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*What my friends want you to know
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.
You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.
From me to you
Valuable review site
The wonderful Carolyn Howard-Johnson has posted Gary Clough’s review of my free book, “The Greatest Force in the Universe,” on her review site.
It’s worth checking there for other books you will probably like.
Guest spot with Carolyn
Carolyn Howard-Johnson also publishes a monthly newsletter full of interesting and useful snippets for writers.
She has honoured me in the February issue with a little statement about my “buy links page:” something I send out to make life easier for people reviewing a book of mine.
If you’re a published author, you may want to copy me.
They like my work
Last year, I spent months on editing an excellent book on an economic philosophy that has the potential to save humanity from the global economic system: the “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” of the Thai king. The book’s editors wrote a testimonial for my services:
Thank you Bob! For a fantastic job of editing the chapters in our forthcoming book: Sufficiency Thinking: Thailand’s Gift to an Unsustainable World. This book consists of 15 chapters explaining and showcasing the application of the King of Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy to a range of national sectors — from business to agriculture, from education to healthcare, from community development to prisoner rehabilitation — written by Thai experts. We really appreciated the way you were able to turn the drafts into well phrased English, and at the same time support and assist the authors. Your understanding of Buddhist thinking was a great asset in doing this, as was your patience with the entire process. We thank you Bob and appreciate your involvement in this project.
Gayle Avery and Harald Bergsteiner, editors.
Do onto others…
Some months ago, the Australian Greens ran a short story contest. I sent my entry, but it wasn’t what they were looking for. I found the eventual winner to be, um, boring.
Not given to waste, I’ve posted the story here.
Comments and reactions welcome.
Please help foster young writing talent
During February, I had the pleasure of judging in the first round of the “New Voices Young Writers” contest, run by EPIC, the electronic publishing group I’ve been a member of since 1999.
Some of the entries are amazing. All the kids have obviously done their best.
A second round is coming, and we need more judges. If you are a published author, publisher, editor, teacher or librarian, please help out.
What’s behind that bizarre occupation?
If national parks and other federal lands were in private hands, the fossil fuel industry would find it easier to drill there. That’s why the Koch brothers fund the Bundys and other crazies.
Robert Reich explains why it’s Bernie and Donald
Of all the explanations I’ve read, this one is the most plausible.
As a general rule, people don’t vote FOR, but AGAINST.
Incidentally, until I was 17 years old, my name was Robert Reich. So, I like this bloke.
An eye-opener, by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It’s a long read, but more than worth it. Mr. Kennedy explains and documents why the tragic Syrian war is about competing gas pipelines.
It’s nothing to do with freedom, justice, human rights, religious conflict. He explains why Russia is involved, where ISIS comes from, and who the villains are.
This is a must-read.
Leap to green
Naomi Klein is one of the people I admire. Read her call for a leap toward renewables in 2016 which after all is a leap year.
The correct reaction to climate change
Tara Martin and James Watson, writing in The Conversation, set out a very sensible way of adapting to the effects of climate change.
Basically, do the opposite of the short term, high-cost engineering attacks on nature and instead bolster the natural ecosystems that can protect us in the long term. This is also much cheaper.
Peak water, confirmed
I’ve been shouting it for years. We’re using up the reserves of fresh water life depends on. NASA has reported on the findings of several studies that show that 4 billion people suffer water scarcity.
Warmest Arctic winter?
Three degrees Celsius above average is an unusual departure. In recent months, the Arctic has been 7.6 degrees above average.
This is where a HUGE quantity of methane is already being released. We’re now in the positive feedback cycle I’ve been predicting.
But it’s OK. When the students burn down the school we call Earth, there are billions of other schools in the universe.
Big energy company stops coal seam gas
This is in Australia. AGL, one of the big Australian energy suppliers, is canning its gas operations, to the delight of farmers and conservationists.
Now, we need to convince Santos to do the same.
Photo from The Courier Mail
Cheap coal is saving the Great Barrier Reef?
Adani is now putting its money in solar and is freezing funding for its destructive coal venture in Australia.
A strike against illegal fishing
We are killing the oceans, and illegal fishing is a major part of this. Indonesia and the US are cooperating in combating this menace.
Mayor Frank Jensen has announced that the city is getting rid of its investments in fossil fuels.
Well, it’s good economic sense, apart from being good for humanity.
Pakistani parliament on solar
Whales won’t be murdered
A man in Iceland restarted the barbaric practice of hunting fin whales, the second largest creature on this planet.
Playing it forward
An American lawyer and his Korean wife make me feel good about being a human. Instead of spending a million bucks on a boat they’d love to have, they have pledged the money to putting a classful of little kids through college.
The reason: the lady could attend college because of similar generosity from her aunt.
Listen to Neil Young
For many years, Neil Young has been an advocate for decent and sustainable farming practices. His latest album is titled The Monsanto Years, which says it all. He is rightly pointing the finger at the way big agribusiness, led by Monsanto, is wrecking lives while wrecking the environment.
And in a related story that should go under “Health,” a couple who used to farm coffee in Hawaii are suing Monsanto because the lady developed serious cancer she attributes to Roundup use.
Two young men are changing the world
A VERY long time ago now, I was awarded the “Young Australian of the Year” title.
This year’s joint recipients, Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, are far more deserving than I’ve ever been.
In school, they did a volunteer stint, feeding homeless people in Brisbane, Queensland. They noticed the dirty clothes that dragged down self-respect, attracted stigma and got in the way of opportunities to escape homelessness.
In 2014, aged only 20, they did something about it: converted an old van into a mobile laundry, available to homeless people and disaster survivors for free. Part of the concept is that the volunteers running the service chat with the “customers,” providing much-needed social contact and respect.
They now have five vans within Australia, and are expanding globally.
Visit their web site. Join their team. Support their venture.
This is the way to change the world.
Street by street
Living in a neighbourhood that is ‘neighbourly’ ranks high on most people’s lists. When asked, people say they want to know their neighbours, to feel comfortable stopping to chat, even to share things, to offer help or, indeed, to ask for help.
Surveys show that the wish to be part of a congenial neighbourhood holds true across the age range. Gen Y twenty-somethings are as keen to feel connected to their neighbours as the retiring baby boomers are. It is about feeling we belong somewhere, that we’re part of a community.
There are neighbourhoods where this sense of community is well developed, and people living in them feel the richer for it.
But there are a great many places where this connectedness has not happened — or, hasn’t happened yet. It actually takes only one or two people to get the whole process of building a neighbourly neighbourhood started.
Maureen Maher in WA is an example. She lives on a street which has, for many years, had a Christmas Street Party. Fun, but nothing much happened in between parties. She wanted to keep the momentum of connection going, so she asked a few people to join a street litter cleanup.
That worked well, so she did a letter-box drop suggesting a meeting where neighbours could consider what else they might do together. About 15 came and, over refreshments, decided that sharing their skills and talents would be a wonderful way of being useful as well as neighbourly. That was a year ago. Since then they have had a magnificent progressive dinner, a progressive garden blitz (30 minutes in each other’s gardens weeding, planting, etc.) and a sponge cake bake-off.
Maureen was inspired, and helped, by a national project Street By Street which provides resources, at no cost, to encourage, and assist, anyone interested (or just curious) about making their neighbourhood more neighbourly. One of those resources is the Melbourne-based project manager of Street by Street, Irene Opper, who is there to answer questions, share her experience, and offer advice.
Currently on the ground in 3 States, the project aims to turn streets into communities and foster an Australia-wide network of neighbour groups. The groups which are very diverse. One in Adelaide has come together through the interest neighbours discovered they share in film, so they have movie nights.
In an apartment complex in Melbourne, a group has a morning tea every month or so. One participant made the corridor on her floor an art exhibition for neighbours to come and see her paintings: “This was the first time I showed my neighbours my work and I was really surprised at the interest and connection that it generated.”
The idea is to experiment, to discover what might bring your neighbours together. What would the people on your street like to do together? What might sustain and grow the connections? The essential ingredient is regular social get togethers; everything else is icing on the cake.
It really doesn’t take much to begin this journey — an invitation in everyone’s mailbox to meet somewhere will do the trick. One woman simply put a table of 200 books ‘surplus to requirements’ on her front lawn and (through a letter box drop) invited her neighbours to take what they wanted. The lively conversation around the book pile that Saturday led to a list of 26 families who wanted to ‘do more’ together. And all the books went.
The people who take that first tentative step toward making their neighbourhood more neighbourly consistently say how surprised they were at the overwhelmingly positive response they received — even those who thought they lived on a rather aloof or unfriendly area.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised — we all want to belong. But don’t take our word for this. Why don’t you see how your neighbours react to an invitation to get to know one another better. And Street by Street is there to help you: www.streetbystreet.org.au or phone 0413 706 233.
Article by Jane Figgis
Canadians do it right
Canada has accepted over 17,000 Syrian refugees so far. Their aim is 25,000 by the end of February, 2016.
There is a groundswell of support for these unfortunate people. For example, Canadians are learning Arabic so they can offer a welcome.
Many people think of refugees as sort-of invaders. Instead, think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
And you never know. Wherever you live it COULD be your turn one day.
A young fellow was terrifying everyone in a train with his aggressive behaviour. An old lady was also scared, but instead of pulling away, she held his hand.
He quietened down, and thanked her when he left.
Think of what the world would be like if we all had the courage to act with compassion.
Gem stones from air pollution!
It mightn’t look pretty, but the carbon is compressed into this:
The tower is transportable. I do hope they convert it to solar power.
Australia’s conscience speaks
An open letter to Australia’s Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration, signed by 61 prominent people including famous authors, has condemned the shame of the deliberate torture and degradation of innocent people in Australia’s offshore concentration camps.
I’ve put this item in this category, because this must-read article sets out the requirements for decency and compassion, and shows how Australia’s actions violate these.
J. M. Koetze
This gave me shivers up my back
As I read Peace Paul’s words I enjoyed a brief transcendental experience. Time stopped, the Universe opened up, and I was at peace.
He was “merely” reviewing a book. But it’s a map of how you can attain enlightenment.
Bird brains can be intelligent
We humans flatter ourselves on our intelligence. Here is evidence that a couple species of raptor birds deliberately start fires to flush out prey.
Firefighters and forest workers have seen it happen. The knowledge is part of Aboriginal wisdom.
What causes mental illness?
It has suited the pharma and medical industries to say it’s faulty mechanism inside. As I have argued for many years, and as this article demonstrates, suffering, particularly childhood trauma, is a major factor.
So, there is no excuse for stigmatising a person for the symptoms of past suffering. Respect, acceptance, decency, compassion are much better reactions.
This doesn’t mean you need to accept abuse from anyone, but you can defend your space in a way that benefits rather than harms the other person.
Young lives matter — Kate Middleton
I am impressed by this thoughtful, compassionate and well-informed op-ed from the Duchess of Cambridge. Her program could transform society.
He left me and I am lonely
I don’t even know where to start and I feel like I’m over flogging an issue.
I’ve been on the net since I started feeling depressed, I’ve looked up everything that can make me feel better but it’s not helping. Majorly, everyone says you need something to distract you from your issues but trying to occupy your mind constantly is such a headache you wonder if it’s worth it.
My issue is someone broke up with me and I’ve been trying for 3 years to get over him, I’m off social media, I don’t go where I think I’ll run into him. I’m really tired of feeling this way, tried taking my life but I was resuscitated so I felt GOD has a plan for me and I’ll feel better but that was over a year ago and I still feel terrible.
My friends are in their own world now so they hardly have my time and I’m 30 and should have been married since with kids but I haven’t even found someone attractive since my ex dumped me and he’s married, his wife just gave birth.
Even though when I was with him, I felt he wasn’t treating me well, I complained and just wanted him to treat me right but it seemed he was incapable of it but seeing him with his wife it’s so obvious he just didn’t want to be with me and it’s so painful when you sacrificed a lot for someone and he doesn’t appreciate it but appreciates it from someone else.
Anyways what would you recommend that would be different? Half of my friends are married so they hardly go out, I live with my dad and he’s hardly around so the house seems lonely. I can’t talk to my friends about my issue because they feel I should be over it by now.
The Internet keeps saying I should give it time but I feel I’m wasting away.
Pls advice me.
Distraction is a very poor tool for dealing with both grief and depression. As you’ve said, it doesn’t work.
Giving things time is good advice — if that time is used constructively. Sometimes, people wear a groove within their thoughts, going around and around the same things, so that the more time, the worse it gets.
To summarise my understanding: you had a long term relationship, which was actually unsatisfactory. He left you 3 years ago, and you have become increasingly isolated since. He is now presumably treating another woman in much the same way he treated you, but they have a child, so she may be trapped.
If something works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, do something else. What you have been doing for 3 years has not worked.
You want to meet a suitable man to fall mutually in love with. Isolating yourself is not going to do that, is it?
I suggest serious thought about the following question: If I had the energy and motivation, what activities would I love to be involved in?
These could be, depending on your interests and history:
And so on.
In each of these, you can choose activities that bring you in contact with new people. This provides opportunities for new friendships. Directly or indirectly, some of these may lead to a new romance, but this should not be the reason. Enjoy the activities, and the people, for their own sake.
The second part is something I use all the time for any problems in my own life. This is acceptance. Distress/pain/suffering has two parts. Say I have a painful shoulder. That is an uncomfortable sensation. If I want it to go away, if it gives me negative emotions, then I am in pain, hurting. If I can accept that the sensation is there, so what, and perhaps that I can’t do this task any more, so what, then I am not suffering. The problem is there, but I can live with it in contentment.
Paradoxically, often this reduces or eliminates the problem, but we can’t do the acceptance for that reason (or it is a lie, and doesn’t work). For example, I am lonely, isolated, my friends have no time for me. If I suffer distress from this, then I behave in ways that make me poor company, so people, even people who care for me, will avoid me. If I put peace in my heart, “I am alone, and it’s all right,” I can laugh, have fun, whether I am alone or not, then the contentment shining out of me may attract those same people to seek out my company.
Do get back to me, and look around my blog/newsletter Bobbing Around
This lady, whose identifying details I have changed as always, did get back to me and we are having regular exchanges.
Dear Dr. Bob Rich,
my husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2004, he has been many years on medication, first on mirapex and then on sinamet.
Recently he has developed serious anxiety and depression, as well as freezing episodes. I have tried a lot of different supplements as we are afraid of anti depressants which he is prescribed, but I failed to notice any serious pattern.
I am vigorously searching for alternatives, which brought me to your website. With all the understanding of a dramatically low probability of success, I still decided to email you.
Many thanks in advance.
I have no knowledge of medications, so won’t comment on them.
I am aware that Parkinson’s doesn’t affect intelligence, but results in multiple, distressing physical symptoms. In that situation, it is rational and reasonable to feel distress. Anxiety and depression can be considered a perfectly natural reaction to the situation, same as to any other physical handicap.
The proper approach therefore is psychotherapy, not medication (including antidepressants). He needs to come to terms with the situation, and learn to use the tools of achieving contentment regardless of the many problems. This is perfectly possible.
Depression and anxiety are not diseases, or even disorders (whatever DSM says), but ways of looking at the world. They are habit-complexes, and habits can be changed.
The most useful to him are likely to be one of the modern therapy approaches inspired by Buddhism, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or Mindfulness-based CBT.
My personal problems are nothing as bad as your husband’s, but they can get me down from time to time. I apply Buddhist thinking to lift me up again.
What if We Weren’t Exposed to 80,000 Toxic Chemicals Every Day?
Very few of the 80,000 or so unnatural chemicals have been tested for toxicity. This doesn’t take into account that two chemicals may be reasonably OK by themselves, but interact in very harmful ways. And what about higher-order interactions?
All this was clear to me, based on the evidence, when I worked on book on cancer, but maybe at last something is going to be done about it.
I won’t hold my breath.
Zika: maybe mosquito killer, not mosquito?
Colombia also has a high rate of Zika virus infection, but no explosion of microcephaly, as is the case in Brazil. Investigations by Latin American doctors indicate the real cause may be a mosquito-killing drug the Brazilian government has put into drinking water.
I’ll give you three guesses as to the drug’s manufacturer.
PPS. A barrage of dismissive counterargument has come, claiming these South American doctors are ignorant or malicious or both. This was to be expected.
The Zika virus has been around for a very long time, in many tropical and subtropical places. The current explosion in microcephaly is more likely to be something new. How about extended use of a new chemical…?
How an unknown can gain influence
I don’t like watching videos, because I read about four times as fast as someone talking, and verbal discourse tends to be repetitive, and I get it the first time. Give it to me in written words.
But even I appreciate the instructional videos of Jeff Walker. I’ve just watched a 5 minute video in which he gives a recipe for becoming known in a new field — such as being an author who is promoting a book.
Well worth the 5 minutes.
What’s fiction about, anyway?
I’ve recently edited a science fiction book the author thought was a novel. In some ways, it’s a magnificent work, involving a huge amount of time, effort, ingenuity and creativity. It must have taken him years of unremitting, and perhaps joyful effort to think up and organise all the material that went into it.
All the same, what he sent me was not a novel.
Any story takes place in a created reality. In contemporary fiction, this is extremely similar to the reality the author lives in (which is probably very similar to the reader’s reality), but even then, there are created elements. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fiction. At the minimum, there are invented facts about the characters.
This created reality involves change over time: a history. It is an intricate web of relationships between animate and inanimate elements.
What my client created was a complex reality with a strong line of historical developments, deep analysis of various social and environmental trends, and, being science fiction, some technological mumbo jumbo. What it lacked was characters. Basically, almost the entire manuscript of over 100,000 words was a dossier: a list of “facts.” There were invented facts about politics, the environment, events on the news, conflicts, disasters — all the many things that make up life, and all the many things that are raw material for creating tension.
But it wasn’t a novel. The tension was not there. The reality created stayed an intellectual exercise. Horrific events described did not induce my horror, exciting changes did not lead to my excitement, statements about suffering didn’t induce my compassion.
There was one exception: a romance set within the prose. This was written up with action and dialogue, and involved two people in love, living their life within the matrix of the created reality.
However, their appearance was infrequent, making up a very small proportion of the text, and seemed to have little or no bearing on the theme of the book. Because it was isolated in this way, I actually got impatient with them. While they were mooning at each other for several pages, millions were dying elsewhere. Because of this, their love affair was a “so what.”
This made me think about the nature of fiction. How does it work? What makes a novel a novel? How does an author induce the reader to enter the created reality of the story, and then want to stay there until the end, and beyond? (A good story will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book, doesn’t it?)
Fiction is not about facts, but about feelings.
What brings it to life is characters that come alive. All the rest, the huge matrix of facts my client created, is background. Without background there is no story, in the way without background there is no painting, but the focus needs to be on people. The history of politics, environmental changes, whatever, is only relevant insofar as it impacts on people the reader has come to care about.
In order for the story to work, these people must be integral parts of the matrix of facts, but they are the focus. The story is told about them, and any messages must be subtle, conveyed through their reactions, words, behaviour, not by being told about the happenings that shape the characters’ world.
So, a novelist is not the historian of an artificial history, but the psychologist of an artificially created menagerie of a small number of people who become important.
Amazon to encourage editing
The Fussy Librarian has reported that Amazon is installing a new feature. When you find spelling, grammatical and other errors in a book, you can record it on the book’s page. Your submission is checked, and if found to be accurate, a warning is posted, telling other readers about poor technical quality.
This is excellent. I wince at all the many technical errors I find in books. (Actually, I was amused: the Fussy Librarian’s post had one!)
If you have a book out there, it may be time to hire an editor to check it out.
What my friends want you to know
Movie to watch
In the film, Where to Invade Next, Moore travels to countries throughout Europe and also Tunisia to “pry loose from them the tools they’ve been using to make their countries happy, shiny places,” he writes, to show “millions of Americans what these countries have been hiding from us.” Such tools range from eight weeks paid vacation in Italy to a year of paid maternity leave in Scandinavia to women with “true equality and power” in Tunisia to trusting prisons in Norway.
The movie presents an uncharacteristically optimistic outlook.
Moore penned an open letter to supporters last week explaining how a recent bout of pneumonia and subsequent hospital stay forced him to cancel all television appearances promoting the film.
“I have to be honest,” Moore writes. “I’m now worried about my film’s release. I can’t fly, I have to recover and [on Feb. 12] this great movie I’ve put so much of my life into is going to open in theaters — with little or no assistance from me.”
Then, in a direct appeal to his fans, Moore then calls for a “cobbled-together ‘army’ of grassroots foot soldiers” to help spread the word about the new movie, which he says “will inspire people to think about things in a different way.”
“Last week, in the hospital, I watched one presidential candidate attack the candidate from Vermont for his ideas being ‘unrealistic,’ ‘pie in the sky’ and ‘ideas that sound good on paper, but aren’t going to happen.’ The truth is, all these great ‘ideas’ — free universal health care, free university, free day care, taxing and policing hedge fund millionaires — have already happened in nearly every other industrialized country in the world! And I have the evidence — and the film — to prove it!”
“The secret message of Where to Invade Next is that America’s had it wrong all along about human beings. You and I aren’t bad. All the people around us aren’t bad. It’s okay to get high or get sick or for teenagers to spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to bonk each other. If regular people get control over their own lives, they’ll use it wisely rather than burning the country down in a festival of mindless debauchery.”
The Zen Path Retreat
Dear Buddhist Geeks,
Last year we hosted our first ever in-person retreat. It was a bold experiment that turned into an awesome success. This summer we’ll be hosting our next retreat and it is now open for registration.
The Zen Path Retreat is a full week-long immersive starting on July 11th in the rolling mountains of Western North Carolina at a lovely retreat center called Sanctuary in the Pines.
The Buddhist Geeks approach to retreat is informed by tradition but modified for contemporary times. As a result, our retreats span multiple traditional approaches and styles of practice. The practice framework we’ve developed is called the five styles of meditation.
On the Zen Path Retreat we’ll be focusing on 3 of these 5 styles: Concentration, Inquiry, & Awareness. We’ll also incorporate a daily contemplative technology practice as part of the retreat environment, and will do regular periods of social meditation to go along with silent formal practice. For us, if meditation practice isn’t deeply integrated into the various aspects of our daily lives then it loses its relevant transformative power. For this reason the retreat environment covers all the same major areas that we engage with on a daily basis–being alone, interacting with others, and using technology.
If you’re interested in checking out the retreat we encourage you to do so soon, as this retreat will be limited to 20 participants and is already 25% full (from past participants).
The Buddhist Geeks Team
When your boss sexually harasses you
At first I didn’t realize that an assassin was coming for me, when I did it was too late.
Basically this is the reason why I decided to write this book ‘Spitting on Hans’ tosti’, to share my personal experience about the horror that’s called sexual workplace harassment. It wasn’t easy to write about all the assaults, humiliations and my emotions, but it must be shared because sexual harassment steals your identity.
The taboo that rests on sexual workplace harassment is powerful — very powerful — and is tangible when you are dealing with it on a daily basis. Threats and emotional blackmail will prevent you from telling others. It’s very hard to accept that you are a victim and to let go of the thought that you must resolve this on your own. This is how my employer Hans unwittingly pulled me into a world of sadness and loneliness, faced with co-workers who looked the other way, afraid to lose their jobs. And there I lived for almost two years in isolation, disconnected from myself waiting until it blew over. But the silence and the fear empowered Hans to move forward in his intimidations. From an apparently stray kiss he now was able to assault me, captured in his web I couldn’t move.
Writing down everything that has happened to me, in the smallest detail, was the only way to find her again, the women I was and lost somewhere along this road of sexual workplace harassment.
Over $2000 for every $1 donated. That’s how much money the big polluters will be handed in subsidies this year for every dollar they’ve donated to the major parties since the last federal election.
With devastating fires ravaging our communities, rising sea levels enveloping the homes of our Pacific brothers and sisters, and dangerous floods washing away our cities, the fact that our politicians are propping up the industry driving this devastation is simply outrageous. But it gets worse, because over the coming year, our Government will hand the big polluters $7.7 billion in subsidies.
It’s easy money for the fossil fuel industry, and they know it. That’s why they keep the wheels greased by donating millions to our politicians. Since the last election, the fossil fuel industry has given $3.7 million to the major parties (at least that’s what has been disclosed), and they’ve been handsomely rewarded.
It’s time for that cosy relationship to end. If we expect our public institutions to divest from fossil fuel money, it’s time we expected the same of our politicians.
And that’s why, with a Federal election looming, we’re launching a campaign calling for an end to our polluted politics, an end to politicians taking money from and giving money to the fossil fuel industry.
The campaign is called Pollution Free Politics.
For the love of the future
Anyone who has ever met me knows I’m from Tasmania. Because the first thing I tell anyone is how it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
But just weeks ago my heart broke when I saw the photos of the extreme bushfires there. Beautiful ancient forests, the cushion plants, the pencil pines — gone forever. These forests weren’t meant to burn — this was a man-made event, a climate disaster.
We all have people and places we love that are close to our hearts. Whether it’s your local beach, the shack on the river, the forest you went camping in as a kid or the jetty where you fish. And for many of us it’s those places that keep us fighting to protect them from global warming.
Together we’ve played a critical part of a movement that kept a coal port from being built last year on the Great Barrier Reef coast — one of the places that we as Australians all love. And while Adani and those who would see the Reef destroyed are still trying to get around the millions of people who stand against them, we know we have the power to protect the people and places we love when we work together.
In 2015, 1300 of us went without coffee, chocolate or beer for love of the Reef and raised awareness and funds to run an amazing banks campaign that saw CommBank and NAB rule out investing in coal ports and mines in Queensland. This year For the Love of is going to be even bigger and louder, and we want you to be part of it.
In 2016, we have a critical opportunity to reduce pollution and supercharge the transition to 100% renewable energy. We’re launching a year-long national campaign where we’ll talk to thousands of people on the street, enrol thousands of young voters, and we’ll be there at every moment on the election trail with creative actions to remind our politicians that climate change is a vote-changing issue.
We need you to join Australians from every state and territory raising awareness and funds to protect our future, and the future of every generation after ours. So for the love of our future, sign up today to go without something you love — coffee, chocolate, or beer — from April 11 -24th.
I’m going without chocolate and I’m doing it to protect Tasmania for future generations. What about you?
P.S. If you agree that it’s not ok that our government is approving new fossil fuel projects, stalling renewable energy investment, and cutting climate science jobs, and that this isn’t the right direction for our future, sign up to For the Love of our Future today!
You Can’t Escape Destiny
reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Though Dr. Bob Rich’s protagonist, Bill Sutcliffe, lives in a time after humans have done what they will to destroy the exquisite blue orb they live on, he is a hero for his time and ours. He is the youthful figure who can save us from earthquakes and tsunamis, the sixth great extinction event of Earth, entire towns devastated and a populace without hope. Obviously Dr. Bob Rich knows his science and his fiction; YOU CAN’T ESCAPE DESTINY is innovative and creative enough to capture the imaginations (and concerns) of readers in this time of obviously poor reasoning, greed, and misunderstanding (or disregard) for the meaning and power of love.
Enjoy it for the futuristic story it is. If the story makes the reader more aware of how we treat one another, how irrational we are, how we procrastinate, how we are…well, incurably human…then so much the better.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is a multi award-winning novelist and poet and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers.
Gaiad, by William Burcher
Gaiad by William Burcher deserves five stars. I am encouraging the author to enter it in contests and apply for awards. That’s not to say that I don’t have some arguments with it.
The theme of the book is that the Earth, Gaia, is alive, beyond the “Gaia hypothesis.” She actually communicates with us. 27,000 years ago, we took a path of separation, and now, for our survival, we need to return.
This message is expressed in many beautiful, powerful passages. All the same, the book is never preachy, but is, if you like, a science fiction thriller. Beyond saying this, I won’t give away the plot.
I have three negative comments.
First, while almost all of it was a page turner, there was a part of the story where I wanted to stop. A man was deliberately inducing someone else to torture him. This is no doubt my personal foible. Others may not be phased by it, and, unfortunately, some may even find it an attraction.
Second, there is a very positive mention of blasting off for space. We are now in the 6th great extinction event of earth, which is even more serious a thing than climate change. We are killing the Mother! The last time this much carbon was in the atmosphere resulted in the extinction of 96% of species. So, rocket launches are a luxury we cannot afford. It’s like a starving person spending money on a lottery ticket.
Third, although the book is very well written, there are occasional instances of odd wording like “a spark, electric” (instead of “an electric spark”), and people of a pre-technological culture are given concepts such as “galactic” and “infrastructure.”
This notwithstanding, it’s a wonderful story, an inspiring read, and will make you think for a long time after you’ve finished it.
Shades of Blue, by Joyce Scarborough
This has to be one of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. Although it’s an awful long time since I’ve been a teenager, I had instant identification with the protagonist, a desire to find out about her, and so, a need to read on. Tension kept increasing as the story developed, to explode into the final denouement. Believable characters and action, vivid description and completely age-appropriate ways of thought and behavior bring the story to life.
The novel conveys several important messages of morality and ethics, but never by preaching (even by one character to another), and never on the surface. Perhaps the most important is not to judge people on the basis of rumor. For example, one girl is introduced as “backseat Britney,” the girl who gives a good time to any boy. We find out that this reputation is false, being deliberately generated slander, and when we learn her history, compassion just has to replace judgment. Many other lessons, similarly well presented, make this an inspiring guide to behavior for youngsters, as I said, without seeming to be so. On the surface, it’s just an exciting read.
The story has a female protagonist, and I think will primarily appear to girls, but boys should enjoy it, too.
Only one thing puzzled me while reading. The title is “shades of blue,” and many of the chapters are named for blue colors. I thought this must be a girl thing: I couldn’t see a connection. Even this got resolved on the last page.
Imperfect Echoes, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
All proceeds from Imperfect Echoes go to support Amnesty International. This is not accidental, or incidental, but at the heart of this collection of intriguing poems. Some I skipped by, because we are all different, and the trigger for Carolyn’s response isn’t one of my triggers. But others made me pause, think, nod. Still others grabbed me by the heart, and put that tingle up my spine. I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting one like that:
Near Jerusalem, razorwire
coils a brutal line
imposed like walls
might one day disappear.
This one much like the first wall
I unexpectedly came across somewhere
in memory, an ocean away
marking its territory
East from West, the wall
that called my husband to arms,
just in case. Another wall
cleaves Irish from Irish. Foreign
walls, but now a new one
crawls from Baja,
through mountain passes
along the Rio Grande. Walls.
useless, unholy billboards,
anything but mending walls.
This is an understated, quiet, and therefore all the more powerful cry. It is a rejection of hate, fear of the Other, divisiveness, denial that we are all the children of One. The crying walls, what they represent, is what we need to replace with compassion and caring if we want a future for humanity, and a future worth living in.
Carolyn’s words consistently point toward the thinking humanity needs in order to be humane. She cares.
You could do a lot worse than expose yourself to the terrible danger of becoming infected with her way of thinking, her way of seeing the world. With luck, this little book will put the same poetry into your heart.
Dennis the Menace has grown up
To protest against the British government’s push toward fracking, Greenpeace have erected a fracking tower right in front of the House of Parliament!
Silver lining on a border
This is an annual volleyball game between residents of Naco, Arizona and Naco, Sonora (in Mexico), using the net the US border guard thoughtfully provided.
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