Friday, August 31, 2012


John Steinbeck considered this to be the pinnacle for which all his other works were foundational steps.

The story was written for his two young Sons to be a valuable precious life lesson when they grow up to maturity.

On page 393 you can find the essence of the moral of this universal tale that speaks to all generations , past, present and future.

"vice is constantly re-spawned...virtue is immortal"

Below is a segment from the address Steinbeck gave in his acceptance speech when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Having read a lot about China lately i was intrigued by the observation on page 338 which is so applicable to the real clash of fundamentals between the US and the Chinese fall outs on Western Debt and the Chinese requirement to fund the out of control avarice and bankruptcy , both financial and cultural ..." every Chinese must clear his debts before New Year , start clean, or loses face".There are no excuses.

The Novel ends with a note of Great Redemption , no matter what has gone before , for how long , there is always hope for forgiveness and ultimately rectifying wrongs as long as the attempt to alter things is sincere.

Again , it takes Chinese wisdom to clearly define a Semitic concept to bring Harmony and Regeneration to Western Values as captured in the concept of Timshel.

The Ending of the Book and the Concept of Timshel is so profound that that very work and its meaning have many websites solely devoted to explaining and understanding it.One example is below:

A good way  to end this is to give the last word to one of the very Sons this Book was written for:

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Some of the very best Books about political policies are written by Journalists with a wide all rounded grounded experience of the pragmatism of real life experience , as opposed to some academics closed within the restricted ghettos of their own specialisations and dogmatic cliques.

Ungers thesis in this Book is that there is a clash not of civilisations , rather a clash of fundamentalisms from Christian;Islam;Jewish and the secular fundamentalism of Nationalism in the form of the Neo-Cons.

The Book charts the assembling of "Team Bush" being a project going back to well before the presidency of George Bush Snr , led mainly by Dick Cheney.Protagonists of this project served as long ago as the time of Nixon , as in the case of Rumsfeld.

You can get a very detailed companion piece to the drama and players in the Book from its dedicated website.

The rich cast of characters included a whole clutch, especially ideological advisers , come from those , according to the Milliband Snr doctrine , not to dissimilar to the career of our very own Dr. John Reid in the UK, made a transition from ultra-left Trotskyite to uber-right neo-con dogmatic fundamentalists , proving the rule that the ultra-left and ultra-right really share the same goals of world domination , and arent too fussy to jump ship to join whichever format will get them nearer their nefarious goals.The Ultra-Left want the working class to lay down their lives and hand them power , whereas the Ultra-Right turn to the Corporate model to the road to power.

This extremely illuminating and perceptive interview brings out in stark detail the main points of the Book.

In this interview , Unger pinpoints the manner and pole played by the neo-cons in bringing about the War which ultimately proved disastrous for all concerned. 

One major crippling flaw in the Book is the implication that US policy was hijacked , then shifted by the neo-con / Christian-Right alliance.While it is true that Clinton had rejected efforts by the neo-cons to wage war on Iraq.It was a question of nuance of policy rather than ultimate goals.One has to remember that the Iraq sanctions and the deliberate prolonging of the myth Iraq has WMDs was all throughout Clintons time in Office.What the neo-cons did was to fast-track the continuous policy to "conclusion" rather than alter it in any substantial manner.Hence why the Bush drive to war was not opposed by the Democrat opposition who in effect where the authors of the policy that the neo-cons wished to fast-track from drip-feed to a shock and awe finale.Whereas sanctions are the preferred weapon of Democrats , overwhelming Military Might was the tool of the neo-con project.

In this respect Ungers thesis is not only wrong , but dangerously wrong as far as differential between Republican pursuance of Foreign Policy as opposed to Democrat is concerned.The Iraq war a disaster made in both Houses of the US political spectrum.If anything it is the Republicans , and not Obamas Democrats who have learned the lesson of not putting Harm in the way of US Military Forces more.

If it happens , it may well be under the watch of a Republican President that any ill-advised Military strike against Iran occurs , but the architects and script-writers of the show will be in Democratic Ink.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Some People are put off this Book because of the many Latin references or what appear to the superficial eye obscure historical figures only known in specialist academic circles which is a shame as this is a very easy to read investigation mystery with profound overtures to how we got where we are now as a Society , and how we may begin to work our way out of current problems.

Initially , the publisher want Eco to change the first one hundred or so pages of the Book as it would save the reader trawling through so many historical and religious references , Eco insisted in keeping them as they are because he wanted to test the fortitude of the reader , arguing a serious reader , which he was targeting  , would get past this stage and be able to continue reading with due appreciation and respect for the substance of the work. 

Not only does it contain many historical and philosophical references , it also has , like classic Greek literature , debate segments.
The "debates" issues are very stimulating and are well deserving of a full and frank exchange of views.

Im looking forward to discussing one of the later debates in the book as i think Umberto makes it out as a clash between science and the "truth" which , in my view , is not where the establishment went awry , as in the matter of truth there is no mutually exclusive clash between religion and science.
The clash was rather between Dogma and Science , which meant that there was either going to be the prevalence of the Establishment or of Science , which forced the issue that Science in Western Europe was forced into the Atheist orbit in order to pursue its Truth whilst the Establishment was moved deeper to Dogma.
This is where a Tragic breach was made in that has to be resolved so that both Science and religion are co-participants on the course of Truth and not two poles of the fruitless polemic of bloody semantics.

This is where i believe the West can learn from Judaism and Islam in that those religions fully embraced science as a co-participant in the journey of truth to such an extent that the great Jewish and Islamic scientists mentioned in the Book where also esteemed religious Scholars without there being any incompatibility whatsoever.

 The various debates , especially comedy , to me , Bill Hicks; Richard Pryor and Billy Connelly are most certainly philosophers that challenge and force debates for betterment of positions with polemics being dissipated and a stand up to long term scrutiny ethos to win out.

Another debate , hence the date of setting in the Book , is a moving away from the Church being a series of orders of believers giving of themselves and material possessions for the greater good to the centralising of the Church is the field of land ownership and aligning to Power interests. That debate seems to emanate from the clash of Papal authority in Avignon and Rome and the emergence of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire.The debate is how much , if at all , the Church should align to Power Politics and BlocK cohesion or to sit it out of that Theatre and be a non-aligned force of social movements.Religion is being used and abused by the Power Blocks (Avignon/Italy Based/Germanic Holy Roman empire) with the adherents paying the blood price.That is why it is important to draw a distinction from the Church and the higher elites which were very much quasi-secular power block commission appointments.

The Borghias were made infamous because they were outsiders and tried to upset the Apple cart by trying to establish a Catalan order.This meant that they did not give out the necessary grace and favours of land and positions to the local Papal forces in Italy and they were pretty much wiped out in just about a year after the first Pope died and normal service was restored.
One Power blocks orthodoxy is another blocks heresy. If the Church is to get involved it has the choice of aligning itself with the elite |Power Blocks , which as you state can be messy and inconsistent (especially the Choices made in the 30s and 40s) or to have a consistent moral line to lobby for a minimum standard of rights for the lower elites and to give the Power Blocks no legitimacy that does not tally with those minimum standards , this later choice at least gives a long term consistent line that ultimately means the Church is truly independent rather than tainted and have the worst of both worlds of not being respected by the Power Blocks and not trusted by the weak.

In a way it relates well to the role of the Catholic Church in Eurocentric powers ( alliances in the 30s and 40s) and after Pope John Paul II support for the Victims of persecution in the former Soviet Block ( and making the right noises about Inter-Faith dialogue) to change under the current Pontiff to favour Rightist forces and the Role of the Church in South America which is in the forefront of the social justice movements that are looking to have more self-determination from the overt Corporate interests from outwith the Continent.

It is perfectly easy to read the Book without dealing too intensely with the debates and history , and on that level is a quality entertaining Murder Suspense Mystery in its own right.

Below the Author discusses current Europeanzone  issues with Jeremy Paxton.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


In the age of post-modernism and the de-colonisation as well as the pick-up in the wave of immigration from the former colonies to the UK , Jean Rhys published a reaction to what she thought was the appalling treatment of Mr.Rochesters first wife as the mad woman living in the attic.The novel serves as a prequel to Jane Eyre.

His wife was said to be a creole from The Caribbean , most Creoles were of  Slave and , in the main , Scottish descent , mainly dew to most of the plantations that produced Tobacco being run by Scottish owners or administrators because of the superior Scottish Banking System ( the advent of the concept of the overdraft which was not prevalent in England or elsewhere) which allowed Tobacco grown in the Caribbean and processed in Scotland to be the premium available quality , hence Scottish tobacco was seen as the highest top grade available , being re-exported to the Rich parts of continental Europe , creating the Glasgow Tobacco Lords that made most of Glasgows prosperous Landmarks we know today.

In this three part Novel Rhys gives the neglected woman in the attic Humanity , a life , dreams  and aspirations.The unimportant "other" get a status with a voice to tell her stories and her history. 


The recently deceased Gore Vidal read this Book once a year for many years , declaiming its humour as a technical proficiency , though always in the form of demeaning those lesser in the class system than himself.

Waugh was part of the lower rung of the upper classes  , hence he could only draw clear blue water between the upper classes and the lower ones he feared he may be associated with  acerbic , crude, cruel barbs and blatant hostility towards them.

Some regard this Book to be an all time classic , others see it as over-rated crass and puerile.I agree with the latter view.Certainly Waugh never mentioned it with any great remembrance when discussing his works.

This interview from the classic series Face to Face gives insight into the curt and abrasive manner of Waugh.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


If you are looking for an easily read primer to the early Roman Empire and any lessons that may be derived for our times then this Book is a magnificent place to start.

On page 25 is a universal observation that usually trumps the most passionate Marxist policy advocate , " the aim of even the most poverty stricken citizens was not to change society , but to do better out of it."

On page 34 we get down to brass tacks with comparisons of dominant superpowers and their justifications for aggression...." conquering the world in self-defence" and the hidden ethos of these very superpowers "Freedom- the opportunity of other countries to follow its rules" which just about sums up the War On Terror and all of its attendant political , cultural and societal manifestations.

This review from the Observer captures the the wide ranging appeal of the Book:

"Ancient history often descends to us either through impregnable academic works or the sword-and-sandal epics of the cinema. What Holland achieves is to draw from both genres to write a modern, well-paced and finely observed history which entertains as it informs."
Richard Miles review in The Guardian gives a peer academics approval.

"It should serve as a model of exactly how a popular history of the classical world should be written."

You can see a fascinating symposium featuring Tom Holland ( he appears at the 19 min mark) about topics covered in the Book , especially Pax Romana.

Monday, August 6, 2012


One of the most profound and fluidly written Books one will ever read.You simply wont be bored from one paragraph to the next.

The very real essence of the Book is that is a passionate partisan poetic tribute to the best aspect of the Human Spirit.

The author has his own dedicated website which will help get acquainted with the themes and inner story of this modern day classic that will appeal to all that value the best aspects of the love and bonds Humanity can show in the face of the most inhumane artificial de-humanising systems invented by Man.

You can hear the author talk about his experiences which deepened his understanding of real love and affection among People and Communities in the video ( 5 parts) below: