Bobbing Around Volume 14 Number 4

Newspapers are full of disastrous warnings if economic growth does not return to Greece, or if it drops a couple points in China. Rarely in human history have so many been so fundamentally wrong about a matter of such importance as the desirability, and even the possibility, of perpetual economic growth. The real threat to human well-being is not that there is too little economic growth. Rather, it is that there is too much.

Dr Glen Barry

Bobbing Around

Volume Fifteen, Number Four,
October, 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
Rhobin’s round robin
Shell is leaving the Arctic!

*Politics
Australian Greens leader, on change of prime minister
Bill McKibben on Newcastle, Australia
Lessons from China’s environmental catastrophe
What’s life like if you’re successfully declared a refugee in Manus Island?
Bernie Sanders at Liberty University

*Environment
Spain is burning too
If it were that easy!
I’ve been warning about this for 16 years (climate change on the Gulf Stream)
A year of CO2 in a few minutes
John James on methane
Greenland ice on the move

*Good news
John Kerry: U.S. To Increase Refugee Admissions To 100,000 By 2017
Third U.S. City Goes 100% Renewable
Alberta’s government acting on climate change
Monsanto found guilty of poisoning French farmer

*Compassionate action
From Spain with love: refugee action
…and from Norway
Brazil welcomes refugees

*Inspiring people
Love song to the earth
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has it right
A Buddhist cop’s approach to justice, by Cheri Maples
A tiny girl’s courage

*Technology
Green burial taking off
Urine power

*Deeper issues
Bernie on Francis
Inspiring essay on how to save the world
Wisdom from a Black Panther
An evangelical Christian on Bernie Sanders
Ancient wisdom validated
Real efficiency: shorter working week
Inspiring invitation from Andrew Gaines

*Psychology
Tantrum Taming
Father made me suffer. Now he is dying
Dad threatens to assault my boyfriend because he is colored

*Health
Fix your carpal tunnel pain

*For writers
A wonderful magazine
When you’re asked for a bio

*What my friends want you to know
Poetic Activism: Just in Time for Our Political Silly Season
Australia’s Climate Council
First Call: The 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award
Hunt for Forest Protection
The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is open for entry
Bernie Sanders’ blog

*Reviews
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Chris Rhyss Edwards
The Doom Healer, reviewed by Brian Burt
Blood Tide, by Brian Burt
Good reasons to kill, by Chris Rhyss Edwards
Ascending Spiral, Reviewed by Dave Laing, Co-author of ‘Tarmac Tales’
Relocated, by Margaret Fieland
Rogue’s Rules, by Rhobin Courtright

*Poetry
Antigua’s Hope, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson


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.

The global economy is the enemy that is killing us. Fight back: convert needs into wants, and wants into don’t wants.

Bob Rich


From me to you

Rhobin’s round robin
Shell is leaving the Arctic!

 

Rhobin’s round robin

Rhobin Courtright runs a monthly blog round in which she sets a topic, and a number of bloggers all write about it. Her September one was: “What current issues are important to you? How often do modern social/global issues take place in your stories no matter what era or generation you write?”

To my mind, the difference between “read and forget” and literature is just this: literature makes you see the world in a new way, forces you to think, touches you at a deep level because it matters.

So, I took part. You can read my contribution here. Please leave a comment, and check out the other blogs (links are at the end).


Shell is leaving the Arctic!

Greenpeace have just notified me of the great news. At least for now, one rapacious company has pulled back.
Polar Bear and Arctic oil Exploration


Politics

Australian Greens leader, on change of prime minister
Bill McKibben on Newcastle, Australia
Lessons from China’s environmental catastrophe
What’s life like if you’re successfully declared a refugee in Manus Island?
Bernie Sanders at Liberty University

 

Australian Greens leader, on change of prime minister

Tony Abbott just delivered his last speech as Prime Minister of Australia.

I’ve seen 5 leadership challenges since I’ve been in Parliament, and I have to say I am not sorry to see the back of Tony Abbott.

Mr Abbott was a reckless and dangerous PM. The Australian people deserved better, and the parliament deserved better. Abbott treated our democracy with contempt and it was very difficult to achieve anything positive with him leading the government.

However, while it is good to see the end of his time as prime minister, history has shown us that toppling a leader doesn’t change the core beliefs of a party.

Last night in his victory speech, Mr Turnbull reaffirmed his commitment to the Liberal Party’s dangerous ‘direct action’ climate policy, which will take this country backwards in tackling global warming. He and Julie Bishop promised not to improve our pollution reduction targets in the leadup to the United Nations climate conference in Paris. He has promised not to allow Parliament to do its job and vote to end marriage discrimination now, and he praised Tony Abbott’s efforts on border security.

It doesn’t inspire much hope in me that Malcolm Turnbull is determined to change the course of this government. However, we all know the power of community campaigns — particularly in the leadup to elections. We will throw everything at the new Prime Minister to achieve real action on global warming and a decent and humane refugee policy.

I know some of you are probably wondering what this means for us. Will people be so relieved to see Tony Abbott go that they throw their support behind Malcolm Turnbull? Will the Labor Party decide to (finally) do its job as Opposition and stand up for something?

We must not be distracted by the political argy-bargy.

We have a job to do.

It’s our job to stand up for the things that matter to our community — meaningful action on global warming, affordable healthcare and education. We must campaign now more than ever, for the humane and decent treatment of the most vulnerable people in our community. And, we must work together to show the Australian people our courageous vision for Australia in which we transition away from the polluting industries of the past and embrace the opportunities and innovation of the future.

Friends, with tens of thousands of members and supporters around the country, we are stronger than ever.

Thank you for being a part of this,

Richard Di Natale
PS – A few weeks ago on my national tour we recorded a video about my vision for the country. Please have a watch and share it with your friends and family.


Bill McKibben on Newcastle, Australia

Newcastle was a coal port in the early days of the steamship. Its council can read the writing on the wall. Bill McKibben explains it well.
coalship


Lessons from China’s environmental catastrophe

This excellent essay explains a lot I didn’t understand about China, like the existence of “ghost cities.” It also shows why China is on the way to collapse, and most important, what we must do to avoid the same fate.
Image by © Imaginechina/Corbis


What’s life like if you’re successfully declared a refugee in Manus Island?

This moving set of interviews will tell you.


Bernie Sanders at Liberty University

The message I gave at Liberty University is that the moral choice is to fight income inequality, and that the just thing to do is to work to make our society more fair. Below are some of my remarks to Liberty, but I think it is important to share them with you here as well so that you can share with others how I approach these issues.

I am far, far from a perfect human being, but I am motivated by a vision which exists in all of the great religions — Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and others — and which is so beautifully and clearly stated in Matthew 7:12. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the prophets.” The Golden Rule. Do to others what you would have them do to you. Not very complicated.

I told the crowd at Liberty University that I understand that issues such as abortion and gay marriage are very important to them, and that we disagree on those issues. I get that. But there are other issues out there that are of enormous consequence to our country and the world and that maybe, just maybe, we don’t disagree on them. And maybe, just maybe, we can work together in trying to resolve them.

Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Justice. Treating others the way we would like to be treated. Treating all people with dignity and respect.

It would, I think, be hard for anyone in that room where I spoke to make the case that the United States today is a “just” society or anything resembling a just society.

In America today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality. Injustice is rampant. We live in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, but most Americans don’t know that because almost all of that wealth and income is going to the top one percent. We are living at a time where a handful of people have wealth beyond comprehension — huge yachts, jet planes, tens of billions of dollars, more money than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes. But at the same time, millions of people are struggling to feed their families or put a roof over their heads or find the money to go to a doctor.

When we talk about morality and when we talk about justice, we have to understand that there is no justice when the top one-tenth of one percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is no justice when all over this country people are working long hours for abysmally low wages, $7.25 an hour or $8 an hour, while 58 percent of all new income being created today goes to the top one percent.

There is no justice when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires while, at the same time, the United States has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. How can we talk about morality when we turn our backs on the children of this country? Twenty percent of the children in this country live in poverty and that includes 40 percent of African American children. There is no justice when, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, children in our country go to bed hungry.

There is no justice when the 15 wealthiest people in this country saw their wealth increase by $170 billion dollars in the last two years. That is more wealth, acquired in a two-year period, than is owned by the bottom 130 million Americans. And while the very rich become much richer, millions of families have no savings at all and struggle every week just to stay alive economically, and the elderly and disabled wonder how they’ll stay warm in the winter. That is not justice. That is a rigged economy designed by the wealthiest people in this country to benefit the wealthiest people in this country at the expense of everyone else.

There is no justice when thousands of people in America die each year because they don’t have health insurance and don’t get to a doctor when they should, or when elderly people are forced to choose between food or medicine because our citizens pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. That is not justice. That is not morality. That is simply an indication that we are the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all as a right.

There is no justice when low-income and working-class mothers are forced to separate from their babies one or two weeks after birth and go back to work because we are the only major country on earth that does not have a paid family and medical leave policy. That is not justice. That is an attack on family values that everyone should be appalled at.

There is no justice in our country when youth unemployment exists at tragic levels — with 51 percent of African American high school kids unemployed or underemployed. No. We apparently do not have the funds to provide jobs or educational opportunities for our young people, but we sure do have the money to throw them into jails. Today, the United States has more people in jail than any other country on earth, and many are serving time in inhumane conditions. That is not justice. That is the destruction of human life.

I am not a theologian or an expert on the Bible or a Catholic. I am just a U.S. senator from the small state of Vermont. But I agree with Pope Francis when he says: “The current financial crisis… originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”

He also states: “There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. Money has to serve, not to rule.”

In his view, and I agree with him, we are living in a nation and in a world which worships the acquisition of money and great wealth, but which turns its back on those in need. And that must end. We need to move toward an economy which works for all, and not just the few.

Throughout human history, there has been endless discussion and debate about the meaning of justice and the meaning of morality. I hope that by getting out of my comfort zone and speaking with the students at Liberty University, I can be a part of a dialogue with people who might not agree with us. I hope that some of them conclude that if we strive toward morality and toward justice, that it is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor and working people of our country.

In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders

View the video of Bernie’s speech.


Environment

Spain is burning too
If it were that easy!
I’ve been warning about this for 16 years
A year of CO2 in a few minutes
John James on methane
Greenland ice on the move

 

Spain is burning too

spainfire
1st September: A wildfire spreads through the town of Cualedro in Galicia, Spain. By Monday afternoon, it had devastated more than 2,000 hectares (4,900 acres) of land.

Alaska… All the north-west of North America… Sadly, this is climate change in action.


If it were that easy!

The New York times has published an upbeat essay by Jonathan Chait, from which you’d gather that humanity’s environmental crisis is practically over.

According to him, the Paris talks will at last lead to REAL agreements that’ll make a difference. Fossil fuels are on the way out and renewable energy is in. All is well.

If only…

I have covered all of these issues in Bobbing Around for years. They are excellent, but mere band aids.

There is no mention of large-scale extinctions. We are killing the ecosystem. There is no understanding that renewable energy uses raw materials, consumes energy. Anything that grows in a limited system adds to the problem, even if it’s a positive development.

Above all, there is no conception that it is the way of thinking that’s killing us.

Sadly, Jonathan, capitalism is not the solution, however it is applied, because it is the current expression of the problem.


I’ve been warning about this for 16 years

An analysis published in Geophysical Research Letters states that major oceanic currents like the Gulf Stream are in danger of being stopped by Arctic melting.

Imagine Spain with the same climate as the Kamchatka Peninsula.
currents


A year of CO2 in a few minutes

Watch this fascinating video from NASA that explains the annual pattern of carbon dioxide fluctuations.


John James on methane

At a conference in Canberra the scientists I spoke to were all of the one opinion, that methane, not C02, is the most to be feared. There are such vast quantities of it that we cannot absorb the impact or sequester it. Life has been made possible on this planet because Nature has hidden most of the methane into its own safe deposit boxes: Both in the land (permafrost) and under the sea (clathrates). In every other mass extinction event over hundreds of millions of years the coup-de-grace has been delivered by the sudden and overwhelming eruption of methane. Once we let this monster out its all over, and quickly on the historical evidence.

To understand our future we need to understand methane. As in the graph below it has never, not even during major extinctions, exceeded 750ppb. In some parts of the upper atmosphere this has now been exceeded twice over. It will take a while for the high levels to be reflected in the climate, and something could still be done to avert a gigantic flaring. As Sam Carana repeats “the situation is now dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action”.

Nevertheless, the days of linear change are behind us. We living in the Age of Abrupt Climate Change. In a later Newsletter I will explore how we could drastically reduce our footprint, and the social and commercial consequences of doing so.

You can subscribe to John’s weekly newsletter by emailing him.

You can watch his talk here.

John is of course bearing out my essay But there is no need for despair.


Greenland ice on the move

A recent article in Daily Kos gives a well-researched, rather long summary, with excellent photographs, of what is happening within the Greenland ice cap.

Briefly, new research shows that gigantic bodies of water have been sitting under the ice. One has been there for 40 years, and suddenly emptied. Another has emptied and refilled twice in a very short time.

This is not only meltwater going into the sea. It is also a way of warming the inside of the icecap, accelerating the melt.

If I were living near the sea, I’d relocate.


Good news

John Kerry: U.S. To Increase Refugee Admissions To 100,000 By 2017
Third U.S. City Goes 100% Renewable
Alberta’s government acting on climate change
Monsanto found guilty of poisoning French farmer

 

John Kerry: U.S. To Increase Refugee Admissions To 100,000 By 2017

The headline says it all, but the article is worth reading.

Mind you, will the NEXT president honour this commitment? “U.S. lawmakers immediately expressed concerns about the potential influx.”


Third U.S. City Goes 100% Renewable

EcoWatch reports that the city of Aspen, Colorado is now entirely powered by renewables.
aspenc


Alberta’s government acting on climate change

It’s a tough call: much of their income is from tar sands oil.

It’s also wise: environmental pressure is to keep that oil in the ground.


Monsanto found guilty of poisoning French farmer

That was a court case in 2012, but Monsanto appealed. The news is that the appeal has been rejected.

This poor bloke suffered brain damage and has all sorts of nasty ongoing symptoms. Monsanto plans to carry on appealing to the highest court in France.


Compassionate Action

From Spain with love: refugee action
…and from Norway
Brazil welcomes refugees

 

From Spain with love: refugee action

Natalia Álvarez was sick of looking at images of suffering refugees in Budapest, so she has done something about it. She has led a Caravan of Solidarity with donated supplies to make their lives bearable while they are caught up in hostility and bureaucracy.
alvarez
This is her Facebook page.


…and from Norway

Petter Stordalen, the owner of a Norwegian hotel chain has offered 5000 free nights at his hotels for refugees, with a good meal thrown in.
© News Øresund


Brazil welcomes refugees

dilmar
Read this statement from Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil. While the language is formal, the content is a model for all nations.


Inspiring people

Love song to the earth
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has it right
A Buddhist cop’s approach to justice, by Cheri Maples
A tiny girl’s courage

 

Love song to the earth

I am not into pop singers, but even I recognised a couple of the names. Singers include Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Sean Paul, Leona Lewis and Colbie Caillat.

It is a song designed to inspire us all to look after our home.
paulmc


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has it right

“We are engaged, as Abraham Lincoln said, ‘in a great Civil War.'” This time, he said, “the conflict involves all the Earth’s peoples. It’s not just a battle to protect our waterways, our livelihoods, our property and our backyards. It’s a struggle for our sovereignty, our values, our health and our lives. It’s a battle for dignified humane and wholesome communities. It’s a defensive war against toxic and economic aggression by Big Oil and King Coal. It’s a struggle to break free of the ‘soft colonialism’ of carbon’s corporate tyranny and create an economic and energy system that is fair, rooted in justice, economic independence and freedom.”

I am cheering.
robertk


A Buddhist cop’s approach to justice, by Cheri Maples

You’ve got to read this wonderful essay by a lady with 20 years’ experience as a cop, and also a Buddhist teacher and practitioner.
cherim


A tiny girl’s courage

sophiac
This little girl had a letter for Pope Francis. Security were going to hustle her away. He said, “Let her come to me.”

I had tears in my eyes when reading the translation of her message.


Technology

Green burial taking off
Urine power

 

Green burial taking off

The Sierra Club has a brief report on being an environmentalist after death.

Apparently, the go in the USA is to pump a body full of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, put it in an elaborate metal box, and place that in a concrete-lined hole in the ground.

Insane. There is no person within that body any more.

They mention cremation as being better, but I disagree. It’s using fossil fuels to turn excellent fertiliser into air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Their options for green burial sound good. One is from an English designer who can provide you with shelves for your living room, with instructions on how to convert them into a biodegradable coffin.
coffin


Urine power

4 African teenage girls have won an award for a machine that gives 6 hours of electricity from a litre of urine.
weegen
For some reason, only 3 of them are on the picture. Maybe the fourth needed to go and generate the raw materials?


Deeper Issues

Bernie on Francis
Inspiring essay on how to save the world
Wisdom from a Black Panther
An evangelical Christian on Bernie Sanders
Ancient wisdom validated
Real efficiency: shorter working week
Inspiring invitation from Andrew Gaines

 

Bernie on Francis

I know this should go under ‘politics,’ but it so speaks to my deepest convictions that I consider it Philosophy. Please read and be inspired by two wonderful men.

    If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

    Pope Francis addressing Congress

Brothers and Sisters: I am not a theologian, an expert on the Bible, or a Catholic. I am just a U.S. senator from the small state of Vermont.

But I am emailing you today to discuss Pope Francis in the hope that we can examine the very profound lessons that he is teaching people all over this world and some of the issues for which he is advocating.

Now, there are issues on which the pope and I disagree — like choice and marriage equality — but from the moment he was elected, Pope Francis immediately let it be known that he would be a different kind of pope, a different kind of religious leader. He forces us to address some of the major issues facing humanity: war, income and wealth inequality, poverty, unemployment, greed, the death penalty and other issues that too many prefer to ignore.

He is reaching out not just to the Catholic Church. He’s reaching out to people all over the world with an incredibly strong message of social justice talking about the grotesque levels of wealth and income inequality.

Pope Francis is looking in the eyes of the wealthiest people around the world who make billions of dollars, and he is saying we cannot continue to ignore the needs of the poor, the needs of the sick, the dispossessed, the elderly people who are living alone, the young people who can’t find jobs. He is saying that the accumulation of money, that the worship of money, is not what life should be about. We cannot turn our backs on our fellow human beings.

He is asking us to create a new society where the economy works for all, and not just the wealthy and the powerful. He is asking us to be the kind of people whose happiness and well-being comes from serving others and being part of a human community, not spending our lives accumulating more and more wealth and power while oppressing others. He is saying that as a planet and as a people we have got to do better.

That’s why I was so pleased that in his address to Congress today, Pope Francis spoke of Dorothy Day, who was a tireless advocate for the impoverished and working people in America. I think it was extraordinary that he cited her as one of the most important people in recent American history.

As the founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper, Dorothy Day organized workers to stand up against the wealthy and powerful. Pope Francis said of her today in Congress:

    In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

    How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

The fact that the pope singled out Dorothy Day — a fierce advocate in the fight for economic justice — as one of the leaders he admires most is quite remarkable. We are living in a nation which worships the acquisition of money and great wealth, but turns its back on those in need. We are admiring people with billions of dollars, while we ignore people who sleep out on the streets. That must end.

Dorothy Day fought this fight, and as Pope Francis says, we must continue it. We need to move toward an economy which works for all, and not just the few.

We have so much poverty in a land of plenty. Together, we can work to make our country more fair for everybody.

I am glad that you are with me in this fight.

In solidarity,
Bernie Sanders


Inspiring essay on how to save the world

Please read this short call to action. It’s in perfect sync with the ideas I’ve been advocating for years.


Wisdom from a Black Panther

Please read this interview with Eddie Ellis. His words are likely to make you into a better person.


An evangelical Christian on Bernie Sanders

I know, this should also be under Politics, but it’s too important for that.

US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders gave a speech at one of the bastions of right-wing Christianity. Here is a wonderful response you must read.
bernies


Ancient wisdom validated

A recent article in Australian Geographer reports that the oral traditions of Australian Aboriginal people give accurate accounts of the sea level rise that the geological records show occurred between 18,000 and 7,000 years ago.

This is because of the way traditional cultures passed on knowledge. There was little distortion in the orally transmitted messages, because accuracy was checked over three generations.

These are the people who managed to live in dynamic balance with their environment over at least 40,000, and possibly 100,000 years, despite major changes such as this sea level rise. It took the European invaders 200 years to stuff it all up.

We need to learn from the Aboriginal cultures’ wisdom.


Real efficiency: shorter working week

Read about a social experiment in Sweden. Nurses and motor mechanics working 6 hour instead of 8 hour days do better quality work, have less sickness and absenteeism, and benefit their employers in various other ways.
sw


Inspiring invitation from Andrew Gaines

Dear Bob,

Like you, I care deeply about the Earth and the well-being of coming generations. And as I see it we are in a global ecological emergency requiring large-scale systemic change. A crisis and an opportunity, as the Chinese say!

This email is to invite you to consider participating in a bold new initiative, Inspiring Transition.

Gaining mainstream commitment to a life-sustaining society

It may be that the key to turning things around is to catalyse thoughtful mainstream commitment to doing everything required to successfully transition to a life-sustaining society.

With such commitment the multitude of positive initiatives that are now underway will gain much more traction. Without it, the current operation of mainstream society will take us all over the ecological edge.

What do you think? Is gaining mainstream commitment indeed essential for achieving ecological sustainability?

If so, then communicating with friends and people in our networks about how to achieve systemic change is important. This is how millions of us can align to affect mainstream consciousness.

Inspiring Transition

Inspiring Transition is an open source platform to support communicating about the systemic change we need. It provides a way that we can all take our concern for the future to a new level.

Interestingly, Inspiring Transition is not an organisation in the usual sense. It is a community of colleagues. We are united in our intent to affect mainstream consciousness so that we do become ecologically sustainable and socially healthy. There is nothing to join; there is no centralised group that directs what people do. We all act as self-initiating independent agents.

I hope you will play a role in the Inspiring Transition initiative.

I know that you are busy. Playing a role in Inspiring Transition need not take an inordinate amount of your time. The Inspiring Transition website has ready-to-use communication tools that make it easy for people to grasp systemic change. It even has sample emails (including this one!)

If the great movement of positive change that Paul Hawken describes in Blessed Unrest fulfils its potential, it may be that historians in the future will look back at our time as ‘the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society’.

We have an unrecognised resource

The corporate controlled media spends billions of dollars to manipulate people. We have an unrecognised resource for countering them: ourselves! We can talk to people and help them think for themselves. Obviously for this to be effective we have to take it to scale.

Inspiring Transition aims to engage many of the groups Paul Hawken mentions as citizen-educators (some of us call ourselves Transition Leaders).

We intend to get as many groups involved as possible before Christmas, and we anticipate a great flowering throughout 2016. There are about twenty interesting communication tactics on the website, some of which are quite simple.

The idea is to generate a pulse that will give a new focus to the global sustainability conversation: whole system change to a life-sustaining society. If this idea catches hold, people will hear the idea that we are in a Great Transition to a life-sustaining society from many sources, and will be inspired to exert leadership for whole system change within their own sphere of influence.

The first step

Begin by getting up to speed about whole system change and the Inspiring Transition communication strategy. This takes a bit of reading, but it is worth it. You will find it empowering. Read:
Accelerating the Great Transition – Engaging mainstream commitment to a life-sustaining society

Understanding Whole System Change

Actually, this isn’t about Inspiring Transition per se. Inspiring Transition is just a support platform. What this is really about is accelerating the Great Transition to a life-sustaining society.

Become active

One thing you could do immediately is to tweak this invitation email and send it to your networks. Then I urge you to:

Whenever possible, simply mention that we are transitioning to a life-sustaining society. An important part of our communication strategy is to seed this vision/meme into the culture. It provides a unifying direction.

Use the tools on the Inspiring Transition website to talk with your friends about catalysing the large-scale systemic changes we need. Invite others to participate.

And if you are interested to exert even more leadership, I would be happy to talk with you about engaging organisations and influential leaders. My Skype name is andrewgoodhumour.

Also, you might want to register your interest and receive occasional updates about things going on with the Inspiring Transition initiative.

In the movie Invictus, Nelson Mandela asked, “How can we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? And how can we inspire others?” This is the challenge of our time!

Warmly,
Andrew Gaines

+61 2 8005-838
Skype: andrewgoodhumour
www.inspiringtransition.net


Psychology

Tantrum Taming
Father made me suffer. Now he is dying
Dad threatens to assault my boyfriend because he is colored

 

Tantrum Taming

Many two-year-olds go through a spectacular tantrum stage: sound effects to rival a police siren, fists and heels drumming as the little tyke dives for the ground, breath-holding that would put a diver to shame.

Most kids grow out of it. Some, regrettably, still behave like this in adulthood. They don’t perform the exact same acts, but the attitude is identical: I WANT IT AND I WANT IT NOW AND HOW DARE YOU GET IN MY WAY!

The right time to tame tantrums is when they start. Here are a few suggestions.

No matter how annoying the little person is, no matter how embarrassing the performance, remember, this is just a learning experience. Toddler stage is a time for pushing against the limits, learning about the world and its rules. You love this child. Continue to give love, regardless of how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ little Joe or Julie is. Say to yourself, I DO love this annoying little creature!

The best treatment for misbehaviour, as far as circumstances permit, is to ignore it. The greatest reward for a child is ATTENTION. Many kids only receive adult attention when they are naughty. Punishment is a reward because it means that an adult focuses on the child.

Therefore, make sure you give loving attention to the child when s/he is well behaved. Reward with praise, a smile, a hug, a few minutes of special activity like “Darling, while I am waiting for the potatoes to come to the boil, I’ll read you that little book.”

Bribery is fine. “If you stop screaming I’ll give you a lovely piece of apple.” (This is assuming the kid likes apples of course.) Punishing the act reinforces it. Rewarding its cessation stops it.

Even if the child has been carrying on for half an hour, and eventually runs out of energy and can do no more than whimper, smile and say, “Oh good, you stopped screaming. This sounds SO much better. Would you like an ice cream cone?” You are still rewarding what you want to encourage — the end of the performance — and you are instilling the message that, whatever the child does, your reaction is a loving one.

But what about the older child who is still throwing tantrums? Here is a condensed extract from my popular book Anger and Anxiety.

    “Katie, it’s time for school! Are you getting dressed?”

    “I’m not going to school and you can’t make me!”

    “Come on, love, get ready quickly, I have to get to work on time.”

    “NO!!! I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL!!!” With that, Kate threw herself on the ground and screamed until she was blue in the face and froth came from her mouth.

    Mum tried many approaches. She screamed back. She hit eight-year-old Kate with a wooden spoon. She forcibly dressed her and dragged her to the car. She took her to the doctor — who prescribed sedatives for both of them. She gave in and let Kate stay home and play computer games. She tried bribery to stop the tantrums, and withdrawal of the right to go to netball (which Katie loved) as punishment for them. She tape-recorded a typical tantrum and tried blackmail. Nothing worked.

    The whole family were ruled by Katie’s tantrums. Everything revolved around them. Finally, she brought Kate for counselling.

    It was hard to believe that this quiet, demure little child was the monster Mum described in such detail. There she sat, hands folded in her lap, eyes cast down. She readily answered all my questions in a soft but steady voice, and looked far more like a little angel than a terrifying devil.

    “Nobody believes it,” Mum sighed. “Listen to this.” She pulled out a pocket tape player and turned it on. The terrible family theatre emerged in its full glory.

    I was as interested in Kate’s reaction as to the sounds recorded. She sat there with a half-smile on her face. She gave me one quick glance, then looked down again. And what do YOU think you can do about me! that glance said. She was far from being ashamed of the recording. Rather, she seemed to be proud of her performance.

    “Kate, Jenny, I’ve been listening to your story,” I said, “and I have good news for you. You can beat this terrible thing that is haunting your family.”

    They looked confused.

    I turned to the little girl. “Kate, you probably didn’t know, but I am a Professional Monster Hunter.”

    Her eyes lit up and she giggled.

    “No, no, I am serious. I’m an expert in spotting a certain kind of monster. These things move into a home and cause trouble. No one can see them, but they whisper in people’s ears, so quietly that the victims think it is their own thoughts they hear. At first they are tiny, but they feed on anger. And the more anger there is in the home, the bigger and fatter the monster gets, and the more powerfully it can push people around. Well, you’ve got a real beauty in your home. There are many kinds. Would you say yours is a Tantrum Monster?”

    “Yes, of course it is!” Kate said. For the first time in the session, there was liveliness in her voice.

    “Do you like to have your life wrecked by a Tantrum Monster? Wouldn’t you rather be the boss than let the Monster push you around?”

    “Nobody pushes me around!”

    “Well, see if you and Mum can tell me of times when you resisted the Monster and didn’t have a tantrum, even though it told you that you should.”

    This was hard at first, but they came up with a few.

    “That proves it, Katie. You are right. You are not the kind of person to be pushed around by a nasty old Tantrum Monster. You can resist it. Now tell me, Jenny, how has the Tantrum Monster been making life a misery for Kate?” I asked many such questions, exploring the way the Monster had been dividing the family (Katie against the rest), the way it tricked them into being angry so it could feed and get ever stronger, the way they had managed to resist it in the past, how they thought they could work together to starve it by depriving it of anger.

    Then I gave Katie a ritual to do. Before the next session, she had to draw a picture of the Monster, as colourful and as terrifying as possible. She had to take out this picture and make fun of it at least once a day, because Monsters hate being laughed at. At other times, it had to be in a box tied up with string, and hanging off a doorknob. If anybody was about to get angry in the family (including, but not especially, Katie), others had to say, “Don’t let the Monster out of the box!”

    By the fourth session, Katie reported that the Tantrum Monster had become so small and weak that nobody in the family had got angry for the whole week! During the session, she was lively and full of energy, drew flowers and butterflies on the whiteboard, and didn’t sit still for more than five minutes at a time. She had become a very different person.

    In her mother’s eyes, Kate had changed from being a ‘terrible child’ to someone beset by a problem, and an ally in fighting it.

This is recycled from Bobbing Around Volume 3 Number 1.


Father made me suffer. Now he is dying

Dear Bob,

Mother always reminded me of how expensive it was to raise me, with actual numbers and receipts. My dad left me with my mom at 10, was in and out of my life until 12. Completely abandoned me after that. I was raped by my babysitter around that time. Got beat up at school a lot (black eyes and broken arms level) until I started fighting back and got in plenty of trouble. Used to steal, but stopped doing that in my teens. Probably have trust and anxiety issues. Met a nice fellow, still with him. Was diagnosed with Aspergers a few years ago. Sorry if I’m rambling, I don’t know what information you need to answer.

My negligent father has recently returned into my life. He has cancer, and is trying to “make up for lost time”. He likely has 6 months to a year before he kicks the bucket. We’ve been rather unproductively trying to bond at random outings or events. I have an insane amount of suppressed hatred directly caused by him abandoning me that is killing any chances so far.

Before he arrived, my depression was manageable, I was starting to lose weight again (I’m fat right now), and I was way less stressed. Should I even bother trying to be friends with him again? Is this a waste of time? Can two estranged people with bad history even become friends in a 6 month time period?

June my dear,

You’ve had a rough go of it in your life so far, haven’t you? But, rather than rambling, your request for help is excellent, and shows intelligence and perceptiveness.

I suggest you forget about the Asperger’s label. Despite all that childhood trauma, you are functioning at a high level. What you do matters. Labels don’t.

Without doubt, you are still being affected by your childhood trauma. You don’t indicate where you live, or what your financial situation is. If it’s possible, have a few sessions with a psychologist competent in trauma therapy. In many places, survivors of childhood sexual abuse can access free therapy. And one excellent resource is to find a practitioner of Traumatic Incident Reduction http://www.tir.org.

Stealing was an understandable way of striking back at an unfair and cruel world. Deciding to stop doing it was one enormous step in spiritual growth. I wonder what your reasons were for the change? Did they include empathy: the realization that your victims had feelings, and in their place you would be devastated?

Perhaps your current situation is your next opportunity for growth. Things seem to go in steps, and always the indication is suffering of some kind. You have gained weight, returned to feeling depressed, and are aware of anger at your father, and you clearly dislike this emotion. This situation gives you a choice: you can become a stronger, better person as a result of having been here, or a more vulnerable, more bitter person.

You have a right to feel angry at your father. He abandoned you when you needed him the most. I don’t know of course, but you can find out: has he also grown? Is he still the same person, or has he become wiser, more compassionate, caring, decent? Often, knowing you face your death does this to people, or he may have also gained in good qualities over the years, the way you have.

It would be entirely appropriate for you to discuss these issues with him. You can do this respectfully, with compassion for his situation, and yet in a way that expresses your hurt and anger. If you do work with a psychologist, a few sessions with your father there would be fruitful for both of you.

You were only 10 when he left, 12 when you ceased contact with him. Ask his story of what was happening then. You will probably find it to be very different from your mother’s, and from your memories of those times.

Doing so may well make your anger at him go away.

With love,
Bob


Dad threatens to assault my boyfriend because he is colored

My dad is in his 60’s and he doesn’t believe in a white girl to date a mixed boy or a black boy. If he has any black in him he is bad, But I love this boy, I love him a lot. We have been dating and my dad found out… he said I had to break up with him or I had to go to French camp. And if he caught me talking to him my dad said he would hurt him, until he is almost dead.
Should I date the mixed boy and leave my relationship with my dad behind? or just break up with the mixed boy? or just tell my dad and hope he accepts me and the mixed boy?

Dear Alana,

I’m on your side. Skin color has nothing to do with anything else. A small fraction of an inch below the surface, we are all the same. And I know many people with dark skin who are exceptional, wonderful, decent people. What matters is how we behave, not what we look like.

So, thank you for the good sense and courage to love a boy who has the misfortune of being on the receiving end of racial discrimination.

At the same time, you are only 14. For the moment, you depend on your family to stay alive. Running away is not really an option. If you and your boy both study hard, you may be able to leave home at, say, 18, and build a good life for yourselves together, somewhere else.

Because, sadly, Mississippi is not a good place for mixed-race couples. Even if your father wasn’t violently against the idea, many other people are. The smart way to deal with danger is to step out of its way. So, plan to go somewhere closer to racial equality.

For now, you need to protect at least three people:

First, your boy. We don’t want your father to assault him, and he is likely to suffer attacks from other bigoted people, too, within a racist community.

Second, your father. He has a value system. I hate that value system, disagree with it, but it so happens that in your father’s reality, association between a white girl and a colored boy is something terrible. The very idea that his daughter has a colored boyfriend no doubt gives him sleepless nights. He thinks he is protecting you from something bad. So, from within his worldview, he has a duty to keep you away from this boy, even if he ends up in jail. That could happen, even in Mississippi.

Third, there is yourself. There is a Chinese proverb: “The storm may uproot the oak tree, but only bends the bamboo.” By being strong, defiant, standing by your beliefs despite anything else, you are the oak tree, and could well suffer terrible consequences. Be the bamboo. Bend with the wind, so later you can stand up again, unharmed.

So, by all means continue to share mutual love with this boy, but do it so that no one gets hurt. Think of it as a 4 year jail term. At the end of 4 years, you’ll be liberated, can go somewhere and live a good life, together. In the meantime, appear to be the obedient daughter to your father, and invent secret ways for keeping contact with the boy. That can actually be fun, like in a spy story.

Love,
Bob


Health

Fix your carpal tunnel pain

You don’t need surgery or drugs, but a combination of three physical therapies: massage with a tennis ball, strapping, and a certain exercise.

Let Karden Rabin explain.
carpal


Writing

A wonderful magazine
When you’re asked for a bio

 

A wonderful magazine

Thanks to my friend Cathy Brownfield, I’ve discovered a new resource for writers, and perhaps even more, for readers. This is The Sun Magazine.

They offer a free sample, and I really enjoyed reading it, particularly a long interview with Eddie Ellis, who had been framed for murder because he was high up in the Black Panthers. Reading his wise words is an education.

The Sun magazine pays REAL MONEY for contributions. Check them out.


When you’re asked for a bio

As a writer, you may be asked to provide ‘a bio’. It goes on the back of the paperback or the dust jacket of the hardcover. It is needed when you win in a writing competition. Your book may be reviewed, or you may review someone else’s. Publish an article, essay, poem or story in a magazine or newspaper, and they will want a bio.

More prosaically, you should have one on your web site, or when joining an email list.

A bio is short. Usually 50 to 200 words are specified. The shorter a piece of writing, the harder it is, so producing a bio is often a form of torture.

What is a bio anyway?

It is a prose snippet designed to induce people to read your writing.

You are not in court, required to state the Truth, All the Truth and Nothing But the Truth. You are writing something with the theme ‘Me!’ in order to get people to read your books, stories, essays, poems, whatever.

Above all, a bio is A SAMPLE OF YOUR WRITING. Therefore, it should not consist of stodge.

    Joanie Smith lives with her husband Bill, son Jason and daughter Cindy. She has a Dalmatian named Spot. Joanie has written a romantic suspense that every reader so far has loved, and she would love to have it published.

If a publisher of romantic suspense happened to stumble across this, would she instantly dash off an email to Joanie, demanding to see the manuscript? Not on the basis of this sample of Joanie’s writing.

All right, let’s try again.

    Joanie Smith often has to deal with evil kidnappers, torturers of children, drug-crazed psychopaths. She helps young women to rescue the poor victims against all the odds. These girls start as naïve and apparently with few resources, but Joanie coaches them, and helps them to find tough, attractive allies who inevitably fall in love with them.

    Well… this is what she does when she is inside her computer. The rest of her life is none of your business.

Isn’t that more fun?

Or how about:

    Joanie Smith has always wanted to write. She remembers, as an ovum hidden within her Mom, watching this crowd of pointy things coming at her. She chose the one that most looked like a pen, and gave him all her love. But, typical male, he didn’t hold any ink.

    That’s why Joanie prefers to write on a computer.

    She is a full time writer, making up stories while helping her husband to run their business, and while he helps her, reluctantly, to run their household. She is the author of twenty-seven romantic suspense novels, though twenty-six have not been recorded yet. The one completed book is eagerly waiting for a discerning publisher. Being only twenty-two, Joanie is happy to wait for this, as much as six months, before she pickets the Publishing Industry.

Should a bio be true? I don’t see why. Read this:

    Bob Rich is from a different galaxy. At home, he is an Historian of Horror, so Earth is his favourite place in all the Universe. Where else do you find an organised game (called war) in which intelligent beings kill each other? Where else are child-raising practices designed to damage children? And best of all, where else do you see the entire economy of a species designed to destroy the life support system of their planet? For an Historian of Horror, that’s delicious.

This is true, of course it is, in the same way that Joanie’s second and third bios are true. But is it good writing? Does it make you want to read more? I hope so.


What my friends want you to know

Poetic Activism: Just in Time for Our Political Silly Season
Australia’s Climate Council
First Call: The 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award
Hunt for Forest Protection
The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is open for entry
Bernie Sanders’ blog

 

Poetic Activism: Just in Time for Our Political Silly Season

Poets are rarely thought of as activists, and poems — especially poems that align with societal shortcomings — rarely go hand-in-hand with current political cycles. Not so Imperfect Echoes, a collection of poetry from Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

Inspired by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz’s poem “Incantation” that lauds the power of human reason over the recurring and seemingly insane political realities, Howard-Johnson holds out hope but is not persuaded by trends that seem worse now than they were in Milosz’s time. A student of Suzanne Lummis, UCLA poetry instructor and the Fresno School of Poetry fronted by US poet laureate Philip Levine, she touches on the isms of the world — racism, ageism, even what might be termed “wallism,” but was once referred to as xenophobia. In her poem “Crying Walls,” she sounds a low warning reminiscent of Robert Frost: “Chains linked. Wire barbed,/ Krylon smeared. Feeble,/ useless, unholy billboards,/ anything but mending walls.”

Readers will find some humor in this book and much that was informed by Howard-Johnson’s travels totaling some 85 countries including a sestina that she wrote when she was studying writing in St. Petersburg, Russia, and this poem that Pope Francis might like, originally published in Penwomanship.

Richard Conway Jackson, who is serving twenty-five years to life in California for receiving stolen property lent his artwork, which can be seen in other poetry books including those by Jendi Reiter, for the cover and interior illustrations.

Imperfect Echoes is released just in time for the silly season of politics. All proceeds will be donated to Amnesty International.


Australia’s Climate Council

Two years ago, things changed overnight and you helped us build something bigger and better than before. Now, we have the opportunity to do it again.

In September 2013, the Climate Commission was abolished in the Abbott Government’s first week in office. But, as swiftly as we were shut down, you and 16,000 other Founding Friends put us back to work, providing accurate, independent information to the Australian public on climate change. And day by day we’ve been shifting the dial.

You made clear that science must underpin public debate in a well functioning democracy; you made clear that Australia needed an independent, expert voice to provide the public with accurate information about climate change and take on the peddlers of myth and misinformation. And so, the Climate Council was born anew. Now here we are, remarkably, about to mark our second birthday. We would not exist today without you — together we have made this possible. Will you help us once again to prove that people power can make the difference?

Two years — it’s gone fast, but then again, we’ve been busy! In that time you’ve helped us issue 42 reports, generating over 14,000 media articles that reached 200 million people. And our videos, articles and graphics have reached over 100 million people through social media — thanks in no small part to you and your willingness to share these resources with your friends and networks. As a scientist, I love numbers. But really, this is about more than numbers — what this all equates to is that you’ve helped us put relevant and crucial information on climate change in front of many, many Australians, many, many times!

Not only has our work explained the growing risks of climate change, and the clear case for swift action, but it has been instrumental in changing the public debate:

We’ve exposed alarming cases of anti-science bias, such as when climate sceptic Dick Warburton was put in charge of the government’s clean energy review, and Danish climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg was promised $4 million in taxpayer funds to set up a so-called ‘think tank’.

Through focusing on the impacts of climate change we have moved the debate on from a conversation on whether the science is “real” to an increasing discussion about solutions.

Our work on extreme weather has directly contributed to a dramatic increase in the public understanding of the influence of climate change on extreme heat, fire and floods.

And through a coordinated communications campaign, we’ve made renewable energy a household conversation.

Our aim has been to consistently raise the bar of the debate, highlighting solutions both in Australia and overseas.

I genuinely believe that in many decades time, this juncture — when the Climate Council Founding Friends stood up for accurate debate and policies that are informed by science — will be considered a pivotal moment in Australia’s history.

And now, with the recent change in the Prime Ministership, it feels like we now face another crucial juncture, and a huge opportunity: Australia can stay stuck in the past, or we can boldly embrace the renewable energy future we need, and in so doing, reap the rewards that will come with it for our economy, our community and our climate. Can you help us apply even more pressure for real, evidence-based solutions on climate change by donating today?

There’s still a very big job before us. Yet I truly do shudder to think where we’d be without your support. I invite you to help celebrate what you’ve made possible: that science still has a strong voice — that we are still here, advocating for the future we need. And because of that, our community is in a better position to be informed and demand action for a safer and more sustainable future.

I’ve known many of the drawbacks to working in a field that has become so politically charged and volatile. But never before in my career have I seen such passion, commitment and determined optimism from so many people. It inspires, renews and uplifts me every single day. Thank you.

My very best wishes,
Tim Flannery


First Call: The 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award

Entry deadline January 21st, 2016

SMALL PRESSES * ACADEMIC PRESSES * MICRO PRESSES * SELF-PUBLISHERS — $2,000 GRAND PRIZE — LOW ENTRANCE FEE

New or old, we want to read your book. Each year, independent publishers release extraordinary books to little or no recognition. The Eric Hoffer Book Award recognizes excellence in publishing. A SINGLE REGISTRATION gives you SIX WAYS TO WIN by genre, press, the Montaigne Medal, the da Vince Eye, the First Horizon Award, and the Hoffer grand prize. There is a category for every book. (See submission guidelines below.) E-books also accepted.

* $2,000 GRAND PRIZE * Low Entrance Fee of $55 * Many Categories *
* E-BOOK categories for fiction and nonfiction *
* New CHAPBOOK category at a reduced rate: $40 *

AWARDS/BENEFITS:
* $2,000 GRAND PRIZE (the Eric Hoffer Award for Books)
* Winner of the Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking books
* Winner of the da Vinci Eye for best covers
* Winner of the First Horizon Award for debut authors
* Winner and First Runner-Up awarded for every category
* Honorable Mentions for every category
* Individual Awards for Micro, Small, and Academic Presses, as well as Self-Published Books
* Coverage in The US Review of Books and on www.HofferAward.com
* Gold Seal Certificates
* Worldwide Exposure

CATEGORIES: Art, Poetry, General Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Children, Young Adult, Culture, Memoir, Business, Reference, Home, Health, Self-Help/Spiritual, Legacy Fiction, Legacy Nonfiction, E-book Fiction, and E-book Nonfiction.

In this tough economic time, your book is always a great value, and the Eric Hoffer Book Award is the most economical way to achieve publicity and recognition.

Internet payment for entrance fee accepted. Visit www.HofferAward.com.


Hunt for Forest Protection

We are delighted to launch another Great Forest National Park video, this time featuring Ken Deacon, whose family-owned and operated horse trail-riding business is being damaged by VicForests’ ongoing logging around the forest trails.

In the video Ken talks about why the Park will be a boon for the people of the Rubicon Valley and Royston Range.

Please watch and share this very special video, and if you’d like to send a message of support to Ken, please email me.

It has been a while since our last update, but don’t worry, plenty is happening to protect Victoria’s magnificent forests and to create the Great Forest National Park.

Forest tours, incredible fundraisers, phone-calls to thousands of Wilderness Society members, not to mention the continuing work of helping to establish the state government’s proposed Forest Industry Taskforce.

Your support continues to be invaluable in helping deliver the Great Forest National Park and proper protection for threatened species, including the Fairy Possum.

With the weather warming up, it has never been a better time to join one of our popular monthly Forest Tours. And the opportunities to get more involved as a volunteer are exploding.

Spring is here and the forest is in bloom — we hope you will have some time to get out and enjoy nature this September.


The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is open for entry

Deadline 1st November, 2015

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize brings stories from new and emerging voices, often from countries with little or no publishing infrastructure, to the attention of an international audience.

The Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Short stories translated into English are also eligible.

Each year, we select five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions, one of whom is chosen as the overall winner. The overall winner receives £5,000, one of the highest amounts for an international short story prize open to unpublished writers. Regional winners receive £2,500. If the winning short story is a translation into English, the translator receives equal prize money.

The Prize is open to both published and unpublished writers.

Entry is free.

Submit your short story via the online application form between 1 September and 1 November 2015.


Bernie Sanders’ blog

Hi Bob,

I know you’ve got a good list of readers established, but would you mind posting a promo at your blog for our fairly new blog? It’s called “The Bernie Blog” and yes, we’re open for submissions. (Details at the blog.)

It’s probably easier for me just to share the link with you so you can see what I’m talking about:

http://bernie2016.blogspot.com

We generally post a new blog article every Tuesday, and we are looking for new and varied progressive voices who want to talk about how they envision Bernie Sanders’ leadership of the USA once he’s elected president in 2016. (We’re very optimistic he will be elected.) 🙂

Thanks for your consideration,

Cindy Matthews
Editor of “The Bernie Blog–Bernie Sanders in 2016”

My own blog–Confessions of a Blonde Writer
http://www.cindyamatthews.com


Reviews

Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Chris Rhyss Edwards
The Doom Healer, reviewed by Brian Burt
Blood Tide, by Brian Burt
Good reasons to kill, by Chris Rhyss Edwards
Ascending Spiral Reviewed by Dave Laing, Co-author of ‘Tarmac Tales’
Relocated, by Margaret Fieland
Rogue’s Rules, by Rhobin Courtright

 

Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Chris Rhyss Edwards

As a writer and reader I’m always wary of books that seek to share a nugget of wisdom under the veneer of narrative, however I was pleased to discover the way Dr Rich presents his call to action to us all to be accountable for our planet’s future is handled in a gentle and engaging manner. Ascending Spiral is an entertaining and engaging story following the ‘hero’ Pip, who is hoping to make amends for a past crime. It’s a well-crafted story and a charming read that will appeal to fans of Paulo Coelho and novels that play with spatial and temporal shifts. It’s an afternoon well spent 🙂


The Doom Healer, reviewed by Brian Burt

The Doom Healer, by Dr Bob Rich, is not intended to be lighthearted entertainment or escapist fiction. This is a novel with a message, one that may be painful for some to hear. It challenges the reader to reconsider their fundamental preconceptions about the nature of reality and to recognize the peril facing our species and our planet. As we follow the adventures of young Bill Sutcliffe, a very special teenager imbued with amazing powers and destined to shoulder a burden that would crush an ordinary person, we realize as he does that time is short and the odds are long for all of us.
In some ways, this novel reminded me of Richard Bach’s Illusions. Both trace the progress of their protagonists on profound metaphysical journeys, where they explore the basis of what we perceive as “real” and learn just how malleable it truly is. But, where Bach’s novel celebrates an internal journey leading to one man’s spiritual enlightenment, Rich’s story does just the opposite: it expands its scope to embrace the betterment of humanity as a whole and blazes a path to global enlightenment. Where Bach looks inward, Rich and his main characters look outward to the entire planetary biosphere, the solar system, and the cosmos.
Bill Sutcliffe and the team he assembles are endearing, inspiring, brilliant, and dedicated. They have the support of alien beings with accumulated knowledge beyond our comprehension and are fueled by unconditional love (metta). And still, they face the daunting task of transforming human society’s core value system if they are to have any chance to save us from extinction. This is idea fiction, provocative and grand and unapologetically iconoclastic. It doesn’t pull its punches. In the end, we discover an even greater adversary waiting in the wings for Volume II.
I look forward to the second installment. I don’t know if Bill and his comrades can save us from ourselves, but I’ll be pulling for them, because the world they seek is well worth fighting for!

Brian Burt writes both short and novel-length speculative fiction. His short story “The Last Indian War” won the Writers of the Future Gold Award and was anthologized in Writers of the Future Volume VIII. His debut novel, Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction. You can sample his writing at http://www.briantburt.com.


Blood Tide, by Brian Burt

This book is the sequel to the award-winning “In the Tears of God,” which I rated at 5 stars.
I recommend you read the two books in close sequence. If you do, you’ll want to give 5 stars to both. Taken as one story, this is an exciting science fiction thriller, with cliff-hanger action, characters I could get into, and a fascinating world the author has created.
Climate change has wrecked the world as we know it. One genius created an aquatic version of humans. Another genius considered these to be abominations, and tried to eradicate them. Eye for an eye thinking dominates this second volume, while a small group work for reconciliation, world peace, mutual benefit.
The trouble is that the created reality has many complex elements, and, in the first volume, we get to know a large number of characters. Therefore, presenting back story is a significant challenge. I am struggling with the same issue with my work in progress at the moment, so Brian has my sympathy.
Even though I’d read the first volume, it was some time ago, so I found the first 25 pages a slog. Someone who hasn’t read the first volume would possibly be even worse affected.
However, the effort is worth it. By page 30, I could not put the book down. It became a page turner that grabbed me by the emotions and wouldn’t let me go.
As all good literature (and YES, science fiction can be good literature), there are important moral lessons presented through exciting action. The underlying theme of Blood Tide is the futility and evil of vengeance, how it hurts the wronged perpetrator as much as the one he attempts to destroy.
I think this book would also become an award-winner with one small addition: something like the brief extracts from Encyclopedia Galactica Asimov used in his Foundation series. A 1000 word or so of back story at the start would allow the reader to immediately get into the characters and action.


Good reasons to kill, by Chris Rhyss Edwards

chrisre
This book is organised in an interesting way. Each chapter is a case study of one particular common justification for killing. It is a real event, or in some chapters, a collection of events. I’ve encountered some of these stories before. Without preaching, or even guiding his readers’ reaction, Chris presents the case, then leaves us to make up our minds. In some places, his own convictions emerge, but by and large, he leaves things open, and thought-provoking.

I have a PhD in psychology. Although I have retired from my many years of counselling practice, I am fascinated by the inner view of people very different from me, in circumstances very different from mine. So, this approach spoke to me. I think it will speak to any intelligent, thoughtful, ethical person.

I can thoroughly recommend this book as fine reading.

Chris Rhyss Edwards is a former soldier turned media professional and writer. In 2010 he took a sabbatical from corporate life to find answers to a REALLY BIG QUESTION: do we ever have a good reason to kill? Over a five year time span he researched and interviewed people on topics spanning euthanasia, abortion, child soldiers, infanticide, state execution, terrorism and honour killings, before writing Good Reasons to Kill.


Ascending Spiral, Reviewed by Dave Laing, Co-author of ‘Tarmac Tales’

Ascending Spiral is an interesting book, written in several genres.
The first two parts are in a mixture of Love, Conquest, Defeat, Slavery and Cruelty in the 7th Century AD, late 18th Century and 19th Century.
The third part is a mixture of Imagination, Science Fiction, Plant, Insect, Destruction and Survival.
This all is Pip’s journey thorough life from 1950s Eastern Europe to Australia in the present time. It is then that the reader can see the connections of the different stories. The book is a message of warnings of the same cycle of life becoming a reality in the future, with the possibility of the self-destruction of the planet Earth.
An intriguing story. Very hard to put down.


Relocated, by Margaret Fieland

Young Adult/Tween Sci-Fi
This is a delightful little science fiction story for readers of about 12 to 14 years of age. Tension is immediate, and keeps building. The created reality of the story is easy to fall into, and both boys and girls will readily identify with Keth.

As in all good writing, there are lessons: the love of beauty and creativity, respect and responsibility in using our abilities, and, above all, the stupidity of discrimination on the basis of group differences.

Keth is descended from both Terrans and the people of Aleyne. As such, he feels victimised, disliked and isolated in both cultures. This will speak to anyone who is a minority within a culture, and anyone who has empathy and compassion. And a person who starts with racist attitudes may well find them weakened through reading this story.

May that happen often.

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. She is the author of Relocated, Geek Games, and Broken Bonds, published by MuseItUp Publishing , and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapter book and another science fiction novel are due out later this year.


Rogue’s Rules, by Rhobin Courtright

Rogues Rules
I chose to read this book because its protagonist has multiple personalities, and I’ve worked with several clients with this condition. I found that the author got it pretty well right. Jezlynn Chambers was adopted from an orphanage at 5 years of age. Who knows what horrors she’d experienced before then? Loving father was mostly away working, while mother was a cold, distant, unloving figure. As a young adult, Jezlynn went through terrible experiences — and coped through a skill she must have developed in infancy: leaving one part of her consciousness to cope, while identifying with another part that could escape.

Most people with this pattern — ‘Dissociative Identity Disorder’ — develop a very large number of alters, often in a fluid pattern that changes with the needs of the situation. But I have met those with Jezlynn’s pattern of a fixed number of stable personalities.

Rhobin got the inner feel of multiple personalities right, so, to me, this is a fascinating study of how unbearable trauma can strengthen a person.

OK, OK, I know few readers are psychologists. The setting for Jezlynn is space opera. Humanity has expanded into the galaxy, and has evolved into distinct subspecies. One corrupt family dominates the United Planets Alliance, and the back story is, a son of this family is responsible for Jezlynn’s disgrace, experience of slavery, torture, despair. In this story, she rescues ex-crew members, and forges a long, clever and risky campaign of vengeance.

This of course gives plenty of scope for excitement, tension, and character development. In the end, she and her friends discover the truth: successful revenge is a poor victory.

I do have some negative reactions to this book. Some of the action and dialogue is hard to understand. The book could do with a good line edit. While science fiction has a right to imaginary technology (that’s what SF is, right?), that should be explained well enough for the reader to imagine its workings. Here it often is — and sometimes isn’t.

All in all, however, I am happy to give the story 4 stars.

Born and raised in Michigan, Rhobin Courtright spent one year in Colorado and twenty years in Missouri. She now lives back in Michigan on twenty acres near the small village of Luther, a former lumbering town.

At home, she pursues her love of writing, gardening, painting, and calligraphy.


Poetry

Antigua’s Hope
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

            Sweet Potato Man sits
            on the tailgate of his battered
            pick-up, parked near the road
            that tracks Antigua’s shore
            waiting for someone to pay
            for his crop. Nearly black-baked
            by the Carib heat as he, sweet
            potatoes lie on a blanket like twists
            of dark yarn.

            Like a flower drawn to the sun,
            Sweet Potato Man turns his face
            toward traffic. Crumpled, brown
            as a prune it is. Languid he is.

            Waiting. His legs dangle from his perch,
            limp, puppet limbs. Shoulders hunch,
            sweat glints on his cheeks, his eyes
            white buttons. I sense he wants
            me to stop, knows

            I will pass him by.

From Carolyn’s new collection, Imperfect Echoes.


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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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