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With Wellington in the Peninsula is moving up the best seller list again. Sadly, I suspect this is because most books these days have a very short shelf-life at full price. So, I'd been fooling myself if I thought this increase in sales is due to the reading public finally realising what a gem of a military memoir I put so much effort and expense into bringing back before them after just under 200 years of undeserved obscurity. This sales boost is more probably price driven and due to discount sales. But I'll take it. I had under-estimated my own desire to do the best job possible. The modest amount of further research requested by the publisher took me in some new and unexpected directions. I spent more money and time on the project that I'd budgeted for. I could have shut down the fresh avenues of research and done less than my best. Many professional writers would have paid more attention to harsh economic realities and got away with it. But professional pride got the better of me. I used to joke with a former work mate that I might take home a bigger pay cheque than him but he got more per hour, thanks to the amount of unpaid overtime I was working. Some people never, ever, learn. But back to With Wellington in the Peninsula: I recently found it being recommended on an internet discussion forum called AskHistorians.

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It's hard not to feel sorry for the Australian government. The price of hosting a South-East Asia leaders's summit was allowing the odious Aung San Suu Kyi onto their soil. Decent people in Australia demanded that Aung be arrested for her part in the ethnic cleansing and murder of Muslims in Myanmar, as the country was rebranded from the old name of "Burma" by the military thugs she partners with in ruling the Buddhist-dominated land. Sadly, this apology for a human being enjoys diplomatic immunity. It might have better if all the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had refused to share a room with this one-time poster woman for democracy. Actually, in way she perhaps is still a paragon of democracy.  The majority of Burma's population approve of the Muslim population of the country being burned and murdered out of their homes and forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh. It's democracy in action. And the 600,000 - 700,000 Muslim Rohingyas in the Bangladeshi refugee camps aren't ever going home again. But back to the conference. The Australians had to cozy up not only to the odious Aung but to many other local leaders who actually have human rights records which are not much better, if not worse, than Myanmar's. What is they say; keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Actually, the Australians are trying to cozy up to these creeps because they may be useful in curbing Chinese ambitions in South East Asia.

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I was surprised to see one of the big Canadian newspapers was recommending a seriously flawed book to readers - at least recommended according to the sticker on the cover in my local bookshop. It took a while to track down the review that the supposed recommendation was based on. It turned out to state that the central claim in the book was not-proven but praised what the reviewer thought was the pioneering archival research. The reviewer was unaware, I know because I asked him, that the same information had appeared in another book published two years earlier. In fact, it was the opening chapter of the other book. So, no new information at all. Just a chancer taking two and two and claiming that makes five - something no-one had previously discovered. And, as I said, the reviewer had actually expressed reservations over the central claim in the book and was only praising what he thought was some new information contained in it. So, how did the book in question end up with a "A ------ Recommended Book" sticker? That was down the the publisher's promotions department and a very misleading extract from the newspaper review. You give these folks an inch of praise to work with and they turn it into a mile of unrestrained recommendation.   

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I wonder if human beings can and do pick up radio signals. Sounds crazy, I know. And maybe it is. But I remember as a child that there was an old Pye record player in the house which was capable of recording onto an LP size brown disc. And if we put our fingers on the "recording" needle when it was slotted onto the playing arm we could hear radio signals. I'd love to say that by moving our arms around we could tune to different stations. But that would not be true. The only time the record player put out radio programmes was when a human being put their finger on that needle. Now perhaps there was some weird freaky set-up inside the gubbins of the Pye that meant it could function as a radio, of which even the manufacturers were unaware, and us kids were simply acting as an antenna. I've often wondered what it was all about.

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I'm hearing trailers on the radio for what sounds like a programme on the BBC World Service celebrating the Suffragette Movement. It would seem that many of the women involved were interviewed in the 1970s and those interviews are being packaged into a radio programme. I hope it's not a celebration. The Suffragettes were a terrorist organisation. They attacked both people and property. Votes for women for a laudable cause. But the ends don't justify the means- including assault, vandalism, fire-raising, destruction of artwork and bombings . There's a strong argument that the violence these women committed set back a good cause and delayed females getting the vote by several years. The hard work done by working class women during the First World War probably did more to win the vote. If those same working class women had behaved the same way as their Upper Class sisters in the Suffragettes, you can bet the forces of law and order would not have been so patient and understanding; though the Glasgow police seem to have rougher with the women than their English counterparts. Around 40% of men didn't have the vote prior to 1918 and my guess is if any of those men  had mounted a suffragette-style campaign, several would have wound up dead at the hands of the agents of Law and Order. So, why would the BBC wish to celebrate the Suffragettes and not the tripling of the number of people entitled to vote in parliamentary elections? It's simple, the women involved were the grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers of the people who run the BBC. 

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