Bobbing Around Volume 15 Number 1

To seek enlightenment, intellectual or spiritual; to do good; to love and be loved; to create and to teach: these are the highest purposes of humankind. If there is meaning in life, it lies here.
George Monbiot

Bobbing Around

Volume Fifteen, Number One,
July, 2015

Bob Rich’s rave

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

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
The Doom Healer is up and running
Interesting interview coming
Ground level methane in arctic rapidly increasing
One cause of writer’s block

*Responses to past issues
John James
Merisha Moora

*Politics
Can we learn from Scandinavia?
IMF: $10 million a day subsidy to fossil fuel
A bit unfair?
Refugee petition tabled
12 Reasons America Doesn’t Win Its Wars

*Environment
California is sinking
Jane Fonda on Arctic oil drilling: ‘This is the fight of our lives’
2014 was the hottest ever. 2015 is hotter
New NASA data show how the world is running out of water
WHY AREN’T WE SCREAMING? by Simon Hasleton
Alaska melting
Unprecedented alliance calls for zero pollution in Australia

*Good news
Beautiful words, inspiring message: the Pope’s encyclical
German alterative energy supplies 50% of need
Britain’s Largest Grocer Is Giving Unsold Food To Those Who Need It
India races on with solar
Investing in coal?
Uranium mine plan cancelled

*Inspiring people
6 year old boy changes his community
And Pope Francis continues to inspire
10 year old boy makes clothes for homeless kids
Forgiveness is difficult but powerful
Youngsters want to keep it in the ground

*Technology
5 Simple Life Tweaks to Help the Planet
Let’s match the space race, for survival
Roadmap for a renewable-energy USA
West Australian wave energy project up for a prize
A house with a small footprint

*Deeper issues
Francis on a poor, humble Church
Passionate wisdom from George Monbiot, again
What can we do, personally?
A journey
George Monbiot — must read
The 6th great extinction event, confirmed

*Psychology
Dealing with despair
I’m a sexual molester
My parents mistreat me
I want to torture and murder

*Health
How to Diagnose Gluten Problems

*For writers
Poor structure is a book killer
Unblocking the Writer

*What my friends want you to know
Good stuff for writers
Home at Last by Jan Sikes on pre-order
Wolf Pack 2015: An experience in tribalism and survivalism, October 2015

*Reviews
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Merisha Moora

*Poetry
Poetic therapy, by Alfredo Zotti


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.

I don’t understand why when we destroy something created by man we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something created by nature we call it progress.’
Ed Begley, Jr.


From me to you

The Doom Healer is up and running
Interesting interview coming
Ground level methane in arctic rapidly increasing
One cause of writer’s block

 

The Doom Healer is up and running

That’s the title of the science fiction story I am putting up here one chapter per week.

This is what it’s about:

    We are now in the 6th great extinction event of planet Earth. This means, we are destroying our own life support system.

    Climate change is already killing people. It will kill billions.

    We are killing marine life in many ways, ocean acidification being the worst. We are also destroying topsoil — replacing it with cities, using factory-farming to poison its life, creating deserts where once crops used to grow. And we are using more fresh water than the rain that falls on all land.

    At the same time, global population is growing, currently by 300 million a year.

    We are poisoning all life on this planet, including ourselves, with deadly chemicals.

    And the global financial system is an illusion, a bubble guaranteed to pop. That will cause immense misery.

    What can one person do to heal a terminally sick planet, a terminally sick humanity?

    This is the task the alien imposes on Bill, who manages to have fun along the way.

I have finished the book, and, when time permits, am working on the second volume.


Interesting interview coming

cynthialarson
Recently I reviewed Cynthia Sue Larson’s book Quantum Jumps. The concepts in the book intrigued me so much that I’ve interviewed Cynthia.

Rather than send her a list of questions all in one go, I shaped each question in response to her previous answers, as in a real conversation.

The interview is due to go live on the 9th of July. You can email me if you want a notification.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of a WordPress feature. If you decide to “follow” Bobbing Around, you’ll get automatic notification of any posts I make. Let me know if you do, so I can take you off my private email list.


Ground level methane in arctic rapidly increasing

…Just as I’ve predicted in my essay, But there is no need for despair. The report’s author gives us 10 years, compared to the IPCC’s 30.


One cause of writer’s block

horse
Almost always, my regular meditation keeps my immune system in top condition, so that I don’t catch passing bugs. Unfortunately, when Jolanda succumbed to the flu, after awhile I did too.

By no coincidence, my writing dried up. At the time, I was editing a book, and wanted to recommend a few past writing articles from Bobbing Around to the author. While browsing the index, I came across an old one on writer’s block, and have reproduced it in this issue. It’s just as valid now as when I wrote it, which was when I was working on my historical trilogy, The Travels of First Horse.

So, since I wasn’t going anywhere with my writing anyway, I re-read that story — and loved it all over again. Because this is three books in one, I’ve been offering it for $12. To celebrate my rediscovery, I will send it to any Bobbing Around reader for only $5. To take advantage of this offer, email me.

Responses to past issues

John James
Merisha Moora

 

John James

Bob, as a therapist who deals with human responses and traumas, I believe there is only one answer to despair: to act without attachment to the outcome. To dive in fully for what matters but if it goes wrong you pass on, press on, with no lingering regrets. Mindfulness is being attentive to the mind, not to emotional needs. This is where we need to be detached — and then ACT, ACT, ACT.

John

John was responding to my answer to an email from Martine Johnston in the June issue.

Needless to say, I fully agree with his beautiful words.

John James is an Australian architect, builder, farmer, therapist and medieval historian with a passion for the truth. He founded the Planetextinction site ten years ago and issues a regular newsletter. He has lectured and corresponded around the world on environmental issues since the 70s. He has a solar house, grows most of his food and is learning to be self-sufficient — a much harder task than people let on.


Merisha Moora

Merisha is one of my lovely nieces in New Zealand. Recently, she contacted me out of the blue, and then read and reviewed Ascending Spiral.

Here is an extract of what she wrote:

    My partner Alan and I have been learning and practicing earth building and Permaculture over the last years, hoping to find a community to share with and be a part of, or a land to place a yurt while eventually building a small earth home. Dreams of building an education space for like minds, yoga, natural living. We struggle to find our place living in a city, money seems to own our life and time, and we long to find a way out of this madness.

    I often read your blog, and really enjoy it. there is always source for inspiration! I remember seeing your earth building book too somewhere, long time ago — perhaps my mum has one?

    It’s lovely what Jolanda (and you through your writing!) are doing for people. I want my life to develop in these ways. I teach yoga outside of my work hours and am giving free classes at the language centre where I work to help the kids be more aware of themselves, their bodies and their breath, to slow down and find more balance in their lives.

As you can see, she is a person I am proud to have in my extended family. Merisha, thank you for sharing the planet with me.


Politics

Can we learn from Scandinavia?
IMF: $10 million a day subsidy to fossil fuel
A bit unfair?
Refugee petition tabled
12 Reasons America Doesn’t Win Its Wars

 

Can we learn from Scandinavia?

This is an old essay, but well worth reading.

Sweden and Norway are among the best countries to live in, but it wasn’t always like that. Read the history lesson.


IMF: $10 million a day subsidy to fossil fuel

Well, there is a disclaimer. The analysis is the work of its authors (an IMF working group) and the IMF doesn’t officially endorse them. But they did put a “very robust analysis” up on their official web site.

The figures are convincing. The governments of the world (meaning everyone including you) are giving the companies killing us $10 million a day. Imagine if that was invested in finding alternatives to fossil fuels, in energy conservation, and in societal change that reduces the amount of stuff produced.


A bit unfair?

The Guardian reports that Australian mining companies are allowed a total of $20 million tax deductions a year for lobbying costs.

To put this in context, the COALition government wants to strip tax-deductible status from environmental organisations, which together cost the taxpayer about $2 million a year.

That’s called a level playing field.


Refugee petition tabled

I’ve been exchanging lots of emails with Cathy Brownfield, an inspiring American friend and fellow writer. She was unaware of the essence of Australia’s refugee situation. This is what I wrote to her:

The boat people trying to come to Australia are mostly escaping from genocide:

Tamils from Sri Lanka (though that has eased with the new Buddhist government there)

Rohingya from Burma

Hazara from Afghanistan

Even people from the Middle East.

So they are 99% legitimate asylum seekers. Nothing illegal about what they are doing. And Australia is a signatory to the UN refugee convention, so what successive Australian governments have done is illegal.

Dear Bob,

Today I was handed a petition by the Refugee Action Coalition with an overwhelming 65,000 signatures calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru detention camps. 

This afternoon, I tabled these signatures in Parliament.

I want to thank all of you who took the time to put your name to this cause. Your opposition to these camps of cruelty has been recorded permanently in Hansard for future generations to see.

From the Forgotten Children Report compiled by the Human Rights Commissioner, and testimony provided at the current parliamentary inquiry into abuse claims on Nauru, we have learned of increasing cases of horrific child abuse, the mental and physical harm caused by prolonged detention and the depravity caused by inhumane living conditions. 

We know it is morally wrong, costly, and severely damages Australia’s international reputation.

We cannot guarantee the safety of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, and the more we learn about the conditions of these camps, the more apparent it is that they are untenable and must be shut down.

By speaking out about Australia’s shameful actions, you have contributed towards a more hopeful future.

It’s time for the Government and all members of Parliament to take note and listen.

Thank you once again for signing this petition, we couldn’t have done this without your contribution.

Yours in hope,
Sarah Hanson-Young


12 Reasons America Doesn’t Win Its Wars

Read this brilliant expose of the modern meaning of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us against.

Those who need the wars are winning, and can’t afford not to have wars. Is this the kind of world WE want to live in?


Environment

California is sinking
Jane Fonda on Arctic oil drilling: ‘This is the fight of our lives’
2014 was the hottest ever. 2015 is hotter
New NASA data show how the world is running out of water
WHY AREN’T WE SCREAMING?by Simon Hasleton
Alaska melting
Unprecedented alliance calls for zero pollution in Australia

 

California is sinking

With the tragic drought, Californian farmers have increasingly been pumping from the aquifers. The result has been cracked bridges, warped roads, damaged buildings and the like.

It was to be expected, but wasn’t, despite previous times when this had happened.

Read the report.

sinkhouse
My heart goes to all the people affected by this unnoticed tragedy.


Jane Fonda on Arctic oil drilling: ‘This is the fight of our lives’

77 year old Jane has lived an environmentally responsible lifestyle for years, but now she feels doing her private best is not enough. She is speaking up.

Listen to her.

13 Jun 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada — Jane Fonda says “I hope I get arrested” during a protest in Vancouver. The actress and activist was in Vancouver for ‘Toast the Coast’ to protest plans by Shell Gas to build oil pipelines. Event info at toastcoast.org Pictured: Jane Fonda — Image by © R Chiang/Splash News/Corbis


2014 was the hottest ever. 2015 is hotter

NASA data show that the first 5 months of 2015 are globally the hottest ever. We had the same song last year.

Now that the Arctic methane genie is out of the bottle, things are going to skyrocket.

But it’s all right. There are plenty of other schools for souls in the Universe.
no-slow-down-in-global-warming


New NASA data show how the world is running out of water

The trend of using up fresh water faster than it is being replenished goes back to the last century. Now, its effects are becoming obvious.


WHY AREN’T WE SCREAMING?
by Simon Hasleton

Grabbed you? Want to know why we… you should be screaming?

Read this.

There are further links in that paper. Basically, we have been fooled.

Fooled?

Fooled by the notion — assiduously put around by politicians, and either avoided or consented to by many scientists — that there’s this magic portal to disaster called “2 degrees Celsius”, and that provided we don’t pass the portal, we’ll be OK.

But…

Disaster is already staring you in the face if you live in Miami (although I think its illegal there to say as much), as it is in Bangladesh or the Maldives, and things don’t look too good in California, or Texas… and India has just suffered a week of temperatures over 44 Celsius, and reaching 47 C. (some 1700 are known to have died). And the Arctic sea ice and the West Antarctic glaciers and the Greenland ice cap are melting, and we have not reached 1 degree of global temperature increase since 1750 yet.

Incidentally, there are some immense ambiguities in the ‘2 C’ mantra, and the ‘greenhouse gas–CO2 level’ to which it is related. I will discuss these below.

And as cropping becomes unreliable, and the oceans acidify and the fisheries deplete… and the extremes of heat and cold and flood and drought increase in frequency and intensity…

World population in the year of my birth, 1931, was around 2 billion. Now, it has passed 7 billion. In 2050 it will exceed 9 billion, and in 2100 it will pass beyond 10 billion. Unless, of course, the politicians and the religious grandees sit down together and sort out a world population policy.

You think?

However, it will be sorted out, if not by rational humanity, then by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: conquest, war, famine and death.

And then there’s Capitalism and the market-driven economy. It has made some of us very ‘wealthy’, and a lot of us more ‘comfortable’ By that I mean that we’re sheltered and have enough to eat. That comes at the price of having to buy more and more ‘stuff’. Bigger houses (Billiard Room? Media Room?) Fancy cars? (Its a Mitzy!) Keep the System going, the Treasurers urge. Consume! Consume!

And, of course, we must have GROWTH.

But growth comes at a big price. Climate change, the forests and their wild life, the oceans — all the issues which propel us toward disaster. And on the way, the immiseration and virtual enslavement of millions, in the gery-built sweatshops of Asia and elsewhere.

And it comes with massive, almost unbelievable inequality. The charity Oxfam calculated last year that the richest 85 people in the world (a number that could fit into a double-decker bus) had more wealth between them than the poorest 50% of the world population.

And with that wealth comes power, especially the power to ensure that the whole edifice, the juggernaut, rolls on without effective challenge.

Which may in part explain the remarkable stupidity of those who recently advised people who can’t afford a home, as the price of housing in Australia’s cities spirals out of reach, that all they need to do is get a well-paid job.

But just as it takes an input of energy to maintain the present level of activity, doing more requires an increase in the input of energy.

And since the great outburst of growth in Europe in the late 18th century, that energy has been supplied by burning carbon. Coal, then oil and gas. And yes, there still seems to be plenty left. Mr Abbott loves it — and Shell is about to start drilling in the Arctic.

And that and similar criminal stupidity leads to a simple question:

HOW MUCH CAN WE BURN WITHOUT ENDANGERING THE EARTH?

I’ll do my best to answer that question in my next. But surely, you say, isn’t there some good news?

OK Send it to me, and I’ll publish it. It is out there!

And then, set aside an evening, and read this. It is very, very, important.

And tell me what you think…

Simon was born in England in 1931. His lifespan has covered the period of immense growth which has brought Earth, our home, to imminent calamity. Left home at 17, wandered the world. Arrived in Australia in 1952, studied Psychology at Sydney, UNSW, and London U. Lovely wife, 3 great kids, 4 wonderful grandchildren. For them, he has studied Climate for the last 5 years.

Simon invites comments, and people to subscribe to his list. You can email him.


Alaska melting

The title says it all. NASA data indicates that there is enough surface melt from Alaska’s glaciers to cause severe floods. Alaska is now a major contributor to sea level rise.

And there are 56 major fires in the State.
alaskafire


Unprecedented alliance calls for zero pollution in Australia

Climate and Health Alliance and many of its members groups are part of a broader push this week for Australia to increase its emissions cuts ahead of Australia releasing its INDC (Intended National Determined Commitment — required for the Paris 2015 UNFCCC agreement) next month – see below for media release and Open Letter released at press conference at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday:

In an open letter to all Australian Parliamentarians, an unprecedented alliance of 51 health, environmental, legal, aid, union, farming, and religious groups have called for all parliamentarians to commit to strong emissions reduction targets, stating: “Australia and Australian people stand to lose so much from the impacts of climate change; it is in our national interest to be amongst the leading nations to ensure the world limits warming to well below 2 degrees. A zero carbon pollution future is possible, and it is all of our responsibility to make that future a reality for our children, and their children.”
blueau


Good news

Beautiful words, inspiring message: the Pope’s encyclical
German alterative energy supplies 50% of need
Britain’s Largest Grocer Is Giving Unsold Food To Those Who Need It
India races on with solar
Investing in coal?
Uranium mine plan cancelled

 

Beautiful words, inspiring message: the Pope’s encyclical

It is long, but every word is worth reading.

It is addressed to YOU, whether you are a Catholic or not. It will uplift you, inspire you, and hopefully, get you acting.

Please follow this great man.
Pope Francis


German alterative energy supplies 50% of need

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that electricity actually had a negative price!

Wind and solar work, and can replace coal and nuclear.


Britain’s Largest Grocer Is Giving Unsold Food To Those Who Need It

Well, the title says it all. Working for a reasonable profit is compatible with compassionate action and environmental responsibility.


India races on with solar

India will install 5 times as much solar power as previously planned.

More power to them.

India is even leapfrogging Germany on the renewable energy front.


Investing in coal?

endofcoal


Uranium mine plan cancelled

Bob

I’m really happy to write to you today to share very good news, and to thank the thousands of ACF supporters who helped to make it happen.

The Kakadu uranium miner Energy Resources Australia (ERA) just cancelled their planned controversial and contested underground mine — Ranger 3 Deeps.

The plan never made sense and now ERA has accepted that it wouldn’t make dollars either.

The shelving of this ill-conceived and environmentally damaging project is a big step towards ending uranium mining in the beautiful Kakadu National Park.

How the ACF community spoke out for Kakadu

After over a million litres of radioactive slurry spilled at Ranger uranium mine in 2013, thousands of you called for action. As a result of public outcry, the federal government was forced to suspend mineral processing at the embattled mine.

Despite this, and more than 200 leaks, spills, accidents and licence breaches, the company pressed ahead with plans for new underground mining — the Ranger 3 Deeps project.

When the environmental impact statement for the project opened for public comment, thousands of ACF supporters told Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt that a new uranium mine in the middle of a World Heritage listed national park was a bad idea.

With help from you and other environment groups, we’ve kept the pressure on ERA to abandon this project and to instead clean up the existing mess at its troubled Ranger mine.
kakadu


Inspiring stories

6 year old boy changes his community
And Pope Francis continues to inspire
10 year old boy makes clothes for homeless kids
Forgiveness is difficult but powerful
Youngsters want to keep it in the ground

 

6 year old boy changes his community

One day, 6 year old Oliver saw kids dumpster dividing, and realised they were hungry. The result has been a local revolution. He and his family grow food at home, at the school, and many others have joined them.

Read the report.
oliver


And Pope Francis continues to inspire

He tells corporations: put people above profits!

francisfao
This was at a meeting of the FAO. Of course, his must-read encyclical overshadows even this, but both deserve a mention.


10 year old boy makes clothes for homeless kids

Xavier’s father suffered from PTSD thanks to a stint in Iraq. This is a great risk for empathetic, decent people put into a situation where they need to impose horror on others. The family is now back on their feet, but for years, they were homeless, or nearly so. Now, Dad engages in volunteer work.

Xavier spends his own money buying material, and makes clothes for kids who are still homeless.

Like father, like son. Both are clearly highly evolved souls who should be models for all of us.
xaviere


Forgiveness is difficult but powerful

The whole world is crying about the senseless hate crime in Charleston, when a 21 year old boy killed 9 people during Bible study.

Read the account of the wonderful reaction of the victims’ relatives.

Every one of them gave him forgiveness during a court hearing, several asking him to repent.

And some people consider those with dark skin to be inferior????
forgive


Youngsters want to keep it in the ground

This week, the Keep it in the Ground campaign is dedicated to telling the stories of young people in a series called #GroundUp. Many of the most motivated and influential climate change activists around the world are under 25. They’re the ones inheriting the worst impacts of climate change. And they’re not just “tomorrow’s leaders”; they’re today’s.

We’ve interviewed and provided a platform for dozens of these young people to share their hopes, fears and stories. Below are a few highlights:

To boost hope: 11 young people speak up on how they comprehend climate change. Among them are an oil rig worker in Alberta, Canada, an engineer in Mauritania, a minister-in-training in New Zealand, and students in London, New York, Colombia and Kenya.

To feel old: Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez is 14. He has been forcing powerful adults to face climate change issues since he was six: “There’s a lot of cowardice in adults speaking up about issues that matter to him.” Here’s his story.

To shake up your worldview: 23 year old French-Ivorian writer Aude Konan takes on something we tend to overlook when we talk about climate change: race.

To chill out: Comedian Holly Burn explores why it’s so hard to make “ha ha’s” out of the planet’s demise — and pinpoints a few comedians, like Louis CK, who have found a way to make it work.

Keep an eye on this series. Over the next few days, we’ll be publishing a Minecraft vision of an eco-friendly future, an interview with world champion freerunner Tim Shieff, and more. We at the Guardian are duly inspired by these young people. We hope they also inspire you.


Technology

5 Simple Life Tweaks to Help the Planet
Let’s match the space race, for survival
Roadmap for a renewable-energy USA
West Australian wave energy project up for a prize
A house with a small footprint

 

5 Simple Life Tweaks to Help the Planet

Lordyn Cormier, writing for Care2.com helps more to shift attitude than to directly change behaviour. This is as it should be.

You will find a more comprehensive list of environmental action recommendations on my handout to a talk I gave at an expo in 2002.


Let’s match the space race, for survival

Britain’s climate change envoy Sir David King has called for a global effort of the same urgency and investment as the space race was, to switch from fossil fuels to renewables.

Excellent. This should have been done 20 years ago. However, it is only a band aid. The only solution is to get off the cancer of economic growth. This requires the reformation of the global economy, the replacement of the GDP with a sane measure, and the ending of greed as the major motivating force.


Roadmap for a renewable-energy USA

This is a PDF of a report in Energy & Environmental Science showing how each state can go completely fossil-fuel free within a manageable timeline.

You can read a summary at Eco Watch.

Elon Musk and Leonardo DiCaprio are both funding the project.


West Australian wave energy project up for a prize

The world’s first fully functioning wave energy project in Western Australia is on the shortlist for Global Sustania 100, an annual international award that honours outstanding sustainability performance.
waveenergy


A house with a small footprint

If you’re buying or selling a house in the USA, or even if you’re interested in improving the environmental impact of the one you have, you should read this brief, helpful article in Care2.com.

Of course, you can also check out the basic principles of climate-sensitive house design at my mudsmith site.


Deeper Issues

Francis on a poor, humble Church
Passionate wisdom from George Monbiot, again
What can we do, personally?
A journey
George Monbiot — must read
The 6th great extinction event, confirmed

 

Francis on a poor, humble Church

I hope he brings it off.

This man keeps inspiring me.

francis poverty


Passionate wisdom from George Monbiot, again

This brief essay from George had me cheering. I think it will affect you the same way.

Why should we allow cannibalistic employers like banks to destroy the brightest new graduates, converting them into salary-addicted drones?


What can we do, personally?

Elsie Curtin was the Australian Prime Minister’s wife during the hardships of the Second World War. She wrote:

“Every Australian citizen can join in the Austerity Army and women must be the shock troops.”

We are not at war (despite Middle Eastern adventures by our government), but the enemy we face is more powerful, ruthless and dangerous than the Axis powers of WW2. This enemy is the shadowy few who control the multinationals that control governments, and are converting nature into pollution, as quickly as possible, in order to increase the number of zeros in certain computers. (I didn’t make that up. Bill, the hero of my freely available novel The Doom Healer did.

Mrs Curtin’s words are even more apt to today’s situation. My wife Jolanda and I started following her advice (though we didn’t know about it) in 1978. My assessment was that the best way to work for a future was to earn, and spend, as little money as possible, because the turnover of every dollar subsidises the enemy. It really does.

So, as far as possible, we replaced working for money with working for ourselves. Instead of buying, we are doing.

Two surprising side-effects were a life of contentment despite many challenges — we felt we were living like royalty — and our wonderful children who grew into adults who can cope with anything, in any situation.

All this is stated in more depth in an essay I wrote in 1998, but which is even more relevant today: How to change the world.


A journey

Suppose you’re in London. You’ve got money in the bank, organised your visas. You pack your bag, and stand at a suitable spot, holding up a sign:

To Tokyo

Eventually, you get a lift, and over the weeks and months, proceed on your journey east, through countries, cultures, languages, landscape changes. The vehicles you ride in vary from luxury cars to rattletraps, sports cars to enormous trucks, perhaps even horse-drawn cars and camel-back.

At the end of the journey, you’ll hopefully be a better person, having learned a great many things on the University of the Road.

I’ve studied a huge amount of evidence, and my conclusion is that this is a very good metaphor for the reason for life.

The person who started in London is the same person who arrives in Tokyo, but much wiser, more resilient, hopefully more tolerant. The languages spoken during the journey, the religions practised, the fashions of clothing, food eaten, skin colours, face and body build varied, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was people’s kindness or hostility, generosity or meanness, hospitality or rejection.

And the vehicles that gave you a lift were merely incidental.

Right now, whether you know it or not, you are a student on the University of the Road. The body you happen to be in is the vehicle giving you a lift. You speak a particular language, live within a culture, and so on. All of these are incidental, and there for you to learn from. When you die, you’ll just have to find another vehicle, and continue your journey.


George Monbiot — must read

The Pope can see what many atheist greens will not is the title of a short but powerful essay that cuts to the heart of what environmental conservation is about.


The 6th great extinction event, confirmed

A recent scientific paper has confirmed what I’ve been saying for years: we are now in the 6th great extinction event of planet Earth.

Here is the Abstract:

The oft-repeated claim that Earth’s biota is entering a sixth “mass extinction” depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the “background” rates prevailing in the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (that is, 2 E/MSY), which is twice as high as widely used previous estimates. We then compare this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. The latter is conservatively low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting stringent criteria. Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

Climate change is only a part of it. And this is actually worse, and more of a threat, then climate change itself.

According to Merlin, one of the aliens in my new story The Doom Healer, if things keep going the way they are, it will take millions of years for sentient life to re-emerge on this planet.

This is right: after the Permian extinction 250 million years ago, it took 10 million years before species started to diversify again — and the conditions we are creating will soon be as bad, or worse, as what had happened then.

We need to change the world, NOW.


Psychology

Dealing with despair
I’m a sexual molester
My parents mistreat me
I want to torture and murder

 

Dealing with despair

It has occurred to me that my answer to Martine in the last issue could just as well have been here. Whatever the reason for your hopelessness, the tools I’ve described will serve you well.


I’m a sexual molester

I’m an 18 year old boy, guilty of an indecent act I’ve committed.

For quite a while now I have had urges towards pedophilia, and I absolutely hate that. At first when I was younger (say, 2-3 years ago) I used to think “I can keep on enjoying and thinking about it, as long as I never actually commit anything.” Now I have learned to cut away from every thought and it still haunts me sometimes, although I try my best to avoid it, and give myself a slap if I do think about it. Personally I think I’m doing well, and definitely a tad better than before and I will keep on going at it and not giving down. I’m sure I can be a good person, and in the future, becoming a psychologist that helps and talks with people is my dream.

The problem lies here: about a year ago we had a little gathering with my family and their friends. with them came their daughter, no more than 4 I believe, that I had to babysit for a while in my room, while the adults talk and have their fun. At that point, I simply realised I couldn’t help myself. I have not unclothed or explicitly done anything to her, however I did do things like pick her up and play with her to sneak touches, and later at the end, I put her on my ‘lap’ while sitting on the chair so we can draw together (and that’s exactly what we did, and then she simply had to go and she went off). Nothing too big to her, I certainly hope with all my soul not, but certainly quite something on my mind.

I have felt incredibly guilty after that was done, and talked to a close friend which I told everything about it and my tendencies, and he accepted it, talking about it made me feel a bit relieved and he was the one who set me on the right path, making me realise that I should never do such as even enjoy a thought is this. Now, the fear has resurfaced again, and I certainly don’t want to bring it up again with him. I certainly know full well I wouldn’t even think let alone let myself touch anyone young ever again. I don’t want to and I couldn’t. It’s horrible.

That being said, I’m still guilty and concerned. I did something bad and it’s itching at me. I don’t want to become one of those people who grows up with that guilt for years until they commit a horrible act towards themselves. I wish I could go and apologize to the girl but, I’m sure I can’t bring that up to a small child and even though it might help me some (even though probably not much) it might even do more harm than good to her. I know I shouldn’t, but I would want to. With that I also hope that my act will not have resulted in any problems when she grows up. I didn’t do anything harsh and with her young age I doubt it will bother her in the future, but again I have no way of knowing for certain and it scares me.

I want to know how to cope with this. I want to know how I should feel about this and honestly just Any help would be absolutely and greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

My dear young friend,

I have great news for you. You are a morally good, decent person, and will be for the rest of your life. You have been tortured by thoughts and urges you disapprove of. You slipped up once, but even then in a way that, thank heavens, didn’t do any actual harm to that little girl. And this bad event has had a good result: the feelings of guilt and shame are so awful that they will protect you from repeating anything like this for as long as you live.

What’s more, this unfortunate thing about your thinking has given you the idea of becoming a psychologist so you can be of benefit to other people who are suffering. Thank you.

So, basically, between your wise friend and you, you have already set yourself on a good path. All we need to do now is to develop methods for dealing with the unwanted thoughts and impulses.

The secret is: attention is a fertilizer. If I have a thought and want it to go away, I am paying attention to it, and so it grows. To prove this, for one minute, do NOT think of your mother’s name.

So, when a bad thought comes, it is allowed to be there. It is only noise, until you believe it. Imagine that you’re in your house, and the people next door have their TV blaring. You can’t turn it down or off, but it’s quite easy to simply treat it as background. It’s there, so what. You don’t have to listen, don’t have to work to ignore it. You just get on with whatever you are doing.

I used to share a room with another therapist. I like a wall clock, so I can structure my session in the best way. The other man couldn’t stand the ticking of the clock. It drove him crazy. I and my clients, and I assume his clients, could hear the clock if we bothered to focus on it, but otherwise it was so much in the background that it had no impact at all.

Until now, your pedophile thoughts have been the ticking of the clock you focused on, and the more you wanted them to go away, the stronger they got. With a little practice, you can simply allow them to be there, background noise. They come, but you don’t have to listen, don’t have to argue with them, don’t have to believe them. They are just noise, so what, of no importance.

And when you stop fertilizing them with attention, they will fade away.
Your new grandfather,
Bob


My parents mistreat me

I think I’m suffering from depression! See there is a scholarship test you take when you are in year 6 and for parents like mine, it is a big deal. I only got a partial scholarship last year in July and since then, my parents have been taking any chance to accuse me of this. I’ve contacted my teacher and a close friend of my dad in this period. Both have talked to my parents but they haven’t changed one bit. Instead they accuse me of telling others about them. Recently a girl’s mother had been murdered in my area. The girl has told media what a nice mother she was to her. She said she never compared her with any other child (which my parents always do) and that she always got her anything she wanted (I wouldn’t get anything I’ve always wanted but I get nothing I want just things I need.) I imagined myself with her as my mother. My mother doesn’t beat me but my father does. My mother prefers to use words. I always feel like running away. I would but I don’t know where to go. The only thing that keeps me going in life is my friends, music and love. I want to be a musician but I know that my parents will refuse whatsoever and make me a doctor. I really don’t care who you are. All I need is help! Please help me as much as you can! Just email me!

I’m just 12

Dear Lina,

I feel for you, because for different reasons and in different ways, my childhood was full of the same kind of pain. But maybe that will give you hope: I built a very good life for myself, and so can you.

A wise man once said, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” He was right, to a point. It can also make me bitter and resentful and helpless. But I do have the choice.

Look, suppose you plant a tree seedling and put a solid barrier around it so it is completely protected from wind. When it is 2 years old, you remove the barrier. Do you know what happens? The first wind will break branches off, and a strong wind will shatter the trunk. A young seedling is flexible. As it moves in the wind, it develops scar tissue where it is bent, and this gives it strength.

The same is true for us. If you choose to, you can look at the bad treatment from your parents as what strengthens you for the rest of your life. As an adult, you will be successful, and strong, and cope with anything, because you know you survived as bad as a kid.

You have another choice, and I think you have already made that one. Some people who are treated badly in childhood then do it to others. They feel themselves to be weak, and damaged, and undeserving of love, so they build themselves up by putting other people down. I did not do that. Instead, I have looked on what was done to me as a lesson in how NOT to behave. So, for all my life, I have been there for hurt people and things, and helped the best way I could. In the same way, you can use your parents as negative role models: whatever you don’t like about their actions, you do the opposite.

At the same time, I am sure both your mum and dad have good qualities. Study them, and find the good things they do. Then, you can also use them as positive role models and copy the good things while rejecting the bad things.

I am glad you have music in your life. It is a wonderful resource to be creative, and to make beauty. Use it as therapy. When things go wrong, play music. If you can’t, do it in your head.

Did you know, in Boston there is an symphony orchestra, composed entirely of doctors? My daughter does research into neuropsychology, but she is also a musician.

Since very few people can make a living completely from music, probably your parents have your best interest in mind when wanting you to have another profession, even if they go about it the wrong way. Take the good, and throw away the bad. I don’t know if you have the abilities to become a doctor, because I have never met you. But the preparation is a science course through high school. That is both useful in its own right, and fascinating. Take joy in learning, and that’s another protection, like music. When I was your age, my two antidepressants were study and running.

My dear, I hope my words have been of help to you.

With love from your new grandfather,

Bob


I want to torture and murder

I feel like I’m gonna kill someone. I’m so fascinated by murder and death. But mostly torture, I’ve always been interested in torture. It excites me thinking about it. My heart races when I think about hurting someone. When I think about whether or not they can take pain it makes my heart beat faster. It helps me work out thinking about how I’d torture and kill the people there. It helps me run, my adrenaline goes full force and then I feel this feeling I can’t explain it. I’ve thought about it countless times. What keeps me from doing it is I’m not in a situation where I’d get away with it. To much blood, not enough privacy to take my time and torture them. I’m more afraid of prison then I am of murder.

Am I crazy, I don’t think this is normal?

Dear Rina,
No, you are not crazy. This is not normal, but all too frequent. Think of it as a result of living in a crazy culture, which has got to you.

I want to offer two things to you: a guess regarding where these thoughts and impulses may have come from, and a way you can change them.

Some people with your kind of urges were trained to it: there are adults in their lives who torture and kill, or wish they could, and teach their kids to think the same way. Since you haven’t mentioned this, I am guessing that this is not your situation.

However, I wonder, what kinds of movies and shows do you watch? What kinds of books do you read? Games you play? A kid gets a pleasurable thrill from some entertainment, and whatever it was becomes “normal” and attractive. For example, there is research that children who watch TV wrestling become more violent than those who don’t.

Suppose you were at a party, and someone got you to try some “ice” or another dangerous drug. There is a good chance you’ll get addicted to it. The drug will make you do all sorts of insane things. It will be wrecking your body, and may eventually kill you, but the meaning of your life becomes to have more of it. You feel as if you weren’t alive unless under the influence of the drug.

I think it is likely that this is the kind of thing that has happened to you. If I am on a high from ice, and as a result go on a rampage, I may “not be able to help it,” “it’s the drug doing it,” but that’s no excuse. I am responsible for having taken the drug.

In the same way, you are now ruled by these obsessions, these imagined delights of hurting and killing other people, because of the mental drugs of violence and sadism you took in from somewhere. Just like the chemical drug, this mental drug is killing you, doing you terrible harm. You need to get off it, not so much to keep out of jail, but for your own protection. If you ever do hurt someone else, you will find that the person you hurt the most is yourself.

Even if you did something like that and were never caught, it would still be destroying you.

So, I hope you will want to stop. How to do it?

The first thing is to switch sides. You’re now 19. Suppose you have a baby in a few years. Say it’s a little girl. She started as part of your body, and you gave her birth through pain, and then held her and fed her with your own milk. She is a part of you and an extension of you, and all you want is for her to have a good life.

Then, somebody kidnaps her, and tortures her, and kills her. How do you feel?

It would be worse than being tortured and killed yourself.

If you don’t like the idea of this, then don’t do it to others.

This is called empathy. Other people have feelings and emotions, just like you do. That pleasure you imagine getting from inflicting pain is an illusion, because what you send out comes back to you. Send out kindness, get back kindness. Send out cruelty, get back suffering. That’s a rule of the universe.

Therefore, if you agree with me, you will want to change some habits of thought and emotion.

In case you do, here are a few suggestions:

1. Completely avoid any horror books, comics, movies, even news items involving the deliberate inflicting of pain and suffering. Do not play games that involve killing and hurting. Instead, devise new activities for yourself. Vigorous physical exercise is great. Do a sport you find fun. Learning about things is terrific. Study, both to improve your chances to earn money and to improve your understanding.

2. When you feel like hurting some person, do the opposite: some kindness that will make the other person’s life better in some way. This can be as simple as a smile.

It is even more powerful if you make the kindness a secret one. If you can manage it, do secret acts of kindness every day.

At first, you won’t feel like doing this, but it’s medicine. Do it anyway. After awhile, you’ll love it.

3. Old habits die hard. How do you stop those thoughts of wanting to hurt and kill people?

Let’s imagine that a few years ago, a monster moved into your mind. This monster is evil, and wants to use you as his tool in destroying humanity. He is very good at saying things in your inner voice, putting vivid pictures in your mind, manipulating your emotions. All the thoughts of murder and sadism and violence are the monster’s creations, not your thoughts at all.

So, they are actually meaningless. They are not yours. When you look at a person and suddenly imagine torturing her, just laugh and think, “Stupid monster is trying to trick me.” Then, as I said, work out some way of doing an act of kindness to this person. That’ll get the monster FURIOUS, and you can laugh at it. Monsters hate to be laughed at.

When you do this consistently for a while, the monster will fade away, and die, and you’ll be free.

Have a good life,

Bob


Health

How to Diagnose Gluten Problems

There are fashions in disease. Currently, there is galloping gluten intolerance. Some of it is no doubt genuine. Is yours?

This sensible set of instructions from Dr Michael Greger will let you decide.
gluten


Writing

Poor structure is a book killer
Unblocking the Writer

 

Poor structure is a book killer

I have certainly found this to be true in many of the books I have edited. Rambling, unfocused writing has had me leave books unfinished.

The US Review of Books has an essay on this topic you’ll find worth reading.


Unblocking the Writer

It’s every writer’s dread. You have a concept, go to write it down — and nothing comes. Or you are in the middle of a great story, and the flow dries up. The more you work at it, the worse the blockage.

There are several potential causes for writer’s block, and several remedies you can try.

When I was writing the second book of my trilogy The Travels of First Horse, I came to a dead stop after my hero and his friends managed to get out of Egypt alive. I had a detailed plot, knew all the characters, even had descriptions of locales, but… the words wouldn’t come.

I decided to skip ahead, and wrote about their arrival in Damascus. I described the scenery, wrote summaries about the local people — and that was all the fruit of days of futile striving. In something like despair, I put the book aside altogether, until I realised: the problem was that all I wanted to do was to write up the climax of the book: Horse’s penetration of the hidden and forbidden city of Meluhha, where he was to steal the secret of making steel.

So, I skipped ahead and wrote the entire chapter in about two days. It needed very little fine tuning later. After this, I was able to return to Egypt, the desert, Jerusalem and Syria, and wrote it all without any trouble. All the pieces became welded together without a visible seam.

I should have known. Years before, when I was a research scientist and had to write papers for learned journals, I ALWAYS wrote the Introduction last, when I knew what I was introducing. Writing from start to end is not always the best way to go.

This case study illustrates two unblocking techniques.

1. If you get stuck, move to another part. It makes sense to set down all the most exciting scenes of a story, then cobble them together, then find a satisfying ending, and at the last devise the leading part.

2. You can go stale. Too much effort can get your mind driving around in fruitless circles. The solution is to put the tract of writing away, let it get cold, then return to it with a fresh eye, and fresh enthusiasm.

There must be a reason if this doesn’t work. Usually it indicates a fault with the scene. You may be trying to force your people to act out of character, or there could be a discordance between what you say about them and how they act, or some essential component may be missing.

The choices are:

1. Cut this scene altogether, and introduce a replacement situation.

2. Modify something in the preceding sections, so that the problem scene now rings true.

3. Rewrite the scene, allowing the people within it to decide what they say, how they act. Part of the problem may be that you have been looking at it all from the outside. Get within POV (Point Of View) and BECOME the person who is your current witness.

There is one further reason for getting stuck, and it has nothing to do with writing. When you are physically exhausted, ill, or under severe stress, your creativity just has to suffer. The cliche has it that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ Not true: creativity is the child of inner peace and well-being. Get yourself together, and the words will return.

As I said at the beginning of this newsletter, I re-read this essay, recycled from Bobbing Around Voume 2 Number 2 because the flu sabotaged my creativity. Then, since I couldn’t write anyway, I re-read The Travels of First Horse, and enjoyed it all over again.

To celebrate this, I am offering the whole trilogy, normally $12, for $5 to any reader of Bobbing Around. Email me if you want a copy.


What my friends want you to know

Good stuff for writers
Home at Last by Jan Sikes on pre-order
Wolf Pack 2015: An experience in tribalism and survivalism October 2015

 

Good stuff for writers

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s monthly newsletter Sharing With Writers is chock-full with useful articles, helpful hints and links to many other resources. If you haven’t done so previously, check it out.


Home at Last by Jan Sikes on pre-order

HOME AT LAST AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER.

With empty pockets and a heart full of dreams, Luke Stone leaves behind the nightmare of fifteen long years in Leavenworth prison, not giving it a backward glance.

Eyes firmly on the future, he boards a Greyhound bus bound for Texas… for freedom… for the one who holds his heart. The unjust conviction no longer matters and revenge haunts him no more. Darlina Flowers, the woman who takes his breath away, waits ahead and with her by his side, nothing can stop him.

He is headed HOME AT LAST.

The unique CD, “I’ll Be Home When The Roses Bloom Again”, which accompanies this book, is available through Jan’s website. On it you’ll find a compilation of songs written and sang by Jan, a couple never-before-heard tunes from Rick and the power-house voice of Deva singing songs written by both Jan and Rick Sikes.

BOOK TRAILER VIDEO

Thank you for your support!
hometlast


Wolf Pack 2015: An experience in tribalism and survivalism

7th – 27th October 2015.

Exciting news!

Creative Collectives have just launched their new adventure program: wolfpack.

20 days. 20 acres. 30 people, in a secret natural location in North-East Victoria.

Daily challenges, activities and adventures.

Take a break from society and create your own world together.

Develop a deeper understanding of nature by delving into its intrigues through observation and participation.

Learn about the local history, surrounding secrets and ancient to recent traditions.

Connect with yourself, nature and your new tribe through daily activities and freedoms unavailable in day to day life.

Take a break from reality to discover something new. This program will give you the time and space to break down the layers and melt into nature and community.

Come together and enjoy life, living and learning on a secret clearing amidst a beautiful national park of North-East Victoria (3 hours from Melbourne). This will be an amazing opportunity to experience something genuine, unique and possibly life changing. You will have a chance to slow down for 20 whole days, live in a magical location, breathe deeply and enjoy the daily challenges, nature based workshops and your new tribe.

Experience and practice methods of survivalism in a fun communal environment, giving each task the time needed to really develop your skills.

SEE MORE HERE: WOLFPACK.


Reviews

Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Merisha Moora

 

Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Merisha Moora

This is not your everyday book. Its an eye opening exploration of this journey, the question of past and future lives and deaths. Of why we suffer and what we are to learn from these experiences as human beings. It is both fictitious and yet concerns every human being on this planet.

This is the type of book we should be reading, the type that stimulates thought and consideration of the consequences of our own actions on all other beings.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Merisha Moora


Poetic therapy
by Alfredo Zotti

              This morning I got up
              in an emotional state of mind
              for no apparent reason
              tears started to fall down.

              But this is fine
              because out of the tears
              a poem has emerged,
              a poem that does not rhyme,
              that has no structure,
              but that made me feel really good
              as I was writing it.

              And I thought to myself:
              this is creative therapy;
              it does not have to follow rules;
              it does not have to be appealing;
              nor does it have to be accepted by the critics.
              It is spontaneous and mysterious
              and cannot be explained in plain words
              though the creative process can use words to do the work.

              It is a means to let my emotions out.
              A poem with no rhyme
              that saved my day.
              My art is uncontaminated by rules,
              by the commonsensical way of doing things.
              It is mine, all mine.
              Unique in all its miserable faults;
              yet so wonderfully helpful to me
              and that is all that counts
              the power of my creativity.


About Bobbing Around

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If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be ‘subscribe Bobbing Around’ (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.

Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:

  • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
  • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
  • Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
  • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

Submission Guidelines

It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.

Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.

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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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