Sceenplay or a novel?

Friends ask me: when will you write a screenplay based on The Fifth Internationale? The question is tiring, and laced with guilt because I promised a role of Asia, the evil secretary, to CC (mainly so she can show off her evil side...)

Why won’t I write a screenplay? Well, however tiring the question, my answer remains the same...

My childhood and teenage years, up until my escape from home, were spent in a neighborhood close to the huge TV complex and movie studios. The neighborhood was not an artist’s colony, just a regular residential district, but because of the location it attracted a large number of people from the biz. At the time, my good friend’s father was a prominent moviemaker, with a well equipped darkroom that he let me use at will. He was often visited by other folks who lived around - writers, news anchors, and a whole lot of actors. I had an opportunity to watch the creative process of screenplay writing. It was quite the show: plenty of collaborative work accompanied by glass clinking, reading of the scenes, and so on. It turned me off for good. I am not saying, that a screenwriter does not have creative control, but only that, at some point, this process involves additional people, and I am a loner when it comes to creative work. I’m one of those recluses who is unknown to his neighbors. My ideal working environment is a deep forest, and ear plugs.

And that’s why, my friends you will not find me working on a screenplay.

MSG conspiracy

Sneaky sources of MSG:

Glutamic acid
Monosodium glutamate
Calcium caseinate
Textured protein
Monopotassium glutamate
Sodium caseinate
Yeast nutrient
Yeast extract
Yeast food
Autolyzed yeast
Hydrolyzed protein any protein that is hydrolyzed)
Hydrolyzed corn gluten
Natrium glutamate (natrium is Latin/German for sodium)

The new game is to label hydrolyzed proteins as pea protein, whey protein, corn protein, etc. If a pea, for example, were whole, it would be identified as a pea. Calling an ingredient pea protein indicates that the pea has been hydrolyzed, at least in part, and that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is present. Relatively new to the list are wheat protein and soy protein. READ MORE


Oscar Romero

An interesting website about the assassinated Bishop Oscar Romero.


Bishop Romero died because he spoke out:

Brothers, you come from our own people. You are killing your own brother peasants when any human order to kill must be subordinate to the law of God which says, "Thou shalt not kill." No soldier is obliged to obey an order contrary to the law of God. No one has to obey an immoral law. It is high time you recovered your consciences and obeyed your consciences rather than a sinful order. The church, the defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, of the person, cannot remain silent before such an abomination. We want the government to face the fact that reforms are valueless if they are to be carried out at the cost of so much blood. In the name of God, in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: stop the repression. Archbishop Oscar Romero to the troops.

Read Bishop Romero’s last sermon in full.

Psychological Torture

Psychological torture (henceforth PT) is a set of practices that are used worldwide to inflict pain or suffering without resorting to direct physical violence. PT includes the use of sleep deprivation, sensory disorientation, forced self-induced pain, solitary confinement, mock execution, severe humiliation, mind-altering drugs and threats of violence—as well as the exploitation of personal or cultural phobias. The psychiatric sequelae of PT are severe. They include delirium, psychosis, regression, self-mutilation, cognitive impairment, and anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Neuroscience research on these and related mental disorders continues to establish their neurobiological underpinnings, thus challenging the popular view that PT is not physical, not serious, and perhaps not even torture at all. READ MORE

UN: US administration of criminals

The controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding and used by the United States qualifies as torture, the U.N. human rights chief said on Friday.

"I would have no problems with describing this practice as falling under the prohibition of torture," the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, told a news conference in Mexico City.

Violators of the U.N. Convention against Torture should be prosecuted under the principle of ’universal jurisdiction’ which allows countries to try accused war criminals from other nations, Arbour said.

"There are several precedents worldwide of states exercising their universal jurisdiction ... to enforce the torture convention and we can only hope that we will see more and more of these avenues of redress," Arbour said. SOURCE

Ultimately it will be up to the people to show up at the airport prior to the arrival of this or that criminal and arrest them because no government on Earth has clean enough hands to preach justice.



CIA on YouTube

In keeping with its mandate to gather intelligence, the CIA is watching YouTube.

U.S. spies, now under the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), are looking increasingly online for intelligence; they have become major consumers of social media.

"We’re looking at YouTube, which carries some unique and honest-to-goodness intelligence," said Doug Naquin, director of the DNI Open Source Center (OSC), in remarks to the Central Intelligence Retirees’ Association last October. "We’re looking at chat rooms and things that didn’t exist five years ago, and trying to stay ahead. We have groups looking at what they call ’Citizens Media’: people taking pictures with their cell phones and posting them on the Internet." MORE

The one surprising thing is that the CIA was not involved in the creation of YouTube. Or, was it?


Citizens' Dividend

The following from The $30,000 solution, by Robert R. Schutz, 1996:

A new concept is emerging, that the modern world’s inherited wealth can eliminate poverty. In Europe it is called the Citizens’ Income. In New Zealand it is called the Universal Income. In South Africa is is called the Basic Income Grant. In Canada the Guaranteed Annual Income. In the US it is the Citizens’ Dividend.

The change would be dramatic. The dividend would give income to millions that at present have no purchasing power. There would be an explosion of local economic activity, and the crippling stress of modern life would be removed.

A Citizens’ Divident would free people to improve their lives. It would provide them with a financial platform from which they can choose the life they want to lead. They could get out of work they find unsatisfying making way for others that want the job. They can avoid work that harms the environment. There would be no need to produce unnecessary or short-lived products just in order to generate employment. And people would not need to amass excessive wealth for their old age.

A Citizens’ Income would do more than anything else to give us a humane and civilized society.

Hypnosis in interrogation

Hypnosis in interrogation: "... it has been shown that the accuracy of such information... would not be guaranteed since subjects in hypnosis are fully capable of lying".


From the Kubark manual


Tax collection illegal?

Federal Income Tax collection in Canada may be illegal:

I handle my fight personally using a system called the Hart System of Effective Tax Avoidance. Gerry Hart passed away recently in Winnipeg, but not before becoming Canada’s undisputed champion No. 1 tax fighter. Mr. Hart for many years opted to take an aggressive and active position against oppressive government, and he has not paid income tax in nearly 50 years. During that time, he has been imposed upon, charged, harassed, his privacy invaded, and his person subjected to illegal search. But he has never given an inch. He has been to the Manitoba Court of Appeal 22 times, but has never lost. MORE

I understand the need to collect taxes - seemingly the only solution to funding public ventures, and am happy, yes happy, to see my tax dollars at work for social causes. But, I am mad as hell when my money is squandered by thieves or used to fund wars. A major overhaul of the taxation system is desperately needed, and it must, among other things, put an end to war funding. Let the murderers pay for their wars, and use my taxes to bring them to justice.


Time for change

Tony Blair investigated for war crimes:
Officers from Scotland Yard have commenced a criminal investigation nto the deaths of Iraqi citizens killed during the armed invasion and ccupation of Iraq. The Metropolitan Police are acting in response to crimes reported by peace activists from We Are Change UK and The ampaign to Make War History. In an unprecedented step, the case was anded to the War Crimes division of the Counter Terrorism branch who
are now investigating allegations of 14 criminal offences committed by ony Blair, Lord Goldsmith and others. The offences are under the nternational Criminal Court Act 2001, which came into effect under English common law, just two days before 9/11. MORE

That is the world we live in: we are held hostage to criminals / bureaucrats. Seeking justice is only up to us / the citizens, hence it is the peace activists who filed suit against Blair, and earlier against Rumsfeld. Sadly, Rumsfeld got away scot free, and so will Blair, because, as the Jesuits say:

The courts have become the instruments of the warmakers.” Daniel Berrigan, S.J.

It may be time to take charge:
In a democratic society each man must act as he thinks the principles of political right require him to. We are to follow our understanding of the principles, and we cannot do otherwise. There can be no morally binding legal interpretation of these principles, not even by supreme court or legislature. […] Although the Court has the final say in settling any particular case, it is not immune from powerful political influences that may change its reading of the law. […] The final court of appeal is not the Court, or Congress, or the President, but the electorate as a whole.
John Rawls (professor of philosophy at Harvard University) in: The Justification of Civil Disobedience

How to find a literary agent

Several hundred people visit my literary agent list every day. Many ask me how to find an agent when all they get are standard rejections of the kind: Sorry, too busy... or Sorry, not for me...

Thank you all who write, and I apologize for not being able to reply to everyone individually. Even though I am not the obvious person to be asked (given that with my three novels I am still un-represented) I think that after hundreds and hundreds of queries and countless conversations with other writers I can offer some general insight to agent hunting.

The process of (not)finding an agent can be very depressing, one that new writers may find easier to bear if they know up front that most agents will not reply to queries at all, whether emailed or snail-mailed (yes, even those with an SASE). Of the replies you will receive, most will be copy-pasted standard notes - No, thank you... Often you will receive a rude bugger off, or even a threat for... It is truly a bizarre world you will enter, in which a potential employee, rather than to thank you for offering them employment will spit at you (to be fare - of those agents who do reply - most will thank you for thinking of them). So, what is one to do but sit down and grind their teeth?

Be sure to keep a database of queried agents, complete with dates and the query letter version sent out (more about it below).

When you go through the full list of agents and still can’t find one to take you on... start over. Query again those who did not reply, as well as those who did - many agents do not read submissions - their assistants do, and assistants change frequently, so there’s a good chance that the second, or third time around you will reach an agent, and those who read queries may find yours appealing on the second try (yep, it happened to me several times).

Query other agents from the same house - few are those who will pass your query on to their colleague.

Change your query letter - concentrate on a different aspect of your story or characters.

Change your synopsis (as with the query letter).

Personalize your communication with agents - do not make it obvious that your are querying hundreds all at once (yeah, even I get those queries from writers!)

Start your query much as you would a thriller - with a bang, something that will catch the agent’s eye and interest right away. The letter should include a paragraph about the novel, a paragraph about you - particularly when your bio can be commercialized upon, as well as any publishing history.

If you think you’ve queried enough... see query statistics for my first novel.

Remember - most writers are not represented. You too can try publishers directly.

And last but not least... "Never give up, never surrender."

Good luck!


Cell phone signal jamming

Polish Secret Service jammed cell phone signals from nurses protesting outside the prime minister’s office. Nurses were inundating the prime minister with calls to his office and disrupted his afternoon nap, so the solution was obvious - shut them up by disrupting their cell phone connections.

Today the scandal is out in full force - the opposition wants answers and the answer is... there is no such thing as targeted cell phone signal jamming.


Signal jamming is a well established and important part of warfare and policing, and now everyone can participate in this game: portable, pocket-sized signal jammers can be purchased online.


Be aware that cell phone jamming may be illegal in your jurisdictions, except when used against you by the military and cops, naturally...


How cell phone jammers work from How Stuff Works.

From Wikipedia:

As with other Radio jamming, cell phone jammers block cell phone use by sending out radio waves along the same frequencies that cellular phones use. This causes enough interference with the communication between cell phones and towers to render the phones unusable. On most retail phones, the network would simply appear out of range. Most cell phones use different bands to send and receive communications from towers (Called Full Duplexing). Jammers can work by either disrupting phone to tower frequencies or tower to phone frequencies. Smaller handheld models block all bands from 800MHz to 1900MHz within a 30 foot range. Small devices tend to use the former method, while larger more expensive models may interfere directly with the tower. The radius of cell phone jammers can range from a dozen feet for pocket models to kilometers for more dedicated units. The TRJ-89 jammer can block cellular communications for a 5-mile (8 km) radius.

Who caused the Ozone Hole?

Airbus tested its A380 powered by fuel derived from natural gas, which is supposed to deliver cleaner emissions than those produced by today’s jet fuels.

In the lass few years we keep hearing about our terrible habits, which contribute to climate change and in particular to ozone depletion caused by CFCs emitted in high altitudes. All kinds of smart asses are appealing to us to curb our travel, particularly where long haul is involved, or to swap flights for trains, ship, or even cars.

Hmm. Before you cancel your well deserved holiday, consider this:

The world’s military burns a quarter of the world’s jet fuel and emits 70% of ozone depleting CFCs. The US military generates more hazardous waste than the five largest chemical companies combined. Source: Losing Control, by Paul Rogers.