Let us toast the humanity in us all and see these Ticks for what they are.

Let us toast the humanity in us all and see these Ticks for what they are.

Interesting times.  At the time of writing, 5 March 2018, it seems that the Italian election has resulted in success for a number of political parties with anti EU / establishment views.  Confirms the wave of anti-establishment feelings that are currently washing across the world.  Think 45 in the US, Brexit in the UK and now we have the election result in Italy.  There are others, think of France, Hungary for example.  Frustration with so many things, some valid, others not.  

And yet, and yet… the decency of the everyday person comes through in times of tragedy or challenge.  Think back to 9/11 and the queues of people waiting to give blood.  Think of the bravery of so many people helping others post the obscene bombing in Manchester in 2017.  Think of the bravery of the paramedics during the equally obscene events that have been happening in US schools and elsewhere.  So many dying, so many wounded and damaged and not only physically, the scars, the trauma, lasting a lifetime for all those involved.  As one trauma surgeon put it, ‘In mass shootings, there are no unwounded victims.’  And yet, and yet… people continue to help others, sometimes at great risk to themselves.  

On a more local level.  During the recent extreme weather we’ve experienced here in Edinburgh, I’ve seen folk contacting neighbours to check that they’re okay; did they want any shopping done?  Clearing the footpaths for neighbours; walking for hours through snow and sleet to get to work so they could undertake a cancer surgery.  So caring.  So compassionate.  So many.  So typical.   

So, if there is innate decency and humanity throughout the world, why is there this, almost visceral, hatred of the current status quo?  Something to do with a feeling of unfairness perhaps?  A frustration at seeing powerful elites getting away with so much?  Perhaps seeing those responsible for the current political and economic environments continue on their merry way without a care and no social conscience?  The media praising of wannabe celebs?  The dumbing down of debate and merely casting insults?  Those disagreeing with you not an opponent but an enemy, (I wrote about this in a previous blog.)  

There is so much frustration in this world.  It’s there, it’s cerebral, it’s emotional, it’s powerful.  Seriously powerful.  And yet, and yet… the elites continue to ignore it.  Or even worse, as we’re seeing now, playing on it and using it for their own political and economic purposes.  Just like ticks, if you think about it.  It can lead to demagoguery, (which carries a heavy burden of history), and if not addressed, the result is too horrible to contemplate.  

Therefore, let us toast the humanity in us all and see these Ticks for what they are.  Challenge everything they stand for, loudly, very loudly, and where it applies, vote them out.  

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind’ 

Isn’t language interesting? You don’t kill opponents

Isn’t language interesting? You don’t kill opponents

Isn’t language interesting?  It can be used for peaceful purposes, taking heat out of a situation; whilst at other times to ramp up anger, vituperation and, most regrettable of all, hatred.  Hatred of different ethnic groups, sexual orientation, political beliefs – I could go on.  Currently, (remember, this is being written in January 2018), we have the 45th President of the United States, talking / ranting / tweeting about using the ‘nuclear option’ to address the current shutdown of Government.  His language is that of hate and contempt.    

Regrettable.    Read more

So, why do we write when it can be such a pain in the bum?

So, why do we write when it can be such a pain in the bum?

I have a Twitter account as well as Facebook page.  Twitter allows me to touch base with other, in the main, like-minded folk and Facebook generally with friends and family.  Today’s blog is about the former.  I’ve already written posts about some writers, e.g. Lexi Lefevre (fabulous poet) as well as Doug Wallace (great SciFi inkster).  I’ve left feedback on the latter’s book on Good Reads here.  It’s a good book and worth reading if you’re into fantasy.  

It’s the quality of the poetry, the use of words and the imaginative worlds they create that so impress me.  Read more

I lost a friend today. Semper Fi, Bill…

I lost a friend today.  Semper Fi, Bill…

I heard today that I had lost a friend.  He passed away having fought an unwelcome guest with all the power and passion that made him successful in what he did when we worked together.  He told me six months ago about this unwelcome guest, liver cancer, and that he and the love of his life would fight it together.  He fought.  Oh, how he fought.  Even as he lost that fight, as I found out today he had, it did not beat him.  He would not allow it.  His wife would not allow it.  He would have gone down fighting.  

Semper Fi, Bill.

He was a faithful friend to me and the crew with whom he worked.  He was a healer in all that he did.  He was the first person I thought of when asked if our team could help a group of people who had lost one of their own.  He went in, he worked hard, ‘don’t you ever sleep?’ he was asked more than once.  You look after your own.  No one left behind.  His Marine training, attitude and beliefs would have reinforced that.  

Semper Fi, Bill.

I lost a friend today.  

And I am so sad. 

J J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

On the generosity of other writers.

On the generosity of other writers.

In my last blog I wrote about the generosity of other writers.  There are so many who are willing to share their points of view, what they’ve learned and how others can learn from their mistakes.  I like that.  

Currently I’m setting the scene for a battle between the good guys and the bad guys.  The thing here is that you simply can’t just launch into something and say, battle ensued.  Where’s the context?  Where’s the development of expectation?  Where’s the satisfaction when battle does commence and your bad-ass good guys go against the bad-ass bad guys? Read more

The generosity of the writing fraternity…

The generosity of the writing fraternity…

We’re living in confused times, that’s for sure, and the world is still uncertain as to where we will all be a year from now.  If at all.  Enough has been written about POTUS 45 and his behaviour so I won’t waste my time, or yours, by commenting further since I’ve done enough of that in some previous blogs.  No, what I want to talk about is the power of words and how just one can create different opportunities.  

For example, I’ve just created a group of ‘bad guys’ called the Connektome.  They’ve been developed not only to create a little more tension in Kold Kronicles 2: Defiance, but also to prepare the story arc for Book 3 of the Kold Kronicles trilogy.   It’s based on the word, connectome which I heard when watching a tv programme recently  about psychology and behaviours.  For those of you of an academic / medical frame of mind, connectome is defined in Wikipedia as follows: 

…a comprehensive map of neural connections in the brain, and may be thought of as its ‘wiring diagram’. More broadly, a connectome would include the mapping of all neural connections within an organism’s nervous system.’

In the book, the Connektome are a group of very, and I mean very, rich and well-connected people who can influence the way the world thinks and behaves.  Their current agenda is to put an easily manipulated individual in the White House.  (Isn’t fantasy great?  You can imagine anything.)  Isn’t it also interesting that one simple word can mean so much and potentially have an impact on a story arc? 

The power of words also made me think of how words can be put together to create an emotional response.  A good example of this is the work of the poet, Lexi Lefevre  whom I follow on Twitter.  I delight in her work and the word imagery she creates.  She’s a proud Canadian with an ability to write in raw, emotional terms. Here’s just one example:

Crystalline waves

set off






My heart

is a


keeping up

with the

rhythm of



She writes many more, all equally sublime.  Definitely worth following.

There are others I follow but all of them have one thing in common, they are generous in their sharing of the words / worlds they create.  The writing fraternity tends to be generous that way, the good ones anyway.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of world was equally generous?  

J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

‘Our medical insurance world is so fucked up right now.’ The marketisation of compassion and responsibility

‘Our medical insurance world is so fucked up right now.’ The marketisation of compassion and responsibility

My view of blogs is simple, write when you feel you have something to say or when something you read triggers that need.  Here’s the trigger, it was written by Hannah Middlebrook of Tulsa.

After reading this morning’s terrible news, it struck me my friends in the UK need to hear something many Brits may not have considered. If the Manchester Arena bombing had happened in the US, every family with a dead or injured member would begin receiving bills in the coming days. Parents who lost their children would get a detailed and unadorned list of services provided by the medics that tried to save their relations’ lives. And they would be expected to start making payments immediately.

While they mourned heartbreaking losses, American families would be billed for the ambulance rides, morphine, CPR, anaesthesia. They would be expected to pony up for surgeries that were unsuccessful, medication that didn’t work, and the time the anaesthesiologist spent trying to keep their children comfortable during major procedures. They would continue to receive those bills for month upon month after the death of their children.

Many families would set up GoFundMe accounts to pay for the medical expenses of their deceased child. The bills would run in to the hundreds of thousands, so even the best-funded account would only pay a fraction. The parents might have to sell their homes while trying to wrap their minds around the needless loss of their children. Ultimately, many would declare bankruptcy: who has time to pore over bills, fight the constant inaccuracies, totalling hundreds or thousands of dollars, when they’re battling depression and anger?

Think about that. It’s the kind of society you’re really signing up for when you vote for a party that wants to privatise your healthcare. Please don’t make that mistake.

In sum, don’t get yourself hurt, or shot, or damaged in any way in the US.  It could cost you your home.  Or your life.  I asked two of my American friends who worked in the medical world in the US for many years if this was true.  Strong women both, caring, passionate about healing, they always tell me like it is.  

From one, ‘The horror is that ill people have to worry when they need to recover.’  

From the other, more trenchant, ‘Our medical insurance world is so fucked up right now that depending on the insurance the individual is carrying it would not be unheard of for the injured or their families to receive an invoice.

Of course, the lawyers would probably beat the mail to the door of the injured claiming wrongful death and offering to sue whomever for a price or percentage of recovery.  We don’t have the one party payer most of the developed world has and what we do have is the worst of all….greedy insurance companies and incompetent government combined to offer the Affordable Care Act….it is neither affordable nor particularly caring.  If a foreign citizen is injured in the US I’m not sure what the compensation collection would look like, but rest assured that individual would be billed for services rendered…

So, if you have the money, you’re okay.  If not, well, tough, live with it.  Or die with it.  How long will it be before people realise that health care and health inequality is not just a financial issue, it is a social issue, a class issue?

If you think I’m exaggerating, watch this. Worth watching.  All of it.  The speaker, Sir Michael Marmot, is also the author of ‘The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World’.  Here’s just one point, ‘What makes these health inequalities unjust is that evidence from round the world shows we know what to do to make them smaller…’  

His report was presented in 2008 and all that was required was the political will to invoke his recommendations.  We are now in 2017.  Noticed any change?  No, me neither.  

In Scotland, we have Sir Harry Burns who retired as Chief Medical Officer in 2014 to take up the appointment of Professor of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University.    During his tenure as Chief Medical Officer he also stressed the connections between dire social conditions and ill health.   

Caring people both.  Bright people both.  Passionate about health inequality both. 

They, along with countless other health professionals, have been pushing for social change in healthcare for years, if not decades.  

So why hasn’t anything been done?  It’s the marketisation of social responsibility, that’s why. 

Privatise the NHS.  Put people’s healthcare in the hands of organisations whose priority is profit for their shareholders.  Why not?  Give tax breaks to private schools whose parents can afford the substantial fees involved.  Why not?  Hang on a minute…  Ignore tenants’ concerns regarding their housing and safety?  Why not?  (Just don’t mention the arrogance of Kensington and Chelsea Council and the Grenfell Tower fire).  Allow tax avoidance to continue to cost the UK and many other countries, billions.  Why not?  Oh, yes, that’s still being done.  Bail out the banks despite it being their greed and lack of responsibility that got us into the current financial mess – and don’t make them pay in any way.  Oh, yes, we’ve done that… Privatise rail.  Oh, yes, we’ve done that too…  Working out well isn’t it?   (You do know that I’m being ironic don’t you?)

In the UK there is political chaos.  In the US there is, well, there’s Trump.  Is the fact that none of the changes necessary to create a healthy and responsible society have taken place linked to this current and past political reality?  I think we should be told… (Btw, I’m still being ironic.)  

J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’

Forgetfulness – the real cost of war

Forgetfulness – the real cost of war

Well, it’s an interesting time in the world, that’s for sure.  We have POTUS 45, who railed against POTUS 44 for even considering the use of missiles against Syria, authorising the use of 59 cruise missiles to attack the Syrian airbase of Al-Shayrat.  Each missile has a unit cost of $1.8 million, thus $106.2 million in total for the missiles alone.  Now, let me make this clear, whoever authorised the sarin gas attack committed an obscene war crime.  Something had to be done, but the question is, what?

Looking at the reasons for the non-action of POTUS 44 in Syria, research soon shows that analysis was undertaken over weeks, sometimes months.  Those involved were experts of the political quagmire that is the Middle East; those who understood the tribal and religious complexities involved; military men and women who were aware of the operational environment into which they might be drawn – and, even more importantly – how mission creep can occur.  All understood and debated the cost, actual and potential, of such actions.  

POTUS 45, on the other hand,  talked about ‘beautiful babies’, children, and women and then authorised the use of missiles.  

In sum, the world has an emotionally unstable, emotion-led individual in a position of authority who can authorise the use of force without having to ask anyone’s permission to do so.  That he can do it again, (North Korea comes to mind); that he can be led by what he sees on Twitter rather than by the experts whose role is to advise him;  that he can do this based on an ‘emotional spasm’; and finally, that many believe in his fantasy, is a real cause for concern.  We can only wait and see where POTUS 45 will lash out next.  And, trust me, he will… 

Now, let me clarify why I have such concerns about this operation, and there are a number.  The first is that there was no analysis, it was knee-jerk;  second, insufficient consideration was given to the sarin attack being, potentially, a ‘false-flag’ operation – or not;  third, this was done without the involvement of Congress, in fact side-lining them; finally and most importantly, there does not appear to be a ‘well, what happens next?’ plan.  It is interesting to note that within hours of the final missile strike, Assad’s airforce was flying from the airbase concerned.  

Now, that’s ‘merely’ the military / political element of this blog.  We have yet to discuss the social / economic costs.  Invariably, there is a cost, a cost of increased hatred between people of different nations; the social cost of hatred between communities; the economic impact on social programmes since money is being spent on weaponry rather than people and infrastructure. 

However, what is particularly worrying, is that months from now, people will need to be reminded of this particular event, since, with the atrocities that are occurring so frequently around the world, this is ‘merely’ one more.  That many forget such things is the real cost of war. 

J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’


Turbulent times all round…

Turbulent times all round…

Well, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise. Confusion and mendacity continue on both sides of the pond. In the case of the current President of the United States, he’s doubling-down via his early morning tweets. Over here in the UK, we continue to experience the confusion caused by the Brexit vote. The lie regarding the £350 million a week that would be added to the National Health Service should we vote to leave the European Union is now history. Those who promoted this calumny, this lie, attempt to ignore it and, to be honest, they’re being allowed to by the media that gave them resonance in the first place.  

Then add to the mix the undemocratic voting systems that enabled this chaos – First Past The Post, FPTP, in the UK and in the US, the Electoral College. The result is that in the former you have a Government with a majority in Parliament voted into power by a minority of the population, thus not fully representative. In the latter, the outcome is a President who lost the popular vote by almost three million votes and yet still became President, thus, again, not fully representative. Think about that, both systems created for historical reasons that no longer apply, and yet are still extant. That we need to change this is beyond doubt. That the vested interests do not want to is also beyond doubt. The result of this continuation of an undemocratic process?  Well, turbulence for sure.  And definitely anger.

In spite of the increasing questioning of the mental state of the current POTUS, aka 45, he still retains large pockets of support in the US. The same for Brexit in the UK, in spite of economic, social and cultural concerns becoming more clear.  Retained support in both cases, I would imagine, in no small part due to the privately owned media that has a vested interest in ensuring the millionaire owners and their coterie of sycophants remain in power and retain their wealth.  (Anyone have a story about a banker being made legally and financially responsible for the 2008 meltdown and being put in prison? Or a media organisation CEO charged with promoting hatred? No?  I didn’t think so.)  

With all this happening I feel we are coming to a tipping point. I have written before about what happens when people continue to feel ignored, mocked, taken for granted and so on – revolution of one kind or another. That I have trust in my fellow human beings makes me believe that things will improve – eventually.  

However, between now and then, it’s turbulent times all round…

J Mitchell

‘Never leave anyone behind…’