*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.
The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
Richard Conn Henry, Professor of Physics at Johns Hopkins University
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
The psychological management of pain
This is the title of one of the chapters of Cancer: A personal challenge.
I have decided to publish it as a small (12,000 word, 20 page) electronic book, and make it available free. This is for two reasons: I want to be of service to people, helping them to relieve their suffering, and also it should be advertising for one aspect of my work.
The trouble is, I am not a visual person. The book needs an eye-catching cover that tells you about the contents.
So, once more, I am appealing to the generosity of my friends. Advise me on cover design.
I am offering a $5 Amazon gift card to the person who makes the best suggestion. I was going to leave the choice of vendor to the recipient, but the others don’t allow a figure below $10.
Hit and Run
I have no progress to report on my 16th book. As far as I know, the cover is still being designed. I am going rather blue in the face, holding my breath…
All regular readers of Bobbing Around know by now that, until publication date, I am happy to send out a free copy for advance review. If you know anyone who may be interested, please send them to check the book out.
In the meantime, I have dusted off an old project, Guardian Angel. This is the story of a girl born into 19th century Australia as a result of a white man’s rape of an Aboriginal woman. She is a very unusual girl, with the gift of Love. Her task in this life is to learn how to be a human, because she is a guardian angel in training.
Although it’s a beautiful story, I abandoned it because a publisher I respect told me the ending was horrifying, and spoiled the story. I agreed with her. Now, I’ve solved the problem by continuing beyond this scene by another 20,000 words, bringing total length to just under 100,000 — a standard length for a novel. Now, the book ends with the same Spirit being born again.
When other duties permit, I am now happily working on the sequel. Since events in Guardian Angel depend in part on what happens in the second book, I won’t release it as yet, but am happy to get beta reads. email me if you are interested.
If you’re not quite sure what a beta read entails, please read this short explanation.
Launch of important book
I am in Sydney as I write, which is a joy because I can spend time with my grandbabies. I am here at the invitation of the Thai government, and of my friends, Professors Gayle Avery and Harry Bergsteiner.
Gayle and Harry are the editors of a book on what is basically Buddhist economics: Sufficiency Thinking: Thailand’s Gift to an Unsustainable World. A long list of distinguished Thai scholars are co-authors. While all the contributors wrote in English, a person was needed to translate their words into something a western reader would find easy. That was my task.
It was a labour of joy: if the world economy was reshaped into this book’s recommendations, we would have an improved chance of survival.
Responses to past issues
Mate, thanks for sending me Guardian Angel for a beta read.
My main reaction is how much research you must have put into it, to get the time and place right. If feels like you transported me there. Mind you, for all I know it could actually be full of historical mistakes, but it feels fair dinkum.
I love your people, good and bad. And I wish I had a Maraglindi in my life.
Only, you can’t seem to stay away from the supernatural. Did the Aboriginal magic men actually do magic?
Above all, it’s a great read, and I don’t have any suggestions for change.
Happy writing, and hurry up with the sequel,
Thank you for EPA dump
While the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency was a wonderful institution, Trumpistan is not to have one. It might get in the way of suicide.
However, graduate student John Rozsa is in the process of creating the EPA dump, which will hold every file on the EPA website. At the moment, it’s a primitive list, but give John and his helpers time, and it’ll be a highly useful resource.
Please follow the Facebook page, and if you can, help them along.
Why America needs more arms spending
Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2015)
US: currenty $596 billion
Next 7 countries combined: $567 billion
Rest of the world: $514 billion
Not all conservatives are climate idiots
A group calling themselves RepublicEn are championing urgent action on climate change, although they self-identify as conservatives.
More power to them.
A big hole into the past
Glyphosate affects bees
A new beast of the beaches
Grisly evidence for climate change
Oceans heating faster
What are the scientific principles of sustainability?
A big hole into the past
Some forest was cleared, so that previously shaded land was exposed to the sun. Next thing, a big hole appeared in the permafrost.
It is now huge, and growing, giving access to 200,000 years of archaeological data, including climate records. An entire ancient forest is exposed.
I don’t know how people can still deny climate change.
Alexander Gabyshev, Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North.
Glyphosate affects bees
When honeybees come into contact with glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, they lose their ability to eat and have a much harder time learning how to forage properly.
The bees don’t die from the poison, but the colony dies all the same.
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. I wonder if Monsanto will now buy the journal…
A new beast of the beaches
A new program in Britain has people photographing bottles and things littering the world. This is an excellent device to make people aware of what they do when they throw away stuff. The point of the campaign is to have a bottle refund scheme established.
Good luck. Such schemes work. For some reason, the soft drink industry is strongly opposed to them.
Grisly evidence for climate change
There was savage fighting between Austrians and Italians in alpine regions during World War 1. About 150,000 men died, most from environmental disasters like avalanches, frostbite and tunnel collapses. They were all buried in ice and snow.
Now the ice is melting. The first bodies came to the surface in 2004, and from then to the date of writing, 80 bodies had been found. I have no doubt more have emerged in the two years since.
I ask denialists: how come bodies buried in ice for 100 years are now appearing on the surface?
I decided to do a little online research, and found this report from the highly reputable Smithsonian Institute. The phenomenon is global: the subtitle is “Around the world global warming is exposing bodies lost in glaciers.”
Some are ancient, others like the WW1 casualties, recent. In Siberia, a 30,000 year old extinct virus has emerged, able to infect amoeba. Who knows what else lurks in the ice? This might make a good science fiction story?
Oceans heating faster
A Guardian article summarises the findings of a World Meteorological Organisation report that 2016-17 weather patterns are beyond anything ever seen in the history of humankind.
I couldn’t find a link to the original report, but what the article says is all old stuff to me. It is well worth reading though.
My only disagreement is, the essay still expresses worry about the future. It’s the present and even the recent past, stupid.
What are the scientific principles of sustainability?
I answered this question on Quora.
It’s very simple. Output should be less than or equal to input.
Suppose you have water running into a bath. It runs down the plughole. If more goes out than in, then the water level falls, and eventually the bath will be empty. If more comes in than out, water level will rise.
If too much goes out, you can reduce the size of the plughole, or increase the rate the water flows from the tap.
In the real world, the problem is that we live in a limited system. There ain’t no more water we can put in. So, the only way is to reduce the outflow.
This means, live simply so you can simply live.
To some extent, technology can modify this picture. We can use new tricks to in effect extend the limits. However, the Club of Rome’s second report, “Mankind at the Turning Point,” demonstrated that when you extend any one limit, you make one or more other problems worse.
An example is nuclear power. Because of huge government subsidies, it appears cheap. But there are hidden costs:
This is not to mention risks like terrorist attacks, feedstock for nuclear bombs, and disasters like Fukushima.
Or the Green Revolution, which was thought to be the end of world hunger. In fact, it was a means of hugely increasing the poisons in our global environment, and a way of imposing suffering on many millions of subsistence farmers who were replaced by agribusiness, and have gone to swell urban slums. For example, Nigeria’s capital Lagos now has 21 million people, so many that they have no sources of water.
So, the only thing we can do is to put a plug in consumption.
China: renewables up, coal down
Once again, China is gaining leadership in the future. As this report states, “We are witnessing a historic passing of the baton of global leadership on technology and climate from the United States to China.”
Chinese estimate is the generation of more than 13 million jobs, and of course the reduction of the famous Chinese smog.
You can buy this Chinese hybrid wind-solar system right now.
Health fund chooses health
Australian health insurer HCF took a stand many years ago, and pulled its money from the tobacco industry. This was in response to evidence that smoking harms health.
Now they are doing the same to carbon, for the same reason.
Canada for women’s health
This is to address family planning, gender-based violence, forced marriage and genital mutilation.
I wonder if we could make the United States a colony of Canada?
Maryland to ban fracking
The Maryland House of Delegates passed a milestone fracking ban bill Friday with unprecedented bipartisan support. House Bill 1325, which passed by a vote of 97 to 40, bans hydraulic fracturing statewide.
People who inspire
Thank a wildlife ranger
Wildlife rangers: our unsung heroes of conservation.
They are the highly trained professionals who patrol our parks and forests and often risk their lives to combat poaching, wildlife trafficking and other crimes against nature.
They face enormous risks every day.
But I can tell you that it’s often the little things that can make a world of difference in the life of a ranger.
Songs about Islam for the whole family
Ben Lee was born Jewish. He has studied eastern mysticism, and intends to make an album about each great religion. However, he has decided to put Islam first, to present a poetic, spiritual view of it.
Read about this inspiring young man.
You’ve got to watch this
During his address to the Australian National Press Club, Australian Greens leader Richard di Natale handed the mike over to a young woman.
Her vision is the world I’ve worked for since 1972. More power to her.
17 year old girl reduces an effect of brain injury
I don’t even understand the plain language explanation of her research, but the judges in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search must have.
Buddhist nun encourages compassion for Muslims
A very senior nun has written a letter to the president of Myanmar, asking for compassionate action toward the terribly persecuted Rohingya minority, who are not even considered to be residents.
If everyone were like her, we would have a future.
Photo by Paul Davis.
A portable, modular thermosolar device
It can distil water, the source being seawater, or the worst-polluted, disease-ridden muck. It can generate electricity, or cook your food, or do anything else requiring a heat source.
And it’s one-third the cost of the same done with photovoltaic panels, one-fifth if done with fossil fuels.
I learned about it at Treehugger.
Solar charger in a pocket?
It’s a thing the size of a water bottle. A strip of flexible photovoltaic material is wrapped around a battery.
How to make meditation practically useful
Meditation can be like having a meal or taking a pill: something you do for a short while, apart from the rest of your life. Jon Brooks from HighExistence gives us a primer on how to make mindfulness an integral part of all 24 hours.
It’s rather a long read, but if you have tried meditation and found it less than effective, it’s exactly what you need.
Image from the meditation website The Journey.
Nothing can keep growing
This brief essay in The Conversation by Bob Costanza and colleagues explains why switching to renewables won’t save us.
They are also consuming the world.
The problem is relying on an idiot measure, the GDP.
Meditative retreat, at home
Long term Buddhist and counselling psychologist Ryan Oelke is offering a free e-book on how to enjoy a whole day of meditative retreat — in your own home.
Look around his site.
What can give hope to young people?
Andrew Gaines points out the realistic despair of many young people. They look at the world they are inheriting, and quite appropriately, feel hopeless.
In a few paragraphs, Andrew outlines the kind of society we need to reverse this.
Let’s work together to get there.
How dangerous is a refugee?
According to Dr Ken Miller, not in the slightest. In a well argued and documented essay, he removes the irrational fears of ‘the other,’ and shows where it comes from.
While he is examining the American situation, his reasoning applies even more to my country, Australia, which commits the world’s worst human rights abuses against asylum seekers.
The Christian Right Was Right
This rave from John Pavlovitz is so spot on that I’ve reproduced it in full.
I confess that I was dead wrong about this. I have to hand it to the Christian Right, they knew what the heck they were talking about all this time. They knew this was going to happen and predicted it with astounding accuracy, over and over again.
For decades they tried to tell us that the sky was falling, that devils were walking among us, that the end was so very nigh. For years and years they lamented the approaching devastation and tried to prepare us like good prophets do. They pounded their pulpits with ferocity and thumped their Bibles with abandon, forecasting this country’s certain doom — and we didn’t listen. We rolled our eyes and dismissed them as out-of-touch, hypocritical, religious zealots whose hold on reality was tenuous at best. And yet, they had it right all along.
It turns out that every single one of their raw-throated, brimstone-breathing prophecies were true:
These sage prognosticators had everything about the approaching disaster correct — except its source.
They neglected to predict the actual genesis of this great decimation. Because it wouldn’t be the Gays or the Muslims or the Atheists or celebrities or street people or tattooed women or sexually active teenagers as they’d so foretold. It wouldn’t be transgender men lurking in bathrooms, or brown-skinned suicide bombers from some distant cave, or any of the countless boogeymen they told us were hiding in the shadows to bring terror. No, the encroaching danger was a whole lot closer than all that.
For years, the far Christian Right has been warning us about Godless hordes coming to destroy America and it turns out this was true — it’s just that the words were autobiographical.
As a lifelong Christian I’ve had a sick sense of déjà vu watching politicians professing to be followers of Jesus dismantling every program designed to care for the vulnerable and the hurting, seeing the way the powerful are being awarded greater power, watching empathy vanishing and hatred skyrocketing. I’ve heard this story a million times before; proclaimed on Sunday mornings from pulpits, unleashed in religious social media rants, and shouted through bullhorns on street corners. I knew this was coming, or at least I should have. We all should have. These harbingers of doom were absolutely right to warn us — and ironically they were the very ones they were warning us about. In the sickest kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, they were the plague of these days that they said would come.
It would be the preachers and the evangelists abandoning the heart of Jesus, perverting the words of the Bible for their agenda, selling their souls for a high place overlooking the world. They would be the very false prophets they told us that we should like hell run from. These supposed disciples of Jesus would be the ones to betray him with a kiss and send him to a bloody, undignified end.
Yes, the Christian Right was right, evil was going to run amok through the world and terrorize the lives of ordinary people and make a mockery of God. And that is what it is surely doing in these days.
I owe them an apology.
I should have believed them.
I once was blind, and now I see.
Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being
This article in Scientific American points out the problems with an artificial focus on positivity.
It is well-argued and accurate. If you feel guilty for not being on top of the world, you need to read it.
Despair is a killer
Life expectancy of working class white Americans is plummeting. In 1999, they were 30% less likely to die than black Americans. Now, it’s the other way: 30% more.
If you only have high school education, your chances of earning a decent living have all but disappeared. Despair leads to death due to drugs, alcohol and suicide.
I boil when thinking about this, while the world is set up to steal even more from ordinary people, in order to enrich those who already have too much. Life is a Monopoly game, and billions are losing.
Their reaction once more bears out the predictions of John Calhoun, who worked on the effects of population stress on rats. At the very highest levels of population density, some male rats became so territorial that they attacked their own females and young. They formed gangs and fought to the death. But many other male rats gave up. They basically withdrew from reality, and died from depression.
Population pressure didn’t kill rat colonies through starvation, but through the disintegration of rat social structure.
Hopefully, there is one difference between rats and humans: we can look at what’s happening, and make corresponding changes. Our one chance as a species is to change to a sane culture where everyone, of any skin colour, any religion or none, any language, any place, is treated with fairness, decency and compassion.
Guilt is eating me up
Dear Dr. Rich,
I hope you don’t mind me e-mailing you, because I feel like I’m at the end of my rope here.
I am a 20 year old woman and I have read some of the similar cases where you have answered so warm and understanding it made me feel a tad better.
It is about the many cries for help from people that suffered from sexual abuse or hypersexualization and then went on in their teens to touch or act inappropriately with children (Siblings, cousins etc)
I have been dealing with quite the same. Something occurred a couple years back. I was 16 and I was asked to babysit my younger cousin. I have been doing this before and I loved doing so. As the day went on she decided she wanted to draw and I decided to help her. I sat at the table with my legs spread so she could sit between them with her back facing mine. There was a scrunched up blanket between my private area and her. She was moving a lot and this created a certain friction. Now here is the point that has been driving me insane: I didn’t stop it immediately. I let it go on for a couple seconds before finally coming to my senses and standing up and changing places. However this has not been on my mind for over 4 years until something triggered my memory last summer and I can just not live life anymore. I feel like I have taken advantage of someone who was supposed to be safe with me. And I feel like I have betrayed myself and everything that I stand for morally.
I begin the day loathing myself and with a pit in my stomach and end the day that exact same way. I cant think forward as it depresses me. My biggest issue I am dealing with right now is how I will handle this with the people in my life? Do I owe my future partner the truth? Do I deserve to live life?
I have been hypersexualized by a family member when I was younger. (She would use me to grind/rub herself upon me) I didn’t know it was wrong and started experimenting with other kids around my age as well. This, however stopped at a certain age when I was maturing. Never has anything like that happened before nor has it happened after. The act itself felt so out of character or my being.
Life just feels like a very heavy thing right now. I am on the verge of breaking down every second of the day. Its haunting me. And I don’t know how to continue living.
The most important rule of life is, “Above all, do no harm.” So, before we look at whether you are right to feel guilt, ask, “Did I do harm to this little girl?”
From what you have written, she was completely unaware that her wriggling gave you sexual pleasure. As you know from personal experience, at that age, even if she had been aware that she gave you a certain pleasant feeling, she would not yet have been able to associate this with anything wrong.
I have no doubt that you did not harm her, and that she has no memory of this event at all.
So, please, stand in front of a mirror, smile at yourself and say, “I forgive you.”
The second rule is, “When you can, do good. When you can’t, change the situation until you can.”
While you have not been causing harm to your little cousin, you have personally been suffering because of the memory. Now we need to change the situation to turn this into good. Because, 4 years ago, you momentarily allowed some pleasure you associate with bad things, you have become a much better person. I am sure that, because of all this guilt, you will never, ever do anything that may harm a child in any way, and that you will put morality above other considerations.
So, rather than this event showing that there is anything wrong with you, it has made you into a good person. Please celebrate this.
At 20, you are at the start of your adult life. Think about what you can do in the future to work on one or more on this list:
- Protect children from abuse.
- Help the victims of abuse to recover, and build a good life for themselves.
- Help to steer others in your situation to a good life, in the way I am helping you now.
- Generally, to make our crazy world into a saner, more decent, more compassionate one.
Your new grandfather,
I have cried while reading your e-mail. I have been waiting and holding off talking to someone about this to the point it has been eating me alive. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and answering my e-mail. Feeling like you reached a hand while I am in the most dark place in my life.
I have always had a knack for humanitarian work and always wanted to do something helping people in certain situations. When something triggered my memory and realized what I had done 4 years ago, I felt like a hypocrite; wanting to help people but having done something so unacceptable. I will devote my days on this earth to try and help people.
One thing I still struggle with, is how I will take this into my life later on. When I have a partner, do I tell him? Do I owe him this piece of information about me? These are the questions racing through my head.
I want to thank you, Grandfather, for your loving and encouraging words.
I hope you won’t mind me keeping in touch.
Remember: you actually have done no harm. Your little cousin has not been negatively impacted in any way.
It is not sinful to feel a pleasurable sensation, however it was caused. Only hurting other living beings, destroying things, causing pain are bad. You have done none of those, and now you have been sensitized to the possibility of doing harm, you never will, except by accident. And in that case, you will need to apologize, do something to make up for it, and move on.
I have taken the liberty of attaching a book of mine that is due to be published soon. You will see that even a really horrendous crime — murdering little children — is best addressed through compassion.
Leila (not her real name) and I have continued our email conversation, and to my delight, she has improved her emotional wellbeing.
Troubled by OCD
Dear bob! I’ve read some of your stuff and you seem to be an amazing human being.
I am writing to you because I’m a troubled young man, I suffer from severe OCD, mostly thoughts. And I keep ruminating on things I cannot change. I try my best to be kind to others and I work hard at my job. I have an amazing family and a very dear girlfriend. But I have no idea where to turn to. I’ve suffered for so long, I feel like I want to give up. I feel like my body is giving up, I need help. I hope you have time for me, for a fellow human being. I don’t want to suffer anymore.
OCD is not something we can defeat through email. It needs action. I don’t know where you live, what your financial circumstances are, and what resources are available. But if it is possible, have a few sessions with a local psychologist.
There are some self-help resources.
Edna Foa has a set of 3 CDs for OCD that I have used with my clients. They are very good. Have a look at
a list of her publications.
My little e-book “Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias” is available here:
OCD is one of the conditions I discuss there, giving directions on what to do.
Read any book by Jon Kabat-Zinn. They teach you about mindfulness, which is the most powerful way to address any problem.
You do have the power to change your life, and I hope these leads will start you on the way.
This decent young man and I have also continued our correspondence.
What’s wrong with me?
I’m 17 and been passed on to different mental health hospitals all saying different things. I have been clinically depressed for a month and then I feel fine and full of aspirations for the future and planning ahead and burst of creativity like writings songs and poems and just happy for like 2 weeks. And then I feel just a pit feeling in my stomach and I want to dance and song and full of this energy. I start having really bad delusions last time I thought I can be a infer and that Selena Gomez songs were mine and I can just imagine my music video on my lyrics and I was like planning. I know its found crazy but I don’t feel depressed and then it comes back I hate life I lock myself away and I feel so depressed and I don’t want to see people I hate myself. I don’t know ways wrong. Last time I remember I school when I felt that energy I do stupid things like throw eggs and ditch class and this is not me, I’m a straight A school loving person. I’m scared of this thing. I started getting these obsessive delusions that come with this energy that I don’t want. Last time I thought I could create a shrinking device. Before it was the FBI against me. Am I just depressed I don’t know what’s wrong I just don’t want this feeling. I tried committing suicide by taking an overdose when I was depressed.
What is wrong with me?
It is impossible for a person to diagnose your problem without a good, long talk, possibly in combination with using standardized tests, but from what you write, “Bipolar Disorder” is likely. This is a situation in which a person is sad, slow and depressed some of the time, and full of energy, buzzing with creativity and even unable to sleep during other periods. Sounds a lot like your description.
Bipolar shows itself in the mid-to-late teens for many people, so again, that fits.
The usual is for a doctor to prescribe medication to control the mood swings. These medications work for a majority of people experiencing the condition, but not for all. Also, they have some side-effects. All the same, it’s worth giving them a try.
If they don’t work for you, and even if they do, it’s a good idea to use psychological techniques to build yourself a good life. You see, experiencing Bipolar doesn’t mean that you need to suffer, or make people around you suffer. You can actually enjoy the benefits while putting up with the disadvantages.
Creativity is of course one of the benefits. I know many creative people who gladly work their way through the down times, and with the negatives of the hypers, because of the fruit of their creativity. Some of the greatest thinkers, artists and musicians of all time achieved what they did thanks to Bipolar.
At the same time, there are dangers.
During sad times, many people try to kill themselves. Of course, it’s irreversible if they succeed, but failing can be worse, with permanent brain damage and other new disabilities. It’s important to put safety measures into place. Also, when on a high, some people have false beliefs like you described. Sometimes these may make them act aggressively and cause damage. So, again, if that applies to you, you’ll need to design ways of avoiding harm.
You can get guidance from a lady who sent me an email many years ago.
Also you will benefit from reading An artist’s creative life with bipolar disorder, by Alfredo Zotti.
You are welcome to keep in touch via email,
Your new grandfather,
Why am I so depressed?
Umm… I’ve been really stupid in school this year and haven’t been completing and turning in my homework. I can’t say why I just wasn’t doing it and I used to be so good in school. My friends and family love me but now I want to get out of life and I’m afraid I need serious help. Dance is the one thing keeping me going and no one knows I’ve tried to commit suicide once before. My mom is now threatening to take dance away. I want to tell her how I feel but I’m afraid she won’t take me seriously. I’m only 13 and flunking 8th grade.
Am I depressed? How do I get help? Please reply!
If you used to be good in school, then you still have the intelligence and abilities to do well. You used to be as happy as anyone, and enjoyed dancing above all.
Now, you are so sad and down that you want to end your life. This is serious, and nothing to dismiss.
With the little bit of information you have written, I cannot say why the change happened, but there are some likely possibilities.
Has anyone you cared for died? A grandparent, a friend, a pet? This could even have been a year before the changes started.
Has anyone been bullying you, making fun of you over and over, refusing to be friends with you for no reason, perhaps forcing you to do things you don’t want to do?
Another possibility is that bad things may have happened to you when you were a baby or a very young girl, and something more recently has affected you in a smaller but similar way.
What to do?
First, we need to make sure you are safe. If thoughts come to you about wanting to kill yourself again, you need to be ready to get rid of them. Imagine that maybe a year ago, a monster has moved into your mind. This monster feeds on misery: yours and other people’s. So, it’s making you miserable so it can eat. And if you kill yourself, it’ll have years of fun, eating the misery of your family and friends.
So, you can easily tell which thoughts are yours, and which the monster has put into your mind. And, whatever the monster tells you to do, you do the opposite.
My dear, I recommend that you show this email — your question and my answer — to your mom, and ask her to take you to a therapist. A few sessions with a good psychologist will have you on top of your problem.
Your new grandfather,
Fine soot kills
You get very tiny particles of soot in the air from burning coal, oil, wood.
Read this brief but informative article about what it does to human health.
The source of this photo is an Asian Journal report stating that there are 3.3 million deaths worldwide due to air pollution. Tiny soot particles are a major aspect.
UN: pesticides harm humans (really?)
Actually, the report is useful, and beyond the obvious. Its focus is on the misinformation and denial the pesticide industry has funded over decades. Sound familiar? Think tobacco, climate change, etc. etc.
The main lie is that we can only supply the food humanity needs by using huge quantities of pesticides. This is contrary to the evidence: the kind of factory farming that relies on these toxins is no better than intensive, small scale, organic farming. As a by-product, it destroys the topsoil, leads to the evolution of superweeds — and poisons all sorts of unintended targets, including people.
Carcinogen in your bones
Jordyn Cormier, writing for Care2.com, has combined findings from several studies that show flame retardant chemicals in human bones, and in breast milk.
All of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.
She also makes sensible recommendations about how to protect yourself, and our planet.
Cities are bad for your health
So what’s new?
I remember returning by ship to Australia after a visit to my family in Hungary, in 1964. The first sign of land was a band of yellow in the sky: air pollution over Sydney.
Florence Williams has a new take, however. She has worn a variety of monitoring devices that detect substances known to do nasty things to people.
I moved out of the city in the 1970s, partly for this reason. I wanted to bring up my kids in the best way possible, so joined the Moora Moora community.
Actually, I have a house to sell there. Interested?
Nature’s balancing act?
There are too many humans. This light-hearted but well-researched article in TreeHugger shows one way the Universe is doing something about it.
Many of the horrid chemicals we flood into the environment have effects on the hormones of a wide range of animals. One widely observed effect has been the reduction of male births, and the weakening of male reproductive ability.
This includes humans.
I do feel bad about the effects on other species, though.
Designing the back cover
Paper books have an actual back cover. Electronic books also have the equivalent, though it is usually up front for the reader to look at immediately after the cover pic.
Here is a very sensible set of tips on how to design this important part of marketing, and the pitfalls to avoid.
A writer’s reward
This is the title of my March contribution to Rhobin’s rounds.
The topic Rhobin set was: “Are you ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are your characters to you?”
Please read, and leave a comment.
New publisher for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
I’m proud to announce the evolution of Castelane with the introduction of WrongTree Press, a new imprint of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books.
The WrongTree Press Publishing Philosophy
At Castelane, we are authors too. After years of working with small publishers from the other side of the wall, we wanted to create a platform where authors and publishers work together to create something great. You’ve got the story, and you spilled a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get it written. We’ve got the publishing skills — from cover design to eBook layout to selling and marketing. One side of the equation is not worth more than the other. A book doesn’t happen without both the author and the publisher. That’s why we want to be your partner. To that end, we promise a few things:
1. We never charge you any set up fees.
2. We split all royalties with you 50/50.
3. We will provide professional editing.
4. We will design a dynamic cover that will help your book stand out.
5. We maintain an active social media presence to promote your book.
6. We try to be as transparent as possible in all our policies and dealings.
7. We will provide 1 professional book video preview per series of books. This is something that other publishers don’t provide, but Castelane was built on video trailers and we know how important they are to your author platform. This may be a limited time offer, but we hope to provide this service free to our authors as long as possible.
8. Discounts on all other Castelane promotional services for our published authors.
What does all that mean? It means that we don’t make any money until your book makes a certain number of sales, so we are committed to publishing top quality books and promoting them to the best of our abilities. You’ve put a lot of time into your book and you deserve to reap the rewards as much as we do. We understand that poor quality books garner bad reviews and we strive to avoid those whenever possible. We understand that books ARE judged by their covers and we’ll do everything to make yours stand out. We want to work with you to promote your book.
WrongTree Press will be publishing series of novellas in print and eBook. Each novella will be published as an eBook. Complete series will be released in print and eBook. Submissions are now open. Check out the WrongTree Press submissions Guidelines for complete details.
What my friends want you to know
Explore Cape York or the Kimberleys
The 2017 Richell Prize is open
Inspect what’s left of the Great Barrier Reef
Carolyn’s writing community
New book by Corey Recko
Help both refugees and the environment
Fred’s horrible hero
Explore Cape York or the Kimberleys
Would you like to explore Australia’s beautiful north while supporting Traditional Owners and Indigenous ranger networks to establish new tourism ventures? Explore Cape York or the Kimberley as a guest of local Aboriginal communities on one of these exclusive trips for ACF supporters.
A special new Kimberley Ranger Experience — run by the Kimberley Land Council — is being offered to ACF supporters who are ready for an adventure and willing to help the local Indigenous ranger groups trial their new visitor experiences, including turtle tracking in the azure waters off Cape Leveque. Get in quick. This special tour runs May 6 to 13.
The Journey into Olkola Country with Intrepid Travel continues in its second year as a unique opportunity to experience the vastness of nature and the depth of Indigenous culture on Cape York. Two tours are offered this year for ACF supporters on 31 July and 14 August.
Explore one of the largest, most intact tropical savannah systems left on Earth.
Fringed by coastal rainforests and coral reefs, Australia’s beautiful north sweeps 2,500 kilometres, from the Kimberley through Kakadu to Cape York.
The 2017 Richell Prize is open
This is for unpublished Australian writers, with a $10,000 prize and other goodies like publication and mentoring.
Inspect what’s left of the Great Barrier Reef
Tim Flannery of the Climate Council:
This September a group of adventurous Climate Council supporters will cruise the Great Barrier Reef, hike through the UNESCO World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest and explore some of the diverse islands in the Torres Strait.
Along the way, we’ll learn about the impacts of climate change in this region – hearing from local Indigenous elders and other experts. In doing so, we will raise much needed funds for the Climate Council. Each participant will need to raise $4,000 in the coming months. Don’t worry though, we’ll be with you every step of the way providing one-on-one fundraising support.
Sound like your kind of adventure?
P.S. Places are strictly limited and we expect them to fill up quickly. If you’re interested, make sure you get in touch as soon as possible to find out more and confirm your spot.
At 350 Australia, we know what kind of books we like to read and we’re pretty sure that our supporters do too.
For that reason, we’ve partnered with Aussie-owned Booktopia to curate our own book list from which you can purchase books about climate change and our movement. And the great thing is, if you buy through our site, part of all sales go directly to supporting our campaigns to end fossil fuels!
What better book to feature for the launch of the 350 Bookstore than Bernie Sanders’ insightful and rousing ‘Our Revolution’. Check out the video and grab the book today.
Bernie’s revolutionary ideas on climate change, corporate accountability and inequality have reshaped the political landscape. To many people’s surprise, he has built a huge movement that is growing stronger every day.
Carolyn’s writing community
As in most months, I am happy to publicise Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s Sharing With Writers newsletter, which is always full of valuable content.
New book by Corey Recko
Death of a Kootch Show Girl is a mystery about a death at a small-town carnival in 1953 and its effects on a small group of carnies and local citizens. It is the last night of the carnival in a small Ohio town when a stripper turns up dead. The chief of police orders the carnies to stay in town while he investigates. Written in multiple first person narratives, the novel follows the story of each narrator: the local police chief; the small town reporter; a carnival stripper; a carnival clown; and the owner of the carnival. The week following the victim’s death changes all their lives.
Help both refugees and the environment
The environment is as important to the ASRC as fighting for human rights. That is why we commissioned an energy audit this year which recommended we replace our 705 light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs, and install a 50.44kW solar system. This would enable the ASRC to reduce its carbon footprint AND save $21,000 every year, which could be redistributed back into our life saving programs.
So we replaced our light bulbs this month, and now we just need to fund our solar project. That is why we’ve teamed up with Powershop, Australia’s first and only 100% certified carbon neutral electricity retailer who will provide a financial contribution to our solar project, for every person that switches to Powershop.
If just 409 people switch their electricity to Powershop, it would enable us to purchase and install solar panels on the roof of our Footscray building and save around $21,000 every year!
By making the switch today, you’ll be taking action on climate change AND supporting the ASRC.
Fred’s horrible hero
Fred Waiss has written a series that looks like fun if you’re into science fiction.
He’d like you to look around his blog.
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Yvonne Rowan
Ascending Spiral is an absorbing, heart-filling journey of a soul in search of redemption through a series of lifetimes. I don’t read much historical fiction, but the story of Pip Lipkin held me spellbound to the end — maybe because Ascending Spiral isn’t really an historical novel. It’s much more than that. It’s the finding of The Light. Dr. Bob Rich ends the tale with a warning, a ray of hope, and an invitation. For the sake of us all, please, accept the invitation. — Yvonne Rowan
We bought a WWII bomber by Sandra Warren
Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things, given the need and motivation. Soon after the entry of the United States into the Second World War, the people of Grand Rapids, Michigan contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, although this was a working class community.
It happened thanks to the leadership of a bunch of schoolkids and teachers.
Over a remarkably short time, enough money was raised to fund two airplanes (one a $300,000 bomber), two rescue vehicles and several landing barges.
Sandra Warren has done impeccable historical research, with references for each fact cited, and interesting photographs, but this is not a scholarly work. Rather, it is a very readable, inspiring account of the power of cooperation and the nobleness of the human spirit.
In 1942/43, America was at war. Sandra has described how people gave and gave and sacrificed with joy, because they had meaning and purpose. Today, although there are many wars, we face a far worse enemy. We are officially in the sixth extinction event of this planet, and all complex life is endangered. And when we unravel the web of life, we also fall through the hole.
I wish all of us, with whatever political persuasion, could do what the people in Sandra’s story did, and combine into a generous collective in an effort to save a future.
The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
In the long distant past when I was an undergraduate, the one textbook I enjoyed was Isaac Asimov’s book on chemistry. Now I’ve found a second one. Professor Lipton’s book is a text on cell biology, a fascinating subject I knew nothing about until I read “The Biology of Belief.” As a complete beginner, I understood it all in one reading — but then went back and read the book a second time, in order to ensure I hadn’t missed any of the content, and because this is an enjoyable book.
Lipton repeatedly draws very illuminating parallels between the behaviour of a single cell (whether a cell culture, or a unicellular organism) and the behaviour of an animal (like a human). These parallels are not accidental: we are not just a collection of trillions of cells, but an organised, cooperative enterprise of trillions of beings who exhibit all our characteristics at their level. “I’ve said many times that single cells are intelligent” (p 175). You are not a machine, but a symphony orchestra.
Bruce offers a way out of unhappiness, conflict, mental and physical suffering through examining the consequences and expansions of this concept. Always clear and easy to follow, always staying close to the available evidence, nevertheless he is not afraid to speculate. He ends up with a belief system that has guided my life for many years: a conscious, alive Universe, of which we are living parts, temporarily attached to a material body. All our problems are due to unfortunate programming in infancy, and even before it. And, he says, this programming can be reversed. My one disappointment is that he hasn’t shared the ways of doing the reversal, only pointed to places where they can be followed up.
Savage Possession, by Margaret Tanner
If you want a rip-roaring adventure with more plot twists than a dodgem-car ride, you can’t go past Margaret Tanner’s Savage Possession, although I find the title misleading. There is plenty of savagery, but in fact the relationship between hero and heroine is not one of possession.
They come from families that hate each other, both with cause. They are thrown together after Beth escapes captivity, but suffers amnesia after a knock on the head. She and Martin, her rescuer, fall in love, until her memory returns, and with it, so does hate and distrust.
Set in the second half of the 19th Century in Australia, this is a story of how misunderstandings and lies twist lives, of the effects of childhood trauma, and of the triumph of the human spirit.
Write Way Home, by Hedley Derenzie
Can you make up your mind and simply do it? Perhaps there are heroes like that, but for most people, the path is rocky, with steep slopes and treacherous traps. In Write Way Home, you can look over one writer’s shoulder as she struggles to get out of self-hate and meaninglessness through creativity. The device is to write 2000 words, during each of the successive days of an August. So, sometimes she is up, sometimes she is down, and sometimes she doesn’t know where she is.
The monster she is battling is actually defined at the very end: “What’s the point?” (of doing anything, of trying anything, of living even).
This book is a very valuable guide for any person who has taken on a challenge, whatever that challenge may be.
The lessons Hedley is offering are embedded in a daily record. After all, when you need to write without a plot or previously designed structure, you write what’s on top of your mind. Also, while doing it, she had no intention of producing a publishable work, but was carrying out a personal exercise.
The result is sometimes inspiring, and even poetic, with statements like:
“We can bloom at any age. Besides, a flower can only bloom in the present moment.”
“Creativity isn’t just in our blood and bones, it is our blood and bones.”
“The story ends but the writing doesn’t.”
“The ability to create and make something is the whole point. Everything else — the money, the fame — is a bonus.”
“What if we could make art every day for no other reason other than to nourish the soul?”
“This creative pilgrimage wasn’t just about writing two thousand words every day. It was about reminding myself about who I am and what I’m capable of.”
At other times, inevitably for a diary, it is pedestrian, commonplace, even boring. I’ve skimmed over such passages, seeking out the next gem. But this aspect is not a waste. From the point of view of a case study of lifting yourself out of slodge through taking on a challenge, this is actually invaluable. I occasionally found myself thinking, “Come on, girl, you can do it!” It shows the real path anyone in this situation will take. So, if you are reading this book as a guide in defeating your own demons, such passages will demonstrate that however you feel at any one moment, all things are change and matters will improve, like they did for her. So, her commonplace can be an inspiration that you can also survive your commonplace.
As far as I know, the author has no training in psychology, so I am impressed at how many counselling tools she has invented for herself. A great many of my frequently used techniques for leading my clients into a good place are there, within the pages of this book. Only, they are jewels encased in stories that speak to the heart.
You can do yourself a favour and add this lady to your list of friends on your bookshelf or in your electronic device.
I’ll eat my computer if this video doesn’t bring a smile to your face
My darling granddaughter needed to interview me as a school project, then she wrote a little poem:
There was a man who’s name is Bob,
who always did a fabulous job,
but he never tidied up so he was a slob!
Monarch (a pantoum)
By Clive Warner
Three thousand miles on tissue wings,
an urge, an instinct calls
to those that die, poor fragile things.
Strange scents beckon all.
An urge, an instinct calls
to forest orchid silken hearts.
Strange scents beckon all
to idol eyes that peer unseen.
In forest orchid silken hearts
where eggs are laid to hatch on leaves
idol eyes will peer unseen
guarding temples from all thieves
Eggs were laid to hatch on leaves
now caterpillars munch a feast.
Guarding temples from all thieves
idols now can sleep in peace.
Now caterpillars munch a feast
build up food, a treasure chest
idols now can sleep in peace
chrysalids are not death but rest.
Build up food, a treasure chest
get ready, fly, eat and eat
chrysalids not death but rest
now the monarch wings will beat.
Get ready, fly, eat and eat.
Three thousand miles to Canada
now the monarch wings will beat
on their way from Ixtlapa.
Three thousand miles to Canada
for those that die, poor fragile things
on their way from Ixtlapa
three thousand miles on tissue wings.
It’s all in the mythology
by Ian Higgins
At the New Year barbecue
I am manic, flying high
Icarus like, up into the sky
To misquote, misappropriate:
I know I am indeed:
Immortal, invincible, God only wise.
Like Icarus, fly too near the sun,
Plunge down, wingless, into the sea.
The sea of chaos, as Jonah knew;
Into the depths far beneath,
Sea-weed wraps around my neck.
No longer Kamikaze wise,
Another divine wind
Stills the raging sea,
Injections and pills calm me down.
Yet I hear other, lonely souls’ lament,
One cries, “Muma Mia, Muma Mia,
Maria, Maria, Maria,” on and on:
Relentlessly, another cries,
“Give me, Give me, Give me:”
Up and down the passage way,
In Aged Mental Health Care,
Within the Lock Down Ward,
Suddenly from the depths
I am spewed up onto the beach.
Calm and still, before me lies
My own lonely road to Ninevah:
There to discover, Jonah like,
Divine compassion, not retribution.
And on this journey ever on,
Towards a place of peace and calm,
Learn to live with pills:
So many pills, scattered,
All along the road.
Family and friends, my company.
No longer do I have imagined invincibility,
Now more aware of my own mortality;
Yet inclined to have a word,
On most everything:
Deluded still, God only wise?
About Bobbing Around
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