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Review: “Creating Freedom: Power, Control and the Fight for Our Future” by Raoul Martinez

A review, from Liberal Democrat writer Christoph Fischer of an important book that debunks our ideas about freedom.

LibDem Fischer

Creating Freedom AudiobookThis is a rather comprehensive and detailed account of our concept of freedom, how there is more a delusion of freedom in modern society and lastly how to create freedom.
Well, to be honest, I don’t know whether the title was chosen wisely. It implies an easy step-by-step guide, which I’m not sure we’re getting here.
But
what we’re getting is brilliant. There are too many chapters to mention specifically all that is contained here. Highlights include myth-busting of the banking crisis, of euphemistic rhetoric, of mass manipulation, corporate greed and how all these things contribute to take away more freedom from the many and give it to the few.
While this may sound like a conspiracy theory and left-wing anti-capitalism, it’s far from it. Regardless of ideology, those mechanisms work and serve those in power.
Ultimately, the book provides information with credible facts and data, only trying to give…

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Saturday Sound-off: Who Stole my Country?

A couple of newspaper articles caught my attention yesterday. The first was in the Irish Times: a review of a book about prisoners of war in England during WWII and the way they were treated.

You might expect that, as soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting for Britain’s enemies at the time, they would be shunned, spat at, feared. The reality was rather different. In fact, as the review’s author points out, “it wasn’t uncommon for friendships to be struck up and for POWs to be invited into civilians’ homes for Christmas lunch.”

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Prisoner of war camps in the UK: German PoWs somewhere in England bring in the harvest. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Many were permitted to leave the camps in order to work on farms and in forestry projects alongside English (mainly female) workers. It reminded me of my own experience growing up in rural Herefordshire in the 1940s and ’50s. There was a camp in the village which, at different times, held POWs and Polish refugees. One German and one Pole each married local girls and set up homes next door to each other in tied cottages on the farm where both worked.

Their children attended the local school. As a schoolboy I often worked on the same farm and got to know both men.The young woman who married the German POW had a younger brother the same age as me who became my best man at my 1963 wedding.

Values

And then I discovered the other article, in The Guardian, about European citizens, skilled workers resident in Britain for decades, who are returning to the continent, some with their British spouses and all saddened by last year’ Brexit vote and its aftermath in which so many of them were made to feel unwelcome. It made me wonder what has become of the country of which I used to be proud, the country of whose values my father fought and died for.

From being a place that welcomed all comers and extended the hand of friendship to enemy POWs, it has become a place in which many want to shut themselves off from the rest of Europe and embrace the same nationalistic fervour that destroyed Europe in the 1930s and ’40s and which the parents of my generation sacrificed so much to overthrow.

Have the people who voted ‘leave’ not studied history? Do they not realise that, right across Europe, we share more than a thousand years of common history? Admittedly, it was a relationship often characterised by the struggle for domination between the members of the land owning aristocracy. But it seemed for a while, in the 1950s and ’60s, that, having emerged from two terrible world wars, we understood that co-operation was better than conflict. Social liberalism trumped nationalism and the majority of us understood that it was better to share the product of our labours with people like ourselves wherever they were born.

Doomed

What happened? How did so many ordinary British voters come to believe that the EU, and those of its citizens who chose to make their homes in Britain, were responsible for every symptom of their country’s economic failure? Why did Cameron and the other leaders of the Remain campaign embark on a doomed quest to scare people into voting to remain in the EU? Why did the media not give much greater attention to the words of men like Lord Ashdown who made the arguments that mattered with such passion?

I wrote several posts ahead of the vote pointing out the folly of what was being proposed. Now the case for leaving is beginning to unravel as the real implications of extricating ourselves from 40 years of working together in mutually beneficial endeavours, from aviation safety to radioactive isotopes for medical use, become apparent. If only more attention had been paid to these things in May and June last year perhaps the vote would have been different. They certainly strengthen the case for a second vote once the details of the deal are published.

Nothin’ to worry about

Max Power is the nom-de-plume of an Irish writer who belongs to an on-line writing group to which I belong. Here he anticipates getting old. He’s got a few years to go to catch me, but I ceertainly understand what he means!

Maxpower's Blog

If I manage to frinkle my way through a few more decades and find myself sitting in a ‘comfortable chair alongside my darling Jo, I know we’ll still have our cheeky little moments.  There will be some accidental double entendre and one of us will reference it, finished with something like “You know what I’m saying?”   That’ll probably be me.  I’m sure it’ll be suggestive of something we might do together as a couple but be incapable of at that stage, because I’m talkin’ old old here.  What I know is that her answer will be along the lines of “I know ‘zactly what you’re sayin’”and we’ll exchange a nose twitch or a little wink to affirm that we would if we could.

Now I know that everyone has some romantic notion of what life will be like when they get older and the truth for you all I hope…

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17 Independent Irish Bookshops to visit

Want to know where to buy books in Ireland? Megan McCullum has compiled a list of the best.

Capital Nerd

IrelandFlagPicture2.jpgBOOK LOVERS WILL know how it feels to enter a brilliantly stocked, cosy bookshop and feel immediately at home.

These days, independent bookshops are rare. There’s not many of them left, so they should be treasured.

Here, in no particular order, are 17 of the best and most beautiful independent bookshops on the island of Ireland.

1) Charlie Byrne’s, Galway

Our-location-wide

Probably the daddy of all Irish bookshops, Charlie Byrne’s has been supplying the people of Galway City with their reading material since 1989. Claiming to stock over 100,000 books, you’re bound to find something good in here.

2) The Book Centre, Waterford

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Formerly a cinema, this beautiful building in Waterford city is now home to a larger-than-life bookshop. Choose a tome and curl up with a hot drink in the store’s gorgeous coffee shop.

3) Vibes and Scribes, Cork

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Owned by Joan Lucey, Vibes and Scribes is the…

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Dan Alatorre’s WORD WEAVER Writing Contest for July 2017 – let the games begin!

Originally posted on Dan Alatorre – AUTHOR:
Announcing the July 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest! Enter your amazing piece of writing! We have over $400 of valuable prize packages! YOU will have the month of July to enter an amazing piece of your own writing to our contest. Here’s what you do: Uh, enter a…

I Can Hear Music

Cuts in public sector spending impact people in so many different ways. With restricted budgets priorities have to be reviewed. That means balancing the costs and benefits of all manner of “nice to have” programmes. Apparently this particular head teacher does not fully appreciate the benefits of music to the extent that Stevie does. But I wonder what else might have been under consideration for ‘the chop’ had the music teacher not left?
Since living in Ireland I have learned that all of the performing arts are well supported – which, I guess, is why Ireland punches so far above its weight in all of them.

Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

Rather sad news I read recently is that weekly music lessons are to be cut for children aged 11 – 13 from an Essex school because of budget cuts.   The headmaster has reviewed music provision after a music teacher left, and has decided not to employ another one and to protect all the other subjects instead.

This is all very well, but what if one or two of the children are musically talented?  Not all children are academically minded.  I know, because I was one of the students who struggled through Physics, Maths and Chemistry but loved my English, Art, and Music lessons.  At primary school I learned to play the violin, and when I left that school and moved onto a Grammar school at age 11, my violin teacher used to arrive once a week at lunchtime to teach me.  Music lessons were not considered so important at that Grammar…

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The Long Hot Summer of 1947

My second Novel, Summer Day, was originally published in the spring of 2012. Earlier this year I re-issued it with a few changes and a revised cover, thanks to Sharon Brownlie (cover) and Katherine Hamilton Pfiel (editorial suggestions).

As it is set in July 1947 I’ve decided to make the Kindle version free for the first 5 days of July 2017. Here’s a link to a blog post about the book’s genesis: http://cassandra2012.blogspot.ie/2012/04/england-after-war.html

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