Bobbing Around Volume 17 Number 1

There can be no greater crime against humanity than the foreseeable, and methodical, destruction of conditions that make human life possible. Hindsight isn’t necessary.
Lawrence Torcello

Bobbing Around

Volume Seventeen, Number One,
July, 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
17th year
Interviews
Anna likes my work
Guardian Angel
Thank you, Michael Thal
Solar Healesville
Listen to my short story

*Responses to past issues
Rajat Mitra

*Politics
Climate change is a security risk, NOW
How Trump is destroying American farming
Trump’s Paris announcement boosts sales of electric buses
Trickle-down economics

*Environment
A child’s wisdom
Money in coal is like money in tobacco
Videos on climate
We need to protect the Coral Sea

*Good news
Nuclear waste dump dead
Shareholders force Exxon to consider climate change
Less coal mined
No shale holes in France
Renewables have outpaced nuclear — even in Trumpistan

*Inspiring people
Courage and compassion in Texas
The Sanders Institute
Organic climate collaboration
Supermodel works for international justice
Beef farm to organic vegs

*Compassion
Home for the neediest
These shoeboxes are brilliant

*Technology
One-wheeled electric transport?
Organic footwear
CO2: turn bad into good
Water pipe generates electricity

*Deeper issues
Meet Mrs. Frugalwoods
Landfill waste (mis)management
Call out the everyday things
What can I do to help the world in achieving the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations?
The circular economy

*Psychology
Mental health effects of climate change
Happiness is a byproduct
Has bullying made me into a serial killer?
Why do I want bad things to happen to me?

*Health
Even “moderate” alcohol use damages your brain
Antimicrobials are anti-human?
Lead in Chinese tea
Indications of possible cancer

*For writers
What’s wrong with head hopping?

*What my friends want you to know
Darrell’s migration problem
New book review again
My community is holding a Festival, November
MoveOn: Resistance summer
Intensive meditation retreat, December
Amnesty: help end Australia’s offshore detention
The great transition initiative

*Reviews
Strong is the Ma’at of Re, by Max Overton
The Infidel Next Door, by Rajat Mitra
Guardian Angel reviewed by…
Michael Thal
Jay Levy
Margaret Tanner
Rachael Kane


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.


“You little humans live in order to learn the Ultimate Lesson, the Lesson of unconditional Love to all of creation. Listen to Gerald, who has told you about Jesus’ real message. When you can achieve that, automatically and without effort, when it is part of your very nature, then you no longer need to live a material existence.”
Maraglindi, in Guradian Angel

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

17th year
Interviews
Anna likes my work
Guardian Angel
Thank you, Michael Thal
Solar Healesville
Listen to my short story

 

17th year

Welcome to the first issue of the SEVENTEENTH year of Bobbing Around. It has been my privilege to acquire many friends through this newsletter, and hope to continue to amuse, inform, challenge and entertain you.


Interviews

I am being honoured with a long succession of interviews. The questions are all different, and even if they weren’t, I make sure my answers are. Above all, I aim to be entertaining. Please visit my “About” page to find links to current ones. There is always a book giveaway to commenters.

Gone live on the 27th of June is a guest appearance on Cheryl Holloway’s blog. I am so impressed with Cheryl’s record of achievements that I have in turn asked to interview her, and she has consented. So, you will soon have the opportunity to find out about this remarkable lady.

Also, children’s writer and retired teacher Bonnie Ferrante has invited me to submit a guest post. We are currently brainstorming about the topic, then I’ll trust Little Bob inside my head to write the essay for me.

Finally, in the reviews section below, you can read my review of Rajaf Mitra’s book The Infidel Next Door. I am in the process of interviewing him, so, again, you’ll be able to read about him by the next issue.


Anna likes my work

My latest editing client has sent a very appreciative comment, and authorised me to post it to my editing page.


Guardian Angel

While the Amazon UK contest is over, I am still keen to accumulate lots of reviews for my book. Many people have let me know they’d bought a copy. If you have, please go to the book page, and post a review to each of the webpages with links there.


Thank you, Michael Thal

I’ve long admired Michael, who turned the tragedy of losing his hearing into a number of positives, including writing several marvellous young adult novels.

On his blog, he has a reading list. To my delight, his summer one includes Guardian Angel, with the wonderful review he has placed wherever he could.


Solar Healesville

Long-term comrade-in arms Jeff Barlow has expended enormous effort, great leadership and considerable money to start up a new movement: we are making our little township of Healesville all-solar.

Work so far has been aimed at organising a meeting on the 29th of June. As I write, over 150 people have registered for it, when our expectation was a maximum of 50. So, we are off!


Listen to my short story

Chris Herron’s way of having fun while providing a very worthwhile service is to read short stories aloud. He has built up a wide following, and it’s well deserved.

He has recorded a reading of my story Let the punishment fit the crime, from my short story anthology Striking Back from Down Under.

Please go and enjoy.


Responses to past issues

Rajat Mitra

Dear Bob
I felt a deep connection with you after reading your review. Though we don’t know each other, your review touched a deep cord within me. It is unlike any other review I have got so far, and it helped me to understand my own writing and some of the processes working within me. The review is very profound, and undoubtedly will lead to my growth and evolution as a writer. A sincere thank you.

I have started reading your book and will take a week to ten days to finish reading it. I don’t have your experience of reviewing books but will try my best to be as incisive as possible. It will be my first review.

I also want to thank you for the edit. We Indians speak English in a different way and often translate it colloquially, which I understand is not exactly literary.

Will write soon again.
Regards
Rajat


Politics

Climate change is a security risk, NOW
How Trump is destroying American farming
Trump’s Paris announcement boosts sales of electric buses
Trickle-down economics

 

Climate change is a security risk, NOW

At last, a high-level report to an Australian Senate enquiry acknowledges that the threat of climate change is not in the future, but the past and present.

This is interesting reading, wherever on the globe you live.


How Trump is destroying American farming

There is an exodus of farm workers, who choose to move south, away from hate and discrimination. Who can blame them?

This article in The Independent is one of several reports that farmers are unable to harvest their produce. Many million dollars’ worth of perfectly good food is left rotting on the ground.

Incidentally, the idiots running my country, Australia, are doing the same thing, with taxing backpackers so they’ll go somewhere else, and refusing refugees on “temporary protections visas” the ability to work.

This is disaster for the farmers, increased prices for consumers, and a crime against humanity in a world with millions of hungry people.


Trump’s Paris announcement boosts sales of electric buses

The title says it all. Read it in Tree Hugger.


Trickle-down economics


Environment

A child’s wisdom
Money in coal is like money in tobacco
Videos on climate
We need to protect the Coral Sea

 

A child’s wisdom

This is why I am a professional grandfather. I wish we could make every politician and CEO take lessons from this little girl.

Please invest two minutes of your life in watching this.


Money in coal is like money in tobacco


Despite its misinformation campaign over the decades, nobody now believes the tobacco industry’s lies about the effects of nicotine on health.

Very similar facts apply to coal. Did you know, the first industrial source of cancer was soot, affecting chimney sweeps in London? That soot can still kill you today if you live downwind from an open cut coal mine, a coal-fired power station, or trains carrying coal.

This is why the chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Prof Kingsley Faulkner is publicly urging banks and other financial institutions to refuse money to Adani for its proposed Carmichael mine inland from the Great Barrier Reef.

Even if it wasn’t guaranteed to wreck the Reef even further (it has already damaged it with spills, and port development), even if it didn’t endanger the health of the local population, it would still be a disaster in the making. If all the coal proposed to be extracted were burnt, the resulting carbon dioxide release would be greater than that of many countries.


Videos on climate

Lance Collins has emailed me:

Hi Bob,
Have I mentioned this series of YouTube videos on global warming to you or have you come across them already?

https://www.youtube.com/user/potholer54

Easily the best on the subject I have seen anywhere.
Lance


We need to protect the Coral Sea

Please read this well-researched and passionate call for action by Adele Pedder in a United Nations publication.

The Coral Sea was protected — until dinosaurs gained government in Australia. Now, there is a very real threat that this protection will be removed.


Good news

Nuclear waste dump dead
Shareholders force Exxon to consider climate change
Less coal mined
No shale holes in France
Renewables have outpaced nuclear — even in Trumpistan

 

Nuclear waste dump dead

Where do the powers that be want to store deadly nuclear waste? Where the powerless live.

Only, the powerless have gained power. The traditional owners of South Australia’s desert are free from the threat.


Shareholders force Exxon to consider climate change

Bob,
Wow. Score a big one for people and the planet!
In an absolutely unprecedented move, Exxon shareholders just voted overwhelmingly for a climate-friendly motion, even though Big Oil execs recommended against it. The entire executive board at Exxon opposed the resolution forcing the oil giant to assess the long-term impacts of climate change. but when it came time for the vote, 62% of shareholders voted against Exxon executives and for the climate.
And you helped make this happen.
Ahead of the big AGM vote, over 3,500 SumOfUs members contacted more than 200 separate pension funds, calling on these big investors to vote in favour of the shareholder resolution. Dozens of fund managers responded to us directly, saying that they received more messages from clients than they could reply to.
This historic move shows that we’re on the brink of something huge — the biggest polluters in the world are finally being forced to take responsibility for their mess. It’s no longer a world where CEOs and corporate executives can sit back and count their profits while the world burns.
And this is all due to the incredibly hard and courageous work of those who’ve been building an activist shareholder movement for years, including faith-based investors, progressive pension funds, organizations like Ceres, As You Sow and the Asset Owners Disclosure Project — and you!
Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement shows us that our collective work keeping this planet safe has never been more important. Congratulations on this massive win. Let’s keep making the future safer, together.
Thanks for using your pension funds to make a difference,
Liz, Michael, Lisa and the rest of the SumOfUs team
P.S. This win is huge, but we have to keep up the pressure on all fronts. If you haven’t already, please join our campaign demanding that the CEOs on Trump’s advisory council step down. There can be no collaborating with climate deniers anymore. The stakes are too high.


Less coal mined

An annual review by BP shows a steep drop in coal production, offset by rapid growth in renewables. They state these to be long-term changes.

I am cheering.

The photo of this beautiful coalpit is from Wikimedia Commons.


No shale holes in France

France won’t be fracked to hell under Macron’s leadership.

“There will be no new exploration licenses for hydrocarbons, we will pass the law this autumn,” new minister Nicolas Hulot has said.


Renewables have outpaced nuclear — even in Trumpistan

An official US government website has released statistics that biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, including small-scale PV, and wind together provide more electricity than nuclear power this year.


People who inspire

Courage and compassion in Texas
The Sanders Institute
Organic climate collaboration
Supermodel works for international justice
Beef farm to organic vegs

 

Courage and compassion in Texas

A town with 3300 residents is defying the State of Texas when it comes to deporting people without papers.

Read about them to get a smile on your face and a glow in your heart.


The Sanders Institute

I wish Bernie Sanders was the US president. He isn’t, but he and his supporters are still working for a better world.

Check out their new web site.


Organic climate collaboration

Several large companies selling chemical-free foods have banded together to do their best to battle climate change.

Their website requests: COMMIT. ACT. IMPACT.

Let the willing residents of Trumpistan eat poison, waste food, use polluting chemicals, use slave labour, burn coal. These companies want none of that, and are doing their best.

Do your health a favour, and buy their products.


Supermodel works for international justice

Anjhula Singh Bais is an Indian young woman with a Ph.D. in psychology, who is devoting her life to relieving suffering in places like Sierra Leone.

Read what the American Psychological Association has to say about her.


Beef farm to organic vegs

Jay Wilde inherited the family dairy farm, but saw all the suffering this imposed on the animals. He switched to beef, which was worse. So, he has sent the animals to a sanctuary, in effect giving away over $50,000, and is now using his land to grow organic vegetables.

Here is an enlightened spirit for whom a clear conscience is more important than a large bank account.


Compassion

Home for the neediest
These shoeboxes are brilliant

 

Home for the neediest

Airbnb has organised a wonderful thing. Within the USA, people can offer temporary housing to refugees and people displaced by disaster.

The offer of free housing can be for one night or several months, and you can specify all relevant details.

Having been a refugee, I know how wonderful it is when a stranger offers kindness.

THIS is the best tool for fighting terrorism.


These shoeboxes are brilliant

Single homeless people can be provided with an attractive little house to live in. It’s insulated, the photo shows solar panels and water heater on the roof — it’s home for those who need it.

These tiny houses are compassion in action from architect Derek Mah, and are now being used in an Australian country town.


Technology

One-wheeled electric transport?
Organic footwear
CO2: turn bad into good
Water pipe generates electricity

 

One-wheeled electric transport?


Well, it looks like fun. Despite the Japanese-sounding name, the blurb on Kiwano website claims British design and manufacture, but shipping is initially only within the USA.

Derek Markham of Treehugger gives a detailed description of this new vehicle, and its performance. It costs less than a bicycle, can go at 30 miles an hour and has a good range.


Organic footwear

Further to my report about eco-clothes in the last issue, I can now tell you about shoes made by reducing an environmental problem.

Algae eventually choke up a pond, lake or waterway. Some species are toxic. A company named “Bloom” uses algae as raw materials for a plastic-like foam.

Now, another company is about to market shoes made from this stuff.

Pic from Vivobarefoot.


CO2: turn bad into good

Even if humanity completely stopped producing carbon dioxide today, what’s released will continue to cook the planet. We are past the point of no return.

The only possible answer is to take CO2 out of the air again. Then it can be raw material for a wide range of uses that currently depend on fossil carbon.

This company is now marketing a technology that does just this.

It’s basic science without much high-faluting complexity. Energy use is moderate, and waste heat from other processes can be used.

The bottled compressed CO2 is now being used to put bubbles in your drinks, synthetic fuel in your car, and fertiliser. Of course, this does not lock up the carbon, but still has a nett benefit.


Water pipe generates electricity

It’s simple really. Cities have huge pipes carrying water to supply homes and businesses. In many places, gravity powers the flow, without the need for pumping. Install turbines, and presto, you have 24-hour hydroelectric power, without the usual costs of water replacing nature, the generation of methane from silt in the bottom of a dam, even the risk of drought disrupting supply (the city continues to need water, right?).

Portland, Oregon is having such a system installed.


Deeper Issues

Meet Mrs. Frugalwoods
Landfill waste (mis)management
Call out the everyday things
What can I do to help the world in achieving the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations?
The circular economy

 

Meet Mrs. Frugalwoods

Long term readers of Bobbing Around will have looked at my essay, How to change the world. There is a lovely young family in Vermont who are living the lifestyle my wife and I have followed since the 1970s, with the same personal benefits of contentment and satisfaction we have found in living simply.

Please read her essay. It is long, but in effect it’s a recipe for saving you lots of money, reducing your environmental footprint and living a modern equivalent of the lifestyle humans were designed for.


Landfill waste (mis)management

I left this comment on an article about landfill waste:

In the 1970s and 80s, there was a blooming building demolition industry, and owner-builders like I was could access a local demolition yard for cheap yet good quality materials. Now, regulations make owner-building more and more difficult. Professional builders make a house as if it was a Lego structure, from standard components. As a result, a demolition now means a huge excavator chomping up the house, and loading it onto trucks for the tip.

A huge amount of waste could be eliminated, employment provided, and building costs reduced, if once more authorities fostered rather than hindered owner-building.


Call out the everyday things

This essay by Andrew Simms is exactly right.

He points out the difference between actions and words on climate change. Most bits of suicidal behaviour are unconscious, unnoticed, like flying off on a holiday, and buying a bigger car than necessary. Branson and Musk are both very big on addressing climate change — and both are involved in playing with space rockets.

Andrew has established @EverydayDenial, which I have started to follow. You might do the same, and spread the word.


What can I do to help the world in achieving the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations?

Quora sent me this question. My answer will be old stuff to regular Bobbing Around readers, but it’s worth repeating.

Live simply, so you may simply live. As far as your circumstances allow, avoid using resources and generating waste. Return to ways of meeting your needs that worked for past generations who had far less technology, but without imposing hardship on yourself and your loved ones. For example, research has shown that traditional agriculture, avoiding artificial fertilisers and pesticides but instead building up the fertility of the soil, actually leads to more productivity than factory farming.

Join others to work for a sustainable society. There are various groups that organise petitions, protests and practical action like divestment from harmful companies. They have been making an enormous impact. Be part of the action for a survivable world.

Address the basic problem, which is a global culture of greed, aggression, selfishness, fear and hate of those different from us. Instead, work for a global culture of cooperation, compassion, decency. This will not only work for sustainability, but also toward a world worth surviving in.


The circular economy


Please read read this short essay by Gloria Figarola on how to eliminate all waste: everything we produce should become raw materials for something else.


Psychology

Mental health effects of climate change
Happiness is a byproduct
Has bullying made me into a serial killer?
Why do I want bad things to happen to me?

 

Mental health effects of climate change

Please read this report on the work of Dr Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychologist and environmentalist.

Her work is on something I personally experience (and handle through Buddhist equanimity as well as I can), and have noted with many people: anyone not hiding behind denial is sure to experience anticipatory grief, and there is a great invitation to despair.

There are also many physical effects on people.

Inform yourself and read the report.


Happiness is a byproduct

I have often said this to my therapy clients. Here is an interesting, well-written essay that lists the evidence. The more you chase happiness, the less happy you will be.

Read the essay if you want to know how to increase your level of happiness. Briefly, it is service to others.


Has bullying made me into a serial killer?

This problem started when I started middle school. See, I was a shy, weak, puny, and small kid, and still am kind of. So because of that, I was bullied. Now, many people who get bullied kill themselves, but I was different. I wanted to kill the bullies instead.

I could fight my bullies or ignore them or tell someone, but my bullies are not normal bullies. They often times act gangster, or ghetto and are from trashy neighborhoods. (Seriously, houses near the school(s) are worse than Detroit ‘hoods.) One, I’m too weak to fight them. (I don’t back out of standing up for myself, but I’m still unable to fight.) Two, you smart people should know why ignoring won’t help. Three, you tell on them, you will be known as a snitch that will get stitches.

My bullying was bad, some people have had it worse, but still. After being bullied, my whole view changed. I hated society and the human race. I hated myself and others. I deserve to suffer because I’m a weak degenerate for society. I want to become a serial killer and end the human race. Everything about the human race is terrible. The stupidity, the negativity, etc. All the good humans suffer. My mindset is somewhat like Anakin Skywalker’s. Is this normal that I feel this way?

Dear John,
In the situation you described, it is perfectly normal to feel like you do. It is a reasonable reaction to being unfairly victimized.

You can consider a number of courses of action. An immediate one is to move to somewhere else. If that has practical difficulties, do some problem-solving to make it possible. It may take a little time, but apply for jobs in another place, or enroll in a course that takes you away, or whatever.

Second, in the longer term, you have identified yourself as being weak and puny and unable to defend yourself. You can change this. Learn to do a martial art. Judo is the best to start with, because a small Judo expert can defeat several opponents who are larger and stronger. Once you are competent at judo, move on to aikido, which is a further development, and is the ultimate form of self-defense.

It would perhaps be dangerous to do this in your neighborhood, because the bullies will know, and attack you while you are still a beginner. So, either do it a fair distance away in New York, or better still, after having moved somewhere else.

That’s the practical part. We also need to deal with your two inner problems.

One is that belief shapes reality. What you send out, the universe sends back to you. You have “kick me” written on your forehead, and sure enough, you get kicked. The bullying is not so much in response to your size or body build, but to your belief of being a victim.

Learning a martial art will help with this problem even more than with physical self-defense. I did judo as a teenager. Now I am an old man, but if anyone is aggressive to me, I automatically, without needing to think about it, put myself in “judo mode.” The message I send out nonverbally is, “Don’t bother to try,” and they always back off.

Other ways of building inner strength are also good, and you can do several.

One is to become expert at something you enjoy. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it gives you the knowledge that there is something you can shine at. And in addition to building self-confidence, it will give you a great deal of pleasure.

Another is to be of service to others. The more you give, the more you get, and this will make you feel good about yourself.

Being of service can have unexpected side-benefits, like building up a network of people who will go out of their way to protect you. However, don’t do it for that reason, but because you intend to improve the lives of other people.

Your second inner problem is that this long history of victimhood has led you to wear crap-colored glasses: “I want to become a serial killer and end the human race. Everything about the human race is terrible.”

There is also good in humanity. Human nature is complex, with many facets. Generosity, compassion, decency are as much part of it as cruelty and stupidity. Rather than lower yourself to the same level as your torturers, and copy them by hurting others, I invite you to choose the other path: to work for a better world. This will immediately make you a better person, and in years to come, you will look with pity on the poor sods whose only fun is hurting those weaker than themselves. They miss out on so much!

Please think about my words, then you are welcome to get back to me.
Bob


Why do I want bad things to happen to me?

I am a 16 year old girl in Britain. I often find myself wanting something bad to happen to me, and I don’t understand why. I’ve never had anything extremely bad happen to me, just a few grandparents who’ve died and my brother has cancer, but nothing seriously bad. Still, I imagine things happen and kind of enjoy imagining them happening to me, but they’re everyday things that people really struggle with when they do happen to them and I feel seriously sick at myself for it. I’ve felt like this for years, but not always as bad. When I was younger I’d just wish I could fall over and scab my knee, and as I’ve got older its more things like get in a car crash.

I have done some research and most people who are also feeling this way have a history of anxiety or depression, or have Bipolar Disorder, OCD, or Schizophrenia, but I’ve never suffered from any of these. Many people have reported it was medication they were on, and I’m not on medication either.

I always wonder if its because I want attention, but when bad things do happen, i.e. we found out my brother has stage four cancer four or five months ago, I do my best to keep it to myself. Only those who need to know will I allow to know. None of my friends or teachers in school have any idea, so I don’t see why I personally would want something bad to happen to get myself attention because that’s not how I react.

Why do you think it is that I feel like this?

Is there any way I can make myself normal?

My dear, the answer is that you are normal. You have a particular habit of thought you don’t want, but that doesn’t make you sick or damaged.

Also, why you fell into this unfortunate habit doesn’t matter. The only important question is, what to do about it.

It distresses you, and you want it to stop, so we shall work on getting rid of your distress.

If you didn’t want this habit of thought to go away, then it wouldn’t matter. Some kids fantasise over film stars, or excelling in sports, or electronic games, or whatever. You fantasise over having disasters happen to you.

There is a joke about how to have a wart fall off. You stand under the light of a full moon at midnight, and for one minute, do not think of the word “hippopotamus.”

Or, here is a challenge: do NOT think of what you had for breakfast today.

The more you want something to go away, the more it bugs you. “I don’t want to think this” is paying attention to it, and attention is a fertiliser that makes things grow.

The solution is to do the opposite: to allow the thoughts, rather than to fight them. “OK, I’ve imagined being in a car crash again. So what.” Then you get busy with something you find interesting.

You can carry this further by assigning a number to the thought. How strong and vivid is it, on a scale of 10? You may find that at the moment, it is quite strong. Let’s say it’s 7 out of 10, but when you try to send it away, the strength may increase until you can’t think of anything else. If you give it permission to stay, “It’s there, so what,” it will fade to perhaps 3.

In time, as you get good with your new habit of acceptance instead of struggle, it will run out of the fertiliser of attention, and one day you’ll realise, “Hey, I haven’t had a disaster thought in ages!”

What’s more, going through this process of training your mind will make you a stronger, more competent person for the rest of your life.

Give this a go. It takes at least two to three weeks of regular practice to acquire a new habit. At the end of that, please email me back and let me know how it’s going.

Your new grandfather,
Bob


Health

Even “moderate” alcohol use damages your brain
Antimicrobials are anti-human?
Lead in Chinese tea
Indications of possible cancer

 

Even “moderate” alcohol use damages your brain

The abstract of this research report in the British Medical Journal states:

    Objectives To investigate whether moderate alcohol consumption has a favourable or adverse association or no association with brain structure and function.

    Design Observational cohort study with weekly alcohol intake and cognitive performance measured repeatedly over 30 years (1985-2015). Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed at study endpoint (2012-15).

    Setting Community dwelling adults enrolled in the Whitehall II cohort based in the UK (the Whitehall II imaging substudy).

    Participants 550 men and women with mean age 43.0 (SD 5.4) at study baseline, none were “alcohol dependent” according to the CAGE screening questionnaire, and all safe to undergo MRI of the brain at follow-up. Twenty three were excluded because of incomplete or poor quality imaging data or gross structural abnormality (such as a brain cyst) or incomplete alcohol use, sociodemographic, health, or cognitive data.

    Main outcome measures Structural brain measures included hippocampal atrophy, grey matter density, and white matter microstructure. Functional measures included cognitive decline over the study and cross sectional cognitive performance at the time of scanning.

    Results Higher alcohol consumption over the 30 year follow-up was associated with increased odds of hippocampal atrophy in a dose dependent fashion. While those consuming over 30 units a week were at the highest risk compared with abstainers (odds ratio 5.8, 95% confidence interval 1.8 to 18.6; P≤0.001), even those drinking moderately (14-21 units/week) had three times the odds of right sided hippocampal atrophy (3.4, 1.4 to 8.1; P=0.007). There was no protective effect of light drinking (1-<7 units/week) over abstinence. Higher alcohol use was also associated with differences in corpus callosum microstructure and faster decline in lexical fluency. No association was found with cross sectional cognitive performance or longitudinal changes in semantic fluency or word recall.

    Conclusions Alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, is associated with adverse brain outcomes including hippocampal atrophy. These results support the recent reduction in alcohol guidance in the UK and question the current limits recommended in the US.

Perhaps predictably, there has been a reaction, with criticisms of this research, and its generalisability. People like alcohol too much to accept criticisms of it. I am therefore reproducing something from Bobbing Around Volume 13 Number 2:

Rethinking Red Wine, by Debbie Hampton

We’ve been told for some years now that red wine has heart benefits and may even extend a healthy life if drank in moderation, because of the ingredient resveratrol. This information justified people to have a glass of red wine (or two or three) feeling as if they were doing something good for themselves. Not so fast.

Dr. Dipak K. Das, who conducted the research, culminating in 2007 at The University of Connecticut, that had all the nightly news programs and medical journals proclaiming the health benefits of red wine, has been found guilty of 145 acts of data fabrication.

Turns out that an anonymous allegation of “research irregularities” led to a three year internal investigation of Dr. Das’ lab which resulted in a 60,000 page report concluding the falsification of data.

In an article published by CBS news on their website, Red wine no fountain of youth after all? Dr. Richard A. Miller, professor of pathology at the University of Michigan, told CBS News of red wine, “If it is good for you, it’s almost certainly not because of the resveratrol. People who bought the story for the last 10 years have been fooled.”

Dr. Marie Pasinski, staff neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and faculty member of Harvard Medical School, says, in her book Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You, that the studies supporting the claim that red wine is good for your heart and brain were “observational,” having been conducted through self-reported questionnaires which may have been severely flawed. She concluded this before and separately from the accounts of fabrication noted above. About the resveratol studies, she says “Although studies did show mice that were given hefty doses of resveratrol were healthier and lived longer, an article in the New York Times pointed out that the average 150-pound person would need to drink 750 to 1,500 bottles of red wine a day in order to get the equivalent beneficial dose!”

She concludes that drinking alcohol, even in moderation, is unhealthy. Alcohol is a known neurotoxin. In excess, alcohol causes damage throughout the nervous system and kills brain cells, in particular the important memory areas. Alcohol may be even more damaging in the developing brains of teenagers who tend binge drink. I sure killed a few brain cells in my college days.

She points out that, for women, even low to moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the breast, liver, mouth, throat, and esophagus. She states that alcohol is not part of a brain smart diet. Period. “Alcohol is not good for us, even in small amounts.”

Debbie Hampton suffered what could have been fatal brain injury. Fortunately, she knew that the brain is “plastic,” that is, can be changed again. Using several techniques, she has regained her intelligence, and most of the abilities we take for granted. “Because underlying belief systems and the perceptual foundation upon which I’d built my reality withered away along with brain cells, I got to start with a clean slate, so to speak. By consciously working with and altering my thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, I transformed my world which, in turn, changed my physical brain and its default mode of operation.”


Antimicrobials are anti-human?

I’ve always thought it a good thing to wipe down surfaces with something that kills germs. Not so, writes Katherine Martinko in Tree Hugger.

They are persistent in the environment, killing a lot more than intended. They are harmful to your skin flora. They are banned in some products, so, she asks, why not everywhere?


Lead in Chinese tea

Apparently, China banned lead in petrol only in the year 2000. Many tea plantations are near busy roads. The result: lead in soil, leading to lead in tea leaves.

Check where your tea comes from.

Dr Michael Greger is more cautious in his recommendations: avoid black tea from China. I say avoid all tea from China.


Indications of possible cancer

No one is safe from cancer, because of all the muck we have flooded into the environment. That horrid plastic smell you breathed in 30 years ago and forgotten may be stored away in your fat, and is released when a bout of flu ties up your immune system while you lose a bit of weight. It then starts to grow…

Here is a handy list of symptoms many of us ignore, but which are warning signs well worth checking out.


Writing

What’s wrong with head hopping?

Head hopping is when a writer reports the inner events of more than one character within a single scene, going back and forth from one consciousness to another. This includes things like bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions, memories, perceptions.

This is judged harshly in writing circles, because it gets in the way of inducing the reader to accept the reality of the story. The major tool in that is to have the reader “become” a character. As I read, I should feel as if I were the person in your story who is the witness to the current scene. Unless this person is telepathic, I cannot also know the inner events of another character. So, by showing me both their realities, you get in the way of me being able to identify with either.

So, how should you depict the emotions and thoughts of other characters in a scene?

In exactly the way it happens in real life. Read this short extract from Guardian Angel:

    Alice looked across the dining table at her stepson and hid a sigh. His eyes were on her all the time, big cow’s eyes of admiration he was simply unable to hide. Fortunately, Bruce was too loving and trusting to notice, to ever believe that Peter could be infatuated with her. The young man, a year over her twenty-four, had returned only yesterday from droving a mob of steers to market, and she wished he’d go again. She wished he’d find a girl of his own and get over this silly business. Only, she knew, for him it wasn’t silly business. She very much feared that he thought of it as True Love. Forcing brightness, she said, “Bruce, have you noticed how remarkable that little Aboriginal girl is?”

    When Bruce smiled like this, his eyes shone, almost with a light of their own. “Yes, longer than you have, my dear. She is a little angel, that one.”

    “Which girl are you two talking about?” Peter was obviously doing his best to join in the conversation as he dragged his eyes off Alice and looked at his father.

    “Alice’s new wet nurse has a little three year old daughter who is very special. It’s hard to realise, son, that you’ve been away during all our changes.”

    “Oh yes, I’ve seen some new Aboriginal servants about the place. But what’s so special about this child?”

    Husband and wife both started speaking at the same time, but with a little bow of his head and a wave of a hand, Bruce deferred to her.

    “Well,” Alice answered, “she’s been here only a week. The rest of her family still speak broken English like all of them, but she’s been imitating me −− accent, tones of voice, grammar, choice of words −− and if you listened to her through a closed door, you’d swear she was a high-bred young lady of five or six, rather than a little native girl of about three.”

    “Imitation is the biggest compliment,” Bruce interrupted. The glow in his eyes was for Alice now.

    “And also, anything she hears, she remembers. The first day she was here, I mentioned, just speaking aloud to myself, that I needed to write down my appointment for Donald with Dr Horton at 10 of the clock of the morning on Friday. But what with Donald taking to Glindi so well, I forgot. And on Friday I was getting in a tizz because I couldn’t remember the time. And little Mary snapped out, “It was ten of the clock, Mrs Mac!”

    Bruce took over. “Peter, you know my horse, Devil? This little girl is Mick’s daughter. And, you won’t believe this, that big brute who won’t let anyone but me and Mick close, breathed all over the girlie’s face like she was the best thing in his life. But Alice, I’m not at all surprised at her intelligence. After all, Mick is a bright fellow.”

    “Oh. You don’t know… Mick isn’t the child’s natural father. I got it out of Glindi, because I was intrigued by the lighter colour of Mary’s skin and those green eyes. It was Richardson forcing her, may God forgive his soul.”

    Peter said, his lips compressed into an angry line, “All too many of the men do things like that. I wish there was a law…”

Alice is the witness. We know what she thinks, and find out a fair bit about her on the way. Peter, Bruce, and less directly the people they are talking about, are described through her perceptions. Peter is just as well presented as if we hopped into his head from time to time. This is because Alice is intelligent and perceptive. We could also have fun with a different witness who “misreads” people. Of course, we all do that from time to time, but that’s a matter of psychology, not of writing.


What my friends want you to know

Darrell’s migration problem
New book review again
My community is holding a Festival, November
MoveOn: Resistance summer
Intensive meditation retreat, December
Amnesty: help end Australia’s offshore detention
The great transition initiative

 

Darrell’s migration problem

During the recent massive change of publishers for all my Double Dragon Books, which included re-editing and new covers for many of them, many of the previous reviews of my books disappeared. If you enjoyed reading my books, I would be very appreciative if you would take a few minutes and post a new book review at Amazon. I don’t think you need to make a new purchase. If you ever purchased your ebook via Amazon.com, they should be able to post a review. In the meantime, you might mention to your friends that many of my re-edited books being published by Twilight Times Books are available for only 99 cents! This price is for a limited time, so don’t delay. Thank you.

Darrell Bain


New book review again

Last issue, I let you know that Gary Clough’s review of Guardian Angel has featured in the New Book Review blog. This time, it is Max Overton’s review you can read there.

Thank you, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, and thank you, Max.


My community is holding a Festival, November

If you are in Victoria, Australia during November, check out Moora Moora’s “EarthArtBeat” festival; Friday, 17 November 2017 at 4:00 pm to Sunday, 19 November 2017 at 4:00 pm.

EarthArtBeat Festival is in support of community development and social change.

A Grade live music: local and Melbourne talent.

Interactive Art spaces including Moora Moora artists.

Tours of Moora Moora and its Solar Training Centre and Organic Market Garden.

Movies by independent filmmakers about Intentional & Indigenous Communities and Permaculture.

Workshops including Yoga, Nia, Solar tours, Incredible Menu of locally grown food, Solar brewed Kombucha, Beer and Cider by Deano Good Brew, soul warming hot beverages.

Not For Profit: Proceeds towards our Community Development Fund.

Children under 15 free and must be accompanied by adults.

Volunteer enquiries please contact Chelsea: festival@earthheart.org.au


MoveOn: Resistance summer

Dear MoveOn member,

Hi, I’m Vicki Kaplan, MoveOn’s organizing director.

I’m writing you a personal note today to ask for your help.

One thing that the Trump presidency has taught us is that fighting Republicans on issue after issue using our old political playbook is simply not enough. There are too many critical fronts that demand our attention and, in most cases, victory means only stopping bad, cruel, or even dangerous things from happening.

The resistance needs to change the playing field.

That’s why, as part of our broader efforts to build an anti-Trump wave and take back the House in 2018, MoveOn is launching a big, audacious new program that we’re calling Resistance Summer.

It’s a summer-long training program for 1,000 people across the country to learn how to organize and lead high-impact efforts in their own communities. That means turning up the heat on elected officials, engaging and registering voters, and building on-the-ground organizing capacity. And it means setting the stage for our elections program; it’s a key step in laying the groundwork for an anti-Trump wave next year.

It’s a massive program, but that’s the scale of what this political moment and our country’s future demands. And we’re well on our way to making Resistance Summer a reality. The applications are in. (Actually, we were flooded with many more applicants than we can accept.) And we’re in the process of hiring 40 of the most accomplished progressive organizers in the country to work with and mentor the participants.

But a program this big is expensive, and we’ve taken a huge leap of faith by launching the program before we’ve recruited enough monthly supporters to fully fund it. That’s why I’m writing today on behalf of MoveOn with a simple request. Bob, will you chip in $5 a month to help sustain this game-changing organizing program?

Yes, I’ll chip in monthly to help support Resistance Summer’s high-impact organizing in communities across the country.


Intensive meditation retreat, December

Dear Fellow Meditators,

You are warmly invited to join us for an intensive meditation retreat this Winter. On December 2nd thru 9th, at The Bend of Ivy Lodge near Asheville, NC, we will be settling into the darkest time of the year, by inclining our hearts and minds towards the practices of concentration, mindfulness and heartfulness meditation.


Amnesty: help end Australia’s offshore detention

My home is my sanctuary.

It’s where I’ve experienced some of life’s most special moments, like seeing both my kids take their first steps across the lounge room floor.

Bob, I’m sure you can relate as you climb into bed tonight.

But for the men, women and children trapped in the danger and turbulence of offshore detention, there is no home. And they’re afraid every single night.

Bob, please give $30 today so together we can end offshore detention and bring refugees here to safety.

This is not a home, it’s hell on earth.

Don’t wait, they can’t.

Dr Graham Thom
National Refugee Coordinator
Amnesty International Australia


The great transition initiative

The Great Transition Initiative is about inspiring mainstream commitment to the deep structural changes necessary to reverse human inputs to global warming and other disastrous trends. Here is the interview Dave Gardner did with me about it.

Dave did an excellent job in posing the key questions, so the interview provides a useful orientation to the Great Transition Initiative. I was able to include graphics as well.

Will we be as strategically astute as Islamic fundamentalists?

I recently came across an article about wealthy Arabs setting up universities in Indonesia and other countries to educate poor Muslims in what we would call a fundamentalist approach to Islam.

One effect of this was: the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, Jakarta, seemed headed for easy re-election despite being a Christian in a mostly Muslim country. Suddenly everything went violently wrong. Using the pretext of an offhand remark the governor made about the Koran, masses of enraged Muslims took to the streets to denounce him. In short order he lost the election, was arrested, charged with blasphemy, and sentenced to two years in prison.

These wealthy Arabs have correctly identified a key point of change: affecting people’s thinking. Their universities affect not only the thinking of their students, but also the thinking of the populace that the students influence later.

In the West, including the United States and Australia, there is a large cohort of well-educated progressives. We have not been schooled to be proselytizers. Rather, ideally we have been schooled to think for ourselves, and many of us have come to the conclusion that we are in an ecological emergency aggravated by corrupt governments and the rise of right-wing populism.

I suggest that our next step, taking a cue from the wealthy Arabs, is to also passionately communicate through our networks to affect social change. However, we do this, not as a form of conditioning or religious haranguing, but by enabling people to think more comprehensively and realistically about environmental trends and their implications, with a view to accelerating the transition to a life-sustaining society. In other words, we help people think better.

An annotated list of resources for playing a role in the Great Transition Initiative is at Great Transition Initiative materials. I hope you will be part of this.

Cheers,
Andrew Gaines


Reviews

Strong is the Ma’at of Re, by Max Overton
The Infidel Next Door, by Rajat Mitra
Guardian Angel reviewed by…
Michael Thal
Jay Levy
Margaret Tanner
Rachael Kane

 

Strong is the Ma’at of Re
by Max Overton

I know that Max Overton’s ancient Egypt books have many fans. They will love this book, as will anyone else fascinated by ancient history.

It is fiction — but it is also serious historical research. How can that be? Well, go to a museum and gape at the dinosaurs. No one knows what they really looked like. Experts considered a few teeth and other bones, fossilised imprints in mud turned to stone, and similar cues, then used imagination to construct the best guess available. This is exactly what Max has done for an important period in the past of our civilisation.

Writing about a strange culture presents a person with a difficult choice: staying true to the unfamiliar complexities, or making the book as readable as possible for the lay reader. Max’s solution has been a quite long set of introductory notes, which is essential reading if you want to understand the names of people and places, the roles, and a few of the customs. There is nothing wrong with this in a work of history, but is not a good start for a novel. Even with the notes, the first three chapters or so are difficult reading because of hard-to-pronounce names.

However, the effort is worth it. This is a story of the clash of wills, of intrigue and love and hate, like any good story. So, if you are interested in ancient history, you must read this book, the first of three in the planned series.


The Infidel Next Door
by Rajat Mitra

The Infidel Next Door is an important book. It deserves to succeed, and deserves to be widely read. However, it is not for squeamish people, because it reveals violence at its worst without excuse. The reason is the message: Hate only begets hate. Only tolerance and mutual respect can save us from horror.
I have read and enjoyed many books set within the cultures of the Indian subcontinent, including Malala’s wonderful autobiography, but none has brought the ways thinking to life for me as well as this one. I now have a gut-level understanding of how Hindus and Muslims within Indian culture see the world. It is fascinating how different common sense, the naturally expected, is from what is natural to me. From the opening paragraph, Rajat Mitra has enabled me to enter this other universe on the same planet.
In the opening chapters, the story has the feel of a parable. This impression returns in the closing chapters: an unashamed delivery of the lesson that all humans are equal and deserve respect, regardless of caste, religion, history, ethnicity. At the same time, I don’t feel preached at. It is a story, with real live people feeling emotions I just have to identify with.
In between is a thriller: the story of the attempted genocide Muslim extremists aimed at Hindus in Kashmir in the 1980s, with the Indian army eventually putting down the revolt with equal harshness.
The story is about two fine young men: a Hindu and a Muslim. This is its theme: “but both of them represent the best of what religion stands for. Through their conflict they have discovered a profound humanity in themselves.”
My writing for many years has had the theme that only love can defeat hate. This is not a specifically Christian message, as The Infidel Next Door proves: the message is the same.
You may have nightmares after reading this book, but all the same, we need to know the depths to which humans can sink to — and the countermeasure to lift us from savagery to truly serving God.


Guardian Angel reviewed by…

Michael Thal

I admire Michael Thal. He was a teacher of many years’ experience, who had to retire because of severe hearing loss. He turned bad into good, and has written four excellent kids’ books (sorry, YA).

He has written such a wonderful review of Guardian Angel that I want to read the book myself!

Guardian Angel by Dr. Bob Rich is set during the mid 19th Century in rural Australia. An angel is assigned to live amongst the humans in an Aboriginal community in New South Wales. Her soul was planted in the body of a girl whose Aboriginal mother was raped by an Australian settler. Her mission is to teach universal love. She chose a female body because, “I have always favored being the life form that bears new life.” After this introduction we read about “the life of Maraglindi, child of the land, fruit of an evil deed, and instrument of love.”

Maraglindi is a Jesus figure without the preaching. Her ministry is simple: show love and pass on affection for others through the power of touch. Starting life off as Mick and Glindi’s baby, she reads minds and has green eyes — white man eyes — but Mick does not blame his wife. Glindi would prefer her husband kill the rapist, but wiser voices prevail. “If you do and they find out it’s one of the people, they’ll do terrible payback.”

Bruce MacCaffery, the nicest white man in New South Wales, hires Maraglindi’s parents while she is a toddler. Mick’s job is to tame horses and Glindi would work in Mrs. Mac’s home as a servant. Eventually, Mrs. Mac discovers Maraglindi’s intelligence and goodness and takes the child under her wing, calling her Mary Fisher. When Mary becomes school age, Mrs. Mac enrolls her in Talbot Ladies’ College, where Maraglindi learns very quickly about racial prejudice and hatred.

Dr. Bob Rich has created an extremely memorable character in his guardian angel, Maraglindi. The little Aboriginal child affects everyone she meets. Take the boy Gerald, who commits a heinous crime with his buddies and almost dies from food poisoning. Once recovered, Gerald Kline grows up to become an Anglican preacher dedicating his life to the Lord and helping the Aborigines.

This writer’s favorite character is Kirsten, an older student at Talbot who hates Maraglindi on sight. Maraglindi’s capacity for love eventually turns Kirsten around to become one of her best friends. How the author managed this miracle is told in a very dramatic scene that will keep readers breathless.

Guardian Angel is a sad but inspirational story that will leave readers with a strong sense of hope and a feeling that life has endless possibilities. Once we put the needs of others ahead of our own, we’ll begin to learn the lessons of universal love.

Jay Levy

Dr. Rich takes us back in time to another world in an effort to help us get perspective on the current mistreatment of others and the importance of upholding diversity through acceptance and love. His novel begins in a small town located in New South Wales, Australia, during Victorian times. It tells a story marked by the mistreatment of aboriginal people by white colonists/invaders. Maraglindi, an aborigine girl, was born out of the violent and hateful act perpetrated upon her mother who was raped. Nevertheless, or perhaps as testament to the spirit of peace and love, she becomes the ultimate guide to our redemption and ultimate salvation.

Maraglindi dies a violent death at a young age, but her spirit lives on. She is reincarnated and it soon becomes clear that she is a guardian angel striving to help create a better world by visiting the lives of others who have been stricken by violence, prejudice and intolerance. All who have their lives touched by Maraglindi’s loving spirit soon learn compassion for others and spread its message to their neighbors. Guardian Angel is a story well worth reading. It instills hope! When we join one another in community, as opposed to divisiveness and hatred, a better future awaits us all.

Jay S. Levy, LICSW

Jay is a social worker who has dedicated his life to working with homeless people, and is a leader in his field.

Margaret Tanner

Set in 1850’s Australia.

Glindi, an aboriginal woman, gives birth to a baby girl whom she names Maraglindi (Glindi’s sorrow).

Born during violent times when aboriginal men were mostly treated worse than their masters’ dogs, the woman suffered even more. Their only use was to satisfy their owner’s lust, and keep his house in order.

Against this horrific background the author has woven a rich story of love, hate, decency and depravity, that once you start reading you won’t be able to put it down until you have devoured every word.

It is obvious the author has done extensive historical research before he wrote this story.

Highly recommended.

Margaret Tanner

Margaret writes historical fiction in much the same era, and her books are gripping.

Rachael Kane

Guardian Angel by Bob Rich was a very enjoyable book. The characters were well developed, the story drew me in from the first few pages and I enjoyed how the story unfolded in an unpredictable way. Bob set the scene well and explained Aboriginal custom and nuances of that era of Australian history in an engaging way that would be accessible to a wide audience. I would recommend this book as a good read that provokes thought and reflection on a multitude of levels.

Rachael Kane

Rachael is a farrier, and can wield a heavy hammer as well as any male blacksmith.


About Bobbing Around

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About Dr Bob Rich

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