random thoughts to oil the mind

Month: October 2008

Don’t Extradite Gary McKinnon

Free Gary McKinnon Campaign

This isn’t a case I’ve been following with any particular enthusiasm, but it would appear that Gary McKinnon is losing his battle against the extradition charges laid by the USA. Technically McKinnon was already arrested and prosecuted by the UK authorities prior to these extradition charges. In addition, the calls are made on the basis of a UK-US Extradition Treaty that was ratified after the events (and original prosecutions) and as such is being enforced retrospectively, allowing that the USA is not obliged to provide prima facie evidence for their claims. Whilst there are numerous issues regarding the Treaty that should already provoke concern, McKinnon’s case is clearly too small to spark a debate on the issue, and won’t involve politicians to the extent that extradition charges over a figure like Pinochet in previous years managed. Which of course, shouldn’t come as much surprise, since a man charged with torture of foreign nationals and assassination clearly has more to offer than a Weegie who crazily hacked into poorly protected foreign government computers on some wild conspiracy theory pursuing evidence of alien technologies and the secrets of ‘free energy’. It is therefore refreshing to see a campaign (see link above) organised to prevent the extradition proceedings, and guarantee McKinnon a trial on home soil. Unfortunately, the case looks liable to fail, however it can only be hoped that this failure will not prevent others from campaigning to stand up for those who lack the energies, finances and know-how to represent themselves and make an issue of their plights against large government and corporate bodies.

The Cost of Reading

Costly pile

As an avid reader, it often occurs to me just how second-hand book retailers manage to turn a profit. Even assuming the raw stock can be acquired at very little cost, the vast majority of books can go unsold almost indefinitely, all the while occupying shelf or storage space that costs money to maintain. I read somewhere that on average a second-hand bookseller can expect a third of his stock to be sold within six months, another third to be sold on an indefinite timescale, and the final third to simply go unsold. Obviously this has a knockon effect where turnover is slow. On a recent trip to Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, I came across plenty of bookstores that clearly have to elevate prices to remain profitable. No doubt in their case, the annual book festival and holiday season are a major source of revenue that would otherwise cause most to close their doors in an otherwise small and overcrowded market ecosystem.

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