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This is a fantastic read. The characters are wonderful, the humor is charming and the story is clever and totally absorbing.
The Princess Bride is written as an account by a successful writer, who treasures his childhood memories of a book called ‘The Princess Bride’ which his dad used to read to him. So much so that he spent a lot of time and money to track down a second hand copy of the old book to give to his ten year old son for his birthday. To his surprise, his son reads the first chapter, shrugs his shoulder and forgets about it.  So  the author, Mr Goldman , himself starts to read it himself and discovers that his dad had improvised and reshuffled quite a few chapters and Mr Goldman calls the publishing house and offers to do a rewrite.

It is a writer’s book in the sense that the way the story is framed in a story , the intricate perspective changes and the writer-ly reflection on the story as a fiction is done masterful. The voices are delightfully and the way the reader is constantly aware of the three layers of awareness of the base story ( the author rewriting the story, The original writer of the original book, the characters in the story ) and the shift of view of the author experiencing the story as told by his dad and himself reading the book now, makes it very intriguing.

The movie is not nearly as good mainly because the comic deliveries were a little off, bordering on slapstick,  but the book is definitely 10 out of 10.  “Better than King Lear” was one of the reviews I read from an English Lit  Professor, but reading it, I thought it was much was closer to David Sedaris, the funniest writer alive in my humble opinion.

What else is on my shelf


In the last few years I have read quite a number of novels set in China and more recently Hong Kong by Chinese, Overseas Chinese and foreigners alike. And I have to give it to John Lanchester. His ‘Fragrant Harbor’  is the most  engaging and encompassing in terms of the history and setting.

The novel is divided in four parts, written as a first person account/memoir of four very different kind people. A Englishman in search for adventure in the 1920’s,  a Chinese nun who is part of missions in both Hong Kong and China throughout the 1920’s all the way to the 1960’s, a English journalist who comes to Hong Kong a few months before the handover back to China, and a middle age Chinese business man who turns out to be the grandson of the English man. It’s the best depiction of the difficult times I have ever read, authentic to the smallest details.  I find the story of the nun especially touching because my father was one of the refugee ‘orphans’, who was taken in by a nun whose description in every aspect resembles the nun in Lanchester’s book , so much so I wonder if it could have been the same person he based his character on. My only critic would maybe that the sequence in which the characters told their story would have been better if reshuffled so that Part 4 didn’t read like the denouement of  the story.

What else is on my shelf

“Not a twitch or whimper! This is the moment when the detective would squint and a light would go on in the back of his mind.” Adam said scrutinizing the Chinese woman on the  witness stand. La crème de la crème, at  the top of the world,  she had been described only a year ago. Her short hair had been better coiffed on the array of photos inset in the reportage and her radiant smile had dwindled. Yet in no way did she reveal any discomfort let alone remorse or shock.

“This footage of her could have been taken at Starbucks where they are playing a prank on her and accusing her for stealing small change from the donation box .” Karl agreed without looking up. The quill in his hand had been hovering over the parchment for a few minutes already. The two men were in their jammies watching the last news report in the virtual drawing room of The Post.

“Remember our skit a few months ago?” Adam nudged Karl,  “The story was huge. First , her hubby, Bo Xilai’s right hand man tried to defected to the American Consulate,  then Bo Xilai got fired and after that the rumor of Gu Kailai having something to do with the murder with Neil Heywood. Allegedly, he was a good family friend of Bo who taught them how to spend their money in style in exchange for a perk here and there.“

“Perk?” Karl asked.

“Heywood would keep Bo updated to what are the best wines, the best cigars, or the best way to spend a weekend in exchange for the recommendation here, the odd tip there. I’ve been reading in the  gossip columns ” Adam said, his eyes fixated at the handsome woman on the screen, who admittedly looked a grade or two above the average criminal usually standing on that spot, “Speculations no doubt, but spectacular nonetheless.”

“The Party has fallen in the river of capitalism and got caught in this demeaning current of hedonism. How can they possibly admit that? It’s inconceivable.” Karl sighed, “There is no mention of all that, is there? It’s compartmentalized to just her, Heywood, and Guagua, her son.”

“I reckon they settled. Instead of corruption and criminal dealings at the highest level of the Party, this  court case is showing the world a mother in despair driven to a corner to save her son from the crazy mind of a devilish foreign business man.“   Adam scuffed, “A little predictable, aren’t they?”

“Either way, Gu Kailai is a heroine, the mother who would do anything to save her son or the wife who takes everything on her shoulder to save her hubby from less upstanding felonies and save face for the Communist Party as a whole.” Karl nodded.

“Not bad. In China, women really are holding up half the sky,” Adam was now laughing aloud. “Even if it’s just a staged one.”

“Now if you excuse me, I have to go find my grave and turn around in it… ” Karl said and left the room.
Read  Karl and Adam large skit…

Their smaller skits

Lola straightens up and closes her eyes after one last glance at the choppy grey green cascading waves of the Northern Atlantic Ocean 100 feet beneath her.  She knows the wind has changed direction  as it’s blowing her hair sideways,  sweeping her face and she see her ponytail flapping next to her like a wind-vane.

“Beware of the wind.” Jorge’s voice whispers in her ear. Sweet Jorge who had taught her everything she knows even though his caution did not save him. He taught her the principle of survival in that zone of exhilaration where danger and subsistence is mixed into a perfect concoction to con that deadly beast to reach up from the waves and open its mouth in anticipation; a concoction which will dissipate in the speedy air just in time and summon the monstrosity back to the depths from which it came.  Every time when she makes that judgment whether the moody gusts of oceanic flurry warrants her to step onto a different fold at a different elevation of the yellow grey stone outcrop she says a little prayer in her head. Raising her hand high in the auburn sky she feels the chilly caresses between her long fingers and hears Jorge’s voice consoling her that it will be alright. Opening her eyes again, she forces everything out of her mind and focuses on that line where the furious waves meet the evening sky.  She traces every movement she is going to make in the next second or so, the exact moment she has to flip her torso to make sure her feet hit the water first.  She steps over the edge, the same edge Jorge had stepped over that last time,  and  embraces the warm wind with her arms stretched like the wings of a gull and glides through the sky. She cants forward and stretches her arms below her as she falls. She marvels how time seems to stretch and this second seems like an eternity. How wondrous it seems. Was sweet Jorge marveling about this too when he forgot he was playing a game of hide and seek with death?

Snowball – A story

Tense, the little girl stands in the aisle next to the driver, waiting for him to pull up. She has been getting off the school bus one stop earlier for the whole week already without the driver noticing, but today he eyes her suspiciously asks her where she thinks she is going.  Nervously, she mumbles something about the new frozen yoghurt place.  He frowns and was about to ask her to sit down when a bunch of kids rush forward and nearly knock the girl off her feet.
“What’s with the froyo , Trisha?  Ben, her classmate yells, ” You’re blocking the way.”
A tall prefect -a year eleven- looks at her rather bossy , seeing the tremor in the girl’s worried eyes, he says to the driver, “It’s ok, Mike, she lives near me, in the middle between the two stops. I’ll walk with her.” And shovels her off the bus.

It’s only a short distance from the stop to the end of the street where the shop was.   Tricia walks briskly and once she gets there she quickly kneels down in front of the shop window to search for the white fur ball among the nest of otherwise golden puppies. Her heart is pounding until she spots him, buried under two of his brothers or sisters who are snatching at each other’s long floppy ears.  A big smile appears on her face as she knocks on the glass to draw their attention. She has been so worried somebody bought him already.
“Look he’s still here. There are only four left.”  She says to the prefect, who has caught up with her.
“That’s not froyo.” The prefect kneels next to her.
“But they are cool, aren’t they?”
“They are not bad. ” He glances over at her, “Come.”  She follows him into the small shop and again they kneel in front of the window area which has been screened off with plastic coated wiremesh.
“ I like the white one, doesn’t he look like a snow man, or a snowball ?“ Tricia extended her hand holding out an Oreo for the puppies to sniff. Her long braids dangle over the edge and the white puppy sits up, sniffs  and nibbles at her hair.
”Isn’t he adorable?” She coos.
“You’re not supposed to feed them, Treasure.”
“It’s Tricia, dude.”
“That’s what I said, and I’m James, not dude. What’s wrong with his leg?”
“I don’t know. He’s kind of dragging it. Maybe he’s hurt.”
“No feeding, kids.”  A tall lanky sales girl appears behind them, “Excuse me for a sec.”
They get up to step aside as the sales girl leans forward. Snowball was holding on to Tricia’s braid with his teeth and dangling in mid-air.  The sales girl grabs him and handed it to a young couple standing behind them, “He’s teething. They are cocker spaniels and great with kids.”
“What’s wrong with his leg?” James asks.
“He’s born that way. Maybe there were too many in a batch. He’s the youngest in a nest of nine.” The sales girl says, “It’s sad, but it happens. You can have him for a discount though.”
“How much?” Tricia blurts out, before James can say anything.
“At ten thousand, they go like cupcakes. We’ve sold five already, you can have this one for three if you like.” The sales girl tells the couple, “I’ll show you a better one.”
Taken aback upon hearing the amount, the little girl looks at the puppy longingly.
“Wow, that’s a lot of money, Trash.”
She looks at him and says, “It’s Tricia.”
“Whatever. Come on, let’s get going.” James says and shovels her out of the shop.

“Our competitors are going in with the old protocol, with a few enhancements. I have some information here, but I can get hold o all the details tomorrow. Once they’ve launched their platform, we launch ours which will totally obliterate theirs. It will give us a mile long edge. We’ll have a slot of at least half a year to one year to sweep up their market share, and by the time they catch up and have launched their emulated version of ours, we’ll do it again.”
Tricia’s dad swivels around in his chair to see Tricia leaning against the door of his study. He raises his eyebrows, and lifts his chin waiting for her to say something, but before a single word comes out of her half open mouth, his attention is snapped up by the person on the other end of the line and he swivels away from Tricia to face the harbor view outside his ceiling to floor window.
“How can I be sure?….  Let’s just say I’ve been around for a while, I know people at the right places… Look, it’s  corporate intelligence…. Totally ethical, why shouldn’t it be? … “  He swivels back to see Tricia standing in front of his desk and frowns, but continues his conversation, “Like countries need intelligence agencies, corporations need intelligence…Sure it’s legal, I’m just using the loophole here and there… Don’t worry.  We’re just tad-poles, they would rather catch the big fish..  Alright man, take care. “
Tricia’s dad put his i-phone back in the dock and looks at Tricia, “What’s the matter, are you hungry? The fridge..”
“Yes dad, I know the fridge is packed with frozen dinners to last us until Christmas Eve.”
“What’s up then?”
“I was just wondering, if I can borrow some money?”
“How much and what for?”
Tricia hesitates for a second, then tells her dad about the dog.
“I don’t know Tricia, you know our situation, don’t you?”
“We’re not sure who you will live with, whether you will stay with me or go and live with your mum, “ Tricia’s dad is shaking his head, “Either case, this is going to add more trouble for all of us, you know.”
“I’ll take care of it, I swear.”
“And who takes care of you so that you can take care of it?” Her dad asks.
She feel tears welling up in her eyes, and  quickly leaves the room.

The next day, around lunch time at school, James froze in the middle of his gait and looks at the things Tricia is laying out on the bench in furthest corner of the yard, “What’s with the stuff?”
“I’m holding a bench sale, you want a Kindle? Only 350 Hong Kong dollars.”
James picks up the kindle, takes off the pink leather cover and puts it back on the bench, “Why? Have you run up a debt or something?”
“No, it’s for a good cause. “ Tricia points at the A4 printed photo resting on the bench showing  a nest of puppies fast asleep. A pink cloud highlights a white one, ”Operation Pebbles: Save Snowball.“ it says in large prints.
“How about an I-touch? Five hundred dollars with a ready-to-go collection of songs.”  She says shyly, “Or a NDS for two hundred?”
“How many of these do you need to sell to make three thousand bucks?” James frowns.
“I still have a thousand bucks left from my Lai see money.” Tricia says.
“It’s just a puppy,“ James sighs.
“They are going to put it  to sleep if no one wants him,” Tricia replies, “They sold all the other ones already. He’s the only one left.”
James looks around and hollers across the schoolyard to a bunch of kids, “Yo Rob, did you say you lost your touch and don’t want to tell your dad about it?”

“This is only 2800 dollars.” The sales girl says after stacking the coins on top of the bills,
“I know, but it’s only two hundred dollars,”
“I’m afraid my boss said, not less three thousand.”
“I can come in and work, clean the cages after school. “ Tricia pleaded, “I can walk the dogs, or anything you want.”
“I’ll make sure she keeps her promise.” James  -who is standing behind her- says, “I’m good at that.”
The sales girl looks at the white puppy in Tricia’s hands and sighs. She picks up the phone and calls. After ten minutes of talking, she put it down.
“My boss says company policy is company policy. I told you.”
Tricia turns to James and yawps, “We have to save him, James, he’s the only one left!”
“We’ll have another bench sale tomorrow. I’ll sell my sister’s nook.”
“Tomorrow is too late.” Tricia held Snow Dog against her cheek. Seeing the tears drip from Tricia’s cheek on to the little puppy, who is yelping happily and seems oblivious to what is going on, the sales girl groans, bends down to retrieve something from beneath the counter, and takes two hundred dollars out her wallet, “This is a personal loan, alright?! And don’t tell my boss.”

“What the… ” Tricia’s dad slips on something gooey or chewy, his feet skids from underneath him and he lands on his back. Hearing him scream and shout her name, Tricia quickly hides Snow Ball in her wardrobe and brushes off the dog’s hair from her uniform.
“Sup, dad?” She tries to sound as normal as possible, which is very unlike her.
“What are these pieces of steak doing on the floor?” He yells while rubbing his back.
“Don’t pretend now, you don’t like steak, I can’t recall buying steak. How come there is steak on the floor?”
“James was here,” Tricia stammers, “He’s a prefect from my school. He loves steak.”
“Why was James, who loves steak, eating it from our floor?” Without waiting for her answer, her dad takes long strides and enters Tricia’s room. He looks around, then walks straight up to her wardrobe and opens it. It appears empty. Tricia’s dad turns around and asks, “Where have you hidden him?” He squints at Tricia who squints back when the doorbell rings.
“Ruf?” Snow Ball barks and stumbles out from underneath the bottom shelf and scurries past the two of them out of the room.  They hurry after him.

“Come on in, Allen. Tricia’s dad let in the suited man, who was holding a briefcase tightly clutched against his chest, “Sit down and make yourself comfortable. “
“Your room, Tricia. You’re grounded.” He mumbles softly, before turning to Allen asking, “A glass of wine before we talk shop?”

Two days later.
“Don’t worry, I have all it all right here… “ Tricia’s dad is lounging on sofa, with his feet up and a beer in the other hand.
“They are in for the biggest surprise, trust me…. They wouldn’t know what hit them, haha…. No qualms, my dear man, this is ‘the way’… The only guaranteed way to win… Yeah, hang on… “ He put the beer down and walks to his desk. After a few minute of searching which gets more frantic as time goes, his hand touches something slimmy.
“Damned,” He cursed loudly, “That bloody dog, I’ll kill it.” He strides towards Tricia’s room, and throws the door open, “Where is that bloody animal?”
“Why?” Tricia stammers.
He rushes towards the wardrobe which is half open, and lunges towards the lowest shelf. Sticking his hand into the dark space, he feels a wet tongue licking his fingers. He tries to sweep the puppy aside, but it keeps licking as if his fingers were honey-coated ribs.
He pulls the puppy out and held it against his chest as he sticks his other hand back in the dark space. “Gotcha.”  He opens his clutched hand to see what has remained of his document. It was chewed through and through and totally illegible.  Holding the dog close to his face, he shouts, “Bloody dog.”  Undeterred, Snowball licks dad’s nose.

With the puppy still in one hand, Dad picks up the phone and hears a busy tone…  He presses redial and waits for the person to pick up, “Listen, something happened.” He cuts to the chase, “It’s not going to happen.. No.. Something happened alright?…  Something I didn’t see coming..  No, it’s not that… Nobody is onto anybody… Well, if you have to know, the dog has eaten it..  No, it’s not that..  I mean literally: a real dog has eaten it.”

“They have to stop the pattern before it gets embedded in the DNA of those bankers.” Said the man with a grey beard wrapped around his skull.

“Huh?” said Adam , who had been sleeping on the sofa in the virtual drawing room of The Post, “What is happening?”

It is 2021, an ordinary day in the virtual drawing room of the Post were it not for the rough night before.

“It is daylight robbery institutionalized by an oblivious state, either that or it’s turning a blind eye, and—“

“Not so loud, my head aches.” Adam growls as he rubs the sleep out of his eyes, “Why robbery?”

Karl put his quill down,  “Because they’re motive is making money above all, my dear, ” Throwing both his hands up to punctuate his words in the air like a conductor he continues, “Their job is to find a way to put more money in their pockets.”

“It’s preposterous what you are saying.  The central bank, and the government are regulating the smaller banks. They are controlling the interest and to keep the inflation rate down.  You may say they are not smart enough, but otherwise—“

“They just label what they do with complicated financial terms to smoke screen what they do. ” Karl says, “Take China for instance, Do you know how Zhu Rongji resolved their banking crisis in 2005 ?”

“By pumping in 650 million dollars into it, compared with 700 billion in the case of the US in 2008.” Adam says and sits upright.

“Yes, but I’m talking about their solution to the fundamental issue of greed whether you call it corruption, fraud or unfair trading , or new designed financial products with little perks and lots of small text  or whatever. “ Karl says selfrighteously, “Firstly, they identified that the problem was the top management and f although Deng Xiao Peng in his era already stipulated that the ‘Party’ maintains the right to hire and fire the  executives who manage them even though they are not party owned  but state owned and these executives are monitored by another party committee who have nothing to do with the first committee.”

“You mean they have watchdogs to monitor watchdogs to make sure that the dogs eat other dogs , and if they find out anything wrong with you at all, the watchdog will swallow the dogs whole leaving no evidence at all? You think that resolves it?” Adam sneezes and takes out a handkerchief, “Did someone slip me that stuff I read about in Esquire, that rooky stuff that makes you go to sleep?”

“What you mean, a roofy? The date drug?” Karl chuckles, “Who were you on a date with?”

“Seriously, I have never had such a bad hangover before!” Adam moans and sits up, “And then I heard someone say something about starting work. That was you, wasn’t it?“

“Well, let’s say it could have been me, if you can proof it,” Karl laughs, “Anyway, these committees are so unofficial there are no records or anything, but this huge government that is ‘above it all’ in many ways seems to have gotten it right, if you look at how well China is doing.”

“That’s because they  and the companies ‘under the wings’ of the state have monopolies in many ways and so much advantage that it’s hard to compete with them.”  Adam squints his eyes,  “The issue is that the ‘party’ doesn’t need you , but you need them for removing the red tape. Which mainland company dares to compete with the ‘Party’ of China, or any overseas corporation for that matter?”

“We all know what happened to Google in china. So? ” Adam shrugs while looking disgusted, “There is such a thing as  reputation and honor I believe, what people can’t do anything about now, doesn’t mean they won’t do anything about it ever! A Roofie , huh?”

“I’m only kidding, man, “ Karl throws his head back and stares at the ceiling, “lighten up, will you? So what I’m saying is that it took the Communist Party 60 years to find out what their job is and how to do it.” Karl says, “The next step would be how to distribute it such that everyone can enjoy part of the big pie they baked…”

“You mean leaving crumbs for those willing to bend over and bow.” Adam shook his head, “Do you realize you are proving me right regarding what I said about human nature no matter if you argue left or right?”

“Is it’s a fine balance between regulating or not, and how to do so?”

“Not at all. It’s a fine balance between two opposite conditions of the heart.” Adam stomped the left side of his chest and has a cough attack. After he recovers he says, we need a change of mindset, one that will balance the inborn greed in men with the inborn compassion in men by rewarding compassion more than greed. “

“Say what?” Karl asks.

“Dogs are like people, they are our best friends if you remember, so this is like training a dog… By reward and punishment.”

To read more see ‘Operation Pebbles’ … 

The year is 2021, three years have passed. In the virtual drawing room of The Post, two gentlemen are toasting each other behind a pile of brand new books. Enveloping them is a flashing media wall in which anchor persons imprisoned in their separate cells mouth the news without disturbing  the music playing  ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’ .

“Cheers, my friend!” Adam smiles, “I told you we’ll get the books out in time!”

“Considering I once spent more than a decade on a book , 3 years is rather painless, so I’ll drink to that!“ Karl throws back his head to empty the scotch in one fast motion, and grabs the bottle to refill the crystal goblets looking anything but cheerful. “But my goodness, I’m glad we insisted on having these printed. Those e-book are like water molecules in a water reservoir, a few ‘zeros and ones’ in a binary ocean, or should I say, a twig in the layer of organic compost covering the roots of a rainforest in this virtual bookstore they so appropriately call Amazon. ”

“I find it delightful,” Adam shushed, “It’s great that it gives everyone a chance to publish their books. We just have to work harder to hack away the clutter and create a clearing so that the sun can shine on it.”

“It’s been too easy that’s what it is,“ Karl moaned, “There are certain things I want to brood on and go over with a magnifying  glass many times over. I think the festo should be between 350 pages and 3500 pages, not 35 pages”

“Life is short,” Adam shrugs, “Your first festo was 28 pages, wasn’t it?”

“Strictly speaking, we are immortals,” Karl frowns, “which makes it more depressing, because we have to spend eternity in the apocalyptic world that lurks at the horizon and is blowing this way at the speed of light. Now that I have time on my hand, I can afford to regurgitate every word and make sure it’s evenly baked on all sides.”

“The way I look at it, as long as the gist is there the smaller details matter less.” Adam sighs and sips at his glass of sherry, “You may have an eternity, but the world’s fossil fuel is going to run out in 2057, humanity’s time is running out.”

“Don’t be silly, we have waited nearly two hundred years, what difference does it make?” Karl grunts and empties his third scotch and grabs the bottle once again.

”With all due respect,  presumably humans have walked the earth for 50,000 years already.” Adam says without noticing that Karl has topped his glass of sherry with scotch, and takes another sip, “From now to 2057, there’s still 26 years. If we  assume the time of human species on earth equals  the 24 hours of a single day and expires at midnight, it would be now be 62.2 seconds before mid-night.”

Karl stares at Adam who takes another sip of the concoction he swirls around in the near full glass, “The more I think about it, the less sense you make.” Karl says, “Anyway, they will wait for the great Karl.“



“Karl Marx Wannabe.” Adam leers through his glass confused by the multiple Karls, who have shrunken to the size of peanuts, “You may think you’re real. You may feel like you’re the real deal, but  we are nothing but regenerated fractions of knowledge, memories and electrons streaming back and forth the stratosphere, my man. “

“You must be too tired, having worked so hard for three years.“ Karl says, why propping a few cushions against the armrest of the Victorian sofa, “Why don’t you drink up, and lie down for a bit.”

Adam drinks up and shakes his head, but seems to lack the orientation to stay upright , “I must ask  Sam HIC… how he programmed us to become intoxicated HIC… “ He leans back and sinks into the cushions, “If that’s a physio.. HIC… logical state we.. HIC… as simulations cannot ex.. HIC… perience.” Adam has passed out before he could close his mouth.

”Finally!” Karl sighs, takes off his jacket and rolls up his sleeve, ”Let’s get to work.”

Posting on someone’s website is a real honor. It is like cooking in someone else’s restaurant, or painting on someone’s canvas and I will bear in mind to drop the horsing I usually do when writing on my own website. Every website has its own perks, and I guess the readers of mine like the horsing which I alternate with giving away secret insights just to make sure they’ll put up with it.

I met Susanne for the first time when I was looking for an editor for my dystopian novel which has been three years in the making. A friend recommended me to look at her website, and I love it, not the least because she made everything sound easy. She has this aura of reliability and trustworthiness that was soothing. That was three months ago, and everything my guts told me about Susanne came true. My book ‘Presage’ is now finished and available at Amazon. Not only that, but she has invited me to for this guest post.

There is a story to this novel which I had to write and get off my chest. One day, a friend sent me J.G. Ballard’s book ‘Kingdom Come’ in a brown paper bag. To send an anti-consumerism novel to a retail space architect –which was my day job at the time– was very ‘him’. “Consume with Gusto,” he wrote. I did more than that. The effect of hedonism and materialism of a mindless consumption-led society was not new to me, but in the novel, Ballard turned it into a silent evil that lurked under the surface and consumed our souls reducing us to hypnotized animalistic creatures without identities who moved and acted violently in mobs. It changed my perspective on my job, but I also felt that Ballard’s message was not complete. It was like a locomotive: once rolling, more and more cars tagged on. I needed to bring order to my numerous thoughts about this subject or justify the reason I was part of the whole machinery and I started to write to free myself from the grip of circumstances. The paradox of the free market’s current growth model is that it’s depleting the earth’s resources, fouling up our air and waters and putting more money in the pocket of the 1% rather the people who need it and whose consumer power will keep the economy going. Come 2018, in the world I describe in ‘Presage’, things will have aggravated, tension would have run up higher as the apocalypse will loom larger causing severe reforms to be put in place like the scores and mindroids which will reignite our compassion and reinstate the civility that we once had before free market advocates told everyone ‘greed is good.’ The question is whether it is too late.

That was nearly four years ago. I am no longer working as a retail mall designer. Instead, I teach architectural design and write in my spare time. Self- Publishing is now so easy that Amazon is accused of driving the little publishers out of business, but the paradox is that the easier it is to learn, the more difficult it is master and stand-out for both amateurs and professionals. It’s like singing, all you have to do is open your mouth, but whether you have a happy audience is a different matter. And unlike blogging, which is inexpensive, publishing a book can be an expensive learning curve especially if you have the full range of things done professionally, the cover, the trailer, the marketing, the list goes on and on. There’s three ways to go about it, learn to do it all yourself is number one. Number two is to have lots of friends so you can exchange favors for each other and the third option would be to learn promote it so your sales can cover it all… I’m going for the last one as you may have noticed and Susanne is a god-send whose help I cannot do without. Thank you Susanne!

Click here to check out my website.

A paradox has persisted for too long in this money-driven world for people to realize how odd it actually is that when time are bad and scarcity abounds, people will stop creating value for themselves and their families because labor is made pointless when there are no jobs and effort does not transform into money. It defies logic because when times are bad, shouldn’t one work harder because people need more value and value is still created without money if there is a demand for it?

‘Operation Pebbles’ is about channeling the energy and compassion of people and channeling it in collective pools from which the community can draw at times when needs are  high. Each time a pebble is thrown in a lake it causes a rippling effect, which  by itself is limited and will disappear. When joined with other pebbles, the  pattern expands, and when we synchronize our pebbles, amazing patterns just may  appear. This lake of Ripples can become a reality if enough people take action, large and small, and throw in their own pebbles. As pebbles are added to  separate puddles, ponds and lakes, the ripples will flow out to merge with  other patterns. If these patterns can then combine, they will in time reach  every person and envelop them in a perpetual pattern of compassion.

The premise of this little‘Manifesto of Compassion’ is that community targeted actions not only significantly improves the well-being of communities, but also benefit the economy as these actions make use of the spare resources, as well as alleviate the damage our economy is causing to the ecology. It postulates how altruism -till now regarded as a swear word by certain economists – can revamp our civility, our economy and damper its pendulum effect and help our ecology. This slim volume discusses the core issues succinctly, the theories, the plan, the  obstacles, the costs, the risks, the rewards and so forth.

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Presage is a dystopian novel which delves into the mindboggling world and reality of the virtual: The year is 2018, governments have ridden themselves from the burden of welfare, which has become the responsibility of people. Sophie Chantal, an innocent yet resourceful graduate in journalism, is recruited by Hugh van Santen, the editor in chief of The Post, to feature in his biggest scoop yet conceived because of her brother-in-law Sam Sheppard, a virtuoso in computer simulation and game programmer.  Manipulated without knowing, Sophie convinces Sam to use his simulation skills for her first assignment which is a commemorative piece for the bicentennial birthday of one of the most notorious figure in history, one who had caused millions of deaths and many countries to fall in a downward spiral for decades and decades. Once this most antagonistic figure is  simulated successfully, he causes mayhem and instigates a near-riot with new  ideas to social-engineer society. The political hot potato threatens to bring  the paper down and they frantically search for ways to contain impending  disaster…

The premise of ‘Operation Pebbles’ sprang from the notions and concept of the world in 2018 which forms the backdrop of ‘Presage’, which may turn out not so dystopian after all, because of the resilience and defiance of the human spirit, which can rise once again.

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Two men are lounging in the virtual drawing room of The Post. The year is 2018

“Isn’t that petty?!” Adam asks while looking in a silver plated pocket mirror which opens up like a locket.

“Who?  You or Christine?” Karl, a stocky old man with a bushy beard asks, “I don’t think she has felt pretty for a long time. The adjectives used on facebook are more bombastic than that, as a matter of fact.”

  “Why, I said petty, not pretty! Although she has the most adorable hairdo, I would ask her where she gets her wig done if I wasn’t so shy.”Adam smiles sweetly as he adjusts his wig, “What I mean to say is that the poor girl had to point out gaffes these countries are making one after another, it’s not her fault they failed. “

“I disagree, the bankers are screwing up once again, it’s almost like they are doing it deliberately like they have a stake in this collective failure” Karl says, “These bail-outs are convenient and big money for them you know. In lack of any real direction to give people, don’t you think this silver-fox should just shut up about it?”

Adam frowns, “Hell no, I don’t think so. I’m all for compassion, but her job is to clear up the mess; she can’t do that by tiptoeing around anybody who acts hurt, can she?”

“Well, for somebody whose positions imply that she probably never experienced any suffering full-stop- she has put both her feet in her mouth, ankle deep, once again.”  Karl rolled his fiery eyes, and looks at Adam suspiciously. “Why are you defending this Lagarde woman?”

Adam blushed and says, “I’m not. I just said I like her wig.”

“Short from shutting up, you shouldn’t take any sides;” Karl looks worried, “Sam is already getting enough comments.  We don’t want this whirlwind of indignation to blow thousands of hate-mails our way. What ends up on his plate, will be served on ours.”

“Lord almighty, don’t be silly now, my dear boy. We are cloned to be objective observers, to give our honest opinions no matter what will be served on whose plates, but trust me, nothing will be served on ours.”  Adam says confidently, “Your Manifesto of Compassion couldn’t have been better timed.”

“You really think so?” Karl asks, “Don’t you know that optimism is the first mistake of the intellect?”

 “Why are you so nervous?” Adam turns his entire body to face Karl, “This is so unlike you. Where did your oomph go, your bravado?”

 “Do you know what it’s like to carry the guilt of a gaffe like the one I made last time? My god, what a gaffe that was.”   Karl confesses, “The trauma of my last manifesto is lingering in my mind and I just can’t face another one…“

“Oh poor boy, don’t you worry now,” Adam closes the mirror and put his pale thin hand on Karl’s gigantic knee, “We fixed it and you are now going to prove that both you and I both had a point rather than being totally right.”

“Pardon me for being so long-winded and going over it again, but the notion of Compassion has been explored, for better or for worse.” Karl looks tortured as he pulls away slightly and crosses his legs, “Gandhi, Martin L.King, Ayn, and Milton all had their say about compassion and the world is divided by an abyss as far apart as heaven and hell. The most passionate advocates of compassion must have been Gandhi and Martin and famous as they were, you know how miserably Gandhi was towards the end of his life which he considered as a failure and how disillusioned King was about their ‘non-violent’ stance, don’t you? And they were both assassinated.”

Adam takes his monocle off, “We’re virtual immortals, young man. We have nothing to worry about, ” He declares, “And please note that compassion’s most passionate advocate is I, Adam Smith, who wrote ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments.”

“Bottom line is that people are not as kind or good as most of us imagine us to be, I’m sorry to say.” Karl shakes his said, and peered over his bifocals, “I wish it wasn’t true, but most of us can be nasty sons of bitches, who will exploit everything around them for their own gain. That’s how I failed last time and I’m not too comfortable about this notion of ‘Compassionism’ you are talking about.”

 “People have been coaxed to be heartless in the name of Capitalism, even Christine,” Adam sighs, “And she mentioned me by name on her facebook page, but if any of them understood me, they would have tried to be more compassionate, but it’s fine, Karl. We’ll set it right with your new manifesto.“

    “What makes you think they will listen this time?” Karl broods while burying his huge head in his large hands.

 Adam shrugs, “Who else would stick out their necks apart from us, two old fools, or even talk to them nicely? I shouldn’t think that is, because only the two of us are this way inclined, do you?”

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