it decides
to dissect​
and inspect
you inside
like an insect
its interest a
pin though
your abdomen
and into
its stark
white
board

around you
regular
columns rows
of other twitching
insect bodies
honey-combed
by compound vision
some dead
all skewered
six legs
or fewer

a rattling
cacophony of
rasping clicks
a metallic
mass-gallows
of fat sallow
bad-blood-sick
love-filled ticks
unable to muster
the will to rupture

amid the grid
of pulsing nausea
you’re only aware
of your own
of the oozing hole
that holds you in place
exposes your viscera
to its inquisitive gaze
brittle layers of
chitinous
bitterness flayed
wounds of want
and self-pity displayed
layers of defensive
constructs arrayed
labeled
on tables

Advertisements

Patterns
we violate
the stillness beneath seas
We do it again
and again
and again

We the uncomprehending tick
that swells
with the valueless seed
of another
We
the other

We devour
our
fat
feeble
forebears
We ignite our remains
We ignite our remains

We shed
sharp geometries
Weave them into our offspring
Strip and dissect
Brand and discipline

We watch ourselves pace
endless rows
of kennels
We incinerate our own
We incinerate our own

In front of screens
we degenerate
into a twitching
machines
Our electric atavism
burning senseless paths
through atrophied grey matter
We latch onto an orange anus
spewing hate
it feeds us
we feed it

We crowd around ourself
Leave ourself
dying on a cold pavement
We flare red for an instant
fade to colourless flaccidity

We exhaust our remains
Our patterns frantically shift
Unrecognisable
we lose our struggle
against the cold regularity
the oceans
of stillness

A noble line of greatness
stretches from antiquity
You march toward its forefront
to claim your legacy

You think a throne awaits you
you’ll be fastened to a stock
where the vermin that fellate you
drive broken glass into your cock

A capering clown
puts a paper crown
on your solemn lowered head
you’ll bleed out like a stuck pig
though never fully dead

You’ll never rest Orestes
though your mother’s ghost will come
to find you in your torment
and you’ll manage ‘fuck off mum!’
You’re slumped and bowed in silence
Softly she will plea
You disavowed me with your violence
Why did you murder me?

You now survey your kingdom
through undulating vision
the dirt you are
dirties
the dirt beneath you

You find it hard to swallow
that the blind dreck of this world
Not the sheer will of Apollo
did your body’s being build

your chest a feeble fluttering thud
your head a heavy jug of blood
no matter how much flows
from dark tissue exposed

Sick
of occasionally stuffing my heart
with inebriated fucks
fucks
never fully mine

What I really need
is a phlebotomist
with warm eyes
who asks me
to take off my coat

I hand her my form
and sit down
snugly preserved
in duplicate
within her two
amber eyes

She nods
as I extend my arm
and slide the sleeve of my shirt
above the crook of my elbow

Above this
she wraps the tourniquet
feeding its elasticated strap into
its plastic buckle
drawing it tight

‘This will sting a little’
The needle punctures my skin
enters my vein
I sigh out
a voiceless lungful of air

She fits a glass tube
to the needle’s housing
Glug glug
my blood
floods
its vacuum
‘You’ve very strong’
she murmurs

Feebly now
dark red pulses
into the third tube
She withdraws the needle
a cotton swab in its place
taped to my elbow
‘so it doesn’t get on your shirt’

She turns to her samples
and papers
and scribbles
without a glance
she says
‘you can go’

We exchange a
cascade of
goodbyes

Sick of occasionally stuffing my heart
With inebriated fucks
fucks
never fully mine

What I really need
is a phlebotomist
with warm eyes
who asks me
to take off my coat

A habit
I had hoped
shed
sees me return
again
to an uneven mattress
bartering
dreams for hours
of a life foreswarn
the remainder lived
fewer
forlorn

Leaden legs
and bleary eyes that
deadened
peer at leaden skies
through a rain
specked pane of glass
Autumnal curtains
gently pulse
and endless
cars and people pass

Now in so few ways inured
to the soporific haze
of a dream-leeched
day endured
let alone the
grimy little
hours that
settled
gathered days
months that piled
heaped a year of stolen youth

A life that barely
filled half
a shared
room
its white walls
crumpled bed-linen
and radiator

It’s small
now
I sit
I examine the suture
over the void
that was my future

I don’t normally post about my diet and training, so prepare to learn about another facet of my geekiness. In fact, This is my first training and nutrition related post in 5 years of blogging. In this case, I felt that fasting for 16 hours every day with an 8 hour feeding window was a significant enough change to share my experiences.

This could be a lot more impressive, at just over 1000KCal of rice, eggs, soya mince and veg. Sadly, it needs to fit in a 1.6l airtight lunch-box and I’m only aiming for 3400KCal a day.

I couldn’t live without breakfast!

As long as I can remember, I’ve struggled to function without breakfast. This worsened when I when I took up weights training. I began stuffing myself with everything between 2500 and 5250 KCals of food a day. Eating regularly and breaking my fast as soon as I got up helped me to wolf down some of the more obscene amounts of food. Aside from putting on a bit of belly fat, I became accustomed to eating regularly, eating a lot — and due to budgetary constraints, eating a lot of carbs. I quite sure my insulin sensitivity dropped as despite consuming three eggs and a sizeable bowl of cereal every morning, I felt famished by lunchtime.

Or could I?

I started reading about intermittent fasting and found the idea of being able to eat a reasonable amount of food, maintain or even build some muscle and strength and cut my body-fat simultaneously very appealing. Following the leangains method, I calculated my basal metabolic rate, adjusted for activity and took some percentages based on the goal of body re-composition (+20% on training days, -20% on rest). The rest was willpower. On the first few days at work, I went on a feeding frenzy at lunchtime and gobbled up whatever sweets and biscuits happened to be lying around. This was especially bad when I had a supermarket meal-deal for lunch, including a sugary fruit-juice and crisps (which incidentally, with the right sandwich, adds up to around 1000Kcals.) I gradually adapted, drinking several cups of green tea in the mornings and sometimes not quite making it to 2 or 3pm, as I’d come hope late from martial arts training and only eat dinner at 10 or 11pm.

Some background info (I’ll be just thorough enough to show how unscientific this is)

I’m not going to fool myself; this couldn’t be further from a controlled a scientific study. I changed so many variables in the few weeks before I started this that anything could be responsible. Before I started fasting, I’d been taking the bus to work and eating large supermarket lunches with sugary fruit-juice. I’d recently started cycling to and from work and taking a packed lunch with low-GI carbs, vegetables and some protein. I’d also started doing martial arts training in the evening, which incorporates HIIT circuits – a change from sitting at my laptop when I got home (and a massive improvement, for so many reasons). It gets worse: Due to these other changes, I switched from a 4 our day upper-lower weights training spilt, to a 2 day push-pull split of my own invention. I could squat (& bench press, press, leg press, dips…) on Saturday, when I didn’t have to cycle the following day, rest on Sunday and deadlift (& pullups, power cleans, rows…) on Monday. From Tuesday to Friday, despite martial arts training and cycling every day, I could recover, in theory.

One thing that remained fairly consistent was my my macronutrient balance. I tend to get just over 20% of my calories from protein, around 50% from carbohydrates and just under 30% from fat. The proportion of protein tends to rise to around 26% on days with a lower caloric intake, simply because I’m not adding loads of cheap grains to make up the calories. Maybe my diet isn’t good enough (if we take seriously advocates of very high proportions of protein and fat). I think it’s adequate, considering my limited budget. After all, a similar diet has allowed an 6′ 1″ (185cm) ectomorph like me who weighed just under 70kg to reach 79kg within a year, without a remotely high bodyfat percentage.

Shredded within a month?

Nope,  I was sill about an inch of belly-fat shy of a well defined six-pack. After the first month, my weight hadn’t changed much. I weighed 78.9kg fasted before I started and I don’t believe I weighed less than 78 at  at this point. I reduced my calories and cut out some unhealthier food sources. This included cheap peanut butter (replaced with whole peanuts) and whole-milk. While the peanut butter wasn’t that bad, the wholemilk was; despite containing a bit of high-quality protein, it is just saturated fat and sugar (lactose) suspended in water, along with antibiotics and bovine growth hormone in some countries. I will admit that during one of my past bulking attempts, I’ve consumed close to one litre of wholemilk a day, on the recommendation of strength coaches John Rippetoe and Jim Wendler. It works, yes, but only if you need to drink an extra ~ 640Kcals of mostly empty calories a day.

And in a few weeks I dropped 3kg

I did take some time of training, spend two weekends visiting people but tried to match my enthusiasm for vices such as alcohol with gluttony, an one point eating an entire roast chicken to line my stomach with slow-digesting fat and protein before going out drinking. Despite telling myself I’d keep cutting until I hit a fasted weight of 75kg, I’ve decided to slam on the breaks and eat more again. I’ve had cravings for juicy steaks and rich, crispy pies and ice-cream recently, which may or may not be the result of just having lost about a kilogram a week. I’ll allow myself a few treats, but don’t want to go mad and fall into the trap of unsustainable crash-dieting.

Go back to eating breakfast every morning?

I actually don’t enjoy starting the day with bowl of grains and dried fruit any more. I still wouldn’t mind the eggs (and a 10oz bacon-wrapped steak for that matter!), but that’s a different story. I enjoy being able to go longer without food, is research indicating a range of heat benefits aside from fat loss.

However, this research is still in relative infancy. A considerable amount of research still supports meals spaced out over one’s waking hours. While I have seen photographic and anecdotal evidence of people reaching impressive body-composition goals on intermittent fasting, I have been unable to replicate this. I’ve become more fatigued and irritable, and have little to show for it in terms of fat loss.

For the time being…

If I put on a significant proportion of body-fat the future, I might consider IF as one of a number of tools to help overcome this. By this point, there may be more conclusive research. At the moment, I’m physically active, have a fast metabolism and a healthy bodyfat percentage; I seem to reap no obvious benefits from IF (less obvious benefits would require blood tests, which may have to wait until I’m older and need them).

I can see little point in continuing this experiment now.

For a conscientious consumer seeking a powerful smart-phone, there seem to be two options: Fairphone and and Samsung’s Galaxy S4. I will first assess the ethicality and sustainability of these devices then compare their technical specifications.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Versus Fairphone

Sustainability and Ethics

Last year, a number of articles were written comparing these two phones for sustainable and ethics, as the Galaxy was awarded TCO certification and Fairphone’s raison d’etre is ethicality. While Samsung need no introduction, Fairphone is a crowd-funded initiative to produce a recyclable smartphone manufactured in fair and safe condition, from ethically sourced (and ultimately completely recycled) materials.

One such article, on Triple Pundit went into some depth, comparing the two phones based on three major categories: Conflict minerals and working conditions, hazardous materials and disposal and e-waste.

Conflict minerals are precious metal ores such as gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum, originally purchased from violent and oppressive armed groups in places such as the resource-rich Democratic Republic of Congo. They are exported, smelted and used in many consumer electronics products. The war in the DRC as killed over 5 million people since 1998 and seen whole communities fractured by systematic rape and violence. For a brief history of this conflict and a first-hand account of the corruption and criminality, see this article by journalist Jeffrey Gettleman. Gettleman also tells of improvements in recent years, due to international pressure, which led the Congolese government to seize and regulate a number of mines. These changes may account for the certified conflict-free tin and tantalum used by Fairphone, who are still attempting to secure a conflict free supply of gold and tungsten; this may prove especially difficult as Congolese gold mines are still predominately controlled by armed groups.

The TCO offers no guarantee that certified products are free of conflict minerals. Additionally, The Triple Pundit review relies on TCO guidelines to assess the effort taken by Samsung to ensure the ethicality of their supply chains. This is problematic because there has since been some controversy regarding TCO’s certification. However, the TCO’s analysis found that the deficiencies in provision for workplace illness and accidents cited by critics, were based on evidence gathered before the certificate came into effect. Further, the analysis claims that the accusation of workers’ lack of rights to free association and collective bargaining (i.e unionisation) were unfounded. While the certification stills stands, it brings to light the fact that Samsung have historically failed, and in their supply chains and manufacturing processes for other products, may still fail to adhere to the TCO’s rules. Fairphone claims to promote the International Labor Organization’s requirements for working conditions and had its factory and China reviewed by a third party social assessment organisation. Assuming that both Smartphone’s manufacturers ensure adequate working conditions, Fairphone’s main advantage is the fact that they have never profited form doing otherwise.

In terms of hazardous materials, while Fairphone follows guidelines set out in European law, the TCO’s policies are in some areas more stringent, completely banning the use of mercury and phthalates. Both Samsung and Fairphone implement take-back programs to facilitate the proper disposal and recycling of their products. However, Fairphone goes further in both partnering with Closing the Loop who buy up mobile phone scrap from developing companies and ensure that is properly processed and setting aside 3 euros per unit sold for e-waste management projects in countries where these facilities don’t exist.

Fairphone has a clean rap sheet regarding past and contemporary unethical supply chains and manufacturing conditions. While Samsung markets the S4 as a ‘life companion’ and places much of their branding is aspirational and based on an idealised Western lifestyle, Fairphone’s entire presentation relates to their ethical goals. Samsung’s greater progress in terms of hazardous chemicals (in this case) may sway those of you who prioritise workers’ exposure to such chemicals over further curtailing the violence and exploitation that have ravaged the DRC.

Specs

Operating system

Both phones ship with Android 4.2.2 (Jelly bean) installed, though the look and feel of these operating system will be very different as both companies will install additional software. Fairphone are working with Kwamecorp to develop a clear an uncluttered user interface. Here is a video of someone unboxing one of previous (2013) batch of Fairphones.  The fact that the Fairophone user interface software will be open source scores a lot of points with me. While it comes with it’s own unique swiping functionality and menus, which may or may not be to your taste, you may appreciate the relative lack of pre-installed bloatwear, that I had to root my existing Samsung Galaxy S2 to remove, and complete absence of Google software to begin with.

Even this 9/10 review of the Galaxy S4 the author says the phone is more intuitive to use without Samsung’s TouchWiz swipe functionality.

All of this aside, with a little research, a few software downloads and some effort, both phones can be rooted and their software heavily customized, though Samsung don’t encourage this while Fairphone do.

Processor

All Faiphones come with a 1.2ghz quad core CPU. The various versions of the Galaxy S4 come with a range of quad core CPUs clocked at between 1.2 and 2.3Ghz. A more expensive S4 will get you more processing power. However, four cores clocked to 1.2Ghz should handle playing music and videos, web browsing, social networking and casual gaming, even simultaneously, without a stutter. The lower clock speed will likely also mean lower power consumption.

Memory and Storage

The Galaxy S4 comes with 2GB of RAM (random access memory) and between 16 and 64GB of internal storage augmentable using the microSDXC card slot that can take up to 64GB. While the Fairphone only comes with 1GB of RAM 16GB internal storage, some of which will be used for the operating system, it also has a microSFXC card slot, meaning that those seeking to store a greater volume of data can do so.

Display and GPU

With a 1920×1080 Super AMOLED display measuring 5 inches across, the S4 has a considerable advantage over the Faiphone’s 4.3 inch 960x540px TFT screen, both in terms of pixel density and image vibrancy.

Mobile device GPUs aren’t aren’t as heavily documented and compared as laptop and desktop graphics cards. However, I can tell you that the Fairphone comes with a PowerVR SGX544 clocked at 158 MHz. The S4 GT-i9500 features the same GPU, clocked at 533 MHz. Why the massive difference in clock speed? The S4 GPU has to process four times as many pixels. Later versions of the S4 come with the Adreno 430, which clocks at 450/578Mhz. Because of the smaller screen resolution, the Faiphone performed surprisingly well at outputting a visually complex 3D game.

Camera

Based on image resolution alone, the S4’s 13 megapixels trumps the Fairphone’s 8. However, it’s worth noting that while a higher resolution will lead to larger and possibly more detailed image files, the optics of a small mobile phone lens may not produce images worthy of such a high resolution. Not to mention the fact that the data from the CMOS sensor is interpolated to produce more pixel values than are technically sensed.

As far as video recording goes goes, the Fairphone can encode 1080p@30fps video using H.263 and 720p@30fps using the higher quality H.264 codec. Again, the S4 wins with 1080p @ 30fps encoded using  H.264. It also has support for the the new HEVC or H.265 codec, but I don’t know if this extends to recording.

As I cannot find an objective comparison of the image quality, I’ll say that the S4 has a superior camera due to the higher resolution sensor.

Networks

Both phones can connect to 2G and 3G networks. In some cases, the S4 cna also connect to 4G (LTE). Both support wireless 802.11 while the S4 has a greater range of features. Conveniently, the Fairphone has two SI card slots, the first 2G and the second 3G.

Conclusion

The Faiphone boasts dual SIM capabilities, which may cut the costs buying an maintaining a second phone if for some reason one needed to have two numbers. In my view, at least, the minimalistic open-source software that comes with the Fairphone is also superior. Out of the box, my old Galaxy SII was filled with bloatwear that would run in the background without my consent; it was so obtrusive that it felt like it was hard-coded, requiring a warranty-voiding rooting process to remove it. At least Faiphone seem to understand that software is one area where a great deal of freedom is possible.

The build-quality of the S4 has been criticised. People have said it looks and feels cheap. The front of the Fairphone is almost all glass and most of the back is metal. Personally, I prefer design of the Fairphone over the generously curved corners and lightly textured plastic of the S4.

The Fairphone is surpassed in all other major technical areas. As a general purpose camera, gaming and media playing/streaming device the S4 is far more feature rich.

Economic Convenience

Due to Fairphne’s lack of reliance on venture capital, one can only purchase by pre-ordering for the next production batch at approximately £254.91 . This can mean long waits and a lack of convenience and choice.

With the S4 there are is a plethora of contracts (Cheapest: £357.12 for 34 months) and pay as you go deals to choose from, as well as SIM free deals from £309.99.

The fairphone should work out cheaper, though as the S4 is superseded by the S5, the gap could close.

Last Word

Buying a Fairphone is more of a political act. The pragmatist in me may choose the powerful, convenient and reasonably ethical S4  but the idealist would like to support a start-up company that aims to raise awareness about consumer electronic manufacturing processes and supply chains, taking small steps toward changing them for the better.