When I grew up I was taught manners, the difference between right and wrong and respect for our elders. At school, as well as in the home we were taught that our actions have consequences and that if we did something wrong we would have to face those consequences which was usually some form of punishment. Most of the people I grew up with went on to become well adjusted individuals who could keep down a job, had relationships that lasted, had families and brought up kids who were also taught these same values. When I left school I got a job in a factory where I became an indentured apprentice to become a screen printer in the ceramics trade. If I made mistakes I was reprimanded because this was the real world now and not school and my actions here carried greater consequences. I didn’t see anything wrong in this in fact it made me realise that to do a good job in any profession you need to have that balance of right and wrong. It made me good at what I do. What I see around me now though is a society that seems to have discarded those tried and tested values in favour of something called political correctness. More and more I see kids leaving school completely unprepared for a job, any job anywhere. School nowadays is letting our children down in this one fundamental area. Children in school are constantly told that they are untouchable, the teachers are not allowed to punish them if they do wrong, which leads them to believe there are no consequences to anything they do. They cannot be touched, punished or told off. How is this preparing them for a life in the working environment. If a school leaver entered a working environment to learn a trade he would be expected to try his best to learn from those tradesmen teaching him. How would they handle being reprimanded for making mistakes? Would they complain to the manager and if the manager took their side who would they turn to should they complete their training and the manager had to reprimand them for making a mistake? Who could they turn to then? Schools are churning out kids not ready to work, all they want to do is sit and watch tv or play video games, we are letting them down by allowing this to continue. I say bring back corporal punishment in schools, give the teachers back the power they need to teach the kids properly. Allow them to learn that their actions have consequences maybe then we won’t have gangs of kids running around doing what they like because they think they’re untouchable, because that’s what’s happening now, that’s what we’re teaching them. If we change it now before it’s too late then perhaps we can get back to having a worthwhile workforce in the country again. Tradesmen are dropping off, no one wants to learn a trade anymore and if we don’t turn this around in a few years this country won’t have any one who can do the basic jobs that were common place when I was growing up, no one to do the jobs that made this country great. I would like to get back to that, wouldn’t you?
As an indie writer I am told that marketing is key to selling books. Well, that’s pretty much a given. To sell books you obviously have to have a successful marketing campaign and the operative word here is ‘successful’. So many so-called marketing experts will regale you with the need for a social media campaign among which Twitter is also key. As an author you have to have a Facebook fan page also. Here’s the thing though, unless you are already successful as an author or your campaign reaches out to ‘actual’ readers with something like an interview on national tv or radio or puts your face out into the public arena where potential readers can actually see you and your book, none of them matter. Now I know this comment will stir up a debate on the validity of Twitter and Facebook and that’s good. The point is though and to any potential authors who may read this, unless you try something radical with them don’t bother because you will just be wasting your time and money. Facebook is slightly better than useless whereas Twitter is simply the home of those with attention deficit disorder, the more followers you have the less you get seen. That may sound like a contradiction in terms but sadly it’s true. If you post a tweet and you have 3 followers all of them will see it because it will remain on your twitter feed until you or any of your 3 followers tweet again but if you have 2.5 thousand followers your tweet has vanished in a blink of an eye. Like I said with Facebook you have more chance of being noticed, you only have the administrators of the site and the actual number of people following you to contend with. The administrators control what you see on your feed so with a fan page you need to build a following, people who read your book. If you don’t have them then having a fan page is worthless. Get on an author’s fan page you admire and interact with them and their fans you have a better chance of being noticed there than on Twitter. To prove my claim about Twitter I did a little experiment last night. Before I go any further I’ve had several marketing campaigns run by reputable agencies who all told me that I needed a twitter campaign to progress as a writer. They all told me I needed to engage my readership, which is a fair comment. What any of them failed to do, except get richer from the money I paid them for this invaluable knowledge, was engage any form of readership. Each consecutive campaign increased my followers which is a good thing, right? Wrong, and if you’re asking why is it wrong I’ll tell you. All it did was target the wrong type of follower. Instead of targeting people who may want to buy your book it targeted other authors or marketing agents. I now have over 2.5k followers and not one of them has bought a single book. They have tried to get me to buy their book or to buy their book which will show me how to sell my book. My experiment ran for around an hour. I basically had a rant about how useless Twitter was extolling the points I had just explained earlier and ironically the only tweet that got any notice was one about being able to say anything on there because no one took a blind bit of notice. That does not prove me wrong, it actually just proves that I’m not the only one with this opinion because the tweet got ‘liked’ not replied to with a rebuttal. So there you have it, the sad reality of it is this. If you are a writer you need readers, that much is a given. Please do not waste your time on Twitter though it’s nothing but a distraction. What you need is a campaign that actually works. You need someone to push your book into the faces of the buying public. You need exposure on TV, on the radio anywhere that will get you noticed by people who read books and not on Twitter. How do you do that? I would say, if you have the funds employ a professional marketing company that deals with PR, if you don’t have the funds available, like me, then all I can say is good luck.
What it means to be human is changing as we advance the technology that allows us to enhance our bodies.
We can pretty much change anything we don’t like about our appearance with plastic surgery whether it be through necessity due to injury or some underlying medical condition or just out of plain vanity. Prosthetics help the disabled to live what we would consider a normal life and beyond, as we’ve seen with the Paralympics, these athletes were truly super human. In the future I don’t doubt that we’ll be able to shop around for more body parts to help us conform to society’s norms or to change what is not working properly. The term ‘off the shelf’ will take on a whole new meaning. There is a larger issue though with this which pertains to the human condition. The more we change ourselves, whether it be with surgery, bio enhancements or prosthetics are we moving away from what it is to be human or are we simply making what is already human, better.
The military actively seek programmes that enhance their personnel to make their soldiers more durable under battle conditions. In the next few generations we may see our combat soldiers do impossible things such as, eat grass, resist stress or even climb walls like a lizard. It may sound impossible now but we only have to look to nature for concept. If we could work out how, it would be a small step to incorporate that into our military. Some pilots are required to take ‘go-pills’ during long range missions so they stay alert under long periods of time. There is some interest in using pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and gene therapy to enhance a soldiers performance. Bio-mechanical enhancements are also considered such as exo-skeletons to enhance strength. Our technology is getting smaller, our modern smart phones contain more computing power than the Apollo spacecraft that landed on the Moon so it’s not hard to think that soon bio-enhancements will be small enough to be placed inside the body. It would be foolish of us to think that it will stop at this though. The need to gain an advantage on the battlefield will spur the military on to greater demands of the scientific community to produce more ideas. Military necessity sometimes dictates that ethics are overlooked due to the greater good. With that question in mind, where do we draw the line? The military already has a huge problem with returning soldiers to civilian lives, how much more of a problem will it be if these soldiers have had enhancements. Will they be able to become part of society and live a normal life with their families, will they still feel human?
Super humans have become a part of popular culture, more so recently with the glut of super hero movies over the last few years. As we go into the future we will see more advances made in this field and the question we have to ask is will super human become the new norm thereby moving from fiction into reality? or has it already happened?