Death Penalty – Primitive, Barbaric, Pointless

Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have just executed a total of 11 people in the last week.  In the case of Saudi Arabia it took the form of hacking the heads of 2 unfortunate women who had been found guilty of murder, and in the case of Indonesia, it was a case of firing squads in the middle of the night in the jungle.

It would seem that there is little doubt about the guilt of the individuals who were killed in this way, but the point worth exploring perhaps is did these executions achieve anything beyond a form of revenge?

The simple answer to that is no.

Not only has every study of the effectiveness of the death penalty as a form of deterrence shown that it has simply no bearing on the crimes committed or in any way deters people from committing crimes that carry that penalty.   The simple fact that Indonesia has executed 19 people in the last couple of months all of whom were found guilty of drug running in a country that is infamous for executing drug dealers might suggest to any thinking person that perhaps the death penalty was not really effective?

In fact the death penalty is generally a sort of knee-jerk reaction to a particular set of crimes, all based on retribution rather than deterrence or sensible punishment.  If it is intended as punishment, well a corpse is remarkably unaffected by any sort of punishment – punishment should be a means of teaching a lesson – so long prison sentences would seem sensible and appropriate.

It can (and is) argued that the death penalty will deter others from committing the crime when they see it being applied for the crimes they have in mind – however, all evidence shows clearly that this is simply not the case..

And the idea of murder, no matter who carries it out, is anathema in all civilised countries, and in the case of countries that claim to be based on Christian values (such as the USA), it should actually be impossible for them to apply the death penalty, since their own God has forbidden them to kill.

The Dutch have it right:

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Ereaders Triple Library Visits In Africa

Worldreader, a charity who have been busy giving ereaders and thousands of ebooks to schools in a number of sub-saharan African countries – chiefly in poorer areas have just released a report about the impact their ereaders (and ebooks of course) have had in Kenya.

LEAP-project-Worldreader-girls

After several years of providing Kenyan Libraries with ereaders (Kindles) and a wide range of ebooks, by African authors and international authors as well, they have just commissioned  a study that has just shown the following wonderful results:-

  • Monthly library visits nearly tripled across the pilot sites
  • 20,000+ patrons were reached through e-reader training
  • 254 library-initiated community events were held
  • 84% of patrons reported reading more

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Aggie & Agent X; Sci-Fi Fun By Gary Ruse

I recently read a rather curious and odd science fiction ebook by Gary Ruse.  Its title, which is direct and to the point, is Aggie & Agent X.  I found it to be a strangely endearing and decidedly odd book.   Sort of a case of a “normal” thriller that has been acted out by the Marx Brothers, if you can imagine anything so odd.   But as I said, a most endearing ebook.

The author, Gary Ruse describes this small masterpiece as follows – Not giving anything much away here though:-

Rookie CIA officer Agnes Westfeld is excited when she gets her first real assignment after only three months at the agency, even though she’s told it will be basically just a “baby-sitting” job. But when her new HQ turns out to be a legendary top secret base in the Nevada desert and her new partner is “out of this world,” pitted against an evil mastermind who will stop at nothing, Aggie goes on a wild and wacky spy mission that is the adventure of a lifetime!

agent x

The two heroes of this ebook are engaging in their differing ways, Aggie, (Agnese Westfield) the girl, is a sort of wide-eyed innocent at large, gazing at the world with wonder and apparent confusion, but, but in fact is amazingly together when it is necessary that she be so, and Agent X… What can I say about him?  Well, he is an Alien who has a Humphrey Bogart fixation and a number of other strange ideas… An odd creation, but fun nonetheless.

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Beijing, Cars, Pedestrians – A Bad Mix

When we were living in Beijing, some years ago, we noticed as we walked around in Beijing  that many of the streets, especially major ones have large white metal fences running down the middle of the road.

The purpose of these fences is simple, if slightly macabre, heavy traffic is something new to the Beijingers, until relatively recently there were very few cars on the roads here, mostly government limos I gather, and millions of bicycles. This has now changed with the advent of money in people’s pockets, and a wild surge of consumerism that has taken Beijing, and most major cities in China by storm, and currently in Beijing 1000 new cars are being registered every day!!!!!!

road-fence

This produced a serious problem, not merely the endless traffic jams for which Beijing is justly infamous, but also a lot of dead people. People had the habit of simply wandering across the road where ever they happened to be, and they did this without looking, as they were simply not conditioned to the existence of lots of cars being driven by drivers with almost no driving experience, thus lots of people were hit by cars whilst wandering blithely across the roads.

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Why Dick Francis’s Books Are So Popular

Whilst I have read and enjoyed the gently thrilling thrillers of Dick Francis for many years, I have never given any serious thought to why I like them so much.

Until yesterday, when my wife, who is currently working her way through our entire collection of his books (some 10 or thereabout), suddenly looked up and asked me if I knew why she was so enjoying reading his books.

Obviously I replied in the negative.

DickFrancisFeatureOct16_large

So she explained why she – at least – was enjoying reading them so much, and it is remarkably simple.

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Politically Correct Bedtime Stories – Showing The Idiocy Of PC

I have just finished reading a small volume of what has to be the best book to keep in your lavatory.  This small volume of highly improving fairy tales written by James Finn Garner and entitled with great accuracy as “Politically Correct Bedtime Stories” consists of some 13 well loved fairy tales rewritten to conform to the needs of our Politically Correct age.. Well, obviously not really, the whole thing is a superb satire on the more idiotic aspects of PC thinking.

politically correct

To give you a taste of this totally enjoyable little book, here is a section of his “improved” version of Little Red Riding Hood.

There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house–not because this was womyn’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

So Red Riding Hood set out with her basket of food through the woods. Many people she knew believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such obvious Freudian imagery did not hinder her.

On her way to Grandma’s house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a Wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. She replied, “Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.”

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Odd Jobs That I Have had

Like all of us, at various points in my life I have had a wide range of jobs.   Also as with most of us, the great majority of these jobs were ones I had on my holidays when I was a student.  And most of them were pretty mundane – factory work, truck driving and so forth – they produced the money that I wanted to enable me to wander around Europe as a hitchhiker, but did nothing much else for me.

Ice-cream Anyone?

However, some of these holiday jobs had a profound effect on me in one way or another, and there are a couple that really stand out in my memory as significant to me and my world view.

The first of these jobs that I can bring to mind was when I was a driver/salesperson in one of those vans that chug around selling soft ice-cream to people.  On the face of it, a harmless occupation – but it had its dark side too….

This was the relatively large number of people in the Council house estates I trundled around in with my van and chimes, who came out every day (I did this 7 days a week) with large jugs that I had to fill with the soft ice I sold… Literally every day these misbegotten people bought kilos of ice-cream from me, and presumably ate it too…

Can you imagine a diet based around about 5 litres of ice-cream every day?   It really saddened me – no, lets be honest, it disgusted and revolted me to think of the harm these people were doing to themselves and their kids by eating the chemical rubbish I was selling as ice-cream…

yuk!!!!

Death Of A Centurion:

However, the job that really got in amongst me was when I worked as a Ward Orderly at a huge mental hospital.  Though frankly to call it a hospital seemed to me to be a wild overstatement, as the poor people in the ward where I worked never saw any doctors, except on rare occasions when they flipped completely and needed stronger tranquilizers to keep them calm and easy to control.

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