Bobbing Around

Volume Eleven, Number Six
March, 2012

Bob Rich's (sky blue) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Cruel future for Kiribati, from Julie Rodriguez
  Nicaraguan army to combat climate change, by Stephen Messenger
  Ozone -- a silent peril at ground level, by Robyn Francis
  Records from Thoreau Reveal New Evidence of Climate Change, from David A Gabel
  Above all, do no harm
*Humanitarian issues
  Put the bite on Apple:
  1. An appeal from injured workers
  2. Peter Hart on whether Apple can afford decency
*Deeper issues
  Acts of love, by Chris Hedges
  Religions unite to save you
  Kyle Chamberlain on jobs
  Mindfulness: Be Passionate. Be Present. Be Wise, by Liana Taylor
  Being a crim sucks
  They are blaming me because he is dying
  I am 13 and bisexual
  Medicines that may kill you
*For writers
  A two-country lifestyle, by Anna Jacobs
*What my friends want you to know
  How would you spend $100 billion for Australia? from Senator Bob Brown
  Stop Monsanto
  British project on depression
  Cycling around Australia
  Help protect koalas
*Film review: Fresh
A little fun
  A quiz from Shah N. Khan
  Swami's 2012 "State of the Universe" Message... and Awarehouse Special

On nuclear energy

   The web site Climate Spectator published an opinion by Tristan Edis, advocating serious consideration for nuclear power. Here is my answer:

   There are MANY things wrong with nuclear power as an option for Australia (most of these apply for anywhere on the planet):

1. We need mitigation strategies 40 years ago -- are in a crisis situation now because they were not even on the horizon. This minute, we need action that can be immediately implemented. From bulldozer to connection, a nuclear power station takes about 10 years. In 10 years, you can kiss civilisation good bye, unless we make a maximum effort now, and maybe even then.

2. Worldwide, including here, cancer is increasing. One major reason is all the many radioactive leaks and releases: the two bombs dropped on Japan, tests of nuclear bombs, leaks into aquifers, surface waters and the atmosphere from uranium mining, refining, transport, use and disposal.

3. A nuclear power station has a limited life span, after which it is too radioactive to use. Assuming anyone will be around to worry about it, what do you do with a decomissioned reactor? Remove it from the planet?

4. There is still the intractable problem of safely storing the waste. Countless accidents have occurred.

5. The transport of highly radioactive materials is a logistics nightmare.

6. In recent years, we have volunteered to join the USA in wars against people who specialise in terrorist actions. Should we give them such a wonderful target?

7. Finally, why spend that huge amount of money when the same spent on solar, wind etc. will yield far higher gains?

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.

   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.


Cruel future for Kiribati from Julie Rodriguez
Nicaraguan army to combat climate change by Stephen Messenger

Cruel future for Kiribati
from Julie Rodriguez

   The world's first climate refugees are getting ready to leave the island nation of Kiribati. Anote Tong, the Kiribati president, announced today that he's in talks with the government of Fiji and looking to buy up to 5,000 acres of land for the people of Kiribati to settle.

   The nation is home to 113,000 people, most of whom live and work on the Tarawa chain of islets. The nation consists of 32 coral atolls and one coral island straddling the equator, only 313 square miles in all, none of which are more than a few feet above sea level. Some of these atolls are already beginning to sink beneath the rising waves.

   Mr. Tong told the Telegraph, "This is the last resort, there's no way out of this one. Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages."

   Right now, the government is trying to send only skilled workers to Fiji. Hopefully, this will allow them to assimilate as productive members of society, reducing resentment or discrimination from the locals. His administration has launched an "Education for Migration" program, aimed at teaching the population job skills to make them more attractive immigrants to other nations like Fiji.

   Mr. Tong explained his plan on the state-run Fiji One television channel:

   "We don't want 100,000 people from Kiribati coming to Fiji in one go," he said.

   "They need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer, people who have a place in the community, people who will not be seen as second-class citizens."

   "What we need is the international community to come up with an urgent funding package to deal with that ambition, and the needs of countries like Kiribati."

   Many islanders are concerned that their unique culture will be lost when the population moves. It's not clear exactly what will happen when the population of an entire nation is forced to migrate. What we do know is this: it will not be the last time an island nation is forced to make difficult decisions in order to cope with climate change.

   Legal scholars have yet to determine what the ramifications of such a move would be -- will the evacuated islanders still be citizens of their former nation? Do they still control the waters surrounding the submerged land? No one really knows.

This sad necessity is a forewarning of what will happen to citizens of London, New York, Amsterdam, Boston, Brisbane, etc. etc. Take heed. Let us help the islanders now affected, plan for when it's in our own backyard, and do our best to reduce our contribution to the cause.

   I only have one disagreement with Julie: an earlier report identified Alaskans -- USA citizens -- as perhaps being the first climate refugees.

Nicaraguan army to combat climate change
by Stephen Messenger

   While much of the developed world continues to debate the most effective ways of tackling global carbon emissions in closed-door summits and international forums, some countries hardest hit from changing climate patterns are beginning to take a more direct approach. In light of what it considers a national security risk posed by climate change, the government of Nicaragua has formed the Ecological Battalion, a first-of-its-kind team of soldiers dedicated to combating environmental threats.

   Over the last three decades, forest cover in the once-lush Central American nation has fallen by nearly 25 percent, mostly due to illegal lumber operations which had stripped the region's nature reserves of trees virtually without resistance. But now, thanks to the newly designated eco-battalion made up of 580 soldiers, the forests' most pressing threats may find their days are numbered.

   For Nicaraguan leaders, the ongoing disappearance of their forests has already led to a rise in temperatures and reduced the amount of rainfall. The latter issue is of heightened concern from the nation's leadership, particularly as government officials look to hydroelectric to meet their energy demands.

   "The Nicaraguan government is trying to change the matrix of its energy supply, and to do so we need to preserve and conserve our nature reserves and forests so we can have the water we need to run what will be Central America's largest hydroelectric plant, Tumarin," says Col Juan Ramon Morales, commander of the Ecological Battalion. "But if we don't have forests, we won't produce the rain we need to make this project sustainable. We can't have a hydroelectric plant in the desert."

   According to the BBC, Nicaragua's Environmental Battalion is the first of its kind to battle climate change in Central America -- and they seem to be taking the job very seriously. While the soldiers, clad in camouflage, do carry firearms as they patrol the imperiled forests, they also carry spades to plant trees in areas already cleared.

   "Our color is green by nature," says army chief Col Nestor Lopez. "Now we have to make it that by conscience, too."

Stephen is a freelance writer and linguist based in Porto Alegre, Brazil. He covers issues related to the environmental movement in South America, as well as to the political and social challenges of sustainable development in the region and throughout the world. Stephen's work has appeared in numerous publications both online and in print, including the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!, and the Huffington Post.


Ozone -- a silent peril at ground level by Robyn Francis
Records from Thoreau Reveal New Evidence of Climate Change from David A Gabel
Above all, do no harm

Ozone -- a silent peril at ground level
by Robyn Francis

   We learned of the importance of ozone in the stratosphere when it depleted to allow harmful levels of ultra-violet rays to reach the earth's surface, so ozone up there is a good thing, but not so good closer to earth in the troposphere. At ground level ozone is killing trees and forests and damaging human health. A silent killer that needs to be urgently addressed.

   I recall Bill Mollison in the late 1980s warning about the hazards of low-level ozone as a major degenerative factor for life on earth, but along the way it's been overshadowed by concerns for Green House Gases (GHGs), especially CO2, and their climate change impacts. Ironically, the chemical pollutants that cause ozone at ground-level are also very potent greenhouse gases as they rise up into the atmosphere, and are also major contributors to acid rain.

So what is ground level ozone?

   Ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, is formed when volatile organic compounds react with pollutants from burning fossil fuels, motor vehicle exhaust, reactive nitrogen from agriculture, and methane, in the presence of UV radiation and heat from the sun. Ozone at ground level is a toxic poison -- especially to plants and also to people.

   In cities: "The chemicals that react to form ozone come from sources such as: motor vehicle exhaust, oil refining, printing, petrochemicals, lawn mowing, aviation, bushfires and burning off. Motor vehicle exhaust fumes produce as much as 70% of the nitrogen oxides and 50% of the organic chemicals that form ozone." -- DSEWPC

What does it do to plants?

   It enters the stomata of leaves as they take in CO2 for photosynthesis, it impairs plant growth and ability to take up nutrients. With cumulative exposure, plants are subject to a range of problems eventuating in death, and the worst impact is on trees that are slowly dying around the world.

   Common symptoms of ozone poisoning include:

   Ozone weakens trees' immune systems and impairs their natural defences against insects, disease and damaging fungi. It makes their wood more brittle. Root systems deteriorate as trees expend more energy to repair ozone damage in their leaves - this is compounded by acid rain. The breakdown of root systems makes trees more prone to falling in storms and increases the risk of landslides and avalanches.

   I have seen the above first hand. In 2009 travelling through the Cascade Mountain in the USA North West, the number of unhealthy trees in the forests was quite distressing.

   I was told a beetle is triggering the dieback of trees, and locals wonder if climate change is a trigger, however after researching the issues surrounding ground level ozone, it would appear that the beetles are a symptom of a deeper and wider problem.

   The following year, 2010 I was in Europe and the demise of Chestnut trees was brought to my attention, initially in South Germany, however throughout my travels in Germany and France every Chestnut tree I saw was sick. A colleague returning from Ukraine said the Chestnuts were sick and dying there and throughout much of Europe. These are issues now, not pending problems of some distant future scenario.

These chestnut trees in Sth France should be green in their summer prime, but it looks more like early autumn with yellowing and browning leaves, infested with a deadly rust disease - an example of premature senescence.

   Ozone also reduces the growth and yield of crop plants, and impairs their ability to take up nutrients. This in turn means people and animals are suffering from nutrient deficiencies.

What does ground-level ozone do to us?

   Ozone impacts most severely on people who suffer asthma, emphysema and respiratory illness, who are at greatest risk of dying during severe heat waves with high UV and ozone levels. Athletics and joggers are particularly cautioned as they breathe more deeply. Ozone has been linked to diabetes, cancers, heart disease, ADHD, Alzheimer's, and autism.

   High amounts of ground-level ozone cause


How Can I Reduce My Contribution to Ground-Level Ozone?

   Some suggestions from Ground-Level Ozone - National Safety Council

   I think we can easily add many more actions to this list, and most of the things we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise green house gas emissions will also help reduce the creation of ground-level ozone.

A far too common sight in the Cascade Mountains, lots of dead and dying trees in the forest.

Robyn Francis is an international permaculture consultant, educator and pioneer, based in Australia. Robyn balances positive and practical regenerative action with monitoring the changes to earth's life-supporting systems. She is Director of Djanbung Gardens and Permaculture College Australia, founding director of Permaculture International Ltd/Permaculture Australia, and key architect of the Accredited Permaculture Training national qualifications in Permaculture.

Records from Thoreau Reveal New Evidence of Climate Change
from David A Gabel

   Henry David Thoreau was a famed naturalist, philosopher, and author who resided in Eastern Massachusetts from 1817 to 1862. He was also a leading abolitionist and advocator of civil disobedience in defiance of an unjust state. He is perhaps best known for his views on simple living uncluttered by overdevelopment embodied in his famous book Walden; or, Life in the Woods. As a naturalist, he made records for the flowering dates of a number of common plant species. Now, 150 years later, a team of biologists from Boston University (BU) have compared those flowering records with those of today. They found that the flowering date for 43 common species had moved up by an average of seven days since the time of Thoreau.

   The researchers found that some unfortunate plants that were not able to adapt to the earlier spring have now vanished from this Earth. For example, there were 21 species of wild orchid in Concord, MA in the 1860s. Now, there are only six.

   The research was conducted by Richard Primack, professor of biology at BU and his graduate student, Abe Miller-Rushing. Along with the help of independent Thoreau scholar, Brad Dean, they walked in the path of Henry David Thoreau, observing the same species.

   They also located similar records by the botanist Alfred Hosmer, who also followed in Thoreau's footsteps around the turn of the 20th century.

   "Even though the world around us has changed quite a bit, we were able to do roughly the same fieldwork he did," said Miller-Rushing, who is now the science coordinator for the Schoodic Education and Research Center, Acadia National Park, in Maine. "He couldn't possibly have been thinking about the things we are using his data for today."

   Plants can adapt to climate change in two ways. They can either adjust their ranges, moving to higher latitudes or altitudes, or they can adjust their phenology, or timing of seasonal events such as blooming and leafing. Primack found that 43 common species had adjusted their phenology in the Concord area in response to rising temperatures. Since Thoreau's time, Concord's average temperature has risen by 4.3 degrees F.

   Thoreau's records have given modern scientists a way to track the long-term trend of climate change. Usually, long-term trends consist of data from the last 30 or 50 years. For the first time, current data could be compared to data from the mid-1800s. Yet another significant contribution from the amazing life of Henry David Thoreau.

This study was published in the journal BioScience.
Link to published article:

Above all, do no harm

This is a slightly modified extract from one of the books I am writing.

   In times past, people sometimes accused me of being a hippy. I resented this, because nothing could have been further from the truth. For one thing, I don't have a hip to speak of: straight up and down sides.

   The term "hippy" had implications of unrealistic idealism, drugs, indiscriminate sex, unwashed bodies, raucous music.

   Well, I did have a lot of idealism, and still do, but it was all too realistic. I was part of a vigorous movement that tried to change the world. Our motivation was to prevent life from degenerating into exactly what we have now. Most people considered that it was unrealistic to hope that greed, short-sighted (and therefore truly unrealistic) self-interest and a cynical disregard for common welfare would lose out to decency, caring and cooperation.

   Labelling us as hippies meant that we could be dismissed instead of listened to.

   As for the other supposed features of a hippy...

   My only addictions were for distance running, hard work and good, wholesome food.

   The sexual revolution passed me by (actually, I find it revolting). I was, and am, happily married to the one person. I often tell people I'm no good at getting married, having done it only once.

   I like hygiene regarding my own body, and that of any other person within smelling distance.

   As for music, my preference is for Chopin, Beethoven, Bach and the like.

   So, no. I never was a hippy.

   All the same, I have a great deal of admiration for a person who may well have had the nickname of Hippy in his childhood. His full name was Hippocrates, and he is considered to be the father of medicine. To this day, physicians and surgeons swear a Hippocratic Oath, which obliges them to a number of things, the most important being:


   This is a good guide for medicine. It is also a good guide for everyday life, for every person in every circumstance. Insofar as my fallible abilities and habits allow me, I follow it in everything.

   That of course makes me unrealistically idealistic.

   Just suppose that every person on planet Earth started living by the Hippocratic oath. Imagine: no murder or other forms of violence. No theft. No bullying, malicious gossip or taking advantage of the weaknesses of another. No more "caveat emptor," but strictly honest business dealings. No amassing wealth at the expense of others.

   If we could do that right now, the whole of humanity would be able to work together to lessen the impacts of the catastrophe that has already started, although few people recognise it as yet.

   In the early 1970s, the wonderful Ecologist magazine published a cartoon. A man had fallen off a skyscraper, and is just passing the halfway mark to the ground. He is saying, "So far so good!" Not wanting to violate copyright, my friend Alfredo Zotti and I have borrowed the idea: he is falling off a cliff instead of a building. You have been scrolling past his passage down, down, down. Only, now he is almost ready to go SPLAT. Determinedly not looking down, he is still saying, "So far so good!"

   When does disaster start? Not at the SPLAT but at the OOPS. That is already history; it was already history in the 1970s.

   Millions have already been killed by the cataclysm, for example:

   I could go on for several pages, but it is not too late to reduce the effects of cataclysm, to save something worthwhile. All we need is for as many people as possible to follow me as I follow Hippy.

   Join me?

Humanitarian issues: Put the bite on Apple

An appeal from injured workers
Peter Hart on whether Apple can afford decency

An appeal from injured workers

Dear Friends,

   You don't know us but you have seen our work. Until recently, we worked long hours assembling Apple's iPhone touch screens in Suzhou, China.

   In early 2010, it was independently confirmed that 137 workers, including us, were poisoned by a chemical called n-hexane which was used to clean iPhone screens. N-hexane is known to cause eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation, and leads to persistent nerve damage. Apple admitted to gross labour rights violations more than a year later.

   If more people know about what we went through, Apple will feel pressured to change so other workers don't have to suffer like we did.

   Can you share this letter with your friends, and ask them to join you in signing our petition calling for a reform of working conditions at their factories?

   We have been pressuring Apple, and its new CEO Tim Cook, for years to compensate those of us who were injured working for them, and demanding reform of working conditions at their Chinese factories so that their workers don't suffer like we do. Now we need your help as customers or potential customers of Apple.

   125,000 have signed the petition. We thank them. Now we need to get the word out that the problem isn't fixed. Apple still has a lot of work to do to address our collective concerns.

   It has been over two years since many of us were hospitalized and treated but our debilitating symptoms continue. Rui-Qiang still can't find work because he can no longer stand for the long hours most jobs require. Jing-Chuan has to spend nearly $100 a month on health supplements.

   Can you share our letter with your friends, and ask them to sign the petition too?

   But with all of us working together to pressure Apple to change, we can make sure what happened to us doesn't happen to others too.

Guo Rui-qiang and Jia Jing-chuan

   SumOfUs is a world-wide movement of people like you, working together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy. Click here to add yourself to SumOfUs.

Peter Hart on whether Apple can afford decency

   In the Times Sunday Review, Jesse Kornbluth writes (2/12/12):

   "There are things that do not happen in the real world: Noam Chomsky becoming president. Unflattering photos of Jennifer Aniston. Apple doubling the price of iPhones so its Chinese assemblers can work a 40-hour week."

   OK, I know he's being cheeky (Chomsky hasn't declared as a presidential candidate yet), but something should still be said about this idea that Apple products simply have to be manufactured in sweatshops.

   Last week, the Times tech writer David Pogue (2/9/12) made a similarly flawed argument:

   "Bringing workplace standards and pay in Chinese factories up to American levels would, of course, raise the price of our electronics. How much is hard to say, but a financial analyst for an outsourcing company figures a $200 iPhone might cost $350 if it were built here."

   Pogue added:

   "The issue is complicated. It's upsetting. We, the consumers, want our shiny electronics. We want them cheap, yet we want them built by well-paid, healthy workers. But apparently, we can't have both."

   Luckily, Ryan Chittum at CJR (2/10/12) looked at the math here, and he makes a pretty convincing case that Pogue's got it wrong. Even if you accept--which you shouldn't--Pogue's $150 price differential, there are plenty of questions to raise:

   For one, iPhones have super-high profit margins. A teardown analysis by IHS iSuppli pegs the cost of that $649 iPhone at $188, giving Apple stunning gross margins of more than 71 percent. Making the phone here would presumably force Apple to transfer much of the increased cost to shareholders, rather than boosting prices for consumers. Put another way, even accepting this $150 figure, Apple would still have gross margins on the iPhone of about 50 percent without raising the price one penny. This would reverse somewhat the flow of money from the middle and working classes to the capital holders concentrated in the top 1 percent.

   Chittum adds, more directly, that Pogue needn't rely on "a financial analyst for an outsourcing company." He could, as Chittum noted, read his own paper, which reported it this way:

   "However, various academics and manufacturing analysts estimate that because labor is such a small part of technology manufacturing, paying American wages would add up to $65 to each iPhone's expense."

   In other words, Pogue's "upsetting" dilemma doesn't really have anything to do with the impossibility of having the best of both worlds: cheap gadgets and well-paid workers. Consumers could almost certainly have something close to both--but it would mean making Apple a very profitable company instead of a massively profitable one.

From FAIR blog, of which Peter Hart is the activism director.

Deeper Issues

Acts of love by Chris Hedges
Religions unite to save you
Kyle Chamberlain on jobs

Acts of love
by Chris Hedges

   Love, the deepest human commitment, the force that defies empirical examination and yet is the defining and most glorious element in human life, the love between two people, between children and parents, between friends, between partners, reminds us of why we have been created for our brief sojourns on the planet. Those who cannot love--and I have seen these deformed human beings in the wars and conflicts I covered--are spiritually and emotionally dead. They affirm themselves through destruction, first of others and then, finally, of themselves. Those incapable of love never live.

   "Hell," Dostoevsky wrote, "is the inability to love."

   And yet, so much is written and said about love that at once diminishes its grandeur and trivializes its meaning. Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, cautioned all of us about preaching on love, reminding us that any examination of love had to include, as Erich Fromm pointed out in "Selfishness and Self-Love," the unmasking of pseudo-love.

   God is a verb rather than a noun. God is a process rather than an entity. There is some biblical justification for this. God, after all, answered Moses' request for revelation with the words, "I AM WHO I AM." This phrase is probably more accurately translated "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE." God seems to be saying to Moses that the reality of the divine is an experience. God comes to us in the profound flashes of insight that cut through the darkness, in the hope that permits human beings to cope with inevitable despair and suffering, in the healing solidarity of kindness, compassion and self-sacrifice, especially when this compassion allows us to reach out to others, and not only others like us, but those defined by our communities as strangers, as outcasts. "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE." This reality, the reality of the eternal, must be grounded in that which we cannot touch, see or define, in mystery, in a kind of faith in the ultimate worth of compassion, even when the reality of the world around us seems to belittle compassion as futile.

Read on at

Religions unite to save you
by Karin Kloosterman

   Can mobilizing the world's faithful save the planet where activists without faith have failed? Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders will be speaking out on climate change next week, while conveying their shared visions on renewable energy at the Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference. It will be held in Jerusalem on Monday, March 19th and you the public are invited to attend.

   Religious leaders and institutions have the potential to mobilize billions of followers in the global struggle to curb climate change, say organizers. And it is being held at an auspicious time on purpose: 90 days in advance of the UN Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development. The groups hope to generate tractable environmental change within faith-based communities.

   Among the notables, panelists include the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, Archbishop Dr. Elias Chacour, Sheik Muhammed Amara, and Rabbi Ronen Lubitch.

A shout out from the Dalai Lama

   Video addresses by world religious leaders will follow, from the Dalai Lama, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church; Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

   Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur will follow the main panel event.

   The Conference marks the launch of the Interfaith Seminary Students Sustainability Project, bringing together Muslim, Christian, and Jewish seminary students for a series of seminars on faith and the environment.

   The Conference will also launch the first online video collection of world religious leaders on climate change.

   The event is being put on by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the location is the beautiful Mishkenot Sha'ananim in Jerusalem. There will be transport from Tel Aviv for those who register. And admission is free, with lunch.

From Green Prophet

Kyle Chamberlain on jobs

   We are told that our problem is that there aren't enough jobs. This message is everywhere. The media gauges our plight with regularly updated unemployment statistics. Politicians debate theatrically over who can create more work. People everywhere clamor for scarce positions at factories and corporations.

   I'd like to point out the great irony of this situation -- people hate their jobs. How many people do you know who love their job? The truth is, most of us who have ordinary jobs can barely tolerate them. All else being equal, we'd rather not do them.

   Work ethic is something this society takes pride in. But, if we are honest, we will confess that we call ourselves 'hard working' primarily to rationalize the daily abuses, deprivations and indignities of the workplace. Work ethic is the only ethic most of us satisfy at our jobs. I think we can agree that most of our jobs aren't making the world a better place.

   So here we are, bickering and begging to fill roles we hate.

   We should remember, that 'employed' is just another word for 'used.' Just as you might employ a hammer and nails, your employer employs, or uses, you. The term 'used' very aptly describes our relationship with our employers. Like prostitutes, we resign ourselves to fake relationships for an empty cash return. In a healthy relationship, our devotions are reciprocated in kind. But in a relationship of use and abuse, the best you can expect is a cash settlement.

   It should not surprise us, then, that politicians and other powerful people will laud our enthusiasm for employment and champion that cause. To the elite, unemployment is a crisis because it means that the population is insufficiently used. An unused population is unprofitable, and potentially unruly. So, when the wealthy come to our rescue, they do it with jobs. As the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation slogan goes, "We believe that all people deserve the chance to lead healthy productive lives." (emphasis mine)

   Employment has become almost inseparable from other values like responsibility and human welfare. In our culture, promoting employment has become synonymous with supporting families, communities, and countries. At a time when we are so utterly reliant on employment and the economy for our survival, being anti-job is like being anti-life. Who but the laziest and most unrealistic sort of hippie would oppose jobs?

   But let us not forget; people were not always so dependent on employment or the economy for survival. In fact, we've been hunter/gatherers for most of our existence. Money, the economy, and even farming are relatively recent contrivances. We made them up. And, until very recent history, jobs were merely part of a mixed strategy used by families to make a living. Hunting, gathering, gardening, crafting, gifting, cooperation, trade, and self-employment, are all perfectly viable ways to make a living. Our grandparents recognized that money wasn't always the most effective way to meet a need. Living by paycheck alone was a thing for the urban wealthy.

   At periods in history, it's been possible for some people to use currency to maintain an affluence disproportionate to the real value of their work. We may be nearing the close of such a period. Unfortunately, alternatives to employment are growing scarce.

Read on...

People who know me will realise that this is exact tune with my philosophy. Between the years 1978 and 2005, my wife Jolanda and I raised 3 wonderful children while being below the official poverty level every one of those years. We consider ourselves to have lived like royalty. Check out my essay on the subject.


Mindfulness: Be Passionate. Be Present. Be Wise by Liana Taylor
Being a crim sucks
They are blaming me because he is dying
I am 13 and bisexual

Mindfulness: Be Passionate. Be Present. Be Wise
by Liana Taylor

Be the person you want to be, live the life you want to live

   Mindfulnesss is a skill that assists us to live, not just survive -- to relate differently to the unbalancing 'familiar guests' of the mind and deal with life on its own terms.

   Be mindful every day, remembering to:

   And mindfully bring your focus back to:

   As we use mindfulness more and more to ride the inevitable waves of life, we naturally become more passionate, present and wise. As we ride the irritations, sorrows, fears, pain and depressions more easily, we start to focus more on being the person we want to be, living the life we want to live.

Fit to Live!

   Here at the Mindfulness Centre our Director, Liana and Office Manager, Hannah love to cycle. We will be taking on the challenge of cycling 30 Km from Summertown (Adelaide Hills) to Adelaide City in the Boileau Velo Adelaide Mount Lofty Challenge ride organised by Bike SA on March 18. Cycling is a part of our ethos of being Fit to Live and is an active expression of our new series of courses.

   We will be riding for The Smith Family, and raising money in support of the 605,000 Australian children who are living in disadvantage and are unable to access the same educational, health or life opportunities that many of us enjoy and often take for granted.

   To support this amazing cause, please sponsor us today.

   Read Liana's new Fit to Live blog.

What's new?

   We are excited to launch our new course program for 2012! Our three series of mindfulness-based courses develop the depth and breadth practitioners need to assist clients in dealing with those 'familiar guests' of the mind, to heal and to flourish. Developed by Liana Taylor for practitioners to have the skills they need to show their clients that life is for living, not just surviving! We hope you enjoy this sneak preview of our new website launch in March.

   Download a list of dates and fees for 2012.

Being a crim sucks

   Last summer I broke into a house multiple times and borrowed a car without permission. I was caught after doing so by law enforcement and ended up with 4 felonies and 15 misdemeanors. I was 17 at the time. Only by the grace of god was I not imprisoned, I am currently serving 500 hours of community service in one year, doing random drug testing once a month, and stirring monthly follow up reports on how I am doing. On top of that I am a senior in HS and work part time 20 hours a week. For the past 8 months I have been following the plan set before me, but with that I have felt extremely overwhelmed, stressed, and tired. Last week I was drug tested and failed. The only reason I could come up with for smoking pot was because it gave me a release that I felt I needed to get away from everything. On top of that, at school on a field trip, I had drawn a mustache and eyebrows on a kid's face and am being punished with suspension because of hazing, even after the kid told officials he thought it was a funny prank. So here I am tired, list and confused.

   With all that has/is happening in my life right now, I can't seem to find a solution of what to do. I want to just leave and start over somewhere else but I can't due to the restrictions placed upon me. I feel lost in my life and no matter what I try I can't find happiness for a sustainable amount of time. I want to be helped, I have seen counselors and tried what I feel is everything I can try. I need to find a way to get through this that does not harm my physical well being. Please help I have nowhere else to turn.

UncertainlyLost (18 years old)

Dear Mike,

   What I read under your message is that you want to change your life. You want to make something of yourself and live in a decent, meaningful, constructive way instead of doing drugs and petty crime. The problem is that the consequences of your past actions have caught up with you, and you are overwhelmed by all the pressures and demands. It's all just too much. This can be addressed in three ways, and you can attempt to do all three.

1. Re-engineer the situation.

   You've got school, a part-time job and a lot of community work. I suggest you list the total number of hours this takes up in a week, and go to your parole officer. Ask this person's help in how to reduce the load. For example, can at least part of your paid employment be counted toward your community work? Or could the time period for the 500 hours be extended beyond one year?

   You can go to your school principal, and show him this email: your cry for help and my response. Ask what the school can do to enable you to reform, to improve in both your behavior at school and your academic performance, and again, to reduce your total obligations. For example, the school might have access to scholarships, or contact with charitable organizations that can support worthwhile students. If you make a decent, respectful approach, you may be surprised at the reaction.

2. Build up your inner strength.

   You can do this in several ways. Look up and put into practice the 7 measures I describe there.

   Stop all drug use. Even when you are desperate, marijuana, alcohol and other drugs only provide temporary relief, and then leave you feeling worse. When your body is free of chemicals that affect your brain, you will cope better with everything.

   Find someone local who can teach you how to meditate. There are many ways of meditation. All put you into a temporary place of complete peace that recharges your batteries and makes the rest of your life bearable. Quarter to half an hour a day meditating will make you cope better with anything. It's an investment that will make you more efficient in what you do, so you'll actually end up with more time.

   Get into the habit of doing acts of kindness for others. A rule of the universe is: the more you give, the more you get. When you do things that make others feel better, you will grow in self-respect and inner strength, and will be able to cope with your load. Besides, what goes around comes around, and you will find that others will do acts of kindness to you.

3. Practice acceptance.

   There are people who are "geniuses at survival." Most people buckle under pressure. A few are distressed when in a situation like being tortured, locked in a concentration camp or suffering other terrible things, but they still maintain their calm, inner peace and even sense of humor.

   We can learn from such people.

   Their secret it, "Whatever is, is, and it's all right."

   Genuine Christians say, "It's God's will. I trust in God, and can bear anything." Genuine Muslims say, "Insha'Allah," meaning, "It is God's will." They can be perfectly calm and accepting in the middle of the worst situation you can imagine.

   However, you can achieve this attitude without believing in any religion. What you need to do is to reject the selfish, greedy culture you see around you. Until now, you have simply accepted this culture, and acted it. Now, you can choose how to live.

   You see, only two things matter in life: what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others. Everything else is monopoly money.

   Good luck, and let me know if this has been helpful for you.


They are blaming me because he is dying

   I had been in a relationship for over 10 years with a man that drank every night. He was not a slobering drunk but drank every night. I had asked him to quit many times. I finally moved out thinking that would change the situation but it didn't. I kept staying friends, trying to think that something at some time would click. Our whole life was socializing with drinking. He had gotten a good job, but had never tried to again make a commitment to me. As long as I continued to drink when we went out it was fine. I stayed friends thinking that I could help someday. Now he is dying of cirrhosis of the liver and on top of everything else his family thinks that if I would have stayed and made a home that he would not have been like this because he said he really loved me. I did move on and met someone who works hard like I do and is not a drinker, but they have said this is what caused him to go over the edge this time. I have been the one dealing with his conditions of the cirrhosis ever since he was diagnosed, taking him to doctors appts riding behind ambulances at 3 am with his family never even offering to help, and now since he is on his death bed they wonder why I just did not come back around, but I wanted to help him he had no one else.

   Was I wrong to continue helping him? I am now the only one going to the nursing home because his sister and a brother and mother just can't stand to see him like that now. He needs the comfort even now by someone.

Dear Amy,

   I think you have been doing the right thing all along.

   You tried to get him to stop drinking. When he refused, after time and again, you left him and built a good life for yourself with a good man. Then, despite this, you have had the compassion to be there for the poor fellow as his lifelong habit of alcohol abuse is killing him.

   This shows you to be a fine person. I am sure your new man is proud of you.

   Don't spend energy worrying about how your first guy's family reacts. That's their business. Your business is to stay as you are, and to continue growing in the same direction of wisdom and caring.

Have a good life,

I am 13 and bisexual

   I'm 13 and I'm bisexual. I have been with both boys & girls and it feels right to me. Whenever I try to tell my mother she is like kids are too young to understand but I just want someone to get it not just try to understand but truly get it I need help before I go crazy. I do luv myself and I do accept who I am but I just don't want people to hate me because of it. I'm also adopted and have been raped before. I don't know if I'm just a lesbian but whatever I am I'm still going to love me for being me.

   So tell me: Am I to young to know my sexually?

   Am I a lesbian or am I really bisexual?

   How do I tell my mother about it?

   is it just a phase or the real deal?

   Will people still treat me the same?

   Will people hate me?

Dear Rachel,

   The early teenage years are full of suffering and confusion and desperation. At your age, your job is to design your future: what kind of life you live later on will depend on what decisions you make now. Your struggle with sexuality is a part of that. It is perfectly OK to ask these questions.

   It is possible that your whole attention is on the sexual question because you have been raped. That is a terrible thing, and many children respond to it by "sexualized behavior."

   It is not usual for 13 year olds to engage in sexual activity, whether it is with the same sex or the other. You saying that you have done so, perhaps many times, is a sign of injury that this past has caused, and you seriously need good trauma therapy.

   Rape is a crime. Sex with a minor is a crime. As the victim of a crime, it is more than likely that you are entitled to help and assistance from the State. Ask your mother to find out, or you can do an internet search to see what your State does for its crime victims.

   I cannot answer anything about your sexual preferences. Only time and experience will reveal that. But actually, this is not an important question. What is important is that in your relationships with others, you need to end up with, grow into, mature love. That is when your aim in life is to make your partner happy, and his/her aim in life is to make you happy. It's a relationship of mutual commitment. You do your best not to hurt the partner in any way, to be two halves of a whole, to have loyalty and mutual trust.

   If you can achieve this beautiful partnership with someone, it really doesn't matter if that person is a man or a woman.

   Sex without this kind of commitment is sleazy and unsatisfying. With it, it is nature's reward for love.

   So, please, stop engaging in actions that are highly likely to hurt you and the boys and girls you experiment with. The possible hurts are:

   In summary, your focus on sex is likely to be an effect of the crime that was committed against you. Seek therapy. Your questioning and experimenting in general are normal and healthy, just the focus on sex isn't. Aim for developing into the kind of person who can love, not just rub bodies together.

You can do it.


Medicines that may kill you

   The Ecologist magazine has summarised a British government report about the adverse side effects (including death in some cases) of many commonly used drugs. While the problems only affect a small proportion of cases, they do mount up to frightening numbers.

   This reminds me of a news item many years ago now: at the time, doctors in California went on strike -- and the death rate went down.

   But it's all right. There is nothing wrong with dying. Everybody does it. The only fatal problem is conception.


A two-country lifestyle by Anna Jacobs

A two-country lifestyle
by Anna Jacobs

   The first time my husband suggested us buying a summer home in the UK, I said no way, too much extra work, I've got writing to do.

   And it is a lot of work. But it's also wonderfully stimulating and to my surprise, it has helped rather than hindered my writing.

   We were born in the UK, emigrated to Australia thirty years ago and now spend five warmest months in the UK. No way could we face cold winters!

   We wanted to keep in better touch with family, for business reasons (I'm with three UK publishers) and for the sheer stimulation.

   The biggest challenge was to find somewhere that could be insured while we were away. No nipping back every few weeks from Australia, like UK/ Spain migrants.

   We eventually found a leisure village of second homes attached to a golf course. (My husband loves his golf!) We're surrounded by sociable, well-travelled people who world-hop like us, some going to three or four different countries each year. There's a built-in security system because it's in a hotel complex, so insurance is OK.

   We couldn't afford a mansion -- not many novelists could -- and bought a smallish three-bedroom terrace/row house. Last year, in our third summer, we had a loft conversion done, common in the UK giving another room in the roof space.

Moving basics for writers

   Setting up an extra home and office in another country is no small task. I'll concentrate on the office side, because trust me, you don't want to know about the interminable minutiae necessary to set up a kitchen and home from scratch.

   We moved in with two beds and two sofas, bought online and delivered before we arrived, plus two survival tea chests sent ahead, and kitchen bits and pieces donated by my UK sister.

   My UK office was in the smallest bedroom then, more like a glorified cupboard. It was hard to get used to working in such a restricted space, but that was the price I paid for living there. Since the loft conversion, I now have a larger office. Thank goodness!

   You can buy office and computer equipment and get online wherever you are. You can carry writing and research files round the world on a tiny thumb drive.

   The hard part was to sort through 15 years of computer files from 50 novels and figure out exactly what (research, ideas, business, miscellaneous) might be needed. It took me nearly a week to sort out which files to take that first time so that I'd have a well-organised office in both countries.

   Now, I keep a thumb drive handy from the first day in each country and transfer new files to it regularly. I also use online storage.

   In Australia, I have a wall of research books plus two bookcases full of folders and files of notes collected over the years, not to mention boxes of systems cards with historical 'titbits' on them. I couldn't afford the time to copy them all, and anyway, we had no space to store them in the UK. I had to buy a few key books, trust in the Internet's research capacities and try to write my historical novels mainly while in Australia.

   I sorted out my office stationery cupboard for the first time in years, finding enough spares of basic office supplies to put into the two survival tea chests. I honestly hadn't realised I'd been hoarding so much. I think we're much 'greener' now.

   I worried quite a bit about a supply of leisure reading material because I have a three books a week reading habit to support! I needn't have worried. Books are cheaper in the UK, with a far wider range of authors. And there are research books I'd not have found down under.

   Now I worry about the opposite: what I'll read in Australia, where supply is much more limited and expensive.

Effects on writing

   Business: I've been able to meet with editors and my new agent in person. That is a huge bonus. I've also slipped into some great networks of UK novelists. And of course, I'm available for PR in the UK, where I sell most books. You can't do everything by email!

   Creativity: I didn't expect the new way of living to have such a positive impact on my writing output. I'm not in Nora's league, but I've speeded up from 3 to 4 books a year. Ideas have sparked in greater numbers than ever before, as I react to new situations, or see different types of TV programmes, or read newspaper articles with different attitudes, or simply talk to a wider range of people.

   Settings: I used my own experience of moving countries in one of my modern novels (Moving On). The lake near our house was a central feature in another one (Saving Willowbrook), which I wrote that first summer. And I have my eye on a few other places nearby.

   Authorial viewpoint: I'm finding so many new ideas because I now see England both as an outsider and as a local. An observer can see things locals might miss, not to mention interpreting them for readers both inside and outside the country, thus adding to the richness of the reading experience.

   Cultural influences: Life and attitudes are different in another country. In the UK it's close enough to make me feel comfortable, but different enough to stimulate me and make me look at life, the universe and everything differently. I really like that.

Various concerns

   Inevitably, there are downsides to living in two countries but let's face it, nowhere is perfect. The main downside for us is being away from our daughters and grandson. Emails and webcams help.

   To-ing and fro-ing takes time and money. It isn't cheap going from Australia to the UK, even with relevant tax deductions for work-related activities. Thank heavens for my husband! He's brilliant at managing that aspect.

   Preparing for each transfer takes several days' of hard work. You can't just walk away from a house and garden.

   Jet lag is a nuisance. I've found no way to circumvent about a week of fuzzy brain after each 24 hour trip. Luckily, this coincides with that other pain -- shopping to restock the groceries.

   We were lucky to find delightful neighbours, one of whom watches over our house and checks our mail. It'd be difficult without such help.

To sum up

   We love living in two countries and intend to do so for as long as possible. If you're teetering on the verge, go for it, but plan carefully. We tested out the water by doing house swapping for a few years, but really, unless you go to an uncivilised country, people are people, the Internet is everywhere and (sadly) shopping is everywhere too.

   Are you tempted? Beware, a two-country lifestyle is addictive.

I first met Anna many years ago, when she ran a workshop on electronic publishing at the Victorian Writers' Centre. Soon after that, her career took off, mostly in Britain, and she is now the author of 50 wonderful books. Their best feature is the people in them: the characters leap off the page. Her latest books are Winds of Change, and The Trader's Sister, April 2012, a historical novel set in Western Australia and Singapore in the 1860s.

What my friends want you to know

How would you spend $100 billion for Australia? from Senator Bob Brown
Stop Monsanto
British project on depression
Cycling around Australia
Help protect koalas

How would you spend $100 billion for Australia?

Dear friend,

   The debate on the Government's mining tax bill is underway in the Senate chamber. The bill is a shadow of its former self -- Australia could do so much better.

   You'll remember that the mining industry's aggressive scare campaign before the last election rattled the Government, so it has cut Treasury's original tax rate nearly in half, made exemption after exemption to the tax and slashed the expected revenue by almost 75 per cent.

   The mining boom won't last forever. A better designed mining tax could raise a lot more revenue than the proposed Minerals Resource Rent Tax -- in the order of $100 billion more over the next decade.

   Imagine what we could do with one hundred billion dollars. We could make dental care part of Medicare, or connect 18 million Australians with high speed rail, or start building big solar power plants to cut our reliance on fossil fuels. We could deliver the substantial funding boost to schools so desperately needed across the country -- and called for by the Government's own review.

Watch our new video to see what Australia could do with one hundred billion dollars.

   The other parties have missed the point. The Government will sign away billions to the big mining companies, and the Coalition wants to scrap the mining tax altogether, but the Greens' number one priority is investing in Australia's people. That means education, health and transport -- resourced the way they should be.

   The Greens say, let's go back to Treasury's original plan.

   A stronger and fairer mining tax will ensure the largely foreign-owned mining companies pay their fair share for the resources owned by the Australian people. It's an economically responsible way to fund policies that improve the lives of everyone.

Yours sincerely,

p.s. After you've watched the video, ask yourself: 'How would I spend $100 billion for Australia?' and vote in our poll.

p.p.s. The Government now proposes to introduce legislation in May to hand back $16 billion (over ten years) from this enfeebled mining tax to large corporations by reducing the company tax rate from 30% to 29%. Share this video and help the Greens stop this tax break for large business (while allowing a break for small businesses) so the money can be spent on measures like Denticare, schools and high speed rail.

Stop Monsanto

   Monsanto is launching its latest war against good, healthy food -- but we have an opportunity to fight back. Monsanto's first genetically modified (GM) corn for direct human consumption has toxins built right into the plant's DNA, and could be on dinner plates soon -- sold unmarked, unlabelled, and untested on humans. Monsanto's first foray into selling this potentially toxic GM corn straight to consumers is taking place in the U.S., but if they succeed, they won't stop there.

   Monsanto is relying on supermarkets to sell its product to American consumers -- and the biggest of those is global megacorporation WalMart. If we can stop WalMart from selling Monsanto corn, we can send a clear signal to Monsanto that consumers around the world won't stand for untested GMO food on their dinner plates -- and take a big bite out of the profits they're expecting.

   Sign our urgent petition to WalMart's CEO demanding that WalMart refuse to sell Monsanto's new toxic GMO corn.

   Monsanto's GM sweet corn contains Bt toxin, a pesticide designed to rupture the stomach of the insects that eat it. Monsanto insists it's safe for humans -- yet rats who ate potatoes with Bt suffered from intestinal damage and the toxin has never even been tested on humans. Monsanto also claims that Bt toxin breaks down in our digestive systems -- but it has been detected in the blood of pregnant women and unborn babies.

   In the US, biotech firms like Monsanto have spent hundreds of millions lobbying politicians to avoid regulation for GM foods. That's one of the reasons Monsanto has started trying to sell its product in the US -- but it won't stop there. Cornfields across the border in countries like Mexico will inevitably be contaminated as the insect-resistant seeds are carried far afield. And what's worse, Monsanto will see success in the US market as a green light to move into other markets -- and lobby other governments to loosen their restrictions.

   Tell WalMart to take a stand for consumer safety and turn down Monsanto's GMO corn.

   Along with our partners at Food and Water Watch, we're already making progress on this campaign -- more than 60,000 American SumOfUs members have signed the petition, and under pressure a WalMart spokesperson recently told the press that "the decision has not been made."

   As the world's largest corporation by revenue, WalMart operates 8,500 stores in 15 countries under 55 names -- including Asda in the U.K., Pali in Costa Rica, Seiyu in Japan, Walmex in Mexico, Todo Dia or Bompreco in Brazil, Despensa Familiar in Central America, Bharti Walmart in India, and Massmart in sub-Saharan Africa. WalMart wants to be the world's supermarket. If consumers around the world send a strong message now that selling Monsanto's toxic crop will give them a toxic brand, WalMart will back down.

   Shut down Monsanto's GMO corn today -- sign the petition and stop Monsanto from opening up another front in their global war on good healthy food.

Thanks for helping keep our food safe.
Emma, Kaytee and the rest of us

*********Additional Information:

[1]International Journal of Biological Sciences, A comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health

[2] Study: Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of quebec, Canada

[3] Dangerous Toxins From Genetically Modified Corn Found in Blood of Women and Fetuses

[4]Chicago Tribune, Genetically modified corn varieties are popping with news

SumOfUs is a world-wide movement of people like you, working together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy. You can follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

British project on depression

Dear Bob,

   My name is Louise Atkins and I am part of a team of researchers conducting an ethically approved research project (11/LO/1287) at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College University of London. We are currently trying to recruit depressed participants who are able to come to London for a 2 hour session with us.

   Our study aims to investigate the effect of a newly developed Cognitive Bias Modification (CBM) training on depression. This is single session study and we pay for the participant's time. If we identify that CBM training is efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms, this research will shed light on the development of a very cost-effective treatment in mental health.

   If you think you might be interested in participating or want to find out more information please do not hesitate to contact me on

   Thank you so much for your help and time and I would be more than happy to send you some more information about the research if you are interested.

Best wishes,

Cycling around Australia

   I am cycling around Australia researching a book on simple living.

   I thought I'd let you know how things are progressing. So far, I've completed a sample chapter based on a tour of the ultimate self-sufficient house and handed it into the publisher...who was encouraging, but wants to see more before making a commitment. I'm resubmitting the book proposal in June, after completing the first leg of the trip.

   Meanwhile, you can follow the journey at, which features a chronological blog, an itinerary with calendar, a map of the route we've taken so far and profiles of people we've met along the way. Each week I'll post a new profile and descriptions of the journey, so there'll be plenty of material for regular readers. (And because this is the internet, the site also features some gratuitous nudity.)

   Please share the site with any friends who might be interested -- a decent blog readership will be a big help in convincing the publisher to sign up the book, not to mention spreading the sustainability message to a broader audience.

   Because this is now a self-funded trip, I'm also looking for sponsors or partners that share similar ethical values. If you know of a suitable organisation, please get in touch.

   Again, thanks for your help, and I look forward to meeting some of you on the road.

Greg Foyster
Freelance Writer
M: 0410879031

   I'm currently cycling up Australia researching a book about simple living. Follow the journey at, or email to suggest someone to interview.

Help protect koalas

Dear Bob,

   Thank you so much for signing the petition to list koalas as a protected species! Your support helps us take bigger strides toward saving Australia's iconic koalas from becoming extinct.

   Will you continue to help these gentle and unique creatures by drawing more attention to their cause? Let your friends and family know that they, too, can help demand the protection of koalas under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. It's about time Australia's Ministry of Environment secured koalas as nationally threatened species. With more voices, we can make it happen by drawing the Ministry's attention to the urgency of the koalas' diminishing numbers.

Thanks for taking action!


   The March issue of Bainstorming is now live at

   Subjects this month: Mild Winter, Old Age and Heaven, Love, My autobiography: It's never Too late, Book Reviews, Operation on feet and progress report, Religious practices,

   Series--State of America: Environmental Boondoggling and Global Warming, Excerpt from my Autobiography, It's Never Too late

Darrell Bain
Fictionwise Author of the Year
Multiple Dream Realm and Eppie awards
See all my books at

Film review

Fresh, a documentary
by K8

   The "faster, bigger, cheaper" approach to food is slowly draining dry our planet's resources and compromising your health.

   The Earth's soil is depleting at more than 13 percent the rate it can be replaced.

   The documentary "FRESH" celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system.

   The film demonstrates how we can collectively transform the current "industrial agricultural paradigm" into a healthier, more sustainable way of feeding the world, while restoring the health of our ailing planet.

   I hope you will set aside the time to watch it, as it will be time well spent.

   We have already lost 75 percent of the world's crop varieties over the last century.

   Over the past 10 years, we've had 100 million tons of herbicides dumped onto our crops, polluting our soil and streams.

   The agriculture industry now tries to convince us that housing 110,000 to more than one million chickens or 20,000 hogs in a warehouse is a necessary practice to feed the masses.

   The quality of our food is in free-fall, and disease is rampant. Not to mention that the quality of life for those animals is so horrid that many people cannot bear to look. Meanwhile, the human population on our little blue globe continues to rise, recently topping 7 billion souls. We simply cannot sustain this growth with our current model. If we continue along the present path, world hunger will continue to escalate without a viable way to meet the need.

   Forging more sustainable alternatives is imperative if we hope to survive.

   As illuminated in the film, one of the major issues is that farmers have been forced into the practice of monoculture, or monocropping, which is detrimental to our soil, water, plants, and animals -- and therefore detrimental to us.

Link to view video

A little fun

A quiz from Shah N. Khan
Swami's 2012 "State of the Universe" Message... and Awarehouse Special

A quiz from Shah N. Khan

   There were no correct entries for the last quiz from Shah. I am not surprised, because I believe Shah made a mistake and there is no solution.

   In effect, you are required to play scrabble with the letters left if you remove the letter l from each word. So, the solution is: blast --> stab, table --> beat, ablest --> beast, cruel --> cure, tool --> too. According to Shah, the odd one out is lost, because he couldn't find a word made up of o, s, t.

   Well, I can. It is sot.

   So, there is no correct solution to the puzzle, and I get the prize!

   The third puzzle is a bit of applied algebra:

3. A Saudi man provided in his will that his 51 camels should be divided among his three sons, one daughter and a wife as follows:

   The wife to get one-fourth and the daughter one-sixth of the total number of camels distributed among his three sons. Each son will have equal share. What is the individual share of each heir?

   A correct entry will win you any electronic book listed at my writing site.

Swami's 2012 "State of the Universe" Message... and Awarehouse Special

Dear Friends:

   Swami Beyondananda's State of the Universe Address is a little late this year... and right on time. To do special research for this quantum leap year, the Swami journeyed to hyperspace, and returned a bit hyper spacey. So instead of having the address come out at the usual time at the end of January, this year's address was released on the perfect date for launching something new -- March 4th.

   What better day to march forth walking a new walk than March 4th?

   You can read the fool text of the 2012 State of the Universe right here.

   And watch the excerpts on You Tube right here.

   And there's more...

   In these serious times when there is definitely something funny going on, the Swami recommends taking a vow of levity and practicing Cosmic Comic Consciousness. And so in a very special offer, Swami is throwing open the gates of his digital awarehouse to help proliferate cosmic comedy and ho-ho-holy hee-hee-healing with an unbelievable offer.

   Swami's Digital Awarehouse Special: From Scared Economy to Sacred Economy

   For a limited time only, the Swami is offering the Digital Fool Enchilada Special -- two funny and informative e-books
   And four comedy CDs (nearly four hours of hilarity)
   ...normally $39, for ...whatever you choose to pay for it.

   No, the Swami has not gone crazy... but maybe this offer will help us go sane.

   Consider that each of us has wonderful gifts to give, and we experience great joy giving them - and others feel great joy receiving them. Consider also that more and more, most of the aspects of our lives have been "monetized" - the things we used to offer just out of the sheer enjoyment of giving and living, we now feel obliged to charge for because of the financial pressures of keeping up with expenses.

   Last year at this time, I officially "resigned" from the money chase, which led to drastic downscaling of overhead - and "upscaling" the quality of my life. (This is not about austerity, but about realignment of resources from what is no longer required to thrive, to what is.) One of the most interesting and provocative books during this economic transition time is Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein, which I highly recommend. Read it with an open heart and mind, and you will feel new possibilities that will help us make the shift from the "scared economy" (scare-city) to the "sacred economy" (a-bun-dance), where we share our gifts freely and are rewarded amply.

   So I am conducting a little experiment to further unhook my gifts to the money "chase." Over the course of my most recent offer, I got emails from folks who are financially strapped at this moment... and yet could use a good laugh (or the hundreds of 'em contained in the Digital Fool Enchilada). I figured, why should all of these digits be taking up virtual space in my awarehouse when they could be "pro-laugherating" out there on the outernet?

   At the same time, over the course of the past year others who have had the resource available have generously "paid forward" financially in appreciation for the work I do. So, thanks to PayPal, it's possible for people to set their own price -- either more or less than the suggested $39 -- and even write a comment.

   So, if you'd like to bring more laughter and cosmic comic perspective into your life, name your price... and we will send you the Digital Fool Enchilada.

   AND one more thing... we ask you to share your Fool Enchilada with at least one other individual who loves to laugh, or needs to. In these times of nuclear proliferation, what could be more balancing than new clear pro-laugheration?

   To name your own price, order The Digital Fool Enchilada here through PayPal, and send money to

   If you would like to order through the US mail, please send a check to:

Wake Up Laughing
1535 Farmers Lane #281
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
And please include your email address so we can send you the digital download links!

May the FARCE be with you,
Steve Bhaerman

About Bobbing Around

   If you received a copy of Bobbing Around and don't want a repeat, it's simple. Drop me a line and I'll drop you from my list.

   You may know someone who would enjoy reading my rave. Bobbing Around is being archived at, or you can forward a copy to your friend. However, you are NOT ALLOWED to pass on parts of the newsletter, without express permission of the article's author and the Editor (hey, the second one is me.)

   If you are not a subscriber but want to be, email me. Subject should be 'subscribe Bobbing Around' (it will be if you click the link in this paragraph). In the body, please state your name, email address (get it right!), your country and something about yourself. I also want to know how you found your way to my newsletter. I hope we can become friends.

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

  • Announcements, but note that publication date is neither fixed nor guaranteed;
  • Brags of achievements that may be of general interest, for example publication of your book;
  • Poems or very short stories and essays that fit the philosophy and style of Bobbing Around;
  • Above all, responses to items in past issues. I will not reject or censor such comments, even if I disagree with them.

    Submission Guidelines

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

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

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

       Author bios should be about 50 words, and if possible include a web address.