Thursday, February 26, 2015

The 'birthplace' of civilization being destroyed before our eyes!

We have seen it all before, not just in recent times, but throughout history, whereby a group claiming to represent a ‘greater force,’ takes it upon itself to expunge the art, history and all things that many hold up as great and good! Whether it was invading forces burning and destroying Roman architecture or statues, or boo- burning in the 1930s; all examples leave us with ‘less’ to remind us of glorious or inglorious pasts. More recently we witness the Taliban destroying incredible monuments carved into a cliff, because they judged them to be against the ‘true religion.’ The world, including most of the Islamic world were aghast at such vandalism. Today, I watched with sadness as ISIS ‘freedom fighters’ destroyed ancient artworks in territory they have conquered in Iraq. Then, on the way to work, I listened to the radio announcing that ISIS are trying to form an alliance with Boko Haram. One wonders at what destruction will result if that ever comes about. Maybe it is time to store examples of humankind’s better heritage examples and have them in strongholds that are impregnable to these ignorant savages. I do not mean, in the West, but in proven sanctuaries around the world. I am sure China would be more than willing to help out. We could reach out to Putin and have some in ST Petersburg, and yes---some in the British Museum. As situations change, they could move around and allow people to see these magic pieces of the better side of humanity. For those that simply cannot be moved, then we need to look at placing them under the protection (where possible) under a multi-national force. Perhaps this latest example of the depths to which ISIS sinks can galvanise some real action against this insidious group. I do not mean military force alone---unless the funding source is cut off and the reasons for such groups existence is addressed, then they will continue to grow and exert their evil influence and inspire disenfranchised groups within many societies. Watching sledgehammers destroy wonderful works of art sickens me and reminds one about how we can never see again that which has gone before---except in replica format.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What is the real situation in Ukraine?

Ukraine represents an enigma: Who is to blame for the deaths of so many innocent civilians? Who is behind the fighting and supplying the weapons to the incumbents? From the Ukrainian Government’s point of view, no doubt we would hear accusations that Russia is both encouraging the ‘separatists’ and supply weapons. The USA and Ukrainian Governments claim to have proof that this is so; indeed that Russian ‘regulars’ are fighting in disguise for the ‘rebels.’ ON the other hand, Russia and the ‘freedom fighters’ would say that the Kiev Government is corrupt and is supported by Fascists factions. Note my labels---ones that are based on conjecture. I do not claim to know the truth; I can merely repeat the word of others! Ukraine as represented by the borders pre-crisis, is a complicated country, comprising many different factions, both politically and regional. That they cannot form a government of unity, supported by the majority of lectors is at the rood of some of this violence. If it were not for the ‘intrusion’ of others, namely the West (EU) and Russia, perhaps they could settle their issues, but I suspect that such a wish is rather na├»ve, given the long history of Ukraine, from the Czarists and USSR times through to the present. Ukraine is at least divided between those who look east and those who favour the ‘west.’ If you add in the diverse groups within the country and the support coming from ‘outside’ for those groups, throw in the aspirations of Mr Putin to reclaim the ‘glory of the former USSR, place that alongside EU and USA policies, then you have a new ‘Cold War.’ Little wonder that local forces in the east of the country have little difficulty in garnering support for their cause. Many countries in Europe have historically had ever-changing borders; is this not an extension of that ‘past?’ Big powers following their own interests simply complicate that process. It always has and always will be the case. The problem is---as per usual---the people in the middle---the little people---the ordinary citizens become the victims of the power plays of those who would ‘wish to lead.’ In the meantime, our screens are filled with the suffering of the people on the ground, who are unlucky enough to be in the pathway of these power games!

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Zealand is about to re-enter the 'quagmire,' that is Iraq.

Here we go again---NZ to follow in the footsteps of its master, the USA. John Key will no doubt announce a ‘limited’ non-combat contribution to the forces on the ground in Iraq fighting ISIS. Whilst being no fan of Key and his cohort, I do appreciate the situation that any leader of NZ would be facing at a time like this. After years of ‘invited and less invited’ participation on this never-ending war, the situation is not better and possibly worse. One has to ask the question---‘is it all worth it?’ Corruption, political struggle and religious intolerance seem to be the norm in this failed country. It is not surprising that other groups are able to challenge and usurp central government authority. The Government itself is a hotbed of power struggles and any semblance of democracy is at best symbolic. Groups like ISIS and tribally based opposition, under laid by inter-religious discontent take away from any short term victory, imposed by the USA and its allies. What then is NZ’s role? If it was not for the oil, one suspects that our involvement would have been averted; it is our relationship with the USA that sucks us in, much like we were in the days of the Vietnam War. Who knows what pressures our government has faced, away from the bright lights of the media? Then there is the question of the role that NZ will play, albeit small, numerically. Our people in the ground are purported to be readying themselves for some sort of ‘humanitarian’ act, one supported by a smaller group of ‘protectors.’ It can only be a matter of time before one of our men or women will be captured and paraded in front of cameras, being readied for a public execution. Therein lies the fear factor that ISIS has so ‘successfully’ employed. If that happens, NZers will rapidly turn from the apparent equal position they hold new re our involvement. I take the view that ‘we have tried the military intervention role and it has failed. Unless the funding that supports ISIS can be cut, then they will keep coming back. Whilst political and economic factors remain at the terrible mess they exhibit now, then ISIS will always have willing recruits, from within and outside Iraq. Unless that changes, NZ is facing another long and unsuccessful involvement. Even with a massive military campaign, led by the USA and it ‘friends, the Iraq we see today will still be there in a few years, fighting with itself and attracting the discontent from many countries, feeding the wealthy military industrial complexes as they have always done---the real victors in this ‘struggle.’ Maybe Key and many NZers support this ‘involvement’ in the mistaken belief that they are keeping the struggle at ‘arm’s length.’ How long can we hold to that myth?! www.authorneilcoleman.com

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bugger! I have not written a blog for ages.

OK OK----I have not written a blog so here it is. Work, walk, weekend, work ect and stuff! That's life---cheers Neil

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Game of Cards-- but this is no GAME!

Many years ago at a time when nations were beginning to form, there was a region of a distant planet that was suffering from the weird, totally confusing ‘game’ played by the inhabitants. The ‘game’ had its origins, many say before the advent of the written ‘word.’ Like the tide on other planets, the ebbs and flows of which King or Queen, which despot or group, often rose and fell, according to the strange alliances visited upon the region. Various groups linked up, only to become the victims of infighting as one group claimed legitimacy at the expense of the other. Royal marriages were agreed upon in order to unite the factions but even they were not enough to prevent what was essentially a permanent state pf ‘civil war.’ Then the great faiths for which the planet was famous for, began to exert their influences, further complicating an already dangerous situation. More shifts in the alliances were contemplated, acted on and failed. Old score were settled and new rulers resulted. From afar, new empires eyed the region for its unique position, in that planetary trade need to use the ancient trade routes. The rulers and business interests in these empires began jostling to garner influence in the regions and they chose their favourites, only to change focus when the empires began fighting amongst themselves. Sometimes the war was planet wide and after each upheaval, the alliances changed yet again. In the meantime the region that we shall the Middle Region, fell into an even more precarious situation. The status quo was at best transitory. Anything close to peace was interrupted on a regular basis. The Empires chose their favourites in the Middle region and often backed rulers who then turned on them. One, a newly emerging empire, repeated the same mistakes that it had learned from its former master, when it too was under the yoke of tyrants. War became a permanent feature of the region and many turned to new interpretations of their faith, effectively turning the clock back to times when resisting the invader became a ‘holy war.’ The new empires sought answers in august bodies, but the answers never helped to quell the suffering of the people. Gradually even the vassal states, or those ‘friendly’ to the empires, began to be drawn in to the conflict as it rolled put across the region. Those who gained most from this conflict were the manufacturers of the weapons, some of which threatened the very existence of ALL nations. Lessons were not learned from history and the empires squabbled amongst themselves, none wishing to compromise their positions. Smaller nations were pressured to become involved in the conflict; some at the very ends of the planet. Their populace wished for peace but the links they had with the empires meant that they could not ignore the events, so far away. The y were shocked on a daily basis as stories began to circulate of cruel and evil murders, inflicted on ‘innocent people, who had travelled to the Middle Region, to ‘help.’ Finally a ‘great conference’ was called and participants from the Middle Region and the empires came together, but they banned several of the groups whom they blamed for the excesses that had been the subject of the ‘stories.’ They conveniently forgot about the death and destruction ‘their’ weapons had visited upon the people of the Middle region. The conference began, by a beautiful city, by a lake with towering mountain in the background. (To be continued---well---maybe!)

Monday, February 16, 2015

ISIS---a result of 'failed USA policies,' or is it a great deal more than that?

There have been many claims about why ISIS is so dangerous and why it even came about. ISIS did not spring from a few disparate Jihadists; its roots probably existed way back in history, predating even the times of the Crusades in some respects. The lands of the Bible and Koran have never been without war or power plays, just like most other regions of this ‘quarrelling planet!’ Some have claimed that the interference of ‘Big Powers’ in their scramble to take large swaths of various continents under their wings and the subsequent discovery of oil, meaning that those who controlled or influenced the vital ‘productive areas’ or the routes for trade, as being contributors to the mess we see today. Double promises given by colonial powers also come in to the mix. One should also acknowledge the ebb and flow of tribal affiliations, Royal Families, Middle Eastern Empires that came and went and then arose again, with new cliques. We could discuss the former for years and not come up with an agreed set of reasons for the conundrum we see today. Then we have ‘religion, hijacked at times to fit in with a particular groups aims. Hey---having your interpretation of GOD on your side can be a particularly potent support! The West ‘tried it on’ during the times of the Crusades and the result was not good. It should have taught us that such ‘movement’ do not result in harmony and understanding between people. We saw the colonial incursion of the Ottomans and then the European powers and the subsequent break up of old empires, resulting in the mess that is the ME today. Now bring in the particular foreign policy moves of the USA and its allies and we sew the birth of ISIS. Why is it that the USA backs so many groups, only to have them transmorph into groups that come back and bite them in the proverbial? What is it about the advice they act upon or ignore that brings them to the conclusions that transfers into ‘policy,’ but them goes on to leave regions aflame with war and destruction. The very groups they ‘armed,’ believing that they would follow the bidding of the USA has backfired on many occasions. But, the USA just doesn’t get it. Many would say the Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIS are the result of failed USA policies. ISIS has wreaked havoc across the region and their videos of the executions of hostages have inflamed opinion around the world. Is the aim of ISIS to prod the West and others into launching a modern day Crusade? It appears that ISIS wants this. They see it as a tool to bring about change---to unite the Arab Word’ under their yoke. That several countries have unleashed their military against them, may indicate that they are feared as much in the regions they operate as they are in the West. The might of the West, its allies and the regimes in the ME opposed to ISIS and its links, may not be enough to expunge this force. They simply melt away and rise again. Like a Phoenix to carry on their ‘struggle.’ Unless the ‘reasons that feed such groups are addressed then there will always be ---ISIS. Why would they be any different, apart from their methods, than those disenfranchised and poor peoples in other countries? When aspirations, be they religious, economic or ‘other’ are denied, then opposition grows. It may start as insignificant, be misunderstood, but it feeds off the actions of those who do not address the underlying causes. History has been ignored or rewritten. The lessons have not been learned! I wonder if the answers are even been sought.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sorry--- I ate the picture!

What can I say---I ate the evidence---the picture of my wonderful early dinner. So what did this consist of? I arrived home after my walk with Perdy, fed her and delved into my freezer. Sitting near the back, hidden under other new purchases was a packet of (Doug and Jill---please fix up m spelling of this Waihi delicacy!)Pirogues. I can't be stuffed getting up off my butt to go and check out the packet because I am ensconced on my couch in a most contented manner with Perdy sleeping under my legs, watching Ireland putting up a bloody good stand against the West Indies in the Cricket World Cup. I 'toured' my garden, picking a tomato, some sorrel, a few silver beet leaves and some spinach. I grabbed some basil and celery leaves and took them inside. Once the pan was hot I threw in the Pirogues, mushrooms and the veggies and seasoned them with some slat pepper and a pinch or two of spices (A Moroccan mix)and let it all cook down. I grabbed some cream and stuck that in and turned the pan off, letting the dish come together. Cream--you say. Well for the small amount I used--don't get upset. For me, carbs are far worse and I needed a bit f a protein boost. Once it had cooled to warm, I poured it into a small plate and----yes---it was superb; as good as any restaurant and so cheap. Now----gooooooo Ireland. My meal was fit for a Leprechaun! www.authorneilcoleman.com

Shy (oops Sky!) City and Key get poked!

The last week or so has seen the PM of NZ and his mates in Sky City receive one big poke in the eye after another. We have the Iraq situation still bubbling away and don't be surprised if there is a back down on that one, albeit it less likely. What is different about the SC fiasco is the sheer arrogance of Key and his friends; that they thought this would go through, more or less smoothly like some of their past exploits. The difference this time was that the ‘left’ were not LEFT of their own, to fight what often is a rear guard action by those trying to keep some of the worst aspects of cronyism out of New Zealand. It has been a losing battle as assets, union /worker right and conditions are gradually eroded. Often this can be put down to the apathy of Kiwis but this time---along came the RIGHT. Some of them came out batting for the same cause, using words that we have not heard for quite some time. Whether their motives are exactly the same will be a point for debate, but the result was the same: the Government and their friends in Sky City got whacked for six. The public’s response was huge and once the likes of the Business sector, mainly in Auckland came aboard, the writing was on the wall and even Key could not ignore the hails of united protest. Sure, they have come out trying to make their words all sound good and are still attempting to polish their tarnished silver tongues, but a defeat it is! Expect some more sneaky moves from both parties as they sneak back into their caves to plan a rescue. These people do not just drop their nasty takeover plans and they will no doubt focussing on limiting the damage. Take a look at their ‘body language’ as they are interviewed. It is also the start of NZers believing that they can force change. Now we need to ‘own’ that we can ‘win’ on other battlefields, but please, let’s make those in NZ, for NZ and by NZers! That damn Trade deal should be the next major goal for the newly rejuvenated opposition to Key and his mates.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

This lady needs to be helped. How about a 'Give a Little,' help!

Having chosen the Bariatric Surgery pathway, I know how much one's health and life improves, if one sticks to the plan. As an older person I had to increase the mortgage on my home in order to pay for the procedure. I figured that by doing this, I was investing in my life. I am extremely happy with the result. I have been lucky in that I did not have the huge 'skin hang' and the associated problems, both physical and psychological. I have chosen not to go ahead to remove excess flab, mainly due to my age and the extra expense. However this the young lady is completely different to me and I am NOT talking about her obvious beauty! I admire her so much as she has 'done it for herself,' something that I tried many times but failed as the weight kept going back on and then some after each FAILESD diet. We are all different and need to consider options that work for us. In the long term, State funding of both procedures would save the tax payer money in the long run. For the obese and the attending health problems, losing the weight would lessen the health bill and for those having BS, it is often necessary to have the operation the young lady wants. I totally support her and her battle with the hospital. Give her back her life! However politicians do not see the bigger picture. They bare enmeshed in the three year election cycle. What does that say about them. They are more concerned with their political survival than look at real solutions. I am not suggesting that either operation is the way to go for everyone. I would far rather we had healthy kids and a society that does not rely on fast and processed foods, locked away in offices and bedrooms, with our eyes fixed upon LED screens, instead of using that which NZ has in abundance--- the great outdoors. I have noting but good wishes for Elora and would love to help; once the 'Give a little' campaign starts---if it has. I suspect that Elora has not chosen this method, but please ---someone who knows how to start it ---do so. Elora deserves this chance. www.authorneilcoleman.com Here is the article from the NZ Herlad::::::: Christchurch Health Health & Wellbeing A Hamilton man who lost 70kg is backing a woman's call for the government to fund excess skin removal. Elora Harre documented her two-year battle against obesity online and has called on her thousands of fans to help fight Christchurch Hospital's decision not to go ahead with a "life changing" operation. The 21-year-old wants the excess skin - which is the result of losing nearly 55kg through healthy eating and exercise - to be removed from her body. Now, Hamilton man Joseph Arthur, 21, said he was in the same position and supported her call. About five years ago he weighed in at more than 174kg, but has since lost 70kg through eating healthy and exercise. Arthur said doctors have told him we would not be able to remove his excess skin because there is not enough funding. "I can use things like Bio Oil to help but it won't be instant. I don't see why I don't see why I can't have surgery. I'm a lot more healthy than I was," he said. "I've gone through all that hard work, they didn't spend the money on a gastric bypass. Imagine if I had become diabetic, how much I'd cost the health system. The health difference is astronomical." Arthur added that the excess skin made him unhappy and he felt his weight loss was not such an achievement. "I have no self-confidence and feel personally unattractive and other people think I am. I really wanted to look better and be healthier," he said. The call to have the surgery funded for patients like Arthur and Harre has sparked debate online. "I'm a bit bewildered by it all, taken aback by what's been going on," she told the Herald on Sunday. "It's good that it sparked debate." Harre's sister has set up a Give A Little page so that she can pay for the surgery privately. "I will still be sticking up to the CDHB to try and pave the way for others in my shoes," she said. She has booked a consultation with a surgeon for April. "I think that the excess skin removal surgery should be available to a select amount of people who fit a certain description (not as certain as it is now!) to help those who are left with the aftermath of extreme weight loss. "Despite the fact I have lost this 100 per cent naturally through a paleo lifestyle, I do not think it needs to take away from gastric bypass or any other weight loss surgery, but I do believe it is just as important."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Last night---I was ABDUCTED by=======

The ‘events in the sky above New Zealand night were merely a ruse for something very sinister for some but delight for me! Yes we have quite a few instances of ‘ruse’ type events of late but this one takes the cake---or myself in this case. So step aside John Key and let me have my moment in the glow of ‘otherworldly’ events. Many New Zealanders were disturbed, intrigues or perplexed by last night’s sightings of flashes in the sky along with the a bangs and shudders. Some took great delight, having never seen such shows from ‘beyond.’ I need to put things straight. My wishes and attempts to contact alien presences finally paid off. Little did you know, but my blogs over the years (there have been in excess of 2000!) contained hidden code---all aimed at terrestrial beings, whom we know exists beyond out miniscule planet. Last night I had an inkling that things were coming to a point whereby I would finally see the light! They came, they saw and they abducted. I have just arrived back in my office and they even managed to give me a change of clothes and a healthy breakfast. Whilst aboard the ‘craft,’ which I must say was totally different to anything that ‘scientists and ‘sky watchers’ describe as possible. Forget what you know and just accept that—things went smoothly---yes a seamless transition to another parallel world. What you all witnesses was the aftermath of the ‘event.’ That was just put on my ‘mine hosts’ to please the masses and to allow ‘them’ to beam me up. They were gracious but very concerned for our planet. They have no desire to ‘take over’ or extract resources. Nor do they intend to interfere in any way to ‘make things right’ for us, to cure cancer, stop war or revers the damage we have don’t to our planet. They showed what could be and what will be if we continue in our present manner. It seemed that I was ‘there’ for many days but on my return I know that is was just a few hours. You should not be influenced re your judgment as to the reality of my experience by the simple fact that I partook of two glasses of Pinot Gris last night and for those who know me, that is beyond my capacity –post Bariatric Surgery. A final message---they will return and yes---you could be the one they choose to inform. I hope by then---we have received and acted upon their message of inter-galaxy love and concern! IN the famous words of Miranda’s Mum—‘such fun---such fun.’ Now---what is that light yonder ---oh it’s the sun. Here comes the sun. Are you all singing now or have you reached for the phone for a different kind of visit to be ‘imposed’ on me?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Here we go again! 200 hits from Austria.

A few months ago, I recived 2000 hits in one day from Israel. Now some of you might say---That's great--I knew it to be a scam of some sort Today I got 200 hits on my site from Austria in the space of a few minutes. Convince me that it is not something 'fishy!' I wish it was true and related to my book being purchased, but---yip I'm dreaming. www.authorneilcoleman.com

Your 'big smart TV is watching you!'

Stop right there! Put some cloths on and stop swearing at the dog, or a loved one. You may be had up for ‘unseemly’ behaviour or cruelty to your pet. You may also be giving away secrets to God knows who. It seems that smart TV’s made by Samsung have the capability to garner information about you, if you divulge anything of importance whilst parading in front of the said device. Gone are days where a person’s home is their castle, uniquely safe from intrusion or being spied upon in any manner. Of course that was a load of rubbish as we all know that various surveillance techniques have been with us for ‘yonks.’ Put aside the hype and the clarion calls from indignant libertarians and their ilk (maybe me, but not the L word!) and get to the facts. Oops, we don’t really have any because the response from Samsung has been rather limp re the real issues of ‘privacy in our homes.’ One thing we can be sure of, the methods used by lots of technology manufacturers are more than likely way above what we think of as ‘safe’ from our point of view. We have all known for ages that every call we make to a business is ‘reordered and may be used for training purposes’ Maybe we should just assume that everything we do has ‘Big Brother’ watching in one or another format. Do we accept this or is has the horse bolted? Just food for thought as you wander around the house naked or gossip in an outrageous manner to your BFFE. Take a moment—and just get on with it. I hate to think what is just around the corner re the possibilities for ‘intrusion’ into our most private place---our home!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The 'Cloud, Net and online--everything,especially the 'crooks!'

It seems that nearly every day we hear about yet another scam, ripping off the elderly, gullible, desperate, naive, young---well, anyone! The latest (which will probably be superseded before I have finished this blog) is once again from Nigeria, whereby desperate ‘would be renters,’ have become the target of unscrupulous criminals. Such examples are not limited to Nigeria of course; we have lots of nasty rip-off artists here in NZ. With a majority of NZers using the net for many of their business transactions, shopping and seeking services, then the likelihood of being ‘watched, measured, set-up and eventually sucked into a scheme, or paying over money, increases. The more you go online and now even smart TVs are capable of finding out things about you, then the pitfalls increase. What is the solution? I am certainly not the person to suggest answers. Whilst I have not been a victim, that I know of, I am increasingly wondering if the old fashioned, ‘in your presence’, real person, in an office or on a telephone line, connected to a person you can guarantee is ‘real’ in every sense, is the way to go. How can one achieve such ‘connections’ in this day and age, when opportunities to engage in this manner are so limited? I really feel for those amongst us who simply refuse to join the ‘computer age, or use a smart phone and god knows what else that is about to ‘pounce on us’ from the Jetsons, as seen on TV so many years ago. If you can’t ‘hook-on,’ then your chances of partaking in the ‘good side’ of modernity are indeed limited. I see a huge need for community groups to seek out those who need help and mitigate against them being used, abused, ripped off or having their identities stolen. Food for thought---politicians? In the meantime---be careful people and don’t forget that age old piece of advice about ‘if it seems hard to believe then it probably isn’t!’

Sunday, February 8, 2015

50 shades of grey---well it was, in my books!

While I was driving home from work today, I recalled a conversation at work about the upcoming movie, '50 Shades of Grey.' I giggled a bit and anyone passing me on the SW Motorway, probably assumed there was a self-talking nutter in the car---me. It's not a movie that I particularly want to see; not because I am a prude and don't like a bit of 'risqueness,' but because I would more than likely laugh so much in the wrong places, that I could be escorted from the theatre. As I headed towards the Mangere Bridge, I was suddenly struck by the huge sky---the total 'greyness' of the vista, the incredible variation on a grey theme. The almost white-kissed clouds at the base of the panoramic pile, that gradually 'transmorphed' into a more 'middling grey,' only to be outdone by the next layer, one which claimed a true coloration, then totally outdone by an angry dark grey, almost black 'big-top,' certainly not one from the circus. There were no clowns in this ring. I fully expected the sky to open up----not too dissimilar to the day I witnessed two water spouts over the Manukau, a few years ago. I shuddered at the thought of passing beneath that behemoth of nature. I need not have worried. The big grey sky seemed to melt away and before I knew it, I was heading up the hill, just minutes away from picking up Perdy, who would be welcoming me home, demanding that she too could run beneath the clouds, down at the Bay. www.authorneilcoleman.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bullying is rampant in our schools.

Without a doubt, bullying is rampant in our schools. We cannot get away from that unpleasant fact, but we can out the issue on the table for debate and better still, do something about it. Yes, that has been the focus of many staff/parent and student meetings. Yes, it has been swept under the carpet in many schools as they attempt to protect their image. There are programmes in schools, from early childhood right through to secondary. Even in the workplace, such programmes exist, but the problem and its affects do not go away. We know that children’s’ education and social development suffer when bullying is not addressed. The flow on affects are huge, yet we still hear the old adages of ‘toughen up, be more resilient and that’s life.’ Such utterances do not help; they merely perpetuate bullying as normal. I agree that there will always be bullying, but we do not lay down and accept it. It must be challenged, managed and addressed on a school wide stage; better still in a nationwide manner, because we also know of its ramifications in the workplace and on family life. There is the crux---all facets of our lives can be affected by bullying. Schools must introduce programs and have systems whereby bullying is reported and worked though. The victims and the perpetrators must receive help. That means an allocation of resources to bring about this support, but that at a time when resources are ‘limited,’ can be a huge problem in itself. There are so many ‘calls’ on school budgets, so much else going on, re professional development, along the lines of assessment, management; the list goes on. Ask any teacher, who is already snowed under by the requirements, ‘beyond actual teaching.’ There is the added reality that schools ‘compete against one another, as parents try to avoid certain schools and ‘real estate’ issues that drive the decisions as to where to send ones child. Schools tend to downplay bullying, to avoid public scrutiny, therefor leaving a simmering fact that ‘should not be talked about—publicly. Get rid of that and maybe there is hope for a united approach, so that our kids can thrive. The best way of addressing bullying is to talk about it and act. Talk to YOUR school if you have concerns re your child. Use the list below and encourage tour children to seek help themselves. Talk to their teachers, get the kids to talk to counsellors, youth workers, social workers, where those people exists in schools. Above all---do not ignore the issue. Where to get help Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828 865 (24 hours) Lifeline 0800 543 354 (available 24/7) Youthline 0800 376 633 Kidsline 0800 543 754 (4pm to 6pm weekdays) Depression helpline 0800 111 757 (available 24/7) - NZ Herald

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What does one do when ROSKILL gets a bad review?

Today I read a review, written by Mark Weston, in the PPTA NEWS (VOLUME 35. Number 10 November/December 2014), a school guidance counsellor from a secondary school in the South Island of New Zealand. His review was damming to say the least. I agree with him about the editing issues, around spelling and grammar; issues that should have been ‘fixed’ during the production phase. To a degree, I also agree that the story is maybe too fast in the constant barrage of scenarios that the young people in the novel seem to face. He (Mark) believes that young readers would fail to engage because of this and other ‘qualities.’ It is at this point that I believe we differ. I have seen another review that is closely aligned to this one and it can be found online. Whilst I can ‘fix’ some of the S and G issues, via more work from proof-readers, I would not change the style of the book. Many young people in Mt Roskill and other parts of Auckland have read the book, along with a fair number of adults. Of course there must have been those who did not enjoy, engage or agree with some of the ‘outcomes,’ that the characters faced. I suspect that they simply stopped reading Roskill and consigned it to the same place I use, for books that don’t meet with my expectations. There were many others who did engage and reported their ‘enjoyment’ to me. I take any positive feedback from people who know me well in a light that ‘understands that they may not wish to offend me.’ It is the random comments and reviews from people who just want a good read that have propelled me to keep pushing Roskill, however I take aboard the critique that Mark offers and have come to the conclusion that, Roskill does not measure up to the standards and expectations of those in positions to decide what our young people should read, or enjoy reading. Writing Roskill was a ‘journey;’ that I needed to pursue; that it hasn’t quite worked out from the perspective of some, leads me to try something new. I am not so sure that it is ‘writing’ at this stage. To those who have supported me through this process, I thank. If Roskill made a young person think about the world of drugs and other ‘temptations,’ then that is good. To other aspiring writers I say---give it a go; make sure you have excellent support re editing, proofreading, design and publicity. Be prepared to pay a great deal if you wish to cover the necessary bases and if you are lucky—you may even avoid those costs by convincing a ‘publishing house’ to do all of the above, except the actual writing of the book, for you. Now---where to from here?