Phone tapping, billionaires, Doctor Who and a smirk

smaugIs there a difference between tapping the phone of a democratically elected president and tapping the phone of a celebrity, or murder victim? Employees of Rupert Murdoch are facing jail sentences for their roles in the News of the World phone tapping scandals. Should governments face the same repercussions? Probably not. I don’t know international law well enough to comment on government-sanctioned spying. It’s just sad that we live in a world where people feel the need to spy at all. I’m innocent, and yet I’ll be listening for that tell-tale click on the phone next time I’m ranting about politics to my family or friends. If I look out the window and see a man in a yellow hard-hat tinkering with the telephone exchange … I’ll hang up and wait for the men in black suits.

Bill and Melinda Gates: thank goodness for these two. They make being billionaires ‘cool’. I’m a big fan of Sir Richard Branson too. His biography is inspiring. Gina Rinehart, who inherited her millions, evokes a different set of feelings. ‘If you’re jealous of those with money,’ Gina wrote, ‘don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself – spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.’

A thoughtful billionaire would never use the world ‘jealous’ in this context, or risk sounding like Smaug the dragon.

Clive Palmer: if you build it, they will come. I like this guy. He builds dinosaur theme parks and Titanics. He’s also a conspiracy theorist. Colourful Clive. Good on ya, mate!

All this talk of billionaires, and I’ve forgotten to get my lotto ticket …

doctor whoDoctor Who. This morning I watched the 50th Anniversary addition of this brilliant British series. Doctor Who proves that amazing special effects are no match for great scripting and excellent acting. Despite not having a Hollywood budget, this BBC sci-fi series kicks butt. Long live the Doctor!

andrew bolt







I tuned into the Bolt Report for the first time this morning. What a wonderful smirk Andrew Bolt has. It never left his face. Is it permanent? Is he Channel Ten’s answer to The Joker?

Jonathan K Benton

Movie Review – Pan's Labyrinth.

ofeliaThere’s a reason I don’t review books/movies that I believe possess no redeeming qualities:  I’m an author, and I don’t have time to write a review about something that doesn’t inspire me. There are not enough hours in the week to waste precious keyboard time on something I didn’t enjoy. I likely never finished the novel or movie anyway, which rarely happens because I choose my passions carefully. As an author, if I’ve got nothing nice to say about someone else’s art, it’s better left unsaid. My dad once told me never to throw stones in glass houses. It’s great advice. If I review something on this blog, I think it’s worth the effort.

I’m starting with one of the best. It’s a movie. Check out how I categorise movies here.




Pan’s Labyrinth.

vidalThis dark fantasy is not for the faint hearted. There is no creature on the silver screen more terrifying than the Pale Man, no human more selfishly evil than Vidal. Ofelia’s innocent beauty is pitted against an overwhelming evil … Picture a small but brilliant, white light shining in an endless darkness.

pale manEverything works here. The haunting soundtrack, brilliant acting and excellent script. Even the special effects are carefully managed so as not to eclipse the beautiful fairy tale at the heart of this incredible movie.

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth is an inspired piece of cinema. Definitely not for the faint hearted.

Ranking: Terrifying Movie.

Jonathan K Benton

If it was your wand, would you wave it?

wandImagine a magic wand. It was yours alone to wave. One magnificent flourish would guarantee the same standard of shelter, education and health care to everyone on the planet – no exceptions. No more mansions, no more homeless. One size fits all. ‘Them’s the rules’.

Think carefully before you wave your wand. You’d be giving a drug-pedalling pimp a house and taking a castle from a philanthropist on the cusp of funding a cure for cancer. The reverse is equally true. Shelter would be provided to people living in third-world poverty, and mansions would be removed from greedy warlords who have profited on the misery of the innocent. There are billions of variables to this offer. Consider them all. You studied hard at school to buy a mansion with a pool. If you waved your wand, this dream could no longer be a reality. Houses would be the same, built for subsistence to accommodate a burgeoning population – lavish to the billions currently living in poverty, basic to the millions not.

For every argument there’s a counter argument. Surely the doctor working tirelessly to save lives is entitled to a bigger house than the lazy person unwilling to work at all. Surely a single parent working two jobs to make ends meet should go to bed knowing that their children have access to the same education and health care as the kids whose parents have inherited their wealth.

Waving your wand does not prevent tragedy, bullying, crime and bad choices. It does ensure every child has a chance to blossom inside the basics: shelter, education and health care.

Is the world beyond the wand even possible? Doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers and trades people – how would we show individuals like this that we value their contribution? Is our thanks enough? I don’t think so. Hard work and positive contributions to society have to be recognised and rewarded. If we don’t, their ranks would dwindle.

Waving the wand is a philosophical ideal. Economists would need to find a way to redistribute resources without society breaking down. Humanity would need to settle on a new form of reward that would keep people motivated. We are not yet capable of universal altruism. Perhaps we never will.

But I know this – the child you don’t know is just as precious as the child you do. If someone you loved was living on the street through no fault of their own; if this someone needed immediate health care; if you could not afford to help them … I bet you’d wave the wand.

I know I would.

Jonathan K Benton

My favourite first sentences – in no particular order. Jonathan K Benton

bookWithout a great book to support them, the following sentences might not have been so great. Each sentence appeals to me in a different way. For example: Douglas Adams’s unique voice exudes personality. Dickens’s words are profound, and who knew C. S. Lewis was a comedian?

Here they are, in no particular order:




‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way –’

Charles Dickens The Tale of Two Cities

‘There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.’

C. S Lewis The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

 ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’

J. R. R. Tolkien The Hobbit

‘Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.’

Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

‘All children, except one, grow up.’

J. M. Barrie Peter Pan

‘When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.’

Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games

‘The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm.’

Ray Bradbury Something Wicked This Way Comes

Let me know your favourite first sentence and I will add them to this post. I’ll even read the book, if I haven’t already.

Jonathan K Benton