Saturday, 28 September 2013

Global Warming Forecasts Hopelessly Wrong

The climate change predictions made fifteen years ago by global warming fanatics have not come true. Even the predictions they made ten years ago, or five years ago, about what the climate would be now in 2013, do not correspond to the reality. But the media are not going to tell you that, and the last thing you can expect from the climate change lobby is a public admission that they got it wrong. Thousands of green gurus out there have got a vested interest in keeping up the global warming scares. That is their livelihood. It is a business, in fact it is an industry. They get salaries, research grants, air tickets to attend well-funded conferences at glamorous international venues, and prestigious jobs advising government at national and European level.
       All that is paid for by us. Local Councils are compelled under EU law to employ full-time climate change advisors who go round telling people to wear a jumper, just like your Great-Aunty Mildred used to do. But these guys are paid salaries. The last thing they want is for us to find out the truth.
     The latest satellite pictures of the Arctic and Antarctic ice-caps do not support the view that the total amount of ice on our planet is shrinking, Indeed, it seems to be, if anything, growing. Antarctic ice is at record levels.

And the late, wonderful Patrick Moore long ago pointed out that surface temperatures on other planets in our solar system regularly vary in proportion to ours, because these variations are caused by a common factor...the sun.

Now sixteen scientists have spoken out in the Wall Street Journal condemning what they call fake research and alarmism. The real problems will be if this turns out to be a period of long-term COOLING and we are left with woefully inadequate energy provision.
       Of course all this alarmism has made Al Gore very rich  - not because he has invested in green energy, as his defenders naively assert, but because he has traded in carbon-emission permits issued by the US and other governments.
First they called it man made global warming, then they called it global warming, then they called it climate change. Now they lie.
They have systematically rigged data, silenced those scientists who opposed them, politically attacked and censored those who nevertheless spoke out. The British Government refused to release data used to produce their temperature record. Richard Parncutt of the University of Graz, Austria thinks "that the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for influential GW deniers"!!!!!!!!!
The Sun is the principal driver of earth temperature, not man. The two coldest periods the Maunder (1645 to 1715) and Dalton (1795 - 1820) minima coincided with low Sun activity and the present warming with high Sun activity. Mars and Jupiter have been warming but suffer from a lack of human activity!!!!!
Dr Jasper Kirkby at CERN has said that "Sun and cosmic rays will probably count for  a half to all increase in earth temperature"
Nobel Prize winner Dr Ivar Giaver resigned from the American Physical Society because he rejected the idea that man made global warming was "incontrovertible"
Dr Chris de Freitas, Editor of "Climate research" said there was "no compelling scientific argument for action to decarbonise the world's economy"
The World's leading expert on sea levels Dr Axel Moerner has said there has been NO RISE IN SEA LEVELS.
Even the otherwise respected NASA scientists have rigged a graph of 1999 showing the 1930s as the warmest decade to produce a 2013 graph eliminating the 1930s warming and showing massive warming in the 1990s instead.
The International Panel On Climate Change has lied about scientists who supported its findings, unilaterally selects Lead Authors, giving it direct influence on the content of reports; Lead Authors are frequently asked to review their own work and that of their critics, placing them in a conflict of interest and IPCC peer review procedures allow Lead Authors to overrule reviewers, and to rewrite the text after the close of peer review, rendering it ineffective at preventing bias;
Lies included glacier melt, the hockey stick graph, "adjusting" data to suit their theory, using Greenpeace and undergraduate work as "scientific"
They have bought slavish obedience to the new religion with hundreds of millions of Pounds of our tax payers money. Academic preferment now largely depends on uncritical acceptance of the controversial theory of man made global warming
Even a 15 year period of no warming (which make a nonsense of their computer models) and two of the coldest winters for 30 years has not changed their closed minds
Global warming in the recent period is nothing exceptional in the last 1,000 years. The ice and snow in Greenland defies its name and the Viking farmers who prospered there more than a thousand years ago. Thousands of scientists have repeatedly questioned or indeed refuted the theory of man made global warming - BUT THEIR WARNINGS HAVE BEEN CENSORED OR HARDLY REPORTED AT ALL.
16 real scientists speak out in the Wall Street Journal...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Just Resort to Mindlessless

A Church of England vicar has written a fascinating article telling us how very important it is to meditate and contemplate. The Rev. Tim Stead of Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry, writes in the Anglican magazine The Door, that we should all learn to appreciate the virtues of "mindfulness".  He has also issued a podcast sermon on the virtues of mindfulness in the Christian tradition. The group now active in Headington is the very first in the whole world!
It has an "enormous amount of scientific support".  How does this fit with the Christian tradition of prayer? Is mindfulness Christian? Apparently this is a spiritual practice which is Christian, although its origins are in Buddhism, and it is scientific.
What is mindfulness?   "It is not generally taught in a didactic is generally caught. At the same time, it is taught and learned in an extremely structured way that can and does help people. How is it taught? Usually in a group on an 8-week course , with two hourly sessions per week -   but not in a didactic way. ..You have to practice it." It is about an attitude to all of life and a way of living, which in essence is marked by a greater awareness of WHAT IS".
What is what?
Nothing in particular, just what is... that's all. Just  gloriously and beautifully and poignantly just ..being. That is the heart of it.
And that's it really.
So much goes into achieving a place of mindfulness although achieving is not the right word.
It's about waking up to life and becoming present to what is around us and within us...acceptance and compassion....noticing things we had never noticed because we are too busy.
It's about learning a better balance in our life between being and doing.  Most of us are too attuned to doing. We are too pre-occupied with what worries or concerns us. This creates tension! We are trying to close gaps  -- we end up meddling, trying to fix things that are better left alone...this can be dangerous and destructive Much of the time we can't reduce the gap between the way things are and how they ought to be...we can't fix everything....this creates too much tension.  There is a lot of brain theory here!
We need proper space for reflection, where just existing is an inherent good. We need to pause and contemplate. Simply being present to what is, is an inherent good and a great though simple joy.  

Mindfulness can't be  taught or explained but the teaching of it is part of its genius. It is a skill that needs to be practised just like a musical instrument...lots of practice. The skills we are learning tend to be counter-intuitive. Our logical brains resist! The practices are varied. You can work out what works for you!!! This can be engaged on on many levels... so many different levels.  Of course commitment to it does matter. The more effort you put in, the more you get out of it.

There are many, many ways to engage with it!

At our mindfulness lessons, we learn new skills and new practices. We are sent home to practice them daily!  then we come back and reflect together about what we have noticed while we are trying to do it.  This is all about awareness. It is very non-judgemental. It is primarily about awareness of what happened for you!  We discover extraordinary things. We notice things we never noticed before. Perhaps we will be in a better position to be aware of others. [Or perhaps not]
If only we can become AWARE so many issues will just resolve themselves! If we just become aware of what is happening, things will fix themselves!
This is the experience of mindfulness.
On the very first session, we taste a raisin, but we eat it in a MINDFUL way. We give it our whole entire, attention, starting by holding it, then looking at it, and the whole experience takes at least ten minutes...  Instead of gobbling it down, we become fully aware of everything stage of it. Eventually when you bite into that raisin the flavour absolutely floods into your mouth.
Think of an activity such as brushing your teeth, pay attention to it and do it mindfully. Turn off the radio and just pay attention to how it feels, with the brush in your mouth the taste of the toothpaste, the various corners of your mouth...instead of just doing it mechanically. If you choose washing up let's concentrate on cleaning a plate as well as I possibly can, with creativity and love... it may take a bit longer, by the way. This is the key to a more joyful way of living.

Mindfulness includes movement. It is very connected with the body. Very few people have bodies without minds, and even fewer have minds without bodies. A few, yes, but very few. Mind and body are one unit, one organ, responding reciprocally to each other believe it or not, throughout the day. So mindfulness is also bodifulness, if you know what I mean. We might for instance practice a stretch and ask ourselves what happens when I do this stretch? how do I feel? There is nothing competitive about this, not like you might feel at a yoga class. No? You don't go to yoga classes? Never? Ah well, I'm a vicar so I have lots of time to do things like that, unlike you lot who are working. I get to live in this lovely big detached house with a huge garden, and I can spend my time going to yoga classes, then complaining about them.

We have a wonderful thing called a 3-minute breathing space  - you can stop and do it any time in the day, even when you are driving along the motorway or in the middle of an important telephone call. Any time when life is getting stressful, just stop and do this breathing space and it helps you to counter the stress and the anxiety.
Mindfulness includes "habit release". This helps us to try to break some of our tried and tested habits. Why not go to the cinema and just watch whatever film happens to be on?  It could be the worst film you've ever seen....and that could be fun, couldn't it? Never mind about the waste of time and money.
     Meditations can last up to 30 or 40 minutes but if you're ready to have a go I'll lead you through a very short sitting meditation practice. There are often CDs of a warm voice leading you through the has to be a warm voice because a cold one just wouldn't do.  Afterwards you will be asked "What did you notice?" First of all get into as comfortable a position as you can in those pews  - our intention is to stay awake, but comfortable...probably closing your eyes. Let your gaze relax. And so we'll begin. Commend this space to God. Draw the sign of the cross on myself. and say "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."....OK in their name ...what? Er - nothing. Just in their name, that's all.
   Pay attention to your breath. Breath is part of our body. Choose one aspect of your breath, either how it goes in and out of your nose, your mouth or how your abdomen goes up and down. Just focus on it and notice it, how warm or cold the breath is, going in or going out. Notice how deep or shallow your breath doesn't matter which, it's just noticing it. For about a minute, just follow your breath in and out.   Most people will find that within about ten minutes their thoughts will wander. If you notice you have done this, rejoice that you have noticed! Bring your attention back to your breath and each time this happens, bring your thoughts back to your breath. Each time you notice, rejoice that you have noticed!  It is a cause for celebration!  Rejoice, you have woken up!

When you feel ready, open your eyes and take in the room once again.

People have done brain scan tests on this and found that people (not the same people other people) have different levels of mindfulness. Whether it happens after one minute or ten minutes, it doesn't really matter, but the studies have shown that 90% of our brain activity is unconscious. The more we become aware of what is going on in our brains, the less we will be carried way by its wayward instincts. We will become better people!
The aim is to come into a being mode instead of a doing mode.

We're not here to be good or bad, but to become aware of ourselves. What happened for you?

Never mind that Christians are being attacked, persecuted, incarcerated and murdered in a dozen countries all over the world. Never mind about bothersome events in Pakistan, or Syria, or Egypt, or Nigeria, or Kenya...the problems will fix themselves. Who cares that the Church of England is being sued by those who want to impose their own ideology and values on it instead of respecting what the church teaches? Who cares about austerity or anything really?
        Just chew that raisin.

Will You Support the Kenyan Freedom Fighters, Mr Hague?

Ralph Ellis has written a brilliant open letter to William Hague, which I take from the FreeNations website. Since Cameron and Obama are sending help to the islamist rebels in Syria, wouldn't it be logical to side with their brothers in Kenya, who have seized a group of hostages in a shopping centre in Nairobi?

Dear Mr Hague,

I presume that you will be calling for Britain to arm the valiant freedom fighters who have taken over the Westgate shopping center in Nairobi, killing 50 Christians so far.  Hurrah for the valiant terrorists.

And I presume you will be be calling for Britain to arm the valiant freedom fighters who have taken over the town of Benisheik in Nigeria, killing 85 (or 161) Christians.  Hurrah for the valiant terrorists.

And I presume you will be be calling for Britain to arm the valiant freedom fighters who have taken over the town of Zamboanga in the Philippines, killing dozens and displacing 67,000 Christians.  Hurrah for the valiant terrorists.
That is standard UK and US policy is it not, Mr Hague  -  to arm any Muslim terrorist group you find and urge then to take over national governments? That is what you want to happen in Syria, is it not?

You are such a stupid little man, Mr Hague.  Can you not see the real threat that faces the West?  Do you not see what is happening all over the world?  Do you not see the tide of current events?  Do you not understand the lessons of history?  

Do you know what happened to the Christian region now called Algeria?
Do you know what happened to the Christian region now called Libya?
Do you know what happened to the Christian region now called Tunisia?
Do you know what happened to the Christian nation called Egypt?
Do you know what happened to the Christian region now called Jordan?
Do you know what happened to the Christian region now called Lebanon?
Do you know what happened to the Christian region called Syria?
Do you know what happened to the Christian region now called Turkey?
Do you know what happened to the Jewish region now called Iraq?
Do you know what happened to the Jewish region called Israel?

Why are we cursed with such stupid little politicians like you, Mr Hague?

Mr Ralph J Ellis

**   Oh, and lets not forget the 75 Christians killed today in Pakistan, eh?
      And let's not forget the 2,000 other deadly Muslim attacks so far this year:
      (Religion of Peace .com has had a 'denial of service' attack, so here is a web archive from earlier this month):

The Muslim conquest of North Africa.  
North Africa was a very prosperous region, under Roman and Byzantine control, but the region was destroyed under Islam. This Wiki account does not really do this Muslim conquest justice, for the Byzantines were so in fear of their lives that they tore down their own houses and cities, to build defensive walls and citadels against the invading hoards.  See the ancient city of Sbeitla, for instance:

The Muslim conquest of Syria.
The same happened in Syria as the populations were exterminated, where even the great temple at Balbek was torn down to form a defensive citadel.  The remaining Syriac Christians existed as dhimmi serfs, under the jizya tax system.  Even today, there are 600 abandoned towns in northern Syria, left deserted since the 8th century as Islam wiped out their populations:

Modern Lebanon.
This region was known as the 'Switzerland of the East' while under Christian control, before its destruction by Islam in 1975:

Turkish genocides:
Turkey was prosperous and Christian until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Yet it was still 50% Christian in most large cities until 1890, with the Rhom and Armenian Christian population being used as dhimmi serfs under the jizya tax system.  But then came the Armenian Genocide of 1915, when 1.5 million Christians were massacred (although Lord Curzon said 3 million had gone missing):
Which was swiftly followed by the Rhom Greek Genocide in 1922, when another 1.5 million Christians were killed and exiled:

Iraq massacres and exiles:
And the Jews did not fare any betteer, under islamic control of North Africa and the Near/Middle East.  Jewish populations had survived in all these regions as dhimmi serfs, until the 1940s, and Iraq was pretty much run by the substantial Jewish population living there. Judaism's greatist seminary was at Pumbeditha, now Fallujah. But not one Jew remains in any of these Muslim lands, apart from a few hundred in Egypt:
Exile of the Arab Jews:
Exile of the Jews from North Africa:
Massacres and exiles from Iraq:
The last Exilarch (Jewish king of Iraq) was Naim Dangoor:
Naim Dangoor with prime minister Gordon Brown:
And the last 'Miss Bagdad' beauty queen was Renee Dangoor (4th picture) -- with no niqab in sight:

You have all heard of the displaced Palestinians in the 1950s, because the BBC wails about their fate every day.  But when did the BBC last air a news item about the displaced Iraqi Jews in the 1950s?  The difference (apart from standard BBC bias)?  The Jews made something of their lives, instead of wallowing in poverty and self-pity.

[End of Ralph Ellis 's letter.]

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Andrew Smith's Curious Oversight

           Oxford's Labour MP Andrew Smith took part in a public demonstration last Saturday protesting against the privatization of the Royal Mail. It gave him and other Labour faithfuls a good chance to slag off the Coalition government and pose as friends of the people.

            The demonstration, by the Communication Workers' Union, was held in Bonn Square, central Oxford, under the neo-nazi searchlights installed by the Labour City Council. Andrew Smith is reported as saying that people were queuing up to sign the petition to keep the Royal Mail in public ownership. "People who live in rural areas are very worried about the prospect of future delays."  Such a lovely chance to act the nice guy, mouthing clich├ęs about the less advantaged and the low-paid...
           Andrew seems to be pretending that he has never heard of the EU Postal Services Directive, which is behind the sell-off. The EU long ago put us on a path to privatising this and all other public services. I know he is pretending, because I myself wrote to him and pointed these facts out long ago. Whenever the EU is involved in something, Andrew and other Labour politicians pretend to be unaware of it  - and no wonder, since he supports our EU membership and so does his party. Whatever puppet government we had in power, it would be doing the same things.
           There are plenty of other Labour MPs indulging in the same sort of hypocrisy. Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull, is one of many who has put this issue on her website and used it to score some cheap points against the Coalition government. They are taking advantage of the fact that most people are ill-informed about the EU and its impact on our lives.
            In fact, the prime hypocrite is Ed Miliband. The leader of the Labour Party said on Twitter on 13th of Sept 
Join us in fighting David Cameron's politically motivated privatisation of Royal Mail.

    Then he goes to EU leaders and tells them he is a loyal europhile...
And the mainstream media are happy to keep up same pretence, suppressing the real news and feeding you garbage.  The left-wing press, like the Labour MPs, takes advantage of the ignorance of its readers.

PS 19th October 2013.
 It seems that the banking concern JP Morgan got some 30% (I think this fraction is correct) of Royal Mail shares at 40% below their value and now postage is expected to triple in cost over next few years. Don't you just love living in a country run by the "main parties" with their creed of political correctness?

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

It's Official - the End of Britain

Don't bother to vote for any party or expect anything to get better in this country. Moneyweek magazine has issued an unprecedented warning that the downward slide is terminal and that we are facing The End of Britain.
That's right  - the financial crisis we are in has no feasible solution. Blame who you like, it's no use. We are in the quicksand too deep. Britain is, economically, finished. This is not surprising in view of our moral and educational decline, but anyway here is what Moneyweek, roughly, has to say about it. Their video on Youtube is a very candid lesson in economics.

“If the UK had been business or an individual it would have been declared bankrupt long ago. It would have been forced to sell its home or business premises and would have been re-housed in a run-down flat …
We are broke ...very soon it will REALLY hit home.”

Most of our national debt has been run up in the last 30 years. During this period, interest rates have been steadily falling. When Mrs Thatcher came to power in 1979 it was 15%. Currently it is only 2%. This shields us from the true extent of our borrowing and the risks it entails. With low interest rates on their side, UK governments have gone ahead and borrowed more and more money.
But these good times are about to come to an end.
If interest rates rose a few percent, just to 4% we would be unable to pay even the interest on our debts. We would be in deep, deep, trouble, worse than Greece is. And the likelihood is that they will rise to something more like 6% or 7%.
Will the government have to abolish pensions? Sell off the NHS? Raise income tax to 90%?
In 2009, interest across the euro-zone was only 1%, but it was the sudden rise in interest rates that caused the severe crisis in Greece. The government went bust and EU-appointed administrators took over. That is what sort of financial crisis follows from a vast overload of debt.
“You cannot keep running up debts to pay for a lifestyle you did not earn”.

Interest rates now stand at record lows. So things can only get worse. Our record debts have reached £1.4 trillion  - they will be far out of all realistic prospect of repayment. So what can we expect to see happen now?

i) The banking system will be hit again and worse than in the past five years. Banks hold huge amounts of government debt. We owe them money. When governments go bust, banks will be hit badly and they will probably go bust. There may be runs on banks and this time the government will NOT be able to borrow billions in order to bail those banks out. They will crash.
ii) Next the housing markets will be hit. As interest rates rise, people will be hit by rising mortgage payments and towering property prices. But the government will not be able to afford to re-house them. Local authorities will run out of council houses and flats. They will not be able to offer an unlimited amount of housing benefit.
iii) The crisis will therefore cause social calamity and breakdown. There will be severe distress and chaos.

Look at what happened in Argentina in the 1990s. Crippled by debt, it went bust with empty banks, rioting in the streets and hungry people attacking livestock trucks to kill animals for food.
2001 Argentina created the “money prison” so that people could only withdraw £5 per week from their bank account! Furious people besieged the banks and pleaded for their savings  - but they were refused. Bank officials needed police protection from violent attack. Pensions were voided. The whole system imploded.

Look at what happened to Britain in the 1970s  - inflation rose to 28%.
The stock market plummetted in 1974 and interest rates went sky high. There was a General strike in the winter of 1978-79. During the 3-day-week people had to cope with wage CUTS despite the terrifying inflation.
Meanwhile our high taxes deterred foreign investment. There was real discontent, hardship and fear. In 1976 the UK government had to be rescued by the International Monetary Fund. What a humiliation.
Even Jim Callaghan admitted that too much state spending has its dangers.
What has happened in the past thirty years? Have we exercised thrift? Frankly, no. Governments have taken advantage of falling interest rates to carry on spending and do it by borrowing more and more. The Blair government squandered billions on wars, extravagant schemes, bureaucracy, pension promises and buying votes by keeping people on benefits from the cradle to the grave. (It also of course squandered money on EU membership.)

The crisis that is coming will affect all classes, rich or poor. Everybody will suffer. Those who own homes and investments will find that their value goes down dramatically.
Moneyweek (which has accurately predicted most of the major financial ups and downs of the past decade) warns that Britain is entering a long, downward cycle.
"Britain’s fate has already been sealed. The day of financial reckoning approaches."

In recorded economic history, no country has EVER survived having a national debt of the proportions that Britain now has. The outcome has ALWAYS been currency collapse and national breakdown. We are in a worse position than Greece, where all benefits and pensions have already been slashed to a fraction of what they were. Our debt-load today in 2013 is comparable to that of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s. Yes, we are in as bad trouble as they were. Their national debt was 913% of the economy. Hyper-inflation caused complete economic breakdown. Today if you add up government debt, financial sector debt, corporate debt and personal debt, Britain’s total debt is 900% of our economy already. The debt-bomb ticks ever closer to detonation…
The only thing delaying the crisis is the fact that interest rates are at a historic low. They cannot stay that low and when they rise, we will face the worst crisis in generations.
What will government do? It cannot solve the debt crisis. The hole we have dug for ourselves is just too deep.
What is likely to happen when interest rates rise is that the price of food and fuel will rocket up and shares will fall so fast that trading will be suspended. Politicians will seize at any resources to tide them over. THEY WILL SEIZE PRIVATE ASSETS, that means they will help themselves to savings in banks and building societies, just as happened in Cyprus last year. They will demand that everybody surrenders any gold they happen to possess, as was done in the US to build Fort Knox.
In Japan twenty years ago during the financial slump the government “nationalized” i.e. grabbed, everybody’s pensions. Faced with this sort of severe crisis, UK governments will undoubtedly raise tax levels. Your spending money will be limited. You will not be allowed to take currency out of the country. You will not be allowed to invest abroad. Private pensions will have to be “nationalised” because the government cannot afford to pay anything to those without private pensions. The fact that you worked and saved for your pension will not matter.
Interest rates may creep up or they may rocket. Very soon governments will target you and whatever assets you have got.
   Is there anything you can do?
Well if you are a rich bastard, Moneyweek is offering you a free “wealth preservation report”. They will tell you about bolt-holes to put your money into and secure investments you can make. If you don’t follow their advice, you may be queuing in the street outside a bank that refuses to issue you any cash.
If you are not a rich bastard, you had better just die worrying.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Mail sell-off Due to EU

Have you ever heard of the EU Post Office Directive?
What about you?
No, I've never heard of it. What is it?
And you?
No, are you sure it really exists? Why is it never mentioned in the newspapers? Are you sure you haven't made it up because you want to blame the EU for everything?
No, I haven't made it up. It is because of the EU that the Royal Mail has been systematically stripped of all profitable services, which have been privatised and sold to foreign firms, and the sad remains are now to be sold off. The Royal Mail will very shortly be floated on the Stock Market.
     Well actually I don't blame you if you haven't heard about it, because there has been a universal media black-out of all news about it. The whole subject has been treated as untouchable by newspapers, television and radio. It if as if there were some sort of moratorium affecting it  - and maybe there is. After all, if Hermann van Rompuy can tell the auditors of the EU to stop saying so many horrid things about it, he is clearly not in favour of free speech.
The EU Postal Services Directive does exist, it has been in existence for a long time and this is what it says:-

The objective of the EU postal policy is to accomplish the Single Market for postal services and ensure a high quality universal postal service as part of the Lisbon Agenda. It thus focuses on postal customers, both business and consumers. These objectives are pursued by opening up the sector to competition in a gradual and controlled way on the basis of the regulatory framework of the Postal Directive (Directive 97/67/EC as amended by Directive 2002/39/EC) and as amended by Directive2008/06/ECpdf Choose translations of the previous link).

A friend of mine has summed up the impact of this very cogently as follows:-
"Once again a huge 'privatisation' fraud. It is formulaic. Strip out all the liabilities and dump those onto the taxpayer and then flog it off for a fraction of what the taxpayer has invested over the previous couple of decades. With coal, steel, power, water etc, the pension funds, liabilities for industrial disease, site and environmental clean up were dumped on the tax payer. A four year old could work out that if the down sides are taken out of the balance sheet, the residue will be profitable! These industries were then milked, with very little investment, and then either shut down anyway or else,as with water and power, new investment had only to be dragged out of the new (and mostly foreign) owners by heavy regulatory threats.

The taxpayer has put around £12 billions into the post office over the past decade, and stands to underwrite another minimum of £10 billion pension liabilities. We stand to get back £2-3 billion. This is a scandalous fraud. I will nail my letter box shut and they can stuff their privatised mail!"

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Should Authors Get Royalties for Second-hand Book Sales?

The idea of paying authors royalties for their books even when sold second-hand is not new. It was suggested by A.S.Byatt in 2005 and she was certainly not the first. Authors struggled for decades to get Public Lending Rights, that reward them for the fact that millions may be reading their books through a public library. But what about the secondhand book market? Isn't it fair that authors should get something for this hidden readership as well? At the moment, when the sales of a book are calculated, it's only the sales made by the publisher that count.

      The main objection to the idea is to say that it would be impractical. Objectors complain about the cost of the extra accounting and the "burden of compliance." They paint a ridiculous picture of  the police having to snoop over every secondhand book stall. Come on  - we live in a computerized age. It wouldn't be that difficult to put aside a percentage for the author from each transaction.

       And there are other approaches. In 2007, Helen de Witt, author of the best-selling novel The Last Samurai, felt so strongly that she deserved some royalties from second-hand sales that she set up a special Paypal link for purchasers to send her a direct payment. She argued that such a system would enable authors to earn their living while reducing the amount of paper copies needed, as the same ones can be circulated and re-used. This would be good for the environment. She tried to get the Society of Authors and the Authors' Guild to take up her idea and campaign for it, but they didn't seem enthusiastic.

      It has been objected that many of the sales of second-hand books are made through charity shops and therefore to allocate anything to the author would be to rob the beneficiaries. This is feeble excuse. We are only talking about a very small percentage  - royalties are often 5% or less  - and it would be easy to exempt charity shops if the accounting was too burdensome for them. Since each Oxfam bookshop makes about £175,000 per year and has no salaries or business rates to pay, is it fair for them to pay the authors nothing at all?
     The case is even stronger when you come to consider the economics of internet book-dealing. and its subsidiaries sell millions of books each week, about 25% of all the books sold in this country. Amazon owns the once-independent concern Abebooks. They pay far less in overheads than a traditional bookshop. It has been said of Amazon that "its whole business model is built around tax avoidance". The Ethical Consumer website even suggests boycotting it until it starts to pay corporation tax.
      On the same book can be listed side-by-side as new or "used" and there is nothing to stop you from buying it new then re-listing it for sale as soon as you have read it. This is what originally annoyed A.S. Byatt. She found that her latest novels were being listed on Amazon at a alongside second-hand copies at a lower price, within a few weeks of publication, and this discouraged people from buying the book new. By re-selling a book, the reader can get back a lot of the purchase price - but the author gets no royalties on the second, third or subsequent sales. Is this fair? I think not. Amazon makes a margin of profit on each transaction. So does the Post Office, and the author is the only one who doesn't. Bear in mind that most authors get very little money for a first run, and you begin to see the unfairness of it more starkly.
      There would be nothing impractical, difficult or fiddly about requiring Amazon and similar book-websites to automatically reserve a small percentage of the price paid for each secondhand-book, for the author. It would mean making a distinction between books by long-dead writers and those by authors who are alive or whose heirs are still entitled to benefit from their estate. But that would not be complicated in this cybernetic age. already offers authors the facility of a personal page on the site. All that would be needed would be for authors to register on it when they wished to claim this royalty on secondhand sales, and provide an account to pay it into. It could be paid automatically. The same could be done on other secondhand book websites, such as Alibris. It would be fairer than the present system, and it is high time that the Society of Authors took up this cause and campaigned for it seriously.
  >>>  I have now set up an online petition about this and I am happy to say that at yesterday's meeting of the Oxford branch of the Society of Authors, ten writers, including Brian Aldiss, endorsed the paper petition.

This policy has already been adopted by several European countries and is found in Article 14b of the Berne convention.

Monday, 9 September 2013

In the deliciously warm, Mediterranean beauty spot where I spent the last two weeks (whose location I will not divulge because I don't want everybody else to find out about it and swamp the place) the bars and night-clubs all seemed to be playing pop songs from the 1950s and 60s. Beatles tunes were top of their charts and in one place I even saw a Beatles tribute act offered  - singers dressed up and bewigged to look and sound like the Fab Four.
Yes,  I remember the sixties. Women who had for years permed their hair and put cream on their faces looked on with amazement as teenage girls ironed their hair and put cream on their knees... It's no wonder really that people are nostalgic for that era because when you look back on it, most people were so much happier then than they are now. There was a massive surge in confidence led by the young people of the post-war Bulge, the healthiest and best-educated generation there had ever been, and there was an atmosphere of optimism. Honesty was the keynote. Everything had to be honest and frank. Sex was still exciting then because when you compare it to the present day, people were still to some extent, innocent. The Beatles sang about love, "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah," and that was exciting. It was important. It was intensely passionate. "All my loving, I will send to you -u -u..."
              Love you every day girl
              Always on my mind
              One thing I can say girl
              Love you all the time
              Hold me, love me, hold me, love me
              Ain't got nothing but love babe
              Eight days a week.

 No wonder girls went mad for them. And they sang, "I'll tell you something, I hope you'll understand...I'll tell you something...I want to hold your hand..." Hold your hand. For a boy to want to hold a girl's hand was a big deal. It meant something. The first touch. The first intimacy. The first shy, romantic gesture.
In the 1960s, teenagers and young adults still went on "dates". They met each other and went to a film, a cafe or a disco for a few hours company without going straight to bed. Sometimes they dated for years on end, and most dated a series of people without feeling ready to go "all the way". And when they went to the dance, maybe just dressed in jeans and T-shirts, the songs would be about love.
Compare that to nowadays, when teenage boys send pictures of their genitalia to girls on their mobile phones. Girls are pressurized into sending topless or nude pictures of themselves by text or post them on Facebook. Our society has become completely de-sensitized. Grossness in speech and behaviour has become so commonplace hardly anybody is aware of it. And just listen to all the bitterness, anger and misery all around us today. We were so much happier then...

Britain's Most Unpopular Export

Tony Blair is still prancing  around the world giving his advice on "peace" to everybody who will listen  - and quite a few who won't. There are people who are not convinced that having got involved in a string of interminable, disastrous wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of people qualifies you to lecture the rest of the world on "peace".
When Tony went to Thailand this week to honour them with his words of inspiration, he was booed, heckled and picketted by Thai citizens who told him to go home, shut up and stop wasting their money.

One protestor carried a sign reading, "Blair ruined the UK : stay out of Thailand." I couldn't put it better myself...
There were protests too about the massive fees their government is rumoured to have paid the avaricious former Prime Minister for making a one-day appearance at a peace negotiation forum held in Bangkok last week. The figure of £400,000 was bandied about. (In Thailand the average salary is about £5,000 per year). The Thai government denied it, saying that they were only paying for Mr Blair's travel, accommodation and expenses. Which probably came to £40,000 at the very least.
 According to the Huffington Post, Blair "hit headlines earlier this year after it was reported he was paid £400,000 for two half-hour speeches."

  Blair has one very devoted admirer - the brain-dead David Cameron who will probably be invited to speak at the same peace forums one day, if he succeeds in emulating Blair and dragging us into the conflict in Syria.