*About Bobbing Around
*From me to you
*Responses to past issues
*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.
Dramatic and unprecedented warming in the Arctic… The rate of change is challenging the current scientific capacity to monitor and predict what is becoming a journey into uncharted territory.
World Meteorological Organization
From me to you
Goodreads book giveaway
Goodreads book giveaway
Dates are between 29th October and 6th November, so hurry.
Please consider entering, and PLEASE spread the word.
Prepublication page for Hit and Run
My 16th book, Hit and Run, is nearing publication. At its brand new prepublication page, you can read the first chapter, and reviews from (at the moment) ten readers.
There is also a form so you can request a free advance review copy. The payment is an honest review.
Letter to Queensland’s Premier
Coal is one of the things killing us. Earth is now in its 6th extinction event. The Great Barrier Reef is the visible part of this in Queensland. When we have unravelled the web of life, humanity will fall through the hole.
The CO2 we have generated since the start of the Industrial Revolution has raised Arctic temperatures to the point that methane is now being liberated in great quantities. Oil and gas extraction is adding to this. There is now as much methane in the air globally as was the case at the start of the extinction event that ended the Permian period. 96% of species became extinct.
The fossil fuel industry, including what we are doing in Australia, is killing everything.
In the circumstances, we MUST keep carbon in the ground.
New recipient for LiFE Award
It may make a great present for a little person in your life (NO, not your cat, dog or goldfish.)
Interview about the review
Responses to past issues
As always, I enjoyed reading “Bobbing Around”.
I lived in Oklahoma in the United States from 1963 to 1968. Based on my experiences there and on the fact that, as of 2012, there were still oil derricks on the lawn of the state capitol building, I believe that it will take Oklahoma a LONG time to stop fracking.
Happy Jewish New Year, 5777
Thank you, Margaret. You have convinced me not to move to Oklahoma. I prefer frolicking to fracking.
Hey mate, hurry up with the next volume of the Doom Healer!
Fair go, Gary! I’m about half through writing the fourth volume, and your comments on the other three have been very helpful.
Bill Sutcliffe will tell you, learning patience is good for you.
Listen to this chess champion
Garry Kasparov is one of the greatest chess players of all time. He has been world champion. So, he is a smart cookie. I have read many wise statements he has made, showing him to be a deep thinker on other issues, and a morally good man. If he ever returned to Russia, he’d be in jail, or dead.
Open letter to a Senator
Recently, and unprecedentedly strong storm struck South Australia. Huge towers carrying high-tension power lines were broken or ripped out of the ground. The estimated number of lightning strikes was between 80,000 and 150,000, including one on a power station.
The result was that automatic protection devices shut down electricity to the whole State.
South Australia has a wonderful record on encouraging renewable energy, with more wind power than anywhere else in Australia; so much that a large coal-fired power station has become uneconomical and been shut down.
Several politicians made public announcements, without checking facts, tying these two facts together. SA must have blacked out because its reliance on renewable energy. These included the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change (yes, those two conflicting portfolios have been combined, and the man filling the spot had previously been ridiculed as “Mr Coal”).
All of these people are right-wingers, in the pocket of the coal industry. But also, there is an Independent Senator with a track record of integrity, from South Australia, who made a similar statement.
The claimed causal link is ridiculous. When you have miles of high tension powerlines lying on the ground, the lack of power is not due to its source. There is a brief, simple explanation
by the Climate Council.
I have written a letter to Senator Xenophon, and sent a copy to South Australia’s major newspaper.
Dear Senator Xenophon,
I write to you to express my sympathy for the people of South Australia, whom you represent, for the damage caused by the recent devastating storm. It is among the most damaging natural disasters of your State.
I have seen photographs of high-tension electricity transmission towers broken off with their tips lying on the ground, indicating the unbelievable ferocity of the wind. Many thousands of lightning strikes occurred, a major one on a power station.
Senator, I have long admired you for being an intelligent, sensible, level-headed person. Therefore, I was surprised that you publicly blamed the disaster on the fact that South Australia has the proud record of having the greatest proportion of its electricity generated with renewable sources, specifically wind power.
Suppose that, after the electricity network is repaired, all the wind power were replaced with new coal-fired power stations, and the same storm struck again, causing the same damage. Do you think that the electricity in the power lines would behave differently? Can coal-generated power pass along cables on the ground while wind-generated ones cannot?
Climate change works by increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events of all kinds. The more greenhouse gases we spew into the atmosphere, the stronger and more frequent such windstorms will be. So, the renewable energy in your State means that it has contributed less to the problem than it might otherwise had, and you should focus your efforts on phasing out coal and gas as energy sources.
In fact, a major protection for your constituents is if they establish mini-grids, in which small communities produce their power locally, without being reliant on long distance power transmission, and for individual households to combine rooftop solar with batteries.
Senator, I am immensely disappointed in you. I feel a public retraction is appropriate.
Bob Rich, Ph.D.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive the following response:
- Dear Dr Rich
- An interview with Carolyn Howard-Johnson about her new book on book reviews.
- The brand new prepublication page for Hit and Run.
- And, most urgent, click on this link to look at the Goodreads book giveaway of Ascending Spiral.
- We WON governments agreeing to protect 30% of our oceans!!
- We ENDED the career of Brazil’s corruption king!!
- We helped CREATE the world’s largest marine reserve in the Pacific!!
- We finally STOPPED Monsanto’s mega-plant in Argentina for good!!
In just a few weeks, while we’ve also been flat out on stopping Trump! This movement is getting out of control — in a good way. Let’s keep it up! Here’s more on each win:
A global goal to protect 30% of our oceans!
Everyone thought our demand of 30% was crazy, except the scientists. But armed with the voices of a million Avaazers, our community stepped into the negotiations and out-maneuvered major blockers like Japan. By standing with Palau, meeting directly with key swing countries, and winning press to our side WE WON big … with 89% of the vote!
The Head of the Palau delegation said: “We were heartened to have 1 million Avaaz members from around the world stand with us.”
Taking down Brazil’s corruption king
Insiders and even journalists warned us that Congress President Eduardo Cunha was too powerful to oust. But we refused to be cowed — over 1.3 million of us demanded a national Ethics Committee vote to fire Cunha. And when his allies rallied to block the vote we hit back — delivering our petition directly to Congress, flooding key swing voters with phone calls, direct messages and on social media, including focusing on officials shielding Cunha. He was forced to resign and then barred from running for office for eight years! And just today, he was arrested!!
Anti-corruption champion MP Chico Alencar told us: “If it hadn’t been for public pressure, we wouldn’t have won. I want to thank and congratulate you.”
Creating the largest protected area on earth, ever
Our oceans are in serious trouble, so when we heard that President Obama was weighing whether to create a *giant* marine reserve in Hawaii, a million of us signed a petition and thousands wrote messages. To further tip Obama’s decision we delivered our messages to key meetings, organised colourful protests with kids that helped win over the press, and worked to remove other blockers from Obama’s path. In days the President signed the reserve into law.
The Director of the Global Ocean Legacy project, Matt Rand, said the “1.3 million people who signed and the tens of thousands that sent messages had their voices heard at the White House, and were a big part of getting this done.”
Chemical Giant Monsanto had locked in a high-level deal to build a mega factory in Argentina – but local communities decided to fight it, so we joined forces. Together we went door-to-door, ran polls showing massive local opposition, helped elect a city council opposed to the deal, met Monsanto in court, and amplified the local movement with a million voices worldwide. Monsanto was forced to abandon the project.
Local Malvinas organizer Celina Molina said: “Today we celebrate the victory of our long battle we shared with the global movement Avaaz…. Monsanto has only one option: to go back home.”
Traditional owners still fighting Adani
We’re still here, and no still means no. We continue to resist Adani’s proposal. The stakes are huge for us. In the spirit of our ancestors, we will continue to fight for justice and protection of our homelands until this project falls over.
Since we said no to Adani in October 2014, we have been taking our fight to the world — to the community, to our Indigenous brothers and sisters, to the banks, the media and in the courts. Your support is crucial to our success so far.
And we are now lifting our campaign to a whole new level. It is a defence of country against the destruction wrought by coal mining and the unleashing of dangerous climate change. But more — it is a fight for our dignity as first nations people with rights under international law, which we will pursue through the courts and parliaments, and in the community, until change comes.
We welcome your ongoing support. Please stay strong with us and watch for further updates and actions. Any support you can give us will help in our long journey ahead.
Adrian Burragubba and Murrawah Johnson,
For the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council
More info: our website
New Vipassana centre to open on Gold Coast
Exciting news about Dhamma Passaddhi NORTHERN RIVERS / GOLD COAST VIPASSANA
A property has finally been found near TWEED HEADS (Gold Coast) that satisfies centre requirements. Its facilities are extensive and include buildings and infrastructure to allow courses for around 30 students to commence shortly after ownership, with a relatively modest investment required to reach a capacity of 80+ in the long-term.
The natural beauty, privacy and tranquillity (Passaddhi) of the site are ideal for meditation. The 77-acre property features a cleared ridge-top surrounded by mature rainforest with 4 km of walking tracks. The plateau has views to the ocean, with mango and macadamia orchards.
The Gold Coast International Airport is 20 minutes away (17 km), servicing the Asia-Pacific region as well as Australian destinations. The site is on a local bus route, with no through road and minimal traffic.
The price is AU$2.5 million. A financial forecast has established that, as well as loans, we need $1.5m in Dana (donations). Therefore, we are asking old students of the need. Purchase is conditional on finance and final Development Application approval. Development/usage pre-lodgement negotiations with the Tweed Shire Council have been successful.
For more information, or to participate in a tour of the site, please contact email@example.com
May all beings be happy
Nauru is NOT OK
On Monday night’s Q & A on ABC TV, I had the unique opportunity to ask Jim Molan, co-author of Operation Sovereign Borders, if Australia’s border policy depends on the enormous suffering of vulnerable people. His denial of the deliberate abuse I witnessed says it all.
And this is why I will keep asking the hard questions.
This is why I will not be silenced.
I will not stop fighting for the safety of refugees until they can rebuild their lives with dignity and away from danger. Will you stand with me?
Being part of Q & A and seeing the public opinion unfold has left me feeling inspired. I believe in the compassion of the Australian people, and I’m optimistic that change is coming. In order to get there, we must stand together and demand the Australian Government pursue a humane solution that protects lives, instead of abusing thousands.
We cannot do this without you.
Dr Anna Neistat
Senior Director for Research at Amnesty International
2017 Emerging Writers’ Festival
The Emerging Writers’ Festival prides itself on being inclusive to everyone in the writing community, of all ages and at all stages of their career. We’re running an Open Artist Call Out for writers to put up their hands and let us know they’d like to be involved in the sure-to-be-incredible 2017 program.
The Emerging Writers’ Festival will take place from 14 – 23 June 2017, in Melbourne, Australia.
Whether you see yourself as an artist or audience member, we’d love to hear from you. If you’re successful, we’ll help you refine your idea and pair you with other writers. Applications are open now for the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and close Wednesday, 20 November 2016 at 5 pm.
We look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you at EWF in 2017.
Sharing with Writers
Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s informative newsletter is back.
Carolyn believes that cooperation is the best strategy, and she advances her projects by helping others. It’s all in the newsletter.
Book Writing & Publishing Course
We have all, at one time or another, considered writing a book.
But where do you start?
How does a plot, protagonist, theme, shape or become the story?
How do I create characters that engage the reader?
Is there a formula that could help me write my book?
What’s similar and what differs between fiction and non-fiction?
Should I use a pseudonym instead of my own name as the author?
What is the difference between first draft and second?
What should I do once I have written my book?
How do I go about getting my book published? And once it is published, is there more I should be doing to help it sell?
Lime Books offers a Book Writing & Publishing Course that answers these and many other questions.
With mentorship from authors Bob Selden [Non-Fiction] and Robert Salisbury [Fiction], who have written and sold over 50,000 books, the Lime Books “Book Writing & Publishing Course” can help you achieve your dream: a book you can be proud of. And it’s offered face-to-face or remotely. Phone or email Robert Salisbury 0404 11 7773 firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
I bought this CD because of a Greenpeace article showing this wonderful musician playing his piano in the Arctic, with a small collapse from the edge of the glacier during the performance. I wanted to support anyone who works for survival.
It was no hardship: the music is pleasant, expressive, calming. In the few days we’ve had access to this CD, we have played it over and over.
by Jennifer Lau
You’d expect a book with the subtitle “How we survived the Khmer Rouge” to be grim, and it is. At the same time, it is utterly gripping. I was racing through it with a sort of a morbid fascination. Surely, no one could survive this! But, obviously, the author had.
However, the unremitting parade of horrors, hardship, deprivation, death and disease did get to me, and after awhile I didn’t want to read on. I wanted to run away, to escape the story — but it had caught me. I needed to find out how she’d managed to survive, and to become a highly functioning professional in America. So, I read on, and it gripped me, wouldn’t let me go, to the very end. No, I’ve finished, and it’s still gripping me now.
The story is told by an adult, much later, but there is an immediacy of the small girl as the witness, written in clear, plain language. She takes us into the horror with a matter-of-factness that makes me admire her all the more.
I always enjoy learning about cultures strange to me. From the first pages, Jennifer Lau intrigued me with things taken for granted among ethnically Chinese people in Cambodia, which I considered odd, quaint, ingenious — or sometimes disgusting. Without info dumps or lecturing, always from within that little girl’s point of view, she taught me about beliefs and practices I hadn’t even imagined.
If you have ever felt sorry for yourself, reading this book will set you right. The worst you have experienced is nothing compared to what this family survived. And what distresses me is that, right now, there are other people suffering as badly, in the same way. They come from Syria, or are Rohingya from Myanmar, or Hazara from Afghanistan, or survivors of one of the many African conflicts… that matters not, nor does their religion, or skin colour. Like Jennifer’s family, they are people with feelings, thoughts and sense of pain just like you have.
And, if given a chance, they will contribute to a society that adopts them in the exemplary way Jennifer’s family has.
There is an interesting observation on page 27; one I wish today’s decision makers would note. Cambodia was a peaceful country. Then the Americans decided to cut off supplies to North Vietnam by dropping more bombs in Cambodia than all those in Europe and Japan during World War 2. Half a million people in a neutral country were killed. As a direct result, the terrible Khmer Rouge was born. This is what has been going on in Israel/Palestine from 1948 to the present. It’s what created the tragedy of Syria. The way to induce people to hate you is to attack them. Hate only leads to hate. Love is the only thing that can defeat hate.
One note of warning. Only read this book if you have a strong stomach, or, like me, the Buddhist skill to accept. Reading “Beautiful Hero” hasn’t given me nightmares, but it could well have.
Look up the author’s website.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson has graciously reproduced this review on her New Book Review, which is a review site worth subscribing to, whether you are a reader or a writer.
How to get great book reviews frugally and ethically
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
This, third, volume in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s “How to do it frugally” series is written in her usual clear, chatty style. Like the other two books in the series, it is not a read-and-put-away book, but a detailed instruction manual. You cannot learn from reading but only from doing, and Carolyn offers step by step recipes for what to do when, and how to do it.
Clearly, I am not going to give a synopsis of 340 pages of helpful advice, and the title says it all. This is a map to guide you along the journey of obtaining and using reviews as part of book promotion. It is however full of gems worth reading in their own right. Here are just three examples:
1. Her advice on plagiarism is so good that I asked her if I could reproduce it in Bobbing Around.
2. Then there is the idea, new to me, that lists of neighbors, fellow parents at your kids’ school, generally, members of groups you belong to, are all potential lists of reviewers. Brilliant!
3. How about this advice when contacting a potential reviewer: “Please let me know if there is anything else you need. I have a media kit I can send by post or attachment, high and low res cover images and headshots, and a sell sheet with complete metadata if you wish.”
I’ve been writing and seeking reviews for many years, and simply didn’t know about all the many aspects this book covers. Mind you, publicity hound (let’s be polite, publicity expert) Carolyn uses this book to direct the reader to her previous publications. Depending on your point of view, this could be a negative, or a shining example.
My overall assessment is that this is a very useful tool in a writer’s toolkit.
The book is now available on Amazon.
The joys of being well matured
My friend and fellow writer Wendy Laing has a long-running newsletter in which she discusses the happenings of her life, then follows with a long list of funnies. The second last one was sad: her husband Dave has passed away. All the same, the last one had the jokes as usual. So, to support her, and to honour Dave, I’ve sent her this list. A couple of items are remembered, but I made up the others.
My wife and I went out today — we both had doctor’s appointments.
Grandpa, why don’t you have teeth?
Well, actually I was born without teeth.
As I get older, I get taller. The proof is, the ground is further away when I try to pick up things.
Isn’t it a blessing, not having to waste time combing my hair?
I was meditating, so, no, I couldn’t have snored.
The older I get, the better I used to be.
Isn’t it wonderful how Mother can enjoy the same joke, over and over?
There is only one thing wrong with being a plant. People cut off your reproductive organs and put them in a vase.
My favourite weather forecast
I actually heard this on the radio:
“Possible showers may be developing tomorrow.”
About Bobbing Around
If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don’t want a repeat, it’s simple. Drop me a line and I’ll drop you from my list.
You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at http://mudsmith.net/bobbing.html, or you can forward a copy to your friend. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article’s author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)
If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be ‘subscribe Bobbing Around’ (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends. Alternatively, you can click to follow my blog, which gets you my other posts as well.
Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:
- Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
- Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
- Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
- Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.
It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.
Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.
Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.
Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.
Thank you for your email in relation to my comments in respect of the SA blackout.
I hope these comments go some way in clarifying my position on this issue.
Firstly, I want to make it clear that I am a strong supporter of renewable energy, particularly those forms of renewable energy that are more reliable such as solar in the northern parts of South Australia.
The point I was trying to make (obviously, not too well given your concerns) is that renewable energy needs to be integrated into the power system in a way that allows for a secure and reliable supply of power.
In addition there must be appropriate backup plans when a significant source of energy such as wind goes off the grid.
I don’t believe there was either adequate integration of wind energy, or a backup plan, given the events that occurred on the 28th.
I continue to support the Federal Government’s renewable energy target, but I believe we can be more ambitious with that target if there are incentives for battery storage to be built into the system.
The point I was trying to make is that if there was a better blend of cleaner gas fired generators that were baseload, in the system yesterday, the failure of the transmission lines in the Mid North of SA would not have led to the cascading effects of a shutdown of the entire SA power market.
I have written to the Australian Energy Market Commission requesting an independent investigation into these matters and I attach a copy of that letter.
I also provide a link to a report that was done in February this year about the engineering challenges of integrating renewable energy into our electricity grid, and in particular I refer you to page 7 of that report which warned of the risks involved – which unfortunately were borne out yesterday.
I also provide a link to a piece published by the respected ABC journalist Chris Uhlmann. Mr Uhlmann sets out these scientific challenges that must be met in order that we can have an even bigger proportion of renewables in the market.
To ignore the challenges of the science in bringing more renewables into the electricity grid is, I believe, a recipe for future massive blackouts. And my fear is that those blackouts will drive community opinion against renewables, which is the last thing I want.
Finally, I have been a long-time advocate for an Emissions Intensity Scheme, which I first advocated along with Malcolm Turnbull when he was Opposition Leader in 2009. That scheme would allow for the integration of more renewables in the market and drive power prices down at the same time. It is a scheme that has been picked up by Federal Labor in recent months and I am doing my best to advocate for it. This link will take you to a speech I gave in Port Pirie on this issue in August 2016.
Thank you again for writing to me.
Finally, I wrote back, one more time:
- Senator Xenophon, thank you for the courtesy of your reply.
May I respectfully suggest that a way of safeguarding the users of electricity in SA and elsewhere is for the establishment of local minigrids, and subsidies for solar-electric houses to either be independent or a hybrid system, with on-site battery storage?
Australia’s electricity distribution network is old, outdated, subject to faults, and very expensive.
The REAL reason Dilma was shafted
The mainstream media have been quiet about it, but the person installed as the next Brazilian president after Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment for supposed corruption has let the real reason slip.
What is this agenda? The usual neoliberal criminality of robbing the poor to feed the rich.
And, as you can read in Avaaz’s announcement, he has been tossed out for corruption and may face criminal charges. I hope Dilma returns!
The truth about logging
This is a highly accurate report on native forest logging in eastern Australia by Caitlyn Fitzsimmons.
Why are state governments losing money in order to prop up a dying woodchipping industry?
Can a Christian support Trump?
This is a must-read open letter to people who identify as Christians, but support a presidential candidate who has rejected every one of Jesus’ teachings.
Hottest year ever coming… again
Every month in 2016 has been the hottest ever, so it’s no surprise that NASA has already firmly predicted that 2016 will break all previous records for global temps.
The graph below shows this year’s September being on top, with all the previous months poking up from the pack. (September is second hottest ever, by a blip.)
Well, that’s been the case for 14 out of 15 of the previous years this century.
Global warming is a conspiracy of mother nature against the coal and oil industries.
This lake is high up on Mount Everest. It is where a glacier used to be.
This is also a conspiracy, by the local governments to encourage tourism to their area, and so this has nothing to do with climate change. Sherpas run around at night with yak-fat candles, melting the ice.
BP spews oil into the sea again
This time it’s near Scotland. Just a little mistake: only about 95 tonnes of the stuff, spilled during an hour. BP has announced it is handling it well by doing nothing, since it’s not going toward land.
I am sure the fish, seabirds and marine mammals don’t mind.
This is the mob who wanted to have access to the Great Australian Bight. Thanks to immense public pressure, they have withdrawn their bid.
Thom Hartmann on hurricanes
I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Thom Hartmann, and completely agree with what he writes here concerning Hurricane Matthew, which (who???) was unprecedented in several ways, and broke a number of records.
Weather is not climate. No particular event is “caused by” climate change. However, the endless succession of unprecedented extreme weather events is.
Legislating against mention of climate change is not going to change that. Ostriches of the bird variety don’t actually put their heads in the sand. I don’t know how human ones can. Maybe they are waiting until the heat in the sand bakes their brains?
Eating the (near) future
Some people in starvation conditions survive through bushmeat: hunting wild animals. This is fine. However, others have moved into cities, and choose to eat bushmeat, providing a huge market for large scale, indiscriminate slaughter.
According to a recent report, the scale of this activity is large enough to threaten many species with extinction. Entire ecosystems are being devastated.
“Here we provide an analysis showing that bushmeat hunting for mostly food and medicinal products is driving a global crisis whereby 301 terrestrial mammal species are threatened with extinction. Nearly all of these threatened species occur in developing countries where major coexisting threats include deforestation, agricultural expansion, human encroachment and competition with livestock. The unrelenting decline of mammals suggests many vital ecological and socio-economic services that these species provide will be lost, potentially changing ecosystems irrevocably.”
Two-way traffic in China
While the population centres expand west, the deserts of the west expand toward the east.
Check out this amazing interactive at the New York Times.
West Antartica on the way
This pic from NASA says it all. Some of the ice moves 1.5 kilometres in a year — unheard of speed.
LA determined to go green
Los Angeles has decided to go 100% renewable. This should help to convert their famous smog into breathable air, as well as maybe saving a future.
Mind you, the best way to deal with energy is to use less of it.
Public pressure can work!
Health professionals win against torture
Part of Australia’s criminal treatment of asylum seekers is the threat of 2 years’ jail for whistleblowers who reveal anything about what goes on in the concentration camps. Doctors for Refugees have started court action, challenging this.
Quietly, without fanfare, the Act was modified to exclude health professionals, but it still applies to everyone else. The reason? All sorts of things would come into the open in a court hearing.
People who inspire
Poor college transformed
There is an organic farm in south Dallas, Texas where a football field used to be. Instead of going broke, Paul Quinn College is thriving, and its mostly African-American students are doing well.
Running the organic farm is part of the curriculum. Students earn their fees by working at various jobs for the College, learning excellent skills in the process. The produce is sold to high-end restaurants, with 25% given away in their poor neighbourhood.
Everyone wins, in self-respect as much as in anything else.
This is a model for how we should run everything.
Refugee a rescuer
Synchronicity? Wedding dress needs repair. Syrian refugee who can’t even speak English yet is next door, and is a master tailor.
Problem fixed. Friendships built.
This is Canada. The attitudes on both sides should be everywhere.
Leo does it again
Leonardo di Capricio’s new movie is a must-see. It is a documentary Before the Flood, and the star is the planet Earth.
Maasai girl helps her people and the environment
The writeup is calm and low-key, but I have no doubt this young lady’s experiences would make gripping reading in a novel. Thanks to a scholarship from Maasai Girls Education Fund, she obtained a degree in agriculture. All she wants to do is to return to her people in Kenya, and plant thousands of trees.
No one has read it yet, but in my current writing, I have an admirable Maasai man, so I’m interested in the culture.
That’s right. Stanford University actually offers an 8-week course in how to be more compassionate. It sounds very worthwhile, but I am not going to the USA to do it.
This story is a must-read. It doesn’t really fit in this category, but I didn’t know where else to put it. The theme is the NEED for compassion, not from individuals, but from the fabric of society.
It makes a lie of homelessness stereotypes. Here is an educated, literate lady who has been spat out by society. She’d commit suicide, except for her love of her dog.
What she needs is not charity, but a fair go. And she is one of millions. We need system change to a compassionate, sharing, decent society.
Clean without paper or chemicals
Think how much money you spend on cleaning chemicals… and if you’re like most people, on things like sponges, floor-mop replacement heads, and paper towels.
You can replace all this with a ‘nanotowel.’
The demo looks convincing. Anyway, a packet of 4 for about $20 sounds affordable as an experiment. If the claims are genuine, it’ll save you hundreds of dollars, not to mention the obvious environmental benefits.
The company marketing it is Water Liberty whose other products include a water purifying system.
After an internet search, I found many other sources of nanotowels, so you might want to shop around.
Farming of the future?
South Australia was recently devastated by a storm — what once upon a time would have been considered a freak storm, but is now a possibility in many places. However, one new business was unaffected. This is a tomato farm in the desert that uses no fossil fuels, fresh water or pesticides. It produces two truckloads of beautiful tomatoes a day, the year round.
Seawater is turned into steam using thermal solar power. The steam generates electricity and provides warmth in winter, as well as providing irrigation water.
The farm provides employment for 200 people in an economically depressed area.
I can’t see too many negatives.
Kite power is ready
Two kites are set to produce 500 kW of electricity continuously, in a windy region of Scotland. This is a pilot project, to be followed with a 3 mW version that will power an entire town.
Read one report here.
Global living and sustainability: A Gandhian perspective
I have been an admirer of Gandhi since my teens, when I first came across his actions and ideas. Dr D John Chelladurai gives an admirable summary of the ecological implications of the Mahatma’s ideas.
Well worth a read.
While we are at it, here are a few gems the Mahatma is credited with:
There is enough for every human’s need but not everyone’s greed.
Consuming more than what we actually require amounts to stealing.
I have no enemy.
Why I disapprove of ecotourism
Imagine guided tours of hospital wards. Bizarre? Damaging? Even cruel?
Ecotourism is visiting natural places of beauty. Very nice for the visitor. It can even be appreciated by the locals as a source of employment. But what does it do to the environment?
First, of course, all tourism has the ecological footprint of a Yeti. You drive, fly, or perhaps go via a cruise ship. All of these use energy, generate wastes, add to climate change. On the way, and at the destination, you’ll be using resources at perhaps five times the rate of when you are at home.
Ecotourism has the extra impact of intrusion into the admired environment. A walk in a forest along an established path is fine, but anything more will cause damage, guaranteed.
And now there is a new fad, of visiting those environments on the way of being destroyed: the Great Barrier Reef, Arctic ice, tropical rainforests.
This is crassly worse. It’s tours of the palliative ward. Go on, gape at dying nature, hastening it on its way. Your witnessing of this disappearing glory will kill it all the faster.
It appears that TripAdvisor agrees with me. They will no longer make bookings for anything that allows people to pester captive or free animals.
Where to put the next billion people
A new report in Nature offers urban design solutions to this problem. It is very logical, ingenious, responsible, and environmentally aware, and makes me want to cry.
This is what I call straight-line thinking. More people are going to be here, so how can we make room for them?
We are NOW using more fresh water than falls on land. We are NOW destroying entire species of what used to be commercial fish stocks. We are NOW destroying topsoil in a vain attempt to feed everyone.
We won’t have another 1.1 billion people to house in 2030.
I was going to leave a comment at the web site, but didn’t need to. Three of the four commenters had already made my point.
Broken? Opportunity for art
Please read this fascinating essay about the Japanese art of Kintsugi. A broken ceramic object is mended rather than thrown out, in a way that emphasises the repair rather than hiding it.
They use gold and silver dust, which is way beyond my means. But next time I repair something, I’ll use the concept with some other highly visible colouring mixed with the adhesive.
Right to life — for whom?
50 years ago, a young medical student watched a girl his age die alone, spurned, in agony. It should not have happened, but in those days, having an abortion in the USA risked being a capital offence. Oh, the killing was not done by police and lawyers and judges, but by butcher-shop practitioners.
Do we want to return to such savagery?
The man who is raping a nation
How to Free Yourself from Your Personal Stories
How can I help my man to work through his childhood?
How can I be nicer?
How to have a relationship with my emotionally disturbed daughter?
I feel depressed
The man who is raping a nation
You MUST READ Laura Bassett’s essay. This lady uses powerful prose to take you into the world of how past trauma can be triggered by Trump’s disgusting public disclosures.
She is one of a great many women with unresolved trauma due to past sexual assault. Having a public figure boast about his monstrous past behaviour is guaranteed to cause extreme distress to such survivors, many of whom may have been fine until now.
This man should be charged, and put away into jail.
How to free yourself from your personal stories
I can recommend this simple but effective meditation described by Bob Stahl and Steve Flowers.
It is based on sound principles, and will lead to an improvement in your quality of life.
Pic from Meditation Brisbane
How can I help my man to work through his childhood?
A young woman we’ll call Susanna posted a cry for help about a year ago. She has contacted me again, not for herself, but because she is motivated to relieve the suffering of another person:
I wanted you to know your advice last year was very helpful. I’ve continued in therapy and am doing well.
I’m hoping to get advice on discussing a matter with my boyfriend (same man from above). I’ll call him John.
He had a childhood of abuse and abandonment. His mother was an alcoholic and drug abuser. She and her husband abandoned John for the first time at 2 weeks old, leaving him on a relative’s doorstep. They (and later just the mother) would return every few months or years to say they had changed and were ready to care for John. Then they would return to partying and abandon John yet again. At about 5 years old, his grandparents had enough of this pattern and adopted John legally. Things improved to a degree, but his mother was allowed access to him and continued emotional abuse for the rest of his childhood and into his teen years. By choice, he no longer has contact with his biological parents, but remains in contact with his grandparents who really raised him.
He’s never really dealt with his emotions about his past, although he is a sensitive guy and I know he has a lot of hurt inside him. He has instead chosen to repress and ignore these emotions. He moved across country, so his family is out of sight, out of mind. He will do anything to distract himself and not think about it. He definitely has shown signs of depression on and off over the years. I’ve suggested therapy to him before. It comes up perhaps once a year. He is extremely reluctant and he says he has no desire to relive his terrible past. I’ve told him I understand that and that I think while therapy would be painful, I believe it would be worth it in the end. He’s extremely stubborn and pushing any issue will make him more likely to reject it, so I don’t bring this up often. My approach is to discuss it in a supportive manner when he seems most open to it, encourage help, not push it, leave it to germinate. It seems to have made him open up to the possibility of help. He has conceded in the past year that he might be depressed.
We recently visited his adoptive parents. It had been 3-4 years since he had seen them, because they live back “home” and he’s been avoiding his past entirely. His foster father is very old and unwell. He is bedridden and will likely never recover. He put off seeing them as long as he could. I encouraged him to go visit, because the guilt at not seeing his grandfather was evident and I knew he would have terrible regrets if his grandfather died and he had not gone to see him in so long.
I know he feels a lot of guilt for being so far from them, especially now they are old and unwell. He approached me today and stated he thinks he is depressed. It was out of the blue, just as I was leaving for work. He has a tendency to bring up stuff when he knows we don’t have time to dig into it. I think this is a huge step for him to admit this. I want him to get the help he needs and I believe he is beginning to be ready to receive it. I will of course, be supportive and will listen to anything he wants to talk about. I do strongly believe that therapy would be invaluable to him. I told him when I get home we will talk about his feelings in more depth. How do I encourage his opening up without scaring him back into his shell? I want to encourage therapy again, but I am treading carefully. What do you advise?
From what I understand, your aim in writing again is help with working out how to lead him to therapy. There is an alternative that has a very good chance of working. This is something called “Traumatic Incident Reduction,” TIR http://www.tir.org.
The point is that traumatized people almost invariably use avoidance as the main survival tool. “John” has. It works up to a point, but then causes worse problems of its own. It’s like hiding a rotten apple under the good ones on top instead of digging it out and tossing it away, or of dealing with a hole in the tooth by relying on painkillers. The problem festers away until/unless fixed, and only gets worse over time.
When you are in a traumatic situation, memories are processed differently. Certain emotional aspects never get relegated to the past, but, when triggered, feel as if they were current. His “depression” is probably lack of energy, due to the enormous effort needed to keep the lid on the childhood hurts. I strongly suspect that if he came to me, we’d soon find that he actually experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
A huge amount of research shows how to get rid of this problem. It is to create a safe space, and then deliberately invite the terrible memories. At first, that feels awful, but they ARE only memories, and he IS in a safe place. When you do this, the emotion has a chance to be fully experienced, and then it’s over.
There are many ways of doing this. I am recommending TIR, because one session may well do it for him. If there are many hurts with different, unique features, he may need one session for each, but often dealing with just one fixes the lot.
If he wants to understand how this all works, and learn about a few self-help methods, he might want to read my little book, Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias.
In summary, running away from problems keeps pain at bay, but makes the situation worse. Facing up to them, the way you did, is the way to a permanent solution.
How can I be nicer?
Growing up as a kid I always fought with one of my older siblings for no reason while she never did anything to me and now that I’m grown up I even try to keep a friendly attitude all the time around other people or even if somebody else makes me upset. How can I be nice all the time around people like friends and family?
Have a read of How to change a habit.
At first, a new habit feels unnatural and like pretending, but it improves with practice, and after awhile becomes a part of you.
Another good thing is that I see you have taken a positive attitude. You are acting according to this:
There is no such thing as a mistake, fault of defect.
There are only learning opportunities.
When you make a mistake:
1. Apologize to yourself within your heart and forgive yourself.
2. If possible and appropriate, apologize to other people affected.
3. If possible and appropriate, make restitution.
4. Work out how you can do it better next time.
If you find that a past act was a mistake, that’s proof that you’ve gained in wisdom.
The worst thing you can do is to beat yourself up with shame and guilt. You are responsible for having made the mistake, and the above addresses that.
I think this is the path you have set for yourself.
Next, do you still have contact with your older sister? If so, you can apologize to her, then ask her to be your helper in making the change. If not, find someone else who is willing to help you.
Here is how it goes. Design the way to act in typical situations that have given you problems until now. Practice these in front of a mirror, like an actress practicing a part. Then do role plays with your helper. Then get into real life situations. Have secret signals from your helper. For example, when you do it the new way, she can wink her left eye. When you slip back and do it the old way, she can touch her ear to remind you.
There will be slipbacks and difficulties, but the more you practice, the better you get.
You have set out on a journey to become a person people will love to have around. Once you are good at it, you can make your own and everyone else’s life better.
Let me know how you go.
How to have a relationship with my emotionally disturbed daughter?
I am 66 and have lived with my 30 something daughter for 8 years. She has three young children, 13, 11, 9. The 11 year old is autistic and cannot be unsupervised. Her husband cheated so he is gone. She has raged at me for all those years, evicted me from her home more than once. She grudgingly backs off because she needs my money. I pay $600+ per month and am available for child care anytime she wants it, usually a portion of every day and sometimes all day. She doesn’t appreciate that at all and criticizes me daily for something I didn’t “do right”. The home situation for her is difficult. She has crippling anxiety and she takes it our on all of us. She rages at me or her children at least once a day and calls me names, puts me down and threatens to evict me again.
I had nowhere else to go when I became disabled with heart failure. I am now on permanent disability. She took me in and I was grateful. However her mental and emotional abuse has become so bad that I have found a place to go and live with my sister 400 miles away. When I told her she lost her mind and verbally attacked me for hours. When she left the house I grabbed what I could and am temporarily at my brother’s. God bless my siblings!
As soon as I can get the rest of my belongings I’ll go to live with my sister.
Since my daughter is so out of control and so angry, I worry about these kids a lot. She blames everyone but herself for everything. We stress her out by our “bad” behavior so it ‘s our fault she rages. She refuses to get help. Says there is something wrong with us not her. I think she may have some kind of personality deficit but don’t anticipate her doing anything about it.
Question: 1. How do I maintain a relationship with her and protect myself.
2. What can I do about my grandkids. She and the thirteen year old are already scuffling and screaming at each other. She will not even consider backing down to deescalate their confrontations and says she will keep going until he submits. He is already bigger than her. Those kids break my heart. I fear for their safety and future. They don’t understand why I don’t live there anymore. She is currently blocking our contact to punish me.
3. Is there any source of help? I feel very helpless and think her family’s future is very grim. I want to know what I can do, if anything, to make this situation better.
Thank you so much for your time.
Jessie my dear,
I can see that you have chosen a course of action, which is to stop being abused, and to look after your own welfare. I think this is wise, and I you are amazing to have put up with this terrible situation for 8 years before needing to withdraw from it.
Your first duty is your own survival, and you are now doing something about it.
I read two worries in your words. The title of your cry for help says that despite everything, you still wish only the best for your daughter. And the second is your knowledge that for 8 years, you were your grandchildren’s protection from her, and when you go, they’ll be worse off.
The second one is certainly a terrible dilemma. However, it seems to me that they are being traumatized on a regular basis even with you there. And what happened during those past occasions when she had evicted you? For that matter, you said she is stopping you from seeing them.
In the last analysis, your daughter is their parent, not you. With you gone, there is a chance that, perhaps for the first time in her life, she may take responsibility for her actions, acknowledge that she has a serious problem, and therefore be motivated to do something about it.
There is the concept of enabling, best understood with regard to gambling. Imagine a man who gambles away all his pay, so his mother gives him $100 so the kids have something to eat. He then gambles the $100 away. So, she buys food for the kids. That still means he has more money to throw away the next time. The only way she can avoid enabling his addiction is to step back, even if that means the kids go hungry. Then, and only then, he may admit that he has a problem.
The same is true in your situation. For the past 8 years, your love and support has “enabled” her to deny that she has a problem, and so to continue with it. Without you as a backup, she may realize she needs to wake up.
There is a child protection service in California. There are also various support groups and help for autistic children. Before leaving the state, you might check out what help is available for your grandkids.
There are no easy solutions in this situation, but I think you are doing the best that anyone could.
Thank u so much for your reply. These are all things I knew but I needed confirmation that I was doing the right things. Your point of my stepping back and letting her step in and do the right thing is very welcome. That is what I will be supporting, her ability to stand on her own 2 feet, accept the responsibility she has been given and be the good mom I know she can be. Thanks for the affirmation and for your welcome email. Very encouraging and very supportive. I think you earned another gold star in heaven. Thanks again.
I feel depressed
I am 13 and I go to school too of course. I always stand first in my class too.
I am thought to be smart by everyone but now it’s vacation and I feel really depressed and I also know the reason why…it’s because of my study. Recently I have started to concentrate less in my studies even though I take studying real seriously. I have done very badly in my exam and I don’t think I will stand first this time. This thing bugs me all the time and I feel so very depressed. I feel like dying.
Evelyn my dear,
You are on holidays. Use the time to read a wonderful book, “I am Malala.” She faced the same problem of having been the best in her class, then she wasn’t. Sometimes she didn’t get the best results, and yet she became world famous and even got the Nobel Peace Prize.
Also, there is another way to look at school, at learning. You are not there to win at anything, but to learn lots of interesting and useful things that can make you grow as a person. The competition is only one way of encouraging children to do the best they can.
So, don’t study in order to be the best, but because what you are learning is interesting and useful. Even if it seems boring, tell yourself you are learning to use a tool, and when you can use it, you can do interesting things with it.
If you happen to be the smartest child in a class, and work hard, you will come first. But there is always someone in the world who is smarter than you. If someone like that comes into your class and also works hard, she will probably come first. Then, you can still do your best to do even better than her, and that will be useful to you when you are an adult. The competition pushes you along, whether you end up first or second.
When you are 33 years old instead of 13, no one will remember if you were first on a test this year or not. But the skills you learn now will still be useful then.
So, do your best but don’t worry about how you compare to other people.
Next, let’s look at being depressed. This is not something you are, but something you do. You can choose to do something else. Go for a run, or read a good book, or look at something beautiful, or even better, make something beautiful. When I was your age, I was depressed much of the time. I found that running was a great antidepressant, and reading books was just as good. If these worked for me, they will work for you.
You like winning. All right, have a contest with depression. Who is in charge? Will you let the depression beat you? Or will you fight back?
There is a rule: whatever depression tells you, do the opposite. Try it out, and let me know how it worked for you.
Your new grandfather,
Monsanto on trial
It’s not a trial in a court of law, but legally sound and impressive all the same. Experts and farmers from all around the world gathered to present and hear the evidence on Monsanto’s crimes against humanity.
Interesting and convincing read.
Poker machines and domestic violence
There is a link, stronger than the researchers expected.
Climate change is a health issue in Australia (and everywhere else)
Leading health experts say Australia’s health system is unprepared for the impacts of climate change, leaving communities unnecessarily exposed.
In a national first, the Climate and Health Alliance surveyed more than 130 peak health bodies, unions and health professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, public health practitioners and psychologists, to evaluate the sector’s preparedness for the impacts of climate change.
There is quite a bit about writing in my news:
Nowadays, I write about writing once a month anyway, as part of Rhobin’s rounds.
This month’s contribution is By any other name, which is about titles.
The prepublication page
So, your book is ready to go — self-published or otherwise. Of course, as an author, you have a website (not yet? Get on with it!). It needs a pre-publication page for your new book.
Big publishers often start publicity for a book as long as 3 months in advance. Pre-pub orders can bump up your status at places like Amazon. However, your web page for the book should be there well before selling sites are involved. You will of course make it as interesting and intriguing as possible, then ask friends, relations and other contacts to send people along and read it. It’s your job to make the interest spread.
Invite visitors to fill out a form so they can be contacted again, and explain why this is a good thing to do for them. This is also a tool for gathering advance reviews. How to use these is another topic.
A pre-pub page is a work in progress. Each time you make a significant change, you have an opportunity for asking people to return, while of course avoiding becoming a nuisance. You can sweeten the invitation with contests, rewards, and opportunities to comment.
To see and example, check out my pre-pub page for my coming 16th book, Hit and Run.
The publisher is working on the cover right now. As soon as the publisher, artist and I agree on what that should look like, I’ll post it on this page, and let interested people know. If there are two or three alternatives we are trying to choose from, I’ll run a contest, and people voting will be in line for a small prize, for example a $10 gift card. That will then give me a legitimate excuse for spreading the word far and wide in Bobbing Around and through social media.
I have reproduced a few of the advance reviews I already have for this book. Each person who gave me a review is listed by name and web site, so it is also publicity for them. Therefore, I can ask them to let their network of contacts know about it. That’s how the internet works: as a positive feedback loop.
Similarly, if you send me a complimentary comment about this page, I will be motivated to post it, with a link to whatever you want the world to know about.
Even better, if you suggest ways I can improve my pre-pub page, or what additional features I can put on it, I’ll do everything I can to return the favor.
So, you can see, it’s a rule of our universe: the more you give, the more you get.
What my friends want you to know
Amidst all the darknesses of our world, Avaaz’s light is shining brightly — we’ve had 4 huge wins in the past few weeks!