Sunday, 29 May 2016

Frozen out?

Is this censorship or just a little power play?
We have been booking libraries and bookshops for the upcoming promotion tour since February, with expected success, generally achieving one appearance in each town.

But today, we find that Robinsons and QBD bookshops do not allow branches to accept even free author visits. All author visits are booked through HQ, after the book has been (my interpretation) discovered somehow, then vetted.

But wait, there is more. Then HQ approaches the Publisher who then informs the author that the above bookstore at wherever, has invited the author to appear at an event.  Who pays to get someone to an event hundreds of K's away unless they are a celebrity? My offer was free.

If one examines the minutiae of that for a minute, one can glean this very important message: "No author that is not already famous need apply to visit any of our bookshops!"
Luckily, the above retailers are now a relatively small player in book retail, and anyhow, Gulag is available at Booktopia (Australia) and Book Repository UK as paperback and I expect as an e-book at all the usuals and when Woodslane gets them out, in most retail bookshops except some who do not know what they missed. :-)

You just know my characters will get themselves into a heap of shit and this pair, Merpati and Tom McKinnon do not let us down.
Ask at your local bookstore too. It's good for me if a lot of people keep saying my name.

Cut to the chase.

Just yesterday I had a new thought. Well, it was for me. It was so profound, that it must have been through thousands of minds since we realised we had minds. However, as I have heard nobody say it in this way before, here it is. But first a preamble.

I was listening to our ABC Radio RN, as experts on Israeli-Palestinian relations were holding forth on the two-state solution that has evaded peace makers since the late 1940's, when Palestinians were displaced to make way for European Jews, decimated by the Nazi's and not really welcome to stay in Europe.

Even after Europe learned the extent of the evil visited upon the Jews, they were still not welcome en-masse, to stay in Europe.

So, how could the British fire upon them as they dragged their mad and sad families shore on the beaches of Palestine, to reclaim the land they were told God gave to Moses three thousand years before. I too read Leon Uris and was on their side.

Arafat and Rabin went close to coming to an agreement before the assassination of Rabin and the mysterious death of Arafat stopped the process. Despite efforts by many statesmen since, there seems to have been little to celebrate. Now I come to the radio story.

Opinion seems to be, that there is now no prospect of a two state solution. Israeli settlements creep further into the West Bank, walls have gone up, mistrust has become absolute and violence from outside and inside Israel is an everyday occurrence. Both groups have moved to a stage were peace is impossible and the only outcome will be an all-out war. Of course the Palestinians could never defeat the might of Israel alone, but if Iran also declared war on Israel and had the bomb....

Now, here is the thought: Anyone who has witnessed the before and afters of all the wars in their lifetime knows that the afters leave everyone much worse off than the befores. So much is destroyed, as destruction seems to pass unnoticed by the combatants in the pressure to not lose.

Then, often suddenly, as both sides stagger toward exhaustion, and there is no longer appetite for it and peace negotiations begin. Agreements are signed and everyone goes back to face the destruction.
Restoring the built environment sucks up vast amount of wealth and energy. Some economies never recover and even those that do could have used those resources to build onto, rather than replace. Then there is the human cost of lives lost, maimed to care for and even a gap in education of those who come next. All that is known and irrefutable.

So, what madness is it that prevents us from cutting out the middle bit? We are in the 'before', we know the issues. We know solutions are found after every war. But, historically, they have been found only after both sides have exhausted their economies and sacrificed their youth. So why must we always go straight to the violence?

My thoughts go to the idea that perhaps, most of us are still children. When it comes to dealing with a threat, we do not have negotiating skills. When a sibling wrests away a toy, we run to Daddy, and wonder be! We do the same when we are all grown up. And there always seems to be a Daddy ready to 'Shirtfront Mr Putin', 'Make America strong again','establish and Islamic state' - in other words: 'Leave it to me. Give me control of your freedom, your money, your youth and I'll take care of it.'

How's it been working so far?

Images googled from the web.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Being conned

I feel I have been conned.

It seems we are expected to all take for granted the wisdom of Economic Growth and not look at the cost. The Conservative parties are running their current election campaign on the mantra: 'Jobs and growth' and we are expected to not question its deeper implications.

Dick Smith, said it on One Plus One (ABC TV program): "We are already using one and a half times the resources of the planet and every step toward growth increases the environmental debt."
Then I read, and I wish I could claim this as mine: "I used to live in a community, but I now live in an economy".

It does not take a lot of deductive power to work out who benefits from 'Economic Growth'. The whole economy is wealthier in money term, as we whittle away at our sustainability, but it is corporations that really benefit. A corporation needs to grow so that its shares rise in value. That is what investors are looking for, and the game is set up to benefit them, offering tax breaks for the gamblers but not for those in it for the dividend.Gamblers are the wasted spaces who steal value from our enterprises and add nothing. It might be instructive to ask why we are shown the stock market report every TV news bulletin, but there is no corresponding index of CO2 rise, or sustainability index to give is the full picture, that is, real costs to the global community of Growth.

Of course, living in Australia, we tend to presume that our standard of living,with good public schools, medical facilities, power that rarely fails, water we can drink from the tap, sewerage systems, adequate pensions for all, public transport that might be tight in the cities, but compared with just about anywhere else, is reliable and safe, is deserved.

But we are in for a bit of a shock. Well, we are already in the shock, but are being shielded by governments that have not produced men or women that can be both brave and truthful enough to tell it like it is and really lead.

When I read Brave New World and '1984' in 1956, we all thought automation would reduce our working hours and our main problem would be finding something to do. I am still waiting.
It seems that those who have jobs of consequence work longer hours than ever, while others, for many reasons, are struggling to find any work at all while we try to create new industries to absorb them.

Yesterday at the bank, which I rarely visit, this time to deposit a cheque, I was advised that I can deposit cheques at any ATM. My insistence on seeing a real person was received with the sort of smile one reserves for the village idiot and maybe that is what it deserved in our Brave New World..

Anyway, back to Economic Growth. I admit we need it if we are to 'remain competitive' and we need it to create more jobs to replace those lost as we automate banks, supermarket checkouts, railway ticketing, train driving, create music, art and literature with computers, have university lecture halls where five hundred students watch a video of a lecture. We are told these create 'efficiencies' in the economy and are therefor automatically good, but are they?

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that having a meaningful job, supporting oneself and family, comes naturally and is necessary for for human health. So, solving problems for oneself,even if that means doing things the hard way,making mistakes and learning, leads us to a better place than surrendering totally to the economic mantra of never-ending growth, that is leading us to where extinction is probable.

This week or the next, we reach 400PPM of CO2. We have known this was coming at least forty years ago, but as I said in CULL: 'We know the problem, we have the technology to fix it, but we lack the wisdom to apply it.'

We have an election in a few weeks but there is nobody standing that gives me confidence in their ability to at least articulate the big picture. Then again, anyone who does will not be elected. We really are still the lotus eaters and because we choose ignorance over engagement, deserve what is coming. In desperation, I will again vote Green.