Hypocrisy and the Death Penalty

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I hate hypocrisy – my own as well as other people’s.  Today I choose to attack hypocrisy in progressive western democracies about the death penalty.

We are quite willing to bomb people whom we suspect of doing bad things, without any trial and in the knowledge that those bombs will kill, maim and dispossess people whom we suspect of nothing at all.  But we go bananas if some other country, after due judicial process in accordance with its own laws, dares to execute a convicted criminal.

I am thinking chiefly of the drug smugglers who were executed in Indonesia, over whom the Australian Government set fire to much of its political capital in that country.  That still makes me stroppy.

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Nutella and Isis

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I understand, I really do.  Nutella offers to print special labels with their customers’ name on them, but the marketing people don’t foresee a request to personalise a jar for a little girl called Isis.  Nutella refused to print the label, as they would refuse to print a label for someone called #&%@ or %&?!.

Until very recently Isis was most prominent as the Egyptian goddess of health, marriage and wisdom, and an Oxford student magazine.  Any child called Isis could have been proud of her name.  Now it is soiled.  It could happen to any of us with a short name.

Social Media

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When I came close to finishing my sci-fi trilogy (The Eeks Trilogy) all the experts said, “You must start a blog. People will read your blog and then they will want to buy your books.”  So I did.  So far it has not attracted enough interest to crash the servers.

Then when I decided to self-publish The Eeks Trilogy in the form of e-books, available through the big online retailers, the experts said, “The key to self-publication is clever use of social media.”  So I hired a social media consultant to set up Twitter and Facebook accounts and feed interesting titbits daily to the world, whipping up a frenzy of fascination.

It’s early days, I know, and as Mrs SG keeps reminding me.  But ‘Eeks‘ has been available FREE for 13 days and the download tally is only 104.  Did J K Rowling have to wait this long for overnight success?!

Donald Trump – In Trouble Again

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Like almost everyone else outside the Republican Party, I find myself staring in stunned disbelief at the popularity polls.  How could anyone consider Donald Trump to be in the Top Ten Million for consideration as the Leader of the Free World?

But I have to interpose my body between Mr Trump and the howls of protest that his latest reported remarks have drawn.  He said that refugees could be “the greatest Trojan horse of all time.”  Whatever the motives and prejudices that may underlie that statement, it is undeniably supported by two very obvious precedents.

First, US foreign policy has for many years been hostage to Zionist lobbyists, whose power depends on a Jewish population (only 2% nationally, but disproportionately influential) which derives in large part from past flows of refugees from persecution in Europe.

Second, the recent outbreak of sanity with respect to US-Cuban relations has been delayed for decades by the Cuban exile population – refugees from Castro and his communist regime, implacably opposed to détente.

Spectre

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Mrs SG and I have seen all the Bond films, and we really think ‘Spectre‘ may be the worst.  The song is certainly the worst – an instantly forgettable tune and unintelligible lyrics.  I couldn’t even make out the recurring line ‘The writing’s on the wall‘ until I saw the title on the screen.

I am not only disappointed, I am indignant and resentful.  James Bond is no longer private property, he is part of the global cultural heritage.  Therefore every film must conform to a certain template.  The makers of ‘Spectre’ have misunderstood this requirement.  They have simply mined the archives for a dozen old Bond film clichés and hung them on the flimsiest of plots, like damp sheets on a clothes line.

And in doing this they have managed to brush away almost all the self-mocking humour that we have known and loved for 50 years.  I say ‘almost all’ because there’s a nice bit in the inevitable overlong car chase where he tries to shoot the Maserati behind and finds that the gun’s not loaded.  Even the sex lacks the true Bond’s playfulness with sadistic undertones.

I say this having been telling people for years that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever.  I don’t know whether to blame the script, the direction, the casting, over-anxious box-ticking, or Daniel’s Craig’s falling out of love with the part.  Something’s not right and I really, really hope it gets fixed before the next one.

The Eeks Trilogy

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I’ve mentioned before that I was writing a science fiction trilogy.  Well, I’ve finished.  More than that, it’s uploaded and for sale!  The first book is called ‘Eeks’ and until the end of 2015 it’s FREE!!  The 2nd and 3rd books (‘Speeks’ and ‘Squidgies’) are priced at US$2.99.  You can find them all at Smashwords.  Just click on these links:

Book 1 – Eeks

Book 2 – Speeks

Book 3 – Squidgies

All three book are also available (or will very soon) at Apple iBooks, Barnes&Noble, Diesel eBook Store, Kobo, Scribd, Sony and WHSmith.  Amazon won’t retail free books, so will have to wait until 1 January when the price of ‘Eeks’ goes up to an absurdly low US$0.99.

The books are available only as e-books.  I hope that if sales soar one of the old-style publishers will want to put them into print.  And I’m open to offers for the film rights right now.

By the way, if you’re thinking of writing a book and you’re willing to self-publish it in electronic form, I recommend Smashwords.  Their website is… well, it’s the way all websites should be.  And when I had a problem, my written Help! message was answered by email within hours!

Science and Technology: How They Advance

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My old friend Ron Allan sent me the following link to an interesting article:

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-evolution-of-technology/

The writer, Viscount Ridley, points out that many scientific and technological advances were made by several people, even though we recognise only one.  Darwin comes to mind, and last night Mrs SG and I watched a dramatised documentary (‘Genius’) which presented the perfection of television as a duel between the youthful Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin, working for the aggressively entrepreneurial David Sarnoff of RCA.  But I was always taught that TV was invented by John Logie Baird, and Wikipedia lists a regiment of others.

Viscount Ridley goes on to argue that public investment in basic science is largely wasted and it should be left to the private sector.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but please read the article and let me know what you think.