced by The Fault in Our Stars author John Green and his brother Hank. Presented for your consideration – Big Pharma in theory and practice:

Where It’s Spent

“That’s inhuman!” a colleague of mine exclaimed last week. I’m consistently waking around 5.30am, which is abhorrent to most people. Further down the spiral – it skips, morning to morning, between 5.23 and 5.25. An unnerving recurrence; a triumph of chaos theory over mundanity.

I like having more of the day to play with. Early breakfast, cup of tea, washed with clean teeth before the paper arrives. Ready for a productive day, beginning with at least two hours of Warframe. Youtube on in the background, playing old episodes of Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. My wellspring of political thought.

When I’m not killing Grineer, I’d like to be doing this. Typing. Hopefully something worth reading, by myself and by others. Activism is becoming a significant part of my Me, but a consistent failing, as my untrained eye can observe, is when one occupies a single issue, denying the prismatic facets of simply being here.

So being here. 11.53am. Awake for 6 hours, 28 minutes. Waking and reaching for Marina Keegan’s wondrous The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories. Statistically not my thing, but the quality of her writing, the vibrancy of her personality and intellect shine through. Mournfully, so does the significance of her frustrated promise.

I finished Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in my Head. A memoir of mental illness and recovery which doesn’t entrench itself in the minutiae of mental illness and recovery. Love and sex and family and animals and opportunity and self harm and suicide. The tapestry. Take a tapestry and focus upon several threads. If you’ve lived the way I have these past 30 years, you’ll know how well this works.

Read, write, repeat. I need, I want, to fall in love with words again. Actually this is deceitful – I want to love the words of others, which is why (at the start of 4.0) these authors are wellsprings of optimism.

30 years. 6.5 hours. What’s inhuman is not the time you’ve lost. There’s no inherent glory in any time you might have gained. Just don’t frustrate the promise of every second you collapse into.

Meat Free May: Continuance.

And so to you, the first day of June. At the start of Meat Free May I would’ve anticipated things to resemble 30 Days of Night by now.

Truth is, I’ve really enjoyed this whole vegetarian thing. Correlation don’t always equal causation; but I do feel better, and I haven’t missed eating meat in any way I might have expected. So many things have changed in the last few months, and diet is always one you need to look at. I’ve been looking at mine and I think the less animal parts the better.

The month may have ended, but the donation page will be online for a little while longer. Thanks to everyone who’s supported this, one way or another.


Rolls like water…

We returned home around 1pm yesterday. Would have been at least an hour and a half earlier if the baggage handlers at Gatwick could distinguish arse from elbow. You know when you’re back in England: temperature drops, skies turn grey and suddenly you’re drowning in phone shops and coffee concessions.

The long journey on the district line wasn’t as bad as I feared. I hate sitting still for too long, which is strange because I have no trouble with long plane flights. Sometimes the destination justifies the weight of the way travelled. We were so tired by that point as to be effectively anaesthetised. I even got to play some ‘wise owl’ thing – discussing hair dye with some bright eyed teen proto-goth.

And so here I am now. Funny how a brief change of pace can give someone a fresh perspective. Those nights on the balcony; warm breeze, rolling seas, typing by starlight. I want that. More of that. I work in a business where every third person you talk to has aspirations to be A Writer. Hell, put enough of us in a room, throw a bucket of water and you’ll drown dozens of ’em. But I’m not talking about The Novel. I’ve tried fiction and I don’t have the size for it. No focus; a struggle to draw something from the bottom up.

I’m also quite the egomaniac. I love the sound of my own voice or the, er, sound of my own words. Maybe I can type and do something with it too. Another thing I did while sitting on that balcony was look at Journalism MA courses. I have a degree, so getting onto a course is largely a matter of money. What seals the deal is whether or not another degree would actually do any good.

I’m young, but crossing the threshold. If I want to make changes, this is the time to put it in motion. When I was studying film, the best people on my course were the mature students. The most naturally capable was in his 40s, and he put every other one of us to shame. It’s early, but I’ve already been thinking about things Liam could be asking me in the future. One of them is going to be about university. My advice? Leave it a few years. Finish school then get a job. Or travel. Or both. Figure out what you want to do, what feels right; rather than the vague notions and delusions your uncle had.

I was 19. Making life decisions barely 18 month after getting out of a psychiatric hospital. I had no clue what to do, so I went with the path of least resistance. And it feels like I’ve been doing that ever since.


Whether I stick with it or not, I need to get out of this place. Out of B&D, probably out of London. Too many old ghosts, and sometimes I just feel like all motivations and concerns are out of whack. I was 19 and now I’m thinking back on that and, more importantly, the kids I knew when I was 17. Tacitly, Icarus implies that we are A People. United by mad gifts. I want to write and I want to do something. Certainly for those who are written off, hurting, abused, left feeling like a voice and a life are more than they’re worth.

There’s one week left to go on Meat Free May. Do something amazing today – donate just a little to the important work of Friends of the Earth.


Meat Free May: Tobago – Temptation Waits

I won't be churlish enough to state that I haven't received any support from my loved ones during Meat Free May. Shared meals and excursions have easily accomodated my sudden change in diet, with little disruption and healthy support. However, I do feel that the principle behind this is somewhat obscured.

We've made friends with an energetic, and powerfully helpful tour guide. There was a long conversation by the poolside; sharing life stories, touching on our perspectives and experiences. She was making recommendations on things to see and do; giving us information beyond the polish of the brochures and reps. The topic of food inevitably came up, and I explained how I'd given up meat and fish for one month, for charity.

She was astonished. My mother fell back on a rejoinder I'd heard before we left Blighty: "Eat meat and make up the days in June." Our new friend told me to keep any ravening I do secret. Just don't tell anyone.

I hope I'm not making too much of us, especially since I'm talking about a person I love dearly and a bright young woman who has been so warm and generous to us. I think what unsettles me is that I've heard things like this multiple times since this began.

Don't tell. For me, the principle is more important than any temptation this beautiful island can offer. And believe me, temptation waits. Enormous, juicy steaks; constellations of exotic, mouth watering seafood, usually with little delay twixt salt water and plate. But I signed up for this, knowing full well I was coming here. To an island paradise which chalks up much of its appeal to its culinary delights.  

The message of Meat Free May is an important one. For me, its about keeping informed and accepting that, while guilt shouldn't necessarily follow, we should accept some responsibility for what finds its way onto our plates. I wouldn't describe myself as the most moral of individuals, but I've always recognised the value of open eyes.


I've not gone into withdrawal yet. Help keep me on track, and contribute to an important and worthy cause here.

Meat Free May: Tobago – Outbound

Written somewhere over the Atlantic:

One thing I love is a sense of momentum. Staring out of a train window, and now, as I type this, cruising at roughly 35,000 feet. Polarity is very much a part of my nature. Black and white, high and low. Static and taking flight.

JG Ballard had a thing about airports. I have a thing for Ballard, and I think I know where he was coming from. Airside you find yourself in an approximate world – recognisable with subtle, uncanny adjustments.

I’m here in this cabin. South African wine out of a small plastic bottle, splitting my attention between typing this and Catching Fire. Here’s a meal from on high:


Macaroni with spinach and lemon crumble. Lemon very much to the fore. Not quite overpowering; but strange enough to make itself conspicuous.
I’m not sure what the side salad was. There was a little feta, I think, and some little round things I can’t quite place. I want to say vinegar, or vinegarette, or some other thing I have no goddamn clue about.
One thing which I’ve so far found surprising about Meat Free May, is that I can think and talk about food without a rising desire to scratch my own eyes out. A concern I have is that I’m not focusing on my initial reasons for signing up in the first place. The environmental concerns, globalisation, the realisation that subtle, uncanny adjustments in our daily lives present some kind of opportunity.
I’m over the mid-Atlantic. I love flying. That sense of disconnect, natural defiance even. The whole world compressed into …ft of steel and glass. I love turbulence and ears popping even. But I’m suddenly conscious of the enormous energy cost of what we’re doing up here. Flying somewhere frequently tagged ‘paradise’, inside of a device which poses its own threats to this rock of ours.
I’m no luddite. I was once tagged as a Transhumanist: I look forward to our cyborg future. I’ve been an uncle for just under 3 months, and I keep fascinating over the type of world my nephew is going to come of age in. At the pace with which technology and information are infusing themselves within us, everyday presents exciting new possibilities. My iPod Nano is 4 years old still has a greater hard disk capacity than my first PC. What on Earth will be within his finger’s reach?

This genuinely excites me. Tantalising prospects but, again, polarity. I get to eat a half decent vegetarian meal high above the clouds. There’s no guilt, just a greater sense of responsibility. That everything, everyday is tipping the scales.

If you would like to make a donation to Friends of the Earth’s “Meat Free May”, you can here.