And there is, surely, the fundamentally important consideration of context, or, I should say, environment. Darwin talked about the fitness of a genetic strand to survive the conditions prevailing in any particular place and time, not the more generalised notion of 'fitness' which some interpreters presume, leading to inappropriate conclusions about evolution.

It seems strange that astrobiologists would confine their thinking to (a) the limited and limiting environment of planet Earth and (b) the infinite universe. Should we not at least begin to think constructively and creatively about our immediate environment beyond the surface of our planet? We have the ability to park habitable objects in orbit around the Earth, or around the Sun, to provide a possible way for our civilisation to continue and grow without destroying the Earth's ability to sustain us.

The essence of my unbelief

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Image by Jan Canty at Unspplash

Let me begin by stating what I do believe. I believe it is not impossible that the universe as we perceive it was created by a super-intelligent being. I do not believe that being, if it exists, is a ‘god’.

Why? Because, as I understand it, a god has a number of attributes which I find impossible to believe in. What are these attributes?

  • A god controls what happens on the part of the planet where I happen to be at any given time — a rain god, for example.
  • Humans can influence the gods’ behaviour by performing certain rituals…

The Brexit threat to Welsh ports.

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A vessel on the route from Rosslare to Dunkirk. Image from DFDS

As Brexit negotiations rumble on, way beyond the eleventh hour, it seems clear that whatever deal is reached between the UK and EU, if any, it will not offer the ‘frictionless trade’ that Theresa May promised to UK businesses a little over two years ago. That has all manner of serious consequences. One that appears to have been largely overlooked in the UK is the impact on Welsh ports.

The Irish call it ‘the land bridge’. It’s the route from Ireland to continental Europe, via ferry ports in Wales and the UK roads network, to Dover and other ports serving…

Or it can be for us writers.

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The cover of my book Summer Day showing a boy and his (female) dog.

The two principal protagonists in one of my novels are a boy and his dog. Except that the dog is female so she is frequently referred to by other characters as ‘the bitch’. An American writer, in a review of the book posted recently on Goodreads and Amazon, took me to task for this because, the reviewer claimed, the word is offensive to 330 million Americans who are used to its misuse in a derogatory reference to a woman.

I carried out a straw poll among fellow authors from around the world and discovered none who agreed.

Of course, it…

Old enough to remember Bebop

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This study of Dizzy Gillespie is from the camera of staffer Bill Gottlieb, depicting the be-bopper’s characteristic hat, spectacles, horn, goatee and slouch. |Image available from the United States Library of Congress’s Music Division under the digital ID gottlieb.03091.

Born during WWII and brought up in the countryside close to the border between England and Wales. Attended boarding school in Surrey. Engineering apprenticeship followed by a long career in design and project administration. Served as a Councillor in NE Lincolnshire 1985–91.

Places I’ve lived/worked: Hereford, Coventry, Cleethorpes, a village between Hull and York, all in England. Durban, South Africa. Now residing in a small town in the Irish midlands.

Married 1963, became a dad 1965, granddad 1994.

Self published first novel 2010, four more published since, plus one non-fiction.

Genres: historical fiction, focusing on Irish history and England in…

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Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

It is more than sixty years since I took the English Literature examination for what was then called the General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level or GCE ‘O’ Level. And yet there is something from one of the books we studied that lives with me still, and probably influences much of my own writing. The book was Belloc’s Essays. The piece that so influenced me was The Mowing of a Field, a glorious evocation of rural life and the pleasures to be gained from performing simple tasks and communing with nature.

Despite the pleasure I gained from reading that essay…

The Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier was the real author of a frequently quoted right-wing observation.

Profound: having or showing great knowledge or insight.

Simplistic: treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are. (both definitions from Google Dictionary)

The meme a friend shared on Facebook the other day carried the heading “What a profound little paragraph”. It continued with a quotation attributed to Dr Adrian Rogers in 1931.

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Original image source unknown. Copied from a friend’s Facebook post.

The first problem, for me, with this statement, the reason I think it simplistic rather than profound, is that it ignores the fact that the wealthy gained their wealth through other people working for them. …

That’s not a question, by the way. Let me tell you what is wrong with the argument presented by this Medium article.

Let’s start by accepting as fact that every living species is food for one or more other species. That is the foundation of nature. It involves killing. The activity the author of that article is unwilling to be a part of.

I understand his desire to preserve the lives of cattle, pigs and chickens. But how far is he prepared to go? If he is offended by all killing, determined to protect and preserve living creatures, what about…

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A group of World War Two airmen posing in front of a Lancaster Bomber of the type flown by my father throughout the summer and autumn of 1943 Picture from He and they were proud patriots in an unquiet world.

It was the Dublin born playwright and Nobel prize winner George Bernard Shaw who said “You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.” (Misalliance, 1910).

I could not agree more. Others might dismiss the statement on the grounds that Shaw was a Socialist: member of the Fabian Society, present at the founding of the British Labour Party and apologist for Lenin, Stalin and Mussolini.

Ignoring Shaw’s sometimes inconsistent political views, I want to examine the quotation in the context of global history in the 110 years since they first appeared.

I am…

Frank Parker

Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.

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