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Okay, it’s a little early but as summer draws to a close and the autumn sets in we are looking forward to Halloween, Thanksgiving (for the Americans) and of course, Christmas. And this got me thinking.

Because I am a keen and enthusiastic cook, and the big day is slowly but inexorably rolling towards us, it is only natural that I should be exploring some ideas for  Christmas dinner. Yes friends and fellow gourmets, over the course of the next few weeks I will be trying out some recipes and then – after getting some feedback from my nearest and dearest – I will share my best Xmas dinner ideas with you dear readers.

By the same token, you are invited to share your own ideas for Christmas dinner with me, especially for the end of the meal. You see, I am essentially a main course person. Yes, I do some hors d’oevres occasionally, but basically I am the man who stuffs the turkey, cuts up the spuds (never peel ’em, just wash ’em) and then – in a mad rush at the last minute – I boil the water for the Brussels sprouts.

So when it comes to the final course – whether you call it “pudding” like the upper classes, “sweet” like the upper-middle classes, “afters” the lower-middle classes or “desert” like the working classes, I am lost and all at sea. Were it not for the kindness of strangers, my  sweet tooth would go unsatisfied, unrequited and unfulfilled. Indeed some of the best Christmas dinner deserts I’ve had were based on suggestions from other people or recipes that got from them after tasting their wares.

Christmas dinners for vegetarians

One other thing, we know that Christmas is a hard time for vegetarians. And one of my nephews is a vegan, so I can certainly empathize. Now admittedly, he is also Jewish (my nephew that is). But Jesus was also one of “us”, so why shouldn’t we celebrate his birthday – if it was his birthday? Anyway, for what it’s worth I will do some research and try to come up with some vegetarian Xmas dinners.

I do not promise the best results, because this sub-category of cuisine is one in which I lack expertise. But I will do my best.

As they used to say in old-fashioned newspapers: watch this space!

 

London, England – February 2, 2016 – Fresh from its skirmish with Wikipedia over whether magnetic therapy is pseudoscience or effective alternative medicine, Magnetic Products Store (MPS®) has come out fighting with a magnetic bracelet giveaway to “brighten up someone’s Winter!”

Magnetic Products Store a leading seller of magnetic bracelets, is doing a late winter giveaway, of one of its magnetic bracelets, open to male and female entrants alike. The giveaway is being run from its Facebook page. [Click here if you are using a tablet, smartphone or other mobile device.]

“Late winter is a depressing time in England,” said MPS spokesman Phil Abrams, “because it’s still cold and rainy and the days are short, but Christmas and the New Year are behind us. Bright and shiny magnetic bracelets are a powerful antidote to the winter blues – regardless of the debate over magnetic therapy.”

The reference to “the debate over magnetic therapy” is understood to be a reference to the spat between the magnetic jewellery business and a Wikipedia editor who has consistently blocked and deleted any attempts to draw attention to studies indicating that magnetic bracelets and jewellery can have a palliative effect on arthritis patients.

Attempts to modify the Wikipedia page “Magnet Therapy“, to include references to a number of such studies have been reverted by the editor who stated ” We are not here to sell magnet therapy.” The editor argued that the statements from the medical studies to the effect that the evidence did not support magnetic therapy were the “key” statements, whilst those that said otherwise, in the case of osteoarthritis, were not.

After several unsuccessful attempts to include the qualifying statements from the relevant medical studies, MPS is now seeking to put the dispute behind them and is offering this winter giveaway of a man’s or woman’s magnetic bracelet, placing the emphasis on the brightness and aesthetics of the bracelets, rather than any contentious therapeutic or palliative properties. The giveaway result will be announced on February 6.


The choice of prizes is  the European titanium magnetic bracelet or a Venus Hearts bracelet, both pictured above.

 

The true story of the murder or Rachel Nickell by Robert Napper and the attempts by the police to put Colin Stagg in the frame.

(If you are based in Britain, click on the image on the left, or on the title, to buy The Wimbledon Common Murder: The Shocking Story of How an Innocent Man Nearly Got Sent down for Life! If you decide to join audible.co.uk, please make this book your first purchase.)

To those who think that the British criminal justice system is superior to the American legal system – this book will serve as a rude awakening!

The shocking story of an innocent man who spent 13 months on remand and 14 years in limbo because of police shenanigans and the incompetence of a psychologist working with them. Colin Stagg spent thirteen months in jail awaiting trial for the murder of Rachel Nickell – a crime he did not commit. The case against him was weak from the outset, but was a classic example of the way in which facts can be misrepresented in the hands of professionals, be they lawyers, psychologists or police officers.


When the case against Stagg collapsed, his life was made a living hell by the tabloid press, portraying him as a man who had got away with murder. Police leaks, and a book by a psychologist who had assisted them, led to the ongoing perception that Stagg was a murderer. This nightmare carried on for fourteen years until a “cold case review” identified faults in the original investigation. This culminated in the identification of the real culprit – a man who had indeed slipped through the net and gone on to kill again…

(If you are based in the United States, click on the image on the right, or the title to buy The Wimbledon Common Murder: The Shocking Story of How an Innocent Man Nearly Got Sent down for Life!  If you decide to join audible.com, please make this book your first purchase.)

 
 Here’s an interesting thought experiment:

1) Using publicly available sources, calculate the number of Arabs and Muslims killed by Israel and Zionists and the Yishuv since the start of the modern Zionist movement.

2) Using publicly available sources, calculate the number of Arabs killed by their fellow Arabs and Muslims.

3) Now, to avoid the exaggerations that sometimes occur in these statistics, subtract 10% from the figure from item (2) and treat the revised figure as the number of Arabs and Muslims actually killed by their fellow Muslims.

4) Now calculate 1% (one percent) of the figure in item (2), subtract it from the figure in item (1) and treat THAT revised figure as the figure for the number of Arabs and Muslims killed by Israel and Zionists.

5) Now, based on these calculations answer the following two questions:

(A) How many Arabs and Muslims have been killed by Jews and Zionists since the start of the modern Zionist movement?

(B) How many Arabs and Muslims have been killed by their fellow Arabs and Muslims?

Please add your figures in a comment below and share the results with your friends. Also feel free to Like and link to this page here and in social media and bookmarks.

Please add your figures in a comment below and share the results with your friends. Also feel free to Like and link to this page here and in social media and bookmarks. Also feel free to mention it in your blogs and link to it, if you agree with its message.

 

How to write an Amazon fiction book - coverWell it’s done. Written. Finished. That is the writing is done. And the publishing. Now comes the selling. This is pretty much the most comprehensive treatise on writing and selling books for the Kindle that you’ll find. Kindle and CreateSpace. Okay that’s Kindle and CreateSpace that you’ll f–oh, er and Smashwords. The three platforms that you can learn to write best-selling books for with this treatise are the Kindle, CreateSpace and Smashwords. And of course Lulu.

How to write - paperback coverAll right, this is pretty much the most comprehensive treatise on writing and selling books for the Kindle, CreateSpace, Smashwords and Lulu that you’ll find. Not forgetting, of course, books written in the hope of getting them published by mainstream publishers. Okay, just to make it clear: among the platforms and outlets that you can use the information in this treatise to write books for are the Kindle, CreateSpace… Shall I go out and start again?

Anyway, suffice it to say that this book is available (with slightly different titles) for the Kindle (How to write an Amazon fiction book that SELLS*: *by someone who HAS… MANY TIMES!
) and in paperback (How to write an Amazon book that SELLS: by someone who HAS… MANY TIMES !

And for two days (Sunday 29th November and Monday 30th November) the Kindle edition will be available FREE.

 

For the last couple of months, I have been beavering away (if that’s the right expression) writing a book about creating writing in general and writing for self-publication – especially for the Amazon Kindle – in particular. I figure that as a published author with three books published by HarperCollins and a further four thrillers published by Hodder Headline, I am better placed than most to write about how to write a good book. Also, as someone whose books have sold by the tens of thousands – both for the Kindle and  in print – I am eminently qualified to write a book on how to write a bestseller.

I could have called it how to write a thriller, but I wanted to broaden its scope. Although most of my books have been thrillers, I have also written, science fiction, chick-lit, children’s and young adult fiction, journalism and even literary fiction. So I gave the book a more general title more befitting its content and purpose. The book deals with everything from getting story ideas, developing the plot, viewpoints, dialogue, narrative and descriptive writing to things like motivating oneself, overcoming writer’s block and promoting the book after publication.

It has taken me longer than I expected, because I wanted to make sure that it didn’t have any typos. It would hardly make a good impression if I published a book about how to write and self-publish for the Kindle and then littered the book with typographical errors. (It would be like writing to Gay News and applying for a job as a “poofreader”.) However, now I am nearing the end and so I feel that it I time to share the news. I probably could have done so earlier. In fact, that might have motivated me to work faster!

But anyway, the deed is done (or nearly), so I’m telling you now. I’ll update you all when it is published.

Bye for now.

 

George Galloway – the man who praised Saddam Hussein at a time when the Iraqi dictator was known to be murdering his fellow Iraqis – has always denied being either an antisemite or a racist and has on a number of occasions threatened to sue people for calling him either. Yet he has recently (and not so recently) shown his true colours by making statements that attack people not for what they have done or  even what they have said, but rather for what they born.

The first occasion was when he walked out of a debate with an Israeli, at Christ Church College, Oxford, claiming falsely that he had been “misled.” Galloway had already spoken in the debate, but when his eloquent opponent, Eylon Aslan-Levy, started his response with the words “We wanted peace, we got war. We mustn’t make the same mistake again,” the ill-mannered Galloway interrupted him by asking rudely “are you an Israeli?” Now of course, if Galloway had genuinely thought the question to be relevant, he could have asked it before, at the time when the debate was being arranged. He chose not to do so.

Whether he merely assumed that the person speaking for Israel would not be an Israeli or simply didn’t think about it at all, I cannot say. But as soon as the opposing speaker used the word “we”, the rather excitable Galloway became agitated and interrupted to ask his obnoxious question –  a question that no right-thinking person would have thought relevant. The opposing speaker innocently and honestly replied: “I am. yes.” At this point, Galloway got up and said: “I don’t debate with Israelis. I’ve been misled.”

Now first of all, it was Galloway who misled the organizers of the debate, by not stating his terms and conditions up front. Secondly, Galloway then walked out, refusing to participate in the debate any further. And this was of course, rather conveniently, after he had made sure to have his own say before the ostentatious walk-out. In other words, he knew that he was out of his depth and was beating a hasty and cowardly retreat.

But what is interesting is that at no stage did Galloway ask his opponent if he was an Israeli by birth or by naturalization. That means that Galloway was equally unwilling to debate with Israelis whether they be born Israelis or became Israelis by choice. Now  of course, even if they became an Israeli by choice it would be silly to refuse to debate with them, because a debate – by definition – involves arguing one’s case against an opponent. And Galloway knew that he was there for a debate, so  he knew that he would be facing a man of differing opinion.

The fact that Galloway agreed to the debate at all, meant that he was ready to face off with a person who held a different view to his own. But the fact that he walked out only when he discovered that his opponent was Israeli, without so much as inquiring if that citizenship was acquired by birth or by choice, means that Galloway was showing prejudice against a fellow human being because of a fact of that other person’s birth. (It does not in fact matter whether Eylon Aslan-Levy was born an Israeli or became one. The fact that Galloway didn’t ask, is sufficient grounds to characterize Galloway as a racist).

But could this have been a one-off? Well not if Galloway’s most recent outburst is anything to go by. In a recent speech he said with customary arrogance and malice: “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone. We don’t want any Israeli goods. We don’t want any Israeli services. ” Now if he had left it at that, – referring to “Israeli” rather than “Israelis” and “goods” and “services” rather than people – he might just have got away with it. But Galloway – ever the bully – went on to say: “We don’t want any Israeli academics coming to the University or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists.” By referring to people who possessed Israeli citizenship – again without specific reference to whether their citizenship was by birth or by  choice (as adults) – he was showing prejudice towards people because of what they were born. And this is classic racism. He didn’t even specify that he meant Israeli residents. From his phraseology, he could even have been including Israeli citizens who were not resident in Israel.

And for these reasons it is clear that George Galloway is a racist.

 

Cold Turkey - Amazon cover
Cold Turkey is the story of two drug-addicted brothers, Lee and Mark, who kidnap a right-wing radio talk-show host and deliberately set about getting him addicted to heroin, after he has angered them by mouthing off about “junkies” and their lack of “moral fibre.” To some extent they are merely taking him up on his own hubristic posturing:

“You could kidnap me tomorrow,” he bragged, “shoot me up with smack till I’m hooked and I could kick the habit cold turkey!”

But when they take up his challenge, he fails to live up to his boast and his life spirals out of control. And yet their victory is a Pyrrhic one, as differences between the brothers come to the fore, forcing them to re-evaluate their own lives – culminating in Lee taking a most extraordinary decision.

I first had the idea of Cold Turkey while I was sharing a flat with a psychologically-dependent drug user in South London. Although he was an irritating chav, a thief and even, at times, a wife-beater (or at least girlfriend-beater), I also learned about his background and the events that turned him into what he became. I saw his dependency on the friend who got him into the drug scene – a sort of substitute older brother – and the vicious circle he had got himself into. I also saw his vulnerability, how that was exploited by others and the rage that sometimes flared up within him.

The characters in this story are by no means “based on” my former flatmate and his drug-using friends. They are, however, inspired by them. The real-life character was never viciously beaten by his father. But he was thrown out by both parents after their acrimonious divorce, because of his own behaviour and at one point ended up on the streets at the age of 12, when he was “taken in” (in both senses of the expression) by a young man who introduced him to drugs and took advantage of him sexually. (Ironically, they remain friends and drug-buddies to this day, except for moments when “Lee” goes into a rage – usually under the influence of alcohol rather than drugs.

I wrote this story to explore the minds of people trapped in a downward spiral of self-destructive behaviour. I have seen “Lee” off drugs as well as on. Unlike the brothers in this film, he does not “do needles” – although some of his friends do. In truth, he is not physically addicted to heroin or any other drug – or at least was not for most of the time I knew him. Like the character in the film, he has been to prison several times, for offences like stealing (to get drug money) and violence whether against shop-keepers or others with whom he has got into conflict, under the influence of alcohol. And like the character in the film, he has been off drugs, but has always relapsed and got back “on the gear” – usually as soon as he was out of prison. (NB he did not need methadone in prison – except on one occasion.)

The novel explores such questions as: to what extent are we in control of our own lives? Are we the captains of our souls or at the mercy of the winds of fate. Can one achieve anything alone or does one always need a friend? And are some friendships toxic?

Asking these questions in the context of the modern day problem of drug (and alcohol) addiction, we see the thin line that separates winners from losers and get a glimpse of the fragility of the lifestyles that some of us take for granted.

There is also a US Kindle edition, a US paperback edition and a UK paperback edition: Cold Turkey
.

 

Stepping On Mars: An Evolving and Unauthorized Elon Musk Biography by Damien Darby. $6.99 from Smashwords.com
From fleeing apartheid, sleeping on floors and showering at the local YMCA, to becoming perhaps the most prolific man in the modern world; Elon Musk is an exemplary figure. Everyone should hear about his tale, and be exposed to the prolific changes he is bringing forth into the contemporary human condition. From SpaceX Rockets to Tesla electric automobiles, Elon will soon have us stepping on Mars.

______________________________________________________________________

 

Those of you have read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (Penguin Modern Classics) will know exactly what I’m taking about in the headline – or at least you will after you read this book about entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Just to get you started, Elon Musk is the founder of Pay Pal and Tesla Motors. This is the man who will soon have us driving electric cars – despite the best efforts of the oil companies, the auto industry, the auto dealers and crooked politicians to stop him. The Tesla Moden S and Model X – and the Tesla Roadster – are the cars of the future. And it will take more than a few crooked politicians in Texas and elsewhere in the United States to stop him from selling these cars or the customers from buying them.

But he is more than just a one-trick pony – or even a two-trick pony. He is a visionary, like Steven Jobs or Ray Kurzweil – more far-sighted than the former and more successful than the latter. If you want to know more about him, this book will get you up to speed. You will be hearing a lot more of Elon Musk in the future.




 

The actor Colin Firth has declined the leading role in David Kessler’s exciting new action rom-com Over in a Flash.

The role of emotionally-repressed aviation designer Conrad Finch had been specially written for Colin Firth and writer David Kessler has spent months in contact with Firth’s agent in an effort to secure the actor’s services. However the actor finally declined the role and informed Kessler of his decision through his agent.

“I am extremely disappointed,” Kessler was quoted as saying. “The role of Conrad was written for Firth and played to his strengths. The guitar-playing, the Amnesty International membership – even the carpentry skills. [Firth worked as a carpenter during a hiatus in his early acting career] There is no one who could play the role as well as he could.”

Firth’s agents declined to comment or give details of the actor’s decision. The female lead in the project (a military widow whose officer husband was killed in Helmand province) was offered to Alice Eve and the second male lead (a military test pilot) to Ewan Mcgregor. It is not clear if either will play these roles.