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As an author of crime fiction, my literary world is thoroughly salted with violence. Like a good miner, I spend a great deal of time in the mine examining the ore, picking off a murder, a mugging, or a robbery from the walls of the community where I live. Bangkok. Violence isn’t so much a theme of literature as a way of life for most people around the world. In pre-historical times, violence was much worse. Authors of crime fiction like myself study the causes of violence. We are always alert for stumbling on the hidden trap door where, once opened, we can explore why violence happens.

Localized, individual acts of violence we class as crimes. The police handle the offenders and the suspects are processed through a civilian court system with certain safeguards and determined to be guilty or innocent depending on the evidence the government produces. This is how a society dispenses justice. And justice matters if a modern political system is to remain stable. Notions of crime, police and justice are recent in our history.

Read more: http://www.internationalcrimeauthors.com/

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Posted: 6/25/2010 10:37:26 AM 

 

Tomorrow 25 June I'll be blogging about the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal. Below is the start of the essay:

The Monopoly of Violence
The case for firing General Stanley McChrystal

As a author of crime fiction, my literary world is thoroughly salted with violence. Like a good miner, I spend a great deal of time in the mine examining the ore, picking off a murder, a mugging, or a robbery from the walls of the community where I live.

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Posted: 6/24/2010 3:33:02 PM 

 

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.

—Winston Churchill

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Posted: 6/23/2010 10:49:11 AM 

 

"Who are these people who spend so much of their days posting anonymous comments, and what is motivating them?" The Boston Globe weighs in, "After years of letting anonymity rule online, many media heavyweights, from The Washington Post to The Huffington Post, have begun to modify their policies. The goal is ...to take the playground back from anonymous bullies and give greater weight to those willing to offer, in addition to strong views, their real names." Link: http://is.gd/cYU4Y ...
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Posted: 6/22/2010 5:30:07 PM 

 

This question lies at the heart of a recent Guardian essay “The human heart of the matter” by Geoff Dyer. Dyer, himself a novelist, looks at recent books set in Afghanistan and Iraq including David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers and Sebastian Junger’s War and finds that non-fiction has relatively more strength than fiction. And that American journalists, whose companies provide them with real luxury more able than their British counterparts.

The Good Soldiers

WAR

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Posted: 6/18/2010 1:35:51 AM 

 

From the

Bangkok gets noirer

In the latest in the Vincent Calvino series, crime writer Christopher G. Moore does what he does best: kill someone and let the brash, unsuave, unpretentious Calvino unearth the dirty details. In Asia Hand, Vinnie — along with the sophisticated Thai cop Colonel Prachai (Pratt), his partner in solving crimes — sets off to find the murderers of a farang cameraman. What follows is a journey into the big, bad, dark world of Bangkok politics and double-dealings. The stakes are high when luck forsakes the duo. A happy-ending? Surprise us!"
Link:
http://is.gd/cRd1w

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Posted: 6/16/2010 5:34:49 AM 

 

The Hollywood Reporter says, “Screenwriter Chase Palmer has been hired to adapt the mystery novel “Spirit House,” written by Christopher G. Moore, for FilmNation Entertainment

On the question of the Calvino movie Franchise, Killer Film reports:

“Palmer is also putting together a draft for the upcoming movie Dune. Production for Spirit House is still in the baby stages at this moment, so nobody else is reported to be attached. It’s pretty easy to assume that they want to make a franchise out of this, given the plain fact that this novel is one of eleven books that center on the same private eye character and his dangerous adventures. It’s now merely a matter of whether or not the execution will be good enough to boost that kind of revenue, as is the risk with every other potential franchise film out there nowadays.”...
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Posted: 6/15/2010 1:22:35 AM 

 

At the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand on Thursday evening 10 June 2010 a large audience turned out to watch a series of videos shot during the May 14th to 19th period when violence erupted in parts of Bangkok. The panelists were photographers and cameramen (no women on the panel) who had, often at great personal risk, shot compelling images. After watching almost one hour of the events unfold through these images, I had the question as to what to make of what I saw on the TV monitors.

I suspect that I wasn’t alone in feeling the powerful emotions that images of being dead bodies, the wounded, soldiers firing M16s and armed demonstrators throwing firecrackers, Molotov cocktails. There were also images of the Men In Black (MiB), the name given to a group of men who wore (mostly) black and were armed with handguns or M16s or other weapons. Those on the panel contradicted the government’s claim that there were 500 hundred such MiB. It is likely to be exceedingly difficult to find out the exact number, who these mystery were, their affiliations with outsiders, their connection to the Red Shirt demonstrators, and who financed, organized and led these men. Or if indeed there were multiple groups of MiB. These MiB moved like particles in a quantum system. Everyone sought to collapse the quantum state and measure what was inside the war zone.

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Posted: 6/13/2010 10:31:21 PM 

 

Politics in Thailand, as in most countries, is a tug of war between the past and the future. The constitution and institutions function as setting the ground rules for the tug of war and assign referees who show a red card when one side violates the rules. That is the theory. Nation states arose as way to exercise on sovereignty over geographic borders. The idea of exercise of that sovereignty as the internal affairs of states within those borders is an old, established one.

It is hard to let go of the idea that geographic borders will matter less in the future. Borders are in the processing of diminishing in importance with collateral consequences for sovereignty, constitutions and political institutions. Place matters less than it once did. Place is analogue. We have entered a digital world that, for communications purposes, makes geographic borders irrelevant.

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Posted: 6/10/2010 11:59:26 PM 

 

Tomorrow Friday, 11 June 2010, I'll post a blog on Bandwidth, Social Networks and Political Dissent.
What is happens when geographic borders collide with the digital world?

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Posted: 6/10/2010 12:34:21 AM 

 

Who we are, how we feel about ourselves, not to mention how we organize our life is contingent on what we remember. Without our memory, our world collapses not unlike a black hole where all information is lost (or at least inaccessible).

Writing fiction is an actively engagement of memory. The characters’ memories, the way they are affected and deal with memories is an essential part of the story. In real life, when there is a trial, a witness is asked to recall what she or he saw. By recalling events, we engage in memory recall.

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Posted: 6/8/2010 11:13:13 PM 

 

The demonstrations have ended in Bangkok, but the Thai script wars continue. This reflects the fact that both the government and the Reds Shirts are deeply divided. There is one thing that binds them. There are certain universal tropes used to silence or dismiss their critics (Thailand isn’t unique in using them). In waging the propaganda wars, the advantage is to the government as they have more resources to bring to bear to censor their critics. For example blocking websites for not telling what they deem to be truth.

There is the rub. The truth. How it is told and who tells it and what is to be done with those who seek to tell a different truth? Different truths like ambiguous heroes can cause confusion. Thus the official justification for bans, censorship and detentions.

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Posted: 6/7/2010 1:23:09 AM 

 

The intention of this blog has been to connect reality with what is loosely called crime fiction. The reality checking asks: does a novel which purports to be an authentic representation of social, political and economic conditions in which the characters find themselves match the facts on the ground? Or are the facts wrong, twisted, biased, or otherwise subject to dispute.

Swedish crime author Henning Mankell became part of the Israeli commando raid on 6 ships loaded with relief supplies destined to breach the blockade on Gaza. In an early morning raid, commandoes were dropped by helicopter onto the boats. Mankell happened to be on one of the boats (Swedish ship Sofia), though it appears no one on his boat was killed. But they were all arrested, including Mankell. He has been deported from Israel and is in England where the Guardian reports, “The bestselling Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell today accused Israel of murder, piracy and kidnapping after describing how the aid ship he was travelling on was seized by Israeli forces this week.”

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Posted: 6/3/2010 10:49:14 PM 

 

Report on Foreign Eyes

The subject of the panel was: Thailand in the Eyes of Others. The FCCT described the evening as follows:

“Thailand has been through some tumultuous months with scenes that have both horrified and bemused many. The world has drunk a heady cocktail of ramwongs, snipers, firebugs, rogue generals, blood-pouring rituals, live firing, burning tyres, APCs, black militia/magic/smoke, terrorism warrants, VIP prisons, dead journalists, travel advisories, Kevlar, empty streets, failed compromises, broken deadlines, government statements, razor wire, outraged letters to the editor, burnt-out buildings and disputed body counts.

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Posted: 6/3/2010 12:03:43 AM 

 

On Friday I will post a blog titled: Henning Mankell: When a Crime Writer becomes part of the Story

Here's a preview:

Mankell has become part of the Israeli commando story. The Telegraph reports that Mankell has urged global sanctions on Israel.

The Telegraph continues with this quote from Mankell: "I can promise there was not a single weapon aboard the ships," he told an Expressen reporter who was returning to Sweden with him after the writer had been deported by Israel. ...
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Posted: 6/2/2010 6:20:28 AM 

 

I have been in a conversation with author Jonathan Hayes on Facebook and others have joined our discussion about filters in book publishing and what they may look like in the future.

Ebooks and epublishing has many people talking about leveling the playing field. The adult equivalent of “No Child Left Behind” idea that allows everyone to become an author. To start with first principles, in Canada and America people have a history of "democratization of expression.” There has been censorship in the past but in reality people today can pretty write whatever they want.

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Posted: 5/31/2010 6:26:32 AM 

 

A good cover attracts people to a book. Cover art has a new life in the digital world where so much of the cutting edge in publishing is happening.

Ebooks are greatest game changer in publishing to have happened in the past several years. Physical bookstores are slowly being replaced in the digital world of booksellers. These books are made from paper. They are electronic. They are called ebooks. By now most people will have heard about Kindle, iphone, ipad, Nook, Sony and other readers that allow readers to download books and read them from a computer or smart phone. Millions of people have bought one of these devices and have downloaded books on them. Kindle is the clear winning horse so far in this race.

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Posted: 5/26/2010 11:08:26 PM 

 

One feature of the current climate in Thailand is that rather than trying to see another side’s point of view, people seeking such an examination are shouted down. The heightened state of emotion translates as either you are on one side or the other. If you try to seek nuance you may be attacked as being pro-government or pro-red, depending on what incident, statement, rumour, or policy you choose to examine.

This is a difficult time for free speech. The only speech recognized as ‘free’ is that speech which supports the side of the argument. The reality is that free speech means you dig into the facts and circumstances and try to keep the emotions out of that search. Perhaps what has happened is so close, raw, and open that even though fires are out, the anger, hatred and outrage continue to burn.

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Posted: 5/25/2010 6:33:44 AM 

 


Bangkok Rama IV Road 15 May 2010


Introspection is a valuable asset in the governed as well as in those who govern them. Introspection along with consensus is a good definition of how the engines of democracy work. But in 2010 introspection and consensus are threatened with extinction and this is happening just before the public conversation that needs to be had if people are going to move on. Otherwise we will risk being permanently stranded in the dead zone between existential nihilism and sophism with no peaceful exit.

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Posted: 5/24/2010 3:21:17 AM 

 


For the last week I’ve lived near one of the front line areas in the conflict between the Government/Military and the Red Shirted protesters. On 15th, 16th and 17th May I walked along Rama IV, filming and talking with Red shirt supporters, protesters, onlookers. It was a mixed bag of people of varying degrees of commitment to the Red cause—whatever that might be—as the policies and principles appear to be fractured among a number of factions. There are those wishing to reinstall Thaksin as prime minister. Others are bound by a larger social justice and equality movement.

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Posted: 5/21/2010 2:20:42 AM 

 

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