The Monk’s Curse – now in print!

It has been almost eight months since my last post – this was despite promises of frequent activity and weekly behind the scenes of The Monk’s Curse.

I think I can be forgiven as I have managed to get The Monk’s Curse out in print. Here is the trailer of The Monk’s Curse – by far the jewel of my writings so far!

Get The Monk’s Curse in print now

Now I will not be so silly as to make promises of consistency when my nature is inconsistent. Logically, I also think it is ridiculous to expect consistency of myself – what with the new tasks I have taken on. Tasks which mean that my work on an upcoming biography (not for publication) and my long desire fantasy, have been delayed.

That is not to say that things have not been exciting. That is, for me. I have started studying law, politics, French, and international relations at the University of Witwatersrand where I previously studied medicine. I mention this because it ties in crucially to my works. I have previously written political pieces, now, not without consequence. I am also very excited to study French. I wrote a post on learning Esperanto. While I did not complete that commitment either, like I posited in the post, it is indeed helping me learn French!

There isn’t much else to say besides that the sequel to The Monk’s Curse, which is tentatively called The Historian’s Folly, is in the works. And if I may so bold so as to be brutally honest, it is currently a piece of bullshit. Let me hope that my inconsistency in delivering magically redeems this sequel.

World Parliaments – Constituencies versus Proportional Representation

Of late there have been many elections taking place around the world. This year we have seen the elections in Malawi, in South Africa, and in India. We have also recently witnessed a UK general election as well as a USA Presidential election. The next USA election is set to take place next November. Considering these elections brings to the fore the matter of the legislature. While the USA has a separate vote for the legislature, it is still one worth considering.

In any case, there are two main systems for the elections of legislatures. Some legislatures are called Parliaments. Others are called Houses or Sabhas. Whatever the nomenclature, most countries have a system of a bicameral Parliament. That is, there are two houses of Parliament – an upper and a lower one. Often, the executive is constituted of members of the lower house of Parliament. Such is the case in the United Kingdom, India, and the Republic of South Africa.

Of course there are far more differences in a nation’s system of government. However, in this post, I wish only to discuss the means by which a legislature is elected.

Constituency Based Election

This is where the nation is divided into constituents or areas. Each constituency sends a member of Parliament. This member is determined by an election in that constituency. Called the first past the post system, the member who attains a majority of the vote in the constituency becomes that constituency’s member of Parliament. This means that a party may gain a majority if enough constituencies are won. This also means that the majority party may not necessarily get a popular vote equivalent to their percentage of seats. For example, if a member wins the constituency with only 51%, and if every member of that party won in every constituency with that majority, they will be represented 100% in Parliament even though 51% of people voted for them. This presents a clear disadvantage of the system. Effectively, even if a party got a major popular vote, they may never win a seat.

This aspect is contentious as it means that people like Donald Trump can come into power even though they do not win the popular vote. Similarly, populists like Narendra Modi may also win, even though their popular vote might have been lower than the seats in Parliament that they receive.

But this system does have its benefits. Notably, members of Parliament, elected by ordinary people in their area, remain accountable to the people of that area. Accountability is a crucial aspect of government.

Proportional Based Election

In terms of democracy, this is a clear winner. Citizens vote for their desired party. The votes are tallied. The percentage that the party wins of the popular vote determines the same percentage that they will receive in Parliament. This means that the people’s choice is clearly represented. This has proved to be a good system in South Africa where it ensures adequate representation of women in Parliament due to the ruling party’s policy. Obviously, this may change if the ruling party changes.

A disadvantage of this system is that members are deployed by the party and not the people. Thus, they are accountable to the party and not the country. This is to the detriment of accountability.

A compromise?

Both systems have their flaws and benefits. As a result, it is seen in some countries that half of Parliament is appointed by popular vote while the other half is constituency based. This is definitely a winner, maintaining both accountability and the people’s choice.

Considering election styles is definitely something worth worldwide attention. To be complacent with any style is to be unable to see its flaws. To question it is to potentially bring about a government that is true to democracy; serving the people. Thus, awareness regarding politics and government is a crucial aspect to civil society.

A Massacre in Palestine – 70 years since Nakba

Free Palestine

As usual, it has been quite some time since my last post. But, something has prompted me to write after a long time, when I had been lost for words for so long. I wish this had not been the case, for the topic today is something which I would rather ignore, but cannot.

As anyone who watches the news will know, the world was shaken on Monday by a disaster of epic proportions – the massacre of at least 60 Palestinian protesters in occupied Gaza by Israel, with over 2000 people injured. This was as a direct result of the USA’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, what Israel claims to be its capital.

Politics, the history, the facts, and the reasons aside, this was a crime against humanity. It was a departure from the elemental human characteristic of compassion – and the smugness with which Israel and the USA have handled it only exacerbates it.

So, the time for conciliatory words is over. And so, unlike my previous post, condemning terrorism, I will be direct. For, as soon as I saw the image of eight-month-old baby Laila who had been murdered by Israel, it incited an anger unparalleled! And this is my response. An attempt, possibly useless and all over the place, at processing the death of so many simply because the Trump-Netanyahu bromance was thirsting for blood once again.

Firstly, I am not opposed to Jewish people. Indeed, I used the intellect of a great Jewish personality, Lesley Hazleton, in my former plea for mercy on people of the Muslim faith. So, using her intellect, while despising her would be deeply hypocritical, something which I vehemently proclaim not to be.

Israel as a state should not exist. To me, based on fact, on history, on logic, there is no two-state solution. That is an ideal for sentimentalists, religious fanatics and people who are propagating their own agendas. For, Israel is the creation of European powers who could no longer deal with their Jewish inhabitants, casting them out, at the expense of the Palestinian people.

In strolls, the orange-faced, yellow-haired, small handed toddler. Rather, forget that (since I am writing a compassionate piece, let me not ridicule a man for his physical impairments). So, in strolls Donald Trump. In my last plea for compassion I had not explicitly taken his wretched name, but now, my anger, and no further need to visit the United States in the near future, compels me to name this man who incites images of a plague, or racism, of the KKK, of Hitler (yes I am not anti-Semitic, I wrote a biography of Hitler), the Apartheid regime, Benjamin Netanyahu, slavery, Islamophobia, and bigoted indifference coupled with white supremacist and patriarchal smugness (is that a thing?). Anyway, back to the point, in strolls, or rather stumbles, Donald Trump, or POTUS as he is so lovingly called by the many AMERICANS (not Palestinians) who voted for him. Sorry? Did I just write a whole paragraph hating on Donald Trump, abandoning the high English you have become accustomed to? Well, firstly, I could carry on, mentioning every member of his sick family, including dear, sweet, loving Ivanka Trump. Secondly, he brings out the worst in me.

Evidently, he brings out the worst in the Israelis too. Disastrous, given the USA’s ill-advised and self-proclaimed role as chief negotiator between Israel and Palestine.

Going back to Israel, in its formation, it was fundamentally the answer to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the pogroms which had begun to overtake Europe around the early twentieth century. Of course, that was not the sole factor, but it was one of the large determining ones. And so, it was decided by the powers that be, to repatriate the Jewish nation in accordance with the testament of a God adhered to by Jews and some Christians – not entirely fair is it?

And so began a cascade of events resulting in what is today known as Nakba (literally, disaster), the 70th year anniversary of which is this year. Strangely, imagining 70 years, one would imagine that the events of that dark 1948 were forgotten, but they were not. For just as the Indians can remember their independence inĀ  1948 so clearly, the Palestinians can remember the loss of theirs equally.

And it brings us back to the issue of home – where do people belong? The argument for the Israeli state is that it is the home of the Jewish people. But this is fundamentally flawed, not only because it is based on the testament of a God that is not universally accepted by all concerned parties, but because the return of a people centuries after their exodus is not only unusual, it is ludicrous (literally to Biblical proportions). It is like suddenly waking up one day and saying that Anglo-Saxon descendants are no longer welcome in England, and sending them off to Germany (from where they came 1000 odd years before), displacing the present German inhabitants in the process.

Obviously, with modern sensibilities, there is no way that Israel or a two-state solution makes sense. That is not to say that all Israeli people should return to Europe, for that is equally as silly (see, the logic must be applied universally, without bias, take notes, Donald Trump).

But this dynamic instead should give us, and importantly, Israel, an insight into what the plight of the Palestinians really is. For as equally as about history and religion as this war is, it is about finding a home. And the fact is, in finding theirs, Israel has taken away Palestine’s.

I do not see an immediate resolution to the 70-year-old problem. Especially not without skilful negotiator twiddling his thumbs across the Atlantic Ocean. But my hope is, that perhaps with this understanding of that has caused the present issue, the Israeli and Palestinian factions can find common ground, not in their skilful negotiators, or lengthy talks, nor in imposed peace treaties, but by the simple understanding of the similarities between the Jewish history and the Palestinian present. And then perhaps, this mutual search for a home can see peace being restored to the Holy Land.