Bobbing Around Volume 19 Number 5

What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
Confucius (and all other mature spirits).

This (dead baby) turtle, which would fit in the palm of your hand, had eaten 104 pieces of plastic.
South Florida Sun Sentinel

2019 has already set a dangerous record: More people displaced by disasters in the first 6 months than any other year.
Heather Shelby, Environmental Defense Fund

Bobbing Around

Volume Nineteen, Number Five,
November, 2019

Bob Rich’s rave

email    previous issues

*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions

Comments are welcome — on the bottom of every post and page here, including this one.

*From me to you
Guest post from a new friend
Bob Rich bones up on marketing
Thank you, Joan
46th recipient of LiFE Award: Literature For the Environment
Letter to a wannabe mass murderer

*New stuff

*Blog posts during October

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.

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.
Will Rogers

In 2013, 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from tropical deforestation. (It’s worse now.) The major culprit is palm oil.
Union of Concerned Scientists

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.

From me to you

Guest post from a new friend
Bob Rich bones up on marketing
Thank you, Joan
46th recipient of LiFE Award: Literature For the Environment
Letter to a wannabe mass murderer



For months now, I’ve had a dry spell: I want to write, but the juices aren’t flowing. It hasn’t been writer’s block as such, but much more like repression I’ve observed with my clients who have a terrible need to keep something from consciousness.

The other morning, sadly, I’ve realised, that’s exactly what it is.

Since February, 2015, the centre of my creative life has been the Doom Healer series. I’ve lived as much in that world as in the one outside my computer. Since it’s my creation, I am no doubt biased, but I am convinced, my Bill Sutcliffe has the potential to join Harry Potter.


The story is set in our world, with the whole planet as its stage, and current times. And this world is changing so fast that anything written a few years ago is as dated as ancient history. No one can join into the created reality of the story if it departs too far from common knowledge.

There is the planetary disaster named Donald Trump. Then Bolsonaro in Brazil. There is the wonderful ascension of Greta Thunberg to world influence. And now, as the final thump in my guts, is stupid Trump giving the Turkish president permission to attack the Kurds, with Putin laughing his head off at his victory in international chess.

None of this exists within my writing. I could revise everything, but guaranteed, by the time I managed to do so, there’d be new, unexpected events. A global financial crash? The second American Civil War? Britain rejoining the European Union? Pope Francis performing public miracles and uniting much of humanity into following Jesus’ message? In our world, nothing seems to be impossible.

So, I feel I have three choices.

1. Put four years of passionate work into a dusty drawer within my computer.

2. Completely rewrite so the setting is somewhere and sometime different, you know, like Star Wars.

3. Make it clear from the first word that this is an alternate reality, and the events of our day are irrelevant. In December, 2018 I did just that, and wrote a preface to the first volume. Later, on Caitlin Jans’ advice, I discarded it. If you have the time and inclination please read it and let me know if it, or something like it, would solve my problem.

Guest post from a new friend

Makesh was born in India, but got his Ph.D. in environmental science in the USA. We “met” on Quora, where we both answer environmental questions. He liked my answers, so checked out How to change the world. It was such an exact parallel to his philosophy that he has written a guest post for Bobbing Around: A path from achievement to satisfaction. He chose to have it go live on Sunday, 27th October, because that day is the Diwali Light Festival. Diwali symbolises the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” Light is a metaphor for knowledge and consciousness.

Bob Rich bones up on marketing

This is Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s tongue in cheek title for my review of William Ammerman’s The Invisible Brand. While you can read the review below, you will find Carolyn’s site to be a treasure trove of excellent books you may not hear about otherwise.

Thank you, Joan

I follow Joan Edwards’ Blog for several reasons. This lady has helped me in many ways. We share a philosophy, although she sees it as Christianity, while I follow the same injunctions as a Buddhist. And we have become good friends over the years.

So, when she posts something, I visit, and make a comment. Sometimes, she offers a prize to a randomly chosen commenter, but that’s not my reason. I’d do it out of interest, and to support her, regardless.

All the same, this time I won the prize. It is not anything you could buy for money, or sell for money, which is why it is precious to me. Money isn’t worth what it costs.

What I got is a list of blessings:

    1. I have an abundance of all that I need.
    2. I receive more of all for which I am thankful.
    3. I trust my gut feelings (instinct, wisdom, heart) to decide action to take toward my goals.
    4. I forgive myself and others.
    5. God created me to do something no one else can do for our earth and its people.
    6. I love being me.
    7. God gives me strength of mind, body, and spirit to solve problems in my life.
    8. I reward myself for completing projects.
    9. I am determined.
    10. God answers my prayers in ways that are even better than what I ask.
    11. The good I do for others comes back to me.

46th recipient of LiFE Award: Literature For the Environment

This is Anthony Mays’ new novel, Halfway to MMXX The Year 2020: It Begins. From the samples I’ve read as part of the assessment, it’s a page-turner.

Tony has a previous book on the list of recipients, and I am pleased that he has come back with his new work.

Letter to a wannabe mass murderer

Clive Palmer is a colourful Australian billionaire who made his fortune from, let’s say sharp, real estate dealings. At one stage, he spent up big, and got elected into Australia’s federal parliament. There, he was known as the MP who wasn’t: he hardly attended any sessions. Ego satisfied, he didn’t stand for reelection. However, some of what he did during that time was noteworthy. For example, he paid for Al Gore to visit Australia and talk about the need for action on climate change.

People outside Australia may or not be aware of a huge attack on the biosphere: plans for mining coal in the Carmichael Basin of Queensland. The leading figure has been Indian businessman (and proven criminal protected by his, um, friendship, with top politicians) Gautam Adani. If the Adani coal mine goes ahead, it will produce more greenhouse gases than many entire countries.

A year ago, Australia had another election. Clive Palmer stood for the Senate, and paid for someone to stand in every seat in the House of Representatives. He then spent 60 million dollars on advertising (while he owed 700 million dollars to his employees in a failed business venture). He didn’t get elected, and not one of his minions did, but that was not the point of the exercise. Thanks to his influence, the reactionary, climate change denying dinosaur government got back in with a very narrow majority.

And now comes the payoff: Clive has reopened an application for a coal mine in the Carmichael Basin, FOUR TIMES the size of the Adani mine. Here is my letter to him:

Dear Mr Palmer,
People have accused you of many things, but being stupid is not one of them. You are intelligent and creative, but this carries a responsibility.

Coal kills.

I know that, unlike many other public figures, you are aware of the evidence. Remember your old mate, Al Gore?

If you succeed in mining coal, you will be among the small, select group of ultimate criminals who will kill billions. Hitler and Stalin combined can’t hold a candle to those pushing to keep humanity’s addiction to carbon fed.

Perhaps fortunately, coal is a rapidly dying industry. Money you put into your coal mine venture will be stranded assets. If you don’t believe me, hire a bright 16 year old to research the evidence.

Why not climb out of 19th century thinking, into the 21st century, and invest your wealth, intelligence and creativity into survival instead of extinction?

Bob Rich, PhD

New stuff

Good news
Renewables winning faster than expected

Stealing from people with disabilities

Inner beauty
1% for the planet

My past mistake keeps torturing me
Body Dysmorphic Disorder and beautiful people
Everything is going wrong in my life

Deeper Issues
Peter Gibilisco on what’s wrong with the neoliberal interpretation of meritocracy

I approve of these announcements
Medecins sans Frontieres

The Invisible Brand, by William Ammerman
Quantum mechanics for kids, by Christopher Gilbert

The crown of creation?

Good news

Renewables winning faster than expected

This report by Jillian Ambrose in the Guardian puts the fossil fuel industry on notice. According to her, they could be history by 2030.

That’s still too slow for my liking, but great news all the same.


Stealing from people with disabilities

Australia’s government has been very proud of balancing its budget. But if you look not very deeply, this was achieved by deliberately implementing a particular law as slowly as possible.

Please read what Peter Gibilisco has to say about it.


Inner beauty
1% for the planet


Inner beauty

Melissa Blake has a genetic condition that mars her physically, but there is nothing wrong with her intelligence, perceptiveness, passion and caring. Please read her inspiring story.

In My Amanda, one of the award-winning short stories in Striking Back from Down Under, my narrator Ramesh says,

            Beauty is a tree.
            Inner beauty is the timber that makes a tree a tree.
            Outer beauty is only the bark, of no use whatever.

I tweeted this to Melissa.

1% for the planet

Twenty years ago, this mob got together to prevent climate change. They are still working away, but now to reduce its terrible impacts. I guess their 1%-based fundraising didn’t match the billions the fossil fuel industries have invested in global suicide.

They are wonderful. Please read about the long list of terrific projects they support.

“As experts in environmental philanthropy, our team strategically partners members with nonprofit organizations to ensure each 1% commitment makes the most impact possible.”


My past mistake keeps torturing me
Body Dysmorphic Disorder and beautiful people
Everything is going wrong in my life


My past mistake keeps torturing me

About a year ago, a young woman contacted me because she was eaten up by guilt. When she was about 12, she sexually self-stimulated herself by rubbing against a little toddler boy on her lap.

She has just emailed me after some months of no contact: she has had a relapse into guilt. She knows the little boy was not damaged, and has no memory of the event. When she reads my questions-and-answers with other people who had done something similar, she can see there is no guilt. But when it applies to herself, she is in despair.

This is what I wrote to her:

My dear, I have a simple answer for you. Those self-torturing thoughts are a habit, like chewing fingernails, or saying “um” in every sentence, or doing tasks in a particular order.

In your head, you know there is no need for self-reproach. When you look at the situation as it applies to someone else, you can make an intelligent, rational judgment. You need to move this insight from head to guts, and the way to do it is to break the habit of these repetitive thoughts.

Please read how to break a habit.

Have you read my page designed to help the (surprisingly many) people in your situation, who wrongly self-assess themselves as sexual abusers?

I deal with this kind of issue in more detail in my book From Depression to Contentment. I am happy to email you a copy, or you can buy one for a few dollars.

Those thoughts are only noise, until you buy into them. Imagine you’re in your home and the neighbour’s TV is on, and you can hear it. You can choose to annoy yourself by shining the spotlight of attention on that noise, and wanting it to go away. Or you can allow it to be there, so what, and focus on what you are doing. So, rather than be tortured by the thoughts, they are allowed to be there, but you don’t need to listen to them.

In addition, you can set up a competing habit. Whenever you catch yourself self-bashing, you can immediately say something else to yourself. Design one that works best for you — we are all different. It could be:
“I am now a better person because I made that mistake.”
“GO AWAY, stupid thought.”
“That was then and now is now.”
“He is fine. I am fine. It’s OK.”
“Poor little thought. Go back to sleep.”
“Blah blah blah.”

Body Dysmorphic Disorder and beautiful people

I have been struggling with BDD for a year now, ever since moving to NYC — a place polluted with celebrities and models — my insecurities around my appearance have exacerbated. I’m not interested in why I’m feeling this way, but rather the from the others’ perspective. What is it that draws us to good-looking people, not necessarily for romantic or sexual engagement but for other reasons i.e., social.

Can you tell me why am I more inclined/motivated to be friends with attractive people? Even if they have the personality of bread?

Dear Rick,

As it happens, I’ve just made a blog post about a remarkable lady. Please read her story. She was born with a genetic condition that has resulted in many operations, being restricted to a wheelchair — and a physical appearance that can only be described as ugly. When you read her essay, though, you’ll see that this has made her a stronger, better, and MORE BEAUTIFUL person. This is inner beauty, which is what matters. When you describe those Barbie and Ken dolls as having “the personality of bread,” you are describing their lack of inner beauty.

I tweeted Melissa Blake this little saying, which is from one of my short stories in the collection “Striking Back from Down Under” you’ll find at my blog, Bobbing Around:

    Beauty is a tree.
    Inner beauty is the timber that makes a tree a tree.
    Outer beauty is only the bark, of no use whatever.

OK, for some reason, you formed the habit of focusing your attention on people’s outer beauty, and there are some aspects of your appearance you don’t like. I don’t know what they are. May be a bald spot, or a long nose, or a short nose, or a crooked one. It may be acne scars, or uneven teeth, or… I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.

I listed these, because I know people who display each of these, and don’t mind. Because they don’t mind, other people don’t, either. For example, I used to know a teenage boy with jumbled teeth. Despite this, there were always gorgeous girls hanging around him. Had he been self-conscious about his teeth, he would have sent out subtle signals that he disliked his appearance — and others would have focused in on it.

Attention is a searchlight. Whatever it shines on stands out. Whatever it doesn’t stays in shadow. This boy’s attention allowed his intelligence, creativity, helpfulness, sense of humour — and attractive aspects of his appearance — to stand out.

So, choose your friends according to their inner beauty. Whatever imperfections you think your face or body has only matter if they matter to you. Be inspired by Melissa Blake, and wear them proudly like a banner.

Your new grandfather,

Everything is going wrong in my life

I hurt my foot and my hand working. My life is a mess, my parents are always fighting or in a bad mood. People always in my way. Is there anything I can do?

Colin my young friend,

You are facing problems, like being injured and I assume off work. Hopefully, it’s covered by insurance, but even if it is, the pain and (hopefully temporary) disability are annoying. And your home situation is distressing.

A problem either has a solution, or it doesn’t. I suspect that, partly because of your injuries, you need to live with your parents for now. You could ask them to have something like a formal appointment with you. When the three of you are together, tell them, respectfully in an even tone of voice, how their fighting and bad moods affect you. Tell them from me that there are other ways. Ask both of them to read my summary of how to have a good relationship, and what to do about a bad one.

If they can afford it, one or two sessions with a good relationship counsellor or psychologist could help them to improve their time together.

But let’s look at dealing with problems that have no solution. Even then, you can live a good life. Everybody has problems. What counts is how we react to them.

I can’t give you a course of therapy in a short reply like this, but for a few dollars you can grab an electronic copy of From Depression to Contentment: A self-therapy guide.

If you follow that program, you could turn your life around — regardless of your situation.

In fact, look at it like this. When everything goes just right, there is no reason to make changes. It is when we have difficulties that we are motivated to grow. Your current situation could be the spur to get you to become a better, stronger person.

You are welcome to email me back,

Deeper Issues

Peter Gibilisco on what’s wrong with the neoliberal interpretation of meritocracy

Peter’s body severely malfunctions in many ways, but there is nothing wrong with his intelligence, thoughtfulness and decency.

Australia’s Prime Minister (Scott Morrison, who would like to be called ScoMo) belongs to a version of Christianity Jesus would consider to be blasphemy. Many of their basic beliefs are directly contradicted in the Bible. A key one is, if you are wealthy it’s because you deserve to have done well. If you are poor, it just has to be punishment for making wrong choices.

You may be interested to read Peter’s incisive rebuttal.

I approve of these announcements

Medecins sans Frontieres

They ALWAYS need your help. Currently, as always, they are risking their lives in the worst hellholes on earth, including Yemen.

Please give what you can.


The Invisible Brand, by William Ammerman
Quantum mechanics for kids, by Christopher Gilbert


The Invisible Brand, by William Ammerman

This book was offered to me for review by the Nonfiction Authors’ Association. I was tempted to turn it down, because marketing is not a particular interest of mine, but read the first few pages, and realized that yes, it is highly relevant to me, because it is highly relevant to everyone. I started reading the book to review it. I kept reading with interest and even fascination because I needed to know what it taught me.

I am an immensely non-consuming person. Marketers have no influence on me — or so I thought. All the same, Mr. Ammerman has shown me that I am as vulnerable as anyone to covert, invisible manipulation. And if I am, you are, too, only probably more so.

This book is a map to a new, foreign land where monsters lurk. You need the book to avoid being eaten. Here is just one quote: “The science of persuasion is uncovering these unconscious reflexes that trigger specific behaviors. In fact, these reflexes can be so powerful that, even when we become aware of them, we find them hard to overcome.” (p 50)

Computers can now beat world champions in the real thinking games: chess and Go. They can get you to love them. The same tools, applied to making us into puppets is a marketer’s dream, but more like a nightmare to me. I think my Luddite intuition is correct: I am not welded to a phone, and apart from banking, only use the internet for purposes I don’t mind being known to the shadowy puppet-masters.

It is a difficult task to write engagingly, even amusingly about a highly technical subject, but Mr. Ammerman manages to do so. For me, it is a good day when I learn something new. This book taught me lots, much of it very useful to protect myself in a Brave New World.

Quantum mechanics for kids, by Christopher Gilbert

I am pretty well versed in the facts of physics. All the same, already on page 9, I learned something from the 12-year-old author: the explanation for the development of both Einstein’s relativity theories, and quantum mechanics. Relativity deals with the very fast, quantum with the very small.

Young Chris does as good a job of explaining the concepts and findings of quantum mechanics in plain language as anyone — but, despite the claims in the book, I think a person new to them will still be floundering. The only way of understanding physics is through the mathematics. And while he has an admirably thorough grasp of his subject matter, and does a great job of explaining it, it’ll take a highly intelligent kid — or adult — to follow his exposition.

One of the problems most people face is the terminology. Chris does his best, and uses some good reminders. Going back to the roots of the terms in ancient languages is helpful. All the same, some rote learning is still necessary.

He deserves 5 stars for several reasons: his youth, the sense of humor permeating even the glossary at the end (well worth reading for a few chuckles), and that, yes, an intelligent person will gain from reading the book.


The crown of creation?

Fiona Lemmon and I were having an email chat. She said she was going look after an old friend who was about to have a second hip replacement, so I said, my tin hips are the healthiest part of me, and I am in line for a total body replacement. Only, I don’t want a human body next time.

She asked me to explain what’s wrong with it, so, OK, here is a partial list.

Let’s start at the top. How logical is it to put the vulnerable brain out on a stalk? Octopuses have their brains (all 9 of them) well protected in the middle. Ours is so exposed, we need a bony case for them, which then leads to the danger of concussion. And strangling the stalk cuts off blood, and the weight of the skull can lead to whiplash. And all because a somewhat long-ago ancestor was a worm.

We can’t see around a full circle. Rabbits, sheep and hammerhead sharks do better than us, and anyway why limit the number of eyes to two?

One of the craziest design faults is the crossover between the eating and breathing bits. That’s there because a slightly more recent ancestor was a fish, who developed a flotation bladder. The fish swallowed air to fill it. Later, we crawled out onto land, and the bladder became our lungs, but jeesh, couldn’t the overlap be eliminated? Next time your food goes down the wrong way, think of this.

The human spine is the best evidence for evolution. It’s clearly designed to be horizontal, with a leg at each corner. Hands up, anyone who hasn’t had a backache. And the height of illogicality is to put the main communication channel inside a Lego column of vulnerable blocks. In a well-designed person, the nerves would pass down a protected tube right in the middle of the body, with the major blood vessels and stuff.

Then there are breasts. Many mammalian species have the feeding apparatus practically disappear, except when needed. And there is no correlation between size and functionality. You can be big and dry, big and bountiful, small and decorative only, or small and flowing like a fountain.

While we’re on the female reproductive system, it’s so badly designed that people who take the Bible literally reckon it’s God’s punishment for the apple. I don’t believe this for two reasons. One is, God cannot be that vindictive. Second, anthropoid apes do things the same way. Ms. Chimp didn’t get a bite of the apple in the Garden of Eden, did she? For that matter, did you know that elephant shrews menstruate? (Only the female ones. Is that fair?)

Oh, I missed out on the armpit. Why on earth is it designed to stink before any other part of the anatomy?

Then there is water. Birds sensibly conserve it by concentrating waste products into poop only. We mammals can be thirsty, while bursting for a wee. We can wake with a dry mouth and a full bladder.

I could keep going, but this’ll do. In my last life, I was a thinking plant that walked around, and had NOT ONE of these problems. If you don’t believe me, read Ascending Spiral.

Posts during October


What’s wrong with nuclear power, from Friends of the Earth

A trustworthy source of climate news
That’s the Copernicus Institute.

The 20 companies guilty of ecocide

In defence of a fine young woman


Australian engineers look to the climate


America misled: the climate liars


Two of my favourite people on this planet, shaking hands.


Being of benefit is better than having more money

The story of an enlightened spirit

The people’s architect

Greta’s wisdom
Why I approve of Greta’s decision to decline a big award.


Quora answer on choosing to be childfree


Hey, what? My October post in Rhobin’s Rounds.


Yvonne Rowan reviews From Depression to Contentment

The Story of Plastic: a movie reviewed in The Revelator

About Bobbing Around

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Contributions are welcome, although I reserve the right to decline anything, or to request changes before acceptance. Welcome are:

  • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
  • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
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Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

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About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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2 Responses to Bobbing Around Volume 19 Number 5

  1. Dr Bob Rich says:

    How dare you call me fun? I am a grumpy old man! It’s only that other people laugh at me, and that makes them fun.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Bob,
    How cool that you shared the blessings I gave you as a prize for leaving a comment on my blog!
    You are kind and fun.

    Liked by 1 person

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