Cyber Bullying On GoodReads

It’s to be expected given that it is now wholly owned and controlled by Amazon, who allow cyber bullies to attack anyone and everyone who publishes books. A lot of rhetoric abounds from both sites about ridding themselves of the problem, and yet to date nothing positive has happened. While I’m all for freedom of speech, there are limits!

Cyber Bullying On GoodReads.

Just give Al Qaeda an inch…

n_africa_mid_east_pol_95Why oh why do we in the West still feel the need to invade other countries on the flimsiest of contexts, convincing ourselves that we are somehow ‘civilizing’ and ‘saving’ the locals? Who are we kidding?

Just take a look at what is happening in Iraq at the moment. Since Saddam Hussein was defeated and executed, religious maniacs have surfaced. The latest group named ISIS, backed by Al Qaeda, now runs rampant scaring the pants off the country’s citizens. Thousands of ordinary Iraqis have fled from the northern city of Mosul, ahead of the fundamentalist army.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27789229

Now the ordinary inhabitants of Tikrit are also fleeing http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10892299/Iraq-crisis-al-Qaeda-militants-push-towards-Baghdad-in-sight-live.html

When Colonel Gaddafi was removed from power in Libya, much the same thing occurred there.

While we have not been directly involved in Egypt, since the military dictatorship formerly led by Hosni Mubarak ended, Al Qaeda has got itself involved there as well, stirring up fundamentalists to take the country over. It is interesting to note that when the Muslim Brotherhood won the election legally, after Mubarak was deposed and placed under house arrest, that they soon showed their true colours. Once again the military has taken over. It remains to be seen if they can regain control of the situation.

That just leaves Afghanistan. What happens there when the last of the troops leave? One of two scenarios will become reality. Either the Taliban return in strength, or Al Qaeda stirs things up to the point where civil war breaks out, just as it has in Syria. That country used to be a steadying influence in the Middle-East. These days it is nothing more than a killing ground for the fundamentalists who crave a powerful Muslim state, encompassing the entire Middle-East and beyond…

Has George Orwell’s nightmare vision finally become reality?

big-brother-1984

To my way of thinking George Orwell’s dystopian nightmare vision of society, ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ is on the verge of becoming the norm.

Instead of his fictitious character ‘Big Brother’ being in charge, dictating what will happen, whether we like it or not each and every one of us are being controlled by ‘Big Business’ in its many forms, largely thanks to their sycophantic enforcers – our current crop of politicians, who make up the worst parliament since the English Civil War!!!

There was a time not too many decades ago when the business community looked after its lifelong workforce by rewarding their loyalty, often working in conjunction with the various Unions to improve the worker’s lot. No longer.

These days what passes for the union movement in many western nations is largely toothless.

At one time there used to be a marked difference between political party’s. Here in the UK, the Tories have always represented the conservative and business minded, while Labour unashamedly used to represent the ordinary working man and woman.

No longer…

Whether we like it or not, in the relentless pursuit of profit at all costs, many branches of big business, in particular the world’s stock markets and major banking groups, now control every aspect of our lives.

How much longer will the workforce put up with being treated abominably? In effect what we now have is capitalism gone mad! What’s the alternative? Is there one?

Here in the UK we currently have a system where to massage the unemployment figures and please the business community, our politicians have introduced a new concept in the labour market called Zero Hours.  It is an employment contract used here which while meeting the terms of the Employment Rights Act of 1996 by providing a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment, does not oblige the employer to provide work for the employee, nor does it oblige the employee necessarily to accept the work offered. Although given today’s climate, you would be a fool to turn it down.

The employee is expected to be on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He or she only ever receives minimum wages for the number of hours worked.

Zero-hour contracts may suit a tiny minority, but most people in the general working population, including those with mortgages to repay and a family to provide for, run the very real risk of zero money most weeks, thanks to the unpredictable hours and earnings. Is it any wonder that so many people now make use of food banks to feed themselves? I think not.

There is a very real possibility of the use of Zero Hours contracts becoming a tool to reprimand employees for any trifling reason. This raises the issue of how workers can adequately assert their employment rights or maintain decent employment relations.

More and more people are falling under this umbrella these days. While the reduction in unemployment figures may look good on paper, it does nothing for the average man or woman formerly laid off by their previous employer. In effect we have entered an era of slave labour.

Come the next election, I firmly believe that apart from the political headache of Scotland holding a vote to leave the United Kingdom, the current Tory led government will struggle to be re-elected. But what is the alternative to their ‘let them eat cake’ attitude? The Labour party is certainly no longer a viable alternative, being equally as bad as the Tories when it comes to sucking up to big business. That just leaves the Liberal Democrats. God help us all if they ever got into power!!

In my own case, as a pensioner I have to consider whether to feed myself or heat my home during the winter months, thanks to the exorbitant power bills I receive. If you are wondering, I choose to eat.

The time to end party politics once and for all is on the horizon…

Will sanity ever rule?

a-chilling-effect-on-the-free-press

While it is abundantly clear to anyone in the industry that Goodreads has finally become a cesspool of corruption and lies as well as a haven for a tiny minority of mentally unbalanced individuals, is there anyone within the site’s hierarchy brave enough to stop the rot? How much longer will it be before the writers of the books for which the site was initially set up to introduce their work to the millions of genuine readers, close their accounts?

When will the management of the site finally realise that the vast majority of one star reviews written by their pet trolls actually do no harm at all when it comes to sales? When will they also realise that by deleting genuine reviews by real readers, all they are doing is actively discouraging those same readers from bothering with their site as another source for finding books in the future?

While the current FBI led investigation into the charges of cyber bullying by certain individuals on Goodreads slowly gathers momentum, how long will it be before Goodreads’ parent company Amazon cuts its losses and rapidly disassociates itself from its wayward offspring? Come to that, how long will it be before Amazon cleans its own house, ridding itself of its connection with, and encouragement of, those self-same trolls who migrated to Goodreads?

What is currently happening within Goodreads and Amazon regarding the cyber bullying and stalking of authors, along with the current totally nonsensical practice of eliminating genuine four and five star reviews, needs to become widely known. What is happening must to be brought to the attention of all major newspapers and leading publications like Time magazine. It certainly needs to be aired on all the major television channels news slots. Unless or until this happens, it will only be seen as a spat between writers, Goodreads, Amazon and their trolls. While as writers we all moan and groan among ourselves, the outside world is oblivious to what is going on.

For goodness sake make it public knowledge!

To anyone reading this that has a connection to the news media in the USA and in the UK, please spread the word. After all, the news media are quick to condemn those individuals who hack people’s phones or cyber stalk and bully. Is what is currently happening to writers on book sites like Goodreads and Amazon any different? There must be at least one inquisitive reporter out there with the nose for a good story, and more importantly, with the balls to investigate and expose the current underhand practices of Goodreads and Amazon.

You have seen the title of this post. It should also be subtitled “Will commonsense and common decency ever become the industry standard?”

It would seem that we publish and are damned for doing so

Freedom-of-Speech-united-states-of-america-21760995-960-720Freedom of speech is guaranteed in law by every civilized country. So why is it only permissible within certain book sites for just one group?

It is evident that the insidious fictional organisation portrayed in George Orwell’s novel 1984 – the Thought Police, now actually exist. Two online book sites appear to have an unwritten policy to protect the right of free speech for their in-house trolls, while at the same time denying that self-same right to the victims of their invective – Indie writers.

While it seems to be perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the management of both sites for their tame trolls to go after a writer with no holds barred, the writer is not allowed to defend him or herself, or to make public their attackers, or even make the ‘Hate Lists’ of authors, drawn up by certain individuals within the troll community known to the general reading public.

What is wrong with this picture? Everything is the only logical answer.

Beyond the world of book sites, when someone is attacked by an overzealous journalist, the victim is guaranteed the right to defend themselves by right of rebuttal. But when your book appears on the two sites in question, according to them you the author have no such right. This disgusting scenario is beyond the comprehension of all writers and by most normal sane people.

How much longer must the writer suffer this gross injustice? Unless or until the sites in question are legally forced to end this totally unacceptable situation, I see no satisfactory conclusion for those of us who write the targeted books.

Freedom of speech does not just apply to the trolls. It is a guaranteed right for everyone concerned, something the two book sites fail to acknowledge. One thing both book sites conveniently forget is that without writers writing and publishing their work, the sites would quite simply not exist…

Are we happy?

 Iain Duncan Smith MP. Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

With all that has happened here in the UK recently since this coalition government took control I begin to ask myself the question – are we really in a recession, or are we being conned? I firmly believe that we being dragged back to a time when the average human being in this country was required to doff his cap or touch his forelock whenever an upper class twit entered the room? This is the twenty-first century Mr Prime Minister, not the nineteenth!

Our government has broken or gone back on every election promise it made concerning the elderly and the poor, when they clearly promised in their election manifesto to look after those self same people. Instead of instigating cost cutting measures within institutions like our National Health hospitals, which used to be the envy of the world for their caring attitude towards patients, you should be increasing the amount of money available for them. Is it any wonder that so many people are now dieing due to lack of care when the nursing staff are no longer dedicated professionals, but poorly trained agency employees, often without a working knowledge of the language, with a complete lack of compassion?

Not too long ago our completely out of touch Prime Minister wanted to spend a few million on a nationwide survey asking the populace whether or not we are happy – what was he thinking?

Students rioted over the proposed massive hike in tuition fees being proposed and who can blame them. If and when the new crop of students graduate, on average most will be saddled with a massive debt of approximately £40,000!

Regarding those among the population who are unemployed for various reasons; instead of making their existence even worse than it is at present, why not forcibly encourage the businesses of this land to create worthwhile, financially rewarding jobs instead of directing the unemployed to seek demeaning below minimum wage jobs, merely to make the government statistics on employment look good to the world at large.

Some people have even been forced to do work for zero pay to receive their Jobseekers Allowance as evidenced by the recent successful case brought against Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions by a young woman brave enough to stand up to his bullying regime.

Our government is busy emasculating this nation’s vital armed services, while at the same time making promises of men and arms in various conflicts across the world. What use is a modern navy without a fully functional aircraft carrier complete with its fighter aircraft ready for action at a moment’s notice wherever it may be needed to help defend the realm? Plus, what use in an airforce without its jets and the bases to operate them from, or an army without adequate up to date weaponry and body armour?

Plus, think of the thousands of people and their families whose livelihoods depend on those armed forces bases and the personnel running them, who, if this insanity is allowed to become law, will join the swelling ranks of the unemployed.

The answer to your question about the nation’s happiness Mr Prime Minister, no we are not happy when your target the elderly, or those who through no fault of their own are disabled plus the ever swelling ranks of the poor. Nor are we happy that you seem determined to place our country’s defences in a precarious state while kowtowing to the very people who caused all of the financial problems in the first place – the greedy investment bankers!

I am now firmly of the opinion that here in the UK the inmates are running the asylum…

An open letter to the Universe

After Turning Point

If you were peaceful representatives of a civilization beyond our Solar System in the depths of the universe, would you truly wish to make your presence known to humanity here on Earth? Just take a moment to look at how we behave towards each other and how we mistreat the beautiful planet we call home.

Ever since our earliest ancestors struggled free from the primordial ooze soon after the planet cooled, we have fought each other for survival, for food, for dominance, for shelter. All down the millennia through man’s time on this planet, greed, corruption and religion to name but three among a plethora of reasons, have been used as an excuse to wage war and to spread fear and dominance over others of our kind and the myriad of other species we class as lower life forms that also live here.

Take one of those three reasons I have listed above – religion. Come to think of it, it also encompasses the other two, greed and corruption.

Man has always been fearful of the unknown, even now in the twenty-first century. When our ancestors lived in caves, we were frightened by everything beyond our control. So we created gods (imaginary all powerful entities of our primitive imagination) to explain the totally natural phenomena of thunder, lightning, storms, floods  – in fact anything you care to name, guided by the irrational belief that somehow the gods were angry with us for some reason.

As the millennia rolled slowly by the concept of religion as a tool to subdue the masses moved from strength to strength. Those who craved power and control began to use it as a weapon in their arsenal.

When the Roman Empire fell into decline soon after a Palestinian freedom fighter who had been a thorn in the side of the Romans for preaching peaceful resistance to their occupation of his homeland was crucified by them, the leaders of the Empire changed direction. They continued to maintain the Empire’s hold over the known world by becoming the first leaders of a new religion based around the dead freedom fighter. Former Senators became Cardinals and the Emperor took on the mantle of leader of the new religion in the guise of Pope. Their church sprang up around the irrational belief that the man they had callously beaten, humiliated and crucified was in fact the son of an all seeing god.

Other religions have sprung up across the planet, working in tandem with the first organised religion in an unspoken agreement to maintain control over the entire population of our world.

We as a species have become so dependent on religion that the vast majority are unable to think for themselves anymore. We make choices, rightly or wrongly, as we go through our daily existence, all the while worrying about offending the tenets of our particular religion.

Over the centuries we have committed terrible atrocities against other peoples all in the name of religion, calling those who have been the target of our zealous war mongering heathen unbelievers.

We live in a world where to be a free thinking individual is to be an outsider. To get on in this planet’s society you have to conform to a specific set of rules. Religion demands you become a sheep-like member of the flock if you will. Our political leaders have largely taken over from the former Emperors, Kings, Queens, Chiefs, and Clan leaders, still using religion to further their own selfish need to be in control.

We have added yet another religion these days. We call it progress. This is used as an excuse to deplete our planet’s natural resources and rape the land to make way for the burgeoning numbers of humanity who are needed by our leaders to fulfill their wishes and desires to grow rich at our expense.

Imagine what we as a species would do if a far more advanced sentient and peaceful species decided to visit us here on our beautiful water dominated planet. Would we welcome them with open arms or would we bow down to them as gods? The more likely scenario is that our leaders, political, military and religious, would treat them as a threat and attempt to destroy them.

Personally if I were able to send those peaceful representatives a message, it would be this:

Stay away for your own safety! Warn all other sentient species that this planet we call Earth, while beautiful to see from the depths of space, is lethal to all life. Its inhabitants are irrational warmongering beings to be avoided at all costs. Do not under any circumstances allow us to explore beyond our system of planets.

Far better that we as a species are contained and unable to expand into the universe. Just wait until this planet and all the others revolving around our star are engulfed in its fiery demise, before you consider visiting this arm of the galaxy we call the Milky Way.