Thursday, September 29, 2011

The New Kings of the Ocean

I can't believe I have been writing this blog for almost two years and I have barely touched on the subject of jellyfish.  What on earth is wrong with me?  How could I have overlooked these gelatinous denizens of the deep for so long?

At this point weary readers (assuming there are any of you left) you could be forgiven for thinking this blog is slowly mutating into a deranged version of the discovery channel.  What with dinosaurs, owls and crocodiles occupying valuable blog space in the past and now jellyfish.  "Why?"  I imagine you cry, "why jellyfish?  What could possibly be interesting about jellyfish?"  Well for starters they might be the only thing in the oceans apart from garbage and sewage run off in a few decades time.  Seafood restaurants are going to be pressed getting customers when all they can offer is mucus on a plate.  Apparently the climatic and pollution changes the oceans are undergoing may be bad for a lot of creatures but jellyfish are thriving.  And stinging, let's not forget the stinging.

One of the prime movers in the stinging stakes is the box jellyfish (so named because people give them as gifts to relatives they really don't like).  Unlike other jellyfish which are mindless blobs box jellyfish show distressing signs of intelligence.  I'm not sure I'm crazy about this.  I don't mind dolphins being intelligent and I have a sneaking affection for the octopus as well but jellyfish?  Really I don't want to live in a world where a being that looks like something sneezed out of my nose after a big night out might be able to beat me in an IQ test.  It's already a better swimmer than I am, surely that's enough.

Jellyfish have been around for hundreds of millions of years and they haven't actually changed all that much.  Think of them as the crocodiles of the ocean.  Personally I suspect that sitting around for six hundred million years without evolving into anything shows a lack of ambition.  It doesn't seem to have hurt the jellyfish though, they're thriving.  Specifically they're thriving in those parts of the ocean where we have successfully eradicated most other life.  Areas of low oxygen, high pollution and generally low property values are getting filled up with jellyfish.  At this rate it won't be long before they're moving into the suburbs.  Our oceans are getting all squishy and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it.

The truth is we don't know very much about jellyfish, this is partly because they dwell in the ocean depths and partly one suspects because nobody is particularly interested in jellyfish.  I defy anyone to think of jellyfish without going uggh.  We'd better get interested though because the jellyfish are invading our domain.  Well, no they're not but they're invading those parts of the ocean we like to think of as our domain ie where we go swimming and fishing.  Our aforementioned friend the box jellyfish is swarming in the region of Waikiki Beach to the distress (and sometimes blinding pain and occasional death) of human swimmers.  As the oceans are cleared of everything else jellyfish are stepping (swimming?) eagerly forward to fill the gap.  Fishermen, too, are suffering.  In some areas of the world trawlers are hauling in nets largely filled with jellyfish which strangely have a low resale value.  It's also really difficult to impress anyone by boasting that you caught a jellyfish twenty feet long.

Once jellyfish learn how to function on land we're all going to be in terrible trouble.  If you think being stung by a jellyfish is bad wait until you slip on one on the stairs and break your neck.  You'll be begging for a little box jellyfish sting on your beach holiday.  Possibly the only thing that will keep the jellyfish menace in the oceans is the fact that they don't seem to be particularly interesting in changing.  As I mentioned before six hundred million years is a long time between growth spurts.

There are things we can do of course.  If we can cancel out global warming, eradicate pollution, stop overfishing and find some way of replacing the species that have been all but wiped out the jellyfish population will probably return to normal levels.  Or we could see if we can find a use for them.  Guess what direction research is currently travelling in?  Jellyfish have all sorts of applications.  I say that without hesitation because pretty much everything has all sorts of applications.  Take a stick for example, it can be a club, a lever, a back scratcher, a bat, a marker, a support, an impromptu fishing rod, a crude spear, an arm extension or one half of a metaphor relating to rewards and punishments.  Compared with a jellyfish a stick is a veritable polymath (note to self, write a blog entry on sticks).  So I have no hesitation in saying that jellyfish have lots of applications.

One of the applications is to injuries.  Are you injured?  Perhaps you've been ripped to pieces by a pack of ravening jellyfish.  No problem, slap a jellyfish on the affected part and wait for it to get better.  If the jellyfish doesn't get better stick it on somebody elses injury and hope for the best.  Seriously though apparently box jellyfish carry some sort of something or other (I believe the word collagen was mentioned) which might be very helpful in the making of bandages.  This is before we get into the fact that apparently they're chock full of protein.  Actually they're chock full of water but it seems there's some protein in there too.  The oceans may be full of jellyfish in forty years time but I'm prepared to bet that in sixty years time they'll be an endangered species too.  Evolve your way out of that one jellyfish.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sacred Handbag

My previous blog entry briefly name checked crocodiles.  I really mentioned them only in passing but on immature reflection I feel that they deserve an entry all of their own.  Because I'm quite fond of crocodiles.  That is, I'm fond of crocodiles in the way that somebody who lives in Sydney can be, if I lived beside a river in India I might have a different opinion.

Still, crocodiles have their appeal; they're so knobbly and prehistoric looking.  Whenever I think of the word "reptilian" my mind immediately goes to crocodiles (or Christopher Walken but that's another matter) despite the fact that I have far more experience with lizards.  The thing is, crocodiles are impressive.  When you see a big lizard you're likely to think something like "Oh, a big lizard" but if you see a crocodile you think, "Holy fuck, a crocodile" or possibly if you're Egyptian "Fuck, A holy crocodile".  I doubt if anybody has ever been that impressed by a gecko.

Crocodiles were around in dinosaur times and haven't changed much since then.  When the comet (or whatever) wiped out the dinosaurs crocodiles just closed their eyes and imitated logs until it was all over.  Come to think of it, the crocodile is an amazingly versatile animal.  It can float in the water like a log, lie on the ground like a log or lie half in and half out of the water like a log just washed up on a beach.  I venture to suggest that if you tossed one out of an aeroplane it would even fly like a log although I might let somebody else do the field testing on that hypothesis.

Crocodiles are also supposed to be rather clever although to be fair they may have just seemed that way in comparison to Steve Irwin.  I think its far more likely that the researchers, faced with twenty feet of armoured, sharp toothed reptile of dubious temper simply gave it full marks for everything and then backed rapidly away.  The Egyptians probably considered them sacred for much the same reason.  After all if you're going to make an animal sacred are you going to award the prize to a gerbil or the beast that can rip you into bloody shreds if you hurt its feelings?

I don't know if crocodiles will ever be considered sacred again but I know they're still held in pretty high regard in the garment and handbag industries.  They're also rather delicious.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cliches and Baby Pyramids Mean A Better Life for All of Us

The sky is the colour of lead.  Hardly an original comment I know but accurate both in the colour mentioned and, on another level, the heaviness of a sky full of water.  The reason cliches become cliches is because they are accurate and useful comments.  They are a form of shorthand if you like.  No matter how much one rolls the eyes when some originality challenged person trots one out they do a pretty good job of conveying what is in the speakers mind.  Think of cliches as shortcuts.  They allow us to construct a chain of thought consisting of little more than prepositions surrounding predesigned inserts.  This saves a hell of a lot of time.

In the near future I anticipate that we will be able to download standard trains of thought to our iPhones so that we can interact with each other without having to think at all.  I will offer a prize to the first person to notice.  Conversation will become quicker, easier and probably no less interesting.  Even better, original comments will stand out all the more when they appear, assuming that they do.

We already have emoticons for our electronic communications, thoughticons surely cannot be very far away.  After all, the ancient Egyptians managed it.  Where our Egyptian predecessors fell down was in their ability to transmit their thoughticons.  They needed either a huge sheet of papyrus or a decently sized wall.  Nowadays everybody already has a wall on facebook so; problem solved.

Once hieroglyphics have been restored to their rightful place at the centre of our communications system we can go the whole hog and bring back pyramids, sacred crocodiles and cute little statues of cats on pedestals.  I'm sure the crocodiles would be pleased at the restoration of their sacred status but I'm not sure how cats will feel about posing on plinths for our sculptors.  For the sake of convenience we may have to carve statues of cats curled up on armchairs.  That will give future archaeologists something to talk about, "wow, they made furniture for their pets".  Not strictly true but an understandable mistake to make.

The most exciting thing, though, will be the reintroduction of pyramids.  I'm not talking about giant, tasteless Giza sized pyramids.  We'll leave such crass exhibitionism to power crazed Pharaohs and Las Vegas casino operators.  Let's face it, if everybody got one of those the planet would look like a giant round toblerone and you wouldn't be able to pass by without getting your clothing caught on one of them.  Small pyramids a few feet high shouldn't be beyond our abilities though and if we make them pointy enough pigeons won't be able to land on them.

Just think of the collective morale boost the human race would gain from having crap free tombstones.  Energised by our gleaming, pristine death markers we will stride forward to new and greater discoveries that will dazzle the world.  As long as they can be transmitted by simple, easy to understand symbols of course.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sic Transit Gloria Something or Other

What a big day September 17th was for empires.  That's the way it goes in history sometimes.  Whole weeks drag by while the historians twiddle their fingers and peruse the help wanted ads then suddenly along comes a particular date and everything happens.  Time may, or may not, be linear but history appears to like clumps.  Clumps separated by several centuries but clumps nonetheless.

The first empire under the historical spotlight is that perennial favorite (of mine anyway) Byzantium.  On the 17th of September 1176 the Byzantine empire had a particularly bad day, getting itself severely spanked by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Myriokephalon.  At the time Byzantium had been staging a modest military renaissance after the even more disastrous Battle of Manzikert a century previously.  That battle and its aftermath had cost the empire virtually all of Asia Minor and ushered in a period of political instability as various magnates, politicians and generals (the three terms were pretty much interchangeable) fought over what remained.  Eventually a guy named Alexius beat all his opponents and he, followed by his son and grandson, managed to recapture most of the coastal regions of Asia Minor.  The interior eluded them, however, and it was to redress this that emperor Manuel (grandson of the aforementioned Alexius) mustered a huge (by modern standards tiny) army of some thirty odd thousand men and marched on the Seljuk capital of Iconium.  A measure of his success can be found in the fact that the region today is known as Turkey, not Byzantey.  To reach Iconium Manuel had to march his army through a narrow pass near Myriokephalon.  Full of confidence Manuel proceeded to do this without conducting a proper reconnaissance or securing the heights and the Turks, waiting in ambush, handed him his arse in a sack.

Fast forward about four hundred and fifty five years and it was the turn of the Holy Roman Empire to do something stupid with their army getting bitch slapped at the Battle of Breitenfeld on September 17, 1631.  Breitenfeld took place part way through a conflict known (in a triumph of accuracy over imagination) as the Thirty Years War.  The Habsburg emperor (aided by his Spanish cousins) was attempted to reimpose Catholicism (and not coincidentally, his own authority) over the recalcitrant north German princes who had embraced Protestantism (partly out of genuine religious feeling but mainly to loosen the emperor's hold over them).  As was appropriate for what was essentially a German civil war the Imperial forces were commanded by a Belgian in Spanish service and the heavy lifting on the Protestant side was done by the Swedish army under the command of King Gustav Adolf, the Lion of the North.  Tilly, the Imperial commander was a perfectly competent general but unfortunately Gustav was a military genius and the Swedes (with some moderately interested Saxons in tow) crushed the Imperial army and sent it fleeing from the field.  Gustav's principal reason for being in Germany seems to have been that he had raised a magnificent army and couldn't wait to try it out.  Fortunately for the empire he would die on another battlefield not long afterwards.  Unfortunately for the empire their most brilliant general turned out to be a megalomaniacal nutcase who eventually had to be murdered by soldiers loyal to the emperor.  With nobody of real talent in charge the war went on for another ten or fifteen years largely because noone could figure out how to stop it.

Hugging close to the twentieth century is an event that pitted two empires against each other (I know, pretty cool huh).  In 1894 the decaying empire of China found itself in a war with the thrusting, modernised empire of Japan in the first (and less well known) Sino-Japanese war.  Technically the war was over interests in Korea but it's more likely that the Japanese were simply sick of the Chinese calling them dwarf pirates.  On September 17th the Chinese and Japanese fleets collided in an engagement known as the Battle of the Yalu River (although it actually took place at sea).  The Chinese fleet commanded by a former cavalryman Ding Ruchang was escorting Chinese troopships carrying reinforcements to the Chinese army in Korea.  The Japanese fleet was attempting to disrupt the landing.  Although the Chinese fleet was the larger it suffered numerous problems.  Ding Ruchang himself was noted for his courage, loyalty and honesty (a more unlikely trio of talents for a contemporary Chinese imperial official to possess cannot be found) unfortunately his crews were poorly trained, his officers corrupt and incompetent and in a number of cases it was found that corruption in the munitions industry had led to shells being filled with concrete or sawdust rather than high explosive.  The Battle of the Yalu River was an absolute disaster for the Chinese for, whatever his other abilities, Ding Ruchang simply wasn't a sailor.  Matters weren't helped when the only sensible order he gave was ignored by the captain of his own flagship because it would put the vessel in danger.  It should be noted that the Chinese fought with determination (apart from a couple of ships that ran away) and despite crushing their foe the Japanese, their ammunition racks low, withdrew after beating them without molesting the troopships Ding Ruchang had been ordered to protect.  Ding himself was injured in the battle and what was left of his fleet fled for the safety of its harbour never to venture out again.  The Japanese, victorious on land as well as sea, eventually besieged the port and sank or captured the rest of the fleet.  Unable to bear the disgrace Ding committed suicide and in doing so performed one last duty for his empire.  The Japanese, who fully understood and approved of such an action, gave him a full military funeral and, as a mark of respect, released the prisoners they had captured in taking the city.

To get to the last and most interesting piece of imperial history one has to jump back a few decades to 1859.  This is a little out of place but perhaps time isn't linear after all.  On September 17, 1859 Joshua A Norton a failed businessman (and probably, although not necessarily, a complete nutcase) proclaimed himself emperor Norton I of the United States.  From his home in San Francisco he sent decrees abolishing congress (not, I think we can all agree, a bad idea) and ordering the army to move the (now fired) congressmen along.  From that point a series of decrees followed on whatever topic Norton deemed fit.  The rest of his time was spent walking the streets of San Francisco inspecting the sidewalks, trolley cars and diners to assure himself that all was well with his realm.  San Francisco seems to have taken him to its heart as they accepted his currency, allowed him to dine free of charge in the finest restaurants (in return for being allowed to display a "by imperial appointment" plaque) and when his uniform got tatty they bought him a new one.  When he was arrested (on the grounds that he was insane) the outcry from the public and the press was so great that the police chief stepped in and released him with apologies.  Norton graciously pardoned the arresting officer and henceforth the police saluted him when he passed them in the streets.  On his death in absolute poverty a San Francisco businessman's club paid for a fine funeral and thirty thousand mourners turned up. Norton is a whimsical moment in history (after all those bloody battles) but he does have his memorial.  One of his numerous decrees was a command that to improve commerce and communication a bridge and a tunnel should be built across San Francisco Bay.  Both were eventually built and at the Transbay Terminal of the San Francisco Bay Bridge is a plaque which reads, "Pause, traveller and be grateful to Emperor Norton I of the United States, Protector of Mexico 1859-80 whose prophetic wisdom decreed the bridging of the San Francisco Bay".

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Stars Made Me Do It

Why do people persist in believing in astrology?  Note that I don't say "why did people believe in astrology?" I said "Why do?".  It's the present tense that gets me, I'm not actually surprised that people used to believe in it once upon a time.  Some people may mock our ancestors for such things but not me.  Astrology, like religion, should be seen as an attempt by a group of not particularly well informed people to answer important questions.

Why did it rain today?  Why are people as they are?  Why did an earthquake suddenly kill twenty thousand largely blameless people?  Our ancestors grappled with all these questions and more and they didn't have much in their toolkit of understanding to help them out.  So they did a very logical and understandable thing.  They took the facts as they understood them and extrapolated what seemed like reasonable explanations for them.  In my opinion this was a thoroughly sensible thing to do.

No, I shan't blame our ancestors for believing in gods, spirits or the possibility that people's personality could be determined by a group of unrelated hydrogen explosions trillions of kilometres away.  I'll save all my derision for people who believe that stuff right now.  We know much more than our ancestors not merely in knowledge alone but in the ability, thanks to millenia of shared learning, to determine what is a plausible explanation for various phenomena.  Vengeful gods, interfering dead and far distant suns now seem like poor methods of determining anything.

So why do people do it?  Part of it is arrogance of course.  Underneath the belief in God, astrology or whatever is a small and scared child trying to convince itself that its important.  That somehow the stars, or a divine being of some kind consider us so worthy of interest that they build their entire existence around us.  Once the human race was reduced to the status of a chemical coincidence a lot of insecure people started getting very frightened indeed.  How could they not be important?  They certainly think they're important surely a god or a bunch of stars must think so too.

There is another reason too.  Humans like definite answers and "God did it" is about the most definite answer to a number of very perplexing questions.  Also of course if the answer is "God" then you don't have to spend any more time worrying about the question.  Certainty is provided and certainty is a highly desirable commodity.

Certainty is what most people crave even more than freedom or justice.  A tyranny has to get pretty bad before people will swap the reliability of the status quo for the vagaries of change.  Even when change does happen it is usually the result of a small group of people making the effort and the bulk of the population standing aside and letting them get on with it.  This in itself is an action against the status quo because to defeat a genuine uprising the government needs the support of the people.  Apathy isn't enough, it needs their wholehearted backing.  If the public won't actively support the government that tends to play into the hands of the rebels.  Achieving even this level of constructive apathy is difficult and it usually comes when a government is so moribund or itself so capriciously unreliable that the bulk of the people figure that one form of change might actually provide more stability.

This desire for certainty spurs us on in other ways as well.  The desire for knowledge is the desire for certainty.  Our desire for certainty spurs us onwards towards greater discoveries, greater knowledge and, perversely, greater uncertainty.  One of the first things we learn is how much we don't know.  For every piece of knowledge we gain comes the realisation that the goal posts have shifted and we are actually more aware of our general level of ignorance.  Not surprisingly this assuredness of uncertainty fails to satisfy many.  With science and rational thinking only making the problem worse it is hardly surprising that a portion of the population reaches back to ancient superstitions.  Their answers may have been useless but at least they were definite.

Definite answers have a certain appeal even when they're wrong.  In fact, taking into account the inherent perversity of the human race, it probably wouldn't be too far wrong to say definite answers have an appeal because they're wrong.  When accuracy and knowledge lead to more confusion and realisation of ignorance there is a logical simplicity in being confused and ignorant from the start and saving yourself a lot of time.  Well crafted ignorance can be surprisingly useful.  Most people don't need to know how the universe is designed or how it was created or by whom.  All most people need is enough certainty so that getting out of bed in the morning isn't an existential nightmare.

Incidentally, I'm a Pisces.  Pisceans are supposed to be imaginative, creative, emotional, self indulgent and morally ambivalent.  Not a bad call for a bunch of stars at the back end of the universe really.

Hail the Colonel

It has been brought to my attention that a number of my recent blog posts have been about food.  This has brought worried parental queries about the quality and frequency of my eating habits.  I find this a little unfair, simply because I take an interest in something doesn't mean I'm obsessed by it.  It isn't as if I spend every waking moment thinking about food, if I did I wouldn't have time to eat.  I've just finished eating some hot buttered toast and it was delicious.  The crisp, brown toast slices were perfectly complemented by the thick slightly salty dribbles of butter oozing down the sides to be trapped by my eager tongue (at this point you're really hoping I'm still talking about food aren't you?)

Sorry, where was I before I got caught up in raptures over buttered toast?  Oh yes, I am not obsessed by food.  I give it the appropriate amount of attention due to a subject of it's importance and leave it at that.  The fact that I have a shrine to Colonel Sanders in the corner of my lounge room is simply a mark of respect for a man who achieved a form of immortality.  After all, how many native sons of Indiana get made a Kentucky Colonel?  Sanders did in fact serve in the US military but the appellation "colonel" is a title not a rank.  The title Kentucky Colonel is an honour bestowed by the state (commonwealth actually) of Kentucky  to those it finds deserving.  One can only presume Sanders received his for his noble attempts to combat the global chicken menace.

I trust my little diversion on the subject of Colonel Sanders has dispelled any illusions that I may be completely obsessed with food.  Apparently I am also obsessed with those who create food (or at least KFC).  I have no such interest in Ronald McDonald but then he never existed.  Colonel Harlen Sanders most definitely did exist and what's more he even looked remarkably like his caricature.  It's pleasant to note that unlike the founder of McDonalds he even died with some money in the bank.  I would give you a full biography of the good colonel but its time for dinner.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Save the World, Buy a Bumper Sticker

I just saw a bumper sticker proclaiming "Uranium: Fueling War, Fueling Waste".  This is one of those statements which combines being completely truthful with being utterly stupid.  Plenty of things fuel both war and waste.  Petrol, for example or steel for that matter.  Come to think of it food is another.  I don't think anybody would dispute that consuming food produces waste.  If it doesn't I advise you to see a doctor.  As for war, well every army has to eat.

I think it is time that the hideous war making, filth spreading potential of food was understood by more people.  Peace activists and environmentalists everywhere should unite against this terrible threat to the planet and the people thereon.  Surely it is time for those of us who love peace and the environment (I use the word "us" loosely) to come together to do something about the food menace.  I suggest hackneyed slogans and bumper stickers.

Just think, if all the money spent across the world on food in a single month were instead redirected towards world peace and environmentalism what a difference would be made.  I predict that by the end of that time there would be no more wars and the environment would be set up for centuries to come.  There would be a positive explosion of peace (all right, I admit that was a poor choice of words) and the environment would be so leafy green that even environmentalists would be sick of looking at it.  I encourage everyone to hope and dream of a world without food.

Of course there will always be some who will trot out the usual tired cliches.  "Food doesn't kill people, people who eat kill people" and the like.  These words should be understood for what they are, the secret weapons of the global food industry.  "Cautiously used," these depraved monsters claim, "food can be a positive good".  "In responsible hands, there is nothing to fear".  Lies!  All lies!  As long as there is food in the world there will always be unscrupulous operators willing to sell it to the highest bidder.  Despite the best efforts of responsible food holding nations to limit proliferation rogue states and terrorist groups will always try and get their hands on food to feed their hungry war machines (and people).  North Korea is a nightmare to deal with now.  Imagine what they'd be like if they got their hands on some food.

Arguments in favour of food should be seen for what they are; special pleading by ruthless food traffickers who care nothing for the damage they cause.  These villains hide behind innocuous cover names like "farmers", "supermarkets" and "grocers".  More accurate is the term butcher but view of these villains have the honesty to openly proclaim what they are.  This unholy alliance of food producers and distributors must be broken before the world is flooded with food.  We must act before it is too late.

Forget "food limitation", "responsible use" and other slogans belonging to a corrupt world order.  We must come up with our own, way cooler, slogans and whack them on bumper stickers for maximum exposure.  I know this is an extreme action but there can be no half measures.  It is no use inflicting pinpricks on the enemy, we must unveil the bumper sticker, the mightiest weapon of the protest movement.  With slogans like "Food Fuels War" and "Give Famine a Chance" it won't be long before the food industrial complex lies prostrate at our feet.  Across the world the downtrodden will gain hope as they see our bumper stickers receding into the distance as we drive to somewhere much more interesting.

Only when the food demon has been completely slain will we be able to live without fear.  Admittedly we will only do so briefly.  After that peace truly will be eternal.  It will probably be pretty good for the environment as well.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Tragedy of the Biscuit Amnesiac

I have found biscuit crumbs in my commonplace book which wouldn't bother me too much except for the fact that I haven't been eating any biscuits.  Two possibilities present themselves, either someone else has glanced at my book while eating a biscuit or I am suffering from a rare form of biscuit specific amnesia.  I'm going to go with the more likely explanation.

Biscuit amnesia is a very rare condition and for the most part those afflicted suffer in silence.  Well, no more!  Let this blog entry be a clarion call to announce to the world the existence of this tragic and debilitating condition.  Research on biscuit amnesia is very hard to find.  I contacted a dozen universities and several other research institutes with only patchy results.  Most asked me to stop calling and a couple threatened legal action however one did offer to send me all the information they had but needed my bank account details and internet passwords.  While I'm waiting for them to get back to me I have few resources of my own.  I would look biscuit amnesia up on the internet but I seem to be having a little difficulty with my computer recently.

Thus I'm reduced to documenting my own experiences as a sufferer of this condition which is awkward as I don't remember any of them.  According to the friendly staff at my favourite cafe I quite frequently order biscuits.  They were a little more hazy on whether I actually eat them.  At least one of them mentioned that they "have more important things to do than watch you stuff your face with biscuits" but I saw the fear in their eyes.  They couldn't remember either!  I'm obviously not the only sufferer, in fact there seems to be quite a statistical clump of them in this cafe.

Eager to pursue this new evidence further I conducted in depth interviews with the staff until the owner politely asked me to order something or get out.  According to later reports I ordered a biscuit but I really can't remember.  My attempts to get to the bottom of this mystery came to a premature end when the cafe closed.  Its rare for the cafe to close at Midday and there were still plenty of diners but the owner assured me it was time to go home.  I promised to return early the next day to continue my research and was farewelled with enthusiastic hand gestures and light hearted threats of restraining orders.

Back at home I tried to continue my studies but was thwarted by the total absence of biscuits in my apartment.  I don't know why this is as I always buy biscuits and there are several empty packets lying about the place.  Obviously my biscuit amnesia is getting out of hand.  Certain concerned friends have suggested that therapy might be the answer.  To be fair they didn't mention the biscuit amnesia specifically, they just thought I might benefit from therapy.  It's nice to have friends who are so concerned, one of them was so concerned she suggested immediate electroshock therapy and offered the use of the battery from her car.

I'm hoping to find an easier way to solve the problem.  I have recently bought a new packet of biscuits and I have coated them all in a particularly foul tasting weed killer.  I'm hoping the taste will be sufficient to snap me out of my biscuit amnesia.  Unfortunately this experiment has had to be postponed as I have recently been hospitalised with a very odd case of food poisoning.  And the damn biscuits have vanished again!