Wednesday, 30 January 2013

"Paying the Piper" - New out today.

I loved Hamelin's Child when I read it.  Now here is the sequel - brand new out today. 

 Michael is piecing his life back together after his time spent as a rent boy. But it's hard and although he's been clean of drugs for months, the nightmares are still too real and he can't come to terms with Lee's death and Eddie's impending trial.

Sometimes other people's troubles can seem easier to deal with. When Michael meets Amanda at the cashpoint, it's a chance to focus on someone other than himself, and finding Amanda's missing husband and baby may just be his salvation.

But the shadows of his past won't let him go. The bank account they've set up for him is full of easy cash and Eddie's old boss Carl can help Amanda. And suddenly Michael is in deeper than he ever imagined possible.

This psychological thriller is a sequel, set six months after the events in Hamelin's Child and contains adult material.

Hamelin's Child: 
Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him.

Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.

Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.

Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London's drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.
My review for Hamelin's Child:
written some time ago:

One of the most utterly gripping books I’ve ever read. It made me angry what happened to Michael. It seemed so shocking – but when I thought about it, getting a girl addicted to drugs has been a favourite method of pimps to acquire girls for many, many years. It is not new because Michael is male. Yet it seems so much more shocking. 
I was with Michael all the way.  Hamelin’s Child is an extremely good book.

and another review: 

review: A Strong Story From a Strong Writer, March 29, 2011
Mike M "Reading Fool" 
Amazon Verified Purchase,  This review is from: Hamelin's Child (Kindle Edition)
 Hamelin's Child is an outstanding read. I came across the title in a forum discussion and was interested enough to download a sample, and from that decided it was worth the purchase. I started reading it the same day and didn't stop until it was finished. The story is about a 17-year old boy who falls into the clutches of a couple of villains who drug him over a period of weeks and force him into homosexual prostitution. There is some explicit sexual activity in the book, but not for the sake of being lurid. It is critical to the plot as the protagonist (Michael/Mikey) slowly loses touch with his former self and his addiction takes control of his life. While the subject matter is dark, Michael is a character you will care about. Even as he makes unwise choices and immerses himself in the very lifestyle he hates, he manages to hang onto his soul. DJ Bennett is an excellent writer, and she does a wonderful job fleshing out her characters, especially Michael and his sister, Mary, who never gives up on her brother even as her own life veers off course. The author resisted the temptation most writers have to wrap everything up in a pretty bow at the end, but I still find the conclusion satisfying. If you like a bit of rawness in your reading as I do, I highly recommend this book.

Other very good stories available as ebooks, and cheap.

Well,  I was about to recommend two other books by an excellent author. Indie published, and very reasonably priced - 'Plague'  and 'The Ultimate Choice' by Lisa Hinsley.

But  -  if you have not bought them yet, you will have to wait.  This is what is on her Amazon author page:

Lisa C Hinsley's career has been varied, working as an architectural technician, a pet sitter, a pharmacy supervisor and most recently a carer/companion for elderly ladies, all the while writing when she can. Born in Portsmouth in 1971, Lisa grew up in England, Scotland, and America. She now lives on the Wirral, in northwest England, with her husband, three children, and four cats. Her hope is not to be thought of as the American cat lady, but some things are just inevitable.
Lisa's novels Plague and The Ultimate Choice have featured regularly on the UK Amazon bestsellers charts and are soon to be rereleased in the USA by publishers Simon & Schuster.

             I knew she was a great writer!

She has two other novels still available - you'd best buy them quick before Simon and Schuster grab them as well.  The major publishers tend to charge far higher than Indie publishers for ebooks. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Why do men hate women?

So all right, every man does not hate women. Not even most men hate women.  But an amazing number of them do.  If they didn't,  the term 'feminist' would not be used as almost a dirty word, there would be no trouble having as many women as men in high paying and influential positions,
               there would be no such thing as the Taliban.

This is the story of Latifa (not her true name, as a Fatwa has been declared against her for daring to speak up.)

She was sixteen, living in Afghanistan, and then the Taliban took over. No more school, no more going out without a smothering garment that limited her vision as well as her agility  - no more freedom. 

And if she did go out, even wrapped up, head down, slinking along like the rubbish the Taliban thought she was, she risked being whipped for transgressions she might not even be aware of. Latifa saw a woman brutally whipped because a hint of white shoe showed under the burqa. White is apparently the colour of the Taliban in all their 'purity' - and what a horrible joke that is.

It is strange how the 'purest' of Muslim men don't hesitate to use rape as a weapon of hatred and power.

There is a horrible story - page 109. Some children went to school - schools for girls, of course, are forbidden.  'One day the bodies of several of them were found in a rubbish dump. They were only seven or eight years old. They had been kidnapped, raped and strangled with their own clothes.' 

The more that women are denigrated, it seems that the more men use rape in order to show their hatred. What else was that affair in India about?   It was not about sex or desire, it was about hatred.  A gang rape involving bus driver and conductor.  Those first were caught and sentenced,  but then what?  Another, almost in imitation. That was India. India is not nearly as bad as many other countries in wanting their women crushed.

Saudi Arabia, the most 'holy' of Islamic nations.  A school was on fire, and the girls tried to flee.  They were sent back inside to dress 'properly.' Several burnt to death. These were just little girls. Only some very sick men find little girls desirable, whether or not they wear a concealing robe.  But these were condemned to an agonising death rather than risk tempting a man.  They must be very susceptible men. It would be nice if they tried a little self control rather than punishing women for their possible 'temptation.' 

One thing I discovered from this book that I hadn't known before, a lot of the Taliban are Pakistani, not Afghans.  Until recently, Pakistan was supposed to be an ally in 'waging war' on terrorism. But then, of course, it was discovered that they were sheltering Osama Bin Laden.

It was in Pakistan where a young girl was shot for speaking out about the right of females to be educated. There have been many other incidents.

Malala Yousufzai, Pakistani girl shot by Taliban, leaves U.K. hospital

By Danica Kirka
Associated Press
Friday, January 4, 2013

LONDON (AP) — A 15-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education has been released from a Birmingham hospital to live with her family, doctors said Friday.
Photographs released by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham showed Malala Yousufzai hugging nurses, waving and smiling shyly.
Malala will live with her parents and two brothers in the UK while she continues to receive treatment, but will be admitted again in the next month for another round of surgery to rebuild her skull.
Experts have been optimistic that Malala, who was airlifted from Pakistan in October to receive specialized medical care, has a good chance of recovery because the brains of teenagers are still growing and can better adapt to trauma.
Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery,” said Dr. Dave Rosser, the medical director for University Hospitals Birmingham. “Following discussions with Malala and her medical team, we decided that she would benefit from being at home with her parents and two brothers.”
Malala was returning home from school in Pakistan’s scenic Swat Valley on Oct. 9 when the Taliban targeted her for criticizing their efforts to keep girls from getting an education. The militants have threatened to target Malala again because they say she promotes “Western thinking.”
Pakistani doctors removed a bullet that entered her head and headed toward her spine. The decision to send Malala to Britain was taken in consultation with her family; Pakistan is paying for her treatment.
Pakistan also appointed Malala’s father, Ziauddin, as its education attache in Birmingham. The position, with an initial three-year commitment, virtually guarantees that Malala will remain in Britain for now.
Her case won worldwide recognition, and the teen became a symbol for the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan. In an indication of her reach, she made the shortlist for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2012.

So is it only Muslims who want women to be invisible and subservient?  Is it only Muslims who feel that terrible hatred for women?

Well, no.  Christianity was just as bad a few centuries ago. It was debated whether women had a soul, for instance, and hundreds of thousands of  women were burnt at the stake for minor offences such as maybe having red hair or a mole. And who doesn't have some sort of mole or mark that could be construed by a 'witch-finder' as the mark of a witch?  It's the place where she suckles her 'familiar' or some such thing.  There were a few men burned as well - not nearly as many.

There are terrible stories in this book, too,  so many of them that speak of  the hatred that men bear for women.
So was it Saint Jerome who thundered that women should be shamed to have been born woman, or was that Saint Augustine?

It seems that these 'Church Fathers' were terrified of hell, and as sex was evil, then if they gave in to that, they were doomed. And so they went to extremes not to be led astray by 'that evil temptress - woman.'  But the extremes they went to seldom impinged on their own comfort.  No, it was women who were made to suffer.

So sex is evil and religious people fear and punish women for that purpose.  It certainly appears that way.  Sex is still necessary for procreation, and there were ludicrous provisions made in order to ensure little enjoyment for the man, and I assume none at all for the woman. For instance, women had to wear long night-gowns, sometimes with a hole cut - just enough to be able to have intercourse without having to touch that loathsome female skin. 

Occasionally, a religious sect would resort to castration in order to remove the temptation, but that was a rarity. It was easier to blame women for those 'sinful' impulses that plagued them. St. Paul acknowledges, reluctantly, 'Better to marry than to burn.'  His words about 'love'  are used in most weddings, but it sounds doubtful that he ever meant those words to apply to a  man and woman in love.  A minister and his congregation maybe?

So then, is it only religious men who hate women? 

Interesting question.  I don't know.  It is certainly the most common excuse to lock women up and make their lives hell, but other men also mistreat women.

In some cultures, burning an unwanted wife to death is not at all uncommon. Getting drunk and bashing her on a Saturday night is more common. That is not religious, that is simply bullying because  a man can get away with it,  (not so much these days, thank goodness.)  It is strange how a wife-beater whines that he just lost his temper with his wife, when he never loses his temper with a bigger bloke in the pub. Just cowardly bullies. 

And there are still millions of women who are subject to that wicked practice known as 'female circumcision.' This mutilation of the genitals results in very painful sex, often being actually 'cut open' for the wedding night,  problems with menstruation, problems with childbirth,  sometimes resulting in such damage that the woman, afterwards, is unable to keep herself clean. So then she is abandoned.      

But - we are just talking about women - the female sex. 

Every man had a mother who gave birth to him,  who fed him, nurtured him, changed his nappies.  How,  How?  can it be that he can hate women so much? 

According to Latifa, the Taliban would just like to exterminate women - except that sometimes they kidnap young teenagers for 'wives' in order to breed more Taliban. Women are still needed in order to have children.

The Taliban are evil. Extremist Muslims who punish women for being women are evil - and if that includes states such as Saudi Arabia, then their behaviour is evil.  Not well-meaning, not 'it's just their culture,' but evil.  Those old 'saints' of the Christians who condemned women for being women are also evil.

And all you women who wear the Chador or even a headscarf in order to be faithful to your culture should think very carefully about what you are doing. You owe a greater loyalty to your gender than you do to your culture.

In the West, we have fought for the freedoms we now enjoy. Do not undermine those freedoms by voluntarily declaring yourself inferior by wearing a headscarf or by deferring to the man in your life when you should not defer to him.

The very worst of all of this is that soon America and its allies will be leaving Afghanistan, and it is very likely that the Taliban will again take over. Again women will not be allowed to be educated, not be allowed to work, not be allowed to seek medical attention because a male doctor cannot see them and female doctors are not allowed to work...

How,  how?  can a country allow half its citizens to be treated like this?
Why do men hate women so much?

My books of the Shuki Series speak a lot about the inequalities women suffer through, though indirectly.  It  is implicit in any book set in an Arabic Islamic state and the wrongness of it is obvious.
In the third book to be released in April, 2013, I do speak more directly about the way that women are treated. One of the characters is Shaiima, daughter of the Master.  She cannot accept the way things are done, and while her half-sister, Honiara, is married at the age of fourteen, and happy with it,  Shaiima refuses to marry.  Her father does not force her, as he could, but in the end, concedes to her desire to go to an English university.  The Master's family is rich. Most girls do not have the option, whether or not their father would agree.

To buy the first and second of this series, go to
Also available on other online sites such as Amazon.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

It's time to rein in the Health Police

It’s time to rein in the Health Police.

Never have humans lived such long and healthy lives. And yet, never have we been so paranoid about our health and never have we consumed so many utterly useless and expensive vitamin pills and ‘natural’ remedies.

And never have the health police had such an over-the-top control of our lives.  

Sun Cancer Prevention:

The sun has supposedly become so toxic that we must not show ourselves unexposed at all, ever. Hats, coverup clothing, sunscreen (50+ of course)  Otherwise, we will undoubtedly get skin cancer – Melanoma. There used to be other forms of skin cancer spoken of – but these days, it’s only Melanoma, the killing variety.

We are told to have annual checkups. If we take up that advice, we will almost certainly wind up with scars where ‘cancers’ have been cut out. And at least half of us will be told that on biopsy it was proven to have been Melanoma, and very likely that early detection has ‘saved our life.’

But wait a moment – the figures just do not add up. In a lifetime, I’ve only ever known one man who died of skin cancer, and that was decades ago. If so many diagnoses are made, we should be seeing a lot more deaths than one in forty years.

So now, we are so frightened of exposure to the sun, that there’s a new apparent problem – that people are Vitamin D deficient, and need to take supplements such as ‘Wild Krill Oil.’ (Ever known tame krill?)  So instead of spending just a little time in the sun, people are gulping down more unnecessary and expensive ‘natural’ supplements. It is enough to make one wonder if the vitamin supplement manufacturers are behind the fear of the sun – or maybe those in the skin clinic industry, the ones who want us to have an annual check of every mole or spot on our body. Maybe they haven’t noticed that it is normal to develop more blemishes as we age.  


There is an ‘obesity epidemic’  and it costs billions in healthcare every year.

Yes?  I haven’t noticed it myself. Given prosperous times, there have always been one or two fatties in a classroom of children, and in middle age, men and women have always become more solid, the same as other animals do, and more and more of us are surviving into middle and old age. With the way that ‘overweight’ is always lumped in with obesity, it is hard to know whether there are indeed more obese people than there used to be.   

But also, is it so bad for our health? Or is it rather that it has become an aesthetic matter or even a moral matter. Thin is good, fat is bad. And yet, we look at old films, and the women who were admired then had substantial figures. Marilyn Monro would never have made it in today’s Hollywood – she’d probably be told she was ‘borderline obese.’

The male stars? An old James Bond film shows Sean Connery quite substantial around the middle, not like Daniel Craig’s ‘washboard abs.’ Male film stars have to work far harder to be heart-throbs these days.

Sometimes what we are told by the health police flies in the face of the actual evidence:  

The Independent: 
Jeremy Laurance
Jeremy Laurance is Health Editor at The Independent
Wednesday 02 January 2013

Being overweight can extend life rather than shorten it, according to a major new study that runs counter to widespread medical assumptions and years of warnings about the fatal implications of Britain's expanding waistlines.
It sounds too good to be true, coming at the end of the season of excess, but after one of the largest reviews of research ever conducted, doctors say that carrying a few extra pounds may actually reduce the risk of premature death. Experts have repeatedly warned that obesity would soon exact a greater toll than smoking and the current generation could be the first to die before their parents.
Only yesterday, the Royal College of Physicians called for more to be done to tackle the UK's obesity epidemic, criticising the NHS's "patchy" services and inadequate leadership on the issue. However, the new study shows that people who are modestly overweight have a 6 per cent lower rate of premature death from all causes than people of ideal, "healthy" weight, while even those who are mildly obese have no increased risk. Overweight is defined as a body mass index above 25 but below 30. For a man of 5ft 9in, that is between 12 stone 4lb and 14 stone 6lb, or for a woman of 5ft 6in, it is between 11 stone 3 lb and 13 stone 4lb. Ideal, healthy weight is defined as a BMI between 18.5 and 25.
Mild obesity (those with a BMI between 30 and 34.9) brings a 5 per cent lower premature death rate, according to the study. Although this was not statistically significant, it suggests there is no increased risk of premature death attached to that weight range.
The news will seem heaven sent to those contemplating a new year diet, and contradicts the received wisdom that being fat reduces life expectancy. It is the second time that research studies led by Katherine Flegal, a distinguished epidemiologist from the National Centre for Health Statistics at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Maryland, US, have studied the link between obesity and mortality.
In 2007 the same group caused consternation among public health professionals when they published the results of a similar analysis that also showed being fat does not shorten life. Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, dismissed the finding as "rubbish".
Dr Flegal told The Independent she had decided to conduct a second, larger, study on the same theme to counter the sceptics. She and her team examined results from 100 studies from around the world, involving three million people and 270,000 deaths.
The results are published in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association, which also published the earlier study. They show only the severely obese, with a body mass index above 35, have a significantly increased mortality, up by 29 per cent. Otherwise, extra weight appears to be protective. Underweight people, meanwhile, have a 10 per cent higher rate of premature death than those of normal size, according to earlier research. "There is already a lot of literature showing that overweight is linked with lower mortality," said Dr Flegal. "It is not an unusual finding. But authors tend to shy away from it. They tend to underplay it or try to explain it away."
There were warnings last night that the research should not be taken to mean that there were no negative health implications associated with being overweight or obese. Tam Fry, spokesman for the UK National Obesity Forum, said: "Katherine Flegal is an extremely good researcher and I would respect her. But I am flabbergasted. The sum total of medical expert opinion cannot have got it so wrong. The consequences of people taking this research and deciding 'let's eat and be merry' will be catastrophic. Mortality [the death rate] is one thing but morbidity [the disease rate] is another. If people read this and decide they are not going to die [from overeating] they may find themselves lifelong dependents on medical treatment for problems affecting the heart, liver, kidney and pancreas – to name only a few."
Dr Flegal herself stressed that findings are not a licence to eat cream cakes. "We were only looking at mortality – not health. We are absolutely not recommending people overeat. We intended our research to give a little perspective – to counter the view that if you weigh a bit less you will live forever or if you weigh more you are doomed. The relationship between fat and mortality is more complicated than we tend to think."
Possible explanations for the findings are that fat – adipose tissue – may protect the heart, carrying a few extra pounds may help individuals withstand periods of illness or hospitalisation when they lose appetite, and the distribution of fat on the body is more important than the amount, with extra on the hips being good while extra on the stomach is thought bad.
It may also be that the health risks of being overweight are declining with advances in medicine. Drug treatments to lower blood pressure and cholesterol have contributed to a dramatic fall in heart disease deaths. Fitness, too, may be more important than fatness. People who are overweight, smoke, eat junk food and take no exercise are heading for an early grave.

So the full article: The evidence is that overweight is not bad for people.
The conclusion by medical ‘experts’ -  that no matter the evidence, fat is bad. It becomes fairly obvious that the health police have no intention of looking at evidence – maybe they just don’t like to look at fat people – in other words, it is an aesthetic rather than a medical judgement.


All right, taking smoke into our lungs has to be bad for us. It is still legal. But now there are new regulations in force (Australia) that a father can’t sit on a bench beside a playground and light a cigarette for fear of being fined – not just a small fine, but a $550 fine, more than someone gets for knowingly violating qurantine laws. He can’t light up near a public building of any sort, and most hospital grounds – the whole of the hospital grounds, are also off limits.  

But hey, this is in the open air! Unless a non-smoker is directly downwind from a cigarette, and close, the smoke is dispersed very quickly. It may still harm the smoker, but it is not harmful to anyone else. And it is not harmful to children, even if he is within five metres of a playground. I am not a smoker, never have been, and I am pleased that smokers can no longer pollute the atmosphere inside a room, but it’s gone too far when outside is also off limits for them.

There is another thing that must also annoy smokers, but is also a real annoyance for the whole population. We are attacked with ghastly images of diseased body parts – green, rotting teeth, gangrenous toes, an eyeball staring, apparently prepared for an operation. These sickening, sickening images are not just put on cigarette packs, but whenever a news item speaks of the new ‘plain packaging’ laws, they are shown large, colourful and far too clear on our TV screens.  If only they were plain packaging. That would be bearable. I can’t count the number of times I’ve quickly averted my eyes from those ghastly images.  

And now they're being used in anti-smoking ads as well.  It's hard to get away from them. Not sure if they're on billboards outside as well. I'd not be surprised, but I have not seen any yet.

And yet, if we sent those images by email to someone, it would probably be a criminal offense. ├║sing a carriage device to cause offense' or something like that. But here, the Health Minister is pleased when anyone complains – ‘It means they are effective.’ I doubt it. They are only effective in offending people. I do not think they have a right to offend us like that. I will not show any of the pictures. I think it is wicked to thrust them into anyone's faces.

Thursday, January 03, 2013 » 04:29pm

The federal health minister has warned tobacco companies not to attempt to circumvent plain packaging laws.
Tobacco companies that try to circumvent the government's cigarette plain-packaging laws with branded tins or stickers that hide graphic health warnings will face legal action, the federal health minister warns.
'If people deliberately flout these laws, then we will consider and potentially take legal action against them,' Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said on Thursday.
The world-first laws to make all cigarettes be sold in drab olive-brown packs came into force on December 1.
Ms Plibersek said early anecdotal evidence revealed the new packaging was having a psychological effect on smokers.
As part of the government's goal to prevent smoking-related cancer deaths in Australia, the Commonwealth was willing to take companies to court to make sure they complied with packaging laws, the minister said.
'Where we're able to educate and change public behaviour - with shopkeepers, for example - then there's no need for legal action,' Ms Plibersek said.
'But if we have large companies that deliberately look for ways to circumvent plain packaging, then I'll have no hesitation in taking legal action against them.'
Individuals who do not comply will face fines of up to $220,000, while companies risk penalties of up to $1.1 million.
Since the new packaging requirements began in December, after the big tobacco companies lost a High court challenge, the health minister has received 14 complaints, all about retailers.
Ms Plibersek's office has also received calls from smokers who believe the new laws affect how cigarettes are manufactured.
'They call and complain about the taste of cigarettes, but that's a sign that plain packaging is working,' she said.
'Nothing has changed in the formulation of cigarettes but people are finding they are enjoying them less.'
The fact that people felt the need to complain or cover up graphic health warnings showed plain packaging was working, the minister said.
'I'm not pleased to see that people are, commercially, producing stickers,' Ms Plibersek said.
'But I am pleased to see that the graphic health warnings are so effective that people are looking for ways to cover them up.'  (This makes me think a very rude word.)

And the new tyrannical laws:

New anti-smoking laws take effect in NSW
The bigpond home page article:  Monday, January 07, 2013 » 07:33am

Smokers can no longer light up at many outdoor locations like public pools and transport stops, with new anti-smoking laws in NSW coming into effect.
The state government said on Monday that smoking was now outlawed at locations such as children's playgrounds, public transport stations, sporting fields, public pools and entrances to NSW public buildings.
Cancer Council NSW's manager for policy and advocacy, Anita Tang, said the reforms would help to protect people from second-hand smoke.
'These new measures will protect children, parents and the whole community from toxic second-hand smoke,' Ms Tang said in a statement.
'The new laws will be a help in reducing community exposure to second-hand smoke and reducing the likelihood of future generations taking up smoking.'
She said smoking was one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in Australia, with more than 15,000 Australians dying from tobacco-related illnesses each year.


It’s another strange thing how exposure to tiny amounts of asbestos is absolutely lethal these days. There is a fuss if a few bits of ‘fibro’ board are found at the back of a school. The area will be roped off,  and men in protective suits and face masks will very carefully remove it.

Note that this is just a pretty school. As far as I know,
there is no asbestos within miles.
 But it’s just fibro!  90% of the population have handled fibro, 60% of us have probably lived at some stage in a house made of fibro. It is certainly taking a long time for exposure to that form of asbestos to wipe us out.
Yes, fibro dust is bad, and very dangerous to inhale. Workers in asbestos mines are definitely at risk of developing the disease of Asbestosis. And it’s a terrible disease. It is so lucky that it normally takes at least twenty years to develop. But do we really have to go to such extremes about normal exposure to small amounts that are not even in dust form?  It costs a fortune now to renovate a house that may  have some form of asbestos in its construction or maybe used as insulation around pipes.


Yes, excessive alcohol is not good, but again, they’ve gone overboard. A pregnant woman is not allowed to drink at all?  How many babies have been harmed by occasional social drinking? I think probably none. Foetal Alcohol Syndrome?  Alcoholic women can have babies with a certain physical look to them, and with mild retardation. This is known as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Alcholic women should not have babies, but they are not the ones listening to the health police.

Binge drinking: a problem, sure. Binge drinking is when idiots, usually young, drink far too much in order to get drunk. They are disgusting objects, always make fools of themselves and occasionally damage their own health. They will almost certainly damage their health if they do it regularly. Luckily few do it regularly, and most don’t do it at all.
BUT:  redefine ‘binge drinking’  as just three drinks in an evening, and suddenly almost all of us are ‘binge drinking.’ Three standard drinks would be a normal amount to have in the course of a party that lasts three or four or five hours.  This was put forward as the definition of binge drinking a few years ago. I don’t know whether such a ridiculous definition is still accepted, but probably, since we keep getting told how HUGE the problem is.

Again, I think that here we have a moral judgement rather than one based on evidence of harm to health. And maybe an additional factor is bureaucrats wanting to exaggerate a problem in order to enlarge their own empire.

Statistics, statistics and damn lies:

So many statistics, and most people just accept them. Here are some of the more ridiculous statistics that I have heard, given as fact:

1.      25% of Australian farmers commit suicide every year. That was around ten years ago. They should be just about extinct by now.
2.      A city of around 40,000 residents has a festival.  One million visitors!  we are told with vast enthusiasm.  What nonsense. The city would not cope with that many visitors.  Did they even stop to think that a million visitors would mean a full twentieth of the population of Australia? 

And then there are the statistics with some very dubious methodology, but presented as fact and backed by influential government organisations.

1.      One in nine women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. It used to be one in eleven, but they increased the rate a few years ago. Now this one is based on what, I think, they call ‘ lifetime risk.’  In other words, they count all the women who get breast cancer when they are 40, do not count any who die of other things, then add on all the women who get it when they are 41, do not count any who die of other things, then add on all the women who get it when they are 42, do not count any who die of other things, then add on all the women who get it when they are 43, do not count any who die of other things, then add on all the women who get it when they are 44…  Maybe the increasing rate is because so many of us are living to great old age.

It’s why this one in nine supposed rate is far higher than we actually see. I personally know one who died of it, and there was a cousin of my father’s when I was just a kid. Two, in other words. I personally know a lot more than eighteen women.  Breast cancer is a rare disease, and it's a question whether Breastscreen services, like some other screening services, wind up doing more harm than good.  

2.      There are similar statistics for many other diseases – one in two of us are now ‘affected by’ cancer. I suppose they use ‘affected by’ so they can include all of us who’ve ever known someone with cancer.

If you believed these sort of statistics,  each one of us would have to have three or four diseases in order to keep up. And add in ‘some form of mental illness’ as well. I think that’s supposed to be one in two of us.

BUT: we are healthier and living longer than we ever have in history. We need to stop being so paranoid, and the health police should look for better ways of making themselves useful, because right now, I, personally, am sick to death of them.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Young girls forced to marry

I have been writing the third in the Shuki Series. It is set in a remote region of a country of Arabia. The topic of  how many of the Arab nations treat their women has been very much on my mind. Two of my characters are half sisters, Shaiima and Honiara Daoud. Honiara is married at fourteen, but Shaiima refuses to be married, and luckily, her father, the Master Hasquitri Daoud, does not force her.

He could force her. She does not have to consent, she does not have to sign anything, she can simply be given to him, even tied up if necessary. No-one would say her father  did not have the right, and no-one would lift a finger to prevent the rape that followed. It is custom and tradition, and not just how I wrote my book of fiction. It is fact in many barbaric countries. 

Look at this article. I have copied it exactly as presented.

From the Bigpond home page 2013

Saudi teen married off to 86-year-old

Thursday, January 10, 2013 » 09:02am

A 15-year-old Saudi girl who was forced to marry an octogenarian has been granted a divorce after a local human rights group intervened, the watchdog says.
The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC) raised the case 'after learning of the marriage of a minor girl to an 86-year-old man in Jizan' in southeast Saudi Arabia, the group's head Bandar al-Ayban said in a statement.
Al-Hayat daily had reported that the teenager locked herself inside the bedroom on her wedding night before fleeing the man's home and returning to her parents.
She had been married off to the man in exchange for a dowry worth around $US17,300 ($A16,550), the daily reported.
The SHRC had provided 'legal assistance to the girl' so she could get a divorce, Ayban said.
Another SHRC member, Hadi al-Yami, said the girl had 'expressed her rejection of this marriage.'
The divorce was announced after a regional tribal chief and local dignitaries intervened.
Saudi rights officials have been pushing for a law that would set a minimum marriage age of 16.
The SHRC is 'trying in cooperation with ministries of justice and health to prevent such marriages,' Yami told AFP.
Rights activist Suhaila al-Hammad says the authorities must 'set the minimum marriage age at 18.'
Saudi Arabia has no law against child marriage, and clerics and religious judges justify the practice based on Islamic and Saudi tradition.

  With a man of 86, the girl would probably not have been subject to full intercourse. He could, of course, be capable of violating her in other ways.

But then there is the factor of him being soon to die. In these countries, widows face severe hardship. If she manages to get work, and is permitted to work, then she may be able to feed herself.  If not, and if her relatives do not choose to take in a widow, then it is quite possible that she would starve to death. 

'To Love and To Protect'
is in progress.

Release date April, 2013.

This is the third in the Shuki Series. It is a story of love and life, and features the sub-theme of the battle for Women'  Rights in a place where religion and tradition give her no more rights than that of a slave. 

Earlier books on the series are 'Not a Man' and 'The King's Favourite.'

Also available on other online selling sites such as Barnes and Noble, Kobi  and Amazon.

It happens other places as well.

This piece added 26th January, 2013. 

Former Child Bride, Held Over a Decade, Escapes Polygamist Sect

01/25/2013 at 06:20 PM EST

Ruby Jessop holds one of her six children Tuesday
AP/Ross D. Franklin
A week and a half after she was forced to marry her second cousin at age 14, Ruby Jessop, once a member of the polygamist Mormon sect known as the FLDS, called her older sister Flora in desperation.

"She begged me for help and said she was being abused," Flora Jessop tells PEOPLE. "I told her I would do anything I could to rescue her."

But before Flora could pick her up from the main FLDS compound in Colorado City, Ariz., Ruby was allegedly whisked away by sect members. Thus began a long search for Ruby, who was hidden from her sister and authorities for more than a decade.

That search finally came to an end last month, when Ruby, now 26, was able to flee the compound, temporarily leaving behind her six children, ages 2 to 10.

At a press conference Tuesday held by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, and attended by Flora, Ruby and her children, Horne announced Ruby's escape and added that deputies assisted her in regaining custody of all her children last week.

(Attempts to reach Ruby's husband, Haven Barlow, were not immediately successful. On the advice of her attorney, Ruby has not commented.)

"Ruby's one of thousands of women held under the regime of [now-imprisoned sect leader] Warren Jeffs and she's thrilled to be free," says Flora, who's since become an anti-polygamy advocate who co-authored the 2009 book "Church of Lies."

Only a handful of former child brides have escaped the church over the years, Flora says.

"They were determined to keep my sister as a baby breeder her whole life," adds Flora. "That's the reality for women in the FLDS community."

The FLDS currently has no known spokesperson.