You don’t need to hear both sides of the story if it’s raining outside. It’s just raining outside.
Michael West on a “balanced view” on things like climate science and government corruption.
I have zero influence on world affairs, but I do have influence on my reactions to it.
Volume Twenty-one, Number Twelve,
23 June, 2022
Bob Rich’s rave
*About Bobbing Around
guidelines for contributions
Comments are welcome — on the bottom of every post and page here, including this one.
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* From me to you
Email to people with power over power
Protecting nature protectors
Another on the same issue, to my MPs
From me to you
After an ultramarathon election campaign, with a hernia operation at its tail end, I have now returned to life, sort of. After the operation, the surgeon told me, “For the next six weeks, no exercise at all, except for walking.” So, I engaged in many hours of letterboxing, and over a two-week period did four-hour shifts handing out how-to-vote cards at prepolling.
Here is a strange thing I learned. Being an old man, I normally need to empty the bladder frequently. During those four-hour shifts, I felt no urge to do so, despite occasional sips of water, and a cup of coffee. As soon as the shift was over, I needed to GO.
This is more evidence: belief shapes reality. I knew I couldn’t go, so I didn’t need to. This is a resource for anything else in the future, one I am happy to share with you.
Email to people with power over power
Many years ago, the “Australian Gas Light company” was a leader in modernity. You know, gas lights? When electricity came along, they were flexible and went with the change. AGL is now the biggest provider of power in Australia.
However, the flexibility has gone the same way as that of my body: the people running this business have done everything possible to stick with coal instead of switching to the future.
Greenpeace Australia has organised an email deluge to the two new Board members who have replaced those responsible for the dinosaur attitude.
Here is my contribution:
For centuries, each generation has stolen from its future. This is it: there is no more future to steal from.
It’s official: we are in the 6th extinction event of earth, and the climate catastrophe is a big part of that.
I commend you for stepping forward at this critical time to help transform AGL into a climate powerhouse instead of a climate criminal.
Please do your best to save a tomorrow for the young people of today.
Bob Rich, PhD
Protecting nature protectors
A protest letter:
Dear Premier Daniel Andrews,
I admire the many ways you have acted with environmental responsibility, steered Victoria through the worst of the pandemic, and generally been one of the best premiers this state has had.
There is one exception: Vicforests.
We cannot do without our native forests. I am sure you are aware of their many essential benefits including carbon storage, retention of topsoil and water, biological diversity — and beauty.
Why do you do everything possible to enable this state-owned business that is a net commercial loss to destroy all this?
As a follower of Gandhi, I need to do my best to protect what needs to be protected, in this case native forests. It is a human obligation to disobey destructive, unjust laws.
Your proposed draconian law may put me in jail, but that won’t protect the future you work so hard for in other ways.
Bob Rich, PhD
Another on the same issue, to my MPs
I am emailing all people representing me in Victorian parliament, because I am horrified by the proposed law to jail people who engage in peaceful protest, on any issue, even if I disagree with the issue.
The right to nonviolent protest is at the heart of democracy. Measures to ban it will lead to a slide into loss of liberty, and I strongly request that, regardless of party affiliation, you oppose this law, or better still, have the bill withdrawn.
On the specific issue of logging of native forests, the Victorian government recently passed legislation to protect Vicforests from the consequences of having broken the law multiple times, as demonstrated in several successful legal cases against it. This is a misuse of power, and should never have happened.
The government knows full well that we are in a climate emergency. Catastrophic climate change is not a threat of the future, but is already history, and is rapidly getting worse.
All the many good things the government is doing, such as fostering renewable energy, grid-scale batteries etc. are negated by continued native forest logging. Our forests are the best carbon sinks in the world. They must be protected, not converted into woodchips.
Instead of these draconian measures, what we need is a well-funded plan to assist workers and businesses to transition out of native forest logging into socially beneficent occupations.
Bob Rich, PhD.
When I sent off my moderately delayed last issue, I didn’t expect the lovely barrage of congratulations, good wishes and love in return. Too many subscribers and followers to mention have responded for me to list, though I have acknowledged each individually.
This response motivates me to continue with my slowly assembling short story collection, REAL Human Nature, which shows everyone to be like all you wonderful people. The patina of greed and hate taken to be “Human nature being what it is” is the illusion.
Here, Don is responding to my interview with Dr Nina Savelle-Rocklin:
- Hi Bob, Wow! I just listened/watched your interview with Dr. Nina. You’ve got some interesting history. You are one of Maslow’s “self-actualizing” individuals. I love your “positive psychology”. Unconditional love and compassion…what a proven response to hate. You remember that hurt people hurt people. Our individual and collective purpose — to grow spiritually…You nailed it. The universe (think uni-verse: one turned on itself) is a conscious person. Allow yourself to be an imperfect person in a perfect world… perfect as a school of hard knocks). As Jesus said: “Hate the sin, but love the sinner”. Kudos all around. Great interview. Don — another secular Buddhist.
But about Sleeper. I’m a fellow chess player, and seems to me, the chess game they play there is different from ours. Can you describe it? I’d like to write a program to play it, and might then challenge you to a game!
Keep up the writing,
- Thanks for writing, Dave. PDF of Maraglindi is attached.
The world described in Sleeper, Awake was designed by Tony Califeri, who is alive now in our times, somewhere in Canada. He wanted to make everything decimal, so redesigned chess to be on a 10×10 board. This implies 10 pawns each side. In our chess, the first move of pawn can be 1 or 2 squares. In his, it’s 1, 2 or 3, so the game isn’t slowed by the larger board.
The King becomes the Tony, the Queen the Artif, with the same rules for moving.
Our Bishop is his Archer.
Next to them is a new piece, the Eagle, which is the most powerful piece after the Artif. It moves like our Rook, but can jump over occupied squares.
Our Knight is identical to his Horse, and our Rook is renamed Whale.
Write your program if you have the skills, and you’re on!
Another way coal cooks climate
While coal is hiding underground, it traps considerable amounts of methane. Yes, this is the “coal seam gas” that can be extracted and used as “natural gas.” (Um, isn’t any gas in nature natural? Fossil methane is a better description.)
This gas was a major danger when coal was mined the old way with tunnels. Now that mining involves ripping off an entire mountain to get at what’s under it, the same gas is still a major danger, not by causing explosions, but by venting into the air.
Such leaks can be plugged, but hey, why bother to spend money to save all complex life on Earth?
A new report, funded by the wonderful Lock the Gate Alliance has shown that Australia’s coal seam gas venting is over twice that of the official figures.
Best way to deal with the problem? Plug the leaks, then STOP mining coal.
The psychology of mass murderers
If you have read my Hit and Run, you will understand the typical killer: a desperate, traumatised person wanting to die, but in a blaze of revenge against, well, everybody.
I say in the Epilogue that this picture is based on research. Here is an interview with two researchers who add to the picture.
You will see why my view of these perpetrators is one of compassion rather than condemnation. They need to be stopped, yes. But this can be done through eliminating the causes of their personal agony, through early detection and therapy, with love, not with fear and hate.
Somewhere on this planet, there is a 21-year-old university student who woke up one morning about two years ago, with a memory firmly planted in his mind. He’d never experienced this before, but now it was horrifically vivid: he remembered sexually abusing a little child.
He wanted to kill himself from guilt, shame and self-disgust. Fortunately, instead he tracked me down and sent me an email via my Contact form. We have been exchanging emails since, and you’ve guessed it, I’ve adopted him as part of my global tribe of grandchildren.
He doesn’t know if those memories are true or false, but they torture him regardless. He is a Roman Catholic, but has not confessed his crime, or possible crime, to his priest, only to me, which makes me feel incredibly honoured.
He has read, no, studied, my book, From Depression to Contentment. I set him various tasks such as keeping an ABC diary about the maybe-recalls, and about the self-bashing thoughts. He has read page for self-assessed abusers several times.
All the same, he has done everything possible to stay away from children, because seeing them induces his guilt and shame. He has been sure he’ll never dare to have a girlfriend, never mind offspring, in case he abuses them. This obsessive thought has taken over his life.
Finally, we organised a face to face online session. Having offered him a whole range of tools in the past, before the session I didn’t know what on earth I could do to be of service to him, but as usual trusted my intuition.
We did three things together.
First, I got him to relax his body using one of my guided imagery scripts, then we did exposure therapy in imagination. That is, he imagined a couple of little children playing. His level of distress was an instant 9/10. Rather than run away from the experience, I gently got him to stay, watching the kids play in various ways, occasionally asking him to rate his distress. Within a couple of minutes, it was 4.5/10.
So, then I filled a little time by recommending that he makes sure to be of service to people in some way, such as through a local charity.
Then we returned to the imagined children. His distress started at 7, and rapidly reduced to 3. This proved to him that imagined exposure works. He is to re-read the section on it in my book, and do it once or twice a day until he routinely has the level of distress at 0. Then he is to unobtrusively and caringly observe real children, and continue the exposure therapy in real life.
Finally, I asked him to stand in front of a mirror once a day, and say this to himself:
When I was younger, I may have done something terrible.
Maybe this memory is true, maybe it is false.
Even if it is true, I have grown, and will NEVER do anything like that again.
I am now a good person because the guilt makes sure I will never hurt anyone.
So, I forgive myself.
And if the memory is false, then there is nothing to forgive.
The feelings of guilt have made me into a good person, whether my memory is true or false.
Equanimity is a form of love
I’ve been a Buddhist all my life, and have studied the philosophy with care, but I learned lots from reading this beautiful essay by Kaira Jewel Lingo.
Equanimity is “whatever is, is, and is all right,” complete acceptance. It is the most powerful tool in my teaching, and personal use. All the same, after reading Kaira’s words, I have a far deeper and more powerful understanding.
She quotes Martin Luther King:
To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws, because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”
This unshakable force to meet evil with love while resisting it is the essence of enlightenment. It is the attitude that has allowed certain people to survive the unsurvivable, and come through it unscathed.
Please read the essay. It can move you along the road of spiritual growth.
Making decisions with 300 neurons
No, that’s not me, but a tiny person in a worm-eats-worm world.
We humans are SO arrogant about our large collection of brain cells that we think we are the crown of creation. It is fashionable to explain intelligence, and indeed sentience, as “nothing but” brain activity. People think that if they have identified a brain activity for something, they have explained it.
One of my hobbies is to collect evidence that it ain’t so.
Trees cooperate with fungi for complex activities like communication, and showing compassion for each other.
Now, read this interesting report in TreeHugger about a worm that makes intelligent decisions.
So, let me tell you. Your brain is not the cause of your intelligence, but your tool for making use of it.
A battery without the problems
Most of the efficient, high-storing battery systems have problems. The now-universal lithium-ion devices need various minerals that are rapidly reducing in supply (meaning increasing in cost), and need to be mined with all the damage that implies.
Or you can have hydro storage. That means two dams. Excess electricity is used to pump water from lower to higher, and allowed to rush down to spin a turbine when needed. This means drowning two valleys that were either precious nature or useful for humans or both. Dams have a limited lifespan because they silt up over time, and little beings living in the silt generate methane and carbon dioxide. And sometimes catastrophic rains can lead to dam failure.
A mob in Italy have applied the general concept to compressing a gas instead of raising water. Excess electricity is used to compress the gas, which is released to spin a turbine when needed.
Heat is generated when you compress a gas, and with a little ingenuity can be put to use. And the most energy storage is if you can compress the gas sufficiently to have it liquefy.
It so happens, carbon dioxide can be pressurised to this level at ambient temperatures, meaning you don’t need energy to cool it. This makes the technique far more efficient than using compressed air.
The only materials you need are the carbon dioxide, which is reused over and over, the high-pressure containers, piping, turbine and stuff, which are steel, and water for cooling.
The first commercial scale device is now ready to go. It is on the Italian island of Sardinia, but various other places have shown interest.
No need to cling to cling wrap
Just read this informative little essay by Katherine Martinko.
Look over a writer’s shoulder
How to handle horrible homophones
Every language I’ve come across has words that sound very similar but have different meanings, and different referents. English is a beauty for this, because it is a mongrel concatenation of half a dozen sources.
It even has some good pitchers… um, pictures.
Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Dawn James
Ascending Spiral by Bob Rich is a novel that mirrors the evolution of man, interwoven with existentialism, history and spirituality. Like our timeless soul this novel defies categorization. The physical journey of the main character Pip Lipkin reminds the reader that life is not perfect — we rise and fall, we experience pain, love, loss, joy; while the character’s soul journey invites the reader to witness the never-ending cycle of life’s lessons and man’s ability to make conscious choices to elevate to a level of harmonic existence with each other and the planet.
Dawn James, author Raise Your Vibration, Transform Your Life
Unveiled, by Dawn James
One of my personal clichés is, “All sentient beings are apprentice Buddhas.” We are here to progress toward enlightenment. Many of the books I get sent for review are psychological or spiritual self-help, offering guidance on this journey. I haven’t read Dawn James’ first three books, but judging from their titles, they fall into this category.
It is a beautifully written autobiography. Or is it? Maybe it is brilliant fiction? You see, I am handicapped by a scientific education, and never believe anything without confirming evidence. This is not to doubt Dawn’s words, or to cast her in any negative light, but to start from the position of skepticism: could such an extraordinary story be true, and how can I know?
So, looking for evidence, I explored Dawn’s website. She is explicitly a guide to people who want to grow spiritually, and judging from the offerings I found there, a very effective guide.
You will be inspired by her story, and motivated to learn from her.
I can warmly recommend this book for inspiring, enjoyable reading. It could change your life.
The hero of Piklawocky
Piklawocky. What an odd placename. Under the name, the sign had “Population 253,” with a somewhat distorted love heart above the 3. I stopped, got out and snapped a photo with my phone. Close up, I noted that the 3 was a fresher black than the 2 and the 5.
Soon, I entered the village: three buildings on one side of the road, four on the other, with dirt roads leading off in several directions.
I should have been concentrating on the road—potholes joined with occasional ribbons of ancient asphalt—rather than gawking at oddity of having the pub and church side by side. The front right wheel lurched down, there was a THUMP, and the car stopped dead.
I turned the key.
No lights on the dashboard, or any other sign of life from the car.
I do have a PhD, but machines mystify me. A group of men were lounging outside the pub, looking both friendly and concerned. I clambered out and approached them. “Good morning. Would one of you gentlemen be kind enough to see if you can get my car started?”
The oldest fellow said, “Thanks the Lord yer orright, lady. Coupla years ago, a young fella in a sports car did the same, hit a pothole, and his car burst into flame!”
“Yair,” the gaunt man beside him said, “I remember that, like. Lucky his car had no roof, like, and he was a young fella so could jump out, or he woulda got fried!”
“I could pay something, say $20, if one of you got it going.”
The old fellow looked at the car, looked at me, looked down at the ground. “Lady, I got a wife and kids, not worth risking me life.”
A young voice said behind me, “Yair, Pop you even got grandkids, right?”
I turned. Three teenage girls and two boys were crossing the road. The speaker was a fat boy with a delightful grin on his face. He continued, “I’ll be the hero of Piklawocky!”
He stopped by the still-open driver’s door of my car, bent and pulled something, then walked around the front. He lifted the bonnet, and laughed. “Everybody, join the party! It’s safe!” He waited until I was beside him, then pointed at some square, black object in there. “See, this’s yer battery, like. When ya jolted the car, the terminal thing jumped off, thatssall.”
He turned to a red-haired, freckled girl. “Trishie, get your Pa’s shifter. It’s in the workshop.”
She ran off.
The boy reached in and put a flat cable with a ring at its end onto a knob on the battery and pushed down. He got behind the wheel and turned the key. The engine purred into life.
I offered him the $20 as the girl came running back.
He said, “Nah, thankya, just a medal for bravery will do, like.”
Muted, by Laurie Corzett
It’s a picturesque New England Winter scene
out there; and in here, with the cat curled
asleep on my lap.
I write by light of BBC News (muted),
when the tv bright enough to see
me making green pen streaks on the
white blank page.
I ignore the stories of raging discontent,
dis-association of societies,
a seeming mad panic.
It is a dark and quiet Winter night,
unfit for battle, or bitter dreaming.
About Bobbing Around
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