Bobbing Around Volume 14 Number 13

Any action that harms others, that disturbs their peace and harmony, is a sinful, unwholesome action. Any action that helps others, that contributes to their peace and harmony, is a pious, wholesome action. When you help others, simultaneously you help yourself; when you harm others, simultaneously you harm yourself.

S. N. Goenka

Bobbing Around

Volume Fourteen, Number Thirteen,
June, 2015

Bob Rich’s rave

email

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

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
13th month?
You can start reading my new novel
Please protect helpless, innocent people
Methane update

*Responses to past issues
Martine Johnston
Sven Åke Bjørke
Mary Harvey

*Politics
The world of threats to the US is an illusion, by Stephen Kinzer
New York mayor on the path of compassion
Bernie Sanders is a Scandinavian socialist!
Another great law from France

*Environment
Understand this year’s weather
Greenpeace Manifesto for Change
Extinction
Get rid of nuclear: please sign
10 Ways You’re Hurting the Environment and Don’t Know It
Pope Francis: Environmental Sinners Will Face God’s Judgment
Heed the World Bank
Ammunition, from Jim Hansen
The strength of Vanuatu
Climate change in action

*Good news
Church of England divesting from tar sands
and the Bank of America from coal
as is the University of Washington
Let’s follow Norway
GMO, go away!
Alaskan island on the way to 100% renewable energy
France’s largest insurer divests from carbon, invests in green

*Inspiring people
From homeless to social worker
A toddler shows us how to be
Some big businesses do the right thing
Avoid buying new!
Francis inspires, as usual
This couple put their money where their heart is

*Compassionate action
It’s even good for you
I’m with this lady
Earth Garden magazine and the Nepal earthquakes

*Technology
Alfredo returning to basics
Rooftop solar in US is causing a revolution

*Deeper issues
The case for animal personhood
The Golden Calf worshipped again
Ecotourism
Wisdom from youth
Thank You, Cancer, by Shalin Shah
Ancient gender equality
Empathy and compassion as disciplining tools

*Psychology
Am I insane?
I constantly feeling like I am worth nothing
Parents in the way of True Love

*Health
This ink will get you off smoking
Rethinking paracetamol
Use of marijuana for health and recreation, harms and benefits, by Dr Oleg Reznik

*For writers
Maintaining the illusion
The time line
Book Killers: Bad Grammar
SEO tips from Paul Krupin

*What my friends want you to know
Protect humanity from Adani
Red Cross doing it tough appeal
The Quiet Achiever
Story to destigmatise mental health problems
Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre winter appeal
Carolyn’s resource for every writer
Stop domestic violence conference, 7-9 Dec. 2015
Oxjam, August 2015
Greenpeace: Don’t let Shell fry the Arctic
Do you read or write speculative fiction?
Buddhist parenting, Melbourne 27 June

*Reviews
An Artist’s Creative Life with Bipolar Disorder by Alfredo Zotti, reviewed by Prateeksha Sharma
The People’s Hare, by Michael Minnis
Overcoming a model of mental illness that causes mental illness, by Alfredo Zotti
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Paul Van Der Merwe
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Toni DeMaio
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by JM Sutherland
Rarity From The Hollow by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

*A bit of fun
I’ve found a new hero
The Universe is…
Archaeologists find first politician’s skeleton
A comforting thought?
Two ways of becoming flexible


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.

Symptoms are an outlet of trapped and frozen traumatic moments, which need to be attended to.

Alfredo Zotti


From me to you

13th month?
You can start reading my new novel
Please protect helpless, innocent people
Methane update

 

13th month?

No. Just the 13th Bobbing Around. I started this newsletter in July, 2001. Last year, I made a mistake, and restarted the numbering from June.

I think I was the only one to have noticed.

🙂

 


You can start reading my new novel

It is my pleasure to let you know that I’ve finished the science fiction story that has kidnapped me for the past several months. I’m doing something new: posting it chapter by chapter here on my blog. The first chapter is there. Comments and reviews welcome.
saturn Saturn is very special in this story…

 


Please protect helpless, innocent people

Getup has circulated a request for people to oppose a bill that would reduce oversight of the guards at Australia’s illegal, terrible offshore detention centres. This is what I wrote to a Senator:

      Dear Senator Collins,

I am asking you, and indeed Labor, to vote against the so-called Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities Bill.

Lord Acton has famously said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He was right. The concentration camp guards at Manus Island and Nauru are already acting with inhumanity. They need more oversight, not less.

Sincerely,
Bob Rich, Ph.D.

 


Methane update

I’ve discovered a wonderful book by Dan Dorritie, free on the web about the role of methane in past extinction events. The worst was the end of the Permian, some 250 million years ago, when about 96% of all species died out.

Although I am overloaded with responsibilities, I was naughty and kept reading instead. While the book has enough scientific rigour to qualify as a thesis, it is very readable.

 

Responses to past issues

Martine Johnston
Sven Åke Bjørke
Mary Harvey

 

Martine Johnston

Bob, I find Bobbing Around to be an inspiration, but also, it confirms the source of my despair. I have young adult kids, and two adorable grandchildren… and they have no future. That hurts! I have no intention of killing myself, but I don’t want to be here, don’t want to be a human, don’t want to witness the inevitable suffering that’s already here, and is guaranteed to get worse.

Can you write something that may help me, and undoubtedly also many others who feel like me?

Martine my dear, thank you for this question. Guess what, you’ve exactly mirrored my feelings. I could have written your note, and it’d have been true about me.I believe the validity of my past life recalls, as set out fictionalised in Ascending Spiral. Ages ago, a person the size of a planet made a terrible mistake, and wiped out a planetful of life like you might kill an ant colony. And its restitution is that I now need to witness the destruction of another planetful of life — or, hopefully, to be a part of saving it. But, as you’ve noted, every day that seems less likely. The forces of insanity have the bit between their teeth, galloping toward converting all sentient life on this planet into meaningless numbers in computers, representing money, which is nothing more than those numbers.

So, how do I cope?

Much of the time, I practise mindfulness. When I do anything, I consciously and deliberately do THAT thing and focus all my attention on it. THINKING ONLY HURTS IF YOU DO IT. The 1001 activities of daily life are all opportunities for meditation.

This is why writing fiction is such good therapy. When I write, I am not in my world, but the one revealed to me. I need to steer it, invent episodes and characters and background, but beyond that, I feel like I am channelling: I record what comes, rather than constructing it. Any other creative activity will do the same. Even cleaning house can be creative: it converts mess into a space of beauty and welcome.

Second, despite the expectation of doom, I do my best to fight it. I belong to the Australian Greens, am a member of about 10 environmental and humanitarian organisations, work in every way I can think of to delay disaster, and to reduce its impact. Whether I succeed or fail is immaterial. I can only do the best I can do.

Third is another Buddhist tool: equanimity.

A physical or mental pain has two components: the unavoidable painful feeling, and my reaction to it. If I have a pain sensation in my toe, or in my heart when thinking of the lovely youngsters in my life, that’s a given. It hurts only if I want it to go away, for things to be different. The source of my suffering is not the pain, but the “if only.”

So, accepting the sore toe, or the sore heart, means I am not suffering. I can accomplish this much of the time, and go around experiencing the pain, and yet not hurting.

When I don’t, I am hurting. I DO want this pain to go away. So, then I can simply accept that I am hurting. It’s terrible. By accepting it, I can be content with my life, pain and all.

Sometimes I can be in this second level, and function OK. And sometimes I can’t, and I am where you were when you sent your email: despair; what’s the point of living anyway, let it all STOP!

Equanimity still helps. OK, for now I am in utter despair. It is rational and acceptable to feel like this. I feel like wanting to not-live, and that’s fine. Then I can function, and life goes on.

Often, if I am in this level 3 acceptance, it reverts to level 2. I may be in level 2 and it can revert to level 1, or in level 1 and slip back into mindfulness. But it’s important to avoid using equanimity in order to achieve such relief. The acceptance of what is needs to be genuine, not a pretence designed to gain relief. Because, then relief doesn’t come, and we slip further down.

And now I come full circle to Ascending Spiral. I am fully confident that the Universe is a conscious Being, and you and I are essential components of it. We are here for a reason, which is to grow, life after life after life, until we have learnt the ultimate lesson that allows us to progress to the next level. That lesson is universal Love. Heaven knows, I cannot yet love those who hurt others, particularly children, those who are driving us toward extinction. But there is hope: you don’t need to live perfect, only die perfect.

And if I don’t achieve it this life, there will be a thousand other opportunities, as many as I need. And if it’s not here on Earth as a human (I hope not!) there are billions of other schools in the Universe.

It is likely that your lovely grandchildren and mine will be unable to reach old age. They also will have other opportunities, here or elsewhere, and it’s even likely that they’ll share lives with those who love them now.

So, the final tool is stepping back and taking a wider view. As a 5-year-old, I fell and hurt myself. It was TERRIBLE. Now, I’ve survived pain far worse, and shrugged it off. This can be applied to all suffering I may experience. It can be applied to the suffering of loved ones, without loss of empathy and compassion.

So, Martine, we are here, now. However bad it may be, it’s OK. It is even full of joy and contentment, regardless of despair.

Love,
Bob

 


Sven Åake Bjørke

sven
Thank you for your good work. I always enjoy reading your newsletters. My latest newsletter is on why we should all go to Paris in November.

I have also been responding to those falling for the fossil fuel propaganda trick. Maybe you can find something of value here?

Sven

Sven, thank you for these links to your essays. The second is a particularly good summary of the evidence, which should protect people from falling for the fossil fuel nonsense.

Bob


Mary Harvey

Hi Bob,

Thanks for Bobbing Around. I wonder if you know about a thing I heard about — The Self Acceptance Project? Since I’ve learnt about it, I recommend it to all my clients and have seen some amazing breakthroughs for some of them. It’s free, and features 23 talks. I always recommend the first and the fifth, but then suggest clients can watch any others they are drawn to. I think this would be worth everyone knowing about.

No pressure to put it in your magazine, but thought I’d share it with you.

Warm wishes
Mary

Mary is a talented psychologist who works with refugees, asylum seekers, and other traumatised people, and also with those affected by cancer. She and share membership of the committee of the Australian Psychological Society’s “Refugees and Psychology Interest Group.”


Politics

The world of threats to the US is an illusion by Stephen Kinzer
New York mayor on the path of compassion
Bernie Sanders is a Scandinavian socialist!
Another great law from France

 

The world of threats to the US is an illusion, by Stephen Kinzer

The Boston Globe published this short but powerful essay.

Stephen Kinzer didn’t need to add that if all the resources now poured into the US military were spent productively, the USA could solve all its problems.

 


New York mayor on the path of compassion

New York mayor Bill de Blasio has released a budget that assigns $100 million toward relieving the plight of homeless people. I have no doubt he is aware of the evidence that this is the most cost-effective action, but also it’s a wonderful contrast to other states, where homelessness is criminalised.

 


Bernie Sanders is a Scandinavian socialist!

I wasn’t sure whether to put this series of graphs under Politics or Fun. It compares the USA with Norway on 7 measures.

If I was forced to migrate to one of these countries, guess which one I’d choose.

Here is one of the 7 charts:
usnorway

 


Another great law from France

Not long ago, France pleased me with legislation requiring that all new commercial buildings to either have plants growing on the roof, or solar panels.

They’re doing it again. To combat the waste of food, a new law is to require supermarkets to give unsold food to charities.

    As MPs united in a rare cross-party consensus, the centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency — charities are desperate for food. The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering.”

May there be the miracle of all governments everywhere adopting this ethic.


Environment

Understand this year’s weather
Greenpeace Manifesto for Change
Extinction
Get rid of nuclear: please sign
10 Ways You’re Hurting the Environment and Don’t Know It
Pope Francis: Environmental Sinners Will Face God’s Judgment
Heed the World Bank
Ammunition, from Jim Hansen
The strength of Vanuatu
Climate change in action

 

Understand this year’s weather

This excellent essay at Daily Kos uses clear language and illustrations to explain what is happening to global weather patterns this year. It is not reassuring.

You owe it to yourself to read it, so you know what’s happened so far, and what to expect.
maysak Tropical cyclone Maysak, one of the record number of Category 5 spinners so far.

 


Greenpeace Manifesto for Change

You must read this brand new document. It is a blueprint for survival.

 


Extinction

The Guardian has a photo gallery of a few of the huge number plant and animal species at risk of extinction due to climate change.

The greatest danger to humanity is that we have entered the sixth great extinction event of this planet. We are losing species due to ocean acidification, overfishing, climate change, urbanisation, forest destruction (as in the part of the world where I live), farming monoculture, global pollution with toxic chemicals such as glyphosate, plastic debris eaten by birds and animals, wildlife poaching, etc. etc.

Extinction rates are currently running at between 100 and 1,000 times the natural level.

It is greed. We need to live simply, so we may simply live.

Climate change is ONE of the human-caused reasons for species loss.

Expanding urbanisation, monoculture, rainforest destruction, soil degradation, groundwater depletion, plastic in the oceans, and all the poisons in air , soil and water are examples of other ways we are unravelling the web of life.

When the web of life is gone, we’ll also fall through it.

So, we need more basic change than reducing CO2 generation. We must get off the global addiction to economic growth, and we must reduce population.

 


Get rid of nuclear: please sign

A group of diverse, authoritative organisations have held a symposium in Quebec, the location of the 1943 agreement between the USA, Canada and Britain to unleash the nuclear ogre on humanity.

They have issued a formal declaration, and have invited individuals and organisations to sign it.

I have done so, and hope you will too.

Read the declaration. Its wording is rather formal, but you can read a paraphrase at EcoWatch.

 


10 Ways You’re Hurting the Environment and Don’t Know It

It’s not often I come across something that gets 100% of my agreement. This essay at Care2.com by Tex Dworkin does.

 


Pope Francis: Environmental Sinners Will Face God’s Judgment

Well, the title says it all, but do read the brief article about it.

He points out that if there were a more reasonable distribution of wealth, there would be enough to feed everyone.

 


Heed the World Bank

The World Bank has released a rather lengthy PDF document that sets out what we need to do to have a future.

It is more succinctly summarised by EcoWatch.

It’s all good stuff: switch to a zero-carbon economy, along a path they charted very well. However, it won’t work, because they still assume a global economy that needs to grow. So yes, we need to do all that they recommend, but also we need to LIVE SIMPLY SO WE MAY SIMPLY LIVE. They say, replace petrol cars with electric. But perhaps you can live without a car at all? Yes, we have to switch to renewable sources of electricity. But perhaps you can also cut your electricity consumption way, way down? And so on.

 


Ammunition, from Jim Hansen

Unfortunately, facts do not sway climate change deniers. They prefer not to know. All the same, this PDF version of a report from Dr James Hansen at al. is powerful evidence of what I’ve been shouting from the rooftops.

What we have now, at global warming of 0.8 degrees C, is already guaranteed catastrophe. 1 degree will be worse. The official aim of 2 degrees is lunacy, and the way things are going, completely unachievable.

WE NEED TO CHANGE, NOW.

 


The strength of Vanuatu

shirley
Dear Bob,

My name is Shirley.

I want to personally thank you for standing with the people of Vanuatu to fight for climate justice.

In Vanuatu, we live on the front line of climate change. In March this year, one of the most powerful cyclones ever recorded in the South Pacific hit our islands — changing our lives forever.

Parts of my family home on the small island of Nguna were blown away. Our gardens were completely flattened. And across Vanuatu, people’s food supplies, livelihoods, and houses were destroyed.

It was a frightening time for all of us here in Vanuatu.

But in Cyclone Pam’s wake, I saw the incredible resilience of my people. Families were supporting each other. We shared our food and helped each other to repair our homes.

Despite the brutal strength of Cyclone Pam, the death toll was mercifully low.

Bob, these are the lessons we have learned from Cyclone Pam.

Traditional knowledge and prepared communities working together saves lives.

People in Vanuatu have a vast store of traditional knowledge and wisdom to help us deal with disasters. We have been learning about resilience from our communities here in Vanuatu, and are working with them to find practical climate change solutions.

We’ve been speaking out and — with your help — raising Vanuatu’s voice around the world. Thank you.

We’ve been working hard in partnership with our community, the government of Vanuatu and other organisations to take real climate action and to be prepared for anything!

If we can do it in Vanuatu, then so can a rich nation like Australia!

Yours for a fair climate,

Shirely Laban,
Manager, Vanuatu Resilience Program
Oxfam

PS. You can read more about our groundbreaking work in Vanuatu to build climate resilience and download the report which I presented to the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable in Samoa this month here.

 


Climate change in action

Incredibly hot weather in India is killing people.

“This is unprecedented…” one official said. How often have we heard this during the past 10 years?

At the same time, Texas is facing deadly floods, and the Californian drought is in its 4th years

Climate change is not a theory, or a nuisance, but a deadly danger. In 2009, extreme weather where I live caused the worst bushfires in history, which also killed people.

It is time to go on emergency footing, globally.

PS Apparently, some Texans are very upset that anyone could attribute their disaster to climate change.


Good news

Church of England divesting from tar sands
and the Bank of America from coal
as is the University of Washington
Let’s follow Norway
GMO, go away!
Alaskan island on the way to 100% renewable energy
France’s largest insurer divests from carbon, invests in green

 

Church of England divesting from tar sands

Read the Guardian article.
tarsand

 


and the Bank of America from coal

banocoal

 


as is the University of Washington

This university in Seattle is giving coal the boot. Students are now campaigning to get out of oil and gas too.
uwash

 


Let’s follow Norway

norwayforest

 


GMO, go away!

I am proud of the country of my origin: Hungary has destroyed all GMO corn.

Yes, I know, genetic modification of plants is not evil. The WAY IT IS DONE, and the PURPOSES IT ADVANCES are evil.

GMO crops may be roundup-tolerant. Humans and other animals aren’t.
burning-gmo

 


Alaskan island on the way to 100% renewable energy

Kodiak Island is the second largest island of the USA. Its people are taking great strides to achieving 100% freedom from expensive, nasty, environmentally damaging diesel power.

 


France’s largest insurer divests from carbon, invests in green

Here is a statement from the CEO and Chairman of AXA.
henri

 


Inspiring stories

From time to time, I have published links to stories of people who show us the way. If you come across any, please let me know.

From homeless to social worker
A toddler shows us how to be
Some big businesses do the right thing
Avoid buying new!
Francis inspires, as usual
This couple put their money where their heart is

 

 

From homeless to social worker

The story of this fine young man brought tears to my eyes.
kriss

 


A toddler shows us how to be

This little girl is blowing kisses to armed men.
baltimoregirl

 


Some big businesses do the right thing

And here is an award to honour them.
pomanlo
This young lady, Poman Lo, Group managing director of Regal Hotels International, is one of the recipients.

 


Avoid buying new!

Jen Gale has bought nothing new for a year. She has released an ebook on how to “make do, and mend.”

This is an excellent way of saving the planet, and I speak as the husband of Healesville’s Opp Shop Queen.
jengale

 


Francis inspires, as usual

This time, he has said:

Many powerful people don’t want peace because they live off war.

He was addressing 7000 children interested in world peace, and was hard-hitting against the armaments industry.
armsmoney From Nottingham against militarism and the arms trade.

 


This couple put their money where their heart is

Read the story of Christopher and Regina Catrambone. They happen to have lots of money, but this has not interfered with their decency and compassion.

They have invested USD 8 million in saving boat people in the Mediterranean.
chrisreg

 


Compassionate action

It’s even good for you
I’m with this lady
Earth Garden magazine and the Nepal earthquakes

 

 

It’s even good for you

save
This little essay at Care2.com presents evidence that altruism is good for the giver’s physical and mental health.

 


I’m with this lady

welcome


Earth Garden magazine and the Nepal earthquakes

I have the pleasure of reproducing part of the “From the Editor” column from the latest issue of Earth Garden magazine. I have been contributing to this fine publication since 1980.

Dear readers,

I have to confess that even before most of the hard work had been finished on this issue of EG my family’s minds have been very occupied by the unfolding disaster in Nepal. The 25 April earthquake has been a devastating blow for Asia’s second-poorest country — hitting just as it was starting to recover from the equally-disastrous ten year civil war started by the Maoists.

Many readers know that the Earth Garden Foundation does all its projects in Nepal. For more than seven years the Foundation has been fund-raising and then paying for the installation of solar lighting plants in the health posts of remote villages, distant from the tiny Nepali national grid. In fact 85 per cent of Nepalis had no access to the national grid before the quake — who knows how few have access to it now. In any case, even before the earthquake, and even in the capital Kathmandu, ‘load shedding’ meant the power was often turned off for up to 18 hours per day.

It’s hard not to think about our friends, colleagues and contacts in Nepal, built up over many years of working on solar projects. EGFA also pays the annual running costs of an orphanage that’s home to 20 beautiful children. Luckily, all the children, staff, and our other friends and colleagues survived the quake. However, the full impact of the quake will take many, many months simply to assess, let alone begin to address.

People ask me the best way to help. The EG Foundation is not a disaster relief organisation. So if you want to help provide clean water, shelter, medicine and emergency food supplies, it’s best to donate to a group like UNICEF or Oxfam. EGFA however, will be in Nepal for the long haul, rebuilding any solar lighting systems that were destroyed, helping to repair the health post buildings, and ensuring that our seven-plus years and nearly US$200,000 of project funds have not been permanently buried under rubble. We are determined to help our indigenous partner organisations, the Himalayan Light Foundation and TEAM Nepal, recover from this almost unfathomable tragedy. You can help us by joining, or donating to egfa.

The fact that Judith and I, with three of our children, returned from installing solar lights and visiting the children’s home a mere ten days before the quake simply reinforces to me how ridiculously lucky we all are to live in one of the richest countries on earth.

For many days after the quake, we tried frantically to phone all our friends. The last one we got through to was Pasang, our dear friend and the mountain guide who has accompanied us on previous solar installation projects into remote areas such as Dolpo in western Nepal near the Tibetan border. He was delighted to hear my voice: “Yeees Pops! We are fine!” (He calls me Pops. He used to call me Papa in 2010 in Dolpo. I haven’t taken my ageing as a compliment the way he intends).

Pasang lives with his wife Kumari, and small daughter Anoushar in a one-room flat in a building in suburban Kathmandu. Their room has no fridge, no bathroom, no running water, no proper lighting, and no laundry facilities. We had a dinner there a few weeks ago — it was a magnificent feast, and our three children voted it the best meal of the trip.

Pasang chatted on the phone for about ten minutes. Then almost as an afterthought he said: “Oh, our house is broken.”

He and his family are camped in the grounds of neighbouring army barracks, with no idea where they will live next. But he was happy. He was extremely happy, because he and his family survived and could rebuild their lives. I asked him what we could do to help him: “Nothing Pops! We are fine!” he insisted.

Judith remarked how bizarre the contrast is in Australia: we live in the richest, luckiest country, yet the mainstream media and selected politicians have convinced our society that we’re doing it tough.

Pasang is the kind of person who inspires me, and causes me to reflect — every day — on how fortunate I am. If even one little story in this issue of EG helps you feel that you might be fortunate, I am a delighted editor.

Happy reading,
Alan Gray


Technology

Alfredo returning to basics
Rooftop solar in US is causing a revolution

 

Alfredo returning to basics

Alfredo is offering his new book on the web for free, as I reported in my last issue, but he is also selling print copies. He is producing his own books, by time-tested 19th century techniques.

More power to him.

In case you want to start producing your own books too, here is how he goes about it:

    Bookbinding is an art, it is a very ancient art. First of all I got some reams of paper. I have a Dell laser printer which can print about 40 to 50 books with $25 of ink.

I print on both sides of the paper and there are instructions on the net for this. Then I line up the paper in a special wooden box that has screws to hold the book and the I use a special hide glue (not PVA. Hide glue is a special glue that penetrates the groove of the book spine and sets very solid.)

The cover is made with a light white cardboard. I am getting very good results. Each book, in this way, costs about $ 1.50 and it looks quite good.

 


Rooftop solar in US is causing a revolution

usroofsolar From Union of Concerned Scientists.


Deeper Issues

The case for animal personhood
The Golden Calf worshipped again
Ecotourism
Wisdom from youth
Thank You, Cancer by Shalin Shah
Ancient gender equality
Empathy and compassion as disciplining tools

 

The case for animal personhood

This powerful little essay from Steven Wise sets out the case for treating certain other species with respect for their intelligence and complexity.

I have long said, animals are people too. Steven lists some of the evidence.
chimp

 


The Golden Calf worshipped again

goldencalf

 


Ecotourism

This essay from S E Smith points out the damage tourists have done in many places, particularly locations that tend to inspire those who want to care for our environment, such as Antarctica, the Galapagos Island and Mount Everest.

I completely agree.

A tourist is a person who is away from home for no reason other then self-indulgence, to get away from humdrum everyday life. A tourist’s economical, environmental and social impact is perhaps 5 times as great as a person’s who is content to holiday at home.

There may be a payoff — seeing Antarctica may well make someone more committed to saving it — but this is like spoiling the cake by opening the oven door at the wrong time to have a look at it.

It is like people who consider themselves environmentalists, because they work to save remainder habitat for ducks they want to murder.

The best way to save any kind of wilderness is to stay well out of it. The way to cope with everyday humdrum life is through the application of a paradox:

1. The concept of equanimity: drawing contentment from any situation, whatever that may be;

2. Re-engineering the situation to make it more pleasurable.

My wife Jolanda gives a perfect example of the second. Wherever we have lived during our long time together, she’s formed a community of mutually supportive people. She finds those in need of help, and joyfully gives it. And she is constantly doing crafts she finds enjoyable, creating beauty at little or no financial or environmental cost.

So, she can be content and joyful, without needing to gallivant to distant places.

Please consider your backyard as your next tourist destination, eco or otherwise.

 


Wisdom from youth

xiu

 


Thank You, Cancer, by Shalin Shah

Shalin is only 22, and will soon die. Read his beautiful, powerful essay about the positive effects of facing death.

If you can learn from him, copy his attitudes, then he won’t have died in vain.

shalin The photo shows him in his wheelchair, with Frances Chan, his school sweetheart he has married, and a friend, incidentally showing that there is only one race: the human race.

 


Ancient gender equality

When I was writing my series, The Stories of the Ehvelen, I did a lot of reading in anthropology, and knew that hunter-gatherer societies have gender equality. Even today’s remnant cultures are like that, and there is evidence that our ancestors were not patriarchal until the advent of the nomads and agriculturalists.

New research supports this.

 


Empathy and compassion as disciplining tools

sporleder
Jim Sporleder volunteered to be the principal of the high school the no-hopers were dumped in. Read about his method of discipline to be inspired.

This is the way we should run everything, in every field.

 


Psychology

Am I insane?
I constantly feel like I am worth nothing
Parents in the way of True Love

 

Am I insane?

I am 18 and have had 2 sexual allegations made about me, one I was found guilty.

I also talk to myself, often believing I am a character from a game or film, I am always angry or hiding my emotions and then I just lash out at people that try to help me. I adore Jack the Ripper and Hannibal Lecter and have recently contemplated killing someone or more specifically stabbing someone. Many people say I’m insane and I talk and argue with myself. Sometimes I even hurt myself while acting like I’m someone from a game such as ‘Haytham Kenway’ from ‘assassins creed 3.’ he is just a cocky intelligent badass that speaks almost like he’s above everyone. I talk and act like him often and I sometimes move my arm or hand as if I was about to stab someone. I’ve plotted people’s deaths and even thought about suicide. I’m just waiting for a voice to tell me what to do. In a way, I almost enjoy the voices’ company. Am I insane?

Dear Oscar,

“Insane” is just a word. You have a number of behaviours that scare you, even when you enjoy them. If you REALLY wanted to stab people and all that, you would have done so. Instead, you have asked for help. So, looking from the outside, I can see that you do not want to kill yourself or anyone else.

Possibly, you enjoy the IMAGINING of these horrible actions, because they give you an internal feeling of power, and I suspect in your life you don’t have much of that. But, because you’re a good person, actually doing them would be terribly distressing for you, right?

I think the question “am I insane?” means “Am I too horrible and disgusting, and don’t deserve help?” or something like that. If that is so, then my answer is “No!”

If you choose to, you can turn your life around.

To see how, let’s look at the individual issues you have mentioned.

You say there were two sexual allegations, and you were convicted of one. You don’t say whether you have done these or not, and if you have, how you feel about having done them.

For the sake of argument, whether you have or not, let’s pretend that you have. OK, what’s wrong with that?

Imagine that someone physically more powerful than you started doing things to you. You have no say in this, no control over the situation. In a very real sense, it’s like your body no longer belongs to you, but to somebody else. You are like a slave. This feels horrible. Sometimes, even, the sensations coming from what the abuser does may feel pleasurable, but this makes the situation even more horrible (“He is even controlling what I feel!”).

Would you like to be in this situation? Then, from now on, never impose it on someone else. This applies to more than sex, but also to things like being threatened or attacked with a weapon. So, when thoughts of using a knife on someone come, think of this: “Would I like the feeling of horror and powerlessness? If I would not like it, I won’t do it to others.”

It seems to me that maybe some of your problems come from having watched too much in the way of horror stories. At least when you were writing your cry for help, your mind was full of them. It’s like, some people eat very unhealthy foods, then develop heart problems. You have been watching a very unhealthy mental diet, and have developed horror problems. So, change your watching diet.

Another way of saying the same thing: anything you pay attention to grows. So, find new things to pay attention to. Develop an interest in one or more new things. Examples are: sport or exercise, growing plants (maybe for food), playing a musical instrument, writing (your post is well written, so you have a talent that way), joining volunteer groups that improve society in some way.

Then there is the problem of people thinking you’re insane because you argue with yourself. You know what? Everybody does that, only others do it inside, quietly, so no one else can notice. Your habit is to argue with yourself aloud. Work at changing this to arguing with yourself in an unobservable way. Perhaps you can do it in writing. I suggest you set aside some time each day for arguing with yourself. When, at any other time, it sneaks up on you, as soon as you notice say (without spoken words), “Not now, I have an appointment with this activity at 7 pm (or whenever).”

You’ll find that after a few weeks of consistent practice, the new habit will become established. If there are people you can trust, you can tell them of this change you are making, and ask for their help. So, a friend who notices you arguing with yourself can say, “Hey Oscar, save it for your appointment,” or some such gentle reminder.

You’re welcome to keep in contact.

Your new grandfather,

Bob

 


I constantly feel like I am worth nothing

I suffer from PTSD (because my father used to beat my mom in front of me) and other anxieties. I am currently in therapy and anxiety medication because I have a fear of judgement, public speaking and general social anxiety.

I am really struggling because I suffer from a lot of anxiety and it is hard for me to get out of bed most days. I always feel tired, I am always sad and easily irritated. I used to not be this way but recently it is getting increasingly worse. Every day I feel more depressed, more worth nothing and more scared. I am afraid of most things and feel that I can’t live my life.

At school, I am very stressed and bullied by my own friends. I am scared to go to school because I am afraid that people will bully me and laugh at me as usual.

At home, my father deals with extreme bipolar disorder. He used to beat my mom in front of me. Yell at me and have random spurts of anger and chug pills down his throat in front of me. He has been taken to the hospital and doesn’t seem to want to get help. My counselor thinks this is the reason I am suffering from PTSD.

Because school and home are hard, I feel like I don’t have a support system anywhere. I feel like I am fighting my own problems alone. I’m so concerned about my school and home life calming down that I don’t have time to face my own personal anxieties.

I am scared, feeling trapped and need advice on helping me not let bullying get to me, methods on how to deal with my anxiety etc.

Please help,
Helen

Helen my dear,

You didn’t indicate your age, but it’s clear that you are highly intelligent, and have insight into your situation. This means that you have the power to improve it, even though it doesn’t feel like that to you.

Your PTSD is because of having witnessed PAST violence, and yet your distress has been getting worse recently. That indicates that the immediate cause is current, not past. My guess is that it is your school situation.

Does your school have a policy about bullying? Can you talk this over with your counselor, and with that person’s help, with the school principal? If doing that face to face is too hard, write a letter. Bullying is never acceptable, and your school authorities have an obligation to stamp it out.

There are ways of bully-proofing yourself, and the process will also improve your confidence, poise and effectiveness in social situations. There are several effective self-help books, all of which are based on the same principles. Bullies prod everyone. Some people don’t provide them with any fun, so they go elsewhere. Those who react with either distress or aggression signal that they are good entertainment, so the bullying gets worse.

Because of your traumatic past, you reacted with distress, so they zeroed in on you. If from now on you could act as if their actions were like the noise of wind in the treetops, you’ll deprive them of their fun, they’ll eventually get bored and stop the nastiness.

Is the bullying physical (violence, interference with your property) or “only” verbal? If they actually do anything that’s illegal like damaging your things or hitting you, be prepared, document the evidence, and use it to force the school to take action. Yes. You CAN do this. And when you have, it’ll give you immense, justified pride in yourself.

Ostracism and nasty comments: you don’t need their company, they can jump in the lake. What they say to your or about you is a pack of nonsense, let them stew in their own poison. You have better things to do with your life than to worry about what they say. So what. This attitude is very powerful protection.

If the bullying has gone on for a considerable time, the best response may be to change schools, because even if you completely change your reactions, they’ll probably keep going. The standard approach is to develop a thick skin, learn to react to any prodding with humour, and then move out of the situation.

About anxiety in general: you will get a lot out of my little e-book Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias.

The best way you can improve your life is to start two new activities.

One is Toastmasters, which is very supportive, confidence-building group therapy for social anxiety. The people involved don’t know this. They think it is a public speaking hobby club.

Yes, I know. You couldn’t possibly do public speaking. The great majority of Toastmasters members started like that. Within a year, they are confident facing an audience, and therefore in other situations as well.

The only problem is that you need to be at least 18 years old to join. However, many Toastmaster clubs run programs for kids. You (yes, YOU!) could bring your local Toastmaster club and your school together to organize one. Again, if face to face is too big an ask, do it in writing in the first place.

The second activity is a suitable martial art. Examples are judo, karate, kung fu, tai kwan do. This is not so you can learn to bash people up, but because part of learning is to gain immense self-confidence. I did judo as a teenager. All my life, if anyone became aggressive, I just looked at them in a certain way — and they backed off. I haven’t had a physical fight with anyone since I was 21, and that was an awful long time ago.

Next, there is the PTSD. Your counselor should be using “exposure therapy” with you. One form is described in my Anger and Anxiety book. Actually, you can do this for yourself, though it helps to have a supportive person present. One form of evidence based, highly effective exposure therapy is Traumatic Incident Reduction. Look it up to see if there is a certified practitioner near you.

Finally, your current family situation is still distressing, right? One protective attitude is to look at your father in a different way. He is not evil, he is not cruel. He is suffering, and doesn’t know how to handle it. However badly he is acting, however badly he has acted in the past, he has stumbled around the best way he could. He has been making the wrong choices, and still does, but at the same time, his problems are not your problems. You can’t change him, but you can change how his behavior affects you. Instead of fearing him, or being disgusted with his drug taking, feel compassion for him.

And, my dear, I am happy to become a support for you, via email.

Bob

 


Parents in the way of True Love

Please help me. I’m 14 and in love with a boy that my parents have banned me from seeing because he’s from a community that’s very different to the one I grew up in. I’m very different from my family, I tell them very little because whenever I feel like I can trust them they give me a reason not to. I love this boy with my whole heart and we’re in a very good place right now but then my parents found out that I’m back seeing him and have banned me from going out or seeing him. I feel as if there’s no point in living anymore because finally I get to be happy and get the boy I want. But then they go and mess it up and I’m very close to just ending my life because something bad happens every time I’m happy and I don’t think I can deal with this last hit.

I need to know what to do. I’m contemplating leaving or killing myself. I don’t want to go on without the boy I love but my parents have banned me from seeing him and pretty much leaving the house. I’m scared and lost and confused. I have someone that makes me happy, shouldn’t that matter? Please help me.

Dear Eve,

Please do not give in to ideas of killing yourself. First, how would that affect your boy? Do you want to impose the suffering of grief on him? Second, sometimes failing at a suicide attempt is worse than succeeding. You may have such severe brain damage that you end up as a “vegetable” for perhaps 50 or 60 years. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

Killing yourself is forever. A failed attempt can be a life sentence. In contrast, you are now 14. I’ve checked: in your country, the “age of majority” is 18. That means that leaving things as they are is a 4 year sentence. Do you reckon you can survive 4 years of minimal contact with him?

Of course, I don’t know this boy. I don’t know you. I don’t know your family. From where I sit, you could be 100% in the right: this boy may be perfect for you, you may live happily together ever after, and your family’s judgment could be wrong.

It is also possible that you are blinded by love (we all do that), and your family is right to keep the two of you apart. He may be totally unsuitable for you. I can’t tell.

Suppose that the two of you stay faithful to each other for 4 years, then get married. The result could be great, or it could be a disaster. If you have children early, those kids will have to bear the consequences, either way. So, it would be great to be able to predict this in advance.

In my psychological work, I’ve often helped people in their 30s who were married — but had an affair or a series of one-night stands. They felt terrible, and wanted to restore their marriage, and couldn’t work out why they’d been so stupid.

I know, 30 seems ancient to you now, but let me assure you, the years fly.

Every such situation is with a man or woman who became committed to a partner too early in life. It was joyful love, then a couple of kids by 20, bills to pay, boring work or housework or both, the honeymoon long gone and now nothing much to talk about. So, they felt unhappy. They’d never enjoyed the freedom and lack of responsibility most teenagers have when they are unpaired in a group of friends, or when going from one light-hearted boyfriend-girlfriend relationship to another, learning. Therefore, they yearn for that freedom — and get themselves into a lot of unhappiness.

I’ve worked with another couple who had a different story. They became boyfriend-girlfriend at 16, and never looked at another person. They were madly in love. Then, at 20 years of age, she broke it off. She said, “We need to have experience with others. If we still want each other in 5 years, we can have another go.” When they came to me, they’d indeed married at 25, after a few partners each, and had been together again for 10 years. Their problem was a work injury to the guy, not relationship issues.

What I am saying is that you and your boy may be doing yourselves a disservice by being too committed, too early. If he is right for you and you for him, you can still team up in a few years. In the meantime, you can save a lot of unpleasantness by keeping in touch with him, but giving permission to both of you to have fun with others. And this will get your family off your back.

One final note: the reason this issue is so terrible for you is that for quite some time, you have focussed all your attention to it. It is the most important thing in your life, and I am sure you spend hours thinking about it. Attention is a fertiliser: whatever you focus on grows. So, while it is reasonable for you to give time and emotion to this problem, also do your best to focus your attention on other things. Examples are: become interested in school work. Engage in sport, music, amateur acting, whatever. Fill your days with things that need commitment and work and time, and the relationship issue will become less distressing.

Love,
Your new grandfather,
Bob

 


Health

This ink will get you off smoking
Rethinking paracetamol
Use of marijuana for health and recreation, harms and benefits by Dr Oleg Reznik

 

This ink will get you off smoking

A novel Thai antismoking program has proven to be very effective.

They have made a black ink from the donated lungs of long term smokers.
lungink

 


Rethinking paracetamol

Since the 1960s, under various names, this drug has been the mainline defence against pain.

Nic Fleming, writing for The Guardian has summarised evidence that it is actually not a very effective painkiller, and is just as dangerous as the medicines it replaced.

When I was doing my honours degree, one of my friends did her thesis on assessing paracetamol, then a very new drug. In her double-blind study, placebo was actually more effective than the drug. This was put down to a statistical error, but, according to Nic, the average benefit is about 5%, which is clinically useless even if statistically significant over large samples.

If you need painkillers, you need to assess this evidence.

 


Use of marijuana for health and recreation, harms and benefits
by Dr Oleg Reznik

Oleg is a physician who practises holistic medicine. He is passionate and articulate about ethical issues in medicine.

He has sent me an essay about medical marijuana, which is too long for Bobbing Around. So, I have made it a guest post.

He welcomes comments.


Writing

Maintaining the illusion
The time line
Book Killers: Bad Grammar
SEO tips from Paul Krupin

 

Maintaining the illusion

The most powerful tool when writing fiction is the illusion that the reader is one of the characters, or at least an intimate observer of one of the characters. This is achieved by writing from within point of view (POV).

As author, I choose one person as the witness to this scene. This will either be the person with the most at stake, or the one whose observations and thoughts can pass the most useful information to the reader.

The best way to identify the witness is to start the scene with that person’s name, immediately including a few private events: bodily sensations, thoughts, perceptions.

      Ernie Ariel sat next to Charlie, now what was… Remau. As the bus drove out, he asked, “How do you spend your time?”

 

      “I’m deputy charge nurse at Box Hill Intensive Care Unit. If you get smashed up, you might have to put your life in my hands.”

 

    “Heaven forbid!” They laughed.

By having Ernie need to think about Charlie’s last name, I’ve established a privileged look into his private reality. That will encourage the reader to create the illusion of being Ernie, or at least of being able to see everything through his eyes.

This is not enough, however. It is necessary to keep the reader there. Without effort, subconsciously, it should be continuously evident that the point of view is Ernie’s. In many books I read or edit, this is an effort. If I ever have to ask myself, “Now, whose POV are we in?” then I am in my own POV and the illusion is gone.

How to do this? In the same way as in the first paragraph. In between action, dialogue and description, the author needs to sneak in the odd little private event for the current witness, and outside description for other people present in the scene.

A few paragraphs into the scene, I have this:

    Little Frank screamed, “I can see stars!”

Ernie looked out. Despite the blazing sun, yes, there were bright points in the milky-blue sky. It’s true! We’re going to the Moon! Second by second, the stars grew brighter, then the sky turned black.

Fitting in naturally so the reader doesn’t even notice, there is a perception and a thought.

It’s important that this repeated identification of POV be subtle and unnoticed. It should be plaited into the narrative, part of the canvas rather than being part of the painting. If you do it right, you will give the narrative a vivid immediacy that’ll continue to grip the reader.


The time line

You might write fiction by meticulously plotting first, or have the story organically grow out of your imagination, or a mixture of the two. Regardless, you will find a timeline to be a very useful tool for avoiding glitches. For example, in my current work, I suddenly came across a situation in which the dates of school holidays became important. Guess what — when I checked, I found that the action I’d described to that point couldn’t possibly have fitted into the available time. I had to return to the start, and move things back by about a month, including incidentals like weather.

I could have saved considerable work if I’d recorded a time line while writing. I’ve got one now, but because I was working backward from the start of school holidays, it’s in reverse order. Here is a small sample:

Manuela reformed Friday 20 March
VYV interview and Bill’s birthday Wednesday 18
Jill & Jarnie c metta protocol; Gree, Justin, Crandon Monday 16
Aurora appears Sunday 15
2nd visit to Al, solar storm Wednesday 4
Tony visit to school, AFP, Bill on news Tuesday 3
Gree kidnapped, press conference Monday 2
1st Koori events Sunday 1 March
Staff approval for release of DVD Wednesday 25 February
Grater defeats Hoppy Monday 23
Meet Auntie Lil, Jarnie gets job, Tony contacts Bill, group buzz over web conference Sunday 22
Meet Julie, Grater’s home visits, introducing Gene Friday 20

Don’t worry about the cryptic notes in the first column. They’re only meant to make sense to me, while writing. The point is that each event is placed on the correct date, and day of the week, as it occurs.

I’ll routinely use a time line from now on, whenever writing any fiction more complex than a short story.

 


Book Killers: Bad Grammar

This essay by Christopher Klim in The US Review of Books is obligatory reading for most authors, especially those intending to self-publish.

The title says it all, but you should read the essay anyway.

 


SEO tips from Paul Krupin

Paul is a publicist whose way of advertising is brilliant: he freely gives away a lot of information writers find very helpful.

Here is his latest offer:

    I gave a presentation to the annual meeting of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association on Saturday May 2.

I posted the Powerpoint as a pdf file to SlideShare.

It’s a fast and furious illustrated Q & A which runs through the most
important tactics and strategies for maximizing your SEO while integrating
your PR and social media.

 


What my friends want you to know

Protect humanity from Adani
Red Cross doing it tough appeal
The Quiet Achiever
Story to destigmatise mental health problems
Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre winter appeal
Carolyn’s resource for every writer
Stop domestic violence conference 7-9 Dec. 2015
Oxjam August 2015
Greenpeace: Don’t let Shell fry the Arctic
Do you read or write speculative fiction?
Buddhist parenting Melbourne 27 June

 

Protect humanity from Adani

Adani is a huge Indian company with a dreadful environmental and humanitarian record. It is the main player in plans to open up one of the largest coal mines in the world, just when we know coal needs to be phased out. If their project succeeds, it will destroy the Great Barrier Reef, one of our planet’s great wonders.

It is also located on land of great cultural and spiritual importance to its Aboriginal custodians. They are opposing the development, so Adani is challenging them in court.

Please support their legal fund.
adrianb

Today’s coral reefs comprise only a small portion of the total marine environment, but they harbour about a quarter of all marine species.

 


Red Cross doing it tough appeal

This needs no great blurb. Click here to make a donation.

Each month, Red Cross responds to an average of 30 disasters around the world. They are part of those communities where disasters strike, so are usually first on the scene and also the last to leave.

 


The Quiet Achiever

path
“The bastard’s trying to kill me,” Joel said, as the huge SUV came at him at speed. The heavy bull bars crashed into the rear of his vehicle. His old Toyota took off like a rocket, nose first, doing a complete somersault as it careened off the mountain. He had the crazy image of moon, stars, rocks and water as the vehicle bounced and tumbled, wedging at a precarious angle where it rocked gently for a few seconds before continuing its downward journey. The windscreen shattered, millions of diamonds spraying his face and body. The last thing he saw, before he received a horrendous knock on the head, was the bonnet of his vehicle flying through the air. Lieutenant Joel Lester had no idea that a simple phone call could change his life forever.
Six years had dragged by since Denise, the love of his life, had dumped him. Now she was missing and he was being asked to find her. He really didn’t need this in his life, but, as a duty-bound cop, he went about the business of solving the mystery like a bull facing the matador’s red cape. Now someone’s trying to kill him and that’s not all…

The Quiet Achiever (ISBN: 978-1-63135-685-8) is now available for $17.50 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors.

 


Story to destigmatise mental health problems

My friend Alfredo has shared his history in order to encourage everyone to accept mental health issues as, well, normal.

And Alfredo has now made the book available as a free PDF.

 


Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre winter appeal

The impact of the Australian Government’s cuts to funding, and a new brutal ‘fast-track’ bill means the ASRC are facing the greatest need of our services, than at any time in our history.

We are determined to respond — but we need your help.

We have established a legal hotline so people can get the advice they need. We have expanded our legal clinics to help more people with refugee claims. And our client services team continues to adapt, so we can meet immediate health, housing and counselling needs of our members.

As a supporter who shares our immovable devotion to protect, support and empower asylum seekers, let’s stand together this winter.

 


Carolyn’s resource for every writer

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s monthly newsletter Sharing with writers is available as a PDF. It’s full of tips for writers who need to do it on the cheap.

 


Stop domestic violence conference 7-9 Dec. 2015

Call for abstracts

The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association will host the 2015 Australian STOP Domestic Violence Conference at the Canberra Rex Hotel, 7 – 9 December.

The Conference theme Connecting the Dots will look at domestic violence holistically and will assist with the development of collaborative approaches within the sector.

If you are interested in presenting research, a case study and/or address topics to a National audience, we invite you to submit an abstract/presentation for consideration.

 


Oxjam, August 2015

Love music? Hate poverty?

Well this August you can join music lovers nationwide for the biggest month-long festival that will help Oxfam end global poverty. Host your own gig, hit the stage and get your party on!

After six years, 50,000 musicians, thousands of venues and millions of people in the UK, OXJAM is finally coming to Australia.

Over the month of August, hundreds of creative, passionate and talented people just like YOU will host everything from lounge room takeovers to warehouse DJ sets, backyard bush doofs and everything in between all in the name of ending global poverty. You choose what type of gig you’d like to throw and we will give you everything you need to pull it off. Easy.

Starting first week of August, the likes of MTV Music, MTV Dance, FBi, Noisey, Thump, I Oh You, Goodgod Small Club, One Day, UNDR CTRL and Motorik are going to be hosting the most epic of launch parties. These events, along with all of your own locally organised gigs, are set to make OXJAM the biggest festival yet to be seen across the country.

And the best bit? Every dollar raised at an OXJAM gig is going directly to help fight global poverty.

Saving the world has never sounded so good.

Check out our shiny new website, connect with us on socials and get ready to party against poverty.

Nadia Watson
Event Fundraising Coordinator

 


Greenpeace: Don’t let Shell fry the Arctic

Destruction of the Arctic could be closer than you think.
Watch this short video exposing Shell’s vision for the Arctic.

The Arctic could be under an attack from Shell’s oil rig in just 5 weeks. Oil drilling in the Arctic is not just a risk in the frozen north, but for the whole planet. This is the moment to choose: do we want our planet’s future destroyed, or more profit for Shell?

The US government’s analysis estimates that there’s a 75% chance of a large oil spill if Shell is able to successfully extract oil from the Arctic. And industry experts say this would be virtually impossible to clean up.

We may not have millions of dollars like Shell to spend on advertising but we’ve made something amazing with renowned artists Kennard Phillips.

 


Do you read or write speculative fiction?

Advance the cause of SF in the academic sphere! This is from Michelle Goldsmith, author of many short stories, who is currently working on a Masters at Melbourne Uni. I said I’d pass on her survey to you fine people.

Hi there,

I’m investigating changes to the author-reader relationship and the role of the author in the post-digital era for my thesis and I need authors and readers to fill in my survey.

So, if you have a spare 10-15 minutes at some stage please consider filling it in.

This survey aims to collect both quantitative and qualitative data regarding modern speculative fiction readerships, reader interactions with and expectations of authors, and various factors influencing the buying decisions of readers.

I’m looking for qualitative data so you can go into as much detail as you like (but all the questions are optional if you don’t want to answer one). More is better for me (and provides you an anonymous way to vent your spleen while simultaneously giving the oft neglected spec fic genres some academic attention).

It’s completely anonymous and the ethics department won’t let me do anything nefarious with your answers.

Thanks to anyone who fills it in or shares it.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/authorreaderinteractionssurvey

Regards

Sarah Endacott

 


Buddhist parenting, Melbourne 27 June

EQUIPPING PARENTS TO THRIVE: HOW BUDDHISM CAN TRANSFORM PARENTING

Half day workshop with Penny Fenner and Kellie Edwards
Saturday June 27, 1.00 – 5.00 pm.

Book now. Places are limited.

Current challenges for parents are ever increasing and changing. At this workshop Penny and Kellie will demonstrate the relevance and application of four key Buddhist principles: Mindfulness, Emotional Regulation, Awareness of Beliefs and Activation of Loving-Kindness in working with parents and children. 
The workshop will be informative, experiential and engaging, leading to greater knowledge, confidence in using Buddhist techniques and a personal sense of deeper ease and openness. Together Penny and Kellie bring decades of Buddhist and psychological knowledge, facilitation, coaching and therapy experience.

You will come away with greater understanding and confidence as to how:

  • Buddhism and mindfulness are critical for effective parenting
  • practices and techniques can be used yourself and with your clients
  • the power of beliefs shape and alter parenting styles and experience
  • to manage the emotional regulation systems of the brain.

There will be time to discuss your professional or personal parenting challenges, receive guidance and feedback from experienced facilitators and learn from colleagues.

As a psychologist working with parents or if needing support personally with the challenge of parenting, this workshop will provide valuable information, skills and direct experience of Buddhist and Mindfulness principles and practices to use in your life and with your clients.


Reviews

An Artist’s Creative Life with Bipolar Disorder by Alfredo Zotti, reviewed by Prateeksha Sharma
The People’s Hare, by Michael Minnis
Overcoming a model of mental illness that causes mental illness, by Alfredo Zotti
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Paul Van Der Merwe
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Toni DeMaio
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by JM Sutherland
Rarity From The Hollow by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Bryan Zepp Jamieson

 

An Artist’s Creative Life with Bipolar Disorder by Alfredo Zotti, reviewed by Prateeksha Sharma

alfredobook
In reading Alfredo Zotti’s book the one feeling anyone is likely to experience is appreciation for his generous spirit; which is so incredible that it shines through innumerably in the course of his book, An Artist’s Creative Life with Bipolar Disorder.

Alfredo brings to light some very compelling arguments about childhood trauma and its links with mental illness in older years, including studies he has independently carried out, gathering data both from professionals and fellow sufferers. His plea to focus on childhood years cannot be ignored by any who is serious about eradicating mental illness from the world.

He blends his biography, in little passages and descriptions in the first part of the book, but desists the temptation to get into details, instead focusing on his art and sharing about his work with other people. His experiences, life history, relationships, in particular the special bond with his (Bipolar) wife, make for such an inspiring story that you salute the spirit of the man. Time and again, his connections with other people who suffer and how he supports them, across the world shows the kindness of his spirit and makes one really admire his artistic generosity.

In the second part of the book, Alfredo narrates his views on several issues, including the viability of cognitive behavior therapy and proposes his model of recovery, among other things. He brings together many ideas, sometimes even from uncorrelated domains, to explicate on the subject of mental illness. This section of the book drives us into a completely different domain and I am not clear about the purpose behind it. But nevertheless it is still worthy of being read due to the variety of ideas he brings together, and connects them in the hope that people are looking for a way out for scores of sufferers, around the globe.

Having read many a memoir in mental illness, if there is one book I would unhesitatingly recommend, it would be this. The actions of Zotti are humane, and achievable for many if they keep their hearts open to the suffering of fellow human beings, instead of being consumed by their own. He reminds you to not wallow in your grief but open your heart to the world, embrace it. The giftedness that is part of a bipolar temperament is an added bonus, which can be meaningfully deployed for helping others. Alfredo shows us the way, in many ways.

Prateeksha Sharma

 


The People’s Hare by Michael Minnis

I’m involved in a very difficult editing job, and thought to use The People’s Hare as a bit of restful reading in between bouts of work. However, when I started, I just kept reading, and finished the book in one sitting.

So, warning. Don’t start reading unless you have the time to proceed to the end.

Part of the book’s attraction for me is the crystal clear, beautiful writing. It is a sign of excellent writing when the language is invisible, allowing the reader to become immersed in the content. Michael Minnis writes like this.

The story takes us into the mind of an unrepentant Nazi who’d been Himmler’s protege. I am passionately opposed to everything this man stands for, disgusted by a great many of his actions — and yet, I get to like and even admire him in the early pages, and this persists to the end of the book.

The plot device is unusual. We meet Albert Behrens in an Israeli prison, being held as a potential war criminal by Mossad. Scenes in the prison are in present tense. All else is reminiscences of the past during interrogation, or communication with Willi in the next cell, or just musing. Normally, such a second-hand presentation distances the reader and is low-key writing, but in Minnis’ hands it is gripping.

A consequence is that the narrative jumps around in time rather than giving a coherent account. Again, this is an invitation to confusion and loss of interest, but Minnis brings it off. I was never in doubt or lost, and instantly captured by the current scene.

What is the book about? Having finished it, I don’t know. There is a Zen quality about it, which, perhaps paradoxically, reminds me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Read it for yourself.

Michael Minnis has held a variety of avocations including house painter, warehouse maintenance man, machine parts quality control inspector, grocery night-stock clerk, sign-maker, amateur WW II historian, news reporter and columnist, and political cartoonist.

 


Overcoming a model of mental illness that causes mental illness, by Alfredo Zotti

This is an important book, and a powerful one.

Alfredo is an idealist, and always striving to make this planet a better place. Over the more than 10 years of our contact, he has passionately devoted himself to a number of causes. This time, in this book, it is reforming the way psychology is taught and practised in Australia.

He presents the evidence showing the inadequacy of the biomedical model of psychotherapy — the one guiding the DSM series of diagnostic classification, the gross overuse of psychoactive medication, and the way the Australian government funds psychotherapy through Medicare.

If we were to switch to the bio-psycho-social model of therapy, we would hugely reduce the direct and indirect costs of human distress. Alfredo convincingly demonstrates this, gives examples of its successful use, and shows how the change might be accomplished.

I don’t agree with everything in the book, but the message outlined above is crucial, correct and effective.

Alfredo has made the interesting choice of offering the book for free in electronic format. (Naturally, he has costs to cover for a paper version.) This is not because he undervalues himself — indeed, the opposite. It is because, unlike most people, he sees through the illusion of money being the definition of worth.

I hope that this little book will have a huge influence.

 


Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Paul Van Der Merwe

Through Ascending Spiral, Dr. Bob Rich takes on a refreshingly unique angle on novel writing. The book follows the emotional journeys of different characters (at least that’s what I thought initially) as they get confronted with situations in their life.
I initially struggled to comprehend the need for seemingly standalone stories and characters in the same book, but the final chapters wove everything together and left me both amazed and delighted at how the author got everything to fall in place; a truly admirable talent.

I have never read a book that made me experience so many emotions. In Ascending Spiral, Dr. Bob Rich struck the perfect balance between pace and portrayal; the story moves along swiftly, but not at the expense of describing the scenes and situations in sufficient detail so the reader could become immersed in it.

In fact, some of the scenes the non-human characters found themselves in were described so well, that one can only conclude that Dr. Bob Rich is an exceptionally imaginative writer, and/or that he was actually there when these stories played out. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

paulvdPaul van der Merwe is a Guinness World Record holder and has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. I reviewed his book Lucky go happy two issues ago.

 


Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Toni DeMaio

As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

Whether or not Shakespeare intended to support the idea of reincarnation when he wrote those famous words, the quote does give us food for thought. What if we do come back to be born again and again in many different lifetimes, spanning centuries, often joining other members of our ‘soul family’ to enact dramas upon the world stage in order to learn the lessons our souls need in order to grow and advance spiritually? And if this is true, then we each have a story to tell similar to the one Bob Rich shares with us in his wonderful adventure of a book, Ascending Spiral.

Whatever your beliefs on the subject of past lives might be, you will enjoy this incredible tale with its fast moving pace and engrossing story of a soul’s progress through the ages, incarnating sometimes as a man and then as a woman, and even once as an intelligent plant. In each case the eternal soul endures, learning from each lifetime and ultimately growing through the challenges and experiences.

Whether this soul was all powerful as Dermot, or vulnerable and as powerless as the Space Flower or the lovely tragic Amelia, this soul’s true love appeared in each of these lifetimes to share the struggle and deliver the lesson.

Then finally as Pip, the curious Buddhist with a Masters in Counselling Psychology, he finds answers as to why he had to live through all of this adventure. In hypnotherapy with another psychologist, Caroline, a soul revealed to be from one of his past lives he discovers the reason for his expanded consciousness and ability to remember into a past the average person can only imagine.

This brilliant book is the result. The author, a conservationist for most all of this lifetime, is here to help save our injured planet from extinction. His ultimate message: “My task is to inspire you to want a future for your kids, your grandkids, and their grandkids in perpetuity. Change “I want happiness now” to “I want a decent life for me, you and everyone else in harmony,” and we’re on the way.”

I recommend Ascending Spiral to everyone, as there is much to learn here, and the realization that our existence on the planet is absolutely in question without immediate change is the greatest motivation of all. I give Ascending Spiral five stars.

 


Ascending Spiral, reviewed by JM Sutherland

Ascending Spiral is a book that meshes together many different genres. Bob Rich uses a very colourful imagination to weave a true work of fiction, filled with historical events, alien existences, and outer space, that follows one soul through many lifetimes. It is adventurous at times and you get caught up in the love story flowing through the lives. Some parts of the story are very controversial by using rape as a topic of karma. Other parts of the story like the walking, talking alien plant or the guy in space destroying planets completely lose my interest. Overall, Bob Rich’s message tries to make you question your motives and actions in life, while promoting good karma.

 


Rarity From The Hollow by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Doghorn Publishing.

Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe. What’s more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains. Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy’s boss loves them all.

Except.

Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence. In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith. The boss is a dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.

Yes, all in one book.

Rarity From The Hollow is written in a simple declarative style that’s well-suited to the imaginary diary of a desperate but intelligent eleven-year-old — the story bumping joyfully between the extraordinary and the banal.

The central planet of the universe is a vast shopping mall, and Lacy Dawn must save her world from a menace that arrives in the form of a cockroach infestation. Look again and the space alien has made Daddy smart and happy — or at least an eleven year old girl’s notion of what a smart and happy man should be. He has also made Mommy beautiful, giving her false teeth and getting the food stamp lady off her back.

About the only thing in the book that is believable is the nature of the narrative voice, and it is utterly compelling. You find yourself convinced that “Hollow” was written as a diary-based autobiography by a young girl and the banal stems from the limits of her environment, the extraordinary from her megalomania. And that’s what gives Rarity From The Hollow a chilling, engaging verisimilitude that deftly feeds on both the utter absurdity of the characters’ motivations and on the progression of the plot.

Indeed, there are moments of utter darkness: In one sequence, Lacy Dawn remarks matter-of-factly that a classmate was whipped to death, and notes that the assailant, the girl’s father, had to change his underpants afterward because they were soiled with semen. Odd, and often chilling notes, abound.

As I was reading it, I remembered when I first read Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle” at the age of 14. A veteran of Swift, Heller, and Frederick Brown, I understood absurdist humour in satire, but Vonnegut took that understanding and turned it on its ear.

In the spirit of Vonnegut, Eggleton (a psychotherapist focused on the adolescent patient) takes the genre and gives it another quarter turn. A lot of people hated Vonnegut, saying he didn’t know the rules of good writing. But that wasn’t true. Vonnegut knew the rules quite well, he just chose to ignore them, and that is what is happening in Eggleton’s novel, as well.

Not everyone will like Rarity From The Hollow. Nonetheless, it should not be ignored.

 


A bit of fun

I’ve found a new hero
The Universe is…
Archaeologists find first politician’s skeleton
A comforting thought?
Two ways of becoming flexible

 

I’ve found a new hero

This is Lord Acton, a 19th Century historian. I’d vaguely heard of him before, but hadn’t realised his wit and powerful logic.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy him too.

Here are a few gems:

    I’m not a driven businessman, but a driven artist. I never think about money. Beautiful things make money.

History is not a burden on the memory but an illumination of the soul.

The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks.

I love the guy.
acton

 


The Universe is…

morons From here.

 


Archaeologists find first politician’s skeleton

poli

 


A comforting thought?

nobrain

 


Two ways of becoming flexible

flexible

 


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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 14 Number 13

  1. Pingback: Bobbing Around Volume 15 Number 1 | Bobbing Around

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