We Need to Talk
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The Book
Scimonoce
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The Book
The System
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The Book
Rescue Trooper
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The Book
Road to Tashkent
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Buy it online
Humor
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The stories
Like Ants
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Buy it online
Dear Bill
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Dear Bill

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ANDY TURNBULL'S WEBSITE

all material on this site © Andy Turnbull, 2006

Who is this Turnbull guy, anyway?

Andy Turnbull has worked as reporter, photographer and desk-man on several daily newspapers, has been editor of two weekly papers and of three trade magazines and is the author of a couple of books by commercial publishers. His free-lance articles have appeared in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Evening Telegram, Toronto Sun, Star Weekly, Weekend, The Canadian, Maclean's, Canadian Business and Reader's Digest and other magazines in Canada, Japan Times in Japan, Spotlight, Spot-On and Fernfahrer in Germany, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Road King, Overdrive and other magazines in the United States, The Geographical, Truck and Trucking International in England, Truck'n Life in Australia and others. He has worked in every province and territory of Canada and also in the United States, Panama, Jamaica, Mexico, England, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, France, Spain, Australia, Japan, Russia, Poland, Belarus and Central Asia.

In the 1960's he shot TV newsfilm for CKCO-TV, CFTO-TV and other stations and in the 1970's he recorded feature clips and a one-hour show for CBC radio. His magazine articles have won awards in Canada and the United States and By Truck to the North (co-authored with Debora Pearson) won the 1999 Norma Fleck award for the best kids' book in Canada, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award in 1999 and won the Hackmatack Award in 2000.

So what's he doing now?

After 40 years writing the kind of stuff that sells Turnbull is now semi-retired and able to write things he considers important. The three non-fiction books in this series (so far) are Scimonoce, The System and We Need to Talk.


The Books

We Need To Talk

We Need to Talk

This is my newest book. I started it during an election campaign, when I was disgusted by the promises that various politicians were making. I knew that none of them planned to keep their promises, of course but we have some some very real problems in the world today -- including climate change, war, natural disasters and the threats of global famine and/or plague that could kill billions of people -- and I thought our politicians should at least show us they were aware of them.

But no. All the average politician cares about is the power and the prestige and the access to the public purse that comes with office, and they all know that the easiest way to get elected is with dumb promises.

Even now our roads, sewers, water mains and other infrastructure are breaking down and we are closing schools and hospitals for lack of money. These are very real problems but rather than address them some politicians promise to reduce taxes. Some of them also promise to spend more money, of course, but the only way they can do is by -- in effect -- printing money. That will bankrupt the country but if he can get elected, that's all the average politician cares about.

Even if one politician did want to make a difference, this is the 21st century and the laws, institutions and attitudes left over from the 19th and 20th are no longer appropriate.

We Need to Talk is an iconoclastic collection of fresh ideas that offers an alternative to blind habit and unthinking conformity. It analyzes the threats of the new age and suggests appropriate responses that could provide prosperity for all and give Canada global influence and a government that truly represents the will of the people.

It recognizes the need for individual initiative and, at the same time, for protection of the commons. You may not agree with all the ideas, but this book will give you something to think about.

We Need to Talk

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Scimonoce

The book

Most of this book was written more than ten years ago and some things have changed since the terrorist attack of 9/11, the "war on terror," the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the failure of the oil supply, but the basic problems are still there, and the ideas are still valid.

Scimonoce takes a radical and sensible look at the so-called "science" of economics.

Most economists assume that anything that can be exchanged for money can be counted as wealth. Alfred Marshall, generally recognized as the father of modern economics, once said "a lawyer's brief is just as real as a sack of potatoes."

But if a farmer produces a bumper crop of potatoes our cost of living goes down, and if a lawyer produces more briefs our cost of living goes up. Clearly, the two are not equivalent.

The belief that paperwork is as valuable as vegetables, and other misconceptions endorsed by economists, are driving the world to poverty.

In clear, readable language Scimonoce shows how our economic system counts crimes and disasters as "economic benefits," and how it encourages people to be parasites and predators rather than productive workers.

It shows how banks create their own money, and how this money erodes the value of our national currency. It shows how mutual funds and the stock market encourage the destruction of viable businesses.

It shows how the "global economy" impoverishes rich and poor nations alike, how it spreads pests around the world and how it will someday help spread a plague that will kill tens of millions of people.

It exposes the farce of the "post industrial economy" and shows that when we use the people of the third world for cheap labor, we rob them and ourselves.

Most national economies are unstable. Scimonoce explains what is wrong, and how we can fix it.

Scimonoce

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The System

The System

This book takes a radical new view of the world and of human culture.

Most of us think people run the world, but The System argues that it's not people but the relationships between people, between systems and between the self-organized systems that I call 'metasystems' that control our future.

Nobody wants war, but corporations that make and sell weapons do better if war threatens. Senior military officers need the threat of war to promote their careers and politicians know that if the nation is threatened, the people will rally behind them.

That's why the metasystem we call the Military Industrial Complex developed. American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said that to understand the cold war you had to realize that the military industrial complexes of the United States and Russia were united in a war against the civilians of both countries.

The Military Industrial Complex is a well-known metasystem but it's not the only one. The Establishment is also well-known, and there are literally thousands of others, large and small. Each has its own program and it is the interaction of these programs that decides our future.

We can see one possible future in the lives of ants and termites. The insects are very different - ants are carnivores descended from wasps and termites are cellulose-eaters descended from cockroaches - but their systems are similar and, in 100 million years, both have evolved to fit their systems. Other systems unite groups of animals and other life forms into a single entity.

The System tracks the development of The System that rules humanity from its probable origin, when a band of robbers became an army and captured and held a prehistoric craft village, to the present day. It shows how the metasystem of metasystems that I call The System developed, how it controls our lives and how it may eventually kill us or destroy our humanity. In the end, if humanity survives, The System will mold us into a race of automatons.

But that doesn't have to happen. If we know how The System works we can control it, and create the future we want.

The System does not answer all questions but it does explain why the world totters on the edge of disaster. We can't defeat The System but we can understand it, and if we can understand it, we can control it.

The System

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Rescue Trooper

Rescue Trooper

This is my only fiction book, and a good example of something I decry when other people do it -- fiction written as propaganda, to make a political point. In this case I don't apologize because I think my point -- that it would make more sense for Canada to maintain an international rescue corps than to maintain conventional armed forces -- is valid. This is a theme I've supported for a long time -- you'll also find the argument in the "Defence" section of We Need to Talk. I wrote this book years ago, during the cold war, and had a few copies printed, but it was never widely distributed. I include it here because I still think it's a good read, and an idea that makes even more sense now than it did in the cold war.

You might also look at it as a lesson in propaganda, because it doesn't look like propaganda and many people would not recognize it as propaganda but, in this case, you have the author's word that it is.


Rescue Trooper

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Road to Tashkent

Road to Tashkent

This book has never been published, but it should have been. On one level it's a travel story about riding a truck that is delivering a computer from the south of England to the head office of the Bank of Uzbekistan, in Tashkent, but it's more than that.

It's also a celebration of trade and trucking, and how they contributed to the development and still contribute to the maintenance of modern civilization.

This trip followed one of the routes of the old Silk Road and while we never actually entered China, we passed within sight of mountains within China. One of the drivers in our group route was robbed, another foiled an attempted robbery and two of them had to patch up one truck after a breakdown in Siberia, hundreds of miles from help.

I compare this trip to the old days of the Silk Road, and the comparison is not a stretch. In fact the Silk Road is now opening up again, and the truckers and traders who travel it are writing new chapters in the history of trade and adventure.

Road to Tashkent

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Like Ants

Like ants, humans are so completely socialized that we can't live without the help of other humans. Most of us don't collect our own food, make our own clothes or build our own shelter, and some pay others to care for their children. Instead of taking care of ourselves we live in shelters that others have built, wear clothes that others have made, eat food that others have prepared and work at jobs to produce goods that others will use.

In Like Ants I track the development of human socialization in the past and try to predict its probable course in the future. Along the way I expose some fallacies in the conventional view of human development and warn of some developments that threaten to make future generations less than human.

This was published commercially so I can't give it away, but you can buy it on line or from major book stores. To find it, google "Like Ants + Algora".

Buy it online

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An Open Letter To Bill Gates

What would you do with a billion dollars? It's too much to spend on yourself so, like other billionaires, you would probably give it away. Some support art galleries, museums and other institutions that cater to the uppr and middle classes, but many try to help the poor.

Often, they try to do it with doctors and medicines and we see that as noble, but I have some questions. I grant you that Albert Schweitzer, for example, was a great humanitarian and that he saved hundreds or thousands of human lives -- but the people he saved all had children who had children who had children who will have more children in an over-populated world. Many of the descendants of people he saved have already starved to death, many more are starving now and even more will starve in the future. Ultimately, Schweitzer may be responsible for more human suffering than Adolf Hitler.

I recognize the need for doctors and medicine but I suggest that the best medicine for many of the world's poor would be a plentiful supply of food and, with climate change and other developments that are not as well publicized, the world's rich and poor alike face the threat of a global famine.

More than 200 years ago Thomas Robert Malthus predicted that the human population will eventually out-grow our ability to produce food and in 1968 biologist Paul Ehrlich said the global famine would start in the 1970s. It didn't because Norman Borlaug's {green revolution kicked off a huge increase in grain production but our per-capita production of grain peaked in 1984 and has been falling ever since.

And it will probably continue to fall because modern hybrid grains need a lot of water, and much of the world is now falling into drought. Much of our farmland is being worked out and, even more serious, standardization on a few varieties of very-productive grains increases the danger that a single pest or disease could wipe out much of the world's food supply.

I argue that the best use of a large fortune would be to try to guarantee the world's food supply -- for rich and poor alike -- and I've put some ideas into this open letter. It's addressed directly to Bill Gates because, in partnership with Warren Buffet, he is probably the world's leading philanthropist but, as the subtitle says, its also addressed to everyone else with lots of money and a social conscience.

Dear Bill

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Andy Turnbull's humor


Humor

As a newspaper reporter I wrote the occasional humorous piece and for a couple of years I wrote for a humorous magazine. Here are a few light pieces as used by the magazine, and at least one that wasn't. This is light reading, mostly for fun, and included here partly to boost my ego. Humor me.

Humor

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