Saturday, November 11, 2017

Capitalism means war


A work of art represents the thousands who died while the generals treated them as "cannon fodder". The generals got medals and hypocritically commemorate the "glorious dead."

Those who survived the Great War, greeted the 11th of November as the end of the slaughter and the beginning of peace. They would have been mystified to see generals and royals using it as an opportunity to celebrate war almost a hundred years later.
Since the end of the Second World War, there has not been a single day of peace. In my lifetime there has been one imperial war of conquest after another.
The red poppy is an ambiguous symbol. On the one hand it represents remembering those who fell in war and the money is used to support those soldiers who suffered as a result of war. On the other hand it is used by generals and the royal family to glorify war. If anyone dares to criticise this disgusting militarism they are immediately accused of disrespecting the fallen and being too mean to help the military victims of warfare. This has been characterised as "Poppy Fascism".
Socialist internationalism is the only basis on which militarism can be opposed. The people of Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan are some of the poorest people in the world. What with the ruthless bombing campaigns of American Imperialism and the disgusting brutality of the Taliban and ISIL their sufferings have been made worse.

Ironically the Kurds who routed ISIL have been the victims of a vicious campaign waged by the Iraqi regime.

War is not "insanity". To the arms merchants, to the royals and generals, to the politicians it makes perfect sense. For the working class it is indistinguishable from psychosis. 

Derek McMillan

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review of Gunpowder

The Gunpowder trilogy on the BBC has drawn criticism for the violence and cruelty which it portrays. This is understandable. However, the tortures shown in such shocking detail were historically accurate. So was execution by hanging, drawing and quartering.

Any depiction of royalty which gives a romantic fairy-tale view of the splendour of the court and ignores the methods by which the autocratic rule was maintained is frankly dishonest.

The second episode in which Catesby (played by Kit Harrington) witnesses the burning of two "heretics" (actually Jews) in Spain is a fair indication that the methods of autocracy did not vary much between the regimes in Britain and Spain.

The persecution of Catholics in this country was clearly depicted as a means by which the aristocracy, and in particular Lord Robert Cecil (played by Mark Gatiss),  enriched themselves. Religion was used as a means of social control and as a pretext for torture and murder.

The interchange between  Fr Henry Garnet (played by Peter Mullan) and Cecil in the final episode is particularly telling. Cecil accused Fr Garnet of causing the gunpowder plot. Although he is not named by any conspirator and is depicted as opposing the plot, his preaching was enough to hang him. He responds by drawing attention to Cecil's role in causing the troubles. You cannot expect that people who are so persecuted will not respond in kind.

Anne Vaux (Liv Tyler) plays a strong female character in a period when patriarchy kept women firmly "in their place". I wouldn't dream of giving the plot away (no pun intended) but for most of those involved it was unlikely to end well.

Although gruesome, this is a very good series and well worth watching.



Friday, October 20, 2017

50 word story

At the border of Myanmar the police asked if I was a Muslim or a Bhuddist. Thinking fast, I claimed that I was an atheist. The police were having none of it. Pointing a gun at me the policeman said, "So are you a Muslim atheist or a Buddist atheist?"
--

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bosses' Law

The two most significant movements in my lifetime were in fact illegal. The fight against the Poll Tax was illegal but it defeated the Poll Tax and brought down the hated Margaret Thatcher.
The massive illegal strike wave when a Conservative government imprisoned five dockers in 1972 ended in a humiliating defeat for the Conservatives.
Unite the union is not advocating murder or arson (whatever the Daily Mail may pretend!). However, unjust laws have to be opposed.

Moggy

I don't have a vote in the Tory leadership election but I think Jacob Rees-Mogg is the nineteenth century's answer to Momentum and he can put those working classes in their place. Also "Moggy Moggy Moggy Out Out Out" has a certain resonance to it.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Practice

Our practice nurse told me they used to practise taking blood samples from each other during training. How widespread is this? Do cops practise beating each other up? Do lawyers practise lying to other trainee lawyers? As for OFSTED bullies, let's not go there. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Unskilled

MPs define "unskilled" as anyone earning less than £30,000. MPs earn a lot more than £30,000 and the job requires no specific skills whatsoever.


There is however, a "magic money tree" for MPs salaries and perks. Who can forget Adolf Duncan Smith and his £39 breakfast at our expense? The Mirror calculated that

"Iain Duncan Smith's breakfast cost 557 times the amount to be spent on kids' morning meals."


The crackdown on "unskilled" migrants is racism pure and simple. The BBC has been quick to find businesses which oppose the government's plans. That is not the same as saying that it is immoral and disgraceful.

Yet again Teresa May has taken the opportunity of a demonstration by nurses against low pay to show her contempt. Apparently nurses are to be dismissed as "this, that and the other." I can think of a few things nurses might say about May!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-McMillan/e/B009FUXHWY/

 

 

 

 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Steve Bannon

According to the BBC,  Steve Bannon has distanced himself from White Nationalist "clowns". Bannon however is regarded as a far-right influence in the Trump administration. Far from providing firm leadership, Trump has in fact faced one way, then another and then back to the start on Nazis.

His photograph with a portrait of Hitler has not helped.

There is a growing consensus in the Republican Party that Trump is out of control and something of a loose cannon. By distancing himself from White Nationalists, Bannon is distancing himself from Trump's statement. The administration is falling apart.


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-McMillan/e/B009FUXHWY/

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Top of the Lake

I just caught up with "Top of the Lake". It is hard to believe men have such dreadful attitudes to women. Having said which I would lay a bet that every piece of misogyny is a quote from somebody! The teenagers sitting around with their laptops and rating prostitutes seem a caricature but if it does anything to make people look at their own attitudes and behaviour it is no bad thing.

The title is clever, a girl of "Asian appearance" is called "China Girl" in a depersonalised way and the poster for the series uses "China Girl" to refer to the fragility of the detective, Robin Griffin played by Elizabeth Moss.



https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-McMillan/e/B009FUXHWY/

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Trotsky and Blair

In the Moscow trials, the Stalinists accused Trotsky of being a fascist and working for the Nazis. The trials included evidence that Trotskyists had met at a hotel which had been demolished years before. The fundamental premise was invalidated when Stalin changed his policy and went into alliance with Hitler.

The latest accusation, attempting to link Trotsky, 77 years after his death, to the mass murdering war criminal Tony Blair is just as disgraceful.

Say what you like about Trotsky, he wasn't a lickspittle of American Imperialism.




Friday, August 11, 2017

Trump

Donald Trump is not always sure which country he is bombing. He famously confused Iraq with Syria. South Korea should be nervous about his threats to North Korea. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dollfuss

I was a little surprised to see Dollfuss lauded in the pages of Magnificat. He was a dictator who killed his enemies. I don't know if he forgave them afterwards. 

His rivalry with Hitler was in the nature of a turf war between gangsters and not a matter of principle. This is how Bertold Brecht portrayed it in his play "The Resisible Rise of Arturo Ui."



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Things can only get better

I understand that the writer wrote jokes for Tony Blair. I do hope he didn't write that one about weapons of mass destruction. It didn't go well.

Labour activists will recognise many of the situations in this book and I certainly enjoyed reading it. It would be possible to take exception to the tone of this book if it were not delivered with such a self-deprecatory air. It is written from the point of view of a Labour Party activist and it shows empathy. I cannot think of another book of which one could say that. For non-Labour readers, I have no idea what they will make of this book but they will certainly find it interesting and amusing. 



Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Sean O'Grady on Broken

After the Chichester Festival event yesterday, we came home to enjoy the final episode of "Broken". It was a first class piece of work and only someone given to petty carping could possibly find fault with it.

I turned to the "i" newspaper this morning to find that Sean O'Grady apparently hadn't liked it and smugly dismissed it as "ridiculous".

The breathtaking scene in which the gambling machines were smashed by the people who had most to lose was lost on O'Grady. So was the exceptional sermon on casting the money-changers out of the temple. O'Grady is the former economics editor of the Independent and clearly the anger against the casino society expressed by Father Michael (Sean Bean) went right over his head.

I take issue with O'Grady's arrogant dismissal of "Broken". I would submit that Jesus could have been tried for criminal damage for casting the money-changers out of the temple. He did get in quite a lot of trouble with the authorities as it was!
As for the ending which O'Grady called "ridiculous", I thought that it showed the people Father Michael had tried (and sometimes failed) to help queueing up to give him a bit of support when he needed it.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Chichester Festival 4th July

#Worthingflash

A feast of flash fiction and short stories from writers in Worthing.

4th July

5.30 pm to 7.00 pm

The New Park Community and Arts Association
New Park Road
Chichester
PO19 7XY


Derek McMillan

Patricia Feinberg Stoner

Rosemary Noble

Admission £1 from



Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Beccy Cooper on Education



The NUT does not support a political party so I remind you that other parties are available!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Question Time Special

I thought the most telling point in the Question Time special was made by a member of the audience, "Why is everyone here so keen on killing millions of people?" Jeremy Corbyn is pilloried by the right-wing press but I would prefer a PM who would think before pressing the button.

May wouldn't think twice. BoJo wouldn't think once!


On the cap on social care costs, May preferred to keep it vague and make jokes about a "magic money tree." There is one of course, it is used for MP's expenses.

There is a cash tree you see!


And again she repeated the downright lie "we are spending more on education" when per pupil they are not spending more on education and that is why cuts are inevitable if this shower are re-elected.


It was good of May to stand in for Rudd but is she as good as the original?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tories smug and complacent over school funding

At the Skeptics' debate in St Paul's community centre on 24th May, Sir Peter Bottomley won the prize for most complacent politician.

Dr Becky Cooper for Labour opposed the cuts to school funding and proposed better funding for all schools. It was unacceptable that heads could not afford to fund schools. There was plenty of money for the grammar school project. She advertised the Save our Schools campaign

Hazel Thorpe for the Lib Dems also opposed the cuts although the audience would remember that the Liberal Democrats were the lickspittles of the Tory Party in the coalition.

Leslie Graves for the Greens (actually the Worthing East candidate) emphasised the impact of the cuts on children with special needs. She opposed Academies whether Labour or Tory academies.

Even Mark Withers for UKIP opposed the present cuts but he did not have any facts at his disposal and he made no friends with his support for grammar schools.

Bottomley thought the funding formula should be looked at but saw the issue as one of fair funding for Sussex at the expense of other areas such as London.

If the Tories get their throats cut at this election (metaphorically of course) it will be this smug complacency which is to blame.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Author page activated

Amazon tell me that "amazon.com/author/derekmcmillan should be live shortly (30 min or less)"

It has a bibliography and a biography and of course that photo!



The old less-friendly URL works https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009FUXHWY

Cheap hanging?


Writing in 'the i' newspaper this morning, a  Mr Readman makes a case for hanging because it is nice and cheap. There is also the advantage that the criminal justice system can bury its mistakes. 

Advances in detection are welcome but they are no guarantee against false confessions or planted evidence. 

If the case of Ian Brady (cited by Mr Readman) caused this country to go back to the dark ages, Brady might regard that as a suitable epitaph. 


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Durrington Detective Agency

In this book, I have left the realms of Sci Fi to come closer to home with tales based in the local area. It is edited by my wife, Angela McMillan. This is a collection of a dozen detective stories. It introduces the Durrington Detective Agency and the heroes, Craig McLairy, his wife Micah McLairy and their dog Barker. There is a host of other characters who fulfil the roles of murderer, murderee or that classic in detective fiction the red herring.
It deals with the cases which Craig and Micah solve. The fictional murders which the fictional detectives fail to solve are not included. Eleven of the stories involve a murder. The other one has an apparent murder
We were inspired by Jeanne M Dams whom we met in Alderney. Her detective stories are referred to as 'cozy'. All that means is that there is no graphic sex or violence. The same term could apply to most of Agatha Christie's books.
I do hope this book does not give Durrington the same image as Morse's Oxford, or Barnaby's Midsomer – a place where you won't live long. I live in Durrington and I have not been murdered even once.
In fiction, detectives often get information from the police. Holmes has Lestrade, Poirot has Japp. The Durrington Detectives use Micah McLairy's dark arts on the computer.
Many of the locations are real. The John Selden, for example, is a first-rate pub and within walking distance of our home which is convenient. All the references to people are fictitious.

Buy in the UK

Buy in the US

Buy in Germany

Buy in France

Buy in Spain

Buy in Italy

Buy in Japan

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Conservative Complacency

The leaflet from Councillor Atkins distributed in Durrington shows astonishing complacency. Anyone who has to travel on West Sussex roads will not accept that they are in fine form and I hope they take advantage of Councillor Atkins' request to report a pothole. It would be easier to report those roads which do not have potholes.

And isn't it a little disingenuous for Atkins to support the "empty plate cafe" when food banks are a consequence of Tory cuts?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Socialists and the Early Church

The seeds of the Catholic Church were planted in Palestine. They managed to grow despite ferocious persecution and even gained the respect of their persecutors.

Acts2:42-47 gives a description of the early Christian community which could be fairly described as socialist. All goods were held in common and property was sold to help the poor. Selfishness was not allowed. Although they were subject to persecution they still saw themselves as a part of the community and were daily attracting more followers from that community (Acts2:47). In the nature of things, prior to the evangelism of St Paul, the first Christians mainly came from the Jewish tradition.


While the early Church was able to recruit from the community, the rich and powerful regarded them as a threat. Jesus advised his apostles that it was as hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom as it was for a camel to pass the eye of a needle. (Mark 10:25). He emphasised that those who would be great must act as humble servants (Mark 10:43-45). This was a concept rightly feared by those in power – it meant turning the world upside-down.


Moreover, He did not just put these dangerous ideas in words. An example of this is the narrative which appears in all four Gospels ( Mark 11:15–19, Matthew 21:12–17, Luke 19:45–48, John 2:13–16). Jesus casts out the profiteers from the temple which he refers to as “My father's house” (John 2:16). The Chief Priests wanted to kill him but thought him too popular (Luke 19:48). 


We live in a world in which Christians are still persecuted for their beliefs – for example by ISIL in Iraq. Nevertheless for the most part to be a follower of Christ in a civilised country does not carry the same high probability of martyrdom as it did for the early Church.


There was initially a continued failure to understand Christ on the part of the apostles. They did not see beyond “restoring the Kingdom of Israel” as the goal of Christians. Jesus, on the contrary, told them they would have to take the message to “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). By definition, that would involve turning to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Acts 1:26 refers to a practice of the early Church which seems very strange to 21st century Christians. There were two nominees to take the place of Judas. Peter did not assert his authority to give a casting vote but the apostles drew lots and the lot fell to Mathias. It was stressed that both nominees had a long history with the apostles (Acts 1:21).

Peter does assert his authority on the day of Pentecost. He appeals first to the devout Jews by quoting David's revelation concerning the Messiah. (Acts 2:25-28) and he addresses them as 'fellow Israelites' (Acts 2:29). However, he is already talking of the wider mission of the Church when he talks about spreading the Good News around the world.(Acts 2: 39)
Moreover, the next incident recorded was Peter's healing of a lame beggar (Acts 3: 1-10). At this stage, Peter is beginning to look very like the rock on which the Church will be built rather than the vacillating doubter portrayed in Luke 22:54-62. Under Peter's leadership, it is likely that the Church was more self-confident than before. After all, 3000 people had been baptised and he had demonstrated his power to heal the sick.


Peter's appeal to the witnesses is couched in terms of Old Testament prophecy (Acts 3: 24-26) which would appeal to an audience of devout Jews. Although Peter holds them collectively responsible for the Crucifixion, their sins can be washed away through Christ.


The name of Ananias was to become a byword for dishonesty. The story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira is a fair indication of the attitude of the Church towards selfishness. When questioned by Peter both of them lied (Acts 5:1-11) and both of them died. They had a free choice as to whether to give the price of the land which they had sold to the Church (Acts 5:4) but their attempt to have it both ways by lying about the price was construed as lying to the Holy Spirit, lying to God.


The same point was made in a backhanded way by the Pharisee called Gamaliel who asserted that if the Church was indeed a man-made institution then it would crumble of its own accord but that if the Sanhedrin opposed the Church and Jesus Christ was the son of God then the Sanhedrin would be in conflict with God. (Acts 5:34-39)


The appointment of the seven men of good reputation to oversee the welfare of widows in the Church was an indication of the increasing emphasis on integrating the Hellenists and Hebrews (Acts 6:1-6).


The martyrdom of  St Stephen would have been both a shock and an inspiration to the Church. His accusers from the Synagogue of Freedmen were bearing false witness in  violation of the Law despite claiming to adhere to it. Stephen's martyrdom would have brought home to every member of the Church how great was the danger they faced. Their opponents were capable of abandoning their own Law in order to strike blows against the Church.  On the other hand, St Stephen's faith and courage in adversity and the way he forgave his enemies (Acts 7:60) would have been a shining example to them. 

The subsequent persecution of Christians by Saul proved to be counterproductive. (Acts 8:4) The Christian community was scattered but wherever they went they spread the Good News. Evil is unavailing. A bad deed such as the persecution of Christians could lead to a good consequence, the spreading of the Gospel.


Christians have often been mocked for blessing those who persecuted them (Luke 6:18). Foremost among the mockers was Nietzsche (Genealogy of Morals, p17). However, the sacrifice of the first martyr, Saint Stephen, and the subsequent persecution of the Christians suggests that those who persecuted the Christians were a blessing in disguise. Indeed the witness of the martyrs strengthened the Church rather than weakening it.


Joseph A Fitzmyer (Contemporary Catholic Theology p165-167) pointed out that Saul probably had the name Paul from birth. He is more often referred to by his Gentile name, Paul, after he began his mission to the Gentiles but he was “set aside” from birth for the mission he eventually undertook. (Gal 1.15).


Over a period of time, Gentiles joining the Church were no longer expected to comply with the strictures of Judaism. The dietary rules were relaxed on the basis that a Christian could not call unclean that which God had made clean (Acts 10:15); Gentiles did not need to be circumcised (the sign of the old covenant) (Acts 10:45). The 613 Laws listed by the scribes (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Articles/Taryag/taryag.html) were simplified to the two commandments given by Jesus (Luke 10:27).


On this basis, St Paul was able to take the good news to the Gentiles. The gospels do not have a surprise ending. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were the foundations on which they were built. The early Church believed the second coming of the Lord was imminent. By the time St Luke came to write the Acts of the Apostles this was clearly not the case. Nevertheless, the death on the cross and the resurrection of the Messiah and the Holy Spirit's constant presence and guidance enabled the early church to grow and to become a catholic Church.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Frank Field attacks pensioners

Frank Field, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee has called for the "triple lock" on pensions to be abolished. Under this scheme the government solemnly promised to raise pensions by the same rate as average earnings, the Consumer Price Index or 2.5 percent.

With breathtaking mendacity, Field argued that this would mean raising the pension age to 70.5 by 2060. It would mean no such thing and Field knows this very well.

It would only mean that if there were to be no increase in expenditure on pensions. This would be a measure to save money. Scrapping Trident would save money. but Field is careful not to suggest that. An end to the prestige Grammar School program would save money, indeed stopping MP's expenses would also be a measure to save money and Hell would freeze over before Field would suggest that!
What a disgrace.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Facebook page update #mirrorofeternity

Click here

 

One of the backwaters of the #mirrorofeternity series is Xavier's Recipe Book. It is available for a limited time as a free Kindle book.

 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Domain of Dreams and Carmarthen

Readers may remember that Space Dog Alfred invaded Carmarthen. Now Domain of Dreams has done the same thing! It has been purchased by Carmarthen libraries. I think books are expensive and libraries are very important for people who want to read them. Tories close libraries because they fear ideas.



It is a book of short stories. Read one a night and you will have better dreams!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chichester Festival update

I had to arrange a venue and ticket price by the end of this month in order to participate in the Chichester Festival and June and July. The venue is
The studio
New Park Community & Arts Association
New Park Road
Chichester
PO19 7XY

It can seat 40 and the cost is £15 an hour.
On that basis a ticket price of £1 will easily cover our costs
The time is 5.30 pm to 7 pm
The date is 4 July.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Chichester Festival

Phil Hewitt (group arts editor for Sussex Newspapers which includes the Worthing Herald) has asked me to speak at the Chichester Festival. At the moment I am seeking to round up a posse - possibly a panel - of Worthing writers to come along and read some of their work. This can be either an extract from a book or a short story.

If you are interested, please email me on derekmcmillan1951@gmail.com

I am proposing to talk about flash fiction and read the audience an example. Depending on the time I might also talk about self-publishing, the way such diverse writers as Stephen King and Virginia Woolf started out on their careers.

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Author Central updated biography

I write the kind of stories I enjoy reading, whether they are detective, adventure, science fiction, fantasy or alternative history. Most recently I completed a new #mirrorofeternity book, "Domain of Dreams" which is a collection of short stories. It has something for everybody.

I write about 500 words a day and my wife (who is also my editor) discusses the work with me. This is the part I love most. Writing can be a solitary activity but it need not be.

My favourite type of story is the short story. Mark Twain once apologised for the length of a letter to a friend by saying "I didn't have time to write a short one." I have written short stories for Alfiedog.com  and http://www.everydayfiction.com/ as well as "Page and Spine". It is the devil's own job to get short stories published and these sites are a godsend if you will excuse the mixed metaphor :) I like editors who don't just give an "accepted" or "rejected" but tell the writer exactly why they liked or disliked the story. This is really useful.



#mirrorofeternity