Bobbing Around Volume 16 Number 9

GDP goes up if you sit in traffic for an hour with the engine ticking over. It doesn’t if you stay at home, caring for a sick child.
Mark Rice-Oxley

Bobbing Around

Volume Sixteen, Number Nine,
March, 2017

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
Snake
Alienating teenagers
A band-aid: Buddhist equanimity
Hit and Run: thank you
Guardian Angel

Responses to past issues
John Hill
Clive Warner
Rich McLean
Peter Fratesi

*Politics
Dutch spearhead funding for women’s services
What threatens Americans the most?
Prince Charles is a voice of sanity
German call to defend sanity, truthfulness and decency
Librarians for truth
I am Jewish, and I oppose Netanyahu
Japanese Americans for equality, from George Takei

*Environment
Bay of Bengal can’t feed the millions anymore
Meet Casey research station
Human impact is given a number
Nowhere is safe
Peak supermarket vegs?

*Good news
More solar panels than people…
Ireland to divest
Wonderful Seattle
4 legged landscapers
Child marriage outlawed in Malawi
Another coal plant closes

*Inspiring people
92 not out
Kids suing Trump over climate change
Martial arts for girls — in Afhganistan
Gandhi would be proud of this man

*Compassion
Harry Potter saved her life
A Jewish man cries out for justice for Muslim refugees
How to love a fat person
Love the Refugee

*Technology
Bring your own jar in Canada
Killer waste into useful products
Solar school
Happy harbour cleaner
But why generate that waste in the first place?

*Deeper issues
What unique ideas can save our environment?
Animal intelligence
Bumblebees more intelligent than commenters
Who is a Christian?
Can meditation heal our planet?
Turn anger into compassion

*Psychology
Facebook contact says I’m a sexual abuser
Motivational Interviewing for society
Mindfulness vs. resistance
On Prozac for 30 years

*Health
Antibiotic damage, and how to fix it

*For writers
Are your books being pirated?
Making description invisible

*What my friends want you to know
March for science, 22 April
People’s climate march, 29 April
Indian activist visiting to stop Adani
Fantasy sampler
Bainstorming again
Medicins sans Frontieres need you
Benefit from this writers’ community

*Reviews
The Bookshop and the Junglest, reviewed by Clive Warner
Telemachus, by Peter Gray

*Fun
Sign of the times
Post Tortoise

*Poetry
Fax man, by Clive Warner


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.


Older drinkers are one of the most at-risk populations from alcohol-related harm.
Andy Towers, discussing moderate drinking.

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

Snake
Alienating teenagers
A band-aid: Buddhist equanimity
Hit and Run: thank you
Guardian Angel

 

Snake

I was showing some people Moora Moora, when we noticed a snake vigorously throwing itself around. The lady explained that she was once almost bitten, and so avoided snakes. We walked at a cautious distance from the animal, and went on.

About an hour later, I returned to the location, needing to pack up a few things. The snake was still there. That’s when I noticed, its head was entangled in some plastic netting. Its previous movements were not aggression, but desperation.

It was a copperhead: a venomous species, but not deadly, and not normally aggressive. It had to be quite young, being about a metre long. I found a pair of gloves and a knife, and approached.

As I grasped it near the head, it went completely still. This surprised me, since I expected fear and resistance. I started cutting strands of plastic, gradually freeing its poor face, which was bleeding from many cuts. Then my friend Matt came by, and held the snake so I could use two hands.

The snake was so still that we worried it had died.

Eventually, I cut the last strand. Where the neck would be on a mammal, the animal was constricted to about half its diameter. Its head was swollen and misshapen, and its black tongue was hanging out.

Immediately on being freed of its trap, it started to move. Matt let go in automatic reaction, and we stepped back. The snake lay there, but was clearly alive. It apparently paid us no attention.

After a rest, it slithered off into the vegetation.

This personal disaster for the snake has two lessons for me.

First, suppose this was a human who couldn’t speak your language. Would you explain the person’s behaviour in terms of trust, willingness to accept help, understanding that help was being given?

I cannot explain the snake’s chain of actions as anything different.

Snakes (and other animals) have feelings, emotions, reasoning ability and the like, characteristics we humans arrogantly reserve for ourselves.

Second, whoever unthinkingly threw that piece of rubbish away directly caused this event. Few of us are deliberately cruel to animals, but every time we throw away a plastic bag, a can, a bottle, or as here, something less specific, we risk unknowingly torturing a non-human person.


Alienating teenagers

This is a letter I wrote to my local newspaper:

28th January, 2017

Dear Jesse,

A group of teenagers hangs out at the skate park in Don Rd. They have done things like wrecking a bike a little kid had left behind, and threw it in the creek; and destroyed the water fountain, which wasted thousands of litres of precious water. They litter the area with paper, cans and bottles.

However, recently they did a nice thing. With the hard rubbish putout, they carried an old couch there, tacked up some scraps of carpet, and made themselves a little cubbyhouse. They placed a note: “Please leave.”

The response was two council employees with a truck, who removed it all.

I think much better would have been to send a youth worker to chat with them, take their needs and interests seriously, and help them to have having their cubby house in a way the council would find acceptable.

Which of these two courses of action is likely to move them toward decency, responsibility, cooperation? Which of them is likely to move them toward further alienation, defiance of authority and destructiveness?


A band-aid: Buddhist equanimity

John Hill has written a nice note, reproducing a letter he sent to Australia’s Prime Minister. He also asked me how I use Buddhist equanimity to stave of despair.

This turned into quite an essay, so I made it a blog of its own. Please read and comment.


Hit and Run: thank you

At the date of writing, I have 33 positive advance reviews for Hit and Run, my coming publication.

I am grateful for my friends for their contribution to my welfare. I am confident each reader gave honest opinions, and I am pleased and encouraged by this feedback.

Before publication, I’d love to get this number up to 100. If you haven’t already read this novel, you still have a chance for a free copy. Just email me and ask.


Guardian Angel

Some years ago, I completed a novel about an Australian Aboriginal girl in the 19th century, who was actually an apprentice guardian angel for humans, born to learn what being a human is like. It’s a beautiful story, and moved my beta readers. However, since the end of a life is a death, and her death was horrific, it was rejected by a publisher whose opinion I value.

Not knowing how to proceed, I put the project away. Recently, needing a break from anything to do with our global insanity, I dusted it off, and decided to keep writing on, because the sequel is her second life. Only, a lot of interesting material insisted on inserting itself into the computer, before she was even born.

While walking and chatting with my daughter Natalie one day (she is a walking fanatic), I had the solution: the first book should end with the second birth, not with the death. That horrific scene is then merely somewhere in the middle, and while the birth completes the first volume, it opens the gate for the sequel.

Yesterday, I’ve reached that birth, in 28,000 words, which brings the complete book to a good length. What’s more, I managed to write it so it can be understood without reading the parts before the death. I’ve sent it out to several beta readers, and will now wait for their feedback before starting on the second volume.

If you’re interested in historical fiction, and the deeper questions in life, I am happy to email it to you for a beta read.
maraglindi


Responses to past issues

John Hill
Clive Warner
Rich McLean
Peter Fratesi

 

John Hill

Dear Bob:

Thank you very much for the latest issue of your wonderful newsletter.

Following your example, I have written to the PM this morning and thought you might be interested to see what I have written. So, here it is:

    Dear Mr Turnbull,

    I feel certain that you understand the issues and that Australia’s future would be best served by making the transition to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible to remain competitive in world markets and sharply reduce the amount of pollution we produce.

    I can only explain your recent pronouncements on subsidising “clean” coal (what a misleading term!) and coal seam gas as indicating that you must be under tremendous pressure by the fossil fuel lobby.

    Please resist this pressure for the sake of all Australians — especially the younger ones. Continuing to support the fossil fuel industries will only make Australia less competitive and poorer — surely this is not what you want or intend?

    Instead, direct that money into energy conservation, and into the renewable energy industry. Then our grandchildren may have some chance of surviving and escaping poverty.

    Thank you for considering my heartfelt plea.

    Yours sincerely,

    John Hill

I can only hope that things are not quite as grim as they seem to be. It certainly is difficult to maintain a positive outlook these days.

I send you all my very best wishes and thanks for all the good work you have been doing. It is so important to speak up at this critical moment in history.

Cheers,

John Hill
Cooktown

Thank you, John, you’ve made my day.

I use Buddhist equanimity to stop from going to pieces. May I reproduce your email in the next Bobbing Around?

🙂
Bob

Dear Bob:

I am happy my letter brought you some cheer in these dark days. Of course, I would be most pleased if you would like to reproduce my letter to Mr. Turnbull. Let’s hope he listens to our pleas.

I am interested to hear about your use of Buddhist equanimity. Although I am not a Buddhist, I feel closer to Buddhism than any other religion and it has deeply affected my life, informed my view of the world, and helped me accept things I cannot change.

I send you my very warmest greetings and thanks for being you and doing what you do – you are a National Treasure!

Cheers,

John

John, you got me thinking. There is no short answer, so I wrote a long one, and made it into a blog post.

Thank you.

🙂
Bob


Clive Warner

I really enjoyed the last issue.

I’d like to mention another author: I just reviewed a first novel, The Bookshop and the Junglest. To my enormous surprise this proved to be not only that rarity, a readable, interesting first novel, but a possible modern classic. It’s like a combination of The Wind In The Willows, Fahrenheit 451, The Hobbit, and Alice In Wonderland. I left a review on Amazon if you have time to look.

My own new novel, When Things Go Bang, is in review with Amazon Kindle Scout after its campaign finished last week. So I am biting my nails to see if I get a contract with Amazon for it. I worked really hard; spent about $200 on Facebook marketing, used Twitter, my email friends, my LinkedIn contacts, my Facebook groups. I ended up with RSI in my wrist and had to stop using the computer for a week. This is the Facebook page.

Regarding your cover, I’m glad you decided to change it. If you’d like to send me a PDF or EBook or whatever I can read, I’ll review it for you. Please check my review for the one I mentioned above.

Regards,
Clive


Rich McLean

Dear Bob,

Thanks for sharing your blog with me.

As I read it, I realised I was in it! Thanks so much.

It really was a wide scope and very interesting. I look forward to the next one.

Best wishes,

Rich


Peter Fratesi

As a former psychotherapist and psychologist, I appreciated the poem in your latest news letter, for its implicit suggestions for peace of mind. I have seen this done in short stories, for example Stories For The Third Ear by Lee Wallas, but never in poem form. Well done!

Peter Fratesi


Politics

Dutch spearhead funding for women’s services
What threatens Americans the most?
Prince Charles is a voice of sanity
German call to defend sanity, truthfulness and decency
Librarians for truth
I am Jewish, and I oppose Netanyahu
Japanese Americans for equality, from George Takei

 

Dutch spearhead funding for women’s services

Trump wants women in poor countries to be denied even advice about abortion.

One in the eye for him: other countries are rallying behind the Dutch government, which is setting up a fund for the purpose.
lilianep

This is the lady responsible: the Dutch minister for international development.


What threatens Americans the most?

Thank you, Karl Kofoed, for forwarding this table. I don’t know its source.
kill


Prince Charles is a voice of sanity

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in Australia Prince Charles is much maligned. I have long been impressed with his intelligent, sane, compassionate, well informed words.

He has publicly compared Trump’s actions to the kind of things that started WW2, and he is perfectly right.
treblinka


German call to defend sanity, truthfulness and decency

klausb
This essay in Der Spiegel by Klaus Brinkbäumer is a must-read.

“Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That’s difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure… Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won’t take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.”


Librarians for truth

Fake news, straight-out lies, dissing science… we have entered a new barbarity.

Throughout the United States, librarians have joined the fight for truth and fairness.

And libraries are for everyone, regardless of race, colour, country of birth or religion.
library


I am Jewish, and I oppose Netanyahu

Please read this short but powerful essay by fellow Australian Greens member David Rothfield.

He has exactly expressed my take on Israel’s actions in illegally stealing land from Palestinians. (Well, can you legally steal?)

palest
From a report of an Israeli court judgment stating this is illegal.


Japanese Americans for equality, from George Takei

George Takei
Thank you for joining my weekly newsletter! I am excited to share with you the best of my Facebook page each week as well as news on personal projects I hold dear to my heart.

On that note, I want to thank you for signing my recent petition demanding our nation never allow any policy denying Muslims their basic rights. With your help, we have gathered over 265,000 signatures, sending a message of firm opposition to the rhetoric of Trump and his administration. We will present this petition to the Muslim Public Affairs Council this month as a sign of our solidarity and support.

When 120,000 Japanese-Americans were interned behind barbed wire fences, with our basic human rights stripped away, we sadly had only each other to rely on for support. By signing this petition, you have let Muslims know they are not alone in this fight. We are stronger together, and together we will never let this happen again.

Thank you,
George Takei
Actor and Activist


Environment

Bay of Bengal can’t feed the millions anymore
Meet Casey research station
Human impact is given a number
Nowhere is safe
Peak supermarket vegs?

 

Bay of Bengal can’t feed the millions anymore

200 million people depend on their living on the fish of the Bay of Bengal. Rising sea levels (and rising human numbers) are likely to increase this crowd. But fish stocks are plummeting.

There are two causes: a huge “dead zone” and gross overfishing.

“The Mergui archipelago on the Thai-Myanmar border is one of the more secluded parts of the Bay. In the late 19th century an English fisheries officer described this area as being ‘literally alive with fish’. Today the archipelago’s sparsely populated islands remain pristinely beautiful while some of its underwater landscapes present scenes of utter devastation. Fish stocks have been decimated by methods that include cyanide poisoning. The region was once famous for its coral reefs; these have been ravaged by dynamite-fishing and climate-change induced bleaching.”

According to the article, 61% of fishermen now live in abject poverty. This is bound to get worse.
bengal


Meet Casey research station

This is a fascinating look into the lives of Antarctic researchers. In words, photos and video, you are taken there, and get to understand their motivations, and a little about their research.
penguin


Human impact is given a number

A recent paper has managed to put figures on anthropogenic vs. natural climate change.

You need to know differential calculus (I do) to understand their work, but in summary, Gaffney and Steffen have shown that we are 170 times more powerful than the effects of sun and geological changes.
icemelt


Nowhere is safe

A new report in Nature Ecosystems has shown that living beings in the very deepest parts of the ocean, The Mariana and Kermadec trenches (each over 10,000 metres deep) are heavily loaded with chemicals so toxic they were banned nearly 40 years ago. They don’t degrade, and animals store them in fat. So, as organic debris works its way down, the poor beasties of the deep cop them.

But this is not limited to the deeps. You can be sure, if they are there, they are everywhere. Homo suicidalis at work.
marianat
A few of those little beasties down there.


Peak supermarket vegs?

katm
Any time of the year, you can buy fruit and vegetables out of season. Naturally, these have to be grown somewhere… somewhere else.

Climate change is disrupting this model. Extreme weather events, water shortages and climatic changes have repeatedly interrupted supply at the source.

An equally important issue is how these plants are grown: in many places it is with highly exploited labour.

For example, if Trump manages to deport those Latinos he hates so much, he will have destroyed the United States’ agricultural labour force. His supporters are unlikely to do backbreaking labour for a pittance.

Katherine Martinko explains this very well at TreeHugger.


Good news

More solar panels than people…
Ireland to divest
Wonderful Seattle
4 legged landscapers
Child marriage outlawed in Malawi
Another coal plant closes

 

More solar panels than people…

According to this video by the Climate Council, that’s Australia.

The population of this huge but difficult land is about 23 million. There are now 27.4 million solar panels in use.


Ireland to divest

The Irish parliament has voted to sell off all investments in fossil fuels.

This is not trivial: we are talking about a fund worth 8 billion Euros.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle (pictured here), who introduced the bill, said the legislation makes a powerful statement to the world. This is a direct reaction to Trump, and well done.
tomp


Wonderful Seattle

I have long admired Seattle for its many wise decisions. Here is another reason: a unanimous decision of Seattle City Council is to divest from Wells Fargo.

The main reason is their investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline, but they also cited money in private prisons, and a history of fraud.
seattle


4 legged landscapers

There is a toll road from Melbourne to the outer eastern suburbs. I have a gizmo for using it, but fortunately the need is extremely occasional. All the same, I am on their newsletter list.

For the first time, I am impressed:

    EastLink includes 480 hectares of landscaping, 4 million native trees, shrubs and plants, as well as more than 60 wetlands that treat rainwater running off the road surface.

    Management of this amount of landscaping is a full time task for our dedicated landscaping team.

    The landscaping team identified a parcel of EastLink land approximately one acre in size that needed to be cleared of woody weeds and non-native varietals, including blackberry and flax-leaved broom (both officially declared as “noxious weeds”). This area also needed to be cleared to reduce fire risk.

    However on close inspection the site posed significant safety risks to the team members and their equipment, due to the steep and rocky terrain.

    The landscaping team solved this problem by introducing a herd of goats to the area. Goats have a voracious appetite for non-native weeds, and are particularly sure-footed and ‘at home’ on tough terrain. To ensure goat and public safety, the goats have had no access to the freeway area or EastLink Trail.

    Since December, the goats have been busy clearing the vegetation in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

    The benefits of this solution include:

    Goats kill weeds like blackberries by pruning the foliage and leaf buds, which exhausts the root system and kills the plant. Unlike glyphosate (a herbicide), this means soil fungi, insects and worms are unharmed.

    All unwanted vegetation is dealt with on-site by the goats, so no vegetation needs to be removed and handled off-site.

    Potential fire load is being eaten or trampled, and will not require further attention this summer.

    Once cleared, the area will provide a better habitat for ground fauna and will attract a greater variety of bird such as Finches, Wrens, Kookaburras, Butcher Birds and Kites.

    The goats have been provided and are cared for by Colin Arnold of Graze Away. Colin has extensive experience, and has been working with goats for 20 years to restore native habitats.

Eastlink has my approval.
goats


Child marriage outlawed in Malawi

malawi
This is thanks to strong international support for local campaigners.


Another coal plant closes

Tree Hugger reports that a huge electric generating plant in Arizona is at its use-by date.

Good riddance. Meanwhile the geniuses running my country, Australia, want to throw away billions of dollars of taxpayer money to prop up their mates in the coal industry.
coalgo


People who inspire

92 not out
Kids suing Trump over climate change
Martial arts for girls — in Afhganistan
Gandhi would be proud of this man

 

92 not out

maryb
This lady has been volunteering for almost as long as I have been alive.

Read her inspiring story.


Kids suing Trump over climate change

More power to them! A group of young people have named Trump in a lawsuit against the American government because their future has been endangered through inaction on climate change.

“We are ready to bring this case to trial with President Trump as a defendant,” said Julia Olson, counsel for plaintiffs and executive director and chief legal counsel at Our Children’s Trust. “President Trump will not be able to perpetuate climate denialism in a court of law. That’s just not going to happen.”
juliao


Martial arts for girls — in Afhganistan

This takes true courage.

This young woman is training Afghan girls in a martial art, in a country where even learning to read and write be females is a cause for assassination.

They are Hazaras — and that alone is cause for assassination. May Allah protect them.
TOPSHOT-WUSHU-AFG


Gandhi would be proud of this man

Ken Ward knowingly risked his liberty for the rest of his life by shutting down a tar sands oil pipeline that goes through his area. This is his own essay, explaining his actions, and outlining the defence that resulted in a hung jury.
kenw
Photo by Joe Reid.

Here is an earlier report that puts it in context.

Ken’s defence was brilliant, and inspiring. He freely admitted what he did, but presented what evidence the judge allowed to demonstrate the direct effects of climate change on the local community, particularly sea level rise.

Although much of his planned presentation was disallowed, he managed to get enough incontrovertible information across to convince half the jury.


Compassion

Harry Potter saved her life
A Jewish man cries out for justice for Muslim refugees
How to love a fat person
Love the Refugee

 

Harry Potter saved her life

You’ve got to read this lovely story.

I must be getting soft in my old age. I cried good tears at the end.
juniper


A Jewish man cries out for justice for Muslim refugees

Please read this passionate, accurate call for compassion and decency in an insane world.


How to love a fat person

You’ve got to read this beautiful, heartfelt essay. The author only identifies herself as “Your Fat Friend,” but she induced me to leave this comment:

    Beautiful essay. Thank you. I’ll place a link to it in the next issue of my newsletter Bobbing Around.

    Anyway, YOU are not fat (or skinny, or fit or unfit, or any such descriptor). You are the passenger in the body, not the body. And from your writing, I can see that the passenger is beautiful.


Love the Refugee

ronnief
Please read this calm yet powerful essay by Ronnie Floyd, a prominent Baptist minister on what Jesus says about treating refugees.


Technology

Bring your own jar in Canada
Killer waste into useful products
Solar school
Happy harbour cleaner
But why generate that waste in the first place?

 

Bring your own jar in Canada

Bulk Barn, a big Canadian chain store, is implementing a reusable container policy.

Provided they are hygienic, you can bring your own jars, boxes and bags to take your shopping home in, or they can sell you a storage container you can reuse many times.

When I was a kid, all shopping was done like this. There was no plastic-waste continent in the middle of the Pacific either.
bulkbarn

You might want to watch this Sky News documentary on the global plastic waste problem Bulk Barn is addressing.


Killer waste into useful products

A Californian company formed by three youngsters with environmental awareness makes skateboards and sunglasses from scraps of fishing net floating in the sea.

These death traps are everywhere. This is a great way of doing something about the problem.

Here is their motivation: “The issue that we’re running into is that plastic is such an abundant resource acquired at such a low cost that it doesn’t add up. The environmental cost the plastic has on the world is much higher than what people pay for it. It’s a system that’s out of balance.”
nets

You can support them by buying their products.


Solar school

A school in Copenhagen, Denmark has walls that supply its electricity.

The kids love it, and are rightly proud of their school. There are even pretty colour effects.
copenschool


Happy harbour cleaner

This mechanical person cleans Baltimore Harbor.
trashwheel


But why generate that waste in the first place?

Melissa Breyer lists 10 plastic items we can do without.
noplastic


Deeper Issues

What unique ideas can save our environment?
Animal intelligence
Bumblebees more intelligent than commenters
Who is a Christian?
Can meditation heal our planet?
Turn anger into compassion

 

What unique ideas can save our environment?

This question was posted on Quora. Here is my answer, old stuff to Bobbing Around readers, but I hope new and illuminating to others:

Please look around my blog Bobbing Around.

It includes several posts, and an essay on this precise topic.

There is a basic problem, which is the nature of our global culture. Human nature is neither good nor bad, but a mixture. The current global culture encourages and rewards the worst: greed, aggression, competitiveness, short term thinking.

Three of the most damaging consequences are:

  1. We are in the 6th great extinction even of this planet. Not only are we killing ourselves (which is perhaps poetic justice), but all life. The last time this much methane and carbon dioxide was in the air was 250 million years ago at the end of the Permian period, when 96% of life forms died out. It took 10 million years for complex life to evolve again. Add to that the devil’s brew of persistent poisons we have produced, plastic, overfishing, destruction of topsoil, etc. etc., and you can see that we are ecocide.
  2. Climate change is part of this, but also terrible in its own right. Because we are in the middle of it, the tendency to adapt to the present moment makes it seem as if it was a future danger. It has already caused huge damage. If any historians survive, they will probably put the start of catastrophe in the first decade of this century or even earlier.
  3. The global financial system almost collapsed in 2008–2009. A large number of financial experts are warning that it has been propped up with illusions, and is on the way to crash again, and this time it may be permanent. That will cause immense suffering.

To save what we can, to put off worsening disaster for as long as possible, we need to change global culture into one that encourages and rewards the best in human nature: compassion, decency, cooperation, long term thinking. A few examples of the necessary changes:

  1. Stop breeding. There are way too many people on this planet. Every child, particularly in the overdeveloped countries, is an extra load. It’s not the poor people in India and Africa who are killing us, but the unthinking ordinary person in places like the USA and Europe. Economically, this is manageable. In 1963, Denis Gabor demonstrated that a very small proportion of adults can provide all necessary goods and services. With technological change since, this is even more true now. So, we don’t need to worry about “age imbalance,” but reorganise the economy to allow for it.
  2. Reduce consumption of material goods per person. Live simply, so you may simply live. Get off retail therapy. Every dollar you spend is an extra load on the world. Particularly, reduce the use of fossil fuels.
  3. Seek the middle way. Too much is as bad as too little.
  4. We need compassion and cooperation, not competition. Whatever the personal costs, let us look after each other. We may face extinction regardless of what we do, but at least let us do it with minimum suffering.


Animal intelligence

fransdw
Yes, yes, I know, that’s one of my hobbyhorses, and you may be sick of the topic, but…

Frans de Waal has inspected the evidence, and comes out in favour of the animals. I haven’t read the book, but this amusing and informative review by Melissa Breyer makes me feel validated.

Historically, most investigations of animal capabilities have been grossly unfair, requiring a species with different needs and anatomy to work at tasks humans are adapted for. But suppose you designed a test adapted to rats, or to elephants, or to octopuses? We humans would come second best in each case.

Indeed, another essay from Melissa summarises evidence regarding the cognitive powers of a being with no brain at all.

This reminds me of what the alien Merlin said to Bill Sutcliffe during their first meeting on the moon in The Greatest Force in the Universe: all living things have two components. One is life energy, which is the real universe, and is indivisible. Maybe everything with life energy is intelligent, in its own way?


Bumblebees more intelligent than commenters

Following on about animal intelligence, here is a report of an article in Science

Bumblebees are able to learn skills never needed in their natural activities, like moving a ball around in order to access a reward.

The reason I cited the Guardian article as well as the original report in Science is that the comments below make me award bumblebees 1, commenters 0.
bee


Who is a Christian?

I am not, but I am a follower of Jesus’ message.

John Pavlovitz is a Christian, and he tells others who claim to be but supported Trump that their action is not. In this powerful, incisive essay, he explains why Trump and Jesus are opposites.


Can meditation heal our planet?

marjow
This brief but powerful essay by neuroscientist Marjorie Woollacott says so.

Well worth reading.


Turn anger into compassion

jennaw
Jenna Wolf from Nashville, Tennessee has written a beautiful essay in The Tennessean.

She shows how anger can be transformed into compassionate action. If you share her anger and mine at all the cruelties and idiocies of our current world, read what she has to say.


Psychology

Facebook contact says I’m a sexual abuser
Motivational Interviewing for society
Mindfulness vs. resistance
On Prozac for 30 years

 

Facebook contact says I’m a sexual abuser

HI Robert,

I am emailing you as I read responses you wrote to others on queendom blog, I thought what a beautiful person giving your time and your advice was so heartfelt and positive and genuine, so thank you.

I could relate in particular to the 40 year old mother who had a past not the same but quite similar in ways to me. I was sexually abused when I was 6 by my brother and as a result I feel of being traumatised I myself acted out when I was babysitting two girls at age 15 no older than 16, I think I had a lot of pain in me and confusion about what happened too me, I briefly touched one of the girls but did not masturbate the child or anything but I did touch myself and her briefly.

I have 2 boys now, Tho and live with the guilt of this of what I done myself and how could I do it, I could relate to your response and every word even when you said keep it to yourself, I wish I did but last night I went on a forum and posted looking for help. A woman replied and said It was sexual a abuser but I could get help and it was not too late, she said I had no one too talk too when I was young but for the sake of my children speak to someone now.

I interpreted this as being I was a danger to my kids, I am 34 now and have not ever had any sexual feelings towards a child even when I was 15 I did not.

I have been so upset and worried what did she mean, I know I need help. I need counselling.

I have to leave this in the past, I wondered have you any advice and are you still counselling.

Thank you.

Glenda, my friends call me Bob. 🙂

Your situation is far more common than you realise. Children, even 15 or 16, are immature, not yet able to make adult judgments, liable to act on impulse, and very prone to experimenting. When I was a child, I had a friend who must have been genetically homosexual (roughly one person in seven is, of both sexes). I briefly experimented with his way of thinking, but very quickly realised it wasn’t for me, and that was that.

From what you wrote, you did not actually do any harm to the children in your care. It is more than likely that they have no memory of those events, while you have been carrying guilt and shame for nearly 20 years.

I have answered many people with this general problem, and while I adapt my answer to each person’s unique circumstances, the message is the same.

Here is one such question and answer.

Here is another.

So, you see, you are not alone, you are not faulty or damaged, and you are not guilty.

You should not have done those things, but what’s done is done. You have grown from having made that mistake, and this growth is worth celebrating. If you want to make restitution for it, do something to help the victims of abuse, and/or to lead people who are making similar mistakes now into a better, more mature place.

Use decency, compassion, empathy to make this planet a better place.

With love and caring,
Bob

“Glenda” and I corresponded after this exchange of emails, and we are both satisfied that she is doing well.


Motivational Interviewing for society

bobc
Professor Bob Costanza at Australian National University, and his colleagues, have published what I hope becomes a famous article. It deserves to finally make environmental activism effective.

There is considerable research evidence that the more you present facts to climate change deniers, the stronger they hold to their views. Costanza et. al point out that this is exactly parallel to what happens in the field of addiction:

“In this paper, we draw the analogy between defensive denial at the society level and defensive denial from drug or alcohol addicts when warned about the long-run implications of their behavior. It is well known in addiction therapy that it is rarely effective to directly confront addicts concerning the damage they are causing to themselves and others. Rather than motivating addicts to change, such interventions often result in a reactive denial on the part of the addict and lack of progress toward overcoming the addiction. Yet, such a confrontational approach is typical of the strategies used by scientists and activists who try to effect change at the societal level regarding climate change, overconsumption, overpopulation, inequality, and many other issues. From a psychological perspective, then, the lack of progress in ameliorating these issues is to be expected as long as these topics continue to be approached in a mainly confrontational, judgmental way. Like with individual addictions, taking a less confrontational approach does not deny the reality of the dire consequences. It merely recognizes that knowledge and communication of those dire consequences is often not enough to motivate change, and can even have the effect of prolonging the destructive behavior. Perhaps more progress would be made with a different way of framing and discussing the issues that is more analogous with the practices that help people overcome individual addictions.”

Motivational Interviewing is a therapeutic approach designed for precisely this situation with addicts. I have often used it, and have found it to be effective. This is why I am referencing this important paper under “psychology.”

You can read the abstract and download the entire paper for free here.
mi


Mindfulness vs. resistance

This essay in Mindful summarises evidence that gently accepting and observing an urge is the best way of not giving in to it. I have used this approach with my clients for over 20 years, and personally when I have needed it, and it works.

If you have addiction, emotional control problems, or suffer chronic pain, this is the way to go.
dandelionseed
Image from Adelaide Mindfulness.


On Prozac for 30 years

Hi Bob,

Just been having tough time lately. My Dad passed when I was 14, My stepdad and Mom passed in the last few years. I deal with OCD and have for many years. The depression has been really rough these last few years. I work full time. and retired from my 1st job, in 2003. I’m married with 3 kids, one about 32,(moved out) one 17 and one 22.

I’ve taken Prozac for about the last 30 or so yrs, currently 50 mg a day and use a fisher stimulator. I also look for and take vitamins that studies show can help depression.

Can you advise of what else I can do to get this depression to lift. Thank God for the help you provide to others who are suffering.
John

Dear John,

A rule is, if something works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, do something else instead. If you are still suffering after 30 years of Prozac, then it hasn’t worked.

You are not alone. Antidepressants like this are barely better than placebo at relieving depression. Their greatest advantage is for the drug companies: the myth of depression as a chemical imbalance is very profitable.

Research since about 2004 has shown the same brain changes from therapy as from drugs. Only, the effects of therapy last, while drugs can only work while you take them.

However, there are terrible withdrawal effects. I suggest you find a psychologist to work with you, and in the meantime request your doctor to gradually and slowly wean you off the Prozac.

Depression is not something you are, or something you have, but something you do. That’s why therapy can be effective. But it is not necessarily so either. Here are the requirements:

1. You need to believe that it works. The power of belief is enormous. Many people who fail at any treatment do so because they start by doubting whether it’ll work. Go into it full blast, with strong commitment to make it succeed.

2. The most important factor in the success of therapy is the personal bond between two people. Read up on the work of Carl Rogers. It is valid, and there are many articles on the internet about it.

3. My approach, which is supported by a great deal of research, is cognitive-behavioral therapy, with a Buddhist/mindfulness approach. Various other therapies, like narrative therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy, are based on the same principles, and work.

John, I am happy to continue emailing with you.
Have a good life (you can),
Bob


Health

Antibiotic damage, and how to fix it

This essay from Dr Mark Hyman is balanced, accurate and helpful.

It is particularly important reading for parents, but even oldies will benefit from his advice.

In brief, you need to look after your gut bacteria. Antibiotics can be lifesavers, but do damage this essential part of healthy functioning.


Writing

Are your books being pirated?
Making description invisible

 

Are your books being pirated?

You can check with Blasty, and instantly remove them if you find unauthorised listing.

There is only one problem: Blasty only works with Chrome. I have left a comment on their web site, asking for it to be adapted to other browsers.


Making description invisible

My latest contribution to Rhobin’s rounds concerns description.

All the other writers in the blog round agree: too much description is a turn-off. And yet, you can describe the environment of your story, its people and events in great detail. Read how I do it by making the description invisible.

Do leave a comment!


What my friends want you to know

March for science, 22 April
People’s climate march, 29 April
Indian activist visiting to stop Adani
Fantasy sampler
Bainstorming again
Medicins sans Frontieres need you
Benefit from this writers’ community

 

It’s a real pity, but two major environmental protest actions have been organised, one week apart. If you can, go to both.

 

March for science, 22 April

Keep the 22nd of April free for the march for science.

(CNN) As more than a million women and their allies were making final plans for marches in Washington and around the world to protest Donald Trump, a commenter posted on a Reddit thread, “There needs to be a Scientists’ March on Washington.”

Other users — who’d been discussing the changing White House website, climate change and energy policy — jumped on the idea.

“I’m a Physics major and he’s a Biology professor. If this gets organized, we will march!” one user responded.

“I’m an artist but passionate about science. I’ll march too!” another said.

Within hours, a Facebook group was born. A website, a Twitter handle and the beginnings of a plan quickly followed. Hundreds of thousands joined the Facebook group (including Bob Rich).

“A number of people had the independent idea to have a March for Science on Washington and throughout the country. We all connected through Twitter, as many of these things seem to start!” Caroline Weinberg, a public health scientist and co-organizer of the march, said in an email.

Organizers want the march to be a non-partisan protest that addresses issues including government funding for scientists, transparency, climate change and evolution, according to the website.

“There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives,” according to the site. “The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.”

“We are currently crafting a mission statement collaborating with a diverse group of scientists to ensure that our movement is all inclusive,” Weinberg said.

sciencemarch
from Tree Hugger, reporting on the same event, and also worth reading.


People’s climate march, 29 April

People’s Climate Movement is uniting hundreds of thousands of activists against Donald Trump’s dangerous policies. Join us on April 29 in Washington, D.C. and around the country.

Last week, we publicly announced the People’s Climate March on April 29 in Washington, D.C. — and around the country. Will you be there to stand up for our climate and communities?

Here are the details:

What: People’s Climate March

When: April 29, 2017

Where: Washington, D.C. and around the country.

RSVP now: Let us know you’re in so you don’t miss important updates.

During the first week of Trump’s presidency, he advanced the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, put a gag order on the EPA, restricted access to reproductive healthcare around the world, put a ban on immigration and legal residents from 7 countries, and took steps towards building a wall.

It’s clearer than ever that we cannot just fight to stop climate change, we must speak out against injustice anywhere we see it. The same government and corporate interests that work to restrict rights and threaten the safety and well-being of Muslims, people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community simultaneously back the fossil fuel projects that destroy our planet and make our communities sick. We cannot have a healthy planet when our communities are robbed of their basic human rights. We will not allow climate deniers in Trump’s cabinet to threaten the planet and we will not allow attacks on immigrants, communities of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and workers to become the new normal.

Join us as part of the People’s Climate March on April 29 in Washington D.C. or at a local event near you.

Our fights are tied together, and we will only succeed together. That’s why on April 29 we are calling on everyone to join us for a massive march to bring our demands to the streets of Washington, D.C. We will march for our air, our water, and our land. We will march for clean energy jobs and climate justice. We will march for our communities and the people we love.

In solidarity,

Maura Cowley
Sierra Club


Indian activist visiting to stop Adani

I am Dr Vaishali Patil from the Konkan Coast region of Maharashtra, India, and I’m writing to ask for your help to #StopAdani.

For the last 20 years, I have been working to tackle the most devastating impacts of coal and stand up for the rights of India’s poorest and most marginalised people.

This work has brought me face-to-face with many of the world’s worst coal companies. At the top of that list is mining giant Adani. The damage that this company has done to our people and precious environment can’t be overstated.

Local fishing communities unable to access their fishing grounds, vast quantities of coal spilled into our oceans and not cleaned up for years, devastating local tourism, beaches and marine life, mass destruction of mangroves, which play a vital role in purifying our water.

But it doesn’t end there. Adani has used bribery and intimidation to silence opposition to their plans, they’ve employed child labour, underpaid workers, and in some cases not paid them at all. Workers have died from accidents in their coal plants, not to mention the more than 120,000 Indians who die from coal pollution every year.

And now they want to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in your beautiful country so that they can ship more dirty coal over to mine. Adani’s coal is devastating India. The last thing we need is more of it.

On behalf of Indians everywhere, I need you to help us #StopAdani.

In four week’s time, I am coming to Australia to speak about Adani’s terrible legacy. I’ll be joined by Traditional Owners, local campaigners and clean energy experts. Together we will travel from city to city, talking about the threats Adani poses, but more importantly, the opportunities we all have to stand up and stop their mine before it gets started.

Will you join me on the #StopAdani Roadshow in Melbourne to find out how you can stand up to their coal madness?

You are in a unique position. Adani hasn’t yet got a foothold in your beautiful country as they have in mine. It is so much harder to fight them when their mines, ports, and power plants are already operating. Meanwhile, you are one the sunniest and windiest countries in the world. The options for clean, job-rich alternatives to Adani’s carbon bomb abound.

But we can’t #StopAdani without a powerful community-led movement. And that’s exactly why I’m joining the Roadshow next month. A coal mine like Adani’s anywhere is a threat to people everywhere. India can’t afford more of Adani’s coal devastation. It is wrecking our environment, trashing our health and locking our people in a crippling cycle of poverty. We shouldn’t have to put up with this and nor should Australia.
It’s time to stand up and take action.

See you in March to build an unstoppable movement to #StopAdani.

With gratitude,
Dr Vaishali Patil, Konkan Region, Maharashtra, Western India


Fantasy sampler

Writers Exchange, the publisher of my coming book Hit and Run, have released a free e-book that is 7 books by 7 different writers.

You can check them out without cost, then hopefully feel compelled to buy other books from these authors.


Bainstorming again

A new Bainstorming Blog is now live at www.darrellbain.com.

Subjects this issue: Apologies, The New Types, Deaths, Betty’s New Fall, Truck, Friedman, Back, The God Stories.


Medicins sans Frontieres need you

msf2
In countries like Yemen and Iraq, our teams can be called upon at a moment’s notice to respond to mass casualty situations. A sudden increase in fighting, or an explosion in a densely populated civilian area, and our teams are faced with a mass influx of critically wounded men, women and children. To save the greatest number of lives, our teams must scale up their medical response and make decisions about who to treat first, and in what order.

Watch this video to see how Médecins Sans Frontières teams respond to a mass casualty situation.

Please make a donation of $50 today to help our medical and logistics teams provide care to those in urgent need in over 60 countries.


Benefit from this writers’ community

Sharing With Writers is Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s monthly newsletter, but it’s more like a mutually helpful community.

Check it out if you haven’t already done so.


Reviews

The Bookshop and the Junglest reviewed by Clive Warner
Telemachus, by Peter Gray

 

The Bookshop and the Junglest, reviewed by Clive Warner

The Bookshop and the Junglest is the kind of story I wished I’d read when I was just a kid. That doesn’t mean that it’s limited to kids, though. Would you like to read The Wind In The Willows, or Alice In Wonderland, as an adult, if you hadn’t read them before? I bet you would. This story reminds me of those books. It’s got the same wonderful style as they have.


Without giving away too much of the plot, Ethan and his sister Maggy discover a magical bookshop. Ethan picks a book about seeds. When he opens it at random, the single seed within grows into the Junglest — a magical jungle populated by all sorts of creatures. In there, you’ll find the Dark Wood (The Wind In The Willows, Mirkwood in Tolkien’s tales), in which dark things happen, as well as pretty much any other kind of jungle beasts you can imagine — some mythical, some not.


Ethan and Maggy accompany Mr. Catterwall, the owner of the bookshop, and his geriatric cat, Achebe, into the Junglest, where they encounter a lost girl, Joanna, who became trapped within the magical time and space. Since she was trapped, Joanna has become the quintessence of evil. Ethan and Maggy must save her in order to save the Junglest — but exactly how?


Robert Perríne has created a modern classic to rival the classics we loved as children. If you enjoyed Where The Wild Things Are, The Wind In The Willows, Alice In Wonderland, The Hobbit, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, you’re going to love The Bookshop and the Junglest. I found it hard to stop reading: Mr. Perríne is an artist with “cliff hanger” chapter endings and displays an impressive ability to weave two major stories, and one minor story into a tapestry to delight the senses. Highly recommended — and I want to see more by this author.

Clive Warner is a retired broadcast engineer turned cosmetic chemist.

He spends his time inventing personal care products, and writing.

His latest novel, When Things Go Bang, is set in the North of England in 1959, and Egypt, in the Battle of Alamein.

Clive has begun writing a sequel, and is about to publish his memoir of the international radio business, It Happens.


Telemachus, by Peter Gray

For perhaps the first third of the story, the book reminded me of Aesop’s fables, Watership Down and other allegorical stories. After all, it’s about swallows who think and in remarkable ways act like human beings. However, those other stories about anthropomorphic animals make strong points of ethics and morality. Insofar as I can gather, Telemachus is rather an examination of the (human) relationships between the sexes.

The language is almost poetic in parts, especially early in the book. I can almost hear Peter’s voice as he tells it like a fairytale, and this largely makes telling rather than showing acceptable — in most parts. Occasionally, he summarises inherently exciting events from a lofty outside view, explaining a person’s emotions rather than inducing me to share them. This negative is balanced in part by excellent characterisation, especially of the main characters, Tom and Sally.

As an editor, I always pay attention to the technicalities of language. This book is excellent: I could only find a few inaccuracies.

Overall, I am happy to recommend “Telemachus” as interesting reading, and certainly different.


Fun

Sign of the times
Post Tortoise

 

Sign of the times

newtimes


Post Tortoise

While stitching a cut on the hand of a 75-year-old farmer, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Donald Trump and his role as President of the United States.

The old farmer said, ” Well, as I see it, Donald Trump is like a ‘Post Tortoise’.”

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘Post Tortoise’ was.

The old farmer said, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a Post Tortoise.”

The old farmer saw the puzzled look on the doctor’s face so he continued to explain.

“You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function, and you just wonder what kind of dumb asses put him up there to begin with.”

Thank you, Carolyn Harris, for forwarding this.


Poetry

Fax man
by Clive Warner

            I open curled fax-paper wings
            flap uselessly from the ragged sofa
            just a time-circuit transmission.

            Original’s back there in a mansion
            with a supermodel a yacht in Cannes
            a Maserati in Monza and laughing

            all the way to the toilet. I see him
            a quasar billions of light years away
            the brightest thing in heaven.

            I went wrong thirty years ago
            picked up the phone early
            stepped on a yellow beetle.

            He split off, let the phone ring.
            Jain-like he donated a lifted foot
            to the yellow beetle.

            Ripples spread money passed
            he didn’t buy magazines with
            can’t fail investment offers.

            put it in Genentech
            and Microsoft
            instead.

            Miracle cures and hair therapy
            don’t work on Xerox copies.
            For a while I was A4 size
            but now even that looks good.

            The last letters fade away and
            I see him
            nodding into his dream

            of my

            nonexistence


About Bobbing Around

If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don’t want a repeat, it’s simple. Drop me a line and I’ll drop you from my list.

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Submission Guidelines

It is a FALSE RUMOUR that you need to buy one of my books before your submission is accepted. Not that I cry when someone does so.

Above all, contributions should be brief. I may shorten them if necessary.

Content should be non-discriminatory, polite and relevant. Announcements should be 100 to 200 words, shorter if possible. Book reviews, essays and stories should be at the very most 500 words, poems up to 30 lines.

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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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