*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.
Attribution scientists have the greatest clarity and confidence in attributing heat events that occur over large areas and extended time periods. For example, two separate studies found that the 2013 extreme heat in Australia would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.
From me to you
BookDaily on prepublication page
5th January, 2017
My essay on the prepublication page has just appeared at BookDaily.com.
I reckon it’s good advice. Please visit and comment.
Pestering the PM
Australia’s proposed Adani coal mine is financially not viable. So, this demonstrably unethical Indian businessman has twisted the government’s tail to make a gift of 100 billion dollars to him, from taxpayer funds.
Unbelievable, when carbon must be kept in the ground, and the mine would be guaranteed to add to the Great Barrier Reef’s destruction.
This is what I wrote to the Prime Minister. Until he managed to grab the top job, this man was an advocate for climate change action, but now his choice is between being honest, or keeping his job.
I know you are an intelligent, well-informed person, but under terrible pressures to give in to the fossil fuel lobby. Please resist, and go with the science. Coal must be kept in the ground, and I am sure I don’t need to list the reasons for you.
Put that money into energy conservation, and into the booming renewable energy industry. Then my grandchildren may have some slight chance of reaching adulthood.
At last, a cover design was ready for my coming novel, Hit and Run. I didn’t like it, because it gave no indication of the theme of the story: the power of compassion to lead people to growth. So, as subscribers to Bobbing Around and the followers of this blog know, I asked for help.
The response was amazing, wonderful, heart-warming. People’s feedback came pouring in, and while some were hurried one-liners, others were thoughtful analyses in depth. Over 170 people took the trouble to respond, most within 48 hours of my request.
I summarised the information, and as a result, Sandy Cummins, the publisher, has accepted a new design outline, and is seeking a new artist.
This is the new concept:
It can be translucent, with the car behind it, but then the car should be old, faded and battered, on the left side of the road not the right, without odd angles and things. An Australian STOP lollipop is facing it edge of page.
The car could be quite small.
The word “novel” somewhere on the page. This is because I prefer “Dr” to distinguish me from the game fishing Bob Rich, and to many people that implies nonfiction for some reason, as if a person with a degree couldn’t write fiction. 🙂
Title, with a subtitle. I am open to suggestions.
Some ideas from various advisors:
HIT AND RUN: A novel of an old woman’s healing power.
A couple of people suggested a drawing of Charlie, too, perhaps smaller, with Sylvia appearing to look at him.
The WE (Writers Exchange) logo is separated from other text.
Comments are more than welcome!
Why is the new year now?
This is the topic of my most recent blog post. The vagaries of culture intrigue me, and my research may amuse you.
Responses to past issues
J. Q. Rose
Thank you for including the review of Dangerous Sanctuary in Bobbing Around. What an ambitious newsletter. Something for everybody in it. It’s taken me this long to go through the enormous amount of information–and I must admit I skipped the politics portion of the pages.
I am deeply into your new book and hope to have a review. I am NOT the ravenous reader you must be as evidenced by this newsletter. I admire your dedication to offering such a broad look at so many topics which the reader can agree or not agree with the view.
I understand it’s pretty warm down under. Soak up that heat. It’s perfect in FL, but my kids in Michigan had the second snow day of the week.
Peace and joy to you,
Happy New Year, Bob!
Here, we are bracing for a deluge of retrograde policies, propaganda, false news and other lies coming from the top. I’m hoping Trump will do something impeachable very soon. We would still have Pence as pres., just as retrograde, but at least sane. Hillary lost the election mainly because of complacency. Her coalition just didn’t think it necessary to get out and vote. Tragic.
Your blog will help lift my mood!
There is such a lovely variety to enjoy!!! How do you amass so much fascinating stuff?
Actually, I think you have done exceptionally well considering the time of year!
New Year well wishes to you and yours!
“Stephen Luntz is a fellow Australian Green, and a long term solar energy expert. In easy to understand words, he has described perovskite solar cells, which are hugely more efficient than silicone-based ones, and are ready to roll onto the market now.”
Unfortunately this is very optimistic.
I subscribe to a perovskite newsletter and have heard a couple of Beyond Zero presentations and note comments that suggest:
– They are NOT ready for the market yet as perovskite is easily damaged by moisture. The life of roof mounted cells would be measured in weeks.
– High efficiency is relative. One needs to look closely at what is being compared with what.
I don’t claim to be an expert in this area but my recent reading suggests that there are many over-excited people in this space.
It will be great if I am to be proved wrong but most exciting new technology takes longer and costs more.
Hi Bob, and felicitations for a good 2017.
Owing to the busy life I lead, I rarely stop to read newsletters, however good their content. However, you caught me on a brief respite time, and I must say I am very impressed with the content, breadth and research of your latest newsletter. What a range of topics!
Congratulations on having your 100 word story chosen for the Readers’ Digest anthology. I liked the article on birds, and related to the 61 year old woman who couldn’t get her husband to listen to her. I wondered if he might be deaf. My husband has severe hearing loss and often misunderstands or can’t hear despite his advanced technology hearing aids.
On the more learned scale, I found your academic research convincing though I couldn’t grasp some of the figures etc. I get a lot of information from groups concerned with poverty, conservation, animal welfare and numerous other issues, and while it is depressing to consider the planet’s damage, there is a lot of excellent work and caring individuals working to try and reverse the threat of extinction. Many people do care about the state of the world.
I thought your counselling letters very caring and sensible. I liked the idea of keeping 2 hours a day aside to have one’s private rants and miseries!
A last comment. I have just been to Amazon and bought your book, Ascending Spiral, which I assume has a theme of reincarnation. It is a philosophy I would hope is true, because it seems such a waste to acquire wisdom and learning eventually and then just disappear. The concept of old souls is vividly plain to me even with my children. Two have made the most stupid mistakes while the third one has an innate sort of sense, is a philanthropist, extremely kind and generous and creative. Same genes. Well, it’s all curious and curiouser, this life in the rabbit hole!
Those jobs Trump promised America…
I am doing my best to ignore anything and everything to do with Trump. However, this essay in Daily Kos is so apt and to the point that I had to read it.
As well as being a traitor in Russia’s control, this man is sabotaging the number 1 coming industry. China is generating 13 million jobs in renewable energy…
America’s first victim
It is a compassionate, empathic, and very convincing analysis of the position Melania Trump is in.
I agree. It makes me shudder to think of a woman at the mercy of… that man.
What is Fascism?
by Karl Kofoed
In the 1920s, Adolph Hitler studied mind control and Freud with an eye to using propaganda as a means to advance his power. His core philosophy was shared by the Axis powers who opposed democracies in World War 2: Germany, Japan, Spain & Italy.
Nazism was just an extreme version of fascism. Hitler promised to make Germany great again and branded all who opposed him as enemies and a threat. One of his famous quotations is, “Make the lie big, keep repeating it, and eventually they will believe it.” But one of his less famous quotations was made to an audience of industrialists in Berlin on February 20th, 1933: “Private enterprise cannot be maintained in the age of democracy; it is conceivable only if the people have a sound idea of authority and personality.”
Benito Mussolini, the Italian leader during WW2, described fascism — which linked the Axis powers — this way: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.”
In 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Unhappy events abroad have re-taught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism; ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Today, most polls show that Americans want equal rights; gainful employment; a living wage; a strong infrastructure; support for labor; affordable education, housing, and healthcare; support for science; protection for the environment; and, above all, peace. But, as we listen to our media pundits, one may wonder why raising the quality of life for all our citizens should be called “special interests.” Are those concerns not shared by everyone?
In many of president-elect Donald Trump’s speeches, he lied to his audiences. To cheering throngs he promised to do everything that he knew Americans want a president to do and it won him the presidency. Then, immediately upon winning the election, Trump chose cabinet members and department chiefs from wealthy corporate leaders whose aim is to put deregulators in control of our regulatory government, while his party vowed to privatize Medicare and Social Security, two of the most successful governmental programs in U.S. history.
Founder Thomas Jefferson said, “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” He would have strongly opposed today’s Republican party, because he would recognize theirs as the same philosophy our new nation rebelled against in the Revolutionary War.
Dr. Lawrence Britt studied the fascist regimes of the past and found fourteen defining characteristics: powerful nationalism; disdain for human rights; identification of enemies and scapegoats; military supremacy; rampant sexism; controlled mass media; obsession with national security; religion and government are intertwined; corporate power is protected; labor power is suppressed; disdain for intellectuals and the arts; obsession with crime and punishment; cronyism and corruption; and fraudulent elections.
Do these sound familiar?
If we value our rights and the welfare of all our citizens, we should do all we can to oppose Trump and his regime. As Plato, the Greek philosopher, stated ages ago, “The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves.”
K. B. Kofoed
Summary of 2016
For the third year running, the globally hottest year presented humanity with many weather-related disasters.
This well-written, interesting account discusses the 10 worst, some of which will surprise you.
It’s all presented in terms of money, which is good: even practitioners of the science fiction discipline of Economics will understand. But the human impact is horrific: millions have died as a direct result of climate change, in this one year alone.
I only have one disagreement with Jeff Masters, the author. He gives human civilisation about 40 years more. This is even more optimistic than the IPCC, which gave us 30 years in 2014.
40 years of temps above average
If you are 40 years old, every year of your life has had global temperatures above the running average.
David Suzuki reminds us
In 1992, 25 years ago, The Union of Concerned Scientists set out what we had to do to save a future.
- 1. “We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on.” It specifically mentions reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air and water pollution. It also highlights the need to address deforestation, degradation and loss of agricultural soils and extinction of plant and animal species.
2. “We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively.” This one is obvious. Finite resources must be exploited much more efficiently or we’ll run out.
3. “We must stabilize population. This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it requires improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.”
4. “We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.”
5. “We must ensure sexual equality and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.”
These five points are even more essential to survival.
A comment about Arctic ice thinning
A report about thinning Arctic ice is worth reading. However, this comment is even more worth thinking about:
- Throughout this comments thread there is the same tiresome climate change denial by the usual suspects, using the same tiresome tactics of false argument, intended to mislead the public. Essentially, what climate change denial does is to exploit the fact that “uncertainty” in a scientific context means something entirely different to “uncertainty” in everyday parlance, and commonsense logic. Climate change deniers are essentially exploiting the fact that most of the public have no scientific training or real understanding of science.
In science, you can be certain of the overall pattern and direction of something, even though there are many uncertainties within that overall phenomenon described by science. There is no scientific uncertainty about the causes of anthropogenic climate change, the direction of climate change and warming, that it will be generally harmful to us, and what is necessary to avert dangerous climate change.
Whereas the climate change deniers are using outright sophistry, knowing false argument, to suggest that if there are uncertainties within climate change, that no one really knows what the causes of climate change are and what will happen. This is just an outright falsehood, and knowing dishonesty.
Let me briefly explain this with a simple analogy. Gravity, the rate that objects fall due to gravity etc, are pretty well described in a practical way by classic Newtonian physics. However, the rate of fall is not just determined by gravity, but by drag i.e., air resistance, which is what allowed the development of parachutes. The air is turbulent, and these patterns of turbulence can never be accurately mapped or described as they are constantly changing. This means that if something like a person is falling through the air there is always some uncertainty about their exact trajectory and rate of fall. Enough to make it impossible to predict if a person falls from a great height exactly how long the descent will take, and their exact trajectory and where they would land. But this is only a small degree of uncertainty, and this can be described quite certainly in approximate terms. What is certain is that they will fall very rapidly, hit the ground very hard and almost certainly be killed.
Just because there is some degree of uncertainty about the exact rate of fall of someone falling through the air, where they will land etc. does not mean you cannot be certain they will hit the ground at great speed. It does not mean that someone might float down, or return to the spot they fell from.
None of these climate change deniers would ever step off a high cliff, because there is some degree of uncertainty about their rate of fall and where they would land. This is why I say the more intelligent climate change deniers are engaged in knowing false argument and misrepresentation. They know very well the science is not mistaken as to the overall description of climate change by climate science, and they are trying to mislead the public as to what the implications are of uncertainty within climate change actually means. They are preying on the lack of scientific understanding most of the public has to imply that they know as much or better than climate science about climate change, which is an egregious lie.
I agree. Unfortunately, I have not been able to track down the author.
Yes, East Antarctica too
Denialists try to minimise by saying, yes, West Antarctica is melting, but the much larger eastern part isn’t.
I wish they were right, but it ain’t so. A bit of floating ice is rapidly disappearing. If it goes, a glacier the size of California could slide into the sea, raising sea levels by perhaps 6 metres globally.
This is the ship taking the investigating scientists.
The threat of fusion power
There is an interesting, informative article in The Conversation about the current status of fusion energy. Reading the comments section was just as interesting.
This is the comment I left:
- My problem with fusion is not that it is always 40 years from becoming available (thanks, Mike Hansen), which has been true, or its environmental consequences or otherwise, but the promise of almost limitless, cheap power.
In a previous generation, oil gave us that, leading to the current destruction of the ecosystem of our planet. When we unravel the web of life, we also fall through the hole.
If now we can replace oil with another, even more magical source, then little things like the rapid extinction of marine life through plastic, fertiliser and poison runoff from land, overfishing, etc. etc. can continue unabated.
The use of fresh water beyond what rainfall provides, mining the aquifers until they run out, continues.
The destruction of topsoil through chemical factory farming continues.
So does urbanisation, replacing nature.
And so on.
The basic problem is not climate change. That is only a symptom. At the next level down is the problem of indefinite growth in a shrinking system. And cheap, unlimited power would make it worse.
We’re killing our cousins
A recent report in the journal Science Advances warns us that 60% of apes and monkeys could soon become extinct. 75% have declining populations, so other species are on the way.
“These species face a host of threats, from hunting, the illegal pet trade and habitat loss as humans continue to log tropical forests, build roads and mine in needlessly destructive and unsustainable ways. These primates cling to life in the forests of countries such as China, Madagascar, Indonesia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Professor Paul Graber of the University of Illinios.
Who cares? So what?
Any person with a scrap of empathy should care, but there is a selfish reason too. They go today. We’ll soon follow.
People who inspire
Another girl with a warm heart spreading warmth
In the January issue of Bobbing Around, I referred to an article about a young girl who inspired her local community to donate blankets to those who need it.
Here is a similar story, showing that stereotypes about today’s young people are inaccurate. Delayne Chatting of Lexington has asked that instead of birthday presents, family and friends should help her to donate blankets to Catholic Action Center.
They did — nearly 200.
Sorry, I couldn’t find a picture for her.
Offering money instead of begging emails
Crowdfunding was a brilliant idea, at first. Now, like most people, I drown in requests for projects and causes I greatly approve of. Since I can’t give to all of them, the natural reaction is to give to none, or at least to become far more selective.
I think this must be true even for people who don’t live in voluntary poverty.
Therefore, this email left me with a warm feeling. Here is an NGO that is OFFERING financial support to others:
Community Fund Round V
We are proud to open the fifth round of the Hepburn Wind Community Fund with a pool of $15,000 available for grants.
As a community wind farm, right from the start, we made a commitment to share the benefits of the project with the broader community, and not just those who invested.
Over the past six years our Community Fund has supported 45 projects with small grants totalling $89,000, supported by a significant contribution from our energy partners – Red Energy and now Powershop.
The Fund supports local community organisations within the Hepburn Shire and a portion of the Moorabool Shire close to the wind farm to provide lasting benefits — environmental, well-being, education, recreation and cultural — to our community.
In keeping with our members desire to see more energy projects, we also run the Energy Fund. The first project delivered under the Energy Fund was the EV charging station on Vincent Street Daylesford. The second project will be the restoration of the antique micro-hydro station at Lake Daylesford.
Community groups can apply for grants using the excellent Smarty Grants platform which helps us keep administrative burden at a minimum for all.
To help us continue to do good things in our community, you can support Hepburn Wind in just 5 minutes by switching over to our electricity offer with our new retailer Powershop. It’s easy to switch and Powershop will take care of the rest.
On average we believe the Powershop deal can deliver better value and cheaper bills to our supporters — we encourage you to get a bill comparison done with them. Powershop will also provide a financial contribution to our co-operative for every person who switches their electricity through the Hepburn Wind offer.
Powershop are Australia’s greenest power company (Greenpeace Green Electricity Guide 2014 & 2015) and are 100% certified carbon neutral under the NCOS certification. We also love their smartphone app and online usage tools, which can help you be more energy efficient — meeting another one of our co-operative goals.
Black is beautiful — and also smart
This little girl, only 4 years old, is shown at the American Library of Congress, because she has already read over 1000 books, and still going.
Homelessness: there but for the Grace of God go I
This powerful, compassionate essay by Penny Anderson is a must-read for anyone who considers homeless people to be nuisances best kept out of sight.
In Melbourne, the city near me, they have switched to the euphemism “rough sleepers,” and because of complaints by tourists and theatre-goers, police have been moving them on for being public nuisances.
I’d like the police to impose one week of being homeless on the complainers.
Electric buses on the market, now
They are said to have a 300 mile (500 Km) range, much lower environmental impact, and lower cost of production.
Sami Grover on leverage
In this Treehugger article, he makes an obvious but not usually understood point about the use of technology to change the world.
We tend to think of individual responsibility: of the environmental footprint of our choices. That is important, but there is often a tradeoff. Sami’s example is Al Gore burning up fossil fuels hooning around the globe, promoting action on climate change. That is indeed a cost, but the benefit is multiplied by thousands. The investment of his travels moves us closer to a tipping point where the positives have a chance of outweighing the all too powerful negatives.
Vishen Lakhiani on compassion
You’ve got to read this wonderful essay by Vishen Lakhiani.
I won’t steal his punchline. He is optimistic about the future of humanity, because of a prediction a famous scientist made 100 years ago.
My version of his message is that, for survival, we need the exponential toward sanity to outrace the exponential toward insanity. In 2016, we were losing the race. Vishen reckons in the long term we will win.
I hope he is right.
The Medical Gaze
If you are interested in why so many people are unhappy, miserable, dissatisfied with life, you’ve got to read this brilliant essay.
Reading it, I felt I’d come home.
Briefly, when Big Pharma and its medical profession tells you that your depression is a chemical imbalance, or for that matter when a psychologist teaches you to function adequately enough to get by, this ignores THE cause: the crazy society we live in.
As long term readers of Bobbing Around will know, this has been my hobbyhorse for many years.
You’ve got to be crazy to stay sane in a crazy society.
The forum is highexistence.com, which looks like somewhere I may want to write. Check them out.
Religious ignorance: I am shocked
This essay by religious educator Alan Levinovitz documents an appalling state of ignorance, at least among Americans, concerning facts about religion I thought were well known to everyone with half a brain.
This is not just some trivial fact. It has dangerous and damaging consequences.
Our planet would be a better place if my false assumption were true, and people were well informed about religion in general — and about their own religion in particular.
I know very little about Zen, but this little story taught me that yes, it has the same wisdom as other forms of Buddhism:
One of My Favorite Zen Stories
by Jordan Bates
The protagonist evidences a level of non-resistance and serenity that most people will never know:
A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.
His neighbor said, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”
The man just said, “We’ll see.”
A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses following. The man and his son corralled all 21 horses.
His neighbor said, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”
The man just said, “We’ll see.”
One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.
His neighbors said, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”
The man just said, “We’ll see.”
The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared, since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.
His neighbors said, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”
The man just said, “We’ll see.”
As you can see, the farmer’s response to the various circumstances he encounters is to maintain total equanimity.
In my view, he seems to resist nothing by applying these three principles:
1. He understands that no matter what is happening, this too shall pass.
2. He realizes that what appears to be “positive” now might turn out to be “negative” later, and vice versa.
3. He refuses to place any judgments on the present moment; instead, he simply accepts it as it is, drawing no final conclusions.
Reflect on these principles for a moment, and think about how you might apply them to your life. Is there anything you resist now that has the possibility to turn into something awesome?
Try to keep these simple principles in mind for the next few weeks, and let me know how your life changes. And again, if you want the perfect reminder of this wisdom, our ‘Secret to Life’ poster is something you need to see:
Plants with some vision
Regularly, new research findings show that the arrogant hierarchy we have constructed to put us at the top of creation is faulty. We are different from other live beings, but not necessarily higher or better.
The latest is an article in Scientific American, which summarises recent evidence for visual mechanisms in various species of plant. The author, Marta Zaraska, has a sense of humour: her title was “Vegies with Vision,” until presumably an editor wanted to be more solemn.
Fear of flying
Well, the author means fear of flying in a flying machine. Few humans have wings.
A marriage gym
You seek help when your marriage is on the brink. But prevention is much better.
Here is the story of a couple whose marriage was wrecked by an affair. They got together again after two years, and now the man is running a facility for people with OK marriages, helping them to improve and maintain their relationship.
He says, rightly, we have hospitals for sick people, and gyms for those who want to stay healthy. We only have the hospitals for sick relationships, and he has done something about it.
Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian
How can I help my schizophrenic friend?
I visited a friend of mine from high school a few days ago. He’s one of those shut-ins that doesn’t work or go outside, unless he needs food or cigarettes. From what I remember he was quite the narcissist and had schizophrenia at school.
As of currently, it’s a wreck. He writes stuff, strange, abstract stuff which worries me about his depleting mental condition. Here’s one of the things I’ve found on textbook paper:
“Look that looong, thin neck. It somehow supports the weight of your head. The angels above have blessed you with the elementary neck. Those shitty little baby-esque figures, with their fucked up faces descending to my window, my room to humiliate me. Why have they given you the blessing? I can only imagine it’s the work of the C.U.T.P (Complex of unofficial therapists and psychiatrists), continuing with their sublime conspiracy to end me. What a fool I was to let those baby things come to visit thee with hidden guns and thorns. I never remember taking my prescribed pills. Did they take them? They’re trying to fuck with me. The angels, the psychiatrists, the walls, the fucking humanoid things in my ear. They’re fucking parasites, sadistic little bugs, trying to fuck me over to the organisation. They were fake diagnoses, I don’t have NPD, I’m not schizophrenic, how would they fucking know, I haven’t left my apartment in three years, they can’t label me anymore, cunts. They’re sending the angels. The asswipes, more parasites, it’s all from the fucking ground up. The furniture in my fucking room is being manipulated by the holy little pigs, I don’t want to fucking talk to them anymore, not anymore. It’s just the fucking wood on the floor.”
This was hard to type for his handwriting was equivalent to that of a 5 year old’s. Since I had recently found his address, I want to find a way to help him somehow. Obviously, he isn’t going to step out of that door to seek any help. He doesn’t believe he has any serious mental problems.
You are a good person. Well done, wanting to help this unfortunate young man.
That quote from his writing is all the information I need to tell you, he is definitely suffering with schizophrenia. He is in a bad way.
He definitely needs professional help, more than you can offer. At the same time, clearly, he is in complete denial. He refuses to admit his problem, but puts the blame on “them.” This makes him stuck in his problems.
Arguing with him, trying to change his mind, will automatically put you in the enemy camp, together with the psychiatrists.
I have two questions that can guide what you should do.
1. Is he violent? Has he done anything to harm anyone, damage property? (Before he shut himself in his room.) The quote from him doesn’t indicate any wish to hurt anyone, but other things he writes, and things he says, may. If there is any risk that he may attack you, then you need to look after your own safety.
2. Is he unhappy with his misery? That may sound odd, but many people define their very existence with some form of suffering, and if they didn’t have it, they wouldn’t feel to be themselves. They can be content with their condition, even while shouting against its unfairness.
It sounds to me that he may be in this situation. He has established a steady lifestyle that horrifies you and me, but he may be content to be there.
He still needs friendship and companionship. If you are sure you are safe from an attack, you will be doing a good thing to befriend him and visit him, bring him food (but NOT alcohol or recreational drugs). Avoid any attempt at amateur therapy, and don’t disagree about his hallucinations and delusions. Regular contact with you may actually lead him out of his black hole.
Most schizophrenics are not violent. As long as he doesn’t see you as part of “the enemy,” chances are you will be safe. But be aware of the possibility, and check things out carefully.
Thank you for being on this planet.
I did a horrible thing as a teen
I’m a male aspie, and a very young adult. I had a pretty decent life, but around my teenage years, about 13-14, I was subjected to one of the roughest times in my life, where I was stuck with an angry, alcoholic, abusive stepdad. This went on for about a year before things exploded, and it left me, my mother, and my three siblings homeless for a time. And then, when I was 14 or 15, I don’t quite remember which, I ended up committing a sex crime with one of my younger siblings.
I really need help, very badly. Or just to get this off my chest, with some sort of advice, at least. I don’t know what to do with myself. I want to seek help, but I’m growing more and more afraid of doing so. My psyche’s taken a massive hit from all of this. But I’m drowning in guilt from what I’ve done, and am slowly feeling that I no longer deserve any sort of help or boost to my self esteem for the sickening thing I did. I have Asperger’s syndrome, and was still going through one of the hardest times in my life, granted, but that’s not an excuse for what I’ve done.
When I was not quite 15, I ended up rubbing on one of my very young siblings after I finished laying them down to sleep, until I came. (This happened while they were asleep.) They know nothing of it, and I hope to always keep it that way. I don’t want them hurt. And I would never, ever dream of doing something like that again, it only happened once. I’m sickened to the core of what I’ve done, and feel like I’m living a lie. I feel incredibly depressed from all of this, as well as anxious and a bit paranoid… I love my siblings to death. I want the world for them. I never want them hurt.
But, a few years later, all the guilt and shame, it’s just seemed to crop back up, with no escape. It’s even started to creep into my dreams at night. I don’t know what to do. I want to seek help, but I’m scared of what could happen to me, even if I know I should face punishment. I’m scared of what it’d to my sibling, to my family if they found out. (I already told my mother, she’s the only one who’s ever heard this story prior to now. She told me everyone makes bad mistakes when they’re a teen, but I can’t fathom they’re like this…) I’m afraid, guilt-stricken, and scared. I feel I may also be depressive, perhaps even manic depressive, but I worry that it’s all just related to this incident I can’t put behind me. I want to get better, but I don’t feel like I even deserve to. Despite knowing I’ll never do something like this again, I’m afraid of that person who did it within myself cropping back up. I’m scared of myself, I’m terrified of repercussions… I don’t know what to do. I hope you guys are still answering questions like this.
I have great news for you.
From what you have written, you are a wonderful person, with high moral values, and well above average intelligence. Assuming the Asperger’s diagnosis is correct, it is clearly no handicap to you. You are as good as anyone else, and better than many.
Here is proof:
1. You have set out the main lesson I need to teach many people in your situation: you are responsible for what you did, regardless of your circumstances. Abuse from your stepdad, temporary homelessness, all the other stresses are no excuse.
But you need to learn the second important lesson: the difference between responsibility and guilt. I hand out this card to my clients who suffer guilt because they have made a mistake:
There is no such thing as a mistake, fault of defect.
There are only learning opportunities.
When you make a mistake:
a. Apologise to yourself within your heart and forgive yourself.
b. If possible and appropriate, apologise to other people affected.
c. If possible and appropriate, make restitution. (This means (making good.)
d. Work out how you can handle a similar situation better next time.
If you find that a past act was a mistake, that’s proof that you’ve gained in wisdom.
So, your mother was right.
2. In fact, your cry for help has shown that you have done everything that needs to be done. Since that time, you have taken special care not to hurt other people this way. You have kept your act a secret from your sister, and are determined to keep doing that, in order to protect her.
3. You have been carefully thinking out the consequences of various possible courses of action. This shows intelligence.
Why did you do this thing?
It was not because of your difficult childhood, but because you were going through puberty, with sex hormones racing through your blood. Again, this is not an excuse, but an explanation. You had choices, and you made the wrong choice. You should not have done that, but you were weak at the time.
You have learned your lesson from that mistake, for life. Well done. You have become a better person because you have made that mistake, and that’s what mistakes are for.
I don’t know how old you are, but the years of guilt and beating yourself up between then and now are sufficient punishment. You can now let yourself out of your mental jail, and get on with the rest of your life.
How to make restitution? Either as your chosen career, or in your private time, do things that make things better for victims of sexual abuse, and/or for others who have made mistakes in their lives and now want to make good, and/or to protect potential victims… something that allows you to pass on your lesson to others. You can do this without ever letting anyone know of your mistake, and without preaching, lecturing or forcing people.
If your Asperger’s allows it, a profession like youth worker or child protection worker would be the kind of thing I mean. If you choose another line of work, being a volunteer jail visitor or something like that would make you feel good. (There but for the grace of God go I.)
Your new grandfather,
I want to live in a dystopian/disastrous world
With how popular books and movies like Divergent are, disastrous and dystopian futures are a fairly popular topic recently. I’m 15, and for the last few years I’ve been very interested in these dystopian type stories, and I read fanfic on Wattpad about My Chemical Romances Danger Days album story, about a dystopian future and the Killjoys, the rebels trying to bring freedom back.
Recently I’ve realised that I don’t just like reading about this, I constantly imagine myself in situations like it. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to explain it, but I want some sort of a huge disaster to happen. I want some sort of awful thing that I can rebel against. I know it sounds horrible, who would wish for a world where thousands of people die and their life is much harder? I don’t know, but for some reason I do.
I try to dissect my thoughts and find the reason behind them, for this I’ve thought that maybe it’s because I feel like my life is pointless, like I’m not really making a difference, and maybe I want to have a cause so bad I wish for horrible things to give me a cause. I don’t know. I guess I’m just here cause I couldn’t find anyone else thinking this, and it kinda makes me feel a bit crazy.
You are not crazy. What you have done is to develop a habit of thought that now you don’t want. Habits can be changed. Check out my page on changing habits.
Attention is a searchlight. Whatever you shine it on is bright, and everything else seems to disappear. Attention is a fertilizer. Whatever you put it on grows, what you don’t attend to withers away. It seems to me that for the last few years, a great deal of your attention has been focused on these trash shows (I’ve never heard of any of them), and probably far too little attention on things like school work, family, friends, hobbies, sport.
So, in a way, you have moved into the artificial reality of these shows. They are only stories made up by someone, but gradually they have become more real to you than real life.
This is how your habit got established. Now, what to do about it?
I think you can predict my answer. Stop watching that trash!
There are many exciting books, movies, shows and games that are not dystopian. Switch to them for your entertainment time. Also, reduce your onscreen watching, and get involved in other things. Take up sports and hobbies. Do something creative like learning to play music. Surprise your family by starting a home project that will make their lives better. Go to real-life events with friends.
You can do it. Millions of people have succeeded in such habit changes.
Good luck, and have fun.
If you have the stomach for it, please read this calm, dispassionate and accurate analysis of why a nuclear war is not a good idea.
Donald Idiot, take note.
How to care for your knees
A surgeon who wants to prevent knee surgery has given good advice in a brief, easy to understand form.
Since knees inevitably deteriorate with age, this is well worth reading.
A report in the January, 2017 issue of Nature shows that extremely small doses of the active ingredient of Roundup causes a serious liver disease in rats.
Glyphosate has been found in penguins in Antarctica, detected in the urine of many people in many countries including the USA, and found in falling rain. It is everywhere. There is some guaranteed to be within your body and mine, regardless of how careful we are with our diet.
There are epidemics of various collections of physical and emotional symptoms that are labelled in many ways. Perhaps the great increase in recent years of things like glucose intolerance, fibromyalgia, depression, and so on have something to do with glyphosate and its many sister poisons?
Warming seas: toxic shellfish
The January, 2017 issue of the Proceedings of the National Institute of Sciences includes a report tying increases in a neurotoxin within shellfish, other bottom feeders, and small fish to increasing sea temperatures. You know, one of the effects of climate change.
Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by certain marine microalgae that can accumulate in the foodweb, posing a health threat to human seafood consumers and wildlife in coastal regions worldwide. Evidence of climatic regulation of domoic acid in shellfish over the past 20 y in the Northern California Current regime is shown. The timing of elevated domoic acid is strongly related to warm phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Oceanic Niño Index, an indicator of El Niño events. Ocean conditions in the northeast Pacific that are associated with warm phases of these indices, including changes in prevailing currents and advection of anomalously warm water masses onto the continental shelf, are hypothesized to contribute to increases in this toxin. We present an applied domoic acid risk assessment model for the US West Coast based on combined climatic and local variables. Evidence of regional- to basin-scale controls on domoic acid has not previously been presented. Our findings have implications in coastal zones worldwide that are affected by this toxin and are particularly relevant given the increased frequency of anomalously warm ocean conditions.
The Huffington Post has a plain-language summary and explanation.
I didn’t know you can eat avocado seeds until I read this article from Michelle Schoffro Cook.
According to her, not only are they edible, but do several good things for you.
However, the California Avocado Commission recommends against eating the seeds, on the basis of a 2013 study. But the quote simply says that not enough is known about it, not that anything harmful has been found.
Mystery Writing and the Art of Misdirection by Terri Main
Free offer and discounts to writing course
A magician walks onto stage blindfolded. He declares that he can foretell the future. He says that he has already written down what would occur in the next few minutes and secured it in a bank vault a week ago. He calls 10 volunteers on stage. Each are blindfolded, given a number, and seated at a small desk with a sealed pack of playing cards.
The magician points out that he is blindfolded and will not touch any of the cards. The volunteers are told to break the seal on the cards, shuffle them, choose a card at random, and seal it inside a foil-lined envelope. While still blindfolded, he has them wrap the remaining cards with a long strip of duct tape stuck to the desk. This makes it impossible for him to tamper with or view the deck. The cards are collected, and a member of the audience comes up, douses them with lighter fluid and burns them. The bank manager brings in a locked safety deposit box, affirms it has not been opened for a week, and that the magician didn’t have a key. An envelope is removed and the magician reveals which card each person drew.
How did he do it? The blindfolds, locked boxes, and duct tape have nothing to do with the trick. It’s the sealed package of cards. Each pack has 52 copies of one card. All the magician has to do is remember which number goes with which card. Everything else is misdirection.
The mystery writer is like a magician. The goal is to make you look at something insignificant and think it is important. In my first science fiction mystery novel, my murderer was using a laser box cutter to cut through some tape and casually complained about the glue sticking to the laser. The box cutter is never mentioned again until a woman is murdered with a laser and has glue on her dress. The detectives ignored the shop owner and focused on a terrorist group. That was misdirection.
As with a magician, whatever a mystery writer treats as important usually isn’t. It’s what is casually cast off that solves the case.
It is tempting, as a writer, to draw a big red circle around a clue, fearful that the audience will miss it. But that’s exactly what you want to happen. You want them to miss it until everything is explained at the end.
Mystery writing, in that respect, is harder than magic. A magician can hide the essential clues. The mystery writer cannot. What the writer must do is something much more difficult, and that is hide the clue in plain view by treating it dismissively. It is like the magician pointing to one side of the stage, while his assistant slips back into the vanishing cabinet from behind the curtains.
Just like a magician, the mystery writer must perfect the art of making people look in the wrong direction.
Special Discount for Readers of Bobbing Around: Save $55 on Terri’s Write Your Novel Your Way (in 100 Days or Less) course, including a critique of up to 20,000 words for just $45.00. But you must use this secret URL.
She has generously offered ONE FREE ENTRY TO THE COURSE. Click on this secret link if you want to be in the running.
Apply before the 14th of February. Terri says that’s just right for Valentine’s day. I wouldn’t know: in my family, every day is Valentine’s day.
Terri Main is the author of more than 60 titles on Amazon including six mystery novels. She is also education director at The Writing Academy, which is kicking off its 2017 season with 12 new writing courses including novel writing, character development, worldbuilding, self-publishing, cover design, nonfiction writing, and more.
An entertaining take on grammar
A professor with the improbable first name Misty has written an excellent essay about all the things the writing world argues about.
Where should a comma go? When do you use adjectives? What’s an adverb? And who decides, anyway?
How to write bad sex scenes
This essay by Melissa Ousley is amusing, informative and correct.
Read it, and learn how to turn the reader off.
What my friends want you to know
The Death of Liberal Democracy
Thank you from Jan Sikes, with an offer
New drawings from Rich McLean
How Conservatives can Lead on Climate Action Under President Trump
Her Valentine Romance by Margaret Sutherland
Médecins Sans Frontières in Iraq
One Small Town Will Change The World
Tales of the Green Jinn: Dragon Eyes by Bill Parker
Sharing with writers…
(Australian Indigenous) close the gap day
Claire Dunn invites you to go bush with her
The Death of Liberal Democracy
The ‘liberal elite’ had it all to themselves. Over the past fifty years the hegemonic dominance of liberal democratic values was largely unchallenged. And it seems that it has now failed. Brexit, Trump, Le Pen and similar movements in Austria, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, the Netherlands and elsewhere are rising and gaining ever more traction. What went wrong? Are the days of liberal democracy as we know it — open, tolerant, environmentally conscious supporters of open borders and free trade — over? Will nationalism and more autocratic rule be the new order of the day?
These are the questions addressed in “The Death of Liberal Democracy?” by Joe Zammit-Lucia and David Boyle. It is a book that could not have come at a better time. The authors argue that liberal democratic values took many wrong turns and have failed to evolve with the spirit of the times. They provide some ideas as to how those of us who consider ourselves to be ‘liberal’ can re-capture the initiative from the forces currently dominating political debate.
The ideas put forward are radical and innovative. The authors argue that there is no future in sticking doggedly to the old mantras that are clearly failing. Liberal democracy must renew and reinvent itself in a new form.
This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to understand the increasing divergence between contemporary culture and liberal values and who cares about finding new ways to meet the extremist challenge that is evident everywhere.
Thank you from Jan Sikes
Jan sent this to me as part of her network. It includes a special offer that ended 31st January, but SHE HAS EXTENDED IT TO 14TH FEBRUARY FOR BOBBING AROUND READERS.
Her husband was a rock star until jailed for a crime he didn’t commit. I have edited all the books of Jan’s fictionalised story of his life. They have won several awards.
It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone, but it has. I always think time will eventually slow down. But, instead, it seems to go faster.
I released two new books in 2016
‘Til Death Do Us Part: The final segment of the Rick Sikes story
Discovery: Poetry and Art by Rick and Jan Sikes.
This book of poetry and art was compiled by Rick in prison. You’ll find everything from deep thought-provoking philosophy to crazy off-the-wall humor. The pen-and-ink drawings are extraordinary. He was the embodiment of a true artist in every way and this book is a perfect example.
Because I want to show you how much I appreciate your support, love and encouragement, for the remainder of January, these two new books are deeply discounted through my website. And they will be autographed! [Do note, this offer is extended to 14 Feb for you.]
I’m working on my first fiction novel and it is quite a challenge, but one that I’m loving. My hope is to publish it in 2017. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know!
I’ve also created five different Writing Workshops and I’d be happy to present them to writer’s groups, schools, libraries or any other interested organizations. You can find all of the details on my website.
I wish each of you a prosperous New Year!
And, again, THANK YOU!
New drawings from Rich McLean
A quick email about some new drawings available from me: Rich Mclean. Purchase them as lovely greeting cards for friends or colleagues, and support an independent artist!
I have some lovely new drawings for you to look at.
How Conservatives can Lead on Climate Action Under President Trump
From the Australia Institute
We are excited to announce that the Australia Institute is bringing one of the world’s leading conservative campaigners for climate action, former Republican Party Congressman Bob Inglis, for a national speaking tour in conjunction with his advocacy organisation RepublicEn.
Bob Inglis is one of America’s most influential conservative advocates of climate action. He began his career in Congress as a critic of climate action and was turned around after visiting Antarctica and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef with scientist Dr Scott Heron.
Save the date, and make sure you don’t miss out on these exciting public events on Bob Inglis’ Australian Tour. More announcements to come.
University of Sydney
6pm – 7.30pm Tuesday 14 February
FREE but bookings essential > Register now.
Chaired by Robert Hill AC, former Environment Minister in Howard Government.
Panel: Rob Stokes, MP, NSW Minister for Planning and Dr Scott Heron.
Free public lecture hosted by Sydney Business School and the United States Study Centre with support from the Australia Institute.
National Press Club, CANBERRA
11.30am – 2pm Wednesday 22 February
$85.00 incl. lunch, bookings essential Book now.
Her Valentine Romance by Margaret Sutherland
Margaret Sutherland’s new book is published by The Wild Rose Press, US as both ebook and paperback.
Sydney, Australia is hot and sultry in more ways than one when a tall, handsome prince fixes the newest lady in his court with a magnetic gaze. Who could say no to a prince — especially a charmer like Will Bradshaw? Vacationing nurse Caitlin has to wonder about the charismatic man she meets at a reenactment masquerade. And Will wonders too, if he might have finally found the woman to banish the hurts of years gone by. But what if the one ill-judged mistake of Caitlin’s past happens to be the single fault he can’t accept?
Médecins Sans Frontières in Iraq
Ongoing violence and conflict in the city of Mosul in Iraq has forced people to evacuate the city and surrounding villages. Médecins Sans Frontières mental health teams are assisting patients suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety. Many patients have spent several years without being able to get treatment.
Please consider making a donation of $50 today. Your donation will support our teams providing medical care to people in need in over 60 countries.
“They have endured two years of the so-called Islamic State occupation of their town or villages, airstrikes, Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State, fleeing for their lives … and now they find themselves confined in a camp,” explains Bilal Budair, Médecins Sans Frontières Mental Health Manager in Erbil. They tell us they watched friends or relatives die, and witnessed extreme violence, including public executions.
One Small Town Will Change The World
This is the concept of the Ubuntu model of social organisation.
It gives me great joy, on behalf of the UBUNTU USA team to launch our new strategy for 2017 and our simple plan of action, which we call ONE SMALL TOWN Will Change The World. Our objective is to turn one small town in the USA into a place of abundance and prosperity — the kind of place most of us have dreamed of all our lives — where anything we imagine is possible. A model for other towns to follow, and to lay the foundation for a new social structure and a world free from economic slavery. Please share this message with everyone and let’s get the first small town to become a reality. Watch the highly informative video and read the manifesto to fully inform yourself.
This launch is a crowd-funding event for the USA UBUNTU team to be able to travel and consult with the small towns that show interest and want to implement our strategy.
Once this process starts, it will spread rapidly to thousands of other towns as people wake up to realise how simple it is to manifest our own reality and create the kind of world we all want to live in. We are doing this without any violence, opposition or conflict.
If you live in a small town of between 5,000 -10,000 people and you feel that your mayor and council will love this idea, please contact the UBUNTU USA Executive Director Starr MacKinnon or Brandon Shalton, the Project Manager.
In unity and resonance
Tales of the Green Jinn: Dragon Eyes by Bill Parker
The highly acclaimed saga of the Five Moons continues as Tales of the Green Jinn: Dragon Eyes carries this action-packed adventure into the future. Dragon Eyes is a mystical walk on the wild side of science fiction,
“A thousand years ago, I was a very gifted seer. Now I am starting over, determined to do to Evil what I had failed to do before. And so, I tested the heart of the man destined to become my dragon warrior.”
“As I recall, it all started with a dream. I awoke from that dream to find that we had a mission the Five Moons could not handle. So my father brought me to a secret — a whole new ship — the Green Jinn. Everything about the Green Jinn was an illusion. I am Chon ko Gonin, captain of the Green Jinn.”
That was how the Green Jinn began its first mission — to hunt down the worst interplanetary crime boss that ever existed. David Zharn was so far beyond evil that even Admiral Johnson could not nail this scum, but we would not let Admiral Johnson down. It all started out with the best of intentions. That’s when everything went sideways.
Sharing with writers…
is Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s monthly newsletter, chock-full of tips, useful ideas, reports and links.
The January offering even mentions me twice.
If you are a writer, you need to market your work. No one knows how better than Carolyn.
(Australian Indigenous) close the gap day
This January marks 229 years since the arrival of the first fleet to Australia. While Australia has become a prosperous nation, not all Australians have prospered. Past and present governments have created barriers to good health for Indigenous Australians, and this is having a profound impact on families and communities across the country.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
National Close the Gap Day, held this year on Thursday 16 March, is a way for all Australians to join together to demand health equality for Australia’s First Peoples.
Take a stand for Indigenous health equality.
Claire Dunn invites you to go bush with her
I’m writing to you on the cusp of disappearing out bush and offline for over a week, to participate in two courses that I have been hanging out to do for 10 years. That’s how long it’s been since the book Soulcraft, by Bill Plotkin, mysteriously and anonymously arrived in my letterbox.
Exploring the mysteries contained in the crossover between nature and the human psyche, reading it was like turning the pages of my life, my deepest heart, including parts I didn’t yet consciously know myself. Tomorrow, I revisit Soulcraft, this time in the flesh, a four day immersion in these practices of the wild, followed by another four exploring Dreamwork in nature. Exciting!
It was partly inspired by Soulcraft that in 2007 I undertook my first four day solo fast out in the wilderness — a Vision Quest — which catapulted me onto my current path.
In late March this year, I am offering a 3 day Vision Quest in Victoria: an invitation to anyone who feels called to radically deepen their connection with earth, self and spirit. If this piques your interest, have a read here.
Also coming up is my annual Sustainable Living Festival, offering of a one day introduction to Rewilding, including nature awareness, fire-by-friction and cordage. As part of the festival, I’m also hosting a Rewilding the Urban Soul ‘exploratorium’. Come share some ideas over a cracker and weed pesto.
There’s much more brewing in the cauldron for 2017, but that’s enough for now.
May your year be flexible enough to allow the following of your passions,
The reviews are pouring in for Hit and Run, and people are being kind. I have posted a few on the prepub page, but not all. For the time being, the book is STILL available for free as an advanced review copy. If you haven’t already read it, please help me to reach 100 advance reviews.
How Far Can You Go? By John MacLean
Last year, I received this book as a Father’s Day gift. I rarely read a paper book; usually only in medical waiting rooms or on a train when taking my computer for doing my work is not convenient. So, I’ve only just finished it now.
John MacLean was an up-and-coming champion athlete in several sports. Somehow, he excelled at whatever sport he tried. Then, at 22 years of age, he was riding his brand new racing bike when an 8 ton truck hit him. He survived against expectations but was paralysed from the waist down, with minimal function in his legs. An MRI much later showed that, of the 3 million nerves passing through the spinal cord, he had a few thousand left.
He became a wheelchair-bound champion. He swam the English Channel, competed in triathlons and ironman contests, including the toughest in the world, by using his wheelchair instead of running, and working a hand-operated bike on the cycling leg. He won a silver medal at the Paralympics in Beijing.
But all this was second best. What he dreamed of was walking again.
25 years after his accident, he did, thanks to a revolutionary therapy by Ken Ware.
OK, this is the skeleton the story is built on. The real message is the attitude that made all this possible. John wasn’t “lucky” in achieving all this, but rather “lucky” in believing that he could burst through any barrier if he tried hard enough. And this attitude is something all of us can copy.
He was often in agony, but he kept going. When he couldn’t keep going, he returned and had another go, and went through the pain and kept going anyway.
Read the book and be inspired.
Unmaking Atoms by Magdalena Ball
I am a literal-minded fellow, handicapped by a scientific training, so I find almost all modern poetry to be incomprehensible. I don’t do very well on projective tasks, and gentle allusions pass me by. If you want me to understand something, simply tell me simply.
All the same, I have previously read and enjoyed poems by Magdalena Ball, so when she asked me to review her new book of poetry, “Unmaking Atoms,” I agreed to at least have a look.
Predictably, the meaning of most of the poems escaped me. I can see the beauty in the words, the strong emotions skating below the surface, the deep wisdom there… somewhere, although I was not necessarily able to excavate it.
However, if you enjoy such mind-teasers, you will love this book, and get a great many hours of enjoyment out of it. I suspect you will want to read one poem, then have it run through your mind for a day or more, so if this appeals to you, you’ll get tremendous value.
I think I need to give some examples to let you know what I am talking about,. Two poems of grieving spoke to the Buddhist in me:
When your last
fractured breath came
a lifetime, I wasn’t ready
but you were
pulled in constricting circles
battened the hatches
bolted the door
I felt the cut at thirty thousand feet
watched the cord slacken
lost the sonic heartbeat
before I arrived
there was more silence
than I knew existed
fearless, you slid
into the atomic mess
safe from a life that assaulted
you at every turn
in all this quiet
how will I hear that song
your breath exhaled into cold air
on my lips
now you’re no longer
here reminding me
to be brave?
There are no chains
to hold that fragile
no locks you can’t unpick.
Earth waves in and out
of your vision
just one world of many
but not alone.
It took so many years
to find what you knew already
in your pocket.
Here you are
ready to try again
eyes full of stars
fusing hydrogen to helium
shining with nuclear energy
burning through billions of lives.
Where will you alight
will unhinge you
entering the flesh again.
How will I
with all my limitations
deep in samsara
crawling on broken knees
Is the connection between us
me in this life
you in another
untethered by those bonds
we once thought permanent?
See what I mean? These are pearls in words; beautiful images in beautiful expressions. They force you to think. There is a kaleidoscope of different ways, all pointing to the same theme. You can immerse yourself in each of 96 offerings like this — except that no two are alike. Each is a cryptic crossword in 17 dimensions, chasing each other out of sight, a carefully designed Rorschach blot.
Hey, maybe I can do it too!
By the way, Magdalena has generously sent along another poem for your enjoyment.
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Margaret Sutherland
In choosing the title, “Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance”, the author has made obvious his theme. It’s hard to know whether to call this book a work of fiction, a philosophical discourse, or an amalgam of personal beliefs. It is certainly not a trivial work, and its author clearly holds passionate views about the way we live, what happens when we die, and what lessons we will carry with us from lifetime to lifetime.
Rather than gather these views into a kind of memoir, Bob Rich devises several fictional characters, describing their lives. These people interact in a kind of network with others, returning as relatives, enemies, friends or lovers to work through unfinished business. This suggestion sits comfortably within my own belief system. The deja vu experience, or meeting of minds or hearts, is familiar to me, as to many others.
The lives through which one individual passes vary. Gender may change; even human form. A space creature or a walking plant are offered as possibilities for learning, but the humans seem more plausible. The Irishman Dermot O’Halloran’s path from violence and murder to transportation as a NSW convict is graphically depicted. We glimpse changes as he improves his life as a free man, but he is unable to overcome his violence and is killed.
His next incarnation is as Amelia Poole, a genteel young woman who is married off to Charles McQuade. Amelia is ignorant of the facts of life, and her shock is not eased by the brutal assault of her totally insensitive husband. She suffers his excesses for her entire married life and is only released when Mr McQuade dies after a long marriage of loveless emptiness. Amelia is the most convincing character in the cast. Her disgust is well conveyed, as is her friendship with local aboriginal women.
Following her death, and a further meeting with her spirit guide, she is reborn, this time as a Hungarian man, Pip Lipkin. By this time, I found the dislocation to yet another character was challenging. This character is introduced to us via episodic memories somewhat like diary notes. After many difficult experiences, Pip undergoes forms of regression, understands the root causes of his repressed nature, and comes to a belief that his message could save mankind from self-destruction. His grief at the selfish and immature assault on our planet is perfectly valid. All the issues we face at a global level are absolutely real. Fortunately, Pip does practise what he preaches, and his message offers hope of a kind. The reader of “Ascending Spiral” should not expect a conventional novel, although the work is presented through imagined characters as fiction. It’s hard to classify. One thing stands out. The author has thought deeply and cares for the planet and our possible ride towards self-destruction.
by Magdalena Ball
Let me remind you
in a voice entirely not my own
of our common ancestry
your stake in my chain
the pyramid you keep fighting
even as it kills you
It all comes back to the dance
intelligence in figure eight
who feels pain, who loses
one hundred or more circuits
waggle and return
decoding in scent
I could buzz this in another direction
than the ineffable hive
empires are fragile organisms
collapse with heat, like beeswax
invisible tendrils pulling
structures failing, falling
under the weight
of hunger, hatred
the wrong weather at the
but this is by the by
there is reason enough
for you to believe
that suffering is not solely a human
that you and I are bonded
in ways you will come to know
that empathy is strength
the motion of wing and thorax
a sound that fills the air, and
then is gone.
About Bobbing Around
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