Sunday, 2 June 2019

Design of book covers


Recently, I began to focus on designing book covers. Microsoft Publisher was my initial choice, but it has a severe design flaw that resulted in one of their technical staff being allowed access to my PC to seek a solution. The effort did not succeed, so I abandoned the software package and chose another. It is a rival to Adobe Photoshop but only has a one-off fee and lots of tutorials to support it. The problem? Publisher cannot correctly edit unwanted picture backgrounds on export for printing in PDF format. They show as square, white backgrounds surrounding the main image, even though they are invisible within the original publisher picture.
     I have now completed four books in the Snippets series, as per www.terrytumbler.blogspot.com. These are approx. 30,000 words long, self-contained extracts of full-length books and are intended for busy readers who want something shorter to evaluate. The cost to me of handing out these 'snippets' is just over 2 euros each for a paperback.
     I have also completed a rewrite of a full paperback, which is three times as long, with the redesigned cover going through the publishing routine without a hitch, the first time, using Amazon. The ISBN to uniquely identify it in the publishing world is Amazon's own and cost me nothing.
     The software is Affinity Photo, but is not for the faint-hearted. For my specific needs as a cover designer, it is in a vastly superior league to MS Publisher and well worth the €54 I paid. I needed a half-day to get up to speed by finding and viewing online tutorials, plus reading the free, in-depth guide.
     It will save me a bundle in fees paid to professional designers, who typically charge $120. These know all about bleeds, gutters, odd and even pages, margins and the like. So do I.
If anyone reading this needs advice, I can be contacted directly at terrytumbler@gmail.com

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The death of parliamentary democracy


It is a case of too little, too late. The 1922 committee has failed to act in a coordinated way to tackle the impending disaster. It clearly lacks a shared vision and is riven with dissent.
     Now the whole party must fear for its future, which is bleak. Serves its right, for electing a dogged, perverse PM to continue unchecked, acting as a dictator.
     A true, gutsy, leader can only hope to salvage something from this self-imposed failure to honour its basic commitment and do what the electorate wanted.
     After the clearout of the weasels and stoats from parliament, we can start afresh. Let's continue to have and abide by referendums whatever the MPs insist is best for voters.
A new style of participative democracy is coming, but not with the current lot at the helm.

Friday, 3 May 2019

As many as 16 other countries want to quit the EU

EU on BRINK: Eurosceptics assemble in Warsaw to demand exit from bloc – 'We want out'

Thousands of anti-European Union voters marched down the city centre of Poland's capital Warsaw to demand Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki take the country out of the bloc.
     Wednesday 2nd May, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hosted a one-day summit with the leaders of the newest 13 EU member states after which he urged Brussels to relinquish more power to national governments.
     Mr Morawiecki said: "Where it doesn't have to, the European Union should leave member countries to their own competences.
"We say this with a single Central European voice."

Britain on its own is it, really? Can’t make it as a small country?
Get these countries on board and set up a new currency, the Beuro. Then we can start to compete on level terms with that powerhouse, Germany, which is now in recession.

I’ll never understand why anyone should want to stay in this undemocratic block. It is run like a dining club at exorbitant cost by effete bureaucrats.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Hacking on the web

Gauging from a reply to my raising a query with Amazon, this is the first time that this behemoth admits to having put security restrictions in place on accounting information. This is a big thing, since they have been raiding accounts for ages in order to track friendship and family links. This is done to delete favourable reviews that may or may not be impartial. It is not permissible under Data Protection legislation and an odd way for a major book publisher to behave.
     This suggests that the Data Protection laws are beginning to stop Amazon’s illegal searches to establish links between people.
     Likewise, Google is deleting most accumulated Contacts. This will obliterate the records of those authors who build them up in order to get their Books promoted. Now, I only have three contacts in my list, and some have entirely disappeared from both the Correo Outlook accounts on my personal PC as well as those held online, elsewhere (On the Cloud etc).
    This indicates that the central intelligence agencies are at work, to prevent hacking and hostile governments from abusing the web to manipulate its users’ records. One update from Microsoft (version 1809) rid my Chinese-built Lenovo PC of the personal data; the HP PC it left untouched.
     The same thing happened when, to restore the seriously diminished WiFi internet speed of the affected PC, I downloaded driver software that cleared the problem. My data again disappeared.
     I expect WhatsApp to have to change the way it operates, since my Family group has been cut back without any intervention from those in it.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

False claims about what leaving the EU entails

SWITZERLAND has been extremely successful outside the EU at negotiating trade deals. The Alpine country managed to open markets of more than £26 trillion, an economist claimed in a book.

     In 2016 book "Myth and Paradox of the Single Market: How the Trade Benefits of EU Membership Have Been Mis-sold", leading economist Michael Burrage argues that the free trade agreements concluded by the EU are not comparable to the ones of independent countries such as Switzerland.
     Mr Burrage claims the Alpine country has none of the “heft” or “clout” or “negotiating leverage that the CBI and many businesses consider essential in trade negotiations”, but has performed considerably better outside the bloc.
     The author explained: “In terms of the absolute size of the markets opened, in some unknown manner and degree, to freer trade in services, the EU agreements total $4.8tn.
     “Whereas Swiss FTAs have opened markets of $35.8tn (£26tn) to their services exporters, which is more than seven times larger than those opened by EU negotiators.”
     Mr Burrage also noted how the GDP of the countries with an EU agreement in force differed from independent countries.
     He said: “Since 1970, the EC has concluded 37 agreements, most of them with small economies, some multi-country.
     "The aggregate GDP in 2015 of the 55 countries with an EU agreement in force in January 2014 is $7.7tn."

Saturday, 9 March 2019

A Moral Dilemma

Recently, Jacob Rees Mogg said he would be inclined to allow the wife of an ISIS fighter back into Britain, where she was born.
     The wife in question was hiding in a refugee camp in Syria, amongst the people ISIS had subjected to acts of terrorism too horrible to mention.
     Let us take this situation to a higher level. Imagine the choice was not made in isolation, but with one of her victims standing alongside her. The victim is a Yazidi, whose race has been subjected to genocide. ISIS has murdered, raped and tortured many like her.
     Who would you choose, the Yazidi or the ISIS terrorist’s wife, who has shown no remorse? The displaced, innocent Yazidi girl or the ISIS bride who regards seeing a decapitated victim’s head in a trash can as a normal event?
     I suspect that those currently calling Sajid Javid a hard-hearted monster for not having permitted her and her sadly deceased baby back into the country are not seeing events in perspective.
     Which one would you choose to house as a refugee? Who is the most deserving between them?
     My choice would be neither, since they both need the utmost help in rebuilding lives where the devastation occurred.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Wizen up – numero 1 in an ongoing series


Get streetwise, somewhat belatedly, like I tend to do.

This is the first in an ongoing series recounting real life experiences in Spain.

It happened when my son-in-law, my ‘yerno’ passed on a tip that one of his buddies gave him.
     He said, “Buy a cheap 5 litre plastic container of red wine from the supermarket Mercadona, decant it twice and enjoy the flavour. It’s not bad! Here, try it yourself.” It was okay good, so I took the plunge.
     Following his suggestion, I didn’t buy the cheapest. I duly decanted it twice, using an existing, empty bodega plastic container also of 5 litre capacity. Much to my surprise, the bodega container was marginally smaller. I had a generous glass of wine left over!
     I asked myself, “This couldn’t be a mistake, could it? Have I been short-changed all these years of innocent loyalty? Where’s my 1 litre Pyrex jar measure?
     I duly used a 6 litre plastic container of drinking water and poured it into an empty, sterilised bodega plastic container, 1 litre at a time. There again, was a shortfall when I reached the fifth litre. To this can be added the regular failure by staff in the bodega to fill the 5 litre bodega container because of the froth on the poured wine.
     Who would you trust for veracity, Mercadona or the bodega? It may be that the bodega itself is unaware of the dodgy supplier, but I have seen many a restauranteur wheel out a trolley full of these containers, unaware of the discrepancy.
     The next day, our freshly decanted bottle of Dominio de Borgia tinto 13.5º wine at €1.20 per litre, IVA incluiso, genuinely tasted better than the more expensive version from the bodega.

Do you ever feel you’ve been suckered?

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

An opportunity presents itself


In any situation, it pays to take a step back and review a dilemma at arm’s length.
In this instance, I have in mind a major problem with which Chris Grayling, Minister for Transport, is undoubtedly grappling.
     It is called HS2, the High Speed rail link that is rapidly spiraling in projected cost and is in danger of being cancelled.
     I ask the fundamental question: is rail travel the only way forward? My arm’s length view is that it is fast becoming obsolete, in comparison with road travel. Its infrastructure is costly, its dependence on schedules is unnecessary, and it is a noisy intrusion for those who dwell on its borders and have to be compensated to move elsewhere. Andy Burnham, now Mayor of Manchester, believes that other rail routes in the north are much more needed and less costly than a link to London that ultimately only really benefits the latter city.
      The question is: will Chris Grayling press on regardless with what increasingly looks like becoming a white elephant?
     As suggested before, apparently without the notion being investigated for its feasibility, the government should ditch the current approach, whilst it is in its virginity, and compare the total cost with that of a special type of road. On its surface, in both directions, would run an endless, high-speed stream of self-drive vehicles, with stations en-route feeding people and cargoes into feeder lanes. At each terminal station, the incoming vehicles would loop back to an outgoing, low kerbside platform for completion of the loop.
     It would be entirely automated and driverless, with no schedules, no empty seats, and stockyards nearby for temporary storage of the rolling stock.
     The vehicles would be self-charging, guided along the roadways by the equivalent of cats’ eyes, to replenish and guide them on their way, using the same technology as developed for unconventional railways, like maglev; see
This uses two sets of magnets, one set to repel and push the train up off the track, then another set to move the 'floating train' ahead at great speed taking advantage of the lack of friction. Along certain "medium range" routes (usually 200–400 miles) maglev propelled vehicles could compete favorably against high speed trains and airplanes. Thus, a maglev propelled vehicle could silently transport passengers and goods, the latter at separate and less busy times of the day and night, along dedicated routes at far lower cost than that of railways.
     The beauty of the revised HS2 project is that it would lend itself to development of a project that would not have built-in obsolescence, would be a showcase for British engineering in the same mould as engineering projects by Isambard Brunel, and is not so revolutionary as to strike fear in the heart of a timid Minister of Transport (not necessarily the present incumbent).
     In addition, an interim version of this system could rapidly be adopted to address the severe overcrowding and delays on commuter rail services into some parts of London.

At the start of this article, I stated that, “An opportunity presents itself”. What better opportunity could there be than for the government to assume responsibility for the Honda plant being vacated in Swindon? They could then invite tenders to supply self-drive electric vehicles for the new style of transport on special routes.
   A triple whammy if ever I saw one.



Sunday, 17 February 2019

How many dimensions are there in real life?


I give you a quote by Jenni Young:
"Pause and Remember: Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way." – Jenni Young
Then I ask the question how many dimensions are there in real life?
To my way of thinking, there is more to life than the simple choices that this quote presumes.
I give you another quote from the same font of wisdom:
“Pause and remember— No one is coming to rescue you from yourself; your inner demons, your lack of confidence, your dissatisfaction with yourself and life. Only self-love and good decisions will rescue you.” – Jenni Young 2014
To my pragmatical way of thinking, these two quotes embody a parochial attitude that is unreal and two-dimensional. There are those who may say the equivalent of ‘amen’ to such sentiments. They are, in my not so humble view, either expressing sorrow for those who repeat the quotes mindlessly, or who swallow them hook line and sinker whilst peeling veg at the village trough, metaphorically speaking.
I retort, using key points strategy,
- If a loved one dies, is that physically temporary?
- If a bayonet is being shoved into and twisted in your belly, for target practise, is that physically temporary?
- After death, do we really have a comforting expectation that we will reunite in a place we could regard as heavenly?
Life itself is surely temporary, not just the episodes in it, so how can anyone be assured that better days are on the way? One might as well pronounce that when life is good you’d better make the most of it because it won’t last forever. It’s the same thing, isn’t it? Amen to that too!
     Now in case any of you think that I am being morbid, rest assured that I have no inner demons, nor do I lack confidence, and my satisfaction with life is relatively high, given the fact that with longer life comes the normal wear and tear. I equate self-love with egoism, and have learnt to live with my decisions, good and bad.
     ‘Each to his own!’ as one sour recipient of my pearls of counter-wisdom riposted, when I had the temerity to question her lofty, self-deluding preachings, in Jenni Young’s vein, from a false pulpit.
     I consider myself lucky not to be living in a settled country, where scorched earth policies are not practiced against minorities, where starvation and poverty is not the rule of life, and the likes of me can scorn at the shallow quotes of sheltered, harmless nonces like Jenni Young without fear of retribution. Or can I? there are militant vegans around who are increasingly strident in their demands that I adopt a diet that meets with their approval.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The power of the human brain


There are those who are convinced, beyond all reasonable logic, that the power of the human brain can be harnessed to overcome physical ailments.
     This may be true, if the advocate of alternative treatments and their small army of believers are in robust good health, but what if they aren't? Self-belief is one thing, achievement another. I commented about this recently on Facebook to one adherent of this belief, to receive a comment by someone else, a lady , stating that her husband was told by his doctor that he would die soon. Yet, he was still alive and with his family umpteen years later. Medical misdiagnosis? Possibly yes, but blind faith expressing a miracle is one thing, malpractice another. There are too many cases I’ve read of desperate people who are terminally and irrefutably ill, but who invariably die as forecast.
     I will always do my utmost to be positive if similarly afflicted, but why is it I come across people in robust good health who are inclined to give false hope to others who may be at death’s door?
     In contrast, I have come across one person whose healing powers seem to be legendary. What I saw on TV convinced me that he is a genuine healer, not yet another charlatan preaching to the converted from a false pulpit. His name is Chrissie Goldsmith. See https://www.charliegoldsmith.com/.
     On the other hand, I have met someone else who firmly believes that the brain has the ability to overcome health problems, based on his own experiences, like cataracts evaporating of their own accord.
      This person, in his eighties, suffers badly from the shakes. It is a spectacle to observe him reading a tract from a sheet of paper. I have a theory on how he copes with this disability so well. It goes like this:
     A gun synchronizer, sometimes rather less accurately called an interrupter, is attached to the armament of a single-propeller aircraft so it can fire through the arc of its spinning propeller without bullets striking the blades.
    The man I am referring to has clearly used his brain to achieve this synchronization, and thus continues to read without stuttering or spluttering. It is a sight to behold. I only hope I don’t have to adapt my brain to use my withering body in a similar way.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Thought for the day

Taken from the sugar sachets I use in Spanish cafés. This one reads,
"Life is like riding a bicycle. You press on, pedalling to maintain equilibrium,  until you reach your destination."

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

“We have no desire to return to a hard border”

Today, on the 23rd January 2019, as reported by the ever gullible Kay Burley, this was the theme of local farmers’ representatives in Northern Ireland.
     As she waved gaily in the direction of the border leading to Southern Ireland, she was blissfully unaware of the partially-screened official vehicle parked facing incoming traffic.
On its roof was a whopping satellite dish.
     No hard border? Who’s kidding whom? No wonder they’ve had recent successes in snaring illegal trafficked goods.
     Keep up the good work, NI’s border guards, it’s only the EU that is capable of distracting the likes of Olly Robbins, May’s disciple, into making it into a big issue. There must be something bigger in the wings that will cause Barnier’s team to chortle if they succeed.


Saturday, 19 January 2019

A determined way to end the Brexit infighting

The temptation to call a snap election, to take effect in early April, should be irresistible to any truly resolute leader in May's dilemma. It would ensure the UK falls out of the EU by default, as Article 50 kicks in. The country would then have the chance to clear out MPs who are not fulfilling their roles on behalf of the majority of their constituencies.
     Simply announce it shortly in advance, to see how the EU responds. In the meantime, start wooing the young voters into understanding that a seat at the EU table is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

May's version of Brexit


It reminds me of Wind in the Willows
Can someone tell me precisely where the shortcomings are in May's draft treaty? I hear a lot of MPs saying they exist, but give no supporting evidence.
     Granted, the small print was drafted by the ultimate arch Remainer, Oliver Robbins. Granted, May listens to all who she encourages to consult her, but then she seems to ignore them, anyway.
     Her vacillations are public knowledge. There is no telling what concessions will be made to appease those who are hostile to Brexit and the ultimate bargaining tool of No Deal. Without this hanging over the EU's head, what chance do the dunces who oppose it think we will have, by way of leverage? If it happens, it will be because of EU intransigence, not that of the UK.
     I see nowt wrong with abiding by WTO rules. The squabbling MPs who oppose it must be the worst negotiators imaginable.
     I fear that our PM lacks the commitment to truly do what is best for the UK.
Come the next election, I sincerely hope the electorate will vote to clear out the weasels and stoats that represent us in both houses.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Rising costs and rotten services bedevil Rail Transport


I have a revolutionary proposal. Implement an entirely new approach to this costly and inefficient service.
     Instead of running trains on lines, start replacing them with communally-shared self-drive cars perpetually running on the same routes. The tracks and power lines would be ripped up, to provide a smooth surface for the new vehicles to drive on, electrically powered. They would be fitted with sensors in order to maintain safety and no other types of traffic would be permitted to use these routes.
     Stations would exist en route, with journeys terminating in selected major towns, where they would loop back to make return journeys on parallel ‘roads’.
     Done sensibly, this system would do away with timetables and smoothen the travel experience.
      I call them cars, but as long as they are standardized in size and appearance, it doesn’t matter. They should also be bulk-purchased from major companies for rental to commuters and users in general.