Bobbing Around Volume 17 Number 7

The meaning of life is nature, and universal embrace of an ecology ethic before the biosphere collapses is all that really matters anymore. Bathe in the forest. Grow plants. No more burning. Stop bulldozers. Howl at the moon. Know how much is enough. Be one with nature, or die.
Dr. Glen Barry


How can people kill each other over different ways of worshipping the God of love?
Maraglindi, in Guardian Angel

Bobbing Around

Volume Seventeen, Number Seven,
January, 2018

Bob Rich’s rave

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

*About Bobbing Around
subscribe/unsubscribe
guidelines for contributions

*From me to you
Thank heavens, I was wrong
Beautiful script for quitting cigarettes
What makes a character memorable?
LiFE Award, again
Free stories for your enjoyment
An inspiring event

*Responses
Katie McKy

*Environment
A great wonder, about to die
Extinctions
An important essay by Dr. Glen Barry
How can we reduce the effects of global warming?

*Good news
France rescues American climate scientists from Trump
World Bank won’t finance fossil exploration

*Inspiring people
Thank you, Sir David
What actually happens in disasters
We share the same soul

*Compassion
Compassion is good for you
A good cop
Food waste can go to the hungry in New York
Cartoonist rescued from hell

*Technology
Nuclear fusion power
Multipurpose urban farming
World’s first 100% solar train

*Deeper issues
Meditation vs. relaxation
What makes a terrorist tick?
An ethical look at the Bicoin bubble
Pigeons are people too
The cost of military spending

*Psychology
Exercise leads to sanity
I’m 16 and want a baby
I am 13 and 6 months pregnant
Should I file for divorce?

*Health
Will wifi harm you?
But phones do harm
Better than toothpaste
Polluted at birth
Coal plant harmed babies

*For writers
Characters
Bringing a story to life

*What my friends want you to know
Full of good stuff for writers
Online conference on heavy metals
Vote for best climate action idea
Offgrid living festival, Australia, 28 April
Manus Island tragedy
Action is happening on climate change
New play by Lance Johnson
Bainstorming
Wild by Nature, January
Dragon Eyes featured

*Reviews
Guardian Angel, reviewed by Ken Kroes
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by David Wildman

*Fun
Modern technology


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.


It turns out it wasn’t the [temperature-measuring] station that was broken. It was the climate.
Temperature measurements at Barrow, Alaska.


Perfect parenting is clear rules, firmly enforced, with unconditional love, and the complete absence of physical and mental abuse. But you don’t have to be perfect. Parents are allowed to be human.
Dr Bob Rich

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.


From me to you

Thank heavens, I was wrong
Beautiful script for quitting cigarettes
What makes a character memorable?
LiFE Award, again
Free stories for your enjoyment
An inspiring event

 

Thank heavens, I was wrong

In January, 2012, I wrote But There is No Need for Despair. This essay is about how to stay sane despite the way humanity is destroying its own home. It used climate change as an example, one of several I could have presented.

My estimate at the time was that the end was likely to come within five years, which is now. Fortunately, although we’ve come close, we are not there yet.

Climate change progresses through the death of a thousand cuts, bit by bit, but also, there is a possibility of discontinuous change. How to Predict Disaster explains how the tools used by the insurance industry can be applied to predicting climate catastrophe.

Luck has been on our side, so far. All the same, we need to do everything to protect ourselves and the precious environment of all living things. Please join me in living simply, so you may simply live.


Beautiful script for quitting cigarettes

During December, I posted a tract of writing from my daughter, which was her tool for quitting a decades’ long habit.

It is beautiful to read, full of deep symbolism, and was effective.

Here it is.


What makes a character memorable?

This is the topic of the December Rhobin’s Rounds: a bunch of writers writing about writing.

You might be interested in my take on this, whether you are a writer or a reader. (If you are neither, GO AWAY!)


LiFE Award, again

The LiFE Award: Literature For Environment draws attention to writing that cherishes our little planet. Please support the authors on the list.

The 41st recipient, which is the 5th in recent months, is Sublime Planet, a book of poetry by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball.


Free stories for your enjoyment

Check out the stories I’ve recently posted. The last one was on the 15th of December, The Angel of Life.

Young George found out the family secret — and fixed the problem.

Please read and leave a comment.


An inspiring event

Please read a short essay about how I spent one Sunday afternoon. I’d like to be like these people when I grow up!


Responses

Katie McKy

Bob, thank you so much for your latest Bobbing Around. I always enjoy your writing and that of others. Keep fighting the good fight. I try to do my bit in Downeast Maine. I bought the lot next to mine to keep it green and to increase the biodiversity of both lots by planting indigenous species that were lost to logging. I also grow and nurture moss, which is a mighty carbon cleanser, and have made my home as energy efficient as I can afford.

Best,

Katie McKy

Katie McKy taught troubled children for nearly thirty years. Then she took to the road to teach writing to hundreds of children at a time, totaling about 600,000 children in twelve years. Nowadays, she writes for a dozen American magazines, gardens, and cares for her trees. The photo shows a red maple in full fall color with spruces, white pines, and cedars in the background.


Environment

A great wonder, about to die
Extinctions
An important essay by Dr. Glen Barry
How can we reduce the effects of global warming?

 

A great wonder, about to die


“Think globally, act locally.” For me, that means the wonderful mountain ash (Eucalyptus Regnans) forests of my area. This species is the tallest flowering tree in the world. The mountain forests are among the densest carbon storage ecosystems there are.

We are campaigning hard to establish the Great Forest National Park. The trouble is, the government of Victoria, which has done many excellent things, is controlled by a number of very powerful unions. Replacing a few hundred logging jobs with tens of thousands of tourism, hospitality and tree plantation jobs doesn’t suit the union. So, every weekday, about 30 huge logging trucks thunder through Healesville, at a financial loss to the State.

Here is the consequence: a scientific study has demonstrated that the collapse of the forest has a probability of over 90%.

Clearfall logging increases the risk of bushfires. The report states that another big, statewide fire will guarantee the permanent destruction of these amazing forests.


Extinctions

The IUCN has released its latest “red list” of species lost or under threat. Because Toyota is a major sponsor, the event was in Japan.

It’s frightening and distressing, as expected. Never before since humans have appeared has the extinction rate been this high.

IUCN assessed the status of 91,523 species, of which 25,821 are threatened, 866 are extinct and 69 extinct in the wild. 11,783 species are vulnerable, 8,455 are endangered and 5,583 critically endangered.

We know the reasons: climate change and ocean acidification; destructive fishing technologies; forest clearing; spread of cities replacing nature; the effects of trash and poisons…

As individuals, we may feel helpless, but we are not. We can make personal lifestyle changes, and use our collective voice to shout at the perpetrators.


An important essay
by Dr. Glen Barry


Glen has set out in detail pretty well what I’ve been campaigning for over many years. His passionate, evidence-based essay is worth reading.

In summary, we are killing our life support system, and MUST change.

There are only two kinds of people: conservationists and suicides.


How can we reduce the effects of global warming?

This was a question at Quora. Some lawyer named Matkin gave a long denialist answer, full of pretty graphs. I’d seen the same arguments presented, and debunked, many times, and didn’t have the emotional energy to go over this old ground, yet again. Instead, I wrote this:

Climate change is real. It has happened and is accelerating. We are responsible.

The evidence for my statements is overwhelming.

James Matkin has given a summary of the typical arguments for denying it. He starts: “We thrive on the effects of global warming…” This would be true if global temperatures were too cold on average. Rather, we have adapted to what has been more or less a steady state for thousands of years. Any major change is a problem, up or down. We don’t need to worry about cooling, although the sun is in the cooling stage of its 11 year cycle, but we do have to worry about warming.

I don’t have the time or inclination for a blow by blow rebuttal. The evidence is out there, in bucketloads. With regard to the United States, it has recently been stated by an official report, despite opposition from the President, The Climate Science Special Report. Given the circumstances these scientists face, I am far more inclined to believe them than any person with no expertise in climate science.

Instead, look at recent events. Five major hurricanes all at the same time, and devastating floods in the Indian subcontinent. Winter fires in California.

Such extreme weather events are not linearly caused by any one factor, but more heat stored in the ocean and atmosphere pushes up their probability and severity.

So, tell Texans and Bangladeshi and Puerto Ricans that global warming is good for them.

There is another answer. Suppose Mr. Matkin was right and we don’t need to worry about climate change. But what about the effects of plastic in the oceans, ocean acidification, dead zones due to nutrients from human activity in coastal areas, and overfishing? We are, literally, killing the life of the sea.

What about the flooding of our planet with toxic chemicals? Glyphosate has been found in penguins in Antarctica. It is in the rain wherever scientists in the USA have looked for it. Bee killing pesticides are threatening to accelerate the extinction of many species of flowering plants. Air pollution-related illness and death is a global epidemic. We are killing ourselves, and of course other life, with the poisons we put into the environment.

Fresh water is another problem. A major North American aquifer has lowered by 100 feet, leading to rapid desertification in 8 states.

There is the effect of factory farming on global topsoil: the stuff that keeps us all alive. Here is a Scientific American article about it, based on the recent UN report.

So, climate change is only one of many symptoms of a global economy gone crazy.

Now to answer the perfectly sensible and reasonable question.

Some responses need large scale action by countries and big business. An individual has little impact — except by joining others. In the 1970s, Edward Goldsmith said, “A leader is a person who runs in front of a crowd, shouting, ‘Follow me!’ If the crowd changes direction, he’ll stop being a leader, unless he also changes.” So, join Al Gore and Bill McKibben and Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club and other organizations working for a survivable future.

We can also do personal action. If enough of us do that, it will make a difference, and at the minimum, when the next climate disaster strikes somewhere, you can say, “It’s not my fault.” The main thing is, live simply so you may simply live. This approach has a surprising side benefit: contentment.

This is because the entire global culture is based on an illusion: that stuff makes you happy. When you liberate yourself from the shackles of always needing more, life becomes varied and meaningful. While still being part of society, I’ve done my best to live frugally, providing for my own needs, repairing instead of throwing out, being creative instead of consuming. If you minimize the part of your life you spend as a wage slave, and instead engage in many varied activities to meet your own needs, provide your own entertainment, work together with people who matter to you, then you live the lifestyle humans were evolved in. The result is contentment.

Please read How to change the world at my blog, which sets this out in more depth. I give more detailed suggestions in the transcript of a speech I made some years ago.

So, thank you for feeling the need to ask this question. Do your best to make a difference in your own life, and join others in campaigning to work for a survivable future, and one worth surviving in.


Good news

There have been many gains in politics and the environment in 2017, but so many organisations have been circulating them that I didn’t feel the need to do so as well.

France rescues American climate scientists from Trump
World Bank won’t finance fossil exploration

 

France rescues American climate scientists from Trump

This report in the Guardian is one of several I’ve seen about a wonderful act by Emmanuel Macron, the French President.

Because Trump has destroyed climate research in the USA, France has invited 18 applicants from among 5000. 13 are Americans.

Thank you for your leadership, President Macron.


World Bank won’t finance fossil exploration

Well, they’ll stop by 2019. As always, the establishment contributes too little, too late. But the good news is a signal to the world, and particularly to big business: fossil fuel use is killing us, now.


People who inspire

Thank you, Sir David
What actually happens in disasters
We share the same soul

 

Thank you, Sir David

That’s Sir David Attenborough. I know about him, despite not having a TV, so you certainly will.

He has meticulously researched a hard-hitting episode of his series Blue Planet II, which shows how we are killing the oceans. He also presents solutions: what we can do to slow, perhaps halt, and possibly even reverse oceanocide.

Here is one of several reports, in TreeHugger. I was unable to access the original show. If you have, please let me know how.


What actually happens in disasters

People at large, the authorities, and the media falsely believe that the usual response to disasters is panic, selfish behaviour, looting, violence. The general belief is that people impacted are helpless victims who need help from professional rescuers.

This is false. Human nature being what it is, most people respond with courage, generosity and decency. Crime rates actually fall. Too much in the way of offers of help of all kinds is a bigger problem than the opposite.

If you have the time, you can read the official US government publication that sets out the evidence.


We share the same soul


These two lovely little girls have decided that they are twins.


Compassion

Compassion is good for you
A good cop
Food waste can go to the hungry in New York
Cartoonist rescued from hell

 

Compassion is good for you

This is one application of the rule of the universe: the more you give, the more you get.

Compassion for animals improves your health.

I would add, humans are also animals.

Encouraging people to do frequent and varied acts of kindness is a standard technique in positive psychology. Lots of experimental evidence shows that the wellbeing of the giver improves.


A good cop

A police officer in Atlanta, Georgia saved a life. He knew what to do in an emergency, and did it. Pleasingly, his superiors have recognised his action, so others may follow.

It should be incidental, but in today’s crazy world it isn’t, that the baby he resuscitated is African American, Officer William Eng isn’t. This is what compassionate action is about: we are all cousins from the Rift Valley in Africa.


Food waste can go to the hungry in New York

A previous food redistribution program now uses an app. “Through our new automated system we have rescued more than 165,000 pounds of food in a single year and provided approximately 140,000 meals in 2017.”

If you live in New York, you can now donate excess food in a few minutes, helping someone else to survive. Check out Transfernation.


Cartoonist rescued from hell

I doubt that the rest of the world knows, but the people ruling my country, Australia, are criminals who torture people they incarcerate in other countries. One of them, talented cartoonist Ali Dorani, now has a safe haven in Norway.

He has been terribly affected by the Australian and Papua-New-Guinean governments’ hospitality, but still produces brilliant cartoons.


Technology

Nuclear fusion power
Multipurpose urban farming
World’s first 100% solar train

 

Nuclear fusion power

The Guardian reports that the huge nuclear fusion project in France may produce power by 2025.

I am sceptical, but let us suppose that it happens, and that the technology is made cheap enough to be applied on a large scale. This is the promise of huge amounts of cheap electricity with little or no pollution (other than that involved in the building of the facilities).

The result would be an acceleration of global catastrophe.

Humanity has fallen off several tipping points: topsoil, fresh water, plastic in the oceans, toxic chemicals in the environment are some of them. They happen because of economic growth, which is currently curtailed by energy issues.

Provide cheap energy, and we’ll gallop faster toward destruction.

The proper answer is to use less of everything. We need to change lifestyle to local self-sufficiency, to decouple human activities from money, to live simply so we may simply live.

We already have a perfectly safe nuclear fusion reactor:


Multipurpose urban farming

Imagine an installation that grows 100 Kg of food per day, uses very little water and NO pesticides, and saves energy worth three times the rental of the space it uses.

This is what a new project in Sweden is doing.

Plantagon also install other kinds of urban farming, designed to grow food in a world of increasing demand and failing resources such as topsoil.

They offer home-size systems that put greenery you can eat into your living space, with multiple benefits.


World’s first 100% solar train

It only goes 3 Km each way, but is beautiful, efficient, and uses no fossil fuels. It has a history going back to just after WW2.

I’m also proud to say, it’s in my country.

Check it out.


Deeper Issues

Meditation vs. relaxation
What makes a terrorist tick?
An ethical look at the Bicoin bubble
Pigeons are people too
The cost of military spending

 

Meditation vs. relaxation

I got a lot out of reading this well-written and wise essay by Hari Karam Singh.

He explains that mindfulness meditation is a matter of concentrating attention, not of relaxing. We need both.


What makes a terrorist tick?

(I don’t mean a clock in a bomb.)

This accurate, clear and well researched presentation is in the form of a comic.

Raffaello Pantucci, Associate Fellow, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London, explains the way lone actor terrorists become the way they are, and many other facts about them.

I personally find it impossible to put myself in the place of someone willing to kill strangers to advance an ideology. This includes politicians who wage war, organisations based on terror, and individual multiple killers like described here. I’ve learned lots, and so will you.


Here is one of the drawings, showing a fact most people will find surprising: right wing terrorists have caused far more harm than Islamists.


An ethical look at the Bicoin bubble

“Perhaps my greatest fear is the damage that could be done to what Faust would have called my soul. I felt the hypnotic power of unimaginable wealth and the fear of missing out, and I don’t want to fall under its spell.”

This is from an excellent essay by Julian Baggini in the Guardian.

However, it is the final objection. Even if the mirage of wealth was correct, it would be wrong if gained at the cost of others. And it is. The great crash of 1929, the financial meltdown of 2009, and heaven knows how many other disasters for some, were caused by exactly the way some people sell imaginary wealth for real money. “You invent a currency and then get people to give your real money in exchange for it.”

When (not if) the bubble bursts, some people will suffer catastrophe. But those who actually gain wealth will be worse affected. We are not on this planet for wealth, power, or fame. All that matters is what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others.


Pigeons are people too

In past issues, I’ve reported on a considerable number of scientific studies showing that many species of animals have been shown to have abilities and ways of thinking/acting we humans have arrogantly assumed to only apply to us. This has included many kinds of mammals, octopuses, certain species of fish, and ravens, which have a reputation for intelligence.

Pigeons are supposed to be birdbrains. However, a study published in the journal Current Biology in December has demonstrated that they can discriminate the abstract concepts of space and time.

The actual article is behind a paywall, but you can read a summary here, or read a PDF file from the University of Iowa.


The cost of military spending


You can help World Beyond War place billboards such as this everywhere.


Psychology

Exercise leads to sanity
I’m 16 and want a baby
I am 13 and 6 months pregnant
Should I file for divorce?

 

Exercise leads to sanity

As a young man, I was addicted to distance running. Here is an excellent, brief essay by a young man who uses cycling to fight his inner demons.

Read and be inspired.


I’m 16 and want a baby

My name is Annie. I am 16 years old and am currently a junior in high school.

I have always wanted to be a mom but recently I have been thinking about getting pregnant because I want to be a better mom then my mom will ever be to me. If I get pregnant I don’t want to tell my dad because all he will do is judge me and I don’t want that what should I do and I am still going to go to school. I’m homeschooled so it works out even more. Should I tell my dad?

Annie my dear,

You have decided that you would like to have a baby. Once the idea occurred to you, it kept growing, and taking over your thinking, until you feel you have completely decided, and all you need to do is to get it past your dad.

Before you do anything about it, it is important to think it through. If you have a baby now, you will be responsible for the life of another person. If afterward you decide it was a mistake, you can’t undo it. So, the time to do the thinking is now.

There is a way of doing it. Since this is an irreversible, very important decision, I suggest you take WEEKS over it.

First, write down a list of all the good things about having a baby.

Second, write down a list of all the problems about having a baby at 16-17.

Include all the things you have been telling yourself on the good list, and think of more.

Imagine the reasons your dad will disapprove, and put them on the problems list, and think of more. Include things like the shape of your body changing while you are pregnant, and still trying to keep it a secret from your dad.

Do some research in two ways. First, talk to young women who have a baby already, and ask them to help you to put items on both lists. Second, go on the internet, and do a search using a wide range of search terms. For example, “How many hours a week does it take to look after a baby?” “How much money does it take to care for a child from birth to 18?”

At the end of doing this research really seriously, you will have an answer. I am not going to tell you what I think it will be, but I have a pretty good guess.

Then, email me and we can talk it over.

Have a good life, my dear,
Bob


I am 13 and 6 months pregnant

Well, I have an step uncle that go with my auntie and she goes with him. My auntie left one day and we started having sex and he put his nut in me. It be along time ago. I am 6 months heading to seven I really don’t know what to do but run away.

I really don’t know what to do with it. Stab it or kill it or kill myself or just run away? That’s the only thing I really know what to do with myself. I told him not to do it but he force me and I just went on and he put in me. I love j j to death but if I didn’t stay with my auntie would’ve kept it but I can’t. I don’t have no where to stay.

Brenda my dear,

You don’t mention your parents. Do you have any, or do you live with this auntie?

Either way, this man has committed a crime. You MUST tell the police.

If you are 6 months pregnant, it will be visible. Hasn’t anyone noticed?

Either tell your mom, or if that’s not possible, go to a woman teacher at your school and tell her. Ask for help, now.

Also, look up https://acaralabama.org. Their contact details are a little way down the page. They will help you.

I wish you had done this months ago, but it’s better doing it now than not at all.

Please, do not run away, and do not hurt yourself or attempt to kill yourself. You have done nothing wrong, but wrong was done to you. So, why should you be punished?

What this man has done to you is rape. That is a crime, done to anyone. Also, you are only 13. Any man having sex with a child your age is committing a crime, even if the girl agreed — and you didn’t.

If you don’t report it to the police, he will want to rape you again at other times, and he probably attacks other girls as well. For your safety, and to protect other girls, you must make sure he gets punished.

Once you have reported it, you will get help and assistance.

With love and caring,
Bob


Should I file for divorce?

My husband and I have two kids, aged 11 and 18. He also has a 15 year old daughter from when he played up, years ago.

He just recently told me he doesn’t love me and he has not for some time. I repulse him. I found out he was carrying on a deep emotional and sexual affair with his daughter’s mother, the one he was cheating with, years ago. They talk on the phone for hours every night while he is at work. He texts her non stop. It seems he is obsessed but in the text they say they love each other. They also made fun of me in the text and talked about him leaving me. When he is home here he acts kind, bought us new phones with a 2 year contract, he makes comments about stuff in the future. Then some days he hardly talks. This past weekend he left the house to go have sex with her and today he bought us the same gifts. I feel like I need to move on and file for divorce but what is it with his behavior? When he came home from hooking up with her he was overly talkative, bought me a new piece for my phone and even today overly friendly. Should I move on and protect my kids? Why is his behavior so erratic and is it true does he really not love me anymore? This connection will never die because of their daughter. Should I cut my losses?

Dear Sally,

I think you know the answer, and only asked this question as a way of getting things clear in your mind.

You are unhappy in this situation. He is unhappy, and trying to buy his way out of his feelings of guilt. I am sure your two kids are badly affected by the tensions, and see through his double-dealing.

Get rid of him. Wish the other woman good luck — she’ll need it.

Make sure you end up so financially you don’t suffer, and that your children are looked after.

Have a good life,
Bob


Health

Will wifi harm you?
But phones do harm
Better than toothpaste
Polluted at birth
Coal plant harmed babies

 

Will wifi harm you?

I’ve read two official summaries of the evidence with care. One is from the World Health Organization while the second is the relevant Australian government department.

I feel reassured. The levels of radiation used in the systems that provide our internet are way, way below what is likely to cause harm. Radios and TVs hit you with far more radiation, at more penetrative wavelengths, without any harm demonstrated over more than 50 years of use.

It is possible for people to suffer symptoms of radiation from these devices, through the placebo effect. If you completely and honestly believe something, it becomes true for you. The cure is to change the belief.


But phones do harm

An official Californian government publication states a possible connection between cancer and cell phone overuse. They give guidelines for reducing the risk.


Better than toothpaste

According to Michelle Schoffro Cook, toothpaste off the shelf contains several nasties. She gives a recipe for making your own: baking powder with a couple of herb oils in it.


Polluted at birth

90% of children are exposed to toxic levels of air pollution. 17 million babies are poisoned by the air they breathe.

Air pollution leads to low birth weight, which then results in a lifetime of health issues. The British Medical Journal has just published a large scale retrospective study demonstrating this link.

Should the next generation survive other catastrophes, it is likely to be seriously weakened by the crap we put into the air.

These studies are about humans. You can be sure, similar affects strike plants and other animals.

This is one more reason, if I were a young person today, I’d choose to be childfree.

Very telling pic is from the Clean Air Network of Hong Kong who are doing something about it locally, as we all should.


Coal plant harmed babies

Fresh off the press, this study reported in Science Daily has demonstrated that birth weights of babies increased after a coal-fired power station in Pennsylvania shut down.

The damage was done in New Jersey. As the authors state, the wind doesn’t know about state borders.


Writing

Characters
Bringing a story to life

 

Characters

People sometimes tell my I am a character. Does that mean there is a novel somewhere featuring Bob Rich? Dunno, but read what I have to say in my December contribution to Rhobin’s Rounds.


Bringing a story to life

First published at Savvy Authors in 2013.

What makes some writing vivid, drawing you in, while reading other stuff is work?

What converts some characters into people, while others stay two-dimensional creations?

There is no secret. It is a matter of getting the reader to identify with one or more people in the story. This is as true for creative non-fiction such as travel writing, a journalistic interview, or a biography, as it is for fiction.

However attractive and useful it may seem, any device is counterproductive if it gets in the way of tricking the reader to dive into your created reality. All the rest is detail. There are endless discussions among writers about which way of using point of view (POV) is best, how and why to show not tell, the use of adverbs and adjectives and the like. All this agonizing and debate can be short-circuited. Merely ask yourself: “Which way is more likely to get a reader to feel an identification with the character?”

In my non-didactic writing (and sometimes even when I am teaching), I think of the story as being divided into scenes. Any scene needs to have the following components:

1. A witness This is the person whose POV we are in. Everything presented in this scene is through the witness’s perceptions, thoughts, memories, bodily sensations, judgments — all the many facets of consciousness. Your aim is to attach virtual electrodes joining the brain of the character to the brain of the reader, making the reader feel the reality of the character.

In a journalistic piece, the writer is always the witness. This is a great way to share your emotions, and put the reader where you are: talking to a celebrity, flying in an attack helicopter, or scaling a mountain. But in a fiction story, you don’t want the reader to identify with you, the writer. Your aim is to induce such a relationship between the reader and your character. So, every word within this scene should be through the perceptions of one character.

An author intrusion, for example an explanation or description not related to the witness’s current thinking, is therefore counterproductive.

2. Distinctiveness The witness may be someone we have already met in previous scenes in the book. In that case, naturally, no introduction is needed, you can just carry on. However, even then, if it’s been a while, like several chapters, you need a few subtle reminders concerning identity, role, unique characteristics. This is not through an author lecture, but little phrases slipped in. It is necessary for each person within your story to be unique, with personal characteristics not shared by others. Even if you have a pair of identical twins, at least have them think differently, and show the difference.

Suppose that in Chapter 3 you introduced Janelle, our hero’s little daughter from a previous relationship who’d come on an access visit. The chapter was powerfully presented through Janelle’s POV, but then she went home, and at the most was the subject of a few thoughts and words. Now it’s Chapter 10, and Janelle is coming to visit again.

In Chapter 3, give her unique actions (refusing to go anywhere without her doll, twirling her hair around her middle finger when nervous, believing Mom’s lies about Dad’s new lady, whatever). In Chapter 10, you can immediately bring her to life again by repeating some of these idiosyncrasies, or perhaps show development by mentioning their absence:

    There Dad was as I walked out into the airport lounge, holding onto the hand of the nice airline lady. He saw me and his face almost cracked in two with his grin. Then I noticed, that Danielle was beside her. After all Mom told me about her, I wanted to turn around, and found my left middle finger twirling my hair again like a baby.

    “Janelle!” Dad shouted and pushed to the front. He picked me up into a big hug, then held me at arm’s length. “Hey, where’s your dolly?” he asked.

    “I’m a big girl now. I didn’t bring her.”

3. Setting The witness is in a setting, which is in a physical environment, probably part of a social situation, and doing some activity. This needs to be sketched in, but with minimal description. A sentence here, a half-paragraph there is good. A long paragraph of description slows the narrative and should be avoided, unless the current witness is in a musing, observer role for some essential reason. But of course that still slows the narrative, so musings should be kept to a minimum.

4. Other people Any other people appear as they would to the witness: from the outside. Don’t state what they think or feel, but present the external evidence the witness would pay attention to in order to realize what they feel. This is where adjectives and adverbs can get in the way. A vivid description in sensory terms is much more powerful. “Jim angrily replied” is not as compelling as “Jim spun around and faced her. His face went red, he seemed to choke for an instant, then he shouted…” OK, it’s more words, but they are well used. You can’t do this for every exchange; summary description has its function of keeping length within bounds, but as much as possible, other people should be brought to life through their physical appearance, words and actions, as perceived by the current witness.

5. Action and dialogue The dialogue and/or action then fit into this framework. It is as if you were a scriptwriter, and need to provide sufficient detail to the Director to organize the scene the way you want it to be, except that you also have available the witness’s inner experience. One of the advantages of writing over movies and plays is that thoughts, memories, images and bodily sensations can be provided to the Director.

However, that Director is not you. You, as writer, are merely the provider of raw material to the Director. The Director, the actors and the audience are all roles performed — by the reader.


What my friends want you to know

Full of good stuff for writers
Online conference on heavy metals
Vote for best climate action idea
Offgrid living festival Australia, 28 April
Manus Island tragedy
Action is happening on climate change
New play by Lance Johnson
Bainstorming
Wild by Nature January
Dragon Eyes featured

 

Full of good stuff for writers

That’s the December issue of Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Sharing With Writers newsletter.


Online conference on heavy metals

You can’t escape environmental toxins. No one can. Heavy metals are interfering with your life. Learn how to overcome their influence and reclaim your health.

The Heavy Metals Summit is online and FREE from January 29 – February 5, 2018.


Vote for best climate action idea

The MIT Climate Co-lab has been running a contest for innovative ideas to address climate change. Out of nearly 300 submissions, they’ve chosen a shortlist of 37, in 7 categories.

You may vote for your selection until 15th January.


Offgrid living festival, Australia, 28 April

A unique and vibrant one day event displaying the best of off-grid living and sustainable lifestyles. With the latest industry products on display, traditional crafts demonstrations, talks and workshops, sustainable technologies, alternative living ideas, delicious off-grid food stalls, entertainment, hands-on play space for the kids and MUCH MUCH MORE.

It’s a day to celebrate and investigate off-grid living!

This event is like a trade show but with a fun festival vibe. With up to 5000 attendees from all walks of life, this will be an amazing opportunity to get your product, service or skill set in front of a captive and highly interested audience.

The site will be divided into 8 main focus areas with product stalls, interactive sites, demonstrations, mini-workshops & entertainment in each. Covering all topics under the headers of:

  • Bushcraft: Rewilding, nature connection, survival skills, living off the land.
  • Homesteading: Mending, making, preserving, cooking, fermenting
  • Alternative farming: Permaculture, organics, biodynamics, small holdings, animal care, gardening, land planning.
  • Sustainable Energy: Alternative technologies, solar, wind & hydro power, generators and pumps, smart water use.
  • Handcrafts & Tools: Traditional crafts, leatherworks, woodwork, blacksmithing, shoe making, furniture making, up-cycling.
  • Natural Building: Mud, straw, wood, stone, lime, hemp, timber.
  • Health & Wellbeing: Nourishment, nutrition, self-care, remedies, practices, treats, wholefoods and happiness.
  • Community Living: Skill sharing, discussions, communal areas and like-minded new friends.

We’re open to all ideas for stall holders and look forward to presenting a wide variety of products, services and demonstrators to visitors.

Where: Centennial Park, Eldorado, Victoria.
When: 28th April 2018
Traders Applications: Now open and limited.
Stall prices: Very affordable ranging from $0 – $270
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION


Manus Island tragedy

A month ago, brave locals had just smuggled us into the detention camp on Manus Island, and the horrifying conditions we filmed inside were making global headlines.

Nearly 400 refugees were still barricaded inside the camp, and we all knew the situation was on the brink of violence — it was clear our movement had to do everything it could to keep the spotlight on Manus.

So 2,302 GetUp members chipped in to urgently get independent observers back on the ground. And just days later, our delegation left Australia: religious leaders Father Dave Smith and Pastor Jarrod McKenna.

They spent five days on the island, and were smuggled into the camp by locals, to meet the men and collect critical footage and interviews. Father Dave stayed there for seven hours, and Pastor McKenna for 25 hours, because his attempt to leave was disrupted by the PNG navy.

Click here to watch footage from the delegation’s visit to the Manus camp
.

Both religious leaders spoke of the incredible kindness the refugees showed them in the midst of the horrors of the camp: their bravery and generosity shining through in the inhumane conditions our government has created.

Jarrod and Father Dave returned to Australia to release the footage — but they had only been back a day when PNG officials entered the Manus camp and violently forced the men out into danger. So these religious leaders, with first-hand experience of the situation in the camp, joined GetUp members and our allies across the country in national demonstrations to sound the SOS.

It’s been huge. In every capital city, and in dozens of towns around the country, people gathered together to demand the Australian Parliament immediately evacuates the men from Manus to safety in Australia.

Please share. We mustn’t let this issue fade into background.


Action is happening on climate change

But the Australian Climate Council needs your support.

You really can’t wipe the smile off my face today.

With your support, our Cities Power Partnership, which helps local councils accelerate Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future, is going from strength to strength.

We now have 60 councils on board including Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin — representing almost 7.5 million Australians!

The program we’ve created together now represents more than 30% of the Australian population. This is huge, and no mean feat for a program that is only four months old!

Your local government nominations, donations and efforts getting the word out has made all the difference.

And the program is already having a real, tangible impact on reducing emissions and powering climate action across Australia.

But we need you to make this program even stronger. There are 60 Councils and counting on board, BUT there’s more than 500 local councils in Australia! You have the power to grow the partnership rapidly to have an even greater impact.

Your contribution will ramp up this program, sign up even more mayors, councils and community organisations and push climate action forward. $10 could help us target new councils on social media, $25 helps us to generate local media on the program, and $50 could help us hold an event in a local community to spread the word even further.


New play by Lance Johnson

Los Angeles author and playwright Lance Johnson’s play Taming the Male Chauvinist was selected for inclusion in the 2018 Playwriting Symposium’s 10-Minute Play Festival of the Mid-America Theatre Conference.

MATC is known as the publisher of Theater History Studies and their annual conference supporting playwrights. They vetted blind submissions plays to the Playwriting Symposium and Johnson’s play was chosen for participation.

Taming the Male Chauvinist, set in 1947, was excerpted from Johnson’s longer work, Community Service, which won an award from Pacific Palisades Theater in Southern California and was staged by that theater in 2016. The National Marine Corps Heritage Foundation honored it “for a distinguished play or screenplay…dealing with U.S. Marine Corps heritage.” To honor the play and playwright, an engraved brick was placed in Semper Fi Park adjacent to the Museum, Quantico, VA. Chauvinist was also honored by The Players Theater, in Sarasota, FL, in November of 2017 and was produced in 2016 for an off-Broadway production in New York City.

Lance Johnson has appeared in movies, stage plays (best actor nominations), national commercials and TV, including a lead American role in a twenty-eight-part China TV production. He performed in Pacific Palisades Theatre’s The Best Man by Gore Vidal in which the Palisadian-Post said, “Lance Johnson is outstanding as…ex-president Art Hockstader.”

Johnson is also the author of the award-winning book, What Foreigners Need to Know About America from A to Z. It was endorsed by ambassadors from China to the US, and the US to China. It was also selected by American university hosts of Fulbright scholars as recommended reading and is now available in China in Simplified Chinese and the Ukraine in Ukrainian. The book is the result of his interest in travel and politics. He traveled or lived in 85 countries and 49 of the 50 states. His passport is fatter than a pocket-sized paperback book and his understanding of his own culture increased as he learned more about the cultures of others.


Bainstorming

Subjects this issue: Apologies (as usual), Sequels, Problems of an Aging Writer, Impossible Charge On Credit Card, “Jungle Fever” Again, A special Treat: Stories From Life On Santa Claus Lane, Laughing All The Way, and Doggie Biscuit!, Apertures Trilogy Finally Republished, A Recipe From Betty Bain’s Dessert Cookbook, and a story from her cookbook, Great Diet Busting Dessert Recipes: Along with Wonderful Articles on Humor, Medicine and Travel (You don’t want to miss this one for your cookbook collection), Facebook Notice, Veterans.

Darrell Bain
www.darrellbain.com
Multiple Dream Realm winner
Multiple Epic Award winner
Fictionwise Author of the Year


Wild by Nature, January

Despite the end of year speed I’m slowing down. Boiling up vats of black wattle bark for hide tanning, picking dandelion leaves to sprinkle on eggs, following the flight of a raptor down the Yarra river.

Spring was BIG and WILD (and busy). And now it’s time to lose the shoes and rest.

One of this year’s highlights was our first Wild by Nature Village Camp. It tested many of my edges AND opened me to new possibilities of connective containers in only five days. Beneath the fun, the skill-sharing and friends and fireside chats, a web was being re-woven, one small repair in the fragmented cultural web of disconnection.

From participants:

“We left with a deep sense of belonging and community.”

“A most amazing, life altering experience for young and old.”

“Awesome, best place to be and grow as a family.”

We gather again for the Summer Wild by Nature Village Camp by a creek in the Yarra Valley, Jan 23 – 27. Will you join us?

In Wildness and love,

Claire Dunn


Dragon Eyes featured

Hey all,

I am pleased to let you all know that my Dragon Eyes novel is being featured on the Buffalo, NY page of hometownreads.com.

It is the only science fiction novel on the page. Some of my other novels can be found there too.

Bill Parker
www.fivemoons.org


Reviews

Guardian Angel, reviewed by Ken Kroes
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by David Wildman

 

Guardian Angel, reviewed by Ken Kroes

Dr. Bob Rich has interwoven several interesting plot lines, rich
characters, and unexpected twists into a wonderful, well written story.
The integration with nature and customs of the aboriginal people along
with their hardships are well portrayed. The ending and final words tied
together the core ideas and messages very nicely. A highly recommended
book!

Ken Kroes is passionate about our relationship with our planet and applies his diverse background which includes agriculture, mechanical engineering, and information systems into his writing. Born in Calgary, Canada, he has had the privilege of travelling and living in many locations around the world. His Feasible Planet is a recent recipient of the LiFE Award: Literature For Environment.


Ascending Spiral, reviewed by David Wildman

When I first started reading this book, it went against everything I’ve learned about writing for today’s skittish, attention-deficit afflicted market. The opening seemed like half-baked self-aggrandizing testimonials to the author’s greatness. I didn’t know who these people writing to the protagonist Pip were, and so it tried my patience. It was intriguing however that the author purported to be 12,000 years old, so I had hope it might prove interesting. It seemed to me that the way the book should start is with the author saying to the reader: “You’re perfect”, because that is what first grabbed my attention. I still believe this to be true, even after everything. Soon we were thrust back to the time of Vikings, and then following a quick death we arrived in the late 1700’s as an Irishman whose love dies at the hand of the British and he becomes a killing machine. I was expecting some sort of tie-in to the opening protagonist. Early on I wrote: “Maybe he is encountering another alien, and the way that they communicate and transfer info is through love” (It didn’t turn out to be right, but ultimately it wasn’t actually all that far off, although the truth proved far weirder than anything I could have imagined.)

The story went on and on, and some of the description, especially of action scenes, was overwritten and felt plodding and a bit awkward. There were cliches like “laughing all the way home” and awkward phrases like “the eyes of my heart.” Also, it seemed like a poor choice to go so quickly into endless backstory, and I was reminded of books like “Jitterbug Perfume” or “Interview with a Vampire” where the bulk of the story was continuous flashbacks, although I found the writing in those so much more fresh and original. The truth is I was taking on the task of reading and critiquing the book as a tradeoff for the author Bob Rich giving a beta reading to my novel, and had that not been the case I would have quit around there.

That would have been a grievous loss, as it turns out.

Determined to get through it, I pushed on. Sometime around page 60 or so the writing tightened up and became much more concise. A hint of the metaphysical in the next change of characters and timeline intrigued me. And his choice to inhabit a woman took me by surprise. I still had the complaint that for all intents and purposes this was basically a work of historical fiction, with hard-living characters in the Outback of Australia, a genre that doesn’t interest me, and it was difficult to continue reading at times, but the writing had improved to the point of being pretty cracking good. Slowly I started to see the author’s game plan unfolding, and it was fascinating. And then he flipped a switch and went full-on Phillip K Dick-crazy. It blew my mind. It would be wrong to reveal any of it, but I will say that he proved there was a place for practically every word he’d written in the big picture, including all the violence, which had seemed excessive but was finally made vital and instructive. In fact, the whole thing has a point to make, one that is important and obviously deeply felt by the author.

Basically, Bob Rich is a writer who is singularly unconcerned with burying the lede. To get through this novel took patience and commitment on my part, but I’m overjoyed that I gave it the time it needed. I’m also glad to see that many others have taken the journey and rated the work highly, because the message Mr. Rich ultimately brings is one of kindness, love, caring and understanding for our fellow humans and the planet we share. So in other words, I’ve learned something.

I urge you to take the journey as well.

David Wildman


Fun

Modern technology


About Bobbing Around

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About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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