Bobbing Around Volume 14 Number 7

Bobbing Around

Volume Fourteen, Number Seven,
December, 2014

Bob Rich’s rave

email previous issues

*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
Contest: win a free book
The fussy librarian
Police me!
I follow Mike. You could too
About Fracking

*Responses to past issues
Rosemary Wattle

What does “Republican” mean?
The demise of a great nation
Want to boycott Koch?

Video of talk by John James — must watch
Graph of global warming explains denialism
The 2 degrees warmer earth, by Dr John James
Easing 4 problems with one action
More lightning to come
Addicted to oil?
Hottest October
Climate Chaos Casino: Another roll of the dice
Britain’s chief scientist slams fracking
Population explosion seen
Two stars speak for nature

*Good news
Tar sands in tatters?
India on organic farming path
Miners swap diesel for solar
India to eliminate coal imports
Governments sabotage solar? Councils step in
Town goes for 100% renewable power

*Compassionate action
Arrested for feeding the homeless
Light up a planet
Huffington Post’s LOVE MATTERS:
What to do with your $100 million if you are dying?
How to raise a compassionate child, by Lauren Stevens
Love is a choice

Tiny homes for those without
A song from the heart
Gold award for vegie gardens
How to use your millions

Nuclear power’s unanswerable question
…and 3 Mile Island
Graphene: the new battery magic
Poop-powered bus

*Deeper issues
Pope Francis does it again
The role of suffering
29 and dying — in an inspiring way
Instant peace
Mr Modi publicly voices my message
The meaning of life
The secret of happiness
Not everyone needs sex

Climatologist despair
I told him to go — and now I miss him
His ex is a vampire

Avoiding further global warming can be done cheaply and will improve health
Wind turbine noise
Compassion is a healing agent
8 poisons you needn’t buy

*For writers
Name traps
Better dead than said?
Me, myself and I, by Florence Weinberg

*What my friends want you to know
Help lawsuit to protect endangered walruses
Watch this excellent video from Dr John James
New York marathon: run for Amnesty
Earthjustice: Lost the election? We’ll use the courts
Lots of tips for writers
Tim Flannery on the work of the Climate Council
From the Tibet Fund
Support wildlife survival

Don’t Even Think About It, by George Marshall
Samantha’s talent, by Darrell Bain and Robyn Pass
With Liberty and Dividends for All, by Peter Barnes
Price of Vengeance, by Kurt Springs
Dangerously In Love, by Aletta Hodges

*A bit of fun
My pastor gave me Ebola!
A parable for our times
A geographical genius

Christmas Magic Wrought by Google’s Keyword Elves, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Such is that it may always be, by Tim Knight

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

Contest: win a free book
The fussy librarian
Police me!
I follow Mike. You could too
About Fracking


Contest: win a free book

This is to announce that the Kindle version of Ascending Spiral is now available for $4.95.

To celebrate the price reduction, I am running a contest. Correctly answer 5 questions based on Ascending Spiral, and you have earned a free electronic copy of one of these books:

The quiz has its own post.

The fussy librarian

…is an email list that notifies thousands of subscribers about books to delight. I have just listed Ascending Spiral with them.

Readers can join for free. As an author, I had to pay a small fee.

The Fussy Librarian

Mind you, they haven’t yet sent me any advertisement of my book yet.

Police me!

The archives of Bobbing Around have become too big. So, I have divided them in two. The new version is from the start of Volume 14, while I’ve shoved the previous into another file.

This was quite a complex job, and chances are, I made some mistakes. Anybody who finds one has earned a free book.

I follow Mike. You could too

Mike Stasse’s blog is a constant stream of interesting and informative essays. Most are reblogged from others. By following him, I have found lots of other like-minded people.

About Fracking

The premier of New South Wales is considering a permit to frack for coal seam gas in an area where aquifers would be compromised. Here is my letter to the bloke:

Dear Mr Baird,

With climate change the greatest threat humankind has ever faced, coal, oil and gas should stay in the ground. We need to switch power sources, and use conservation measures to reduce the need for them.

In contrast, the planet’s driest continent cannot afford threats to water supply. In the USA, fracking has caused terrible damage to the water sources of many communities. We don’t need that here.


Bob Rich, PhD

If the Solar System out to Neptune were the size of a US quarter (25 mm), the Milky Way would have a diameter of 4,000 kilometers, or approximately the breadth of the United States. From Harvard University

Responses to past issues

Rosemary Wattle

I have suffered with depression since the age of 12 and only just after reading the first few pages of Ascending Spiral, you have already lifted my soul. You write with such feeling and understanding, far beyond anyone else I have read. Oh I wished there was a Dr Lipkin around when I was a child. I have only just started the book and can’t put it down. It draws you in. You write with such depth.

Also I’d like to add that I added my name to the petition calling for an end to indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers. Having suffered with depression, I have been in a psychiatric hospital on many an occasion and over the last few years it has not been uncommon to see asylum seekers there. On one occasion there were 15 to 20 in hospital. Nobody knows what horrors these people have suffered in their own countries and they do indeed fear for their lives should they be made to return home so they come here to seek help and we treat them like criminals and lock them away hoping we don’t have to think about them. These people are like us; have families they love and just want to live normal lives. All I can say to the Australian people is how would you like it if you were treated like that in another country? So it is no wonder that depression and other mental illnesses surface and some of the people I met had tried suicide. I have met quite a few asylum seekers and they are so caring and softly spoken but scared. Stand up Australia and help these people.



Rosemary will probably wildly disagree with me, but she is WONDERFUL. She suffers health problems that have landed her in a nursing home although she is a young person. There, she spends much of her time helping others, spreading cheer, and encouraging other residents to be active.


What does “Republican” mean?
The demise of a great nation
Want to boycott Koch?


What does “Republican” mean?

Sent to me by Karl Kofoed.

The demise of a great nation

The change we need to enable humanity to survive is to a culture of compassion, cooperation, generosity. Greed — the concentration of wealth in a few pockets, the scramble for “happiness” through the possession of stuff, the equation of wellbeing with the GDP — is destroying the ecosystem of our planet. Aggression — demonising those who disagree with you, might is right, equating justice with punishment — has resulted in constant wars, fear and distrust, hate and conflict.

I feel sorry for people who can’t see these simple facts. I wish for a miracle to change everything, even though now it is almost too late. Perhaps it is too late, whatever happens, but even then, I wish for a miracle.

Instead, we have seen the government of the USA bought by misguided private interests. Why?

Two-thirds of those qualified to vote didn’t bother. Tens of thousands who had tried to register had their approval “accidentally” delayed. Highly effective misinformation campaigns blanketed the media for months. There are many reasons, but no excuses.

Apart from a wonderful President’s veto powers, now there is nothing to stop wealth being further stripped from the poor (including what was once the middle class). There is nothing to stop further descent into violence. The planet now belongs to the fossil fuel industry, which is bent on committing suicide for the sake of temporary profit.

If all of humanity could unite in a common effort, we could reduce and delay the impacts of climate change. Instead, we are rushing as fast as possible toward global disaster. It’s not in the future, but killing people and causing billions of dollars of damage NOW.

I am lucky, and can use my philosophy to put peace into my heart, whatever happens. Earth is a school, and we are the students. So, the students in this school are burning it down. That’s OK — I may meet you somewhere else, in another school.

Want to boycott Koch?

If you are disgusted at the way a private business could buy a political party, and the rule of America, you may want to want to avoid buying from Koch Brothers.

This page tells you how.


Video of talk by John James — must watch
Graph of global warming explains denialism
The 2 degrees warmer earth, by Dr John James
Easing 4 problems with one action
More lightning to come
Addicted to oil? by Sven Ake Bjorke
Hottest October
Climate Chaos Casino: Another roll of the dice
Britain’s chief scientist slams fracking
Population explosion seen
Two stars speak for nature


Video of talk by John James — must watch

Please find an hour to watch John talk about our tumultuous times.

John is an inspiring and informative speaker who sets out the horrendous problems we are facing — and what to do about them.

Graph of global warming explains denialism

Skeptical Science has provided this graphic. It shows how you can cherry-pick short periods during which there is no rise in global temperatures (due to factors such as the El Nino effect), while there is a very clear overall rise.

The 2 degrees warmer earth, by Dr John James

What will our planet be like when global temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius? By looking at the Pliocene, John James describes humanity will face, almost certainly in your lifetime, if business as usual continues.

There is still time to work for a miracle.

Easing 4 problems with one action

The 4 problems are: climate change; government revenues; big bureaucracy; and declining wealth of ordinary people.

Read David Roberts’ review of a book by Peter Barnes, With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough.

barnesbookAs Norway has demonstrated, it is perfectly possible to put a meaningful tax on companies that extract a country’s resources. Unlike most mineral exporters, Norway has no deficit, but has money to spend on good things. Barnes applies this logic to all resources: intellectual property, the banking system, the atmosphere, as well as wealth-producing substances in the ground or under the sea. Only, his solution has an extra step: annually distribute the fees collected to all citizens.

Of course, we cannot expect dinosaur politicians to do something that will hurt their paymasters. But this system is worth fighting for. How about it, Democrats and Labor?

PS I have also reviewed this book.

More lightning to come

Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian has reported on a new study that states the obvious: global warming is increasing the frequency of lighting strikes.

Why is this obvious?

The effects of climate change on weather patterns can be understood in terms of increased energy in the atmosphere. More energy means more evaporation, therefore more clouds and storms. Those clouds have more internal motion, and it’s the friction within clouds that generates the static electricity lightning discharges.

Bad news for people wanting to wear metal armour.

Addicted to oil?
by Sven Ake Bjorke

We are addicted to oil, according to president George Bush in his state of the Union speech 2006. Rehab is overdue. It is now necessary to reduce energy use, and quickly develop new forms of energy without oil’s disadvantages. The future needs raw material resources like oil for things we cannot imagine today. It is irresponsible to just burn it.

Had we begun reducing the use of oil in the 1990s, the transition would have been smooth. Now the signs of coming disasters are increasingly visible. We have the technology, we have the resources. What we no longer have is time. The oil age must be dismantled over the next 20 years!

There are four main problem areas:

Environmental Pollution

Coal and oil contain chemicals and particles detrimental to health and environment. We emit carbon (soot), nitrogen oxides, benzene and sulfur in large quantities. Oil spills and air emissions have serious and long-term toxic effects. Fossil energy has many hidden costs. When costs of environmental damage and climate change are included in the overall accounts, fossil fuels are not profitable. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has calculated the annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry to be roughly USD 2 trillion.

Non-renewable, finite resources and vulnerable communities

Fossil energy is a limited resource. We use the most readily available sources first, and become addicted. To meet global demands, less accessible, marginal sources are needed. The cost of extracting one barrel of oil from the old, big sources in the North Sea, Saudi Arabia, Texas and Baku is between 5 and 8 dollars. The price of the same barrel from a marginal source such as the Barents Sea, fracking or tar sands might be ten times that price. Profit margins on unconventional, marginal sources drop rapidly. The oil industry is therefore a “sunset industry.”

International oil trading requires marginal, unconventional oil sources such as tar sands oil to keep the wheels turning. Profits to the people who control the old and cheap oil wells are already staggering, and they are willing to do almost anything to keep it going for another few years. It is irresponsible to let over-optimistic special considerations for the oil industry decide the future of our grandchildren. Subsidies must be transferred to “sunrise industries:” renewable energy sources, where environmental damage is small, and efficiency increases while costs decrease.

Vulnerable logistics, volatile prices and uneven geographical distribution

The largest reserves of cheap oil are concentrated in the Middle East, some old “Soviet countries” and Africa. These reserves are controlled by “Big Oil” — directors in close connection with corrupt and fanatical regimes or individuals with their own agendas. More than half of the global oil proceeds go to such regimes. Huge accumulations of capital by corrupt individuals and undemocratic regimes create violent conflicts that threaten democratic governance and continuously cause new financial crises.

CO2 emissions and climate change

The world’s most esteemed climate scientists have proven global warming of air, land and sea. Rising temperatures, rising sea levels, reduction in glacier ice and snow, warmer seas and acidification are among the symptoms. Our climate systems are already changing, resulting in more unpredictable weather, extreme weather events such as storms, droughts, heavier snow in winter seasons, “fifty-year-floods” every five years, forest fires and various difficulties for agriculture. Society’s vulnerability increases rapidly without massive development of alternative energy sources.

Global warming during the last three decades has been dramatic. Source: World Meteorological Organisation, 2013 [PDF]

Continued long-term use of fossil fuels is deeply unethical, threatens life on earth, and in the long run will be financially devastating. All people must join efforts for a transition to the renewable and sustainable society, and this process must start immediately! According to the World Bank’s Sir Nicholas Stern’s report on climate change and the economy, delays will dramatically increase costs.

It is politically irresponsible and unethical not to develop alternative and renewable sources quickly. It is meaningless to let tax payers all over the world continue to give monetary gifts to the world’s richest people so that they may continue to destroy our common environment. Only by gradually weaning ourselves from our oil addiction and building a new, environmentally responsible economy we can ensure future generations a genuine opportunity for a brighter, cleaner, and a more dynamic and attractive future.


Over to renewables

Out of the oil age

The Stern report

NSA: Climate change — evidence and causes

NASA climate evidence

NCDC Rising temperatures

IMF Stop subsidising oil

World Bank: Climate change

IPCC synthesis report 2014

Hottest October

And there still are people who “don’t believe” in climate change.

Climate Chaos Casino: Another roll of the dice

I have reblogged this essay. It explains why global warming has again led to winter disaster in North America.

Britain’s chief scientist slams fracking

Sir Mark Walport Sir Mark Jeremy Walport, FRS, FRCP, FRCPath, FMedSci, is a medical scientist and the Government Chief Scientific Adviser in the United Kingdom.
The Guardian reports that Mark Walport, the UK’s chief scientist, has compared the dangers of fracking to those of thalidomide and asbestos: technologies adopted too quickly, leading to disaster.

“The chapter, written by Prof Andrew Stirling of the University of Sussex, also argues that the UK and the world could tackle climate change with energy efficiency and renewable energy alone but vested interests in the fossil fuel industry stand in the way.”

Hooray for common sense.

Population explosion seen

This 7 minute video is intended for school kids, but I found it informative. It gives a visual of the exponential growth of human population from 1 AD to the present, and then projected to 2030.

Well worth watching.

Two stars speak for nature

Listen to Flower, voiced by Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o.

Penelope Cruz is Water.

Good news

Tar sands in tatters?
India on organic farming path
Miners swap diesel for solar
India to eliminate coal imports
Governments sabotage solar? Councils step in
Town goes for 100% renewable power


Tar sands in tatters?

The Guardian reports that the Canadian tar sands industry has lost $17 billion thanks to us who oppose it.

Keep up the pressure!
Syncrude Oil Operations in Alberta Tar Sands

India on organic farming path

I really like the new Indian government. Not only are they installing huge amounts of solar power in order to provide renewable energy to every village, but now they have started a program to switch the country to organic farming.

Read the report in an Indian newspaper.

Miners swap diesel for solar

In an ironic twist, solar costs 70% of diesel generation of electricity at remote mine sites.

Thank you to John James for sending me this link. You will find his newsletter interesting.

India to eliminate coal imports

India’s Minister for Energy, Piyush Goyal has announced that India will stop thermal coal imports within two to three years.

This is bad news for Adani with its project to open one of the worlds largest coal mines in Queensland, at the cost of wrecking the Great Barrier Reef. It is bad news for the Australian and Queensland COALition governments — and good news to everyone else.
modisolar India’s Prime Minister Modi with solar plant.

Governments sabotage solar? Councils step in

Australia’s dinosaur government is doing everything to sabotage renewable energy. Although there has just been an election in Victoria, and the COALition has lost, Labor, the winner, is also lukewarm at best.

Councils of the City of Melbourne, City of Maribyrnong and City Of Yarra together cover much of the population and businesses of Melbourne. They intend to organise a direct supply from solar and wind farms, to provide lower price green energy to their constituents, and a predictable market to the suppliers.
windturb Photo by jks Lola

Town goes for 100% renewable power

The northern New South Wales town of Uralla, population 2300, has been chosen as the model for a community energy project called Zero Net Energy Town (ZNET).

Read the details.

Compassionate action

Arrested for feeding the homeless
Light up a planet
Huffington Post’s LOVE MATTERS:
What to do with your $100 million if you are dying?
How to raise a compassionate child by Lauren Stevens
Love is a choice

Tiny homes for those without
A song from the heart
Gold award for vegie gardens
How to use your millions


Arrested for feeding the homeless

Four people, two being ministers of religion, one a 90 year old man, deliberately broke an evil, insane law by feeding homeless people.

Read Alex Smith’s report.
arnoldabbott Arnold Abbott, arrested for having compassion.

Light up a planet

One person in three lives without reliable electricity. People are at risk of burns from kerosene lanterns, candles and other heat-emitting light sources — when they can afford them. Some families in poor countries may spend a quarter of their income on kerosene.

A wonderful for-profit organisation, D.Light has found a solution.

Huffington Post’s LOVE MATTERS

If you want to light up your life, subscribe to this blog. Here are three examples, all there on the one day:

What to do with your $100 million if you are dying?

If you are Simpsons’ co-creator Sam Simon, you give all to charities helping children and animals.

How to raise a compassionate child, by Lauren Stevens

Lauren’s technique is exactly what I wish I’d done as a father. (I can’t have been too bad: all 3 of my now-adult babies are wonderful human beings.)

Love is a choice

Seth Adam Smith gives a perfect recipe for how to be a loving couple for life.

Tiny homes for those without

A group of activists in Wisconsin are doing more than protesting: they are changing the world. There is a vigorous community effort to provide shelter for homeless people. I hope they are copied everywhere. The more you give, the more you get, and love is always more effective than judgment and rejection.

A song from the heart

36 prominent Australians have combined to sing a song about children held in Australia’s inhumane detention camps.

We need the politicians to listen.
We’re Better Than This Australia

Gold award for vegie gardens

A teenager won the Girl Scouts’ highest award for a community project that got disadvantaged people to grow their own food.

She has inspired her local community. Let’s hope her work results in other projects that benefit others.

How to use your millions

This young man earned millions of dollars as a football star.

He and his wife have decided to stop all that. They bought 1000 acres of farmland, and are growing food they give away to those less fortunate.

Here is a quote from him: Love is the most wonderful currency that you can give anyone.

May he be a shining example to others with more money than they need.


Nuclear power’s unanswerable question
…and 3 Mile Island
Graphene: the new battery magic
Poop-powered bus


Nuclear power’s unanswerable question

What do you do with the waste? Seventy years ago, Britain’s answer for spent fuel rods was a “short term” storage facility. It was abandoned 40 years ago, and the nasty stuff is still there. The facility is now rusty, sea birds land on radioactive water, and certain not too improbable events could cause a major spread of radiation.

See the photos.

…and 3 Mile Island

People enthusiastic about nuclear power as a low carbon solution claim the evidence shows it’s safe. But instead, the evidence shows that dangers, mishaps and even tragedies are covered up to hide the evidence.

Read Randall Thompson’s story.

“That a lot of people died because of what happened at Three Mile Island, as the Thompsons claim, is definitely not part of the official story.”

Graphene: the new battery magic

For those with a tiny bit of sophistication in physics and chemistry, this will make interesting reading. I have no idea of the chemical composition of graphene, but its engineering applications promise to be wonderful. It can be the basis of batteries that hold huge amounts of power for their size, are rapid to recharge, and can even be made to be flexible and of any shape. explains: “In 2010, the Nobel Committee awarded their prize in physics to a group of researchers whose newly discovered material they said would change the world. It hadn’t even done anything useful at the time, but the potential was so great it attracted that the world’s premier scientific award. Why? What’s so special about graphene that so many scientists treat it read that it will revolutionize all walks of life? The answer is basically three-fold: strength, flexibility, and conductivity.”

Poop-powered bus

The breakdown of organic wastes yields methane. Usually this enters the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect. It can be trapped and used as a fuel, all the same as natural gas.

Much better than fracking.

There is now a bus in service, proudly using this fuel source.

Deeper Issues

Pope Francis does it again
The role of suffering
29 and dying — in an inspiring way
Instant peace
Mr Modi publicly voices my message
The meaning of life
The secret of happiness
Not everyone needs sex


Pope Francis does it again

I’d like this guy for President of the Planet. He is just wonderful.

His message is Jesus’ message (and that of all the Buddhas, and of people like Gandhi and Mandela). It is the message of Love, decency, compassion. It is the rejection of greed and hate.

As readers of Bobbing Around know, I’ve long been saying this is the only culture that will make human survival possible.

What brought on this rave?

Just before the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Francis has written a letter to its chair, Australian Prime Monster Tony Abbott.

Read the Guardian’s summary.

The role of suffering

When I was younger, I often thought that I could have done a much better job of designing life. If I were given one wish, it would have been to make the task of psychological therapy unnecessary (and eliminate my job).

Socrates said, “The older I get, the less I know.” Same for me: I am nowhere near as arrogant now. If I was given the opportunity to redesign the universe, I’d pass. The wonderful Desiderata states: “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

It is. Crazy and evil as all that suffering seems to us from our limited viewpoint, it is there because that’s the way things are, and that’s that. I don’t know if there is a Designer, but even if there isn’t, the Universe seems to have a blueprint, a genetic code. My evidence for this is the remarkable qualitative similarity at different levels of complexity.

So, my current tentative model of the Universe is that suffering happens because it is necessary. It is part of the design, because without it, things would not go according to plan.

I am not saying that God, the Universe, whatever, is evil and thrives on suffering. Rather, it’s like childbirth. The pain is there, and worth it, as proven by women who choose to have children after the first one. (The best form of birth control would be to have even numbered babies borne by males. No family would have more than 3.)

Evidence indicates that we live many lives, coming along again and again, learning and developing. We learn most from our mistakes. This is what karma is about. It is not punishment, but the provision of learning opportunities. This is the theme of Ascending Spiral.

People returning from clinical death experiences, and some accounts from past life regression hypnosis, suggest that when we die, we face a Superior Person. This Person does not judge us, but firmly, with complete unconditional love, requires us to relive the just-past life, for some reason from death back to birth. What we experience is the emotional effects we have had on others. So, if today I give someone joy, then during my after-death review I’ll be rewarded by feeling that person’s pleasure. If I hurt someone, I’ll feel the pain I’ve caused.

So, I’ll request, and be granted, opportunities to make better choices: to build on and repeat my good actions, and to improve on my mistakes. Throughout my life, I arrive at preorganised Lesson situations. If I make the right choice, I grow and move on. And the indication of a Life Lesson is chronic hurting. Time and again, I make the wrong choice, and the pain returns.

Also, I may ask for restitution, and am given the opportunity. If in this life I’ve unknowingly hurt people by gossiping, then I may choose the next life in which gossip hurts me. If I’ve been cruel to dogs, I may choose to return as the dog of a cruel owner. This is still not punishment, but motivation in the long term.

What a terrible thought for people enduring great misfortune! Are they suffering because they’d dished out the same in the past?

Possibly, but not necessarily. The whole conception only makes sense if we have free will; the ability to make choices. We cannot be puppets dancing on God’s strings, because then we would have no responsibility for our actions. If that’s true for me, then it is true for other people around me. I am caught in a sea of randomness, caused by the free choices of others. So, great suffering could well be due to simply having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, caught in the crossfire of someone else’s bad choices. A woman with a lifetime of suffering because of childhood sexual abuse may possibly be paying restitution — or, instead, the tragedy may be because someone making evil choices victimised lots of kids, and she happened to be one of them.

A falling tree crushes a car, severely injuring the driver. No other person’s bad choices can be blamed. So, are all such events karmic? Again, not necessarily. Crap happens. To say, “That tree fell on him, so he must have needed that experience” is what’s called a “post hoc” fallacy in logic. A cause is ascribed to an event because it occurred.

So, what is the function of suffering that is not designed to be a Life Lesson?

It gives us exactly the same choices, the same opportunities for going backward or forward. They may not have been previously requested events, but now that they are here, they become Lessons all the same.

In my personal case, and in the lives of many hundreds of clients, at a certain stage of facing a misfortune, it has been very useful to find an answer to the question: “In what way can this experience make me into a better person?” If you can find a meaningful answer, then you grow. If instead you choose bitterness, wishes for vengeance, self-pity, helplessness, envy or other negatives, then you go backward. It may not have been a Life Lesson this time, but next life around, you may well choose repetitions in order to have opportunities to improve your reaction.

Since usually there is no way of knowing if a particular misfortune is a predesigned Life Lesson or not, it’s a good idea to treat them all as if they were. This way, suffering has meaning: it becomes a spur to growth. This is that cliche: a silver lining around the cloud.

29 and dying — in an inspiring way

Gordon Aikman has motor neurone disease. He will soon be dead. Instead of reacting with anger, sadness or any other negative, he shows us how to live well.
Read Owen Jones’ moving account.

Instant peace

I have a new friend, who calls himself Pendant (brilliant: he picked up a typo — being pedantic with a pen — and he hangs around). He drew my attention to Eddie Twohawks’ blog, where I found a list of wonderful quotes about silence, and this pic.

Mr Modi publicly voices my message

“Climate change could have been avoided if the world had followed Gandhi’s teachings… Even today, if we go by his teachings, maybe we can do something and contribute in a way to save Mother Earth.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India

He is right. This is exactly what we need. If from today on, every human were to follow Gandhi’s teachings, then we would stop trashing the life support system of our little planet. That would not stop a succession of catastrophes, but would give us more time, reduce impacts and allow us to cope better. And it would mean that those affected by local disasters would be helped and cherished by those still able to.

How about it, humanity? How about some humanity?

The meaning of life

suheil From Suehil Hanna

The secret of happiness


Not everyone needs sex

The Guardian has reported about a vibrant international community of men and women who are not interested in sex, in forming relationships, in being like everyone else.

It is OK to be like this.

Possibly, there have always been people predisposed by genetics and early environmental influences to be free of the needs of reproduction, sexual pleasure and attachment. However, my guess is that this is a relatively new phenomenon, and is a reasonable response to the kind of world we live in.

A large scale British study found that about 1% of the population is “asexual.” I wonder if this proportion is rapidly growing.

Comments welcome.


Climatologist despair
I told him to go — and now I miss him
His ex is a vampire


Climatologist despair

There is a new psychological condition: people working in climate science look around our planet, and want to leave it.

Any person depressed at the obvious destruction of the life support system of our planet should read my two essays on the subject, But there is no need for despair and Climate change is still on track — but that’s all right.

I am willing to engage in free email counselling with anyone involved in climate science.

I told him to go — and now I miss him

hello 🙂 please give me a good advice cause I’m really hopeless. I didn’t know who to turn to.

2 months ago I met sb in an online chat. he is 19 & I’m 18.

We talked in whatsapp and viber and decided to meet even though I was not allowed. I sneaked out & met him. He kissed me on our first date. I was wordless because I didn’t know him well & never had a boyfriend. We met more. I’m conservative & he s crazy.

He lives with his roommates, goes to parties till 5 am & sleeps with girls. He is quite handsome too.

Things passed & he lost his desire to talk to me. He slept during our dates or forgot about them since he was all night partying.

I couldn’t meet him often & I was the only one texting to him.

Then I told him I couldn’t take it anymore and we were over. He said he couldn’t stand being dumped by me (men ego) & let go of me.

It turned out that 2 weeks ago he got back in touch. He told me I was different from everyone he had met & I was a perfect girl and didn’t want to lose me even as a friend.

I told him I couldn’t forgive and that he had made me feel hurt but I forgave him.

This was my biggest mistake. We continued talking like friends (he said that was not a relationship since we couldn’t see each other often & he was right) but we were friends. We were even going to meet & he promised to come every time I had free time.

Then something happened. I was talking how much I hated people who see I got money & want to use me and he was like : I need a favour.

sb stole my book money in the bus today. I have 60 dollars. can you lend me 60 others? I said I couldn’t cause I couldn’t steal from my family. He said he was sorry for asking. Then I changed the topic and he said he didn’t want to talk anymore. no explanation.

Since when do we count on people for money? And when they say no we stop talking? I wrote to him again & again and his only words were: we never had something. We were only friends. You go your way & I go mine. Lots of success. Bye. 😦

We were going great. and I’m very sad.

He asked back for me & now he took revenge of me for dumping him??

He has asked me lots of favours & I had problems with the law because of him (and did something to protect him but he doesn’t know) and I’m very easy to be convinced and a nice person.

He had me on the palm of his hands. He just had to say the right things for a week and I’d do what he wanted but he always f** things up.

I miss him & I cry every night.

What should I do?

He ignores me. don’t know why he doesn’t block me anyway -.- . I know he hurt me. I know he always does that. Perhaps he has forgotten my name. I know we’re different and he wants a different life but I was hoping we could be friends. I’m desperate I know. ps. he hadn’t run out of money I guess, cause he posts photos in pubs burning money.

WHAT’S your opinion towards this? What do you advise? How come he came back the second time to end this all?

Fatima, I know it hurts. He was the first man you gave your affections to, and he proved to be completely unworthy of your love.

It is reasonable that, for a while, you should feel a big loss, as if something good and important had ended for you. It is OK to cry. You have lost some dreams, and excitement in your life, and also no doubt you are questioning yourself: your judgment, your attractiveness, your future. I don’t know what, but I am sure you have many such thoughts. It is OK to do this, for now.

When you feel you have grieved enough, here is something that will help. Suppose it is 10 years from now. You are 28, and have a couple of kids. This man is your husband. Unless he has made enormous changes, what will he be doing?

Do you think he will still be having fun with other women? Getting drunk with his friends and burning money to show off? Taking your money and punishing you if you step out of line?

Maybe he will have changed his ways by then. But people only change if what they are doing stops working for them. As long as he can be irresponsible and manipulative and get his way, he has no reason to do anything else.

So, perhaps you have had a lucky escape?

My dear, there is no such thing as a mistake. There are only learning opportunities. What can you learn from this? In what way can you become a wiser, stronger, better person from what happened to you?

Have a good life,

His ex is a vampire

I recently reconnected with a grade school ex. I’ve been a widow for 2 years now and having him in my life has been the best thing for me and my 2 children. His family and I get along great. He is married with kids but has been separated for more than a year. And now, she wants him back. His family says she does this whenever he finds someone new. He says he wants to give it a shot but he loves me and doesn’t want to end our relationship. His mother and older brother keeps asking me not to leave him because he’s never been happier. He doesn’t believe she is genuine because she has a boyfriend. She just doesn’t want to see him with another woman.

My question is how should I handle this? I am very much in love with him and I think he loves me as well. Should I continue our friendship to see how this plays out or end it completely?

My dear, I don’t think you need advice. You know what your heart is telling you. You need encouragement, to stick in there and do what you know is right.

You have his love, that of his mother and brother. They know the situation, and understand what’s happening. My question is, why doesn’t your gentleman friend understand? How come his ex is able to fool him every time?

You also have a support group: his mother and brother can advise him, help him to be strong in doing what he knows is the right thing.

Your job is to make him feel great in your company. Read, especially the last part, and apply it to your relationship. Even if he weakens and lapses into old habits, you can keep your dignity, and the knowledge that the ex’s theatricals will soon result in what had happened on previous occasions. He split with her before, several times. Doing more of the same guarantees the same outcome.

Good luck,


I started feeling depressed when I was about 14, I would never kill myself cause that’s just such a selfish thing to do. Whenever I’m alone or before I go to bed I get extremely depressed and I don’t want to live anymore, I’m just tired of everything, I hate going to work, I hate going to school, I hate putting on a smile and pretending that I’m okay. I’m afraid of talking to my friend, because the one time I tried the kind of laughed off the subject and changed it. I can’t talk to my dad because I love him and would hate to disappoint him or make it feel like it was his fault. another thing I hate about myself is that I act like I’m really smart and that I just don’t care about school to make people like me, but I actually struggle in subjects like English and history. Recently I have been going to parties with my friends just to keep my mind off it, but after I leave the thoughts just come back, I honestly have no clue what to do with my life. whenever I look at a mirror I hate myself, not because what I look like, but just for being me.

I don’t know what to do with my life, and I don’t know how to stop being depressed

Eddie, when I was your age, I was just as depressed as you are now. I felt the same, wishing not to wake up in the morning. Like you, I would never have killed myself, but my life was a misery. And yet, I’ve lived to be an old man, and have had wonderful experiences and achievements. My wife still loves me after 47 years of marriage, and my kids are my best friends. My joy now is to show the way out of misery to other people, precisely because I have suffered.

If I could do it, so can you.

You didn’t say where you live, or how old you are. You refer to both work and school, so I expect you to be young, but with a bit of money.

In some parts of the world, Britain and Australia for example, you can get free or cheap access to a psychologist. In other places, it’s more difficult, but worthwhile. You will find that a few sessions with a good psychologist will give you an excellent chance of turning your life around.

I think part of the problem is that you are a caring and intelligent person. It is actually your strengths that lead you to feeling depressed, and to reject the idea of hurting your father.

However, another problem is that you feel ashamed of the depression. Actually, it shows good sense. “You have to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy culture.” You are OK, it’s the world you live in that’s wrong.

Naturally, I can’t guess the reasons you are feeling like this, based on your short note. But whatever they are, you can do something about the effects:

1. Read my list of 7 things you can do to feel good at

2. At the moment, your misery is the focus of your life. It’s what your attention is on, whenever everyday life doesn’t distract you from it. Attention is a magnifying glass. Here is proof: for one minute, do NOT think of the word “hippopotamus.” What happened?

So, you need other things to attend to, besides parties with your friends. My next few points will give you examples. You can use them as a pattern for thinking up your own.

3. Find a cause, or more than one, to be passionate about. Mine has been working for a sustainable society: I want there to be a future for young people like you, and a life worth living. Get involved with groups, in person as well as online, read about the cause, become committed at making a difference.

4. Do acts of kindness. You can be a sort of a detective. Secretly study your family, friends and other contacts. Work out what will make them feel good, and then quietly arrange for them to have this. It’s best if they don’t even know you’ve done anything. When they light up, so will you.

5. Set yourself achievable challenges, then work hard to succeed. For example, you can decide to improve your English and history marks. A rule is, “If someone else can do it, I can learn it.” You can find many helpful resources on the internet. You might privately ask your teachers for extra help, or may have a classmate who is willing to help you. I used study as an antidepressant when I was young. The result was a long list of achievements.

6. Notice beauty. Focus in on beautiful flowers, birds, little children, butterflies, falling snow, clouds at sunset, lovely music, poetry… anything that you find beautiful. Over time, try yourself out at skills that can result in producing beauty. Examples are playing a musical instrument, painting/drawing, cooking, gardening.

7. Finally, learn to meditate. There are many ways, and all work. This is the biggest thing that helped me out of my misery, because it involves inner peace, acceptance of what is, without judgment, and living in the present moment.

You haven’t left an email address at Queendom. If you read this, track me down via my web site and send me an email. Then we can continue this discussion.



Avoiding further global warming can be done cheaply and will improve health
Wind turbine noise
Compassion is a healing agent
8 poisons you needn’t buy


Avoiding further global warming can be done cheaply and will improve health

The Climate and Health Alliance, a group of health organisations in Australia, has responded to the recent release of the synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment by calling for the Australia government to “get its head out of the sand” and start acting responsibly by developing ambitious, effective emissions reductions policies.
“The actions of the Abbott government to abolish the carbon price legislation and the Climate Commission and threaten the renewable energy target — Australia’s only remaining policy helping the nation to cut its emissions — are completely at odds with the science and the actions of other nations, like China, Brazil and in Europe,” CAHA President and climate and health researcher Dr Liz Hanna said.
With five separate studies showing Australia’s hottest ever heatwave in the summer of 2014 was entirely attributable to human caused emissions, failure to reduce emissions in this most vulnerable of countries was effectively ensuring more deaths and illnesses, Dr Hanna said.
Climate change is an overwhelmingly negative impact on health globally, and Australians are also vulnerable, particularly to heat exposure, as we can see from the 167 deaths that occurred during last summer’s heatwave in Victoria.
The IPCC reveals that children are most critically affected, with a substantial negative impact on child development and stunting from under nutrition among children in developing countries associated with crop failures and weather related disasters.
It also emphasises today’s costs of emission reductions to avoid further dangerous climate change are not only inexpensive, but they are much less than the costs associated with unmitigated climate change.
Just as prevention is better — and cheaper — than curing illnesses, cutting emissions to avoid further climate change will be much, much cheaper than the costs we will incur from further warming.
Emissions reductions will lead to significant benefits to public health, with the savings from avoided ill health for national budgets likely to offset, possibly completely in some countries, the costs of emissions reductions. (PDF file)
The IPCC report makes clear limiting further global warming is possible, but will require rapid and far reaching transformation and will only be accomplished if governments introduce ambitious policies, backed by strong investments, and there is a complete phase out of fossil fuels.
“Voluntary actions by individuals, communities and businesses to reduce emissions are vital,” Dr Hanna said, “but this report makes clear, safeguarding global and national health requires climate and energy policies that will drive change across all sectors, all industries, and most of all, drive a shift away from fossil fuels. Like all countries, Australia must act now.

Wind turbine noise

Canada is on a par with Australia for the climate change denying, dinosaur government award. So, it’s reassuring to have the Canadian health department publish a large scale study that conclusively demonstrates NO negative health effects from wind turbines.

So there.

Compassion is a healing agent

Professor James Doty has reviewed literature on the effect of compassionate attitudes by health care providers. The positive finding is no surprise to me.

8 poisons you needn’t buy

Anastasia Pantsios writes in Ecowatch about common household products that have been used for many years, but which are bad for your health.

The list is:

  • Teflon cookware
  • Plastic bottles
  • Insect killers
  • Antibacterial soaps
  • Ammonia bleaches
  • Air fresheners
  • Moth repellants
  • Certain fabric softeners.

Read her reasoning, and the details.


Name traps
Better dead than said?
Me, myself and I by Florence Weinberg


Name traps

What with editing jobs, review swaps and contest judging, I’ve read a lot of books lately. And, shock, horror, I read for pleasure too. So, I’ve come across many character names in the past year. Some have been… less than wise choices. Let me list a few of these name traps. Suggestions of others are welcome.

Unintended meaning

What does a person named Zen remind you of? For me, it would have to be someone wise, calm, possessing great intelligence and all the Buddhist virtues. Well, I’ve read a science fiction story in which a person with that name had none of these characteristics. He was a fighter, a bodyguard, an adventurer.

What about Israel? Surely that would have to be a Jewish person? Not the one I recently encountered. The culture of the story had religions that were completely unrelated to the ones in our everyday world.

Intended meaning

The opposite mistake is when Mr Taylor is a tailor, Mr Smith a smith, Faith is highly religious, or Solomon displays a lot of wisdom except for having too much liking for the ladies.

Actually, this does happen in real life. I have a collection of Mr Flood the plumber, Dr Payne the dentist, Mr Grubb the butcher, Hans Pretzel who is a chiropractor, and a gossipy old lady named Mrs Snoop.

Enid Blyton did get away with Mr Plod the Policeman, but that was in a kids’ book, and in a previous era. I think it’s important to avoid this kind of excess meaning, because it reduces the roundedness of characterisation. The reader should get to know a person in a book in the same way as a person in real life. If you meet a Ms Goldberg, you don’t expect her to own a mountain of gold.

Now, which one was that?

Jillie and Julie may sound cute, but, well, look at my subtitle. On the bottom of page 97, one of them does something. On page 98, you write “she,” and the identity of the person may matter. Now, which one was it? Either I run the risk of confusion, or I turn back the page, (more likely, I scroll up), breaking my involvement in the story.

Unless there is a special reason you want two characters to be confused (they are identical twins, and the plot turns on people always confusing them), it is better to give every person in your book a distinctive name.

This does not necessarily mean having each name start with a different letter of the alphabet, although that helps. In Ascending Spiral, I have 7 men, being 3 Js, 3 Ds and Gavin. This works though, because the names are distinctive apart from this: Jim, John and Josh; and Dermot, David and Dylan; and they have very different personalities and physical descriptions.

Androgynous names

In real life, there are people whose names can be used for either gender. Examples are Leigh, Sam, Alex, even Jan. I know a very large, tough-looking male police sergeant named Jan Cook.

It’s fine to use such names in a book, provided there is never any doubt about their sex. However, as with most other things, it’s important to ensure that the reader never needs to stop and think, “Hmm. Is that a boy or a girl?” because that would interfere with being within the reality of the story.

I’ve just reviewed Darrell Bain’s Samantha’s Talent. Wisely, his choice was to have her called Sammie. This is much better than Sam.

Better dead than said?

Writers often quote Elmore Leonard: “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue.”

Another frequent admonition is to avoid repeating anything. But then, it’s very repetitious if every dialogue tag is “said.” And surely, “whispered,” “growled,” “shouted” or “cajoled” add content in an efficient and nonintrusive way?

Then the third bit of advice is, avoid tags altogether. Identify the speaker by making each person’s speech pattern distinctive, and sneak in context. I’ve taken part in fun contests in which the aim was to write an entire 1000 word story without a single tag, avoiding ambiguity all the way.

So, which of these three rules should we follow? All truth is paradox: follow all three, and none of them.

One of my cliches is: “Invent characters, put them in a setting, and get off the stage. The writer should be invisible.” Elmore agrees with me: “It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing.” So, we need to use judgment on which of the three tag injunctions is least intrusive in a situation.

Here is a short passage from The Travels of First Horse:

      “Are they likely to come this way?” Pig asked. He pulled a spear from his back quiver, looked at it, then put it back.

      “They had tents up. I’d think they’re set at least till morning.”

      Ramon walked up and down to contain his worry. “We either backtrack or attack,” he summarized succinctly. “So far I’ve never killed a person, but…”

      “But now we’re adults and will be fighting Doshi soon anyway,” Razor Bush finished for him. She looked excited at the prospect.

      “Just think of the scars on my mother’s thighs,” Horse growled. “I won’t have any trouble killing Doshi.”

Not a “said” in sight. Elmore would be disgusted. Still, did you find words like “growled” and “asked” to be intrusive? I don’t.

Now, I’ve got a problem. I tried to find a passage full of instances of “said” — in my own writing, in books I’ve recently reviewed or judged — and couldn’t find any.

So, I visited Elmore Leonard’s web site, and lifted the first few paragraphs of his Pronto

      One evening, it was toward the end of October, Harry Arno said to the woman he’d been seeing on and off the past few years, “I’ve made a decision. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before in my life.”

      Joyce said, “You mean something you did when you were in the war?”

      It stopped him. “How’d you know that?”

      “When you were in Italy and you shot the deserter?”

      Harry didn’t say anything, staring at her.

      “You already told me about it.”

      “Come on. When?”

      “We were having drinks at the Cardozo, outside, not long after we started seeing each other again. You said it the same way you did just now, like you’re going to tell me a secret. That’s why I knew. Only I don’t think you said anything about making a decision.”

OK, there are four instances of “said” there — and they don’t intrude. But if, for an exercise, we were to put a tag on every bit of dialogue, and made them all “said,” what would we get?

      One evening, it was toward the end of October, Harry Arno said to the woman he’d been seeing on and off the past few years, “I’ve made a decision. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone before in my life.”

      Joyce said, “You mean something you did when you were in the war?”

      It stopped him. He said, “How’d you know that?”

      “When you were in Italy and you shot the deserter?” she said.

      Harry didn’t say anything, staring at her.

      “You already told me about it,” she said.

      “Come on. When?” he said.

      She said, “We were having drinks at the Cardozo, outside, not long after we started seeing each other again. You said it the same way you did just now, like you’re going to tell me a secret. That’s why I knew. Only I don’t think you said anything about making a decision.”

Doesn’t this grate?

So, I don’t like straightjacket rules. Use “said” when it fits. Have your characters ask and whisper and growl and shout and reply, when that fits. And minimise the use of tags — unless there is a special reason not to.

Me, myself and I, by Florence Weinberg

What I’ll tell you may come as a surprise, especially to the younger generation, especially in the United States [and perhaps in Australia, too?], where the study of the grammar of our own language is no longer taught in elementary or even middle school. The result, predictably, is an increasing number of grammatical blunders that seem to be accepted as correct. But they are not. Among these is the confusion between the subjective and the objective cases in objects of prepositions. Does that sound like Greek to you? Of course, if you have never learned grammar, it is Greek or ancient Babylonian, or… To clarify, I will give you several examples:

“The boy hit the ball.” The boy (subject, that is the actor, initiator of the action in the sentence) hit (verb, action word) the ball (direct object, recipient of the action).

or: “The boy gave me the ball.” (“me” is the indirect object answering to or for whom? “The ball” is still the direct object.)

Now, let’s get down to the confusion of subjective (initiators of action) and objective (recipients of action) cases:

Jim and I went to the park. (“Jim and I” are subjects of the sentence, “went” is the verb (the action), “to” is a preposition, (a word that expresses direction, position, or time), and “park” is the object of the preposition. OBJECTS OF PREPOSITIONS ARE ALWAYS IN THE OBJECTIVE CASE.

Now, which of these two sentences would YOU choose instinctively?

We went to the movies and Jane sat between Jim and I.

We went to the movies and Jane sat between Jim and me.

If you chose a. you were wrong. What part of speech is “between”? It tells you position, therefore it is a preposition. Which case would it be? Correct! The objective case.

After a preposition [see list below], the subjective case is ALWAYS WRONG but almost universally used. Why? Because when a five-year-old child says, “Me ‘n Sally are going to play outside,” (or “Sally and me are going…”) mother says, “No, NO NO! You must say, ‘Sally and I are going to play…'” and the five-year-old, remembering to please mother, always says, “Sally and I” no matter the context. This is called “overcorrection.” AVOID IT!

Here is a list of a few prepositions, to familiarize you with them: with, between, in, on, beside, below, above, under, to, from, around, to name a few common ones.

And here is a list of pronouns (words used instead of nouns when referring to persons or things)


(source of action)

(receiver [object] of action)
I me
you you
he, she, it him, her, it
we us
you you
they them

There are also interrogative pronouns: “who” (subjective) and “whom” (objective). Who did this to whom?

“Whom” has almost disappeared in normal usage. It is still correct, however, until grammar authorities declare it void.

Remember that subjective means initiator of action and objective means receiver of action, as in “The war (subjective) killed many people (objective).

Notice that you would never say “He sat between we,” or “He came with they,” but you often (or always) say “between he and I.” DON’T!

By the way, “myself” (plural: “ourselves”) is a pronoun only used for emphasis and in no other way, as in, “I, myself, got the car out of the sand.” Or, “I got the car out of the sand myself.” “We, ourselves, caught that elephant.” “We caught that elephant ourselves.”
At times, use of myself is a matter of choice, as in answering the question, “Whom did you buy that for? (Whom is the object of the preposition for). I bought that for me (not emphatic). I bought that for myself (emphatic).

Got that straight? Enough grammar for the day?

FlorenceDr. Florence Byham Weinberg is a retired professor of modern languages and literatures. She taught for 36 years and wrote four scholarly books. In retirement she has written ten prize-winning novels, eight published, one in press, one in a drawer awaiting revision. She is working on her eleventh.

What my friends want you to know

Help lawsuit to protect endangered walruses
Watch this excellent video from Dr John James
New York marathon: run for Amnesty
Earthjustice: Lost the election? We’ll use the courts
Lots of tips for writers
Tim Flannery on the work of the Climate Council
From the Tibet Fund
Support wildlife survival


Help lawsuit to protect endangered walruses

walrus Stop Shell Oil from harming walruses in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea!

Dear Bob,

Their homes are literally melting away due to extreme climate change. They’re being forced ashore, where they are far from food and vulnerable to injury. Their calves are dying in stampedes caused by disturbances at these coastal aggregations.

And now our government is giving Shell Oil and other oil companies the green light to drill and conduct deafening seismic surveying in their home, chasing them from feeding and resting areas and adding to their mounting misfortunes. Will you help us fight back?

Walruses are the Arctic’s canary in a coal mine. And now more than ever, they are struggling to survive.

Today my team and I filed a lawsuit to challenge a U.S. Fish and Wildlife rule permitting companies like Shell Oil to harm Pacific walruses during reckless Arctic Ocean oil drilling. Help us see this fight through.

Make a tax-deductible gift today to support our efforts in court.

Pacific walruses — which the government has determined need protection under the Endangered Species Act — depend on Chukchi Sea ice in the spring and summer for resting, raising their young, feeding, and avoiding predators. But in recent years this sea ice has shrunk substantially — and with it, much of the walruses’ prime habitat.

Now Big Oil wants to drill offshore and disturb these majestic creatures with seismic testing; risky, dirty, and loud drilling; ice-breaking; and airplane and helicopter use during the time of year they’re most vulnerable, and in the region most critical to their survival.

Adding insult to injury, the drilling would accelerate climate change, which is already putting this species at risk.

We at Earthjustice are doing everything we can to fight back and save walruses from oil drilling and the worst effects of climate change, but we need you to stand with us.

In 2012, Arctic sea ice shattered previous low records, covering only about half the area covered on average from 1981 to 2010. The extent of Arctic sea ice is declining faster than predicted, in a dramatic change that is a major stress on walruses.

Without sea ice, walruses are flocking to land in large numbers, where food becomes scarce. Loud noises or disturbances can cause herds to become alarmed and stampede into the water, trampling and killing small walruses and baby calves in the process. Reckless and irresponsible oil development could make things much worse.

Walruses are struggling — they need a good lawyer. We’re fighting multiple battles to stop reckless and irresponsible drilling in the Arctic. Help us win this and other critical fights!

Thank you for all that you do.

Watch this excellent video from Dr John James

John gives an inspiring talk about climate change and what to do about it. This is a must-watch.

New York marathon: run for Amnesty

Running the New York City Marathon is not just a challenge; it’s a life-changing experience.

So dust off your runners and tighten your laces because we’re giving you the chance to run New York while raising funds for human rights.

Secure your place in Team Amnesty today

The money you raise will help Amnesty continue to protect the rights of vulnerable women, men and children around the world.

But be quick — places are limited for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  • Marathon date: Sunday, 1 November 2015
  • Physical activity: Marathon
  • Registration fee: $770 (non-refundable)
  • Fundraising target: $10,000 (excludes travel)
  • Travel cost: $6,000 (can be fundraised)
  • Trip duration: 7 days
  • Challenge grade: 5/5 (challenging)
  • Challenge duration: 5 days
  • Accommodation: 5 nights twin-share in a 4 star hotel

Make your dream a reality. Secure your spot in Team Amnesty today.

Kind regards,

Madelaine Zajdler
Events Coordinator
Amnesty International Australia

PS. Does November 2015 sound too far away? We’ve also got one spot left for the Virgin London Marathon next April — get in quick!

Earthjustice: Lost the election? We’ll use the courts

This election, big industrial polluters, including oil and gas companies, spent record sums to influence political campaigns. And many of their strongest allies were elected to Congress.

The tools that Earthjustice wields — our nation’s landmark environmental laws and the best attorneys in the country — are more crucial now than ever before. But we can’t do our work without you by our side. 

Make a tax-deductible gift to help us protect the environment and hold accountable those who would jeopardize the planet.

Donate here.

Lots of tips for writers

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s regular monthly newsletter is full of useful information for writers, including a template for a Letter to the Editor, and a Q&A column from Ann Landers on scams from certain publishers.

Tim Flannery on the work of the Climate Council

Dear Bob,

We’ve known about greenhouse gases for a very long time. But I believe history will look back on these short, frenetic years as the turning point where humanity finally began to change course on catastrophic climate change.

Here’s why.

  1. The dam of denial is breaking. World leaders standing in the way of climate action are increasingly isolated, as we saw of our own government at last week’s G20 in Brisbane. The US President put climate change on the agenda, warning that no region in the globe has more at stake on climate change than the Asia-Pacific. He rightly nominated increasing bushfires, flooding, extreme storms and rising seas; as well as the destruction of the majestic Great Barrier Reef as dire consequences for Australia.
  2. China and the US have just signed a truly game-changing agreement to curb emissions. According to breaking analysis by Climate Interactive and MIT, these new commitments could keep some 640 billion tons of CO2 emissions out of the air — that’s more than all fossil fuel emissions on the planet from 1990-2013.
  3. China also just announced that they are planning to build as much clean energy in the next 15 years as their entire coal fleet. The Chinese President called it an energy revolution. That’s what it will be, and not just for China.
  4. China’s existing renewable energy push has reduced the cost of solar 80% in just six years. Another huge push like this will further change the economic equation, renewables will get cheaper and cheaper.
  5. Major economies pledged more than $9 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries tackle climate change. This is an important step to make sure that the countries who are driving climate change do their fair share to support countries, like Pacific Island nations, who are bearing the brunt of climate impacts. Australia is yet to contribute.

Here at home, we know we still have our work cut out for us.

That’s why all of us at the Climate Council are so committed to making sure Australian’s have the facts on climate change from an independent and accurate source. And as a financial supporter to the Climate Council, you’re part of all this in a very direct, powerful way. 

Bob, on behalf of everyone at the Council, I want to say a huge thank you.

To date we’ve generated more than 12,000 media stories from our reports, with a reach of 130 million people. We’re reaching another 4 million people each month through social media. As the dial heats up this summer, we’re planning a series of reports on extreme weather. I’m so proud of my team, and all our Founding Friends, for making this possible.

Together, we’re driving a different media debate:

  • We framed the media story about the G20 as a conversation about Australia lagging behind.
  • We’re changing public opinion on extreme weather events.
  • We exposed the bias of the government’s Warburton Review into renewable energy, undermining its credibility.
  • We’re keeping climate change front and centre for the public. Many days it’s back-to-back interviews.

Everyone at the Climate Council knows we simply wouldn’t exist without your generous support and demonstrated commitment. I urge you to please keep giving, reading and sharing at this incredibly important time. Because your contribution to changing the debate in Australia is also helping to change history. Thank you once again.

Prof. Tim Flannery,
Chief Climate Councillor

From the Tibet Fund

Dear Friends,


We are fast approaching the holiday season, a time of sharing and reflection for you and your family. In the spirit of the holidays, we would like to send warm wishes to you and yours and thank you for your past kindness and generosity. We hope you will think of us during this holiday season and continue to support us and the vital work of sustaining the Tibetan community.

It is The Tibet Fund’s mission to ensure that Tibetan culture and identity remain a vibrant part of our global heritage. The Tibet Fund continues to strive to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Tibetan refugees living in settlements across India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Although we have made great strides in improving the quality of life for many refugees, challenges persist. Every year, more Tibetans are forced into exile, and every year the need for assistance becomes greater. Our success, and the present and future wellbeing of the Tibetan exile community, largely depend on your continued generosity and support.

For many, holiday gifts are an opportunity to show appreciation and compassion for loved ones. In that spirit, we ask that you consider giving a gift of any amount to enable us to continue assisting Tibetan refugees. As always, we remain extremely grateful for your support. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. As such, your gifts are tax-deductible. For more information, please visit our website. We would also be happy to provide a copy of our annual report upon request.

Best wishes,

Lobsang Nyandak
Executive Director

Rinchen Dharlo


Support wildlife survival

87% of mammal species, 93% of reptiles, 94% of frogs and 45% of bird species that live in Australia are only found here. Therefore, it is vital to the biological diversity of the Earth that Australia maintains health habitats for these unique creatures. Sadly, over the last 200 years over 30 species have gone extinct because of human encroachment into their homes. Will you step up to prevent this disturbing trend?

133 more species are currently at risk of going extinct if we don’t take serious action to protect their ecosystems. Australia’s unique beauty and character will be lost with these creatures. We must do everything we can to protect them.

Sign this petition to support native wildlife survival.

Thank you,
Kelsey Dean
The Care2 Petitions Team


Don’t Even Think About It, by George Marshall
Samantha’s talent, by Darrell Bain and Robyn Pass
With Liberty and Dividends for All, by Peter Barnes
Price of Vengeance, by Kurt Springs
Dangerously In Love, by Aletta Hodges


Don’t Even Think About It, by George Marshall

This is the most important book I’ve read in the past 20 years.

I have expertise in its subject matter: why people deny climate change, and what to do about it. While enjoying the experience of reading his chatty, clear, yet precise prose, time and again I have recognised my sources and conclusions.

All the same, I have also learned an enormous amount. It’s clear that George has spent years of personal research, interviewing a great many people top in their field — including those who are diametrically opposed to his views. That must have taken considerable courage.

The first two-thirds of the text sets out the problem, and it gets bleaker and bleaker. With admirable eclecticity, George reports on the findings of a wide variety of experts from many disciplines, each agreeing that climate change is the perfectly intractable problem to address:

  • “A major conference held at Yale University in 2005 concluded that climate change is ‘almost perfectly designed to test the limits of any modern society’s capacity for response — one might even call it the ‘perfect problem’ for its uniquely daunting confluence of forces.'” (p 91), and “…defining climate change as the ‘perfect problem’ triggers frames of powerlessness and hopelessness that feed denial.” (p 92) “So we have a dangerous combination. Climate change is exceptionally multivalent, enabling a limitless range of self-serving interpretation. And it is uncanny, creating a discomfort and unease that we seek to resolve by framing it in ways that give it a familiar shape and form. These two factors combine, to add a third term to the mix, to make it an exceptionally wicked problem” (p 95).
  • “Rational scientific data can lose against a compelling emotional story that speaks to people’s core values… These cultural meanings become deeply attached and therefore cannot be removed by applying more scientific argument” (p 24).
  • “People might very well mobilize against a new energy technology that causes climate change, but not against the cars, planes, and power plants that are already woven into the fabric of their lives” (p 54).
  • “Each silence appears to be built on the other silences, but they have a common basis in the need to avoid anxiety and defend ourselves. From a psychoanalytic perspective, denial and anxiety are closely linked. Things that cannot be assimilated are repressed” (p 89).
  • In summary: “The bottom line is that we do not accept climate change because we wish to avoid the anxiety it generates and the deep changes it requires” (p 228-229).

All this is depressing if informative reading. I found the first positive note on page 130, where George identifies an approach that helps to communicate: the stories of ordinary but trustworthy people.

The optimism, the conviction that we have the power to change everything, came for me on page 229. So, if reading drags you down, keep going! I do wish the material was organised so as to maintain hope and positivity, and this is my one criticism. But the good stuff is there, if only toward the end. In George’s defence, understanding it (more exactly, not misunderstanding it) does need the previous discussion.

At the end of the book, George lists a set of recommendations on how to communicate about climate change. I agree with it all.

A fascinating aspect of the book is that George, a long term and effective environmental campaigner, managed to interview people influential among groups who vehemently deny climate change. He found that the two groups, opposed on issues, mirror each other in attitudes, beliefs and language. For this reason, Don’t Even Think About It should be obligatory reading for those who “know” that climate change is a leftwing conspiracy, just as much as for people like me, who “know” that climate denial is a rightwing conspiracy.

In closing, I recommend this book to everyone. Look George up at and join our team.

Samantha’s talent, by Darrell Bain and Robyn Pass

Every bit of writing has underlying messages. A good book has messages that make the world a better place. Samantha’s talent carries several great subliminal messages.
The first is about discrimination. All my youth, I was bullied and victimized, in part for being more intelligent than other kids. Similarly, Samantha is being victimized for being able to do something wonderful others can’t. The second is about decency and caring, and its obverse: the damage caused by greed and aggressiveness. You’ll find it impossible to avoid identifying with Samantha, and so she can be your guide in how to handle your life.

samanthaBut above all, a story needs to be exciting. “Samantha’s Talent” more than qualifies. She and her family go from crisis to crisis, in the tradition of writers like, well… Darrell Bain. If you haven’t read his earlier books, you’ve been missing out.

This is a book for young adults, aged from 18 to 88.

With Liberty and Dividends for All, by Peter Barnes

barnesbookThis is an American book, written for Americans about the American economy, but the restriction doesn’t do it justice. It is actually a universal book, using the USA as a case example. The problems it addresses are global, and the suggested solution will need to be applied globally to work. All the same, anything needs a start.

The concept is simple, and has a history. The current increasing concentration of wealth in a few pockets is due to the fact that businesses have free use of resources that belong to everyone. Peter Barnes demonstrates that it is both reasonable and possible to charge them rent, and distribute the takings to the shareholders who own the resources: the citizens. In this sense, “rent is income received not because of anything a person or business produces but because of rights or power a person or business possesses. It consists of takings from the larger whole rather than additions to it” (p 53).

This is actually being done in Alaska, right now. Oil revenue is distributed to residents of the state. The scheme was devised and implemented by a Republican governor, and, one year, boosted by Sarah Palin.

Peter’s concepts are clear, and if I hadn’t already agreed with him, he’d have convinced me as I read on. The logic is uncommon sense. Put money in people’s pockets, and you reduce or even eliminate a great many social ills. The concept is not welfare or charity, but justice. It will appeal to ordinary people on both sides of politics — at least if you can get them to consider it without prejudice.

Peter’s case is convincing because he has done the maths. You can follow his logic as he shows that both conservatives and liberals should in principle be sympathetic to the idea of users paying rent to “shareholders” (meaning every citizen), for example those benefiting from intellectual rights should pay a small amount for the protection it affords them.

The essential concept is that taxes remove money from business, which passes the cost on to customers. In contrast, dividends paid equally to all citizens remove money from business, which passes the cost on to customers — then the customers receive the money back, so it keeps circulating. This is the same kind of economic stimulus as ended the Great Depression of the 1930s, but without the injection of extra money.

Peter also demonstrates how this concept can be used to reduce environmental damage. Climate change mitigation is an example. Current financial methods for reducing CO2 emissions don’t work very well. However, suppose that carbon content is measured at input into the economy, and the right to emit is auctioned. The profits of this are distributed as a dividend to everyone. Now, those who emit less CO2 are automatically rewarded, those who emit more pay for the privilege.

I do have two arguments with Peter.

First, and most important, he doesn’t consider environmental footprint. Since 2008, we have been using the resources of over 1.5 earths — but only have one planet. So, we’ve been stealing from the future. For that matter, most of our current problems exist because past generations have been stealing from their future — our present. For this reason, we need to reduce overall consumption, not stimulate it. His concept of dividends paid to everyone could be an excellent tool for engineering degrowth toward a sustainable society.

Second, the currently wealthy countries like the USA, the EU, Australia and China are in effect colonial powers that rob wealth from poorer countries. We are heading for disaster if we don’t correct the international imbalance instead of maintaining or improving the high standard of living of the west.

Even with these caveats, With Liberty and Dividends is a must-read, 5 star book.

peterbarnesPeter Barnes is an innovative thinker and entrepreneur whose work has focused on fixing the deep flaws of capitalism. He has written numerous books and articles, co-founded several socially responsible businesses (including Working Assets/Credo), and started a retreat for progressive thinkers and writers (The Mesa Refuge). He lives in Point Reyes Station, California, with his wife, dog and vegetable garden.

Price of Vengeance, by Kurt Springs

As a young fellow, I enjoyed reading space opera: science fiction in which the goodies defeat the baddies after many tribulations, against overwhelming odds. After awhile, though, one lot of bug-eyed monsters blended into all the rest, and as with everything, repetition palled.

I chose to read this book because of its title. When I started, it seemed to be just another space opera, and while it was well done, it was more or less a “been there.”

However, the emotions were genuine, and I got to like two young men: Randolf and Liam.

Then I got interested in the technical aspects of the back story: genetically engineered people with inbred skills I wouldn’t mind having. However, the book grabbed me when we reached the justification for the title. Liam exacts horrendous revenge on the person who’d murdered both his natural and adoptive parents. Without lecturing, Kurt takes us into his reaction, and that of other important characters, to make us feel, at a gut level, why vengeance is wrong. He has a corporal say, “If an animal goes mad, you put a bullet in its head. You don’t torture it.”

Jarek, an important character, says, “The shadow lives in us all. That we feel this way, while it pains us, is a sign of hope.” Liam had done a terrible thing. His feeling of guilt and self-disgust is precisely the indication of his morality. At the end, he is able to appreciate that the chief villain “didn’t understand love. His nearest reference was desire. I think Councilor Licinious was the same. I hated them before, but now, I pity them.”

So, my initial impression was wrong. To me, literature is distinguished from mere entertainment by having a deeper message that makes the reader think. “Price of Vengeance” is literature, and none the less entertaining for that.

Kurt D. Springs is presently an adjunct professor of anthropology and archaeology in New Hampshire. He holds a PhD in anthropology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His main area of interest is megalithic landscapes in prehistoric Ireland. Price of Vengeance is the first book in his Dreamscape Warrior Series.


Dangerously In Love, by Aletta Hodges

I am Australian. Through my reading, I’ve had an excellent intellectual understanding of the lives and circumstances of African Americans, but until I read Aletta’s book, it was from the outside. She has taken me into the culture, so it is now alive for me.
This even includes the language. By my standards, the writing is poor on grammar, spelling, punctuation, the mixture of past and present tense… but Aletta is not writing in my language, but in that of her culture, which has different rules, as, for example, Indian English does. Once I learned to let go of my preconceptions, I actually liked the differences.
Most of the story is an insider’s view of the life of any person within a stigmatized and suppressed culture such as inner city black life: drugs, alcohol, violence, sexual looseness, teen pregnancy. The reader can feel the pain, experience the tragedy of living like this. I think it is impossible to judge the terrible acts of the characters, because it’s clear: if I were put in those circumstances, I’d learn to behave just like that, from childhood on. So, this is powerful social critique, demanding changes.
The last part is perhaps a bit of wish-fulfillment: the heroine becomes a successful writer. But even then, statements like this will grab you: “I was spending every second I had writing away the pain.”
But then, there is a horrifying finale. Find out for yourself how it turns out.

Aletta Hodges is poet and writer born and raised in Mid-Michigan. Her debut novel, Dangerously In Love was published in October 2014 on Cinematic Ink, a subsidiary of SBR Publications, owned and operated by best selling author David Weaver. Aletta currently lives in Lansing, Michigan, where she is a Dental Assistant. She began writing poetry at the age of twelve and has always been an avid reader. Her poems have long been sought out by fans and friends alike. <Dangerously In Love starts a trilogy that chronicles a love tale filled with danger, passion and one woman’s dream of escape.




A bit of fun

My pastor gave me Ebola!
A parable for our times
A geographical genius


My pastor gave me Ebola!

A woman in a congregation developed a fever. She knew that the pastor of the church, Michael Petzer, had returned from Zambia in early September. So, she went to the hospital in a panic.

Two police officers woke Mr. Petzer at 2 a.m., presumably to arrest him for carrying a dangerous disease into the USA. I hope they were wearing that space-suit-looking safety gear.

OK, why is this in my Fun section?

Zambia is 2500 miles from the Ebola outbreak. This is the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Mr. Petzer had been home for more than 21 days.

As he said, he came from a country with no known Ebola infection (Zambia) to one where people had been identified with the disease (USA).

Don’t know about you, but it makes me laugh.

Source: Daily Kos.

A parable for our times

Australia’s Prime Monster Tony Abbott, Pope Francis and a schoolboy were in a plane, when the pilot announced, “I’m sorry, both our engines are on fire. We need to evacuate, but there are only two parachutes.”

Tony shouted, “I have a country to run!” grabbed for a parachute, opened the sliding door and jumped.

Pope Francis said, “Son, I am an old man. You have a life before you. Take the remaining parachute.”

The boy smiled at him. “Your Holiness, Mr Abbott took my school bag!”

A geographical genius

“Send immigrants back across the ocean to Mexico!”
Sarah Palin on Fox News, Hannity, 11-20-14


Christmas Magic Wrought by Google’s Keyword Elves by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Such is that it may always be by Tim Knight


Christmas Magic Wrought by Google’s Keyword Elves
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

            At the stroke of dawn on November first
            gremlins tired from their Halloween

            shenanigans crawl into cracks
            between my baseboards and floorboards

            to hibernate with grease ants
            and cobweb generators that also go

            unseen until I say (or even think!)
            the word “guests.” Anyway, I suspect

            that’s where they’re hiding.
            Or in the attic. Or the flue. I know

            I don’t see them again till Thanksgiving
            when they reappear to fortify

            themselves on bread crumbs
            from the dressing (that’s turkey “stuffing”

            where I come from) and sticky fingerprints
            left by cousins made rowdy by the sight

            of black olives that fit on their fingers
            like puppets. Thus energized, these pests

            (the gremlin and ants—not the cousins)
            cleverly disappear again until Christmas

            when the ants attack my Big Bird
            thawing in the kitchen sink. I tried

            banishing them with diatomaceous
            earth, trails of salt and bicarbonate, innocuous

            traps that enrich both the folks who make chemicals
            and the ants who find them more nutritious

            than deadly. If they’re feeling frisky,
            the gremlins tackle both the upper

            and lower oven thermostats, guzzle
            Freon from the fridge , assault

            my KitchenAid just as the warrantee
            runs out, kill my car battery to prevent

            a last-minute run to pick up
            more Jell-O for the molded salad

            that didn’t mold, or those fun
            little fried-onion-thingys-in-a-tin

            the family thinks essential for the green
            bean dish I make by wielding a can

            opener. I tried incantations,
            affirmations, and the Rhonda Byrne version

            of the law of attraction. Last year
            sometime before October’s witching hour,

            I turned to Google to help me find an anteater
            to adopt—or rent out—for the holiday

            season. As for the gremlins, I looked up herbs
            (Artemisia wormwood?) or chemicals (arsenic?)

            to do them in and surfed for vendors
            of hoodoo or voodoo symbols or wood stakes

            imported from Haiti. What is noxious
            to werewolves, zombies, and Dracula himself

            must deter gremlins. That’s when Google’s
            keyword elves gave me the gift of all

            Christmas gifts. It’s called
            the make-dinner-reservations

            system of revenge.

From the Christmas entry of the Celebration Series by Aussie Magdalena Ball and Yank Carolyn Howard-Johnson. “Blooming Red” is available in paper and as an e-book at

Such is that it may always be
by Tim Knight

            Such is that it will always be.
            Nine to five, and sometimes later,
            Things will always be this way, can’t you see?

            Find peace within yourself, accept the
            City life. But the hustling and bustling,
            Such is that it will always be.

            You will find meaning and harmony
            In essays and strangers. But,
            Such is that it will always be?

            -Things were carefree once. I was
            Then young, now restricted and tense.
            Such is that it will always be.

            How has it come to this? Matrimony
            With work and stress, and freedom, missing like a child.
            Such is that it will always be.-

            Back straight, head up. Don’t be
            A mummy’s boy. It’s time to dance,
            Time to face your fears. Be now
            Or never to see, how things will always appear.

About Bobbing Around

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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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5 Responses to Bobbing Around Volume 14 Number 7

  1. Pingback: Dialogue Basics – with Bob Rich, PhD – Modern History Press

  2. Joan Y. Edwards says:

    Dear Dr. Bob,

    It is so great that in Wisconsin they built these tiny houses for the homeless. Thanks for caring and sharing.

    Never Give Up



    • Dr Bob Rich says:

      Yes Joan. All over the world, there is a spontaneous bubbling of decency. It’s always been there, defying the expectation that humans are motivated by selfishness, but it is becoming more common, and more noticeable. I keep looking for more examples.


  3. svenaake says:

    Great site, Bob


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