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Sunday 23 February 2020

Faster To Breaking Point

Accelerationism (Noun): The idea that either the prevailing system of capitalism, or certain technosocial processes that historically characterised it, should be expanded and accelerated in order to generate radical social change.

How many of you have heard of Accelerationism?

It's a thing that comes up every now and then in political or economic or sociological discussion. Nietzche and Marks both discussed it in their day, though perhaps without the very specific meaning that it seems to have today.

For a patented low-fi example of how this works...

Let's say you and your friends are all playing Risk.

You don't... want to be playing Risk, though.

Everyone else does. Everyone else is having a good time - they're making sound strategic plays, not over-extending themselves, defending their base lines and waiting for everyone else to make their mistakes. This game is going to drag out for a while, and they're all okay with this.

You want to play Monopoly, though - or at least you think it is going to be Monopoly. You didn't all really discuss what to do after Risk, but you know that at least one of the group has a Monopoly box, and you are REALLY good at Monopoly. You probably won't win Risk - you will almost certainly win Monopoly.

So you start playing a little less carefully.

You start over-extending yourself, practically inviting other players to try and break into your territory. You sally against hard targets, maybe throwing 10 into an opposing 10 without any hope of winning, just to whittle them down. You are making plays that are very suboptimal, very high risk with potentially slightly high reward.

It leads to instability. People start making cheap gains off you, or taking from the others who you have weakened. By your death throes - because you WILL lose at this rate - you make the game end a lot quicker. You accelerate the pace of the game, by removing the checks and measures implied and inherent, i.e. that players won't make dumb decisions.

You lost the game of Risk, but you won the game of playing something else.

Hopefully, that'll be Monopoly, right?


Put simply - it's the process of making a system run faster and harder, until it breaks. So you can access what is after that system.

Notably it's the right wing of the spectrum that leans heavily on Accelerationism. Not that there aren't left-wing adherents - numerous and sundry thinkers have espoused it - but it finds its core market in the place that is already most benefited by the system to be accelerated. That is, white nationalists and capital-fascists.

The system is already hurting the people they want to hurt, see. All those Risk pieces that get taken off the board as you make the fast plays, the stupid plays, the risky plays - they aren't what those kind of people like to think of AS "people".

All acceptable losses to get to what they think is next.

Books have been written about what is next. There's a lot of different perspectives. Paul Mason (author of a book called Postcapitalism from 2015) argued that the digital economy and people relying on co-operatives and mutual aid rather than going to their traditional capitalist benefactors would see the end of our current model and the rise of something more egalitarian and just.

Of course there's big steps to make that not happen. The undermining of every social justice programme, the sabotage of experiments into universal income and ignoring the experiments that work, the definition of everything that levels the playing field as being socialist and the definition of socialist as being inherently evil. Like, this is McCarthyism stuff, you hate to see it.

Nevertheless. Whenever you see a relaxation in trade rules to benefit the seller, or a removal of regulations between owner and profit, or a tax efficiency being exploited, or whatever Amazon is fucking doing next, remember: this is acceleration.

And those doing it really hope they can exploit what happens next.

Just like this guy.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday 16 February 2020


So for the book club at work (yeah we have a book club, my work is better than yours) we were tasked with reading things that are more than a century old. My immediate first thought was War Of The Worlds, but I read that regularly anyway, so why not something I haven't read in a while?

So I decided to refresh the cobwebs in my head, and broke open Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Note the scene above. This doesn't actually happen.

See, it's been adapted so often, riffed on so often, that several parts of the story have become presumed canon without ever appearing in the novel. That happens in adaptation, obviously, but still.

The last time I read this book I was about 19 or 20. I wasn't super-good at reading books then. I mean yes, I could read, obviously - I read voraciously from an early age - but I wasn't good about thinking about what I was reading. That skill came later. That was when I really started to consider what the author was trying to tell me, what a particular perspective might imply, so on, so forth.

If you are thinking of the Kenneth Branagh movie of 1994 you aren't necessarily far off the mark, but ultimately - no. See, I don't think they could make a movie strictly out of the book, and I will tell you why.

Victor Frankenstein is fucking insufferable.

I get ahead of myself.

The book is an epistolary, told through letters. Specifically it is told via a letter from a guy called Captain Robert Walton, who opens up the novel by writing back to his sister in London, reassuring her that this adventuring sciency life on the sea is perfectly safe because he literally isn't intending on killing an albatross. Invariably his ship gets stuck in the ice and things get worse.

Walton sees a big-ass dude go by on a dog sled. Days later another dude shows up on another dog sled with only one dog left alive, and this dude is brought aboard his ship and generally cared for until he can get his shit together, and THIS dude is Victor Frankenstein.

Frankenstein starts telling Walton about how he came to be out on the ice, who the big dude was, and so on. He literally lays out his entire life story, repeating it verbatim, just dictating to Walton as he writes it all down. So here we have a story nestled inside a story. Excellent.

Kenneth Branagh was an excellent pick to play Frankenstein.

Look at him. Look at him, smug bastard.

So we get his full life story. How joyful his childhood was. The circumstances behind his adoptive cousin. How everything was just, fucking, great.

Then he catches science and makes a corpse-person.

No, that's literally it. He reads a bunch of natural philosophy books and then he makes a corpse-person in his room at university and then he falls asleep and then it runs away. The actual process of creation is never gone into - and for good reason, Victor here doesn't want anyone else to be able to repeat the process, so he doesn't tell Walton - but it results in this big old boy who casts off into the night and leaves Victor all sorts of upset.

There's an awful lot of anguish, throughout. Like. This really is a story all about how miserable Victor Frankenstein is, after having made Captain Corpse and taken zero precautions from preventing his new creation from just wandering off into the night to do, well, whatever.

Then there's the deep sorrow that Victor feels when he finds out his youngest brother has been killed, and how awful that makes him feel. But then he realises it was his Body Boy that did it, so that makes him feel EVEN WORSE, especially because there's a girl that his cousin palled around with a lot that is being accused of the murder. So SHE gets to die as well. IMAGINE how bad Victor feels!

Yes, there's a common thread here.

So Victor is so Sad(tm) that his dad suggests they go for a little holiday. So off they go. Casually fucking off for a day's mountain climbing (in between long agonising soliloquys about how awful he feels) Victor bumps into Tall Dark And Dead, and - after exchanging some really rather curt and savage insults - decides to listen to his tale... which he relates to Walton... which Walton writes down in his letter. FRANKENCEPTION.

Robert DeNiro did an amazing job at playing the creation in the Branagh movie, it bears mention.

So it turns out, being newly sewn together and reanimated by alchemical genius isn't great. Especially when your creator takes zero time to make sure you function, won't kill anyone, can think, or are happy. The first sensation the poor bastard experiences in his life is his dad going "EW WHAT THE FUCK" so I mean you can imagine how he feels. (Bet it isn't as Sad(tm) as Victor.)

As he learns how to be alive, then sentient, he starts to crave socialisation - which he can't have, cos he's ugly. He hides in a shack behind a cottage and learns all about humanity, and craves the care and general positive interactions that the people who live in that cottage experience every day. So he decides to risk it and say hi to the blind old man that lives there when nobody else is home. It goes great, cos he's learned how to talk at this point, and everything is fantastic until everyone with working eyes comes home and sees how ugly he is. All bets are off.

Yeah, now he's all pissed off.

So he finds his way to where Frankenstein lives (Geneva) and totally by accident comes across Victor's younger brother and casually MDKs him.

Okay so yeah uh straight up there goes your redemption arc.

Big Body here makes a request, at this point. He puts it simply. Look, Vicky-Boy. I want a bride. I want a lady me that will like me. And if you give me that I'll stop unaliving your family.

Victor says yes.

Victor... says yes. Victor, who was about to smash this guy into bits because he THOUGHT that maybe the beastie boy had killed his little brother, now has testimony stating that yeah he DID kill his little brother (AND frame the girl for mudering him), and is like - yeah okay homie I'll hook you up no issue.

Angry Lad wanders off. Victor goes back home, agrees to marry his cousin (not his actual cousin, it's complicated) after he gets back from England, where he needs to go to learn some stuff about how to make a corpselady for the corpselad. She's chuffed to bits about this. She loves him, despite him being a twat.

He sets up shop on Orkney or some shit. MC Stitch-A-Lot shows up and is like, ay, where's my boo. And Victor, suddenly deciding this is a bad idea, literally shreds what he has made already by hand in the ultimate Yeah About That Nah move.

What follows is basically Victor being sad a lot, the Ungrateful Dead bumping off both his best friend and his wife, then him swearing bloody vengeance, and chasing Big Boi (you know from Outkast) across the ice floe, and here is where I came in.

Now we get back into the story from Walton's perspective. He has a wobble as he really wants to continue his expedition north, but the crew want to not do that cos they are all gonna die. Victor demonstrates that if he can convince himself that he's the real victim of this story he can convince anyone of anything, and makes the crew be okay with maybe going north.

Now here's the bit I really like.

Victor dies of whatever. The ice breaks. And Walton goes home, because fuck this, science isn't worth getting your ass deep-sixed over personally, let alone killing off a bunch of innocents that had literally nothing to do with it.


Because Victor Frankenstein is an ASSHOLE.

Like, Lab-Slab-Thank-You-Mab is literally a monster, but that's because he is LITERALLY A MONSTER. Like he was made in pain and anguish and made to socialise like people but couldn't because people are assholes. Of course it was going to end badly for all concerned. He shouldn't have been made in the first place. Yeah, he gains reason, and then chooses to subtract a whole bunch of people. A WHOLE bunch. And that is wrong, obviously.

But Victor? AN ASSHOLE.

Because he's RESPONSIBLE for all this. And at several stages he has a chance to fix it, and what does he do? Fuck all. Feels sad. Mopes. Acts like a dickhead. Broods. Christ this guy could give Bruce Wayne brooding lessons.

The only dude in this book I actually respect is Walton, because he goes from a devil-may-care "The Ice May Claim Me But At Least I Am A MAN!!!" choad (chode?) to a "Fuck My Sister Gives A Damn I Shouldn't Get The Rest Of These Stout Sailors Killed For My Own Personal Gain" kind of guy.

HE is the lesson, here. Yes, don't make a corpse creature without sufficient containment procedures and a strict moralistic education, but more importantly: Recognise that other people getting iced is worse than you feeling a bit sad.

And I think that Mary Shelley could bring a lot of knowledge to this because as I understand it she spent most of her life surrounded by absolutely fucking insufferable men.

I apologise, anyone from the book group that is reading this - you're gonna hear some of this when we get together next...

But hey, that's what we're in it for, right?

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday 9 February 2020

Out Out

A couple of days ago, Philip Schofield - UK TV personality, presenter, and generally quite nice man - came out as gay on This Morning.

Long-time readers will already know that I'm in support of people living their lives and am very much against homophobia, so more power to the man.

Not much for me to add to that. What I'd really like to address is how people reacted to this particular bit of news.

There's several brackets of these responses, so I am going to address them in broad groups, without calling out anyone specifically. Understand that - if you take personal offence to me dissecting your response here? I probably still respect you, but you need to think about why your responses are what they are.

I Knew Already, It Was Obvious

You almost certainly didn't unless the man spoke to you or you had any actual direct evidence. What you had was a presumption based on several stereotypical behaviours, stereotypes which are harmful to continue to engage in, simply for fact that telling people that having a certain kind of personality or temperament is indicative of their sexuality is bullshit.

What WAS your hint? Was it the fact that he's pleasant? Polite? Well-spoken, well-groomed, respectful? Was it the fact that he doesn't treat women poorly? Was it the fact that he doesn't tend to make sexist or phobic jokes?

These are things you should do as a matter of course. They don't mean a damn thing in terms of who you are attracted to, sexually, romantically or otherwise. Telling men that they are perceived as homosexual if they're just plain nice is telling.

Question your assumptions.

It Doesn't Make Any Difference To Me, I Don't Care At All

I understand where you are coming from and that probably seems like a sensible attitude to take, it kind of ignores the society that necessitated the very act of "coming out". That is something we should care about - that daily, people need to make the choice whether or not to actually express who they are, or continue to hide it.

There will be those that feel it is "making an undue fuss", because it doesn't directly affect them, and they can't necessarily perceive how it would be important. It is through awareness that we change society. A lot of people change their minds about how they treat minorities when they find out that one of the people they know or respect is a member of that minority.

How many stories have you heard about someone being a massive homophobe until their cousin came out as gay, and then all of a sudden the tables were turned? I hate that it sometimes takes a personal connection to an affected group to change a behaviour, but sometimes that is what it takes. So we should care, when someone decides to open themselves up like that.

This ties in to the next segment.

He's Been Lying To His Wife The Whole Time, That's Not Right, How Can He Be Gay If He Has A Wife And Children

Here's a picture of Phillip Schofield as I first came to know of him as a TV presenter - this would be The Broom Cupboard, from the late 80s. Here he is with one of his co-hosts, Gordon The Gopher.

During this time, a law was brought into effect in the UK. It's a rather infamous law. Anyone that knows their stuff will probably guess which law I am talking about. It was called Section 28 for short - Section 28 of the Local Government Act. It specifically forbade the "Promotion Of Homosexuality," and specifically the promotion of "The Acceptability Of Homosexuality As A Pretended Family Relationship".

Read that a couple of times.

So I have actual personal experience of what this law resulted in, because one of my school teachers - an excellent teacher who encouraged me in my work and led to my love of the written word - was sacked because it became public knowledge that they were homosexual.

Not that they were promoting anything, but then, that wasn't the point of the law, really. It wasn't conceived in the notion that you would have individuals handing out pamphlets trying to convince you to become homosexual because it's better. It was because you could spin "not demonising gay people" as "promotion". It was because you could dress "actually it's not weird or wrong or sinful to live like this" as "promotion of acceptability". It didn't criminalise homosexuality - which had been partially decriminalised in 1967 (Schofield was 5 at the time) but wasn't fully decriminalised in the UK until the 2000s - but it criminalised talking about it, becoming effectively a legally binding ancient taboo.

People were literally being sacked for being gay. Newspapers would run front-page splashes on celebrities for daring to not be heterosexual. It isn't a wonder at all why the term "gay" became an insult in schoolyards in the late 80s - because society had decreed it as something wrong and bad and unjust and awful, that you should be ashamed of and never speak about if you were one of those people that dabbled in it.

That's the world that Schofield - and many others like him who have since had to have this conversation - grew up in, worked in, lived in. A world where your entire career vanished if they discovered your sexuality.

And by the way - if you stayed single for long enough in that era, people assumed you were gay anyway. Heteronormative bullshit also includes a byline in being married. Everyone is straight and everyone gets married and has kids. If they don't there's something wrong with them. Then god help them.

When do you think Section 28 - which, by the way, was the brainchild of the Thatcher government seeking re-election, and deliberately pitched to undermine alliances between LGBT support groups and labour unions - was finally actually repealed?

September 2003. The Labour government brought in a bill to repeal it in 2000, but was shut down by Baroness Young in the House of Lords. Yes, a Conservative. Theresa May - yes, THAT Theresa May - said that the repeal being defeated was a "Victory For Common Sense."

When your government is so thoroughly set against you that they will pass laws against you for forty years, you'd probably hide who you are too. The man said he'd spoken to his wife already; that must have probably been a harder conversation to have. It's none of our business how she took it.

I Don't Like Him Any More, I'm Going To Stop Watching This Morning Now

Congratulations, you are part of the problem. Go away. Don't read my blog any more. If you liked him just fine before you knew he was gay and now you don't, that makes you homophobic. Take a good hard look at yourself.


I mean, that would be fair enough.

I get it, straight folks. I know it can be difficult to work out why people react the way they do. That's mostly because until recently the western world was pretty much exclusively set up to cater to you. We have a lot of preconceived notions we have to start chipping away at before we have actual equality. It isn't that people should feel safe coming out - they SHOULD - we should work toward a world were somebody doesn't have to come out at all.

Fair enough, right?

Well done, Phil.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Readers Request: Poland, Dad Jokes, Kebabs, Wisdom

Sentient beings of all ages, it's time for another Readers Request - the first since July! We have several treats for you in this one, including about a quarter of the questions being submitted by one person who had consumed enough wine to intoxicate a rat with his breath?

So without further ado.

Best historical rant - This may be controversial, but here goes: The Prince, by Nicolo Machiavelli. Often cited as being a how-to guide for the budding tyrannical despot, it is also one of the most scorching and excoriating takedowns of tyranny that you can ever read, and may have had a hand in eventually unseating the Medicis.

Surprising Polish facts - Copernicus was Polish, and studied in Krakow. It is common to celebrate your Name Day in Poland, which is the Saint's Day of the Saint you were named after - which is a common thing as Poland is quite a religious country. It contains the last ancient forest in Europe which is the home of the European Bison.

The power of the pangolin and your own personal statement - Pangolins are wonderful beautiful creatures that deserve our care. The third Saturday in February is World Pangolin Day. I want these critters to be saved from their endangered status because god damn look at this little fucker what a BEAUTY (wait I've been asked this before too)

Lost skills you'd like to see come back? Either you personally or humans (of which you presumably belong) in general - My first instinct is to yell the words Critical Thinking or Empathy. I think, though, that maybe I am being facetious or illogical in thinking that either of those things was much more prevalent in the past than they are now. So let's go with the skill of knowing who to trust. (NASA over that guy you know who says the Earth is flat, e.g., or your family doctor over Suzanne from the MumsNet local page who says that vaccines cause homosexautism.)

What shows are you excited for this coming year? - Oh uh. I dunno. I haven't paid a lot of attention really. Masters Of The Universe? Picard? Next season of Dark Crystal?

Is global existential dread just a part of adulthood, and has it always been so? - Yes. It is my firm opinion that the human condition is centralised around insecurity, and existential dread is an extension of insecurity. The only way you are going to avoid such things is to either pay no attention to the world, or to have no awareness of anything. (I blog about this a lot.) (In fact I have been asked this one before I think?)

Various things John has wanted to set fire to over the years. - Parliament, myself, the US President, capitalism, the human race, myself, half of the villages and towns we come across in Pathfinder, myself, the human race, capitalism, elves, nazis, antivaxxers, chauvanists, homophobes, transphobes, racists, sexists, myself, capitalism, Michael Bay, the human race, Parliament, Tolkien, every building I can see, everything I can see, myself, whoever keeps signing off on the Anime live-action remakes, capitalism, the human race.

Favourite tabletop builds for various archetypes - Welder Cleric (offensive spells that can be fast-cast as healing abilities), Sword-And-Board Fighter (smack em with your shield), Rogue With Knives (seriously just rogues with knives), and one of my personal favourites, Combat-Centric Character With Psychological Issues In A Mostly Social Setting (because I like a challenge).

I read this as on the bog #mumofasevenyearold - I might be. You don't know.

The current political state of the world if it were a DnD campaign. - The world is falling to darkness. As hellfire sweeps continents and toxic taint seeps into the oceans, the dark powers ally with each other to take over one nation at a time, ruled by lords of deceit, greed and malice. This is not a quest to conquer a dungeon; this is not a quest to save a kingdom. This is a fight for the world, to prevent it from becoming the next level of the abyss.

Best "dad joke" - I bought some shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I've been tripping all day.

I've been told you shouldn't make dad jokes if you're not actually a father. Apparently it's a Faux-Pa - Included as a comment because frankly it's funny shit.

Favourite set of dice you've ever owned or come across - So rather than pick a set of dice that I own - if I play favourites the others will betray me - I will instead pick this set of dice that I would dearly love to own. Blacklight dice that, without a blacklight shining on them, just look like blank polyhedrons.

How can we divert course from dystopia to a utopian future? - I've been asked this one before - the answer is the same as last time.

You, the touch and the power -

Time to talk day 6 feb 2020 - Time To Talk Day is a day for us to start talking more about mental health and breaking down the taboos surrounding it. It is uncomfortable and it is upsetting but think about how much worse it is if someone is suffering? 123 people die by suicide every day on average - that is one every twelve minutes. Think about that. If even one of them can be solved by talking, then we should talk. That's what the day is for. We should ALSO talk about how government funding for mental health solutions seems to involve 100% awareness and precious little treatment, too.

Why Justin shouldn’t suggest topics when drunk - I mean he can if he wants.

Or me even - You're drunk?

Who is Justin? - Dave's not here man.

Is this his kebab? - A kebab? I'm hungry.

Irrespective of my previous answer can I eat it? - I want it. I want the kebab.

Why are the two old ladies talking about shoes in Cowes on the 22nd? - I don't know, I'm not privy to the secrets of the aged.

Is there always a bigger fish? - Almost always.

From your point of view are the Jedi a) evil, b) a bigger fish or c) a bunch of self destructive smack heads? - All three. The Jedi are just rubbish. One of the weaknesses of the prequels is having to include Jedi - like not just some smart guys hiding on moons and spreading their own personal wisdom but a bunch of dickheads in robes making poor decisions on an industrial scale. Why are they the protagonists?

Wisest things said by fictional characters - I present to you a selection, beginning with Granny Weatherwax from Carpe Jugulum.

"It's not as simple as that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."
"There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That's what sin is."
"It's a lot more complicated than that--"
"No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."
"Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes--"
"But they starts with thinking about people as things..."

In reality a self sustaining oligarchy is the only form of government the uk has had since at least 1568, discuss - The signing of the Treaty of Adrianople? I mean I agree but I fail to see how relevant -

I of course mean 1658 I’m embarrassed now - The death of Oliver Cromwell? ...oh okay.

Why I married Nicholas Wright - I mean he's a nice enough lad, isn't he?

The couple that ....... together stays together! - "Is Good". It's not to do with the things you do or don't do together - some people are inseperable to the point of creepiness, some people are fiercely independent. The important thing is, not only, that you accept each other for who you are - but that you are genuinely OKAY with each other being who you are. When you can accept each other without reservation, not because it is what you have to do, but because you are genuinely at peace with where you differ and where you overlap. That... is how you stay together. (I do however recommend gaming! It works!)

Can I get a rat drunk with just the power of wine breath? - Yes. I mean. Probably.

Best/worst/both pickup lines - "Are you a parking ticket? You got fine written all over you." Which is of course inviting the response: "Are you a parking ticket? You look like an expensive mistake that I'd rather not make."

Favourite quote and why. -
"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain."

 Khalil Gibran, The Prophet. I don't want to lionise pain and suffering. I don't want to say that you can't hold wisdom unless you have suffered. At the same time - it is true, that without the context of what suffering actually is, you don't necessarily have the context to understand just how important it is to prevent or cure suffering. If you have never stared into the dark and known that you want your life to end, you can't grasp the full extent of what it is to save someone from the same. Without a crippling heartbreak, there is no You've Lost That Loving Feeling; without the darkest depression, there is no Black Hole Sun; without a plane crash, there is no Fire And Rain; without the tragedy of a painter at the mercy of his darkest demons, there is no Starry Night, and there is no Vincent. Would I rather be pain-free and have less context for, say, It Never Ends? Well yes - but if life is for poetry, if life means nothing without art, then I will take my enrichment where I find it. Especially given as the pain is a feature rather than a bug.

Favourite meme you've seen recently. - This one.

Studio Ghibli Netflix tie-in - ACCESS. Expanded audiences. YES. People can see some of my favourite animated movies that couldn't before, for whatever reasons. YES. And they started with two of my favourites (Castle In The Sky and Ocean Waves). YES.

That's it for this time, folks. Thank you for your contributions - something more personal next time. Thank you for joining me on this odyssey!

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.