Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 10

Bobbing Around

Volume Thirteen, Number Ten
May, 2014

Bob Rich’s (melting ice coloured) rave

email

bobswriting.com anxietyanddepression-help.com/ mudsmith.net/ other issues

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
A divestment letter to my universities
And an investment letter to my new bank
Interview with Michael Michalko: What is creativity?
Fun cooperation in a charity project

*Responses to past issues
Responses to my little survey
Can Alcohol Dependence Be Cured? from David Norman

*Politics
Palm Sunday rally for refugees
Scientific validation that America is an oligarchy not a democracy
Australia’s coal industry inspired by Hitler?

*Environment
Japanese intend to circumvent court ruling
Why current population growth is costing us the Earth, by Roger Martin
Climate change is NOW
Find an ethical paper option at your local store

*Good news
Avoiding climate catastrophe is super cheap — but only if we act now, by Joe Romm
Solar Hawaii leads
Jury awards $3 million in first fracking case
VicWind is going national

*Humanitarian
Write a letter to a refugee, by Julian Burnside, QC

*Technology
How to stop marine oil spills

*Deeper issues
Joan Baez: decency in response to unfairness
Reincarnation and Christianity
Do you think you reincarnated to live a horrible life?

*Psychology
I’m obsessed about dying
How can I ever be happy when I hate myself?
Scarred by junkie parents
I am bisexual, autistic, bipolar and more

*Health
Long term health monitoring at Morwell

*For writers
Flash fiction contest
Describe your life in 6 words, by Michael Michelko

*What my friends want you to know
May is for creating sustainability
Webinar: moving the opinions of climate change deniers
Help Canadian farmers oppose Monsanto, from SumOfUs
Petition: Rio Tinto, stop!
Solar expo, 8th-9th May 2014

*Book reviews
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by
  Liana Hammersley
  Beverley Bateman
  BronxRev
The Hybrid Writer, by Dianne Sagan
Allison’s War, by Margaret Tanner
Resilience, by Anne Deveson
Global Insanity by James Coffman and Don Mickulecky

*A bit of fun


I am responsible for anything I have written. However, where I reproduce contributions from other people, I do not necessarily endorse their opinions. I may or may not agree with them, but give them the courtesy of a forum.


Bobbing Around is COPYRIGHTED. No part of it may be reproduced in any form, at any venue, without the express permission of the publisher (ME!) and the author if that is another person. You may forward the entire magazine to anyone else.

From me to you

A divestment letter to my universities
And an investment letter to my new bank
Interview with Michael Michalko: What is creativity?
Fun cooperation in a charity project

 

A divestment letter to my universities

I obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Sydney University, and a Ph.D. from Monash. It has come to my notice that the eight major Australian universities, including these two, are hostile to the idea of divesting from carbon-intensive investments. I have sent the following email to both, varying the opening of course:

The Vice-Chancellor,
Sydney University

I received my B.Sc. (Hons 1) from Sydney in 1965 and M.Sc. in 1967. Because I was a parent of young children, I took an interest in environmental matters, and hindsight has fully justified this. The world we have now is what I predicted then, unfortunately.

Doing a little more prediction, it’s obvious that carbon-intensive industries face a bleak future. The market for their products will disappear. If the University has investments in such industries, it is being very shortsighted. Statistics show that it is perfectly possible to divest from them, without financial loss or risk. In fact, risk will be significantly reduced, and returns may be higher.

As a starting point, please tell me:

– How do you manage climate change risk impacts on the university portfolio?

– What proportion of the portfolio is invested in high-carbon investments?

– What proportion of the portfolio is invested in low-carbon investments?

– How do you hedge your climate risk?

– How do you engage with high-carbon exposed companies regarding these risks and have you got any example?

It would seem logical to allow all of your current and future students, staff, alumni and other stakeholders to see this type of information by disclosing to the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (www.AODProject.Net), the world leader on investor disclosure.

I admire the university’s promotion of transparency and open engagement with stakeholders and I therefore reserve the right to post any of your responses on The Vital Few website to share with other university stakeholders.

I look forward to hearing from you.


And an investment letter to my new bank

Ms Wilma Gibson
Manager,
Bendigo Bank
Healesville

Dear Wilma,

As you know, my wife Jolanda and I have decided to open an account with you because we are terminating our long term association with the Commonwealth and National Banks. This is because they are major supporters of the coal and gas sector, for example having loaned billions of dollars to coal and gas export projects in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area over the past five years.

We decided to move our money to Bendigo Bank because to the best of our knowledge you do not finance coal or gas projects. This is very important to us because we do not want our money supporting an industry that has so many unacceptable environmental impacts, from the groundwater impacts of coal and coal seam gas extraction to the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, loss of critical wildlife habitat and of course, climate change.

Further, current trends clearly indicate that the market for fossil fuels is going to crash, as world leaders realise that the only alternative is the destruction of the ecosystem we depend on. The IPCC’s latest report has given us 30 years to global catastrophe. In my opinion, this is very optimistic, because they can only include highly cross-validated studies, and new information appears all the time. If we want a future, we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground, and so the market for them will collapse. They are a very unwise investment.

I would like to see Bendigo Bank more publicly promote the fact that you do not provide finance to the fossil fuel industry and make this a clear point of differentiation from the big four banks. As people become more concerned about climate change and the other environmental impacts of the coal and gas industries, they will look to move their money to banks that do not support fossil fuels. It would be a wise move to differentiate your bank in this manner.

If there is anything you would like to say in relation to this letter, you are welcome to write back to me.

Please provide a copy to the Chair of the Board, and to the relevant officer at the Head Office of your bank.

Sincerely
Dr Bob Rich


Interview with Michael Michalko: What is creativity?

Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world. As an officer in the U.S. Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His team applied the methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and produced a variety of breakthrough ideas and creative solutions to new and old problems. Michael later applied these creative-thinking techniques to problems in the corporate world with outstanding successes. The companies he worked with were thrilled with the breakthrough results they achieved, and Michael has since been in the business of developing and teaching creative-thinking workshops and seminars for corporate clients around the world.

I’ve had the fun and pleasure of interviewing Michael. As you’d expect, an interaction between two sideways thinkers ended up as something different from the standard interview. Read it, use it to improve your life, and leave a comment.


Fun cooperation in a charity project

My friend Alfredo has long been seeking a charity where you can see how donations are invested. He doesn’t want his contribution to be used merely to finance a bureaucracy. He has found one in the Sydney Children’s Hospital.

He is busy doing three things: drawing delightful little pictures for a bedtime storybook; twisting my arm to write stories to go with the drawings; and composing music to be played after each story so that the child will go to sleep while the music is playing.

Our first story is up on Alfredo’s blog. The music to go with this story is here.

Responses to past issues

Responses to my little survey
Can Alcohol Dependence Be Cured? from David Norman

 

Responses to my little survey

Thank you to the people who took the trouble to answer my questions. The free CD goes to Martin Johnston.

Of course, there is no pleasing everyone, but on the basis of what people told me, it’s clear that:

1. Bobbing Around is read and enjoyed.

2. People use the links at the top to skip to items that interest them rather than going front to end.

3. About half the time, they click on a link to follow up content.

4. Once month is the right frequency.

5. Respondents were evenly split regarding length. A little over half wanted it shortened. No one wanted it longer. You may notice that this issue is shorter than previous ones.

6. Most popular categories were psychology, deeper issues, humanitarian, environment, my personal announcements and health, with fun, for writers and reviews close by.


Can Alcohol Dependence Be Cured?
from David Norman

Bob published a great review of my book Alcohemy. Here is a follow-up on feedback I’ve received, particularly from the US, in the hope it may answer other possible queries.

A slogan on my website, “Is Alcoholism a Choice… Not a Life Sentence?” is to get people thinking about how much of a role the person plays in becoming alcoholic, and how much are they responsible for remaining so. I chose the wording to elicit a reaction from those that hold the traditional viewpoint that alcoholism is an ‘incurable’ disease; that ‘once an alcoholic… always an alcoholic’. Boy! Did I underestimate the response from the traditional-thinking US medical fraternity, who were approached by my US PR consultant to review my book, in hope of me gaining an interview. Some were quite visceral in their opinion that I was not medically qualified to question a hundred years of research and ‘accepted’ thinking on the subject. Some even suggested it was ‘irresponsible’, even ‘dangerous’ to give hope to alcoholics that they could ever be completely free from desiring alcohol. To me that’s bullsh*t and very limiting, defeatist thinking.

The whole point of the book was to give people struggling with alcohol dependence, addiction, alcoholism (call it what you want), inspiration and hope that it’s possible to lead alcohol-free lives. And yes, for some, this can be without even the ‘desire’ for alcohol. In my book I regularly use the term “be the master of your fate; captain of your soul”, to reiterate that we can control our future–one thought, feeling, choice and action at a time. It’s possible though not easy.

Another thing is the apparent fixation on the word ‘alcoholism’. I was told it was odd the term wasn’t mentioned even once in my entire book, yet told I shouldn’t have used it in my website slogan. It seems once this word is used you are entering into hallowed ground and only medically qualified people have credibility.

I have read many definitions of ‘alcoholic’, ‘alcohol dependent’, ‘alcohol abuse’, ‘alcoholism’ etc. from many sources, including medical. They vary greatly. Some mention ‘disease’ and some don’t. None have defined the difference between an ‘alcohol dependent’, an ‘alcoholic’ or person with ‘alcoholism’, nor where the change (if any) from one to the other is. There seems to be a major hang-up on the word ‘alcoholism’ by professionals; and that it precludes any possible treatment except for current medically approved methods. Where does the definition of ‘totally alcohol-dependent’ finish and ‘alcoholism’ begin?
I didn’t use the word alcoholism in my book because it was meant to look at treating alcohol addiction or ‘alcoholism’ from a sufferer’s perspective, based on my personal experience. One that other alcoholics could relate to at a deep personal level. People don’t like being called ‘alcoholic’, and given my book is trying to gently coax people to consider the real state of their alcohol problem, ‘dependency’ seemed friendlier. If someone asked me back when I drank if I was ‘alcohol dependent’, I’d have said, “Yes I guess I am”. If they asked if I was an ‘alcoholic’ or had ‘alcoholism’ I’d have told them to bugger off and not to be so blatantly rude. I believe my choice of words such as ‘habitual’ and ‘dependency’ are not only factual, it shows very good ‘tact’. My intent is to help the alcohol-dependent ‘fence-sitters’, rather than alienate them.

Another feedback was in response to my social media postings. Apparent sufferers told me alcohol addiction is a disease. Again, they are saying nothing can be done about it and the very best they can hope for is a life of perpetually stressful vigilance. My experience indicates it doesn’t have to be that way. I believe alcohol dependence can be reversed. I’ve been alcohol-free for over 5 years and don’t even ‘desire’ to use alcohol to prop up any area of my life, emotionally or physically. I admit, I wasn’t yet living in a box on the streets, drinking cheap wine out of a bottle in a paper bag. I was a business person, though can assure you I was addicted to alcohol.

Furthermore, I’ve never said anywhere that alcoholism is not a disease. I am satisfied that full-on alcoholism is classed a disease. What traditional medical thinking seems to say is that it is incurable and the sufferer has no choice. I am simply questioning that standpoint in all cases. The human mind and spirit is a very powerful force and if given the right guidance and belief system, can do remarkable things. True, it mightn’t work for everyone, though to disregard that approach to follow the ‘rule’, to me is very limited thinking. Why can’t conventional and non-conventional methods work side by side to widen the treatment options to more sufferers, hardcore or not?

I believe I was a typical ‘alcoholic’ (not needing urgent medical treatment and reluctant to seek public help), so surely my experience and discreet option is worth supporting, if it could potentially help millions of middle-ground alcoholic ‘fence-sitters’. I understand I don’t have a medical degree. All I ask for is a free-thinking approach from those open minded enough to even read my book all the way through and not just skim through to see if it meets their existing beliefs and biases. At the end of the day we are all trying to do our bit to lessen the global problem of culturally accepted alcohol abuse and the heartache it causes to individuals and their families.


Politics

Palm Sunday rally for refugees
Scientific validation that America is an oligarchy not a democracy
Australia’s coal industry inspired by Hitler?

 

Palm Sunday rally for refugees

An estimated 25,000 people used Palm Sunday as an opportunity to show support for asylum seekers, and express their disgust at the horrific policies implemented by Prime Monster Tony Abbott and his Minister for Inhumanity Scott Morrison. In some places, the crowds showed up despite rain.

Here are a few pics supplied by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:
palm1

palm2
palm3


Scientific validation that America is an oligarchy not a democracy

It is important to be able to convert “everybody knows this” to “evidence supports this at the x confidence level.”
Princeton University has released a new study as a PDF document. Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University have produced compelling evidence that as of 2002, the idea that the United States is a democracy is false. Individually or organised, ordinary citizens have no influence. Decisions are based on the will of big corporate interests.

Yes, we all know this, but it’s good to have it as a scientific conclusion.

Here is the abstract:

Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics – which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, and two types of interest group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism – offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.

A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.


Australia’s coal industry inspired by Hitler?
350coal
From 350.org Australia

Australia’s coal industry is pushing the Government to make our fossil fuel divestment campaign and other boycotts illegal. We need your help to push back.

Just days after launching its “Australians for Coal” campaign, The Minerals Council of Australia is “considering whether to join the push by resource industries to ban environmental boycott campaigns as it battles an escalating grassroots movement calling for banks, superannuation funds and institutions to ditch fossil fuel investments.”

The Minerals council says it wants to stop the “small number of noisy extremists creating the false impression that the community does not support Australia’s second-largest export sector.”

Can you chip in $10 or more to help us grow our divestment campaign in Australia?

True, we are noisy but we are not small in number. And the real extremists are the fossil fuel companies that are willing to profit from the wreckage of our country and climate. We think it’s pretty reasonable to try to maintain a planet somewhat like the one we were born into.

We need to show Australia’s fossil fuel industry and our Government, that we’re not backing down from this campaign. Instead, we’re turning up the heat.

Clearly our campaign is already having an impact. But with your support, we can:

  • Grow our network of divestment organisers and campaigns around the country
  • Help thousands of Australians to push their banks and superannuation funds to divest
  • Educate more investors about the huge stranded asset** risks of investing in massive new Australian fossil fuel projects, from the Galilee basin mega mines in Queensland to Australia’s largest new coal mine at Maules Creek which is under construction as we speak
  • Support more individuals to travel to places like Maules Creek to help halt fossil fuel expansions on the frontline
      As Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” No longer are we being ignored. No longer are we being laughed at. Now, the fight is on. We can win this, but we need your support.

      Let’s fight back this attack by the radical fossil fuel industry and move Australia beyond fossil fuels to a bright and sustainable future. Here’s two steps you can take today:

      1. Chip in to super-charge our campaigning.

      2. Sign and share our petition demanding the protection of our right to divestment campaigning — click here.

      With so much gratitude,
      Blair, Charlie, Aaron, Josh, Simon and the whole 350.org Australia team.


      Environment

      Japanese intend to circumvent court ruling
      Why current population growth is costing us the Earth by Roger Martin
      Climate change is NOW
      Find an ethical paper option at your local store

       

      Japanese intend to circumvent court ruling

      savewhale

      April 11, 2014 FRIDAY HARBOR, Washington. In a blatant show of defiance of the recent landmark ruling in The Hague by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has today filed court briefs stating they intend to return to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean for the 2015-2016 season with a newly designed “research” program and will seek a permanent injunction against Sea Shepherd USA, despite the fact the USA entity is no longer operating in the Southern Ocean, and will also seek to enjoin other Sea Shepherd entities.

      The case of Australia vs. Japan was heard by the ICJ in July 2013 to decide whether Japan was in breach of its international obligations in implementing their JARPA II “research” program in the Southern Ocean, and to demand that Japan cease implementation of JARPA II and revoke any related permits until Japan can make assurances that their operations conform with international law. In a vote of 12 to 4 handed down on March 31st, the ICJ ruled that Japan’s whaling program JARPA II was not conducted for the purposes of scientific research as defined under International Whaling Commission regulations. It ordered that Japan revoke the scientific permits given under JARPA II and refrain from granting any further permits under that program. Today, however, the ICR filed briefs in the U.S. District Court in Seattle clearly stating their intent to continue to hunt whales in defiance of this ruling.

      Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder Captain Paul Watson had this to say: “When the ICJ verdict was issued, I knew that although it was a great victory that vindicated our opposition to illegal whaling in the Southern Ocean, I could see the potential for the ICR to re-write their program and to return. My prediction was they would return for the 2015-2016 season. It seems that this is exactly what they intend to do. The statement that Japan issued that they would comply with the ICJ ruling was I believe insincere. Japan has a history of duplicity with regard to whaling. I fully expect that Sea Shepherd Global will be prepared to return to the Southern Ocean in December 2015 to once again defend the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.”

      Upon learning of ICR’s plans, Sea Shepherd USA’s Director of Intelligence and Investigations, Scott West stated: “The Japanese clearly intend to violate the intent, if not the letter, of the World Court’s judgment. They are making a mockery of the International Court of Justice and come before the US Courts with very unclean hands. They are the first to cry foul when someone dares to challenge their lies, yet they expect the world to respect the court’s decisions that are in their favor. They are poachers and operate without integrity.” 
Clearly, the ICR is unsettled not only by the favorable ICJ ruling but also by Commissioner Peter Shaw’s recent recommendation to the Ninth Circuit Court that Sea Shepherd USA not be held in contempt. In their court brief, the ICR threatened: “If the Ninth Circuit finds it was not Defendants who committed contempt, then Plaintiffs may need to add to this action the parties who did commit the contempt.” They also noted: “Plaintiffs expect additional parties they may seek to add to this action would include foreign parties.” However, how they intend to bring foreign entities before a U.S. court has yet to be seen.

      Donate to Sea Shepherd


      Why current population growth is costing us the Earth
      by Roger Martin

      This opinion piece in the Guardian is an excellent, succinct statement of the problem.

      When I was in my 20s and 30s, I went for “zero population growth” for the reasons set out in this article. However, if I were a young person now, I would choose to have no children, for two reasons: 1. To avoid adding to the problem; and 2. To avoid bringing people into a life of near-guaranteed misery and disaster.
      crowd

      Photo by James Cridland
      .


      Climate change is NOW

      Not in the future: right now essential food supply areas of the planet are being dried by climate change.

      Read what climate change is doing to the American Southwest.
      drought
      Photo Frank Morris


      Find an ethical paper option at your local store

      fairypos
      Thank you for watching and sharing the Ethical Paper animation last week and welcome to Week 3!

      In the lead-up to World Environment Day, we’ll continue to coach you through the 8 weeks of the Ethical Paper Challenge. It is great that you are well informed and make careful and ethical choices whenever you buy paper. However, we know that many people are very busy these days and find it hard to shop around for the paper that’s best for our forests. So Week 3 of the Challenge is about making it easy for everyone to avoid Reflex paper, and make the best paper choice.

      Ethical papers are made from 100% post-consumer recycled pulp. They carry multiple accreditations that confirm they are genuine. And most importantly, all of these accreditations are third-party assessed — not self reported.

      Some ethical papers available include:

      • OfficeMax 100% Recycled
      • Fuji Xerox Pure 100% Recycled
      • Canon Oce Recycled Zero
      • J.Burrows 100% Recycled
        paper

        This week for the Ethical Paper Challenge, please locate a retailer that sells an ethical paper, and share the details (include the paper brand, store and location) on the Ethical Paper Facebook page.

        Your input will build a resource for people joining the campaign, making it easier for more people to avoid Reflex, and use an ethical paper.

        Thank you and have fun,
        The Ethical Paper Campaign Team
        Wilderness Society


        Good news

        Avoiding climate catastrophe is super cheap — but only if we act now by Joe Romm
        Solar Hawaii leads
        Jury awards $3 million in first fracking case
        VicWind is going national

         

        Avoiding climate catastrophe is super cheap — but only if we act now
        by Joe Romm

        The IPCC 5 report has reiterated that business as usual is a certain recipe for catastrophe. However, I hadn’t realised that it also contains good news: if all humanity gets active to aggressively tackle the problem, we can greatly reduce the impact at a surprisingly small cost.

        Read the report at Thinkprogress.


        Solar Hawaii leads

        hawaii
        Hawaii has an ambitious goal of reaching 40 percent renewable power by 2030. And that’s not all: the state is a leader in renewable jobs, has tripled its renewable energy capacity since 2005, and was first to require most new homes include solar water heaters.

        From the Climate Reality Facebook page.

        The Climate Reality Project also wants you to know this:

        “If you’re like most of us at Climate Reality, you’ve probably made a purchase on Amazon.com. But have you heard of AmazonSmile? It works exactly like regular Amazon, except when you head to smile.amazon.com, the AmazonSmile Foundation will make a donation equivalent to 0.5 percent of your eligible purchase to The Climate Reality Project — with no strings attached. Happy shopping!”


        Jury awards $3 million in first fracking case

        Daily Kos has reported a landmark case in Texas: a family whose health was destroyed by fracking operations near their home have been vindicated in court, and awarded compensation.

        Of course the company intends to appeal, and the higher courts are known to be influenced by gas an oil money. Still, this is the first victory against fracking money.
        <a flamingtap


        VicWind is going national

        vicwind
        Dear Bob,

        After a bit over 12 months bringing together wind energy supporters in Victoria, VicWind is ready to expand our horizons.

        In that time we’ve grown to over 4000 supporters (including more than 400 financial members) — farmers, wind workers, small business and community supporters — who all value wind power as a clean, safe and effective source of energy.

        Wind supporters from New South Wales and South Australia have been in touch to ask why we’re restricting our work to just one state when wind energy enjoys such strong support in those two states as well. I didn’t have a good answer.

        It also made sense for us, being in the middle of a campaign to see stronger national renewable energy laws, to shift our focus out beyond Victoria’s borders.

        So we’ve decided it’s time for us to shift our identity to the Australian Wind Alliance, to reflect the work we know needs to be done. 

We incorporated as the Australian Wind Alliance Ltd in 2012, but have operated under the name of VicWind with an initial focus on Victoria, work which will continue as Angela and I continue to work with our Victorian members from our respective bases in Portland and Ballarat.

        I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have been part of Vicwind’s work to date. It feels like a major step for us so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this move.

        Over coming weeks you’ll see a few changes in our communications to reflect our national identity. The first of these is our new national website, where you’ll find our petition for a stronger Renewable Energy Target. http://www.windalliance.org.au

        I urge you to sign the petition and share it with as many of your friends as possible.

        Of course, our work will remain the same — networking together wind supporters to give voice to the strong community support for wind power.

        I look forward to continuing to work together with you.
        Cheers, Andrew.


        Humanitarian

        Write a letter to a refugee by Julian Burnside, QC

         

        Write a letter to a refugee
        by Julian Burnside, QC

        Dear Bob,

        In June of last year I received a letter from a courageous young Iranian man who fled persecution in his country, which led to him being detained inside Sydney’s Villawood detention centre.

        He had spent the last three and a half years of his life in detention, during which time he’d suffered more than any young man should and seen many of his friends, who could no longer bear the burden of detention, die or return voluntarily to face persecution.

        He wrote asking for help. This is part of his story:

        “When I set foot on Australian soil, I had felt I set foot in a land where the people there would see me as a human being who is reaching out a hand towards them for help, but… now it is [42 months]

        I need help, but my voice is not reaching anywhere and I am extending my hands seeking help from you.”

        This young man, like so many others who are currently detained in Australian centres, could be forgiven for seeing Australia as a country that doesn’t abide by its international obligations under the Refugee Convention, or thinking Australians might be unwelcoming people, who don’t care about the plight of those less fortunate.

        We know that’s far from the case.

        On a daily basis I encounter the kind of Australians who I know represent this country and its values. Those with hearts as big as our land and bright as our sun. Those who embody our ethos of being the land of the fair go — a country with “boundless plains to share.”

        Another letter I received from a person held in detention ended with the words:

        “Please write again. Please do not forget us; we are human.”

        This is where you can help. Will you be part of my letter writing campaign and show some of the world’s most vulnerable people that we’re capable of compassion and empathy?

        Find out how to get involved: https://www.getup.org.au/letters-to-asylumseekers.

        In February, GetUp members, along with thousands of Australians, lit a candle for all those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, under our government’s asylum seeker policies. Together, we attended Light the Dark vigils across the country and showed Australia, and the world, what we’re capable of — compassion, love and hope that we can make a difference.

        Now we need to show asylum seekers that there are Australians who are thinking about them and are doing everything they can to fight these brutal policies put in place by our so-called leaders.

        Will you write to an asylum seeker on Manus Island or Nauru and let them know, we have not forgotten them and we care?

        In the early 2000s, I initiated a similar letter-writing campaign and it received extremely encouraging feedback, proving to be, not only valuable in helping keep up the spirits of asylum seekers, but also a great way to help Australians understand what our detention system means in simple human terms.

        Will you help us do it again?

        Yours in hope,
        Julian


        Technology

        How to stop marine oil spills

         

        How to stop marine oil spills

        An op ed piece at Culturechange.org has the answer. Sailing ships can actually be faster and more economical than dirty oil-burning ships. Also, go local, and stop consuming all the junk.

        The Tres Hombres has already completed 5 profitable trips between the Carribean and Holland.
        treshombres


        Deeper Issues

        Joan Baez: decency in response to unfairness
        Reincarnation and Christianity
        Do you think you reincarnated to live a horrible life?

         

        Joan Baez: decency in response to unfairness

        This report is from the heart. It gives all an example of how to deal with bitter accusations made from anger.

        Four Vietnam vets held accusatory signs against Joan outside a concert she was scheduled to hold. She chose to go out and talk to the men. Her approach is an example all of us should follow.
        joanbaezyoungjoanbaeznow


        Reincarnation and Christianity

        Many people believe that there is a conflict between the concept of reincarnation, and the teachings of the Bible. This is not so. There is nothing in the Torah (Old Testament) to say what happens after death, and major branches of Jewish belief accept reincarnation, and indeed there is a lot of evidence for it in Jewish writings, as discussed in Beyond the Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom.

        The New Testament contains passages that explicitly indicate reincarnation of at least one person: Jesus states that John the Baptist is the spirit of the prophet Elijah. This is set out at Dimensional Bliss.


        Do you think you reincarnated to live a horrible life?

        Someone posted this on a forum:

        Everything that could go wrong with me could be reincarnation. Am I taking the sins this life from someone that wrecked the last life?

        Anonymous Coward

        My answer:

        Karma is not punishment.

        Some people experience a clinical death, and return to life. Some of them don’t recall anything, but those who do tell remarkably similar stories, despite wide variation in culture.

        This is the best evidence available. It indicates that when you die, you come into the presence of… a Person. If you’re a Christian, you’ll see this Person as God, or Jesus, or an angel. This Person gives you complete, unconditional love, and no judgment. However, you are guided to re-experience your just-past life, from death to birth. Only, what you feel is the effects you’ve had on others.

        So, if today I was unkind to a dog, when I got to processing today I’d feel that animal’s distress. If I was kind to an old lady, I’d feel her pleasure.

        On the basis of this, I will then select a number of Lessons I choose to learn, and perhaps restitution I choose to pay for some things I now feel terrible about.

        The superior Being then sets up a life for me, in which I’ll have the opportunities for learning these Lessons.

        However, there has to be free will. Nothing is determined, because if it was then I could not make the choices involved in learning the Lessons.

        This means that I live in a sea of randomness due to other people’s free choices, as they are affected by mine.

        So, your suffering may be a mixture of many causes: Lessons you’ve set up for yourself, restitution you’ve chosen to pay, or simply the results of other people’s bad choices, and you are caught in the crossfire.

        Even then, whatever situation you find yourself in, you can convert suffering into Learning Experiences.

        How can I be a better person for experiencing this?

        I have a free e-book you can request at http://bobswriting.com/ascending.html.


        Psychology

        I’m obsessed about dying
        How can I ever be happy when I hate myself?
        Scarred by junkie parents
        I am bisexual, autistic, bipolar and more

         

        I’m obsessed about dying

        Hi Bob,

        I am tortured by repeating thoughts of dying. I started having these horrid thoughts 2 weeks ago and I hate it. I keep thinking about how I might die and anticipating it almost. I’m just having real negative thoughts and I want to get rid of them. Please help me with this.

        Yes, such thoughts can be very distressing, but I can offer you answers at several levels.

        1. Whenever you have anything you don’t want, the most powerful tool is acceptance. Before my hip replacement operation, I often had 7 or 8 out of 10 pain. Usually, I didn’t even bother to take a painkiller, and could concentrate on my work. This was because I didn’t try to make the pain go away. I didn’t invest emotion in it (This is so terrible!) but simply accepted it, “I have a pain sensation, so what.”

        You have a thought come into your mind. You didn’t ask for it to be there, so you’re not responsible for it. It’s there, and is only noise until you buy into it. By wanting to make it go away, you give it reality and power. “I’ve had another thought about dying. So what.” It’s allowed to be there, but you don’t need to listen to it.

        This works for anything.

        2. Of course you will die. It’s Everybody does it. The only fatal condition is conception. 🙂 But there is no hurry about it.

        The Buddha’s advice was, live each day as if you were to live forever, and at the same time, live each day as if it was your last. This means planting trees for timber that will be available in 250 years’ time, and going to bed ensuring that you’ve made peace with everyone, in case you wake up dead in the morning.

        So, you can use these thoughts as motivation. “Yeah, OK, , suppose I die today. Well, I better make sure I leave everyone thinking well of me, that I do things that cause no harm but benefit, that I look after my dignity and self-respect while respecting everyone else. I’d better do some laughing and fun things today, because I may not have a chance of doing so tomorrow. I’d better find beauty in everything around me and enjoy it, and if the opportunity arises, create beauty for everyone to enjoy.”

        3. Death is not the end of a book, but only the end of a chapter. It is more like waking up than going to sleep. There is a lot of evidence for life after death, and for reincarnation. It’s not a matter of belief, but of going with the best evidence available. I think of you as an ongoing, wise, mighty Person Who is outside this three-dimensional part of Reality. This Person needs to go to school, in order to learn and grow. Therefore, It needs to project a small part of Itself into a human, in the reality we can perceive. At the moment, the human It has chosen is the one you see when you look into the mirror.

        So, this planet is a school, and all us humans and animals are students. We live for a while, then we die, we process our lessons, then choose another life, and another and another, until we have learned all the lessons we need to, then we don’t have to be born any more.

        The question is not how long you will live, or how you die, or even if you’ll suffer when dying or not. The question is, what you have learned in this life.

        Some people die before they are born, or as little children. Others may live to be 120. Doesn’t matter. If someone dies too soon and a chosen lesson has not been addressed, then a new life will be available for this work. Nothing is lost but a bit of time, and on the scale of the Person whose projection you are, that’s a mere moment. It’s like missing a bus and having to wait for the next one.

        So, yes, my dear. You are going to die. So what.

        Love,
        Bob


        How can I ever be happy when I hate myself?

        Hi Dr. Bob,

        My sisters step dad has abused me and my sister for nearly 11 years and mum has finally left him. But at night I used to cry myself to sleep all the time, while I was in that state I started thinking bad things like; I want to die. Even though we have left I still get those thoughts and late at night when everyone’s asleep I go out and fight or sometimes just for a walk. My arms are covered in scars and part of my leg.

        I just want to be happy, how do I become happy when I hate myself?

        Susie my dear,

        I used to hate myself when I was your age too, and for a long time after. Gradually, over the years, I have developed self-respect. I made sense of my suffering as a child and teenager by giving back: by working to relieve suffering by others, and by doing my best to prevent the causes of suffering.

        You are now free of that man, but you still carry him around with you. In your head, you know that what HE did was wrong, and you and your sister are not to blame. As children, you were innocent, because you had no power in the situation. Trouble is, in your heart, you don’t feel like that, do you? You feel damaged, and hateful and perhaps dirty.

        None of that is true. You know that. The first step is to act on that knowledge.

        You experience self-hating thoughts, and ideas that you’d be better off dead, and urges to harm yourself and get into dangerous situations. These are with you because they have become habits.

        Habits can be broken. Here is how.

        When you experience a thought, emotion or urge, it only becomes true if you buy into it. Until then, it is only noise.

        So, you have a thought, “I can’t sleep anyway. I’ll sneak out and maybe I can attack someone and they’ll kill me.” (I am only guessing of course.)

        Then you can say to yourself, “Right, I’ve had one of those urges, so what. It’s only noise, just a habit I’ve developed. I’m allowed to have stupid thoughts like that, but of course I don’t do those things any more.”

        It’s like, you’re in a room with a TV on, and your sister comes in and asks what the show is, and you have to say, “I don’t know, I haven’t been paying it attention.” The show in your mind is the same. It may be there, but you don’t need to pay it attention.

        Another thing: you live in the UK. There, free psychological help is available to everyone. Ask your mother to arrange sessions for all three of you, because I suspect that if you’ve been so badly affected, then your mother and sister will have been too.

        And you’re welcome to write back to me, and join my worldwide family of grandchildren.

        Love,
        Bob


        Scarred by junkie parents

        I was left by my junkie parents to be raised by various other family members, the primary uncle that had adopted me died when I was 6.

        I went back to my parents when I was 9-14 yrs old.

        I self harmed, starting from 9 and developed serious drug addictions when I was 14. They have continued throughout my life until now. When I was 14 I left home and was homeless several times. A genuine hobo more than once. I died a few times from substance abuse. When I was 17 I got involved with another guy my age who I eventually was engaged to. I ended it because while I had quit hardcore drugs and alcohol I was still smoking weed. I found out he had started smoking meth and also he was controlling and raped me. I was 21 when I left him.

        When I was 23 I ended up with another abusive relationship. He was an ex meth addict and we both were abusing prescription medications.

        Our relationship ended when I was 25 and he attempted to kill me. It was a traumatic event. Involving swords, a pre dug grave, lots of blood and a will to survive I had never had before. I ended up in hospital because of him and I have injuries that will never heal. I had to go to court as a witness and I went alone. When I was unconscious the hospital notified my parents whom I had not known much since I was 14. They said I could live with them, but it quickly became apparent that they were unsupportive. I remember one day before court I was on the ground wailing and suffering my first real panic attack. Not the usual smaller anxiety attacks I wasn’t even aware of at the time I was experiencing them. They simply stepped over me to get to the washing machine. I left their house not long after to live in a share house, where my drug and alcohol abuse quickly returned and escalated. I have tried to kill myself twice since then, once I tied a rope around my neck so tight I couldn’t breathe. It was rotten and snapped when I started to convulse. The other I lined up all the pills I had and was about to induce 70 diazapams, knowing full well I would die of liver failure 7 days further. Someone had noticed the warning signs and came to see me just as I was about to start swallowing.

        Recently I started planning suicide again. Another guy had come into my life just as I started making the better, more thoroughly failproof plans to die. I love him but I have a strong fear of abandonment so I keep pushing him away. Not only that I am extremely depressed and suicidal. He has his own anxiety disorder. I stopped using drugs and drinking for him and for me. But I feel a huge empty void. And for the first time in my life. I am facing my emotional issues and fears sober.

        How do I make it work with my boyfriend without hurting him? How do I help myself? What do I do? Please help me? I want to have a healthy relationship without my past abuse ruining it for both of us.

        Dear Lisa,

        The first thing I note from your message is that despite your terrible childhood and youth, you think logically, can explain matters in a clear language, and use correct grammar and spelling. Given your history, this is a magnificent achievement. It shows you to be highly intelligent.

        Second, you have already taken the first and most important step toward building a good life for yourself. You are now motivated to reject substance abuse, you want to build a permanent relationship free of abuse and mutual hurt, and make something of your future.

        I have no doubt that you can do it. It’ll be difficult, and a long road, but you have the potential.

        Third, you’ve had quite number of opportunities to die, but you survived each time. To me, this means that you are here on this planet to do a job, and are required to stay alive until you have achieved it. Next time you have a suicidal thought, keep that in mind. Write it down and place it where you’ll see it every day.

        Of course, I don’t know what this task is, except that many people who have survived terrible childhoods make sense of their suffering by devoting their lives to improving the world in some way. This can be through gaining formal qualifications for one of the helping professions, or by informally being there for people who need your love, guidance and compassion. I make sense of my childhood and youth by doing both.

        OK, how to take the next few steps?

        You and your boyfriend should both read my page on relationships, http://bobswriting.com/psych/relationships.html.

        While there, look around at other pages on my web site.

        In Australia, you qualify for up to 10 sessions of therapy with a psychologist, and hopefully you can find one who bulk bills. All you need is a referral from a GP. 10 sessions is ridiculously short for serious problems, but it is a start.

        Your substance abuse problems will be helped by working through a book: Alcohemy by David Norman.

        If his method works for you, he’ll appreciate a review!

        My dear, your past is not a prison, not a weight to drag you down, but just something that happened. Now, the present you live in, this moment, is yours to shape. Do your best to be your best. When you succeed, pat yourself on the back. When you don’t, that’s fine. Change takes work and time.

        And I am happy to exchange emails with you so I can be here as your resource.

        🙂
        Bob


        I am bisexual, autistic, bipolar and more

        I am Bisexual, and I am not proud. My dad was bisexual in his twenties, But he talks bad about gay, Bi, and Lesbian people, he never knew and I don’t have plans to tell him, I am also Autistic, Bipolar, and more, people said that being bi just meant you were despite and mentle. I have been bi since I was in 6th grade and I have been bullied for it, and after a couple months everyone was bi or a lesbian, just for a trend? wow, all my friends said they were so I told them, then a week later they say they were never bi and tell everyone I know, I have been hiding it from everyone but I really want to tell them, Am I just confused or is this the real me?

        Lily my dear,

        There is nothing wrong with being bisexual. Your sexual preference is your business. The only rule is: am I causing anyone harm? Liking both males and females does no harm to anyone, as long as all people concerned do so with full understanding, and without cheating or deceit.

        Telling people about being bi is a matter of judgment. Some will accept it, and it will make no difference. Others will treat you with contempt, abuse you, or make fun of you. So, you can be open with people you trust, and keep quiet about it in situations where it will cause problems.

        You wrote that you are also “autistic, bipolar and more.” On what evidence? Has someone just slapped such labels on you, or has there been any formal diagnosis? Even if it’s all proper and documented, labelling a person is usually harmful. It makes you feel damaged, put into a box you can’t climb out of.

        In fact, there is a lot you can do to improve the way you do things, your happiness and welfare. Suppose you really “are autistic.” That means that you do things in a certain way. If you are comfortable with some of these habits, leave them alone. If you would like to change some of them, you can. Become an actress. For example, if making eye contact with people feels impossible, then just do it. Act as if looking people in the eye was no big deal. At first it may be difficult, and short-lived, but with practice you get better and better, until it feels natural.

        Apply this way of thinking to everything in your life, and you’ll find that the world becomes a good place.

        🙂
        Bob


        Health

        Long term health monitoring at Morwell

         

        Long term health monitoring at Morwell

        You may remember that during the recent bushfires in Victoria, Australia, a huge open cut coal mine near the town of Morwell started burning. It took over 6 weeks to put the fire out.

        I was one of many thousands of people who signed a petition to the State government to start long term health monitoring of people affected by the smoke. Despite the fact that so-called Liberals don’t care for ordinary people, such a study has been implemented.

        But then, it is an election year…
        morwell

        You will find more details in this newspaper article.


        Writing

        Flash fiction contest
        Describe your life in 6 words by Michael Michelko

         

        Flash fiction contest

        The publisher Raging Aardvark is holding its annual Twisted Tales competition, which asks for 350-750 word flash fiction stories with a twist. You can submit up to two stories and the deadline is June 23rd.
        aardvark

        I’ve sent in a story I wrote some time ago but haven’t published anywhere. See if you can beat me to a spot in their anthology!


        Describe your life in 6 words
        by Michael Michelko

        Ernst Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. He wrote “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Legend has it that Hemingway called it his best work. Hemingway’s story spawned the six word story popularized by Smith Magazine, which celebrates personal storytelling. Editors asked their readers to submit six word memoirs of their life and were mesmerized with the offerings, some of which follow:

        • “Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.”
        • “Love me or leave me alone.”
        • “I still make coffee for two.”
        • “Hockey is not just for boys.”
        • “I like big butts, can’t lie.”
        • “Should never have bought that ring.”
        • “Ex-wife and contractor now have house.”

        Steven Pinker’s six word memoir published in Smith Magazine’s book “Not Quite What I Was Planning” reads: “Struggled with how the mind works.” His memoir inspired me to request my seminar and Think Tank participants to write six word stories on certain subjects. The results have been humorous and edifying. Following are some of the six word responses describing being involved with innovation.

        • They asked. I thought. I created.
        • Ideas; I get them in excess.
        • Look at it from different perspectives.
        • How would a child do this?
        • Successful when ignoring what happened before
        • Made many mistakes before I succeeded
        • Followed logic, not intuition, never again
        • I’m enjoying even this horrific problem
        • Doing more for less is creativity
        • In and out of many ideas
        • Others quit early. I continue looking.
        • Time to start over again, again
        • To succeed, learn how to fail.
        • Work but spend time doing nothing.
        • I am still not seeing everything.
        • Approach problems on their own terms.
        • Many bad before one good idea.
        • Think about it in a different way.
        • Always work on the next idea.
        • Left brain job, work right brain.
        • The proof is in the pudding.

        Here are some six word responses describing creative inspiration.

        • Last night confused. Slept. Morning. Eureka!
        • Dancing with ideas of infinite possibilities.
        • Think, dream, persevere, gain new perspectives.
        • Ideas have sex in my imagination
        • Took rocks, pounded them into sculptures.
        • Find great ideas in what’s discarded.
        • Connect the unconnected to create ideas.
        • I am trying in every way.
        • Waiting quietly for that special thought.
        • Bring it to a boil, often.
        • Tombstone won’t say did not try.
        • I learned to expect the unexpected.
        • Learn to color outside the lines.
        • I’m not afraid of problems anymore.
        • Learn to be tolerant of ambiguity.
        • Learn to make the familiar unfamiliar.

        What six-word memoir represents your life?

        I’ve had the honour and privilege of interviewing Michael. You can read the interview here.


        What my friends want you to know

        May is for creating sustainability
        Webinar: moving the opinions of climate change deniers
        Help Canadian farmers oppose Monsanto from SumOfUs
        Petition: Rio Tinto, stop!
        Solar expo, 8th-9th May 2014

         

        May is for creating sustainability

        sust
        A group of us have been working hard to assemble, coordinate and encourage culture-changing events during and around the month of May, 2014. We call this the Sustainability Surprise Party.

        A large number of events are listed at our Events Calendar

        Please have a look, and where practically possible, enjoy participating in these events.

        You can still add events to the Calendar, and we don’t take the limitation to May too seriously.


        Webinar: moving the opinions of climate change deniers

        Offering information and evidence to deniers actually increases their denial! I am using my psychological knowledge to teach people how to overcome this. I’ve run this workshop with success once, and am offering it again, via a Skype session, over the internet. Tentative date/time is 10 am, Sunday 18th May, 2014 Melbourne time. This means that for American participants it will be on Saturday evening, May 17th.


        Help Canadian farmers oppose Monsanto,
        from SumOfUs

        About 15 thousand years ago, the world’s first farmer had the idea of saving the seeds from one year’s crop and planting them again next year. And that’s how farmers did it for thousands of years after that.

        Until Monsanto.

        Today, Monsanto is claiming patent rights over seeds — the fundamental source of all plant life — so it can charge farmers royalties for doing what people have done for thousands of years.

        It’s already charging millions in illegal royalties in Brazil. It’s suing farmers in the U.S. And in India it’s jacked up the cost of seeds so much that it’s contributing to an epidemic of suicides among bankrupt farmers.

        The latest front in Monsanto’s war on farmers is Canada, where a bill is flying through parliament to give corporate agribusiness long-term patent rights over seeds. And if it win here, Monsanto will use trade agreements to force other countries to abide by these patent claims as well.

        Canadian farmers are fighting back, but they’re massively outgunned by Monsanto’s lobbyists and money. If they’re going to have any chance to stop this bill, they need our help to fight back. Can you chip in $8 a month to stop Monsanto’s attempt to monopolize food production in Canada and around the world?

        Yes, I’ll chip in $8 a month to help stop Monsanto from monopolizing our food system.
        No, but I can make a one-time contribution.

        Giving monthly is the best way to help, because it lets us plan for the future and be ready for whatever Monsanto throws at us. You can update or cancel your donations any time.

        In January, thousands of us chipped in with concerned shareholders to demand that Monsanto admit publicly that their GMO crops pose real risks to the environment — and we got incredible press, putting serious pressure on the bio-tech giant to change their ways.

        Now, we’re teaming up with farmers to battle Monsanto in Canada — and together we make a powerful team.

        The farmers have the expertise, credibility, and passion that comes from fighting for their livelihood. And with 4 million members and cutting edge online campaign tactics, SumOfUs has the power to raise public awareness and turn this into a massive grassroots movement.

        The Canadian parliament could vote on the Monsanto seed takeover any time — so we need to take action now.

        As Vandana Shiva said, when corporations control seeds, they control life. They’re taking a renewable common resource and turning it into a non-renewable, patented commodity. It’s up to us to fight back. Can you chip in $8 a month?


        Petition: Rio Tinto, stop!

        riotinto
        The actions of Rio Tinto, the English-Australian mining giant, have had terrible consequences all over the globe. Its mine in the coastal forests of Madagascar has displaced thousands of native people; its mine in Indonesia claimed the lives of more than 40 workers in the last year alone. And now, it wants to increase its negative impact by extending its mine in Mount Thorley Warkworth.

        Even though the Australian Supreme Court said no, Rio Tinto is continuing to push its boundaries.

        The Supreme Court already determined that extending the Mount Thorley Wackworth open-cut coal mine would devastate the rare plants and wildlife located around the area. In fact, it even said that any economic benefit the mine would have wouldn’t make up for how much damage it would do. That sounds like a pretty firm answer to me, but the company has lodged another application.

        Rio Tinto may claim that it’s trying to create jobs for the residents of the surrounding towns. But members of the Bulga community have spent $100,000 trying to fight the mine’s expansion. Clearly, the only people that Rio Tinto’s mine would truly help would be Rio Tinto’s leaders themselves.

        It’s time for this mining giant to respect the will of Australia’s government and its citizens. Tell Rio Tinto to withdraw its mine extension application!


        Solar expo, 8th-9th May 2014
        Solar Citizens will be exhibiting at the upcoming Solar 2014 Expo, and we invite you to come and visit us.

        Solar 2014 Conference and Exhibition
        8th-9th May 2014
        Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
        Cost: FREE!

        This is the 52nd annual Solar Expo, presented by the Australian Solar Council together with international partner AUPVSEE. The expo will focus on delivering expert analysis and opinions, and showcasing the latest technologies from solar and renewables, energy efficiency and the sustainable built environment industries.

        So if you’re wondering about installing batteries, going off the grid or what, the next big thing in solar is, this event is for you!

        Last year’s Solar Expo attracted 2200+ registered delegates from over 15 countries, and hosted 70+ exhibiting organisations and 60+ conference presenters. This year’s expo is sure to be another massive event.

        We hope you will take this chance to come meet us, find out the latest goings on with solar, and talk with us about your solar issues.

        We’re also looking for people to help out on our stall. If you’re keen to volunteer, sign up here!

        We hope to see you there!
        Nick,
 Community Organiser
Solar Citizens


        Book Reviews

        Ascending Spiral, reviewed by: Liana Hammersley
        Beverley Bateman
        BronxRev
        The Hybrid Writer, by Dianne Sagan
        Allison’s War, by Margaret Tanner
        Resilience, by Anne Deveson
        Global Insanity by James Coffman and Don Mickulecky

         

        Ascending Spiral
        reviewed by Liana Hammersley

        It’s not very often that you read a book that can speak directly to your heart but you can find them. And It’s a rarity when you find one that can speak straight to your soul, which is what this book does. It’s like a old friend coming to speak to you. A friend who makes you feel warm, protected and loved. It’s a one in a million story (or in this case stories) that makes you recognise that this life is more than just a life – it’s a life made up of many lives and many lessons: there is a reason…a purpose for us being here, today, yesterday and tomorrow. We’re here to learn and appreciate what this life has to give for a greater purpose – not just to live, but to experience, feel and be.

        The first couple of pages of ‘Ascending Spiral’ made me feel like crying. THE FIRST PAGES! I couldn’t believe it. Never has a book made me want to cry at the very beginning of the book. But it did. Mainly because it spoke about a little girl who felt lost, worthless and unloved. It was part of my teenage life he (Pip/ Bob Rich) spoke of. Although mine didn’t make me want to die or feel so badly that I really didn’t cope because I had friends, a small group of friends but enough to help me through the “popular crowd’s” teasing and constant cruelness. Pip’s words to Maria were so beautiful and precious that I couldn’t help but feel lighter just thinking about them. He helped her through a tough time in her life, made her feel special and taught her that there are no mistakes in life, but lessons, opportunity’s that help us grow into the person we want to be. And if we fail, we fail…but it is also a success because we learned and we survived.

        That’s what this book is mostly about – learning and surviving the best way we possibly can. Dermot was my favourite character/life experience I liked reading about. He was a survivor. He suffered such terrible tragedy’s that you can almost understand why he turned out the way he did – I do say almost because in this life (my life) I would never go down the same path at the end and find it confusing and shocking that he would do something so horrible to someone who least deserved it. But in his mind everyone was at fault. His situation was bad, he lost his whole family, was made into an example on a convict boat that could have destroyed him, became a slave, could’ve had freedom but was blackmailed into staying and in the end he was trapped. he was helpless and kept suffering throughout his life. He was an injured animal, one who had been beaten too many times. He held in all the resentment, anger and frustration at being in a life that wronged him so much that he finally exploded and the way it came out was a terrible action. He suffered again because of it…his soul suffered. But when you look back on everything that had happened you couldn’t say what he did was wrong. Part of his family and his soon to be wife was murdered, other family members imprisoned. He fought back because there was nothing else he could do.

        Through this book you learn that every action has a ripple effect. It doesn’t just affect you or your family but it effects everyone that it comes in contact with. And when you look back on Dermot’s life you realise why everything is happening. The English had been bullied by their own people (as I’m sure many countries and societies have) – their own kings and queens ruled over them year after year, dictating how they should feel, act and think. If they acted any differently to what was expected of them they were punished for it – be it jail, maimed or killed. So they were victims: left powerless by the people that should have protected them. So those people through generations became bitter, resentful and angry. And those that came into a certain power (the army’s, etc) followed orders and took all those negative emotions out on whoever they were to hurt. They got their revenge, just on the wrong people. And in turn Dermot got his revenge on those people. You can see how one person’s wrong doing creates another ones and it just keeps going and going until people are hurt or worse. If one were to forgive then they would either be trampled over or were forgiven themselves. In Dermot’s case, he had no choice. If he forgave the English he would only have become a slave himself (which he ultimately did anyway) or killed. There was no middle ground. There was no forgiveness or compassion from the other side. Once anger is involved, everything goes out the window. So Dermot stood and fought for what he believed in – to free his people from such a grievous act. No one would have been free if he didn’t do anything. So in a way he helped those people to find hope, at the cost to himself.

        Amelia’s story had me on the edge of my seat. Her husband horrified me. I was along for the ride (emotionally) for this story because I was terrified for her children having such an abusive father. Her story was tragic in a different way to Dermot’s but it had a beautiful ending in a way because she got to live out her life in the end and see her children grow and have their own children. But in the meantime she had a lot of hardship and loss. But she SURVIVED and she lived.

        The two other stories about the space flower and the walking flowers didn’t appeal to me as much. They were short and the story’s were good, but the hardships and emotional connection wasn’t there for me as much.

        And finally with Pip’s life I had to have a little chuckle to myself when my name “Liana” turned up in the story. It’s not every day you read your own name in a book – especially when it’s as rare as mine! But I loved Pip’s journey – his success at reaching peace within himself and finding that “living” this life and experiencing everything that was to be learned is what life is about, not just the material things as most live for – the house, the car, the other objects we consider to be considered to be important that most people rate above all else. This life is about LIVING it, ENJOYING it but most all experiencing it.

        This book just makes you rethink about your own life, the situation your in and everything that you have learned up until now. It (most importantly) also makes you ask yourself “what is your purpose for living?” It has helped me appreciate what had been given to me and not take things for granted anymore. I want to enjoy my life now and not bicker about the silly little things because this life is an important one, for my soul and for my family.

        If you are of spiritual mind (as I have been my entire life, growing up with the knowledge of past lives, spiritual beings, compassion, lessons, etc) or have often wondered what is is you’re doing here, I suggest to read this book as it is the perfect way of gaining more knowledge of your situation and learning to love the life that you’re living.

        Liana, a mother of 2 gorgeous sons (aged 4 and 16 months) and two “fur-babies” (dogs), with a passion for reading and writing ever since she was a little girl. Having been born in Victoria, grown up in Tasmania, and lived in Queensland, it was hard to call a place “home”. It wasn’t until fate intervened in the most unlikely of circumstances that Liana moved to Kalgoorlie for a couple of years and met her partner (who also had moved there from NSW only a few months after, for a job). From there they moved back to his home town in NSW and it was only then that Liana had found a place to call home and a place where she could grow within herself and rediscover her passion of reading and writing – of which she hopes one day she can become a published author.


        Beverley Bateman

        This is a complex book spanning a period of 12,000 years to the present through Pip’s eyes.

        Pip travels through time as various souls, first descending downward into violence and cruelty and then climbing back up as he learns how to become a better man, one who can work to save humanity.

        He needs to “…learn the lesson of forgiveness; heal hurt, and lead people from despair and helplessness to strength and Love…what it’s like to be without the pain of loving.”

        It’s a plea to look at the world as it is and what we’re doing to it and to create a sustainable society.

        It’s not your typical read or a specific genre as it touches on history, reincarnation, the paranormal, contemporary, and love.

        The story is well written and it will grip you and keep you reading from one century and one chapter to the next. I highly recommend it and particularly liked the message at the end. It can also be found at Amazon and other e-book stores.

        Beverley’s blog presents two thoughtful reviews a month. I was privileged to have Ascending Spiral as one of the first pair. She also posts “Tips and updates on writing, interviews, my writing progress, group blog and miscellaneous stuff.”


        BronxRev

        Ascending Spiral is an interesting and original book which takes the reader through a breathtaking journey. The writing is lucid and helps you get deep into the story, and you may find yourself looking up to see that hours have passed! Check this out, you won’t be disappointed.

        BronxRev is one of Amazon’s “top reviewers.” I am honoured at having my book noticed by this person.


        The Hybrid Writer, by Dianne Sagan

        This book is a treasure house of useful suggestions and resources for any writer, already published or still merely hopeful. While reading, I followed up some of Dianne’s recommendations, particularly in the areas of marketing and publicity, which are my weak points.

        This useful information is logically organized, clearly presented, and is in a style that is a perfect compromise between being chatty and formal. My only suggestion for improvement is that each resource should have a web link accompany it.

        I’ve been a hybrid writer for many years, but didn’t know it until I read Dianne’s definition. It is someone who has some books out through royalty-paying publishers, with other books, or other versions of these books, through a less conventional path such as self-publishing. She sets out the advantages and disadvantages of each of four options, and I cannot fault her reasoning. I agree with everything she has stated.

        A useful feature is Chapter 8, which is a series of interviews with successful authors. I was fascinated by the commonalities and differences in these people’s opinions.

        Chapter 10 is also particularly useful in a different way: it is an extensive list of questions to an intending author. Thinking about the answer to each will help you to choose the uniquely right path for you.

        In short, this book is a useful resource for any writer.

        diannesaganDianne G. Sagan, author of 21 books, has been writing professionally for fourteen years and facilitating groups for 25 years. She’s authored ten nonfiction books as a ghostwriter, six of which are bestsellers. Her clientele includes writers from the United States, Canada, the UK, Austria, Oman, and Australia.

        Ms. Sagan has traditionally published Christian fiction and women’s fiction. Her best known fiction works are her Women of the Bible series (published by Buoy Up Press, Denton, TX) and includes Rebekah Redeemed, The Fisherman’s Wife, Miriam’s Room and Mary’s Exile. She self-publishes nonfiction books on writing, including Tools and Tips for Writers and The Hybrid Author. Sagan’s works in progress include more Christian fiction with her traditional publisher and a new mystery series to debut soon. Dianne loves the hybrid author’s path and enjoys all its options.


        Allison’s War, by Margaret Tanner

        alisonswarI am not a romance reader. The only books of that genre I’ve read in the past few years are Margaret Tanner’s historical romance stories. I enjoy them because of the artistry of the writing, and the seamless way she brings past periods to life, complete with the way people thought, their language and small details of their customs, as well as the important events of the day.

        Allison’s War did not disappoint me. It has all these elements, set in the days before the start of the First World War, during the War itself and in the following few years. Allison is a fine, decent young woman of 17 at the start of the story, caught in the classic romantic triangle: her lifelong friend Tommy vs. aristocratic, handsome and arrogant Phillip, in Australia from England to sort out family business. Both men are obsessed by her, and she loves both, if in different ways.

        An attractive feature of this book is the way Margaret brings out the vast cultural differences between the classes of early 20th century British society as transplanted into Australia. Phillip and Allison live in entirely different worlds although objectively both are in the same little country town.

        I won’t spoil the story by revealing what happens. Tension is unremitting, both of the romantic and of the adventure kind. Soon after starting to read, I found the characters come alive. Alison mattered to me, and I strongly identified with her. I woke in the morning, thinking, “How will she handle…” well, I said I wouldn’t reveal the plot.

        This is a book I can recommend.

        Margaret Tanner is the author of a long list of excellent historical romances. I have reviewed several. You can already buy Allison’s War as a Kindle book. Other editions are coming.


        Resilience by Anne Deveson

        Scholarly work… autobiography… a gem of writing… this book is all of them. Published 11 years ago, Resilience is even more relevant to the world of today.

        Why do some people surmount difficulties that destroy most others? How can we foster this ability to reduce suffering — from wars, disasters, family violence, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse — any source of distress?

        Anne Deveson has written a 280 page poem in eloquent prose to answer these questions. It is a personal statement, and yet a thoroughly documented case for a particular change society needs to make in order to lead to better lives for most people.

        This change is the one I have also been campaigning for over many years. Beyond the relief of poverty, the pursuit of material wealth leads to unhappiness. Conflict, aggression, selfishness induce suffering for the perpetrator as much as for the recipient. Those who surmount misfortune such as mental illness or a terrible childhood are those who choose to give to others, to advocate, to hope. The main bars to resilience are meaninglessness and self-pity. The source of meaning to overcome this is to give.

        A major character in Anne’s story is Robert Theobald, visionary, inspirational activist for a better world. He knew that with all his many contacts and activities, he could only “shift a few grains of sand,” but he continued to do so, concerned with doing the right thing rather than outcome. Typical of the man was a phone call to Anne, from hospital. There was bad news and good news. The good news was that they still gave him six months to live. “It can be a good six months.” That’s what resilience is about. And, for him, “a good six months” meant the opportunity to work at improving the world through every action and word.

        Scattered throughout the book, I found every piece of my personal philosophy, the tool I have used for many years in my work as a therapist and an activist. Acceptance is there. It was the only tool available to her when Robert was dying.

        There is a beautiful example of the power of Love on page 161. Child Anne and some other kids made money by stealing plants from gardens, then selling them. An “elderly woman, white-haired and frail,” caught them. Her response was to invite them to take any of her plants, and gave them lemon cordial and biscuits. Their life of petty crime stopped.

        A benefit of the book is the quotes and citations from a great many others. Reading Resilience seriously is like the introduction to a university course.

        In summary, this book is a seamless waltz between the intensely personal and the universal truth. It’s the best-written book I’ve ever read. Do yourself a favour, and you may join Anne’s team, which is also my team.


        Global Insanity by James Coffman and Don Mickulecky

        Despite its flippant title, this book is a serious, deep philosophical examination of why we are now at the end of days, certainly for the current global culture, and possibly even for humanity. My explanation is that this culture is one of greed and conflict, and these aspects lead to unfettered growth (of economic production, and of population) in a limited system. Coffman & Mickulecky go one step deeper, tracing the production of this culture from the processes of science and language.

        The book is about humanity’s relationship with the world. In summary, the current global culture is leading to our self-destruction, so must be changed. “Accessing a new path conducive to long-term human survival and quality of life will require that we fundamentally change our relationship with nature, which will in turn require that we significantly improve our comprehension of nature — including human nature” (p 9).

        In order to demonstrate their thesis, the authors take us on a great convoluted journey through the philosophy of science and beyond, showing great erudition, and in turn demanding a lot from the reader. While the language, and the logic of the discourse are simple and easy to follow, the content is so complex, and needs so many specially defined terms, that to follow it needs considerable intelligence and concentration.

        This tour de force lasts four difficult chapters. It is only on page 88, two-thirds through the book, that we return to the question of the global economy. However, by this time the authors have developed a toolkit for dealing with everyday concepts in a radically different way. If the reader has managed to follow the development of the theory, it is obvious that “Like bacteria in a Petri dish, growth of a civilization typically eats away at its resource base, and psycho-socio-cultural traits (cognitive models commonly referred to as ‘traditional values’) that contribute to a society’s success during its growth phase become entrenched impediments to change when growth itself becomes detrimental, and the system becomes vulnerable to destabilizing ‘externalities’ (e.g., accumulating toxins in the environment and hostile neighbors)” (p 90).

        This is followed by a succinct, trenchant analysis of the problem humanity now faces. This is worth reading, even if you feel overwhelmed enough to skip to Chapter 5 (p 87).

        Chapter 6 ends with a return to the title. Indeed, in a very real sense, the Global Culture has been proven to be insane.

        I am pleased that, although the authors have taken a very, very different path from me, they have arrived at the same conclusion: the current global culture is doomed. We need to do our best to create a better one. The one they describe as desirable, and the path to it, are identical to what I have advocated for many years, and best expressed in my novel “Ascending Spiral.” A favorite saying of mine comes from Shintoism: “There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain.

        This is not a book for everyone. You need to have practice in reading scholarly writing (not a common skill), and if you’re a scientist, also be open-minded enough to accept that some of your dearly held beliefs are demonstrably false. However, it is an important work that deserves to be widely known. Even if you find the philosophical bits difficult, read the opening, and then Chapter 5 onward.

        James A. Coffman is an Associate Professor at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine. He earned a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1990 at Duke University and did postdoctoral training with Eric Davidson at the California Institute of Technology. As a developmental biologist he has used sea urchins as an experimental model to investigate how ontogeny is controlled by genetic information, cell physiology and environmental conditions. He is an author of numerous refereed journal articles. Over the past decade he has been exploring the idea that evolutionary change in complex systems is progressively constrained by their development.

        Donald C. Mikulecky is a Senior Fellow in the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for the Study of Biological Complexity. He earned a Ph.D. in Physiology in 1963 at the University of Chicago and did postdoctoral training with the late Aaron (Katzir) Katchalsky in non-equilibrium thermodynamics and membrane biophysics at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. As a theoretical biologist he has specialized in creating and testing mathematical models of biological systems and processes. He is the author of the book The Application of Network Thermodynamics to Problems in Biomedical Engineering and scores of refereed journal articles. In the last twenty or thirty years he has been exploring the complexity theory started by the late Robert Rosen.


        A bit of fun

              One day, when I was walking down the stair
              I met a man who wasn’t there.
              He wasn’t there again today —
              I wish to hell he’d go away!

        “Waitress, I’ll have my coffee without cream, thanks.”
        “Sorry sir, we don’t have any cream. Would you like it without milk instead?”

        The price of vigilance is sleepless nights.


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About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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One Response to Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 10

  1. bobrich18 says:

    WordPress just sent me a copy of this issue. I’ve noticed that it’s the first version I uploaded, without the corrections I spent about an hour over. Also, the emailed version has some errors that are not apparent on the web.

    So, if you got a copy because you are “following” this blog, you’ll get a better reading experience from reading it online.

    🙂
    Bob

    Like

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