Bobbing Around

Volume Ten, Number Four
December, 2010

Bob Rich's (organic green) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Don't steal billygoat plum!
*Good News
  Nine-year-old boy saves the forests
  Read my other newsletter
  Kiss Nature Good-bye? -2
  Get the facts on climate change
  Join the debate on wind energy
  Ozone Depletion Leaves Whales Sunburned, by Alicia Graef
  Worldwide drought predicted
  Treat skin cancer without a knife, from Bill O'Leary
  Light Therapy for Depression, by Ivan Goldberg
  Climate change is bad for your health
  The most dangerous drug, from Ann Pietrangelo
*Deeper issues
  Kindness Matters, by Wendy Strgar
  Have Mercy on Kids Who Stutter, by Pamela Mertz
  Childhood rape and schizophrenia
  Guilty of sexual abuse
  Nothing has helped my anger
  Dealing with PTSD
  I'm stupid and faulty
  My son's antisocial personality disorder
*For writers
  Criteria for good writing
  Frequent faults
*What my friends want you to know
  Help Jackie French save a piece of nature
  Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways, by Jay Levy

   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.

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.

I am a refugee

   Asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants, queue jumpers or potential terrorists. They are people who have been driven by desperation to leave their countries, spend what little wealth they may have, and risk their lives, because the alternative is more terrible.

   It suits some politicians, and big business interests, to use the principle of "divide and conquer." If you have someone to fear and hate, you are more amenable to control and manipulation. For as long as I have been politically aware, migrants of all kinds, and refugees in particular, have been very convenient scapegoats. In the 1950s, the word "Refo" was actually outlawed because it was associated with so much violence. In defending the White Australia Policy (which, thankfully, is history), Arthur Caldwell said, "Two Wongs don't make a White." When I arrived in Australia, I was the recipient of a great deal of discrimination and abuse because my English language skills still needed to be developed.

   At that time, in the late 1950s, the worst affected were Italians and Greeks. I remember hearing a man say to an Italian, "I fought for this country. Who are you to come and take it over?" Now, they are part of mainstream culture, and no one would dream of calling them "greasy Wogs" or the like.

   Then it was the Vietnamese. If you are old enough, you may remember all the hysteria about this first wave of boat people.

   Now it is Muslims, because the most turbulent parts of the planet are Muslim. But like the previous waves, they are just people, and can make a contribution in the way the previous ones did.

   How can we challenge public perceptions?

   Researchers for Asylum Seekers are doing something about it. This is a group of dedicated young people my daughter Anina helped to found. One of their projects, coordinated by Nikola Blavin, is to tell the stories of past asylum seekers who have done well in Australia.

   I am honoured to announce that my story is one of them. Please visit Click on my picture at the bottom to read about me, but do look at the other stories too.


Don't steal billygoat plum!

   Billygoat plum is a common name for a traditional bush food, part of the resources of the Aboriginal people in the Kakadu region of northern Australia. It is part of the environment, part of the local culture, and it belongs to everybody... for now.

   The cosmetics company Mary Kay have applied for a patent for the extracts of this fruit, which they claim has useful properties when smeared on the skin. You know, yet another magic substance to pretend that you don't get any older?

   The locals are outraged. I am outraged. You should be too.

   Aboriginal elder Steve Sunk is leading the fight. He says it's worth millions of dollars in exports.

   "It's like patenting the culture of the Aboriginal people here in the NT. (The plum) is part of our travelling, our walkabout, our dreaming. It's a food source as well as medicine for the stomach -- it relaxes it."

   Vic Cherikoff, widely regarded as a modern pioneer of Australia's native food industry, was involved in research in the 1980s into the vitamin C levels of the plum.

   It was found to have the highest vitamin C content of any fruit.

   Mr Cherikoff is critical of the Australian Government and what he calls its lack of interest.

   "We're forever fighting these idiotic patent laws," he said.

   "The Australian Government is just letting Americans run away and effectively lock up Australian resources on the patent applications."

   Dr Daniel Robinson is a University of New South Wales expert in indigenous intellectual property.

   He said if Mary Kay's patent bid was successful, it could sue others for using the plum in similar cosmetic products without its say-so.

   Dr Robinson said it appeared that Australian regulations around biological resources had failed in this instance, and that Mary Kay had found a legal loophole.

   He said the usual requirements for access permits and benefit-sharing around genetic material and indigenous knowledge applied only for research purposes.

   The Federal Agriculture Department was asked if the Government was planning to fight the application. It referred the NT News to IP Australia.

   IP Australia administers Australia's intellectual property rights system, including patents.

   It said it was aware of a patent application by Mary Kay Inc.

Good News

Nine-year-old boy saves the forests

Nine-year-old boy saves the forests

   An elementary student from North Carolina was recently awarded a $2,500 prize for his environmental action campaign involving sustainable packaging. Second grade student Cole Rasenberger was asked to write to a government official on behalf of an endangered species for a class project. Instead, he decided to take action on behalf of an entire ecosystem that was very close to his heart: the threatened forests of the United States. Rasenberger contacted and exchanged several emails with representatives of the Dogwood Alliance, an organization dedicated to protecting Southern forests, before they realized he was only nine years old!

   Through the Alliance, Rasenberger learned that many of North Carolina's coastal forests are owned by large paper packaging mills, and are being destroyed to make paper for fast-food restaurants. After hearing this distressing news, Rasenberger decided to personally convince McDonald's CEO to use less packaging and more recycled paper at the chain's fast-food restaurants.

   Rasenberger hand-drew four postcards representing different forest habitats for his campaign. Betting that many voices would speak louder than just his own, Rasenberger printed 2,250 postcards -- enough for his entire school. He wrote a speech explaining his research and project, and over the course of three days, led a team of 24 students as they stormed all 51 classrooms to present the speech and get the postcards signed.

   Very soon after sending the cards, Rasenberger heard back from McDonald's, which informed him that they would soon be switching their bags to 100 percent recycled paper.

   "I have learned that children do have a voice in the world and can make changes," Rasenberger said.

   For his inspriational efforts, Rasenberger was awarded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, an award that honors outstanding young leaders who have made a significant, positive difference to people and our planet.


   Noise from wind turbine blades, inadvertent bat and bird kills and even the way wind turbines look have made installing them anything but a breeze. New York design firm Atelier DNA has an alternative concept that ditches blades in favor of stalks. Resembling thin cattails, the Windstalks generate electricity when the wind sets them waving. The designers came up with the idea for the planned city Masdar, a 2.3-square-mile, automobile-free area being built outside of Abu Dhabi. Atelier DNA's "Windstalk" project came in second in the Land Art Generator competition a contest sponsored by Madsar to identify the best work of art that generates renewable energy from a pool of international submissions.

   The proposed design calls for 203 "stalks," each 80-feet high with concrete bases that are between about 33- and 66-feet wide. The carbon-fiber stalks, reinforced with resin, are about a foot wide at the base tapering to about 2 inches at the top. Each stalk will contain alternating layers of electrodes and ceramic discs made from piezoelectric material, which generates a current when put under pressure. In the case of the stalks, the discs will compress as they sway in the wind, creating a charge.

   "The idea came from trying to find kinetic models in nature that could be tapped to produce energy," explained Atelier DNA founding partner Dario Nunez-Ameni.

   In the proposal for Masdar, the Windstalk wind farm spans 280,000 square feet. Based on rough estimates, said Nunez-Ameni the output would be comparable to that of a conventional wind farm covering the same area.

   "Our system is very efficient in that there is no friction loss associated with more mechanical systems such as conventional wind turbines," he said.

   Each base is slightly different, and is sloped so that rain will funnel into the areas between the concrete to help plants grow wild. These bases form a sort of public park space and serve a technological purpose. Each one contains a torque generator that converts the kinetic energy from the stalk into energy using shock absorber cylinders similar to the kind being developed by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Levant Power .

   Wind isn't constant, though, so Nunez-Ameni says two large chambers below the whole site will work like a battery to store energy. The idea is based on existing hydroelectric pumped storage systems. Water in the upper chamber will flow through turbines to the lower chamber, releasing stored energy until the wind starts up again.

   The top of each tall stalk has an LED lamp that glows when the wind is blowing -- more intensely during strong winds and not all when the air is still. The firm anticipates that the stalks will behave naturally, vibrating and fluttering in the air.

   "Windstalk is completely silent, and the image associated with them is something we're already used to seeing in a field of wheat or reeds in a marsh. Our hope is that people living close to them will like to walk through the field -- especially at night -- under their own, private sky of swarming stars," said Nunez-Ameni.

   A Windstalk should be able to produce as much electricity as a single wind turbine, with the advantage that output could be increased with a denser array of stalks. Density is not possible with conventional turbines, which need to be spaced about three times the rotor's diameter in order to avoid air turbulence. But Windstalks work on chaos and turbulence so they can be installed much closer together, said Nunez-Ameni.

   Nunez-Ameni also reports that the firm is currently working on taking the Windstalk idea underwater. Called Wavestalk, the whole system would be inverted to harness energy from the flow of ocean currents and waves. The firm's long-term goal is to build a large system in the United States, either on land or in the water.


Read my other newsletter
Kiss Nature Good-bye? -2
Get the facts on climate change
Join the debate on wind energy
Ozone Depletion Leaves Whales Sunburned by Alicia Graef
Worldwide drought predicted

The Sustainable Psychologist

   When I got elected as a Director of the Australian Psychological Society, I had to relinquish other roles that might have put me in a conflict of interest. However, I managed to hang on to one role: editing the newsletter of the Psychologists and the Environment Interest Group. I've just had fun putting together the latest issue, although I was sent so many excellent contributions that I had to work hard to get them all in.

   You can grab your own copy at

Kiss Nature Good-bye? -2

   In the last issue, I reported a study by prestigious researchers showing that about one-fifth of all the plant species on the planet are in danger of extinction.

   Surprise, surprise, a new study shows that about one-fifth of the verebrate species on the planet are also in danger of extinction.

   The study, by 174 scientists around the world, reported that the main reason for the alarming decline in the world's mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish was the destruction of their natural habitats.

   This was the first time global extinction rates for vertebrates have been assessed. And this is perhaps 1000 times the natural extinction rate, amounting to the sixth episode of mass extinction in the history of the planet. The last one was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs left us. The current one is of course caused by the dinosaurs who are a current planetary infestation.

Get the facts on climate change

   Sick of hearing contradictory claims? Your life, the lives of the children you love, depend on you getting it right. You need dispassionate, accurate information on the current state of knowledge regarding climate change. A document is available from the Australian Academy of Sciences titled The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers. Climate change phobia does not make climate change go away. Do your homework and find out what the experts in the field say.

Join the debate on wind energy

   "In recent months there has been a growing debate across Victoria about renewable energy projects. Wind farms, the proposed solar plants in the North West, and a range of geothermal investigations have both enthused and angered many in the community. As the ABC has noted, wind farms in particular are likely to have a significant role in rural debate in the final weeks before the state election. Just this week we have seen the first round of anti-wind farm commercials circulating on YouTube, highlighting the so-called 'Wind Turbine Syndrome.'

   "It seems that while the forces opposed to wind farm developments are well organised and increasingly vocal, the majority of Victorians who support well planned renewables projects are not" said Friends of the Earth (FoE) campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker.

   "In spite of lots of noise from some quarters, including a range of climate skeptics and 'wise use' organisations, we believe that there is a real desire in the community to find ways to support well planned and appropriate renewable projects".

   "Organisations like FoE have been getting an ever growing number of calls and emails from people who are supportive of this roll out of renewables but uncertain about how to support it. There is no 'one stop shop' for people where they can find out about current proposed developments and how to support them -- for instance through writing a submission, or attending a public hearing or consultation."

   "As a result, Friends of the Earth has set up a website that seeks to engage the community on proposed renewable energy projects. It considers some of the standard myths around renewables and will also start to provide details on current 'live' debates about emerging projects. We hope to engage those in the community who want to support renewables proposals that are going through the approvals process, by providing details on how to provide submissions and other input. We also want to address legitimate concerns that may arise around specific projects".

   "We want to provide a forum to help the community support the roll out of well considered renewable energy in Victoria".

   The site is available here

Ozone Depletion Leaves Whales Sunburned
by Alicia Graef

   A three-year study of endangered and vulnerable whales in the Gulf of California, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found the mammals suffering from lesions and dead cells caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun.

   "This is the first evidence that the Sun's rays can cause skin lesions in whales," said Laura Martinez-Levasseur of the Zoological Society of London and doctoral student at the University of London. "The increase in skin damage seen in blue whales is a matter of concern, but at this stage it is not clear what is causing this increase. A likely candidate is rising ultraviolet radiation as a result of either ozone depletion, or a change in the level of cloud cover."

   Ozone in the earth's stratosphere has declined steadily by about 4 percent each decade since the 1970s causing a larger hole over the polar regions. Emissions of chemicals, CFCs, known as man-made ozone-depleting-substances have now been regulated but the recovery of the layer of ozone around the earth that buffers UV exposure is under debate.

   Skin samples and high resolution photos of more than 150 fin, sperm and blue whales were gathered by Martinez-Lavasseur, her colleagues and scientists from Mexico's Interdisciplinary Marine Science Center showed blistering, lesions and dead cells associated with damage from the radiation of the sun. Damaged cells were also found on the lowest layer of skin, meaning the whales were suffering from severe burns.

   The skin symptoms worsened during the study, with the lighter skinned blue whales most susceptible to burns. The darker pigments of the sperm and fin whales produce more melanin and leaving them less vulnerable to the sun's rays.

   Martinez-Levasseur said the whales serve as a model for marine animals because "they need to come to the surface to breathe air, to socialize and to feed their young, meaning that they are frequently exposed to the full force of the sun."

   She also pointed out that unlike us, whales are more vulnerable to the sun's damage since they can't cover themselves with protective clothing before going out into the sun.

   The sun's rays are added stress to the whale's survival. All the species studied in Mexico's Gulf of California are listed as endangered or vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

   The researchers will next study how the whale's genetics adapt to the harsh rays and if they develop darker pigmentation as a result.

Alicia Graef is a freelance writer and photographer living in Portland, ME. She is a lifelong animal lover with a Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Science and years of experience working and playing in the equine industry.

Worldwide drought predicted

   A study by Aiguo Dai of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research indicates that parts of Asia, the United States and southern Europe, and much of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East could be hit by severe drought in the next few decades, with regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea seeing "almost unprecedented" drought conditions. I feel a bit miffed that he didn't include Australia, but local research by the CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has yielded similar predictions for southern Australia.

   Meanwhile, higher-latitude regions from northern Europe to Russia, Canada, Alaska and India could become wetter, according to the study published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. Again, Australian predictions are for more floods in the north.

   However, "the increased wetness over the northern, sparsely populated high latitudes can't match the drying over the more densely populated temperate and tropical areas," Dr Dai said.


Treat skin cancer without a knife from Bill O'Leary
Light Therapy for Depression by Ivan Goldberg
Climate change is bad for your health
The most dangerous drug Ann Pietrangelo

Treat skin cancer without a knife
from Bill O'Leary

   I'd like to let you know about a skin cancer I had on my nose.

   I used an 'alternative' treatment called "Black Salve" and it worked so well I'm morally bound to spread the word.

   Anyway, the entire story is here.

   If you can, please let people know there are alternatives to chemo, surgery and laser treatments etc.

   Also, there is a great DVD out about it from Elaine Hollingsworth called One Answer to Cancer.

   She debunks Big Pharma especially 3M's skin cancer cure "Aldara," which nearly killed her.

   That info is here:

   Anyway, hope you enjoy these stories and please help spread the word.

   Every good wish, Bill O'Leary

Light Therapy for Depression
by Ivan Goldberg

   Ivan is a prominent New York psychiatrist, particularly interested in helping people whose depression or bipolar disorder has not responded to standard treatments. One of his recommendations is to use light therapy.

   Of course, one common form of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder, for which light therapy is standard. However, Ivan's research has shown it to have wider usefulness. Here is how he recommends that you do it:

1) The important parameters for light therapy are the brightness of the lightbox and the length of time one sits in front of it each day. Regular bulbs are as effective as "full spectrum bulbs" and cost quite a bit less. The keys to successful light therapy are brightness and length of exposure, not the color temperature of the light.

2) The major difference between home made and purchased light boxes is that the ones bought from reputable manufacturers have an ultraviolet filter built in. Without such a filter, use of the light box increases the possibility of skin cancer and cataracts. Among the better manufacturers are: Sunbox, Northern Lights, and Apollo.

4) When doing light therapy, make sure you are close enough to the light box to get 10,000 lux of light. Check the instructions that came with your unit to see exactly what distance your eyes should be from the box. With most boxes the correct distance is 18-24 inches from the light. Do not estimate, get a tape measure and make sure that your are sitting the correct distance from the lightbox. It is OK to read or knit while sitting in front of the lightbox, just make sure that you can see the lightbox clearly in the periphery of your vision with both eyes, while you are reading or knitting. Some people report that the time they spend in front of the light box is more beneficial if, once a minute, they look up from whatever they are doing, and look directly at the light for a fraction of a second.

5) Optimally the lightbox should be used first thing in the morning. Some people find that use of a light box late in the day makes sleep difficult. Most people with a seasonal component to their depressions improve with 20 to 30 minutes in front of the lightbox every morning. A few people have discovered that they require an hour a day.

Climate change is bad for your health

   Doctors for the Environment is a wonderful organisation. They have presented a video titled Climate Code Green - the impacts of climate change on human health that you will find relevant to YOUR everyday life, NOW. It's a must-watch.

The most dangerous drug
from Ann Pietrangelo

   Alcohol is more dangerous than drugs like crack cocaine and heroin, both to the individual and to society as a whole.

   The study, funded by Britain's Center for Crime and Justice Studies, is published online in The Lancet, and says that, "Drugs including alcohol and tobacco products are a major cause of harms to individuals and society."

   Researchers evaluated the dangers of 20 illegal drugs that included cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy, as well as alcohol.

   While heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine were found to be most dangerous to individuals, alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine cause the most damage to society as a whole. The most dangerous overall was alcohol.

   Experts said alcohol scored so high because of its widespread use and the overwhelming consequences to the drinkers as well as others around them.

   The overall impact has to do with health, dependency, mental impairment, lost of jobs or relationships, injury, crime, family stress. An article in Time says that cannabis ranked 8th most harmful, below two legal substances -- alcohol and tobacco.

   Some benefits to legalized substances -- work and taxes -- offset the harms, according to the report, and that many of the harms of these drugs are affected by their legal status. This study adds food for thought as California heads to the polls to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana.

   Alcohol is more dangerous than drugs like crack cocaine and heroin... so what do we do about that? We already knew about the tragically destructive consequences of alcohol abuse, but prohibition didn't work either.

   Certainly, which substances government decides are legal which it decides are not should be based on scientific evidence rather than some vague moralistic ideal. Throw in a dose of personal responsibility and now we're getting somewhere.

Writer Ann Pietrangelo is a regular contributor to Care2 Healthy & Green Living and Care2 Causes, and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Author's Guild. Follow her on Twitter@AnnPietrangelo

Deeper Issues

Kindness Matters by Wendy Strgar

Kindness Matters
by Wendy Strgar

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. -- Dalai Lama

   It isn't only in the midst of family emergencies that the kindness of others makes such a big difference in life. This is often the time we think of going out of our way for someone else, where we offer, "Anything I can do" and mean it. Knowing you have people at your back, being the recipient of small gestures can make all the difference in the midst of crisis.

   But it is not only during our challenges that kindness makes a real difference. The absence of kindness throughout childhood development is a growing crisis in this country as our children are taking the crass humor of popular culture to heart. The prevalence of bullying in the youngest grades is baffling even long time teachers. Most disturbing is how parents of these aggressive children often support these dominant behaviors and value popularity over kindness.

   Lao Tzu wrote, "Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." These are the lessons that our society most needs to cultivate during this time of loss and upheaval. Gone are the days of opulence and greed; our cultural icons have to care about more than just themselves. Civility and community have to be reconstructed back into a culture that is often reflected in sarcastic and divisive humor that alienates for the sake of a laugh.

   At a time when most school districts in this country are trying to figure out how to keep their doors open 5 days a week, focusing our collective attention on rebuilding the stature of kindness might be the only behavior we can really afford. The truth is that we need each other more than ever in these uncertain times. At every encounter with strangers and friends alike, pause and see if you witness an opportunity for kindness. If you do, which I suspect you will; practice it even briefly and see how you feel.

   It might be the most powerful act of positivity that we can demonstrate in a day.

Wendy Strgar, owner of Good Clean Love writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. Wendy helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. Wendy lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their four children ages 11-20.


Have Mercy on Kids Who Stutter by Pamela Mertz
Childhood rape and schizophrenia
Guilty of sexual abuse
Nothing has helped my anger
Dealing with PTSD
I'm stupid and faulty
My son's antisocial personality disorder

Have Mercy on Kids Who Stutter
by Pamela Mertz

   Imagine being an 11-year-old, in sixth grade. There are 30 kids in the class. The teacher takes attendance at the beginning of the period, and does it in a fairly traditional way. She calls each student's last name alphabetically, and each kid has to say "here" or "present."

   No big deal, right? This is played out in classrooms all across the country.

   The 11-year-old's last name begins with "S", so he has to wait while the other kids' names are called. It's always done the same way too, starting with the "A"s, never with "Z."

   Waiting, this kid does what he always does. He focuses on what he is going to say and what will happen when he says it. His palms start to get sweaty and his heart starts to pound. He can feel his face grow really hot and realizes he is squirming in his seat.

   He is thinking, "Please, not today, please not today, please let it be OK today." But he knows that the same thing is going to happen.

   He wishes he was sick and could go to the nurse's office.

   Then he hears the teacher say "Stasick." He decides to say "here," which might go easier than it did yesterday. He opens his mouth, says "hu-hu-hu-hhhhh- here" and his eyes squeeze shut. He hears the teacher call the next kid's name.

   Maybe it won't happen today. Nah, he hears it, the snickers from the kids sitting behind him. Then the skinny kid with big ears whispers loudly, "Spastic Stasick, he can't t-t-t-t-talk." The kid tries to shrink down in his seat as he hears the kids laughing at him, just quietly enough so that the teacher doesn't hear it. She never does. He has thought about telling her, but knows that will just make things worse.

   It's bad enough that he is pulled out of his classroom twice a week to go to speech. When he is pulled out, (and it's always during math or science, the classes he likes) he hears the kids whisper, "There goes spastic Stasick with the b-b-b-b-babies learning how to talk". He can't talk to his speech teacher about the teasing either; he only gets 20 minutes with her and there is usually another speech kid in the room.

   There is no way the kid can tell his mom, because she always tells him to slow down and think about what he is trying to say before he talks. The kid keeps thinking, "No one understands me." Lunch time is the worst. No one sits with him, and when kids walk by, they snicker and laugh. A couple of times, the skinny kid with big ears bumped into him on purpose, knocking him into the wall and making him drop his stuff. The kid and his friends start yelling, "Spastic can't walk either." That gets other kids laughing, including girls.

   This kid stutters. He dreads being called on in class. He never raises his hand, even when he knows an answer, and is teased a lot. He is called names, left out socially and sometimes pushed. He does not know anyone else who talks like him and is really starting to hate school. Kids who stutter get teased and bullied. Kids can be cruel, especially in middle school. Most people do not understand stuttering, because they have never met someone who stutters. Only about 1 percent of the population stutters and it's usually boys.

   If you know a kid who stutters, know this: It's not his fault. Stuttering is an involuntary stoppage of normal speech flow. It can be hereditary and some research suggests that it is a neurological disorder. There is no known cure yet for stuttering, but therapy with someone who understands stuttering can help, especially with feelings of shame, embarrassment and isolation.

   Kids who stutter are just like anyone else, they just talk differently. It is not OK to tease or bully a kid who stutters. We have heard enough in the news lately about what happens when bullying is left unchecked.

   To learn more, visit The National Association for Young People Who Stutter, the National Stuttering Association, and The College of Saint Rose. Or Pamela's blog, Make Room for the Stuttering.

Childhood rape and schizophrenia

   Childhood sexual abuse involving penetration appears to increase the risk of developing psychotic disorders later in life, according to research published in the November issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

   Margaret C. Cutajar, of Monash University in Clifton Hill, Australia, and colleagues studied mental health data on 2,759 subjects who had been sexually abused as children, matched with community-based controls, to explore whether childhood sexual abuse raises the risk for subsequent psychotic disorders.

   The researchers found rates for general psychosis, and particularly for schizophrenic disorders, significantly higher in the childhood sexual abuse subjects than in the controls (2.8 versus 1.4 percent for general psychosis and 1.9 versus 0.7 percent for schizophrenic disorders in abuse subjects and controls, respectively). Risk for later psychosis was highest in those whose abuse occurred after age 12, involved penetration, and involved more than one perpetrator. Abuse without penetration was not related to significant increases in general psychosis or schizophrenia.

Guilty of sexual abuse

Dear Dr. Rich,

   Hello, my name is Rod. I'm writing because I found online the question written by someone who called herself 'still guilty' about fondling children when she was a teenager, and read your answer. The thing is, I had a similar experience when I was I think fourteen. With a very young girl. It only happened once. I'm 23 now, and finding it extremely difficult to get over the guilt. I have also thought about finding the girl, who is still only a teenager, once she has grown up, and admitting to her what I did. But I am afraid of what might happen. I've recently gotten involved in a relationship with a girl who is 18. She is in her last year at school, while I am away travelling at the moment. I feel very close to her and I trust her. So last week I told her what I did. And I haven't heard from her since, and I'm terrified. I felt pretty sure that, awful as it is, she would accept it and love me anyway. But right now I feel appalling. She's the first person I've ever told, and I keep feeling now, stupid and dramatic as it sounds, that I can't expect a good girl like her who doesn't understand that kind of guilt, to love me. And I do love her.

   I didn't go through anything like the abuse that 'still guilty' did as a child, so I find it even harder to account for what I did.

   If you had any advice I'd really appreciate it.


Rod, the way I think of myself, you and every other person is:

You are perfect.
Some of the things you do are excellent.
Some of the things you do are OK.
And some of the things you do are the growing opportunities.

   When you were a kid, you did something that now you know was wrong. It was harmful, and potentially even evil. You have learned from having done this. If you could go back in a time machine, you would stop yourself from having done this act. As a result of having erred when you were 14, now you would rather die than to hurt another person in that way.

   It was wrong to sexually abuse a child. You know that now. The memory is a dark cloud, but the lesson you have learned from it is the silver lining. You are now a better, wiser, more compassionate and caring person for having made that mistake.

   You are judging yourself, and perhaps your girl is judging you, as if that act was a part of you, a defining feature of the person you are. Not so. It was something you did, not something you were. As a result of having done it, you have become a better person. This is not to justify harming a child, but rather to point out that the person you are now is different. How you do things now, your moral makeup, your way of seeing the world, is on a higher plane. It is wrong to judge you at 23 on the basis of what you did at 14.

   My advice is, do not try to find that young girl. She may have not been traumatised by the experience. She may not even remember it. By bringing it up now, you could traumatise her, or increase any effect of that experience on her.

   Instead, make restitution. Either choose a career of a healer and helper of hurt people, or do volunteer work in that line. The lady whose cry for help you read did that. She became a volunteer visitor in a women's prison, because, she said, "Except for the grace of God, I'd be in there as an inmate."

   Regarding the girl you care for: send her this reply to your question. My words speak to her as much as to you.

   Precisely because you made a grievous error when you were a kid, now you are a person any girl will be able to feel safe with. My reading is that from now till the end of your life, you will do everything in your power to protect females, and children, from harm. You will be an exemplary husband/partner and father.

   Guilt is counterproductive. No amount of self-flagellation is going to undo the act of 9 years ago. Going to jail, jumping off a bridge, would not undo it. So, as I said, turn your life to one of working for the protection and healing of those who have been hurt.

With love,

Nothing has helped my anger


   I am so tired of getting made. I have seen mult counselors over the years, with no help. I have been trying to deal with my anger issue but it's not working. I was surfing the Internet when I came across your page. I have had mult relationships that failed. I am currently not working, seeing a psychologist. He says that I have PTSD and anxiety. I have been told this for years. Nothing is helping. I find it hard to go out and look at the flowers and say to myself I should be grateful to be here. Bullshit I say, It makes me feel worse. I have a hard time just being around people. I had to quit my work because if I didn't I would explode.

   Music seems to help a little. I have tried to learn mult instruments but I get frustrated and then get mad at myself. I get upset with myself because I get mad. I don't understand other people get mad but it seems I'm not allowed.

   I know I need help and went to get help but all they want to do is tell me to do stupid stuff like count to 10 or bite my lip. Hell I'm surprised I have a lip.


Dear Gary,

   It's the pits when something just keeps going, and you keep trying and yet nothing works. Of course, I don't know all the many things you have tried, so some of my suggestions below may be inappropriate.

   First, there may be a physical reason for your ongoing anger and anxiety. Have you had a medical checkup to eliminate the possibilities of things like XYY chromosome, overactive thyroid gland, overactive adrenal gland?

   Second, you may be habitually using some substance that makes the problem worse even if it is not the main cause. Examples are caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate etc.); stimulant medication (amphetamines, dexamphetamine, Ritalin) or the street versions of the same; and marijuana. It is not generally known that something like one-third of regular marijuana users fly into rages and panic attacks.

   If you do regularly use one of these chemicals, you can do a single-person experiment to see if it is guilty. For example, suppose you are a heavy coffee drinker. Go 3 weeks without anything with caffeine in it (you can survive 3 weeks!). Then give yourself what was your usual dose before those 3 weeks. If caffeine is partly or wholly responsible for your anger/anxiety, then the symptoms will fade away, but when you go back to caffeine, they should return even worse than before. If this doesn't happen, you can have all the coffee and stuff you like. If it does, then you're best off without caffeine for the rest of your life.

   Third, you mentioned that you've been diagnosed with PTSD. That means that you have suffered some terrible stuff in your past. I am surprised that your previous therapists have not taught you how to deal with this. The cure is called exposure therapy: you create a safe setting for yourself, and using a special mindset called the observer mode, you invite the bad memories and associated terrible emotions.

   Being in the observer mode is something we do all the time without realizing it. Right now you are reading my words. You can also OBSERVE yourself reading my words. The part reading is interpreting, understanding. The part that watches you reading is not reading. So, if you are in distress, you can observe yourself being in distress, and that part is not distressed.

   So, suppose I was tortured by somebody when I was child (well, I actually was). I can get myself physically relaxed, then invite the memories and images of this nasty event. As I re-experience it, I keep up an internal patter (or if I am with a therapist, that person can do it for me): "That was then and now is now. I have survived, and am a better person for having suffered. It's pretty bloody awful, my distress is 8/10. Yes, OK, I can go through the event from start to finish a second time, and my distress is now only 6/10, and that was then, now I am safe, but it still feels pretty bad. Right, back to the start, and I am replaying the event again but hey, the distress is only 4/10 now..."

   I actually did this for myself, but it's a lot easier with a therapist.

   My fourth and final point is that it's OK to feel angry, or scared, or anything else. Your feelings are not real until you accept them as real. If I have a thought that I can fly, that doesn't make it true. So, if I have a thought that I am angry, that doesn't make it true either, until I believe it.

   "I have this thought that I want to punch this bastard in the nose." OK, so I have the thought. So what. I don't actually believe it, I don't need to struggle with it, and I certainly don't need to act on it.

   Whatever the original cause of your habit of reacting to things around you with anger, it is now a habit. Habits can be broken.

   Of course, anger feels like it is instant, automatic and without control. It isn't. Always, there are early warning signs. You can learn to pick them up. Sometimes, they can be half an hour ahead. One of my ex-clients used to lose the plot THREE DAYS after any phone call from his mother. When he hung up, he started an imaginary conversation with her, and gradually worked himself up into a rage. When he identified this link, he could do something about it. Sometimes the warning is only a few seconds ahead of the explosion, but even that can be more than enough to control what we do.

   My e-book Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias is available very cheaply from Twilight Times Books.

   It describes a way for learning to identify early warning signals in your body, and training up a way of instantly switching off anger that does not rely on willpower.

   When you have thought about all this, and if it suits you, followed up on them, you might email me again. I'll be interested in how useful I've been to you (or not).

Have a good life (you can),

   Thanks for your email. I had everything checked. I have no Medical reasons. I do not do drugs nor do I try to self medicate with ETOH to cover my illness. I have only 2 cups of coffee a day. No Sodas just green tea every off on. My PTSD is from my work. I was an orderly in an emergency department. Been doing it for 20 years, mixed with working with the dying in hospice care. I have so much anxiety about going to work I have lost 30 lbs in the last 3 months. I am now going thru disability retirement through the fed gov.

   I tried EMDR but it caused so much anger and anxiety that my psy guy was going to try something else but I lost my insurance due to the retirement. I have read a lot of self-help books on the subject with no help.

   I just want to know what I can do that will help


   OK, Gary. EMDR is just one form of exposure therapy. The finger waving actually does nothing.

   The thing with exposure therapy is that the client needs to be in the right mindset: "I can observe myself reacting with terrible anger to these memories. That was then and now is now, and it's over and I have survived. My anger triggered by the memory is 8/10, bloody strong, but it's all right. I can just watch it."

   It is absolutely essential to keep going until the rating on the emotion drops significantly. Your therapist was incompetent.

   I strongly recommend you find someone else, or as I said, do it for yourself. You could find someone who practices Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR).

1. Get physically and mentally relaxed, in a safe setting.

2. Pick one concrete episode from your past, not some generality.

3. Using all the senses not just vision, put yourself into the start of the episode. Once you are there, it's helpful to describe it in words.

4. Like turning on an all-senses movie, play through the episode. BE back there, re-live it -- but in observer mode as I've described. Again, once you've played it through, it's helpful to describe it in words.

5. When you reach the end, rate your distress out of 10.

   Then repeat 1 to 5, over and over until the final number is significantly lower than at the start, preferably but not necessarily 0. This may take 2 repetitions, or 20, 10 minutes or 2 hours. But a lot of research shows that it is always reached.

   Your other problem, related to work, is burnout. That is reversible.

   I am protected from burnout because I have 17 different self-protective measures in habitual use. I actually run a workshop on this to other psychologists. The powerpoint presentation for this is at

   Relevant ones for you:

1. It's not your problem. You are not there to share the pain, but to relieve it.

2. You can't care for others till you care for the carer first.

   The other thing that helps me is a philosophy. There is nothing wrong with death. Everyone does it, sooner or later. It is not the end of a book, but the end of a chapter. More like waking up than going to sleep.

   And there is nothing wrong with suffering. We dislike it only because we have too narrow a focus. Think of this: Man is using a knife to cut the throat of a little girl. Is he evil? Actually, he is a doctor saving her life because her breathing passage is blocked. Suffering is the spur to growth. It gives opportunities to make choices to become better people.

   It is our duty to reduce suffering where we can, and to do anything possible to avoid imposing suffering on others. That is one of its purposes. By doing my best to reduce suffering, I can become more noble. When I endure suffering, I have choices that also enable me to grow.

   Only two things matter: what you take with you when you die (wisdom, growth toward Love, lessons learned), and what you leave behind in the hearts of others. Everything else is Monopoly money.


Dealing with PTSD

Dear Dr. Bob,

   I have been abused in every way imaginable growing up, sexually, physically, emotionally, mentally, you name it. Regardless of these abuses I have beaten most odds, I am alive, I have never prostituted myself for money, I graduated college, and I don't have a personality disorder (i.e DID) I do however have PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I have a counselor that I see once a week and I go to group therapy once a week as well. But, I'm afraid that this may not be enough. I am a mother now and I am in love with my son's father, however, my son's father is a constant trigger in my life. He knows what my triggers are and plays on them sometime. The most recent event was just this Saturday, I went into a full bout of rage on him. Needless to say, I am in danger of losing him as a boyfriend and having to possibly move out. This is not the first time we've had an incident, but they seem to be getting progressively worse. I don't know how to "cool down" my "hot buttons" and I am completely at my wits end with myself. All I want more than anything, is to raise a happy, healthy family, but at times I feel he triggers me with his actions. I don't want to lose them and I want to get more help. I will do anything a t this point to save my family. Please help.

29 Year Old Woman

My dear,

   Everyone, not just you, tends to lose it with the people we love. It is normal for you to "have your buttons pushed" by your guy. He may or may not intend to do that. (You can ask him, and ask his help in supporting you to make the changes that will improve lives for all three of you.)

   Where do you live? If I know, I may be able to point you to some resources.

   PTSD can be overcome. The tool is "exposure therapy." Next Friday, I will be delivering a talk at a conference, and this is the relevant paragraph:

   The deliberate re-experiencing has to be done in a special way, and it would be best of you found a therapist skilled at facilitating it. All the same, I did it for myself as a young man, without help.

   First, you are an observer of the emotions you experience. Right now, as you are reading, you can also observe yourself reading. The observing part is not reading, but watching another part of you read. That observing part is always calm. You can have the most intense emotions imaginable, and calmly watching you having them.

   Second, now is now, then was then. You survived it, and proved your intelligence, and gave birth to a lovely child. You are now safe.

   With these two attitudes, you use one of several ways of inviting a traumatic memory. This memory actually cannot hurt you. It is not a monster, but the photograph (or movie) of a monster. It cannot hurt you, only remind you of past hurt. So you re-live the incident from start to finish, observing yourself experiencing the terrible emotions. Put a number on them. Do this over and over, start to finish, and watch the rating of emotional intensity go down.

   As I said, it's best to find a professional to do this with. But this is the surefire way of defeating past trauma.

Give your baby a cuddle from me,

Thank you so much Dr. Bob for responding back. It feels so good to know that someone understands and cares. I saw my therapist today and she gave me more insight too. I will combine both of your suggestions to do what is right for myself and my family. Again, thank you for reaching out.
God Bless.

I'm stupid and faulty

hi bob,

   I need help. I read one of your replies to someone's question on anger and I thought I would email you because I have a problem and I need help too.

   I'm 15 years old and in high school. I try to avoid getting angry but sometimes people just get me so worked up that I cant help it. Today my younger sister got me so angry that I dug my nails into her arm and now she has a few cuts in her arm. I tried to stop myself as best as I could, but when I did I just got more angry. I cant tell you how bad I feel for doing this but it was like something was controlling my brain and I couldn't control myself. I have felt this way many times and sometimes I have the worst temper tantrums. My mom said that I have been this way my whole life even when I was a baby. People have told me that I overreact to everything.

   I don't have very many friends. I think it's because of how quiet I am in school. I don't know why I have such a feeling of shyness and awkwardness around everyone. I really want to make friends with other people but I don't know how exactly. I'm also what you would call a "slow kid" I'm not very smart, I think it's because of a learning difficulty I have. Could this also be a reason for my anger? and its not only my anger that's through the roof. It's also my emotions. I cry very, very easily. I get very sad when something that's not even that bad happens and sometimes people get mad at me for crying but its so uncontrollable that I can never stop crying. I never get sad or happy for no reason though. I just hope I can find someone or something to help me. I would really appreciate your help!


Kathy my dear,

   It all seems so hopeless, doesn't it? All your life, people have been telling you that you are slow at learning, not very smart, that you blow up at anything and can't ever control your temper. They have been treating you as if you were faulty, as if there was something wrong with you.

   I've got good news. The main thing wrong with you is that you are believing these things too.

   All I know about you is what you have written. But I am sure that there are good things about you too. Even if people who know you all said, "Kathy? She is hopeless and useless and there is nothing good about her," they would be wrong. I bet that if you came visiting me, in half an hour I could tell you LOTS of good things about you.

   One good thing is that you have the determination to make changes. You have suffered for long enough, and now you have searched the internet, and contacted me, and have thought deeply about your problems, and now want to start building a new kind of life. And if you really, really WANT to do this, you can.

   I don't know why you have been doing poorly at studies, and been considered to be a slow kid. I have come across various reasons for this.

   One is that some people grow at different rates from others. I know a man who failed at school all the time, and didn't manage to finish high school. Ten years later, he got interested in something, returned to study, and completed a university degree. So, it's possible that this is your situation.

   A second possibility is that, with the best of intentions, your mother and other people may have treated you as less able than other children, from ever since you were little. Because you then believed this too, you have not tried as hard as you would have if you believed in yourself. Look, I know myself to be very smart. But when I try something new, I often screw it up the first time, or even the first half-dozen times. But I learn from each mistake and get better and better. But if I thought to myself at the first mistake, "I'm just no good at this. I've stuffed up. What's the point of trying anyway?" then I would stop trying, and never learn to do whatever this is. And I suspect this is what you tend to do. The teacher gives the class something to learn. Some kids get it the first time. You don't, so give up. But if you did things the way I do, you WOULD learn. Instead of feeling like a failure when you can't do something, work out what the problem is, ask for help, keep trying over and over in different ways till you do get it.

   I am very good with words and ideas, but hopeless at directions. When my kids were little, I sometimes drove the family somewhere. I'd say, "I think we should turn right here," and the kids shouted from the back seat, "Go left! Go left!" And about 99% of the time, they were right without a map, and I was wrong with one. I am really good at understanding and remembering things, but can't sing or draw or fix a machine. So, you can look for some things you ARE good at: dancing, singing, playing some sport, growing plants, cooking lovely meals... You won't know till you try those things, and really put in the effort like I have described, learning from the mistakes any beginner at something makes.

   You are shy and anxious because you don't like yourself, and expect other people not to like you too. When you learn to accept yourself, that will change.

   Now for the anger, which is your most distressing problem at the moment.

   Every small child goes through the tantrum stage. My guess is that by the time you were doing that, your parents had decided that you were faulty, and not as smart as other kids, and so expected everything bad and nothing good from you. This was not because they didn't love you, or because they were bad people, but because they made a mistake in how to deal with you. Everybody makes mistakes. I do. So, you were usually the one everyone ignored. But when you threw a tantrum, they couldn't ignore you. You got rewarded with attention, even if that attention was punishment. As a result, you learned that throwing tantrums is a good thing, and it became a habit.

   Well, people can change habits. You can.

   Think about how you would like to react when things annoy you. Then practice this by yourself, maybe in front of a mirror. When something irritating happens, take a deep breath and think, "I am dealing calmly with this." If necessary, walk away and calm yourself down, then return to the situation.

   Learning new habits is hard, and you may need help with it. I suggest you show your question to me and my answer to someone you trust. I hope this could be your parents. Ask them to help you to do the things I have suggested. It would be very helpful for you if they took you to a good psychologist, or there may be a counselor at your school. A person like that can help you to make the changes that will turn your life around.


My son's antisocial personality disorder

Dear Dr Rich,

   I hope I am not bothering you, but was hoping for some guidance or information for my 18 year old son Jake , who was recently diagnosed with APD and Conduct Disorder (he also had ADHD as a child)

   We adopted Jake at age 4. At the time he was a paraplegic due to either a spinal cord injury or polio (they never were able to conclude for sure). After multiple surgeries (including a body cast for 2 months) Jake was able to over the years walk, albeit with difficulty and a pronounced limp. As a child he was hyperactive and impulsive, but did cling to me a lot and seemed very affectionate, He was marginalized by his peers to a great extent (due to immature behavior and his physical handicap) and pretty much a loner (never invited anywhere by classmates) until 8th grade when he finally formed a friendship with one boy. It concerned us, but we consoled ourselves by noting that Jake usually went to the movies, bowling or played video games with his siblings (we have 8 very close in age).

   Although he was basically ostracized by his peers, his outward demeanor was always happy and optimistic. He refused to do homework his entire life despite a great capacity to understand scientific concepts and principles and almost failed out of school several times, but would always pull through at the very end. He also was and is a compulsive liar, and WAS fascinated with matches and often set small fires. Finally he began to steal from mostly his family and extended family; forging checks, ordering things online with our credit card and finally breaking into a friend's home while they were on vacation and stealing their computers, electronics etc. I consulted with about 10 different mental health professionals without getting a concrete answer as to why Jake did these things (He also destroys his own possessions fairly frequently).

   Months and years of therapy seemed to finally help stop the stealing, until last month when he was all over the TV and media for smashing over 30 car windshields with a lead pipe. After his arrest I had him self admit to a psychiatric hospital (which he willingly complied with) where their team gave their opinion that Jake had a Antisocial Personality Disorder, probably with Conduct Disorder. He currently is back in therapy with a psychologist who seems too have a good understanding of this condition. In the interim I have sent Jake to Nazareth Farm. he works in a soup kitchen for the homeless and is headed to Appalachia in 2 weeks to work helping poor people within a religious community. Most of these projects I discovered using the CVNS website. Jake does love being of help to others and after Nazareth Farm, he told me it was a "life altering experience" for him. What else can we do to keep Jake from committing more crimes?

    He was supposed to start college 2 days after he was arrested. That however is on hold until I feel he is ready. Are there any programs or anything you can suggest we do? The one consolation I have is that Jake has all the symptoms ( I googled APD) except that he genuinely seems to love us and his 7 siblings and is a very kind and generous boy who loves animals and little children and would never hurt a fly. His siblings are very attached to him, and he, I believe, also loves us. In your opinion, is there any hope that he will turn around for good if we continue psychotherapy ? Or is there more we can do?

   Many many thanks for anything you can tell us.


Dear Mary,

   Labels are not useful. How do they decide Jake has antisocial personality disorder? They look at a book called DSM (current version is DSM 4-TR). That lists several criteria. If he meets a sufficient number of these he "has the disorder." If he has one less, he doesn't.

   So, the diagnostic label is a shortcut for a list of behaviors. One of these is stealing. So, he has the disorder because he steals (and does other things like that). But then, when you say he steals because he has the disorder, this is going around in a circle.

   Once he has the label, that can both be a stigmatizing prison and an excuse. Why do you steal? I can't help it, I have antisocial personality disorder.

   I find it far more fruitful to look at things in terms of learning theory. People form habits because at one time or another, these habits had payoffs for them. This is empowering. Rather than being faulty, he is doing some things that used to be beneficial in some way. Now they are counterproductive, so if he is motivated, he can learn to do things differently.

   Thoughts, emotions, moods, urges, impulses are all things we DO.

   If Jake now decides that he no longer wishes to do the things that qualify him for some psychiatric label, then he can set up a gradual, self-reinforcing learning program for himself, with the help of his loving family, and professionals. He may find it both effective and wonderful to do something called dialectical behavior therapy. It was designed for so-called borderline personality disorder, but in my opinion will be a very useful process for him too.



Criteria for good writing
Frequent faults

Criteria for good writing
from EPIC

   EPIC is an international organisation devoted to electronic publishing. I've been a member since 1999. Each year, I act as a judge in its excellent contest for electronically published books. The guidelines supplied to judges this year were so good that I asked (and received!) permission to reproduce them. Here they are, with ratings in the right-hand column from excellent to terrible:

The story

Is the story engaging, compelling, interesting or useful?
  • The story engaged me on every level.
  • Pretty good, but I could put it down.
  • Slog, Slog, Slog.
  • Please let it end!
  • Does the plot show continuity, strength and believability?
  • I'm off to email everyone I know right this moment!
  • Great! But there were a couple of things left unresolved.
  • Things are jumping around some, but I think I've figured it out.
  • Plot? What plot?
  • Characterization: Were the characters compelling/captivating/motivated, did they have distinct voices, were they real or unbelievable?
  • The characters were perfectly built for this story.
  • In the majority, I think these characters worked.
  • These characters really detract from the story.
  • Please say they all die in the end...
  • Do any sub-plots and secondary characters enhance the story and mesh well with the main story line?
  • Fully developed in a way that enhances the main story.
  • Yes and no, some were better formed than others.
  • Who is this guy again?
  • Can we get back to the main story yet?
  • Does the story have a complete sense of time and place? Are you drawn into the world or feel as if you stand outside of it?
  • I feel like I'm standing right there, living it along with them.
  • This isn't too bad, all things considered.
  • A little more description wouldn't go amiss.
  • Where are they again? I'm lost!
  • The Mechanics

    This covers the work's total presentation: Are font choices reasonable? Is the order of the book's pages logical or disorderly? Are pages out of place, misaligned etc?
  • All the right things are in the right places, and the font is easily read.
  • Minor formatting errors bother me, but don't take away from the book.
  • Okay, now it's getting annoying.
  • This is a jumble: too much concentration is needed to finish this book.
  • Fact Checking / Research: Is the work well researched/fact checked? Or does it show inconsistencies/misinformation?
  • The appropriate facts and figures are blended well.
  • I need to check that.
  • That's just not right!
  • Talk about making it up to fit!
  • Spelling: Does the work show inconsistencies with spelling, constant homonym use, etc?
  • Spelling inconsistencies might be regional (USA vs UK etc.). Please take that into account when considering marking down for incorrect spelling.
  • Dialogue may also reflect local idiosyncrasies and slang that are totally appropriate for the work.
  • Nary an incorrect word to be found.
  • I spied one or two inconsistencies, but not enough to be terribly obvious.
  • Oh my! It's bare, not bear, and that is not at all how you spell...
  • Iz spel gud. The bestestest!
  • Grammar, syntax, and punctuation: Does the manuscript conform to the norms of grammar and syntax? Or is it awkward or badly phrased?
  • Publishers have "house styles." If an error seems consistent throughout the work it may well be prescribed by the publisher. Please take this into consideration.
  • The author might have made an editorial choice to use unusual grammar choices to best reflect the voice of the character/s.
  • Oh how this story flows! It's a thing of beauty.
  • Maybe not the way I'd do it, but readable nonetheless.
  • Hmm...this really needs some more editing.
  • *Shakes head* This just isn't understandable!
  • Continuity, in respect to both the story and character specifics. Were there glaring errors in the story's timeline/plotline? Did the character's name change back and forth, or perhaps their eye and hair color?
  • Seamless!
  • How did they get here again?
  • Blue, Brown, Blue, Brown. I'm going to give this guy a black eye instead!
  • We started with Dick and Jane, but ended up Tom and Jerry...this is just not good!
  •    This will be helpful in judging your own work.

    Frequent faults

       In my editing work, and even when reading for pleasure, I often encounter the same faults, over and over. Here is a list of the ones I find most annoying:

    What my friends want you to know

    Help Jackie French save a piece of nature

    Help Jackie French save a piece of nature

       Please help! This may be the last chance to try to save the species threatened by the Dargue's Reef Mine proposal at Major's Creek in NSW.

       The Dargue's Reef Mine proposal has just been listed for initial assessment by the Federal Government. Submissions must be in by December 21.

       The Department will consider it for 20 days. If they then feel that more investigation is needed, they'll then do further assessment. This means that it is vital that they have as much information as possible to begin with so that they can understand the range on species that may be threatened, and the various threats that the development poses to them.

       The Major's Creek gorge contains possibly a greater variety of species than any similar area in Australia, including rare and endangered rain forest, partly because the steepness of some of the country means it inaccessible even to feral goats, but also because of its extraordinary range of microclimates. It would take several books and several years to do justice the species there, and their ecology, not ten days.

       I've studied some of the species there for nearly forty years, but have little or no knowledge of others, like the endangered orchids others have told me are found here, the Eastern Bent Winged Bat, or the climbing Galaxid fish that has been found in Major's Creek and the Deua river and various insect life.

       Please- if you have any knowledge of these species, or know anyone else who does, help is desperately needed. The only way the department will know about these species is if the public tell them. The mining company have done no flora or fauna studies in the area downstream.

       It now appears that the Dargue's Reef Mine will be at least three times larger than the development described in the present submission. Ore from other areas will be trucked to Major's Creek and processed with Xanthate in the tailings dam at the headwaters of Major's Creek, which flows into the Araluen, Deua and Moruya Rivers. The company propose to fill the mine with tailings mixed with concrete.

       This will be a massive development. Any leak or failure of the tailings dam may mean disaster downstream, and death and possible extinction to anyone or anything downstream. Even without an accident to the tailings dam, any lowering of the water table, or, almost as bad, changing the ph from the alkaline concrete, may also mean that native species die.

       Please- help us.

       If you can send in a submission with information about the risks to the species below, please do. Otherwise if you can just send the email below, it will at least show that enough people care to comment, even on a proposal listed during the Christmas season.

    Subject: Dargue's Reef Mine Proposal

    To Environment Minster Tony Burke

    Dear Sir,

       I wish to comment on the Dargue's Reef Mine proposal at Major's Creek, NSW.

       I am concerned that no study has been done on the threatened, endangered and critically endangered species below the mine site, nor has there been any testing done on the effect of drilling on the aquifer below the mine site, nor on the possibility of changes to the ph of the water table.

       The area from 1.5-6km directly below the mine site contains the Major's Creek National park Reserve and the Major's Creek gorge. This area contains possibly a greater diversity of species than any other in Australia, due to its steepness, inaccessibility and extraordinary range of microclimates.

       I submit that:

  • a full study be done of all species directly below the mine site before approval is given for any development
  • that the full scale of the proposed development be considered, not the far smaller initial development currently offered for consideration
  • that no use of Xanthate or large amounts of concrete be permitted above such a fragile ecosystem, as any change to the ph of the aquifer may be devastating to the endangered species and rainforest community below it.
  • that no tailings dam be permitted above such a fragile ecosystem, and that if any development were to be approved, the tailings dam be moved 1.5- 2.5 KM over the ridge to a far gentler slope, where there are no endangered species, and rough grazing land instead of the precipitous and fragile gorge ecosystems
  • that no development be approved unless test bores have been established and tests have been done to monitor the true movement of ground water in the area
    Note: no such tests have been done by Cortona limited and any claim that such tests have been done should be substantiated.
  • that the Federal Government list and protect the following rare or endangered species that exist below the Dargue's Reef Mine site:
    -Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)
    -Barking Owl (Ninox connivens)
    -Majors Creek Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum sp)
    -Majors Creek Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (petrogale penicillata)
    -Gang-gang Cockatoo
    -Red Goshawk
    -Little Pied Bat
    -Squirrel Glider (Petaurus norfolcensi)
    -Araluen python (Liasis sp.) not yet formally identified but visually distinct from any other known python species
    -and the Araulen Grasslands Community, listed as threatened by the NSW Government.
  • that the Minister protect the threatened, endangered and critically endangered species listed below:

    Federally listed animals within four kilometres directly downstream of the mine site include:
    -New Holland mouse (Pseudomys novaehollandiae), status: vulnerable
    -Zieria adenophera (Araluen Zieria) status: endangered
    -Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides) status: endangered
    -Araluen Gum (Eucalyptus kartzoffiana) status: vulnerable
    -Grey Deua Pomaderris (Pomaderris gilmourii varcana) status: vulnerable
    -Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) status: endangered

    Threatened Community Listing

        Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia

        The Major's Creek Gorge, 1.5-4 Km downstream of the proposed development, contains one of the few existing remnants of the Backhousia myrtifolia, Ficus Coronata and tree fern rainforest, with its many dependent species. While other small remnants remain elsewhere, the Major's Creek gorge is probably the most extensive. Due to the inaccessibility it has survived increased settlement and feral animal invasion as well as long periods of extreme drought, so has an excellent chance of continued survival, unless affected by a change in ph of the groundwater.



    Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways
    by Jay Levy

    Loving Healing Press
    Paperback $18.95; hardback $29.95

       I had the pleasure of editing Jay Levy's book Homeless Narratives & Pretreatment Pathways for Loving Healing Press. It is certainly the best book I have read in the field, and has implications well beyond working with homeless people. This was the comment I sent back to the author:

       This book is a very impressive guide to people working in any helping field that involves interacting with clients who refuse to admit having a problem. Jay's experience is with working with homeless people who refuse services because of complex mental health or addiction problems, but his respectful attitude will work in other fields as well, as I can attest from my personal experience as a psychologist. He says, "This work is based on principles of common language development and presents three distinct stages on how to acquire, use, and bridge common language. This provides a prototype technology, from the world of homeless outreach, which can be applied to a variety of difficult to engage populations." This expresses my point.

       The information is presented through a number of very clear case studies, which immediately bring the material to life. I think that any intelligent reader will be able to apply Jay's approach -- and is well advised to do so. I am going to recommend this book to Australians working with homeless people.

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