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Welcome to April Edition of Hackwriters

ell surprise surprise we're all still here and so too is North Korea. You can read two views of that situation in this months magazine. Little Fat Kim it seems is crying wolf, but then again could be the dog that barked in the night - we shall see - meanwhile the Cyprus meltdown has been joined by Portugal - the Euro crisis continues forever and Syria gets worse and more lethal by the day.

I was reading in The Times (3.30.13) about a Real Estate Agent, Shaun McClusky in Tucscon, Arizona who wants to give out 'Free Guns' to everyone so they can 'defend' themselves. Tuscon was where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner in a shooting spree that took out six and wounded 13. The Armed Citizen Project is a part of an initiative ongoing there and in Houston, Dallas, Indianaplis, Chicago, Detroit and New York to give out free guns in 'high crime areas. I am sure this will 'help' save lives. It's been three and a half months since Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults dead in Sandy Hook on December 14th 2012. Since that day 3,700 + people in the United States have been killed by guns. Source: SLATE Magazine who are monitoring the data daily for gun deaths in the USA. Refresh the link to find out how many died since I wrote this. On average 83 people a day are killed by guns in the USA. How safe does that make you feel? Why is there little serious political will to ban assault weapons or limit gun use? Why would anyone think handing out free guns like candy would make things better? Perhaps it's something in the water. *By contrast there were 52 gun deaths in the UK in TOTAL in 2012.

4.4.13: The Connecticut Senate approved far-reaching gun control legislation that would be the toughest in the United States.The bill strengthens an existing ban on semiautomatic assault rifles, limits the capacity of ammo magazines and requires background checks for all weapon sales, including at gun shows. It would also establish the nation's first statewide registry for people convicted of crimes involving dangerous weapons. Access to the registry would be available only to law enforcement. Now for all the other states to follow their lead

Other news: Coincidentally Putin's given wealthy Russians three months to sell up their fancy villas overseas and repatriate their millions to Moscow (or else) by July 1st. Now you worry if your money is safe in the banks all propped up by illegal Russian money. The Russians have been keeping property prices astronomically high in London and New York and even parts of Spain. If they all have to sell at once I wonder if that will move the market downwards. Or even start a panic. Personally given a choice between being a billionaire in London or Moscow, I wouldn't choose Moscow.

Everyone says the Euro crisis is over. Don't believe it. There's plenty to worry about in the months ahead. As ever it come at us from a direction we didn't expect... Cyprus is not an exception - it's a glaring indicator of future troubles for Europe and as the noose tightens around the banking institutions in Spain and Italy - a whole lot of freedoms will disappear. (Such as being able to take your money out of a bank or pay wages as in Cyprus). But equally corrupt practices will eventually be discovered and exposed. It's hard for us to imagine what life would be like if the banks suddenly don't open and you can't get cash. Cyprus has had a nasty taste of it for nearly two weeks and the long terms effects of that will not manifest themselves for some months yet. But imagine that happening in London or Paris or Madrid. Do you think people would be content to protest or would they run riot? It would not be pretty, and history is full of such incidents and of whole cities burning. Do not think we are immune just because we are more 'civilised' now. I really doubt we are at all.

There's a ton of issues coming at us in the next few years. Shortages of energy, jobs, food, civil liberties and catastrophic failure of antibiotics - any one of these problems can overwhelm us. Close the banks and it would be like lighting the touch paper. James Skinner writes this month about Spain's Judicial problems. Let's face it politicians have looted Spain since they joined the Euro and with luck they will get their comeuppance. Meanwhile Spain is still in a painful process of drifting apart into seperate countries with different languages and this is a foretaste of what could happen in Belgium (already split into different language groups, or France (united by Napoleon but the Basques want to leave) , or even Germany one day (united under Bismark). The map in 2050 might look a great deal like the maps of 1550. And with it will come the petty wars, local armies, regional languages, closed borders and insular inward looking policies that small tin-pot dictators dearly love. And the Internet will enable it to happen so much faster. Neal Stephenson wrote on this in Diamond Age I seem to recall. I'll be dead, but you'll be on the barricades...

On Choosing A Location

The failure of my current location to make it into The Sunday Times best places to live in the UK list comes as no shock.  Actually I did desperately try to buy in one of the towns listed, Louth in Lincolnshire, but I had the most difficult solicitor money could buy and over the process of a whole year I completely failed to close a deal. 
One of the snags with Louth is damp, (mortgages companies draw a big flood map over the whole town (some of which is on a steep hill) and won’t lend), also the age of Georgian properties is a factor and virtually the whole town is in a conservation area, so you can’t install thermally efficient windows for example or change much of anything.  The survey on one property was so devastating I backed off immediately and another property I nearly purchased recently had a spring suddenly appear under it and I strolled past the other day as water was pouring from the foundations to the river Lud below. So as much as I loath my ex-solicitor, I was saved from a very expensive mistake.

Yes Louth is a very nice place to live and deserving to be in The Sunday Times list but you need money to live in old damp buildings and money is the one thing I never have.

Now I am living by the sea.  In fact in high winds I discover I don’t have to go to the beach, it comes to me.  Twice now my garden has been buried under sand since December.  This week it was buried under snow.  Somehow when I purchased this place I imagined myself going for long strolls on the beach and dunes.  But lacking artic wear to brace myself for the dunes I think I have done less walking since I got here than before.  The amount of dogshit on the dunes isn’t pleasant either.  Love dogs as I do, but not the bombs they leave scattered everywhere.

I am not so sure what makes a town ‘desirable’, amenities, collecting garbage regularly, good schools most likely, but access to sunshine would come high on my list.  And on the East Coast of England it is very much in short supply.  I was thinking that today as I observed a large digger trying to take the sand off the road and back onto the beach – a rather fruitless task as it’s blowing at around 60 mph at the moment and sand is blasting sea front houses and cars as I write this.

Yes of course you can put it all down to Climate Change but in fact the East Coast is notorious for flooding, most notably in 1953 when many drowned in the UK all along the coast and 2000 drowned in Holland as they too have the same problems, sometimes worse, since they are actually below the waterline so to speak. There were massive floods in 1927 too, so I'd say it's more cyclical than anything to do with 'change'.

Now, six months of pretty horrid weather has past and I’m thinking that moving here is a major mistake and I’d better start looking elsewhere.  I guess Cyprus is off the list for now. But certainly warmer would be nice.  That said, my pal Kit still rues the day I took her to Miami in the middle of a hurricane.  I found it pretty exciting but then again it wasn’t my bare legs getting sandblasted. Makes for a lasting memory though.

Enjoy Easter wherever you are and I hope you haven’t booked to come to my beach. It's no longer here.

© The Editor - April 2013
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Sam H is shortlisted for the Leeds Books Awards, longlisted for 'Paperback of the Year' Wirral Award and shortlisted for the Amazing Book Award 2013,

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Sam North is the author of Diamonds – The Rush of 72 (Print & ebook))
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