The Lightning Process

I have written a review of The Lightning Process, a claimed remedy for ME/CFS, and I should very much like to post it here. However, because it may turn out to be controversial, and because the WordPress moderators could just possibly be persuaded it’s in breach of their Terms of Service (it’s not), I could suddenly find my entire blog deleted and gone forever.

Yep, if you haven’t read the ToS, you should, because that’s what happens, and there’s no appeal, if you are deemed in breach. I’m perfectly confident that what I’ve written is NOT in breach of the ToS, and that I’m being over-cautious, but I really can’t afford the risk of someone at WordPress getting it wrong out of ignorance of the subject matter.

It also flies in the face of what WordPress says elsewhere:-

“Your data is your data, and don’t trust any service that treats you otherwise.”

I can’t reconcile the fact that they can delete my entire blog without notice or appeal, with that statement.

I have, therefore, posted it on my own website, where I’m the sole arbiter.

If you have read it already, on the ME Free for All website, to which I’ve contributed quite a bit, then this is a somewhat revised version.

Is that your blog? If so, I’d like to hear from you.

Intrigued by the title, I clicked on the link, only to get a message from WordPress saying the blog has been deleted by the owner. That being the case, I’d love to know how you’re visiting my blog, so frequently, from a blog that doesn’t exist. Not that I think there’s anything sinister going on, I’m just baffled.

Veggie or vegan…

I have to say, as an omnivore, that my diet sucks – not least because buying the quality of meat that I actually want is way beyond my budget, and my food bill is getting out of hand anyway. I also need at least one large meal a day, because otherwise my anti-inflammatories make my stomach bleed without food to buffer them. Simultaneously, I also need to watch my calorie intake to lose weight (exercise isn’t an option).

The answer to these quandaries is, I think, a return to vegetarianism. I was a veggie for about 15 years, from the mid eighties, before lapsing. This wasn’t an ethical decision – my then wife wanted to be a veggie (though I didn’t realise at the time it was because she was anorexic), and as I cooked, I decided following suit was no hardship, and it avoided cooking different meals for each of us.

My wife got me to write down my recipes – something I’d not done before, or since – and I eventually noticed that, without even trying, we’d slipped into a vegan diet. These day, that’s unlikely to happen, as I’m pretty fond of the extraordinarily versatile fromage frais and crème fraîche , (hard to find last time round, as was fresh tofu), which will improve the mouth feel of many veggie dishes, and a veggie diet can use a little fat (as long as you dont go berserk with cheese and eggs).

What tipped the balance was the Observer’s restaurant reviewer, Jay Rayner, being persuaded by his editor to try a vegan diet for a week – and pretty much failing, on the whole, though he did come up with some inspired vegan meals, which tipped the balance for me.

Being a veggie will make life a little more difficult, as some products – fresh tofu, and the more unusual vegetables, like tiny, flavourful, aubergines – mean travelling to Liverpool which, trust me, is no fun at all. The city centre is a giant building site and parking is almost impossible (public transport is out – I can’t walk well enough). On the other hand, a lot of stuff is now obtainable online – which simply wasn’t an option last time round – and I should be able to find a decent farm shop for veg and fungi.

It would, for me, not be too hard to become a dietary vegan, though I can’t be doing with all the rope belts and plastic shoes stuff, by cutting out dairy and eggs. I do get through a lot of milk, for drinking – sooths my drug-abused stomach – but I actually like Alpro soya milk, so that’s not a problem. What is a massive problem is getting Sainsbury’s to put the bloody stuff on the shelves – the milk section seems to be stocked up by half-witted trolls. For pity’s sake, these oiks are too stupid to make sure they put 6-pint containers of milk, often putting out extra 4-pinters by mistake – I’m sick and tired, over the years, of the repeated arguments over this.

The soya milk problem is a nation-wide Sainsbury’s snafu – they re-stock according to zones so, if zone A just needs, say, 4 or 5 packs of butter, but zone F is utterly devoid of soya milk then, bugger it, zone A gets the attention and zone F stays empty until its time comes around. That’s the explanation I got from the Dairy Products manager at my local Sainsbury’s, though I’m forced to wonder if a person without the initiative to over-rule such a mind-bogglingly stupid system when the need arises is the right man for the job.

I had planned, this year, to start making my own sausages, but my flat is just too warm to do that safely – keeping the meat cool during processing is critical, apparently. However, I’ve long harboured a desire to make a vegetarian sausage which is actually a pleasure to eat – those commercially available are truly awful, and veggie haggis is an abomination. I have a recipe – my own – for marinated, deep-fried tofu, which is pretty damn good (the marinade, after removing most of the water from the tofu – otherwise it’s like boiled snot – is a mix of mushroom soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and veg stock, with a little garlic salt and some white wine vinegar), and it would make a good base for a veggie sausage, with minced cooked grains and pulses and a little greenery in the way of fresh herbs, the whole bound with egg. My idea is to use synthetic casings, poach the sausages to set them, then strip off the casings (which aren’t veggie, they’re made from beef collagen), before frying them. The principle will work, though the actual recipe will need tinkering to get the right taste and texture. I’m not aiming for a meat substitute, but it has to taste and feel right. That’s where commercial veggie sausages fall down. They either try to emulate the look and taste of meat – as with Quorn – or are overtly vegetable. Either way, for me, they all fail miserably on both taste and texture. I think I can do better.

Anyway, this isn’t going to happen for a week, as I have some beef in the fridge that has to be eaten first, but watch this space for progress reports…

More Firefox 3 sucks…

Please note that Firefox is now up to v3.5.2, and the problems here and on other posts relating v3.x are now largely irrelevant except for those who have failed up upgrade.

Yesterday, in The Guardian’s Technology supplement, there was an entirely uncritical review of Firefox 3. I am utterly fed up with the lack of criticism of FF3 – don’t these people inhabit the real world? How can they not know that, for a great many people, it’s a colossal fuck-up? My response is below…


It seems clear that there are two widely differing experiences of Firefox 3 – those who apparently love it and those, like me (and I’m a long-term user of Firefox), who believe it’s an absolute disaster. Both these viewpoints can’t be true.

If the responses to my Firefox 3 sucks blog post are typical, then extrapolation across the whole user base would suggest that FF3 is seriously defective – certainly, for me, it’s utterly unusable, no matter what all those geeks think, and I’ve reverted to v2.0.0.14, which is where I’ll stay until such time as Mozilla produces a version that works for everyone.

I think, though, I may have the answer to these widely differing experiences – we’re not seeing the same thing. I believe that some mirrors are distributing corrupted versions of FF3 – perhaps a result of the system crash on download day. Unfortunately, there’s no way I can test this theory as Mozilla automatically assigns the mirror – one can’t choose an alternate mirror for the download and see what happens. Nor can one actually talk to Mozilla about this – or anything else – they go to great lengths to keep users at arm’s length. And, when I tried to access their knowledge base about the problem with the Organise Bookmarks function – a problem in that it doesn’t actually do anything – it threw up over 4 million entries. Who has the time, or the inclination, to wade through that morass? Certainly not me.

Whatever the answer, a canter through Google clearly shows that there are substantial problems with FF3, and a huge amount of user dissatisfaction. Problems which Mozilla seems content to ignore. Kate Bevan (Technophile, June 26), says “Is it better than IE, Safari or Opera? Yes, I think so, and so do many other geeks. We can’t all be wrong.” Well, sorry Kate, you are wrong. It is not better than any of those for one very good reason – it simply doesn’t work for everybody. Had this been a Microsoft product, the problems a great many users are having would not be ignored, as they are being, except in the blogosphere. On the contrary, Microsoft would have been savagely pilloried. I see no reason why Mozilla should be treated any differently.

Maybe Kate and her fellow geeks are happy to tinker with FF3 until it performs as it should. I, and many others, are not, and I have no problem with admitting that it’s beyond my abilities to do so, because we simply shouldn’t have to. The thing should work perfectly, and for every user, straight out of the box – and it doesn’t.


Ron Graves.

Note: The Guardian has already published a critical email from me regarding FF3 yesterday, so whether they’ll publish this remains to be seen. I have a good strike rate with The Guardian, though, so I’m hopeful, and it would be good if as many other people as possible, who feel the same way, also emailed them. The address is at the foot of the page linked to above – please use the one for the Technology Editor.

Check out this page, too.

Facebook – I’m doomed!

Oh bugger, I really am beyond redemption. Several people I know are cluttering up Facebook and, to access their pages, I had to sign up and create my own page.

You can find me as Ron Graves.

I really must get a life…


Afterthought: What, I found myself wondering, overnight, is the actual point of Facebook? OK, bands and other performers can reach out to their fans via Facebook (though a conventional website would be more easily accessible to far more people), but for most people it seems utterly pointless.

For quite a lot of people, it’s a place for showing off and mutual masturbation of the ego – you can be my friend if I can be yours, but I’ve got the better degree! I mean, it’s not even much use for communication – we have mobes and email for that, or instant messaging for those who really must and have never evolved beyond the age of 12. And what, for example, is the point of others knowing my educational qualifications? I’m not applying for a bloody job. But that’s what the whole thing feels like – a social CV, an attempt to impress – who, exactly?

Maybe it’s an age thing, I dunno, but I have no desire, or need, for the approbation of strangers, and I simply don’t care whether they want to be my friends or not.

But you can be if you want to!

By the way, why do so many people upload photos that are either so small as to make them look like bugs on a microscope stage, or suitably large but so abysmal it makes them look like trolls? Unless, of course, they do look like trolls…

Is this country going to hell in a hand-basket – discuss…

It is, by the way, hand-basket, not hand-cart, as all those manglers of language and idiom would have it.


Anyway, down in leafy Aldeburgh, on the Suffolk coast, 20 of that village’s population of around 3,000 have lodged a petition with the local council claiming that the ringing of the bells at the local church of St. Peter and St. Paul, disturb the Sunday peace, which under environmental laws amounts to a statutory nuisance. Think about that, for a moment – church bells – Sunday – a statutory nuisance; is there the slightest hint of sanity in that petition?

It is, I suspect, a given, that these whinging tossers are incomers who contribute nothing to the community life of the village – locals would have far more sense. I sincerely hope that the council responds in an appropriate manner – fuck off and die seems about right -and it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. Personally, I hope whatever businesses there may be in Aldburgh tell the 20 numpties to take their business elsewhere. Mind you, anyone who’d be happy to incur the enmity of the entire village probably spends little or nothing in the village anyway.

There is not – there cannot ever be – any justification for 20 moronic people attempting to impose their will on an entire community in this way. Did they somehow overlook the church before moving there (no doubt driving up property prices beyond the reach of native-born Aldeburghians in the process), or are they too stupid to realise that churches have bells? Dear god, even the most unregenerate townie must know that. And it’s not as if they ring the damn things in the middle of the night – in my experience they tend to start around 8.30 in the morning. Back in the days when I was able to go camping, one of the pleasures of my temporary country home was the village church bells, ringing out over the woods and fields on a Sunday morning – and I’m an atheist! In Aldeburgh (I’ve just checked their website), the first service is at 8.00, so bells at 7.30, perhaps, may be annoying. Too bad, though; that’s one thing that should have been considered before deciding to move there.

There is, for example, a road not far from me, in Oxton Village, Wirral, with a pub at one end – a pub which has been there maybe a century or so, and yet people, coming to live in that road, repeatedly try to get the pub either hermetically sealed, so no noise escapes, or closed down, often with the connivance of the Oxton Society, who seem to have taken against the current manager in a big way (can’t say I blame them!). OK, the place can be noisy, especially in the summer (if we ever get one!), when the garden is extremely popular. They never consider that the pub was there first, and they should have thought about the potential nuisance before buying property a few yards away. I have no axe to grind here – I don’t actually like the pub, or drink there any longer, as it’s been ruined by it’s current owners who, in a recent half-arsed refurbishment, failed to notice that the contractors has simply varnished over chewing-gum stuck under the edge of the bar! Gives you an idea of the quality of the rest of the work…

The principle in both cases is the same – an urge, by a few self-obsessed people, to change the community to fit their pre-conceptions of what it should be, rather than admit they got it wrong, and either live with it or move somewhere more in keeping with their selfish ideals – a remote and barren Scottish island, perhaps? Mind you, they’d probably try and take out an injunction to stop the sea rattling the shingle, or launch a campaign to have the gulls culled. These people, whoever they are, will never be happy wherever they live – their kind never is – unless they are making life miserable for those around them.

There is, though, a slightly more sinister aspect to this. I’m assuming that this is no more than a bunch of pillocks being a pain in the arse, but is there a religious aspect to this affair? There are, after all, a Catholic and a Baptist church in Aldeburgh, too, so why no complaints about them? Actually, I don’t know about Baptists and bells, but Catholics are into them in a big way. There seems to be no information available online about this sorry affair, but I’d love to know who these 20 killjoys are – the onlne parish magazine, perhaps tactfully or maybe slow to react – there may be something in the next edition – is silent on the subject.

If I find out anything else, I’ll update this, as I’m finding it as intriguing as it is objectionable.

More on Benefit Lies…

You know all those lies about Incapacity Benefit claimants that the Daily Mail just loves to trot out at every opportunity? Well, I’ve found the source (I suppose many of you will know already; this is for those, like me, who didn’t).

The culprit is David Freud, an extremely wealthy former City banker (banker – well, that’s almost right…), who claimed in an interview with the Telegraph, in February, that tests are done by people’s own GPs, that 5-7% of incapacity claimants are working in the black economy and that two thirds of claimants should not be receiving incapacity benefit.

The problem is that not a single word of that is true. GPs do not carry out disability assessments (though perhaps they should – who knows the patient/claimant better?), and the other nonsense simply isn’t supported by the DWP’s own figures.

Freud is, apparently, currently advising the DWP “on commercial and commissioning strategies and not with the design of the benefit system or its administration.” So wouldn’t it be a good idea if he shut the fuck up and stopped commenting on matters that are way outside his remit and, as far as I can see, beyond his intelligence to understand? Unless, of course, this was all entirely deliberate, and part of a campaign of lies and disinformation sponsored by the government. Paranoia? I don’t think so. After all, have you seen, or read about, a government minister, or even a spokesman, or a DWP official, coming forward to give the lie to what Freud said?

Stephen Timms, Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, has made a half-baked attempt to distance his department from Freud’s absurd comments by claiming, rather oddly, that “the contents of Mr Freud’s recent press articles were not prompted by research commissioned by the Government, and reflect his own views.”

I’m sorry, that’s garbage. Freud is, in effect, employed by the DWP, which is within Timms’ area of responsibility, and was speaking ex officio, so it is 100% Timms’ responsibility, and it is incumbent upon him to ensure that Freud publicly recants. Six months down the line, though, and that’s not happened, and it’s clear it’s never going to.

By failing to publicly condemn and correct Freud, Timms – and by extension, the government – is tacitly endorsing Freud’s lies, giving them an entirely erroneous veneer of truth. I would urge those of you living in Timms’ constituency to bear that in mind when the general election comes around.

Firefox 3 sucks…

Go to this page for a fix for the bookmark problem.

Please note that Firefox is now up to v3.5.2, and the problems here and on other posts relating v3.x are now largely irrelevant except for those who have failed up upgrade.

Note – Support for FF2 ends officially in December, though it looks like it may have happened already – see here.

Update: The computer press, online, is banging on about 8 million downloads being a record (if there’s a record for downloading unusable crap, Mozilla will win hands down), and there’s a mention of an apparently huge security vulnerability, but not a word about the fact that it simply doesn’t bloody work! What’s going on? If Microsoft had released an abortion like this there’d be uproar, so why do Mozilla seem to be getting a free ride?


Firefox 3 is a colossal fuck-up and should never have been released.

Having upgraded from v 2, one massive flaw was that the Organise Bookmarks settings, no matter what you do, have no effect on the Bookmarks sidebar, which remains in its default state – chaotic (despite the fact that it was in a-z order before the upgrade).

The little down arrow in the address bar (I don’t know what it’s called – I’m not that geeky), presented me with what appeared to be a random selection of Bookmarks, instead of the half-dozen frequently-used URLs that normally live there. I deleted them – and got a fresh and equally random selection – this, it seems, will continue ad infinitum if allowed to.

There may well be worse faults – and judging from what I’ve read on Mozilla’s website, and elsewhere online, there are a great many – but that was enough for me, and I binned it.

I’ve been happily using Firefox for a couple of years, and right now I’m back with v2.0.0.14, which is where I’ll stay until they produce a new version that actually works. Version 3 isn’t it.

Check out this page, too.


A note for Opera users.

WordPress has something against double-spacing lines, so when I need to double-space I insert an “m” – it could be any letter – and change the colour to white so it doesn’t show, and that way I get the spacing I want. Of course, there’s no limit to how many spaces can be created this way.

The thing is, the Opera browser, by means that are a mystery to me, displays every white m I insert as black. So, if you use Opera, and find some pages apparently littered with orphan letters, that’s why. Nothing I can do about it.