Bobbing Around Volume 19 Number 9

The [climate] crisis is not imminent. The crisis is here.
George Monbiot


[East] Antarctica is melting. Everywhere I looked, there was water rushing off the ice sheet, carving long ravines deep into the ice sheet, or pooling into supraglacial lakes.
Lewis Pugh, who swam 1 km in a water tunnel under a glacier.

Bobbing Around

Volume Nineteen, Number Nine,
March, 2020

Bob Rich’s rave

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*From me to you
Contest: please suggest an ending for this story
Letter to a politician
Up the climate revolution!

*New stuff

*Blog posts during February


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.


In the last 10 years, the Pacific Islands have experienced 77 intense tropical cyclones, which claimed a total of 141 lives; 12 of these tropical cyclones occurred during the off-season. Compared with other countries, these numbers may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that the total population in the South Pacific is a mere 2.5 million, those numbers hit hard.
Jacynta Fuamatu


There are plenty of examples of corporate entities and their representative associations lying about science, promoting bad science, burying good science, claiming that settled science is merely speculative, and otherwise muddying the public understanding of reality. Politicians of both major parties have served as useful idiots in this, and far too often as paid accomplices.
John Grant


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

Contest: please suggest an ending for this story
Letter to a politician
Up the climate revolution!

 

Contest: please suggest an ending for this story

I’ve written a story for a contest with a 1000 word limit. Deadline is 31st March.

It’s great until the last couple of paragraphs, but needs some PUNCH in the ending.

Any writer who makes a suggestion has earned a free edit of 5000 words. Anyone who hasn’t got something that needs editing may choose an electronic copy of any of my books.

Right, here is the story:

Phillip Giles arrived home from work as usual, to find the house silent. No kid noises, no clatter from the kitchen, no music from the radio… What’s going on?

Propped on the kitchen benchtop, he found a sealed envelope with his name on it, in Dani’s handwriting.
Heavens, has she left me? He ripped it open with trembling hands.

    Phil darling,

    First, know that I love you, and always have. That’s why I need to do what I’ve been thinking about for years. You don’t know it, but for 9 years, you’ve been married to a monster. You’re an attractive man, and won’t have any trouble finding a truly decent woman to take my place and be a mother to Lucas and Sophie.

    They deserve better than to have me as their mother. You deserve better than being married to a criminal.

    But I just can’t live with the guilt anymore.

    The kids are safe, at my mother’s place.

    I just couldn’t face the thought of telling you personally. It’s all in my tablet. The file is hidden with the title “Grandmother’s stories for the kids” and the password is gUILT123.

    With all my love,

    Danielle.

The piece of paper fluttered from his fingers. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think.

Where is she? Or… her body?

As if of their own volition, his legs started moving, and he rushed through the house. Everything was tidy as usual, nothing out of place, except, in their bedroom, the sports cupboard door was open. He looked in.

Her compressed air cylinder was still there, but the rest of her scuba kit was gone. His was all there — except for the weights.

He frantically pulled his phone from his pocket, fumbled pushing buttons, but at last heard the ring.

Roger answered, “Good afternoon, Magic Diving, how can I help ya?”

“Oh Rog, this is Phil Giles. You seen Dani?”

“Yeah, she was here just after lunch, took your dinghy out. Ain’t seen her since.”

“Please, quickly, find her!”

“Somethin’ wrong?”

“I think so.” He couldn’t help the tremble in his voice, and suddenly realized he stunk from cold sweat. Oh well, nobody here to smell him.

“OK, buddy, I’ll call ya back.”

He went to find her tablet, and the file.

    I don’t know whether to confess to the police, or just kill myself. But either way, darling Lucas and Sophie would find out that they have a disgusting monster for a mother, and if he knew, Phil would be sure to divorce me. Well, he wouldn’t divorce me if I was dead from suicide, but you know what I mean. I’ve got this horrid secret, and I can’t tell anyone. It’s a mountain of shit on my back, and oh, I wish I was never born. And even more, I wish I wasn’t so stupid at 14.

    I’ve been haunting advice columns on the internet, and they say to write down the stuff that hurts you. Only, what if someone reads it? I might as well go to the police… Hold it, going around and around again.

    So, I’m doing this on my tablet, not the computer, and it’s password locked, but I am still terrified. I’ve named the file “Grandmother’s stories for the kids,” hoping that’ll put any snooper off.
    OK, here goes. I close my eyes, and am back there, on the evening of my first babysitting job.

    ***

    So, this is what a penis looks like?

    OK, Jackie is only18 months, but as I wash him, I have a special little explore. He doesn’t mind, or when I dry him. After he’s in his pajamas, I sit in an armchair, with him between my legs, and read him a fun picture book with horses in it. We do a horsy game, and it feels… fun as he bounces up and down, with his padded little bottom rubbing on a special spot.

    Next day, Mrs. Rofeld phones Mom to say how well I’ve done with my babysitting, and can we make it weekly?

    The pocket money is great, and Jackie and I have fun together, and he always behaves for me, and also, we have our particular little secret fun.

    But today, there is a special school assembly. The Principal looks like she’s been crying. Ms. Crack-The-Whip crying? Unbelievable. She says, “Sandra Holding is in hospital. She is in a coma, and the doctors don’t know yet if she’ll live. She was raped and bashed, and I hope to God the criminals are not students in my school.”

    Sandra is a couple of years ahead of me, star student, good at everything, especially having boys run around her. Thank God I’m not pretty.

    But, starting that week, we have a special class on sex education and stuff.

The phone rang. “Roger here, Phil. Found your dinghy, anchored and empty. I’m calling the cops next.”

The phone fell from his hand.

DANI! he shouted, head raised to the ceiling. YOU WERE NOT A PEDOPHILE!

Young Jack Rofeld was the person who had introduced them; a fellow with no psychological hang-ups, a good friend to both of them. No damage, no crime, Phil thought. Besides, you were only a kid.

But it was too late. If only she’d talked with him about it…

The next few weeks were a blur. Later, Phil remembered taking Dani’s air bottle to the marina, and he and Rog raising the body… oh Heavens, hard to think of her as “a body,” and putting the bottle in place, and the Coroner saying it was an accident, and so her secret could stay a secret, protecting the kids as she’d wished.

Six months later, he had enough attention to research sexual activities between kids.

Pedophiles don’t feel guilt. If you feel guilty for childhood sex play, you’re not a monster.

Only, she could no longer hear him.


Letter to a politician

We are in the 6th extinction event of earth. This season’s bushfires have kicked us a fair way along the road to catastrophe.

Particularly bad is the mass death of small creatures at the base of food chains. And when we unravel the web of life, humans also fall through the hole.

“Salvage logging” condemns more forest creatures to death, adding to the damage. The cost is too much.

I live in Healesville, and daily see hordes of huge logging trucks carrying the so-far unburt forest away. Some of the trunks are ENORMOUS: ancient trees killed so that Vicforests can sell them at a near-loss.

We need those forests standing, as part of the effort to save all complex life.

Sincerely,
Bob Rich


Up the climate revolution!


Here I am, in my Greens T-shirt, gagged (because this was a silent protest), waving my poster. The other side had “STOP LOGGING.”

The poster is a bit of recycling: I glued together two bits of corflute from the last elections, with Greens candidate faces on them, then did the artwork on the back. I’m very proud of the handle: I shoved a handsaw up the middle, then used a little bolt to hold its end in place. You can see the bolt head just above the T.

My wife was worried that the police would arrest me for having a weapon, but in fact the opposite was the case. When on a protest, I always have a friendly chat with security guards and police. I tell them I’m there for their children, and that after all, it’s their planet, too.

One policewoman complimented me on the ingenuity of my handle. So, I avoided arrest, this time.



New stuff

Responses
Keppel Cassidy
Joy McLeary
Fiona Lemmon

Environment
How much can climate change affect us in the near future?

Psychology
My mother doesn’t care

Deeper Issues
If humans are the cancer of Earth, should they be eliminated?

Technology
Useful Mac advice

Reviews
Lost in Wonder by Matthew Buonocore
The movie, Anthropocene reviewed by John Platt
Two parenting books, by Laurie Zelinger
Connect by Ilchi Lee
The Binge Cure, by Nina Savelle-Rocklin
Corrupted Science by John Grant, self-reviewed in The Revelator

Poetry
Times Long Ago, by Danielle Tindle

Fun
The genius of officialdom
Do skydivers need a parachute?


Responses

Keppel Cassidy
Joy McLeary
Fiona Lemmon

 

Keppel Cassidy

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the link to your blog post, which was enjoyable and inspiring. Your love for life and humanity really shines through, as well as the pain of loss which is the price of environmental and social awareness, and also a strength born of your connection to Buddhist teachings and practice. I feel like the big questions of life and death are coming to the fore in this time of global existential crisis, and for many people without any kind of a ‘bigger picture’ perspective they can be shattering, as you allude to in your post.

I too believe in a higher evolutionary process at work in the cosmos and humanity, and the notion that repeated Earthly lives are necessary to awaken to a sense of intelligent compassion for other life forms as part of, rather than separate from us has always made sense to me. I have been a spiritual seeker for many years, and nowadays I feel most aligned with both Anthroposophical (or ‘pagan Christian’) teachings and indigenous spiritual knowledge and wisdom. But I have a great deal of respect for Buddhism, and particularly the deep understanding that Buddhists have acquired about the process of overcoming egotism. I think this is perhaps the most critical task for humanity at this time, because egotism (fear, greed, anger, selfishness, etc.) is what has got us to the perilous state we are in now. I think a shift in consciousness away from egotism and towards ‘conscious connectedness’ is essential if we are to avoid (or at least ameliorate) the impending environmental catastrophe — techno-fixes just won’t cut it, as ‘The Limits to Growth’ report made crystal clear so many years ago. To quote scientist Gus Speth:

“I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”

Buddhists, Anthroposophists, many Aboriginal elders and many contemplative, visionary practitioners from other religions do know how to ‘do that’ though, so this wisdom is especially needed now. Somehow it feels important to me to combine the seeking for personal growth and transformation with community and planetary service — which is why I’m in the Greens too, while participating in local community groups as well. I love what you say about the importance of doing something in your local community to help others. I think a spiritual perspective helps us to see that no kindness is wasted, each is part of a gradual transformative and healing process that humanity must undergo. And it is reassuring to find a place of trust that this process will continue, even if takes the ending of one planetary chapter to enable a critical mass to awaken (and I have some kind of naive faith that life on Earth and some humans may survive this catastrophe, even if in a vastly diminished form — who knows if this is based on intuition or just wishful thinking?).

Some time ago I attended a Tasmanian forests rally with numerous speakers, many of whom were very angry about the Tasmanian government’s plans to log old growth forests. But I remember that the speakers who made the biggest impression on me were an aboriginal elder and a Buddhist, because both of them radiated hope and determination rather than anger and fear. Perhaps this is one of the gifts of those of us in the environmental movement who have a spiritual grounding. In any case it’s good to know I’m not the only one in the Greens who is travelling this journey!

Warm regards,

Keppel

Keppel is the co-convenor and I am the secretary of the “Victorian Country Greens Network.” You can see why I feel honoured to collaborate with him.


Joy McLeary

Hi Bob,

A response. Wow… [to No, I won’t jump off the planet] where to begin? I’m in accord with all you say. I hope there is still hope for our planet and all our grandchildren.

I tend to go to actions but I admit that is probably driven by a need to avoid feelings of helplessness and despair. It helps to be among like-minded folk. Hence the recent encircling of parliament and plans to volunteer at the Tarkine.

The political scene at present is reminiscent of the early 20th century with the frightening rise of right-wing ideology. However, at least people back then were praised for frugality rather than encouraged to overspend. Capitalism!

Like you, we keep our power needs low with solar, shop at op shops (at least that way, one avoids buying directly from sweat shops), grow much of our own veggies etc. Is it enough?? I don’t believe so; but it makes us feel better.

Religion? I agree if it meant that the compassionate attitudes of The Masters were adhered to. However, the evangelicals scare me. They seem to believe in a quite different Christ. I call him American Jesus. American Jesus Is capitalist Jesus.

Similarly, Jihadists are extreme in their hatred of non-believers. The Hindu PM Modi discriminates against Moslems. Buddhism is more self-contained and espouses compassion. Sadly, it often seems to be accompanied by a very annoying spiritual ego. I adhere to none of them. But I do experience spirituality. I meditate and, like you, suspect we live many lives. I hope there will still be a liveable planet next time around. 🙂

Anyway, I love what you do. We have to keep knocking on the door. Pushing for the truth. Waving the flag for science.

I think our main obstacle in Australia is the great complacency; the forgetfulness that sets in once the media changes focus.

Yes, we need to get Greens into parliament. However, I am pleased to note that the business council, investment groups and such, due to market forces, are stepping up. We have to hope that their pressure (and ours!) will outweigh that of the fossil fuel giants.

We can’t afford to give up hope.

It is so important that country people see the light and turn away from the crazy Right-wing parties they have always leant towards.

Cheers,
Joy

Joy is also on the Victorian Country Greens Network, representing her branch of the Greens


Fiona Lemmon

Thank you, Bob, sending you birthday greetings. 77 is a pleasing number, isn t it?
I know that little ode of old albeit with a slight variance to your version.
I am a fan of limericks. Do you know this one?

            There was a young man from Japan
            Whose limericks never would scan.
            When told it was so,
            He replied “Yes, I know,
            But I always try to get as many words into the last line as ever I possibly can.”

I hope it brings a smile to your face along with lots of other things and experiences on this, your special day.
Fiona


Environment

How much can climate change affect us in the near future?

I am somewhat tired of answering questions on Quora, but occasionally, I get incensed by the ill-informed, even stupid answers.

Please read my response to a question to someone experiencing rational anxiety.


Psychology

My mother doesn’t care

At the suicide prevention blog, a young person posted, “My mom had found razors etc. and other stuff and she doesn’t care.”

Here is my answer:

First, you don’t know that she doesn’t care. That is your interpretation of what she has done. But it is also possible that she found it so overwhelming that she emotionally ran away. Just like cutting is running away from emotional pain, “do nothing, say nothing, see nothing” is running away when things get so bad you want to collapse and die. Maybe that was her reaction.

Second, suppose your theory is correct. She doesn’t care. That says nothing bad about you, but a lack in her. If for some reason she really doesn’t care that you are suffering, then the way to defy her is to build a good life for yourself anyway.

When you cut, when you do anything she can use as evidence that you are not worth caring about, then she wins. When you look the world in the eyes and face your challenges, and grow as a person, you prove her wrong.

We are here for you.

Your grandfather,
Bob


Deeper Issues

If humans are the cancer of Earth, should they be eliminated?

This was a question someone asked somewhat more verbosely. You may approve of my answer.


Technology

Useful Mac advice

I use a Macbook Pro, and my daughter Anina is to blame. When she was doing her postoc at Harvard, my wife and I visited her, this kind of thing being one of the few exceptions to my refusal to contribute to climate change by flying. She’d just bought a Mac, and made me copy her, using her student discount, there and then. And I am an obedient father…

That was now many years ago, but I still have a somewhat ancient, second hand Mac, which has started to slow rather drastically.

I found very helpful, relevant advice here. If you have a Mac, this link is good to keep handy.


Reviews

Lost in Wonder by Matthew Buonocore
The movie, Anthropocene reviewed by John Platt
Two parenting books, by Laurie Zelinger
Connect by Ilchi Lee
The Binge Cure, by Nina Savelle-Rocklin
Corrupted Science by John Grant, self-reviewed in The Revelator

 

Lost in Wonder by Matthew Buonocore

When I read, I like to get immersed in a story. Poetry doesn’t allow this, so I thought twice before accepting a review copy of this collection of poems from Matthew Buonocore.

I made the exception because each of these little snippets of thought expresses exactly my philosophy. Matthew and I are kindred spirits, on the same path.

The reason for life is to progress in spiritual growth, until we reach enlightenment. In our very different ways, Matthew and I are showing you the path for achieving the meaning of life: Love; seeking god inside instead of chasing happiness outside; inner beauty.

My roadmap is a story. Matthew’s is a few carefully chosen words that force you to think, and then to feel.

You can’t race through this book. I suggest, read one poem, then let it germinate before reading the next. This may give you months of meditation in words.

If thoughtful, gentle inspiration is your thing, you can’t go past this jewellery case of a book.


The movie, Anthropocene reviewed by John Platt

The review itself is a piece of masterful writing. Having read it, you will want to see the movie, although in a way it is real-life horror.

You will understand humanity’s suicidal attack on its own life support system, and that’s a necessity.


Two parenting books, by Dr Laurie Zelinger

Please explain time out by Laurie and Fred Zelinger

The first half of this delightful little picture book is for kids, from a typical elementary schoolboy’s point of view. Our young hero covers the situations in which a wise parent or teacher will apply the behavior management technique of “time out,” very much from how it feels for the child. We follow his progression from resentment to acceptance, and then to a positive use of the situation, and see how his motivation changes.

What is better, a child reading the book, or listening to an adult reading it, will learn these lessons, with a few laughs on the way.

Then there is a detailed instructional section for parents.

If the principles of this book are conscientiously applied, they will result in well-behaved children who grow into resilient, mentally healthy adults.

Please Explain Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy to Me by Laurie and Perry Zelinger

The worst hour in my life as a young man was when my little daughter caught her finger in a door, and I needed to support her through a minor operation. This is very different from a planned operation like a tonsillectomy, but it would have helped me to have the kind of information in this little book.

While Doctors Zelinger focus on the specifics of a very frequent childhood surgical procedure, the attitudes, techniques and activities they recommend could be applied to many other parenting situations. In a way, this book is a case study for evidence-based good parenting.

However, it addition, it does give very specific recommendations on how parents should handle this potentially devastating situation, making it trauma-free for all the people involved.


Connect by Ilchi Lee

I find the Shintoist saying, “There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain” to be very apt when I read books about meditation. On the surface, this book of Korean-based practice is different from anything I’ve examined before, and yet it is very much the same principles, applied very similarly, but using different language, different metaphors.

Many of the meditations are in effect guided imagery, which I know to work from experience. I’ve used this kind of tool for myself, and for my clients. I have tried them out while reading, and they work — as long as one enters the frame of reference provided. Disbelief, scepticism, is the only thing that can interfere with spiritual growth when applying such techniques.

So, with this proviso, I am delighted to be able to recommend this beautifully written meditation guide.


The Binge Cure, by Nina Savelle-Rocklin

Our actions have meaning, and often this meaning is hidden from us. This is one of the oldest established findings of psychology, and Nina’s main tool in enabling people to cure themselves of compulsive eating.

Actually, using food to cope with unconscious processes is a case study. The same logic could, and in fact should, be applied to all sorts of other behaviors, for example gambling, chemical addictions, retail therapy, or physical self-harm.

The Binge Cure is based on science, and obviously, decades of therapeutic experience. It is also very clearly written and set out, with many case studies to illustrate Nina’s points, and clear summaries of information she covers.

Here is the heart of Nina’s message: “As counterintuitive as it may sound, the only way to get rid of emotions is to actually feel them. By expressing and processing what’s going on inside, those feelings evaporate and you no longer feel that urge to binge.”

Obesity is one of the epidemics of our times. People rightly blame the kinds of foods we eat, the advertising industry, and the sedentary habits of the modern lifestyle. Several huge industries exist to deal with the issue. But Nina’s approach is more powerful. Look beneath the urge to overeat, and to eat the wrong stuff, and you can free yourself of food addiction.

Highly recommended.


Corrupted Science by John Grant, self-reviewed in The Revelator


This is an important, readable essay about a book that’s essential reading.

A great majority of our problems today are there because of covert, underhand attacks about science. The perpetrators are the giant corporations, which of course exist thanks to the benefits of science.

And the attitude that permits it is, “Who cares? We’ll be dead by then.”

Only, of course things always go faster than humans predict. The disasters due to these attitudes are history in some places, present right now, and are rapidly growing.

Please take a few minutes to read this essay, even if you don’t read the book.


Poetry

Times Long Ago, by Danielle Tindle

            Oh how I long for the times long ago
            When I walked through the woods
            And trod through the snow
            When I searched for some dry wood
            To kindle the fire
            These were the days before the clothes dryer.

            Entertainment was simple
            We just had the flicks
            Or listened to the wireless
            Or did a few tricks.
            But now life is hectic
            We’re all on the go
            We drive around in cars
            And never go slow.

            We live in a city of cement and brick
            It’s becoming unhealthy
            And we’re all getting sick.

Danielle is my dear friend Elizabeth Tindle’s daughter who has died of cancer after a long struggle. She wrote this in 1991, when she was in Grade 7.


Fun

The genius of officialdom
Do skydivers need a parachute?

 

The genius of officialdom

An Italian man has been living in Britain since 1966. Now, because of Brexit, he needs to prove his identity in order to stay. So, he got a request to provide a statement from his parents.

The problem? He is 101 years old.

Um…


Do skydivers need a parachute?

A randomised controlled trial, the “gold standard” of research, demonstrated that the control group, who wore an empty backback, suffered no more injuries than the group with parachutes.

Only, it was jumping a couple of feet to the ground, from a parked plane.

The point of the study was to laugh at “parachute journalism:” Read a research paper’s title and half the abstract, and rush to publish something about it.



Posts during February

ENVIRONMENT

Does bike riding have a carbon footprint?

Bumbling toward extinction

GOOD NEWS

India will stop importing thermal coal by 2024

Great Australian Bight SAVED

POLITICS

Labor politician’s call to action on climate

COMPASSION

Short boy finds people with big hearts

INSPIRATION

An inspiring modern explorer

What money is really for: Quaden Bayles’ family shows the world how to be a human

Disaster relief that addresses the cause of the disaster

Two of my favourite young women meet

PSYCHOLOGY

How to talk to anyone on a controversial topic

DEEPER ISSUES

Web intelligence is about spiders.

LOOK OVER A WRITER’S SHOULDER

No, I won’t jump off the planet This my part in this month’s Rhobin’s Rounds, but also, it turned into a major essay, and a source of strength in catastrophic times.

Hit and Run is now available as a paperback
hitandrun-thumb


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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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