Apocryphally an ancestor of the family, Sir John Disbrowe was an important figure in the overthrow and execution of Charles I, becoming very close with Cromwell’s family and exercising power as a leader of the short-lived Commonwealth.

An attorney, a farmer and a soldier, John (son of James) married into Cromwell’s family, marrying Oliver Cromwell’s sister (Jane Cromwell) in 1636. As a result of his close relationship with the Cromwells, John was made the quartermaster of a cavalry troupe and later a captain in Cromwell’s revolutionary and elite Ironsides.

He rose through the ranks throughout the English Civil War, acquitting himself well as part of the New Model Army and fighting with distinction at Naseby, Langport and the Siege of Oxford. Despite his accomplishments and his reputation as a pious and courageous man, the Royalists parodied him as a braggart and a bully, the ‘Giant Disbrowe’, carry a cannon in his hand.

Throughout the ensuing chaos, Disbrowe – despite being portrayed as a loudmouth and a bully – was an important intermediary between the grousing veterans of the New Model Army, and the increasingly imperious Cromwell. His unique position allowed him to negotiate, while still proving his loyalty in putting down Royalist uprisings.

Despite being instrumental in the Civil War, and close to Cromwell, Disbrowe was assigned to govern Yarmouth during the execution of the King, and thus escaped the very worst of the reprisals after the end of the Commonwealth.

Remaining loyal to Cromwell throughout the trials and tribulations of the Commonwealth he was granted many different duties and remained a right-hand-man to Cromwell. This culminated in his position as the first of the Major Generals to be appointed, his practice in opposing religious extremists and ruthlessly suppressing royalists with a combination of military and civic power providing the model.

Disbrowe was outspoken against the offering of the crown to Cromwell, and may have been the deciding factor in Cromwell not becoming Oliver the First.

With Oliver dead, and having supported Cromwell’s hopeless son, Disbrowe lost his political capital by 1660 and was even more widely satirised and derided. As Charles II was restored to the throne, Disbrowe was disallowed from holding any office of governance. He fled England for the Netherlands, forced to return when he was accused of being part of republican plotting against Charles II – something that may well have been true. While under suspicion he was held in The Tower for a year, before being released.

He died in 1680 having spent a great deal of his life in the cause of republicanism, parliamentarians, the modernisation of the English army and unflinching loyalty to his men and to Cromwell. By 1680 virtually all of that had been undone, though the Civil War left an important legacy of a weaker Monarch and a stronger Parliament.

A complicated figure, whose narrow Puritanism I do not share, but no – since you ask – I won’t be celebrating the Jubilee. I’m very much on John’s side when it comes to that institution.

It’s a trick, get an axe.

One of my Youtube viewers from Ukraine left this comment on my Youtube video about the situation. I couldn’t possibly have covered the full nuance, so I felt this was worth giving some wider exposure.

Hey, Ukrainian here. From one of the bordering regions, no less; one of the locations where Russians tanks are now cruising the roads, and troops try to take over city administrations. Long time watching, first time writing, etc.

I don’t want to engage in a full-scale political discussion, not least because I’ve tried to avoid politics for a long time. This is just a perspective from a random guy whose home country is being invaded. First, Ukraine is not just “one of the ex-Soviet territories”. Kievan Rus dates back centuries, and actually predates Moscow and Russia. As time went on, our countries went our separate ways. Yes, there are similarities in cultures and languages, but by no means are we the same.

After the rise of the Russian Empire, Ukraine (or “Little Russia”, as it was known back then. A very pleasant term, right) has been suffering under its rule, with serfs being basically slaves to be re-sold and exploited to death. Granted, Russians wasn’t the only ones feeding off Ukrainian people, – Polish and Hungarian aristocrates were also living the dream at our expense; but I don’t see Poland invading us now, so, you know.

This stuff is reflected in a ton of our classic literature, it is taught in schools. Not in the way of “fuck those guys, they screwed us centuries ago”, more like “our people have been under the boot of assholes before, let’s not let that happen again, kids”. Fast forward to the USSR. Nothing special to mention here, it was the same as everywhere else in the Soviets: strong but messy totalitarian empire. From a personal perspective, my father did tell me stories of a few of his friends who were repressed and never seen again. However, both of my parents agreed that, when the system worked peacefully, it did work. And then Holodomor happens (literally “killing with starvation”), where, due to the ruling party’s miscalculations and deficits, tons and tons of food supplies were taken away from Ukraine, leaving people here to starve.

I cannot speak for other Soviet territories that suffered this fate; but I can tell you for a fact that thousands of Ukrainian people died because of something the Soviets did. When the USSR imploded, it sucked here as much as it did in other ex-Soviet countries. But we persevered, built up as much as we could, and took course for the brave new modern world.

Fast forward again, to more recent and pressing events. 2004, election year. Yushchenko (pro-Ukrainian, pro-Western candidate) versus Yanukovych (pro-Russian candidate, who never even bothered to learn the language properly). People expressed their dissatisfaction with the latter in a very clear and loud way, mocking him in memes and arranging rallys against him. Feel free to speculate just how much of a role propaganda served in this outcry, but the fact is, Yushchenko becomes president, and Ukrainians are excited for Western-oriented political moves.

This presidency was… fine, I guess? Not much happened, not much changed; it left people mostly dissatisfied, because the promised political course was not implemented. By the next elections, Yanukovych threw a massive propaganda campaign in some of our eastern regions (the separatist ones, yes), and there were no other prominent candidates, and he won.

2014. This is where shit hits the fan. President Yanukovych announces that trade and general help deals with Europe and the US will not be happening, and the general goal is instead to closely associate with Russia. People are PISSED: “we’ve JUST left the USSR, we want to be with the modern West, what the hell?!” There are protests all over the country, the most populated ones being held in the Kiev’s center, the Maidan (“public square”). Protests were peaceful, but intense, and at some point Yanukovych mobilizes defence forces to open fire at the protesters. And medics carrying wounded protesters away. And everyone in the vicinity. I know people who lost friends during those events. At this point folks realize that Yanukovych is a Russian puppet, and, not without losses, throw him out – he escapes to Russia begging for sanctuary.

This is the turning point, this is where Ukrainians fully get that Russia is not letting go of us. And then Russia takes Crimea, shouting “it’s not us, it’s their civil war” (a lot of Russian military guys later got medals for this war where they were technically not present. Weird). And then separatists in the East, who supported Yanukovych, form their pseudo-countries, and open their borders to Russian mercenaries.

Russia, again, shouts “it’s not us, it’s them”, but the weaponry used, the prisoners of war taken, and the social pages info of Russian vatniks (jingos and Russian nationalists) speak otherwise. Ever since, the Russian propaganda has been painting Ukraine as basically nazi bastads who took what they didn’t own (which is… our own country? wat?), who oppress the Russian-speaking population (which is thoroughly untrue. My parents barely know the Ukrainian language, and never have they seen any oppression. As for the laws stipulating Ukrainian as the national language, and not Russian… well, it is our language. Of this here our country), who take arms against Russia along with the West, which is “THE ENEMY” (this Cold War-era shit still very much flies there).

They say that our country exists only because the Soviets have allowed it. That our language is not real, it’s a sad parody of the Russian language. (Let’s not also forget the trolls, who are all to eager to tell you exactly what they intend to do to your girlfriends and daughters.) All of this is fucking bullshit, and they know it, and they still perpetuate it.

All we want is to join the modern times and be left alone. Look, regarding the point about Ukrainian nationalists. First, I’m pretty sure there are assholes and idiots everywhere; we never had any more of them than other places. BUT, Russia did a lot of bad shit to our people, keeps painting us as either “allies of THE ENEMY” or “lost sheep to be led back to the flock”. And then there’s all the military shit, which has now escalated to the point of actual fucking war. Putin himself forces us to hate him and Russia. Not all Russians, but the ones who support his regime – most definitely.

It’s not nationalism, it’s a desire to be our own country. Don’t see anything wrong with that. If anything, Russian rhetoric to the point of “your country is not a country, your nation is not a nation, your language is not a language; you are all just a big misunderstanding, which we simply must correct”.. This is actual fascism, innit? Putin, or Putler, if you will, is a fascist. Or ruscist, if you will. As are those who support him (including Lukashenko of Belarus, who is Putin’s slut at this point, and Kadyrov of Chechnya, who is a goddamn animal believing he’s still in the Middle Ages).

Anyway… People are dying all over Ukraine, there are bombings and shootouts. there is either panic or somber waiting among the civilians. There are invaders, with tanks and guns, in my city. We expect the Internet, power, and utilities to go down at any moment, we prepare supplies and look for bomb shelters. Russia is sanctioned to all hell (though not nearly enough, I say), everyone hates it, but they just keep going. All because Putler can’t let go of his dictatorial fever dreams. It is not our fault, it is not our military storming us. It is all Putin’s doing. It fucking sucks, man.

By Rachel Haywire

Postmortem Studios will try dabbling in a few other things over the next couple of years, amongst them collecting essays and stories. Rachel Haywire is a futurist, former presidential candidate and Philosopher Queen. We’ll be gathering together some of her writings in a book in the near future. If you want more Rachel, you can check out her Substack.

Outsiders are a demographic, and a very particular one at that. Foot soldiers of history who are used as crash test dummies for the future, their moves are mapped into more extensive templates that serve as blueprints for product development. The boom of Web3, now referred to as the decentralized web, is the latest example of outsider culture bleeding into the mainstream. 

Tracing the evolution of the web in its infantile state to this recent explosion, it is undeniable that there are specific patterns that have appeared in each iteration of the web, regardless of which generation holds tickets to the peep show. From text-based strategy games to low-fi social networks to alternative message board culture, the online universe has a history of gathering outsiders into communities that evolve into the fabric of mainstream technology.

Is calling the latest decentralized madness “Web3” sufficient in making sense of this new chaos and its millions of intersecting nodes? How did we get from Usenet to Discord to Bored Ape Yacht Club? Who are the users, and what are our experiences? Let’s investigate. 

A Brief History of the (Anti)social Web

Starting with Text

The Internet was initially text-based, and you would need to head over to your local library to access it unless you were some kind of government contractor. Naturally, this was how outsiders started to find each other around the world and set the stage for digital history. The Internet, first read-only (Web1), was small and secretive and profoundly uncool. With the exception of psychedelic gurus like Timothy Leary and cyberpunk authors like William Gibson, few people understood how this tool was on the way to becoming the standard operating protocol of the future. 

AOL was soon to burst onto the scene, and much like early online service Prodigy (no resemblance to the industrial-metal MTV band founded around the same time), it produced a flashy yet simple walled garden that upgraded the text-based Web1 experience into the beginning of Web2. Read/write. You’ve got mail.

Rise of the Old School Hackers

Between Web1 (read) and Web2 (read/write), there was a period that could be viewed through the lens of a director creating an action sequence that marked the transition from Web1 to Web2 as official. Think of early Nine Inch Nails playing in the background with a David Lynch cast of characters in perpetual motion. Rather than calling it Web1.5 and becoming the subject of a hate campaign, let me go ahead and call it the Rise of the Old School Hackers so everyone else who was online this early will understand what is being referenced. Here, I speak of 90’s message board culture, where many of us were exposed to the digital environment for the first time. During this era, pretty much everyone who used the Internet was a troll or a sociopath, and you’d be sure to find someone who would claim that this was the entire point of the Internet. Bug-as-feature.

During the Rise of the Old School Hackers, you could hang out on text-based forums like alt.sex and alt.drugs and alt.magic, all of which started on Usenet. There was an alt for everything, as Usenet was a decentralized conglomeration of news servers that acted as portals to information outside the mainstream narrative. Blockchain technology had yet to become official, yet decentralization was already taking shape. This was the beginning of the web transforming into an interactive medium. 

What if decentralization was the friends we made back in the day?

It wasn’t just that everyone was a troll or sociopath during this era. Everyone was an influencer because, during the Rise of the Old School Hackers, so few people were online, to begin with. Most users resembled video game characters that would only pop up during the final boss levels. All users were participating in some way another, as you had to be nerdy and weird enough to understand how this iteration of the social web even worked. Either you owned a domain (this was not as easy as registering one on GoDaddy) or hosted a BBS. Everyone was on stage.

A Bulletin Board System was a hub of online activity, in which people would chat about their specialized interests in ASCII text. Many refer to this period as “the BBS days” with a fair amount of nostalgia, speaking about it much like they talk about the “old days” of IRL hacker conference Defcon. Mirroring these Usenet servers that attracted outsiders from across the world to congregate, BBSes had the same sort of ‘flock-of-outsiders’ dynamic. They later evolved into colourful forums called Ultimate Bulletin Boards, coded in notepad HTML with a tiny drop of CSS. Despite UBBs getting a low-fi high-af style upgrade from BBSes, the scene of these forums remained one of rebels and loners. Literal cyberpunks.

With this action sequence film bit in motion, social architects set the stage for MUDs. Multi-User Domains, where game developers produced and played text-based strategy games that moonlighted as alternative universes hidden in far-out corners of the web. As digitally immersive RPGs, they carried the torch for gamers who followed in their footsteps, both online and off. The social web was beginning to onboard new users, and most of them had nobody to socialize with IRL.

4Chan/Trolling/Chilling IRL

A few years later, a wild 4chan appeared, becoming the designated seat at the opposition table. Founded by Christopher Poole in 2003 and taking much of its ideas from Usenet/the BBS days/MUDs, 4chan was an anything-goes platform that resembled the Wild West before digital black market Silk Road came into being. It marked the dawn of a new turning, in which old school hackers were beginning to notice a crude migration onto their territory.

4chan was additionally an imageboard that acted strictly as a home to user-generated content, which included crass and vulgar explorations of everything from far-right ideologies to anime porn. This policy of total user freedom was also what made 4chan a vehicle for far-left activism and raids against the power elite of its time. Anti-Scientology protests that originated on 4chan began making their way onto major news networks like CNN.

Transforming into an IRL subculture in which people could match faces to (fake) names, 4chan marked a distinct point in time where the digital and physical were merging into a hybrid prototype. The online world and “real life” were mixed like songs on a pirated MP3 player, and DJs were everywhere.

There were now hackers meeting up at the Defcon conference in Las Vegas while 4chan raids were hitting the streets of major cities. You could go to a 4chan protest IRL and protest the incarceration of rockstar whistleblowers or simply smoke a joint and talk shit with a schizophrenic moderator. People would wear Guy Fawkes masks and hold up signs that read “I am from the Internet.” It was a theatre of the absurd and the surreal, beckoning to Antonin Artaud. Nerds were taking over the streets of hip urban centres.

4chan was, in all its grotesque self-expression, the zeitgeist in action. The outsider was becoming a little more popular by the day, which compelled the founders of Web2 to start corporations that served as safe spaces for outsiders seeking to get inside the gates. You are the product. Giving birth to early social networking outfits such as LiveJournal and Myspace, this phenomenon would herald in the centralized monoliths today known as FaceBook/Meta and Twitter. Silk Road would lead to IRL events such as Blockchain Expo and Crypto Base following this same trajectory.

The Future of the Digital Outside

Hubs and Squads and Cults and Private Access 

Let us now flash forward to the modern-day in which Discord has become a popular communication tool. Online culture has shifted onto this anarchic piece of gaming software, which has been recently adopted by the finance community. While Discord started out with a small group of gamers just doing their thing, it is also a playground for budding investors and venture capitalists. VC firm a16z invested billions into crypto and started their own DAO Initiative. Digital Autonomous Organizations are what’s hot and propose to be the evolution of communities themselves; democratic forms of governance based on digital ownership, social tokens, and voting. Discord is the primary hub in which DAOs are formed. It is also a centre point for squads to congregate, collaborate, and conspire.

The IRL to online pipeline is strong here. Anyone who attended the tech-influenced/tech-influencer Burning Man festival remembers how tokens and pendants were awarded to members of theme camps. You could participate in numerous theme camps while holding all of their tokens simultaneously, symbolizing your membership in these fun little fringe groups. You could create tokens for your theme camp and hand them out to your curated friends list, giving them a social stake in your fantasy-come-to-life. While the technology of communities may have changed, the underlying structure in which they have evolved remains. Access is the key to the castle, and access is everything. 

You are Here

With record numbers of people currently heading over Discord to participate in the DAO rush or simply to keep up with their friends across the world, we are witnessing the popularization of the outsider yet again. This concept initially seems oxymoronic, like Zarathustra going to the marketplace to seek approval, yet the happening is nothing more than the way things work on a cultural level. Every small group on the Internet becomes populated with a new force that completely takes it over, catapulting it into the mainstream. The masses are coming! The masses are coming! Politics are not only downstream from culture but are calling from inside the house. “The culture industry,” a term popularized by critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, is not just postmodern hyperbole. You’re living in it, Neo. 

We are experiencing a moment of mass decentralization, mirroring the 90’s Internet in its chaotic infinitude, with its very own invasion-of-the-normies subplot. We went from Revenge of the Nerds to Napoleon Dynamite to Big Bang Theory. History has always been written this way. The popularization of the outsider has existed since the beginning of time. Jesus was just some hippie philosopher who got famous. Many would call Revenge of the Nerds a type of “nerdsploitation”, while Napoleon Dynamite could be viewed as the Sundance version of Revenge of the Nerds. Yet compared to Big Bang Theory, wasn’t Revenge of the Nerds authentic? Is Discord Napoleon Dynamite? What software will be the next Silicon Valley?

Ethereum, the cryptocurrency powering many Digital Autonomous Organizations, evolved from the “build your own nation” culture of Burning Man and Ephemerisle. The Seasteading Institute, seeking to create floating ocean cities away from centralized society, was founded by Burning Man and Ephemerisle veteran Patri Friedman. Now what we have = a thousand DAOs blooming. A thousand nations forming. Virtual real estate. Digital assets. Web3. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, has been talking a lot about crypto cities. Can this all be traced back to one time at Burning Man? One time on 4chan? One party at Defcon? One conversation on Usenet?

One Time at Burning Man

When contrasting 4chan culture with Burning Man culture, observing how nerds and outsiders meet IRL and start going popular, we witness how the early foundation of the decentralized web turned into what is now being referred to as Web3. Every town has its alienated group of rebels that can only relate to each other online, and their greatest will meet in person and build new institutions in urban hubs. Well, at least they did before COVID. Now I guess they are moving to farms and popping out fertility influencers? Anyway, these clusters of misfits that started on Usenet resemble the users of Discord crypto communities who signal their affiliations with NFT avatars. Has something been lost in translation? Ask every generation this question. 

We are witnessing an underworld of very online people becoming the overworld. Some of them are hedge fund managers, while others are electronic musicians in their mom’s basement holding millions in ETH. Get that bag. WAGMI. The old school hackers are mostly dead now, and that is just what it means to be hardcore. Christopher Poole, the founder of anti-woke 4chan, eventually became what The Right (TM) dubbed a “social justice warrior.” The irony here is tasty, especially when you observe how most social justice warriors of the Obama era are now cosplaying as reactionary trad wives after getting exiled from The Left. (TM)

Yet enough about politics. Let’s talk about science! (enthusiastic voice) People are basically just animals searching for communities where they can find people who think like they do. Where are all the people who think like us? The answer is simple: everywhere. A digital anthropologist might even point out how some of the early incels had a lot in common with 90’s teenage girls who were posted about committing suicide online, but that is just Usenet evolving into LiveJournal. Most of us aren’t ready to have this conversation.

It’s a Crazy World Out There 

Despite this somewhat-but-not-really insider take, Discord is currently ripe for evolution and not entirely user-friendly. It is still the unpolished Internet, and not everyone can navigate it. We are assigning moderator privileges to one another like governments in their infancy. If everybody is just forming their own community and doing their own thing, will future numerical iterations of the web be any different from one another at their core? Any subculture will become an institutional organization on a long enough timeline.

As for the people, they will literally just sit around building the infrastructure for the next generation. Maybe it’s trolls all the way down who have matured into crypto investors.

The feeling of being on the outside remains unless you are at some yacht party holding a Bored Ape. Nevertheless, the outsider feeling comes back when you notice the music on the yacht is really bad. Naked emperors are both over and under-sexualized. The outsider is the worlds most popular demographic, and the Internet magnifies this fact.


The theatre of outsiders becoming the starting point for a new era is captured throughout time. By engineering the groundwork for independent weirdos to come together via intersecting nodes, the platforms of tomorrow are built. We live in a society composed of a million micro-societies competing for your attention, all waiting for the next user to join their religion/community/blockchain/cult/channel. Whether Web3 will bring ownership to creators or a new group of uncreative elites is a topic up for debate, and the answer to these sorts of questions is always why not both. The outsider drifts further and further from the outside until a new exterior is formed. The inside of the moment then becomes the Schelling Point of a generation. 

Not OK

I have severe, clinical and ongoing depression with suicidal ideation and intrusive thought, crippling anxiety issues and DPD. I have had these conditions since 2007, am considered disabled and am unlikely to ever get better.

In December I discovered that my PIP (Personal Independence Payment) had been stopped (In October), without warning or communication by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions).

Apparently I’d hit the time for reassessment, but because I hadn’t contacted them (because they hadn’t contacted me) my payments had stopped.

So I couldn’t restart my old claim, oh no, I had to reapply from scratch. A process that took over a year last time I had to apply.

I was getting PIP and ESA (Employment Support Allowance), both on the basis of a tribunal appeal on my original claim. Tribunal is the third and last stage of appeal, quasi-independent of the process and able to overturn earlier decisions. Something like 80% of claims rejections are overturned on appeal. That goes to show how bullshitty the entire rest of the process is.

PIP only accounts for about £240 per month, but it’s money that can really ease mental stress and strain, pay for takeout when you can’t cook, a taxi when you can’t face the crowds on public transport and various other little things that make for a more secure income and better life when you’re struggling with mental health.

Of course, over a year that’s nearly £3000, a not inconsiderable amount of money and for many people in a worse situation than me, a lifeline.

Being on disability-related benefits is not easy. Applying for this help is stressful, humiliating and ultimately unnecessary. Your GP should really be the one making the decision, not this clumsy and hostile apparatus that has been created, purposefully to deny people and put them off applying.

It’s hard to explain quite how humiliating it is. We all have illusions about ourselves, or make conscious and subconcious accomodations of our disabilities. In this process however, you’re allowed no pride, no illusions, you must reveal every weakness and trouble that you have – to a total stranger – who will then, like as not, reject your claim. So you’ve done all that, bared your soul, stripped yourself bare, for nothing.

Needless to say, this is horrendous and horrible, and weighs heavily on the health and mental health of those of us who have to jump through these hoops to get the slightest of help. Needless to say, this has been linked to a great deal of self-harm, suicide, and hardship.

For what?

Benefit fraud accounts for ~1%, and that’s all benefits. 99% of people are put through this wringer – and many people denied the help they need – for thte sake of one person. Perverse, but that’s how absurd people seem to be. They’d rather see 99 people unjustly treated for the sake of the 1% of actual cheats.

I think this hits harder, this time, because of recent arguments in my creative community, where people seem dead-set on denying that disability is limiting, on corroding escapism, and denying my disabilities simply because I disagree with them. The ‘wrong kind’ of disabled, which, ironically is a big part of the problem with getting help.

People suck, they really do – disabled people as much or as little as anyone.

Enough Already

I have a reputation at odds with the reality of who and what I am.

This is peculiar, depressing and confuses a lot of people, perhaps me most of all.

So, how does a left-anarchist, wildly progressive (in the proper sense), libertine game designer – firmly ensconced in the bottom left corner of the bottom left quadrant of the political compass – get a reputation as TurboHitler? I wish I knew.

This stuff blows up with somewhat random regularity, when something slips through the social media echo-prison I’ve been put into and I become aware of it. Usually this takes the form of some cnidarian arsehole slurping out of the depths to spread an increasingly mythologised bunch of nonsense about me.

The nonsense varies, sometimes more serious than at other times, but what it all boils down to seems to be that I disagree with people and they can’t separate their opinions from their quintessential selves.

Other high crimes of mine include:

  • Practicing tolerance, rather than just talking about it.
  • Disagreeing – from a left-wing perspective – with Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and ‘Grievance Studies’.
  • Treating people equally, which they say they want, but actually seem to want special exceptions based on identity category.
  • That I’m racist/sexist, somehow. Usually because I’ve called out bad actors who happen to be women or racial minorities, almost all of whom have turned out to be abusive and/or creepers in the fullness of time.
  • Writing comedy books nearly 20 years ago.
  • Writing adult content RPGs (especially Gor) and playing adult content RPGs (Tabletopless).
  • Writing a blog nearly 10 years ago, in defence of free speech.
  • Supporting an anti-censorship, pro-consumer movement the same way I dought The Satanic Panic, Jack Thompson, The Vampire Panic etc. Gamergate this time.
  • It goes on, up to and including an accusation of sexual harassment/assault which appears to derive from mistaken identity, and was originally put to bed back when Google+ was a thing.

It’s all either bollocks, misunderstanding, mistaken identity or – seemingly – wilful attempts to mislead and misrepresent. None of the positive stuff I do is ever remembered.

What can one do about any of this?

Very little, other than vent.

If you ignore it, the rumours and myths spread unchallenged.

If you challenge it, your counterarguments are blocked, muted, deleted or somehow taken as evidence that you’re guilty (what?).

If you keep your head down and keep doing good things, like you always have, none of that gets traction and people you’ve never heard of are primed to hate you.

If you make do with the friends you have left, who have different beliefs to you but who you can tolerate and get on with, you suffer from guilt by association.

If you sue, they band together, pay off whatever you’re awarded against someone – with interest – and carry on collectively slandering you.

I’ve been harassed, abused and slandered by these sorts of people (conservative prudes and insufferable pseuds) since 2010 or so. Isn’t ten… fucking… years long enough to hold a misinformed grudge? There’s people who have put more effort into harassing me, harranguing my friends, sabotaging my projects and charity work, than they have their own relationships. This is not justified or healthy behaviour, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them.

The sense of betrayal and the unjustness of it all, the helplessness in the face of it, has driven me to the edge of suicide before now. If not outright betrayal, the cowardice and the lack of spine, the lack of benefit of the doubt from people I’ve known more than half my life. At the same time I’ve seen the harassment that people who do defend me or call themselves my friends suffer too. Some of that cowardice and betrayal is understandable – even if I’d never do it to anyone.

If you’re of the right identity category it seems you can leverage the slightest bit of harassment (or simply that status) into success, worthy of it or not. Yet a decade-long campaign of hatred against me counts for nothing, because white, cisgender, male, heterosexual etc.

It’s just not a ‘sexy’ story because of those things, and mental illness and disability don’t count when they’re in proximity to the badness categories.

Is it reasonable to harass someone for ten years straight?

To kinkshame?

To send them hate-notes and razorblades in the post?

To demonise them for their friendship with sex workers, and imply that friendship is untoward?

To take the time and trouble to create multiple email and social media accounts to harass someone?

To browbeat their friends into disowning them?

To pretend to be them on social media?

To force them out of anthologies of fiction?

To try and petition companies to never employ/publish/print what they make?

To sabotage their charity efforts to memorialise their dead friend?

To review-bomb everything they do?

To ‘warn’ potential new clients, customers and friends and to share blocklists so they don’t get the opportunity to talk to me themselves?

To lie about something so serious as sexual harassment or assault just to smear someone?

To call someone labels that are 180 degrees from who and what they are?

To belittle and question someone’s mental illness?

I’d say no, but what the fuck can I do about it; other than whine occasionally for a scant scintilla of catharsis?

I’m genuinely asking. I seem to be expected to just lie back and let it happen. Whether or not I try to be calm and pleasant, or I lose my temper, it seems to make no difference. I think I’m allowed to be angry after ten years of this bullshit, don’t you?

Why doesn’t the hell I’ve been put through by these cunts mean anything?

How do you fix it?

Apologse? I’ve done nothing wrong, and that would violate my principles (an apology should be meant, heartfelt, and you should have done something genuinely wrong to apologise for). Nor do apologies make any difference.

Violate all my principles and standards to get along with people?

Keep my trap shut, until I can’t stand it any more?


TL;DR – Not a well bunny (brainworms), but coping. Sorry for being short/grumpy etc, but probably not that sorry because you likely deserved it if I was short/grumpy etc with you. Genuinely sorry for not being better about keeping in touch with people this year and for my output sliding.

I’m not very well.

I haven’t felt very well for over a month now, I think.

I haven’t felt able to open up to anyone because some people overreact, and some have accused me of performatively sympathy seeking.

Overreacting the other way, if you will.

Bringing people down at Christmas also kinda sucks, and everyone has their own problems at the moment.

Lockdown hasn’t been much of an issue for me, not that different to normal life to be honest, but now that we have a vaccine it feels a lot more restricting. Mentally at least, if not otherwise.

I’m fairly high risk, due to my low lung capacity from childhood asthma, amongst other issues. It has been hard to see so many people, people I know, buying into conspiracy theories, minimising the danger and even playing fast and loose with people’s lives.

My life.

Similarly, a depressing number of people seem to have bought into the big political boondoggles of our time, and the conspiracy gibberish around them, whether it’s anti-lockdown hysteria, stolen US election hysteria or any of many others.

There’s Brexit, which is now, finally, at the end of its beginning, if only the beginning of the end. That, if anything, is even more stifling a feeling than lockdown. I see the harm it’s doing to so many lives and yet we’re all so helpless in the face of its mass stupidity.

I have my little dedicated band of haters who, again, are sabotaging every effort I make to try and do some good in the world. No amount of good I do seems to make any difference to this, no amount of effort, explanation, confrontation or defence. There’s no discussion, no conversation, no attempt to take anything said or done in anything but the worst faith and the worst interpretation.

I’m politically and socially ‘homeless’ in a way I don’t think I’ve ever felt before. Every voice of reason turns out to be a prick, and every self-styled progressive is a bonsai Stalin in waiting, contradicting everything they claim to stand for.

And I’m getting old, and like anyone getting older, you can’t help but wonder why you’re not where you thought – or hoped – you’d be.

There’s also been a few cases lately of people I thought I knew, or tried to help, turning out to be Very Bad People. You can’t help but wonder what more you could have done and how that might have prevented these things from happening.

Ultimately though, depression doesn’t have to have a reason, it just is. It’s not like any of these are things that I can do much about in any case.

It’s taking all that I have to meet my regular commitments, and I’m conscious of my abraisiveness and exhaustion, so not as communicative with my friends as I’d like to be. Less able to get organised or enthusiastic.

Hopefully this will wear off soon enough, though these bouts can go on for months.

I have an arsenal of coping mechanisms, it’ll be fine. Just… hypocritical to sit on this any more, given how much I encourage people to speak up and to try and be honest and authentic in their own lives, and how willing I am to listen to them.

It’s just yeah, people do get tired of listening. It does take effort to be there for someone, to listen to their gripes and moaning, and it’s tough if – as with depression – there’s no real solution to offer. People often say they want to listen and be there for you, but as the days become months and years that’s just not true, however true the intention is.

So yeah, there you go. I’m not myself, not sure how long it will last.

My friend Tamora often posts things that are challenging, mental health resources and ideas. I find her posts interesting because we are so different in so many ways, yet I feel a connection to her beyond our relatively few direct social interactions. We’ve both had a rough old go of it, and our coping strategies are somewhat different. Our perceptions of the world around us are also somewhat different, and she lacks the misgivings about intersectionalism and deliberate cognitive bias (standpoint) that I do.

She recently posted this graphic, and the accompanying Youtube videos, and given that it’s World Mental Health Day and given that I continue to flouder around looking for ways to process and understand my mental health issues, I thought I’d work through this as a self-examination.

I don’t get on with self-help for the most part. Positive-thinking feels like ‘woo’, much of what is taught and done feels self-indulgent, selfish and seems to encourage those attitudes in people, while excusing it.

Letting Go

Letting things go, changing behaviour in any way, seems virtually impossible. After all, we are who we are and we fall into our habits involuntarily – for the most part.

Conscious effort is constantly and consistently required to form new habits, and that’s exhausting. This also goes for letting things go. If it is in your nature to ruminate and agonise, how are you supposed to let it go?

What People Think

No man is an island, and as social creatures we do have to care about our reputations and the people around us. This is especially true if you rely on reputation and attention for a living. This is the case, to a certain extent, for everyone these days.

To an extent it’s necessary that I care what other people think of me, and it’s a source of constant frustration and heartache. I know who I am. I spend more time than is probably healthy in self-reflection and critical self-analysis.

To have a reputation at odds with who I know I am, much of it entirely, or very nearly, spurious and fictional, is a hard thing to cope with. I think I find this so difficult because I am a professional communicator, and yet it seems impossible to communicate who I am to certain people.

I should just write them off, but it feels like the failing must be mine.


Anyone who regularly watches my YouTube channel knows that I fairly commonly say ‘you will make mistakes’, buy that it is worth the effort to try and be kind, to try and steelman the positions of your opposition, to try and put yourself in another person’s shoes.

I am very fond of a series of quotes from Diamond Age about hypocrisy, even though it is one of the things that I really can’t stand in most people. I have a particular problem with hypocrisy when it comes to moral grandstanding, shaming and judgement.

If someone characterises themselves as anti-racist, but then is egregiously racist and tries to excuse it by redefining racism, I find this enraging. Small scale things I can forgive, but not in myself. It’s not so much perfectionism, as this unforgiving attitude – at least towards myself.

I feel like I am striving to do my best (and failing), but that others aren’t even trying to be consistent.

Numbing and Powerlessness

Getting numb was my survival tactic for many years. I would be resilient, stoic. I would don my emotional armour and not let anything touch me. By the time I opened up again and allowed myself to feel again (well into my twenties) it proved to be a mistake and I just ended up getting hurt again.

Since 2007 I have had a diagnosis of chronic depression, general/social anxiety disorder and dependency disorder, several suicide attempts, several incidents of self-harm and a great deal of helplessness. That cannot help but make one feel powerless.

It’s not just the state of the world that makes me feel powerless, I don’t feel like I can steer my own life. I am at the mercy of unpredictable chemical changes in my brain, a severe and ongoing depression that will either kill me or be with me to the end of my days, ruining everything.

It’s hard not to feel powerless in the face of that.

Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

I have a few powerful memories from when I was very small. I used to sleep in a room just down the hall from my parents, and quite often, at night, I would get out of my bed and creep through the hall to where they were. On the same wall as my door was a small toy cupboard, where my building blocks and so on were.

One very dark night I crawled out of bed and made my way across the floor to what I thought was the door, but it was the cupboard. I shut myself in, and in the pitch black I couldn’t find the knob and couldn’t get out. Crying for my mum and dad until they found me.

So I am, actually, afraid of the dark. The pitch dark, at least. When there’s no light at all.

That said, that’s not really what this about. Scarcity and fear of the dark refer to fears of uncertainty, insecurity, catastrophisation and mental modelling of worst outcomes.

That part I do, a lot. I churn everything over in my mind constantly and it’s not entirely unhealthy to engage in analysis and decision modelling. I do it too much though.

Need for Certainty

I think this plays into the previous section. For me it’s not necessarily about certainty, but about minimising risk. When you have a long-term, debilitating illness you can’t take anything with certainty.


How can you not compare yourself with others? That’s a guide to figuring out how you’re doing, relative to them. Sure, success for you may be different to success for them, but as a yardstick, comparison is all we have.

I have not really had the success I want, or even feel like I deserve. Meanwhile I see people elevated for terrible work, inferior work, or because they meet the ‘right’ identity categories and it’s hard not to feel resentful. This is not a very flattering thing to admit about oneself, jealousy isn’t really the right characterisation, injustice – perhaps – is.

Exhaustion as a Status Symbol & Productivity as Self-Worth

This is more of an American problem than a British problem, and more of a British problem than a European one. My problem is, primarily that I am exhausted all the time without the being productive part.

As a result, when I do have energy, when I do anything, I feel it has to be productive and worthwhile. I hardly ever do anything that is entirely for myself. It has to make money, or hone a skill, or be a gift for someone else to be justifiable.

All I have for myself, is sleep.

Anxiety as a Lifestyle

I have anxiety, this doesn’t seem assailable in any really meaningful way. Things like ‘mindfulness meditation’ attack the symptom, not the cause. This is a dysfunction that may well be neurological, rather than psychological, so other than ‘cope’, I don’t know what to do about it.

Self-Doubt and ‘Supposed To’

I am riddled with self doubt and I find it impossible to accept compliments.

I know I have competence, am even good, as a writer, creative, Games Master and games designer. However I only know this intellectually, I do not feel it.

I need affirmation, but self-affirmation is not effective and my doubt and low self-esteem prevent me truly accepting affirmation even when it does appear. This leaves me forever hungry for affirmation, afraid to solicit it, wary of being a burden and conscious of people’s loss of patience with my constant need to be shored up.

I need something that I can’t accept, even when I get it, and hate myself for soliciting it or fishing for compliments. On the opposite side of that, every criticism, every piece of bile that is flung my direction hits hard, no matter how stupid or incorrect.

Cool & Always in Control

When you can’t control much in your life, you tend to focus on the things you can control and – at least to an extent – that leaves you with self-control.

To the same extent that I have survived by creating a layer of emotional armour, intellectualisation and distance, so I have also clung to the idea of control. It’s a way to survive, something to hold on to, and while I have torn down these walls a little in the last 13 years. I have tried to be more open and vulnerable, there’s always something holding me back because this was so necessary to live.


These are things that you are supposed, apparently, to do more of, as opposed to the previous things, which you’re supposed to try and minimise. I’m not sure about them, but as with the previous, it’s more about – for me – analysis.


I have been trying to be more authentic for a while now. To be more open about who and what I am and refusing to be shamed or guilted for it, but it’s not easy.

Sometimes the pursuit of authenticity can be contradictory. I embraced my wilder fashion choices and my ‘look’ because I was disappointed in the appearance and example of other game designer when I met them. I didn’t want to be another schlub in cargo shorts and a faded t-shirt. I wanted to look the part. So in a way, that choice was inauthentic, but it presented an opportunity to be a more authentic person and to express more of my true personality in how I look.

The fear, when you are authentic, is that people will reject and even hate the real you. You won’t have the protection of knowing it’s a facade or a mask, a false front that people react badly to. It’s the real you.

That can be insurmountable, and we all have (and need) secrets. To be authentic, and vulnerable, is to invite harm, right to your core. In the online world, much like the schoolyard, to show weakness is to invite bullies. To bare your belly is to invite a gut-punch.


Can’t do it.

I can be very forgiving and understanding of others, but the more of that I have, the less forgiveness I have for myself. If all I can control is myself, then I demand a lot from myself, besides, I ‘know’ I don’t deserve it.

A Resilient Spirit

Reilience is stoicism, at least to me. This seems to be in contradiction with earlier points. Perhaps what is better meant is anti-fragility. To grow back stronger each time, rather than to resist all damage.

Gratitude & Joy

I have tried keeping a gratitude journal, but I have so little to write in it. I did this because this is one of the few self-help techniques with real, scientific backing to it but for me, just as with CBT or other positive-thinking exercises, it had no discernible effect.

As for joy, ‘anhedonia’ is a common side effect of depression and the drugs you take to treat your depression. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, let alone joy.

How can I find joy and pleasure with what may well be a neurological problem, preventing me from experiencing it? I’ve almost forgotten what it is like to feel happy, or joyful, the closest I can get is mere satisfaction, and even that is fleeting.

Intuition & Faith

Intuition is poorly tuned to modern life. Our instincts are honed by biology to tribal groups of 100 or so on the plains of primordial Africa. Our instincts are maladapted to modern megacities or the Internet. Our intuitions are only useful in small-scale, human interactions.

Faith, belief without evidence, is worse than useless. Whether it’s unfounded belief in an ideology, a religion – or indeed anything else – is dangerous, almost beyond imagining.

I do not trust either of these things, and to place any emphasis on them as a guiding light in your life feels like the worst kind of folly. To me, at least, the absolute worst example of this thinking is ‘the serenity prayer’.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

– The Serenity Prayer

You don’t know what you can change until you try, it is not brave to enact change if you know that you can, and the only way to discern the difference is to try. Prayers like this, attitudes like this, encourage the bad form of pacifisn and passivity and allow less… serene people to have free rein.

Challenge, combativeness, argument, confrontation – these aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves, but people treat them like they are.


My whole life is tied up in creativity and, when I can’t be creative, it is like I don’t exist. What else do I have to offer? If I’m not making something, who – or what – am I?

Rest & Play

I rest when I sleep, when my brain lets me. My play is also my career, even when I’m playing games rather than making them, it’s all meat for the beast.

I am never at rest, I always have to be doing something, partially because of that pressure and sense of identity tied up in what I do – rather than what I am – but also because if I don’t keep myself occupied my brain starts to eat me. It’s like starvation, if you don’t eat your body starts to break itself down to keep you alive. If I don’t feed my brain, it starts to devour the rest of me.

Calm & Stillness

See above. Only sleep is a break.

Meaningful Work

I tell stories and I make games.

Intellectually I know that creative enterprises are meaningful and special. That life isn’t worth living without creativity, without art.

Emotionally though, again, this doesn’t land. What I do is frivolous, undervalued. Some of this is cultural, our culture doesn’t value art or artists as it should any more (and some of that is the fault of artists). Some of it is just that creeping self-doubt, and that constant comparison with others.

Many would define what I do as absolutely meaningless. Many of the same people who spend their lives shuffling small green pieces of paper from one place to another and pocketing a commission.

Laughter, Song & Dance

Anhedonia is a bitch, and I don’t dance.

It’s important to me to be open about my issues, to help people understand them, and me, and if that means a metaphorical boot to the groin from time to time so be it.

In the end, the only person’s opinion you have to be able to live with, is your own.

England and Wales School Guidance on Lesson Materials

Banning things, silencing people. There’s a lot of that going around these days.

Barely a day goes by without the shambling, animated corpse of the left being puppeteered into calling for someone or something to be cancelled or excised. Usually for spurious reasons. The older amongst you will remember the censors tending not to come from the left, but the right.

Conservatism has never had a particularly strong relationship with freedom of expression or freedom of speech, save when its own use of these rights is threatened. The left, traditionally did have. After all, it was through the strenuous use of these rights that art, culture, politics and so on were pushed forward. It is through these rights that the battles around liberation and civil rights were won, especially those around LGBT issues.

It is painful, and perverse, to see the ‘left’ being behind so much of the censorship push these days then, people who seem to have forgotten the value of the rights that helped win all their victories, and now only seem to understand that they hold the whip. A similar problem can be seen in today’s feminism and ‘anti-racism’, both of which seem more about revenge than justice – at least in the WEIRD countries.

There has begun to be a bit of a fightback, sadly coming from the right, dressing itself up in the clothing of free speech and free expression, but not really meaning it any more than the pseudo-left does. This just means we’re going to be caught between two sets of arseholes and called either problematic or degenerate, depending which one it is having a go at you at the time.

Two things have happened now, that exemplify this problem.

On the one hand Trump has banned a loosely defined ‘Critical Race Theory’ from being promulgated in federal departments and contractors. Doubtless his motivations are sketchy, or stem from senility, but this may be one of the few decent things he’s ever done.


Because it’s bollocks.

Implicit bias training doesn’t work, racial and other sensitivity training tends to worsen work relations, not make them better, and it’s a steaming morass of terrible scholarship, fake peer review and ‘laundered ideas’.

Still, banning it rather than demonstrating it to be worthless (or even worse) doesn’t seem like the way to do it, and it’s hypocritical to be claiming to be defending free speech, free expression and the marketplace of ideas while banning discussion of something, even though it’s bollocks.

Not to mention, this is coming from a political party tied to even worse unscientific bollocks – religion.

Then we come to the UK guidance, which has been lauded, but which is even worse. Education IS the place to explore these ideas, and to expose them as being terrible, misguided bollocks (Sokal Squared being a prime example).

They’ve amended the text a couple of times now, but even so, much as with the attempted ‘Porn Ban’, which would also have banned ‘esoteric’ and ‘politically extreme’ material, this is vast overreach and rather comedically contradicts itself by simultaneously saying you shouldn’t teach XYZ while also claiming to be protecting free speech.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all”.

– Chomsky

Again, I’ve altered the text but hopefully not the meaning, to avoid people going looking, unbidden.

Do you know how far I have had to internalise racism?

Do you know that you behave around me in a way that makes me a ‘coconut’?

Do you know that I ‘act white’ to keep everyone comfortable?

Do you know that I put up with abuse from white people and BAME people because I ‘pass’ and ‘suck up’?

NB: ‘Coconut’ is like ‘Oreo’ in American slang, ‘white on the inside’, whatever that even means.

Do you know how far I have had to internalise racism?

No, because that’s your own internal thought process and I’m not telepathic. I’m also not sure I buy ‘internalising’ racism (or misogyny etc) as I think it denies people’s agency and self-understanding. I’ve never been too fond of the idea of ‘false consciousness’, whatever the context, despite its occasional utility and even rarer accuracy.

Assuming it’s mean in the same way that ‘internalised misogyny’ is mean, it doesn’t seem – from the outside – as though you have. You don’t seem to accept it, or have racist attitudes about yourself and you seem to resist them in others (and that’s not a new behaviour). You even, gratifyingly, in this set of questions, acknowledge racism in the BAME community.

Do you know that you behave around me in a way that makes me a ‘coconut’?

I don’t think I have that kind of power over you (or anyone else for that matter). You make yourself who and what you are. I treat you as I strive to do anyone else, as an individual human being.

Helen Pluckrose, academic involved in Sokal Squared, put this well recently:

I refuse to attach any social or moral significance to race and I think I largely succeed at doing that. I also oppose people who do attach any social or moral significance to race on ethical grounds.

I don’t treat you as ‘white’, because I don’t believe there to be such a thing as ‘whiteness’, nor ‘blackness’, nor ‘brownness’ nor any other similar thing. I dare say I have much more in common with you than I would with someone from a Wolverhampton council estate or a Sussex manor house, colour be damned.

Do you know that I ‘act white’ to keep everyone comfortable?

No, and I don’t think you could if you wanted to, as there is no ‘white’ way to act. There might be a ‘British’ way to act and there’s a ‘middle class’ way to act, but there’s no single ‘racial’ way to act. If you are trying to be a pantomime ‘white person’, please stop!

Do you know that I put up with abuse from white people and BAME people because I ‘pass’ and ‘suck up’?

The wording is a little confusing here, making it sound like both BAME and ‘white’ people are both giving you shit for ‘passing white’ and being a suck up. I can believe that, given the ‘absolute fucking state’ of middle-class ‘white’ activism these days, but it’s unclear whether that’s what you mean, or more conventional racism.

The racism you get from BAME people for not being BAME enough, that I believe 100% and it’s the aspect of all this I find absolutely the most wearying and disappointing about the whole thing. The hypocrisy of the racist anti-racists. I mean, you (hopefully) read my previous post about my friend from Guyana, that whole ‘colourism’ thing is dumb as heck.

I’m more interested in culture, because differences are fascinating. When I meet someone I like from a different culture I try to learn something about it. The food, a few words of the language, a few concepts unique to that culture, whether it’s pepperpot stew from Guyana or the concept of ‘sisu’ from Finland.