Bobbing Around

Volume Twelve, Number Three
November, 2012

Bob Rich's (sunny) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Petition to save Aussie solar industry
  The cold calculus of a hot planet
  Our climate education problem
  Historic coral collapse on Great Barrier Reef
  Turning off consumerism, by Lucy Hyde
*Good news
  Pakistani girls defy the Taliban
  Sail-inspired turbine promises cheaper wind energy
  Two new environmental apps
*Deeper issues
  The Earth has a Soul, by Meredith Sabini
  Heaven Is Real: A Doctor's Experience With the Afterlife
  I am a sexual abuser
  I feel lost
  Stepchild problem
  Alone and depressed
  Reusable Toilet Paper, by Chaya
  Myths debunked
  Mental Illness in Academe, by Elyn R. Saks
  Big hole in health review, from Fiona Armstrong
*For writers
  How To Win Short Story Competitions, from Geoff Nelder
*What my friends want you to know
  The Chemical Maze, by Bill Statham
  Kids' writing contest needs judges
  British Institute of Learning Disabilities conference, 2013
  Sense of Community and Personality Research Study
  Way of Nature Quest Australia, 2013
  The passing of a great man, from Terri Rule & Cheryl O'Brien
  Winning environmental essays published
Book reviews
  Animals at Play, by Marc Bekoff
  Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs
  The skydiver: a 100 word story
  Christmas 1942, by Charles Langley

What life is about

   I had a sort of a flashback today, for no reason at all. When my son Robert was 7, the kids organised a soccer game, including several visitors. Somehow, Rob ended up as the goalie.

   This big, tough looking teenager, twice Rob's size and twice his age, captured the ball and was racing down the field at a great rate. He pulled his foot back to kick a certain goal -- and saw the little blond boy standing in the way, obviously terrified.

   He kicked the ball to the side, deliberately missing.

   I never found out his name, never met him again. But if all of us were like this teenager, our world would be a good place to live in. Already at that young age, he had learned the Lesson that scoring a goal, winning a game, is far less important than compassion and kindness.

My stories, on your phone

   Cruelty and Compassion is one of the best short stories I've ever written. In 2003, it won a contest with 290 entries, having received over 1500 votes.

   Now you can get a copy of this story for free.

   After the terrible bushfires of 2009 in my area, I wrote a story to honour the 3000 volunteers who came from New South Wales, giving up their time and energy, and even risking their lives, to help us to survive. This story, The Man from NSW is available for only $0.99 (US).

   How can you get at these?

   Go to There you can download an app to suit your smartphone -- either Android or iPhone. Then you can use that device to go to Etherbooks' place at the iTuness App Store. In the search slot, type in "Bob Rich," and my two stories will come up.

   This is as far as I can help you, because I am a smartphone bunny. I did all that, and downloaded Cruelty and Compassion onto my phone -- but have not yet been able to access it.

   If you succeed, can you please instruct me on how to do it?

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.


Petition to save Aussie solar industry
The cold calculus of a hot planet
Our climate education problem

Petition to save Aussie solar industry

   Can you believe it?

   Our Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet has just announced yet another cut to government support for the solar industry, bringing a scheduled reduction to the solar rebate forward six months, and once again plunging the solar industry into uncertainty.

   Let Greg Combet know you're not happy!

   Our politicians just don't seem to get it. The simple fact is solar is the only source of power that is getting cheaper the more we use it,and helping Australians put solar on their roof is one of the best ways to help them manage their energy bills.

   Recently released data shows that solar is being taken up by low and middle income households. This is because they know it will help them reduce their cost of living.

   The government has caved in to weeks of lobbying from energy generators and retailers like Origin who are deeply threatened by the ability of solar to create cleaner, cheaper power than the coal and gas alternative.

   It threatens the jobs of thousands of people working in small businesses across the country. Chopping and changing policy is deeply unfair to those people trying to make a living helping Australians embrace a clean energy future.

   Send a message to Greg Combet now and let him know you want a solar powered future, not just more expensive polluting coal and gas.

   We'll also copy in the Energy Minister and the Shadow Climate and Energy Ministers so all sides of politics know the importance of a thriving solar industry in Australia.

   Thanks for sticking up for solar.

The cold calculus of a hot planet

   Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA), an independent aid analysis organisation, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a global partnership of nations that are disproportionately affected by global warming have produced the second edition of their "Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet," dedicated to the innocent victims of climate change.

   Instead of engaging in the usual rhetoric of trying to convince those who refuse to accept climate change, the report uses excellent psychology. It focuses on economics.

   They have estimated that climate change now costs the global economy about US $1.2 trillion a year -- 1.6% of the total global GDP.

   In contrast, shifting to a low-carbon economy is estimated to cost 0.5% of global GDP within the next 10 years.

    You can read the whole report as a pdf, or a summary by Daniela Hirschfeld.

Our climate education problem

   Tristan Edis has written an excellent blog on the mindset of those who deny climate change. He refers to Australians, including a prominent politician, an Archbishop and a businessman whose wealth comes from fossil fuel mining. However, the issues he discusses, and the logic he applies, are global.

   It's well worth a read.


Historic coral collapse on Great Barrier Reef
Turning off consumerism by Lucy Hyde


   One of the principles of psychology, stated by Steve de Shazer, is that a chronic problem is kept going by the solution. This is just as true in the wider arena. For example, the current chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy is happening because the solution of each side is to hit the other.

   All the problems you see around you are due to society's addiction to economic growth. The solution offered to deal with the problems is economic growth, like this:

   A simpler word for "economic growth" is "greed." I want more, without limit. A natural consequence is competitiveness and aggression, because in a limited system, I can only get what I want by depriving you of it. The economy is a zero-sum game.

   It doesn't have to be like that.

   The Worldwatch Institute has released a report titled Degrowth Offers Alternative to Global Consumer Culture, which offers a hope of a better way. They are keen to have it spread around, so here is their press release:

   If everyone lived like the average American, according to the Global Footprint Network, the Earth could sustain only 1.7 billion people -- a quarter of today's population -- without undermining the planet's physical and biological systems.

   Overconsumption in industrialized societies and among developing world elites causes lasting environmental and human impacts. In his chapter, "The Path to Degrowth in Overdeveloped Countries," Worldwatch Senior Fellow and State of the World 2012 Project Co-director Erik Assadourian describes the benefits and opportunities of proactive "economic degrowth" -- defined as the intentional contraction of overdeveloped economies and more broadly, the redirection of economies away from the perpetual pursuit of growth.

   Fixation with economic growth and increasing levels of consumption contributes to debt burdens, long working hours, increased rates of obesity, dependence on pharmaceuticals, social isolation, and other societal ills, Assadourian writes. Meanwhile, the window to prevent runaway climate change is closing, and mitigating global warming will be all but impossible without dramatic reductions in consumption and fossil fuel use. High levels of warming will result in large population shifts due to natural disasters, such as coastal flooding, prolonged drought, and the introduction of disease to new regions -- a future scenario not only incompatible with perpetual economic growth but likely to lead to economic and societal decline.

   In response to the destructive impacts of the growth-centered global economy, degrowth has begun to gain traction as an economic strategy in recent years. In Italy and France, there are now degrowth political parties, and worldwide, the third bi-annual International Degrowth Conference recently concluded in Venice with over 700 registered participants. More broadly, there is growing recognition that an end to or reversal of growth will be an essential rite of passage for global civilization as humanity comes to understand that climate change and natural resource scarcity are rooted in the impossibility of perpetual human growth in a finite biophysical environment.

   Efforts to facilitate degrowth are in the early stages worldwide and range from shifting taxes and moving from private to public goods, to building Transition Towns and promoting healthier, more sustainable consumption habits, such as "Meatless Mondays" that are helping to reduce levels of meat consumption.

   "Moving toward degrowth will involve redefining prosperity altogether -- resurrecting traditional understandings of what this word means with regard to health, social connectedness, and the freedom to work less while still earning a livable wage," said Assadourian. "Degrowth offers a new vision of prosperity focused on living well with less, instead of maximizing growth and consumption. It strives to establish a stable economic system that no longer transcends Earth's limits."

   Advocates of degrowth also voice the need for equitable distribution of societal benefits. Industrialized countries will need to curb their overconsumption, while the poorest third of humanity undoubtedly will need to increase resource consumption at least modestly to improve their quality of life through improved sanitation and safe water, nutrition, shelter, and transportation. "By realigning economic priorities, policymakers can improve individual well-being, strengthen community resilience, and start to restore the Earth's ecological systems," said Assadourian.

   In Chapter 2 of State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity, Assadourian details three reforms that would augment the global movement toward degrowth in industrialized societies:

   Transform the consumer culture: Shifting societal norms regarding food, housing, and transportation can affect great change. To promote degrowth, governments can help normalize living in smaller homes, leading walkable lifestyles, and eating less food as well as food that is less processed and lower on the food chain. Communities can also facilitate degrowth and increase their resilience by cultivating opportunities for localized formal and informal economic activities, such as small-scale farming, child and elder care, midwifery, and helping to develop essential skills like repair and carpentry.

   Distribute tax burdens more equitably: Taxes on the wealthiest sectors of societies, on polluting resources, on advertising, and on financial transactions could discourage excessive economic growth and overconsumption. This new revenue could further fund degrowth initiatives, such as goods-sharing services, or improve existing essential infrastructure (like water and sanitation services and public transit) and help build important sustainability infrastructure like green roofs, renewable energy, and bicycle paths.

   Share working hours: If the real average per-capita work week were calculated, counting the unemployed, the underemployed, and people working excessive hours, it would be much shorter. Indeed, in the United Kingdom, this real average work week was 21 hours in 2010, according to the New Economics Foundation. Restructuring the work week to better distribute work hours would help reduce unemployment and poverty, while also significantly improving the quality of life of employees.

   These reforms are just a few of the many initiatives that societies can implement in order to catalyze a movement toward global degrowth. Degrowth, Assadourian argues, offers a new perspective and an array of solutions to the social and environmental problems that afflict the global community today.

   Worldwatch's State of the World 2012, released in April 2012, focuses on the themes of inclusive sustainable development discussed at Rio+20, the 20-year follow-up to the historic Earth Summit of 1992, also held in Rio de Janeiro. The report presents a selection of innovative ideas and practices to achieve global environmental sustainability while meeting human needs and providing jobs and ensuring dignity for all.

Historic coral collapse on Great Barrier Reef

   Australian marine scientists have unearthed evidence of an historic coral collapse in Queensland's Palm Islands following development on the nearby mainland.

   Cores taken through the coral reef at Pelorus Island confirm a healthy community of branching Acropora corals flourished for centuries before European settlement of the area, despite frequent floods and cyclone events. Then, between 1920 and 1955, the branching Acropora failed to recover.

   Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland say the rapid collapse of the coral community is potential evidence of the link between man-made changes in water quality and the loss of corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

   It adds weight to evidence that human activity is implicated in the recent loss of up to half of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef, says Professor John Pandolfi of CoECRS and UQ.

   The destruction of branching corals coincided with wide-spread land clearing for grazing and agriculture which took place in the nearby Burdekin River catchment in the late 19th Century, causing an increase in the amount of mud and nutrients into the GBR lagoon, says the lead author of a new study on the collapse, Dr George Roff, of CoECRS and UQ.

   "Corals have always died from natural events such as floods and cyclones, but historically have shown rapid recovery following disturbance. Our results suggest that the chronic influence of European settlement on the Queensland coastline may have reduced the corals ability to bounce back from these natural disturbances" he says.

   The team took cores from dead coral beds on the western side of Pelorus Island and then analysed their coral species composition and their age, using high-precision uranium dating methods pioneered by a team lead by one of the study's co-authors, Jian-xin Zhao at the University of Queensland's Radio Isotope Facility. They then aligned this with records of cyclones, floods and sea surface temperatures over the same period.

   "Our results imply... a previously undetected historical collapse in coral communities coinciding with increased sediment and nutrient loading following European settlement of the Queensland coastline," the researchers report in their paper.

   "Significantly, this collapse occurred before the onset of the large-scale coral bleaching episodes seen in recent decades, and also before detailed surveys of GBR coral began in the 1980s.

   "And, even more significantly, we found no similar collapse occurring at any time in the previous 1700 years covered by our cores. Throughout this period the branching corals continued to flourish, despite all the cyclones and natural impacts they endured."

   At two sites the Acropora corals vanished completely while at a third there was a marked shift in coral species from Acropora to Pavona, which the researchers say parallels similar observations of human impacts in the Caribbean.

   "On a global scale, our results are consistent with a recent report from the Caribbean region, where land use changes prior to 1960 were implicated in a significant decline in Acropora corals in near-shore reefs."

   The research has raised another realistic possibility -- that current coral surveys may significantly underestimate the possibility of major 'unseen' shifts such as these having taken place in the period before effective coral records began, the researchers suggest. In other words, the GBR may be more degraded than it appears to today's eyes.

   "We know that at some sites in the region, branching Acropora was the dominant reef builder until recent times. This raises the question of why some inshore reefs appear resilient, while others failed to recover from disturbance" says Dr Roff.

   "The research underlines that there is a very strong link between what we do on land -- and what will happen to the Great Barrier Reef in future. It encourages us to take greater and more rapid steps to control runoff and other impacts on land," says Prof. Pandolfi.

   Their paper "Palaeoecological evidence of a historical collapse of corals at Pelorus Island, inshore Great Barrier Reef, following European settlement" by George Roff, Tara R. Clark, Claire Reymond, Jian-xin Zhao, Yuexing Feng, Laurence J. McCook, Terence J. Done and John M. Pandolfi appears in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

More information:

   Professor John Pandolfi, CoECRS and UQ, +61 (0)7 3365 3050 or +61 400 982 301 George Roff, CoECRS and UQ, +61 (0) 3040 0960 or +61 432 931 051 Jenny Lappin, CoECRS, +61 (0)7 4781 4222 Jan King, UQ Communications Manager, +61 (0)7 3365 1120

Turning off consumerism
by Lucy Hyde

   Money doesn't buy happiness. Neither does materialism: Research shows that people who place a high value on wealth, status, and stuff are more depressed and anxious and less sociable than those who do not. Now new research shows that materialism is not just a personal problem. It's also environmental. "We found that irrespective of personality, in situations that activate a consumer mindset, people show the same sorts of problematic patterns in wellbeing, including negative affect and social disengagement," says Northwestern University psychologist Galen V. Bodenhausen. The study, conducted with colleagues Monika A. Bauer, James E. B. Wilkie, and Jung K. Kim, appears in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

   In two of four experiments, university students were put in a materialistic frame of mind by tasks that exposed them to images of luxury goods or words mobilizing consumerist values (versus neutral scenes devoid of consumer products or words without such connotations). Completing questionnaires afterwards, those who looked at the pictures of cars, electronics, and jewellery rated themselves higher in depression and anxiety, less interested in social activities like parties, and more in solitary pursuits than the others. Those primed to materialism by exposure to certain words evinced more competitiveness and less desire to invest their time in pro-social activities like working for a good cause.

   In two other experiments, participants completed tasks that were framed as surveys -- one of consumer responses, another of citizens. The first experiment involved moving words toward or away from the participant's name on a computer screen -- positive and negative emotion words and "neutral" ones that actually suggested materialism (wealth, power), self-restraint (humble, discipline), transcendence of self, or self-indulgence. The people who answered the "consumer response survey" more quickly "approached" the words that reflected materialistic values than those in the "citizen" survey. The last experiment presented participants with a hypothetical water shortage in a well shared by four people, including themselves. The water users were identified either as consumers or individuals. Might the collective identity as consumers -- as opposed to the individual role -- supersede the selfishness ordinarily stimulated by the consumer identity? No: The "consumers" rated themselves as less trusting of others to conserve water, less personally responsible and less in partnership with the others in dealing with the crisis. The consumer status, the authors concluded "did not unite; it divided."

   The findings have both social and personal implications, says Bodenhausen. "It's become commonplace to use consumer as a generic term for people," in the news or discussions of taxes, politics, or health care. If we use term such as citizens instead, he says, "that subtle difference activates different psychological concerns." We can also take personal initiative to reduce the depressive, isolating effects of a materialist mindset by avoiding its stimulants -- most obviously, advertising. One method: "Watch less TV."

Good news

Pakistani girls defy the Taliban
Sail-inspired turbine promises cheaper wind energy
Two new environmental apps

Pakistani girls defy the Taliban

   Most people will have heard the news of a Taliban hitman shooting Malala Yousafzai, a 15 year old Pakistani girl in the head because of her campaign for education for girls.

   Wonderfully, she is still alive, in a London hospital, and is recovering. Her father has said, "Malala is recovering well and wants me to tell you she has been inspired and humbled by the thousands of cards, messages and gifts that she has received. She wants me to tell everyone how grateful she is -- and is amazed that men, women and children from across the world are interested in her well-being."

   The brutal attack on her has had the opposite result of what the perpetrators must have hoped for. There is now an official program in Pakistan to establish "Malala schools" in the worst areas affected by conflict or natural disasters, for boys and girls from poor families.

Sail-inspired turbine promises cheaper wind energy
Saphon Energy

    [TUNIS] A Tunisian invention that harvests wind energy through a design inspired by sailboats promises cheaper, more efficient wind energy.

   The bladeless wind turbine, the Saphonian, named after the wind divinity that was worshipped by the ancient Carthaginians, also promises to be more environmentally friendly than existing wind turbines that produce noise and kill birds through their blade rotation.

   Instead of rotating blades, the Saphonian's sail-shaped body collects the kinetic energy of the wind, Anis Aouini, the Saphonian's inventor, told SciDev.Net.

   He explained that the resulting mechanical energy moves pistons which generate hydraulic pressure that can be stored in a hydraulic accumulator or converted into electricity.

   "This is not the first bladeless wind turbine, but we thought outside the box: the initial idea came from sails -- the only human system that can capture and convert the bulk of the wind's power into mechanical energy," said Aouini.

   An average wind turbine captures only 30 to 40 per cent of the wind's kinetic energy, while the Saphonian can capture up to 80 per cent, according to Aouini.

   Hassine Labaied, chief executive of Saphon Energy, the start-up energy company established to get the turbine to market, said the Saphonian reduces the aerodynamic and mechanical energy losses associated with rotating-blade turbines.

   "Our second generation prototype is 2.3 times more efficient, and costs nearly half the price of conventional wind turbines. It discards the most expensive components in a traditional wind turbine, which are the blades, hub and gearbox," said Labaied.

   Aouini and Labaied patented the technology in Tunisia in September 2010, and received an international patent in March 2012. Saphon Energy is now looking for a partnership with a manufacturer to deploy the technology worldwide.

   "We are negotiating with a number of international companies that produce renewable energy technology, and will finalise this by the end of this year," said Labaied. He estimated that it would take up to two years until the commercial product reaches the market.

   Ali Kanzari, a renewable energy expert and director-general of Solar Energy Systems, told SciDev.Net that the Saphonian "seems to be a radical and economically viable alternative to bladed turbines." However, he added that "the manufacturing step is important as it will determine how the market will accept it."

   "The electricity produced through wind in Tunisia represents five per cent of total electricity production in the country," Ayadi Ben Aissa, former chief executive of the Tunisian Society of Electricity and Gas (STEG), told SciDev.Net.

   He said that using the Saphonian technology could produce up to 20 per cent of Tunisia's electricity from wind in the medium term.


This is a very promising development. I hope they get it into production soon. My only gripe is that the web site contains several false statements about the health effects of conventional wind turbines. There is NO evidence that the noise/vibration of wind turbines causes any harm to humans, except for self-fulfilling prophecies (negative placebo effect: if you believe something is harmful, it will feel harmful).

Two new environmental apps

   Allison Winter at Environment News Network has described two "apps" designed for smartphones or tablets that will be of interest to anyone who wants to be environmentally aware. It explores global data on several critical issues, including how human populations are impacting the natural world and the production and consumption of energy resources. It uses a series of 3D globes to illustrate seven topics, including energy, the environment, politics and population.

   Over 200,000 places are listed, including cities, landmarks, and natural features. You can compare trends in population, pollution and forest loss, and trace the shifting dynamics of the distribution of energy resources. You can zoom in to explore fine detail.


   The second new app Allison recommends is a water pollution indicator. The WAZE app was developed by an Israeli team and can let you know the pollution level of a body of water before you buy a house there, drink it, swim or fish in it.

   The app sends users a pop-up window on their smartphones' screens informing them of pollution issues associated with their location and any responsible parties that may be to blame for the pollution.

   For more information about the 3D Digital Atlas app, see Yale360.

   Read more about the WAZE app at YNET News.

Deeper Issues

The Earth has a Soul by Meredith Sabini
Heaven Is Real: A Doctor's Experience With the Afterlife

The Earth has a Soul
by Meredith Sabini

   "Matter in the wrong place is dirt. People get dirty through too much civilization. Whenever we touch nature, we get clean."

   You may not associate such bold, earthy sentiments with Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung, but he was, in fact, deeply concerned over the loss of connection with nature. He considered natural life to be the "nourishing soil of the soul." Who has time for a natural life these days? What would it look like if we did? Those of us destined to live through this turbulent period of history, the declining phase of Western civilization, could perhaps use a wise elder who stands slightly outside the modern world yet knows it well enough to offer guidance.

   Jung shows the knowledge of an historian who understands how the dissociation from nature came about; he reaches out with the empathy of a healer who shares our plight; and he advises with the common sense of a country doctor how to live "in modest harmony with nature." Jung addresses not only the individual but also our culture as a whole, as an entity that itself is suffering and in need of help.

   The title of my book, The Earth Has A Soul, is taken from a 1958 letter in which Jung refers to "the old idea that every country or people has its own angel, just as the earth has a soul." (Letters II, p432) We find that Jung uses the words soul, spirit and psyche somewhat interchangeably. "Psyche" is Greek for soul, life, and breath; so psyche is Nature itself. In the Visions Seminars that he gave in the early 1930s, Jung remarked that "the earth has a spirit of her own, a beauty of her own." (Interpretation of Visions, 133-4) Spirit is the inside of things and matter is their visible outer aspect. Jung's main contribution is restoring to Nature its original wholeness by reminding us that "nature is not matter only, she is also spirit." (Collected Works, 13, par 229) A brief anecdote illustrates Jung's apperception of the living spirit within Nature:

   "I once experienced a violent earthquake, and my first, immediate feeling was that I no longer stood on solid familiar earth, but on the skin of a gigantic animal that was heaving under my feet. It was this image that impressed itself on me, not the physical fact."(CW, 8, par 331)

   Historical eras oscillate between an orientation toward matter or spirit. We are living in a period when the material aspect of Nature is emphasized; it is often said that we are materialistic. But this is not quite the case, since matter actually receives very little respect due to its having been robbed, as Jung notes, of its spirit:

   "The word 'matter' remains a dry, inhuman, and purely intellectual concept... How different was the former image of matter -- the Great Mother -- that could encompass and express the profound emotional meaning of the Great Mother."(Man & His Symbols, 94-5)

   In a 1923 seminar, Jung identified four elements that have undergone the most severe repression in the Judeo-Christian world: nature, animals, creative fantasy, and the "inferior" or primitive side of humans, which tends to be mistakenly conflated with instinct or sexuality.

   "It is a general truth that the Earth is depreciated and misunderstood... For quite long enough we have been taught that this life is not the real thing...and that we live only for heaven." (Interpretation of Visions, 193)

   Our loss of connection with Nature is thus neither a practical nor a psychological problem but a religious one, as this statement by Joseph Henderson emphasizes:

   "Nature has lost her divinity, yet the spirit is unsure and unsatisfied. Hence any true cure for the neurosis...would have to awaken both spirit and nature to a new life. The relevance of this theme for us today may be that it is a problem we are still trying to solve on too personal, psychological a level, or on a purely cultural level without fully realizing it is at bottom a religious problem and not psychological or social at all." (Henderson: Shadow & Self, 279)

Heaven Is Real: A Doctor's Experience With the Afterlife

   Newsweek recently printed an article by neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, which makes a remarkable statement. While his body was artificially kept alive and under continuous observation, his cerebral cortex was dead. When he came back to life, he had a very vivid story to tell.

   His remembered experiences are clearly shaped by his culture, and contain all the essential elements of other clinical death reports. The essential point is that he had these... visions? adventures? hallucinations? while his brain was demonstrably 100% inactive.

   Deepak Chopra has said that the brain does not generate consciousness, but is a tool for broadcasting it, in the way a radio does for a program generated somewhere else (Life After Death). Alexander's story is yet another piece of evidence that this is true.

   You can read this remarkable, inspiring account at The Daily Beast


I am a sexual abuser
I feel lost
Stepchild problem
Alone and depressed

I am a sexual abuser

   I come from a blended family. My dad has had 3 marriages resulting in children and we range in age by 10 years. My parents never discussed sex with us but we were aware of it in their lives. I masturbated from a very young age 6 or 7 I think. I was sexually curious from a young age and had many rough teenage experiences.

   When I was approx 9-10 years old when playing hide a go seek with my youngest siblings I made my 1 year old sister touch my genitals. It was dark and she could not see anything, I told her it was my mouth. It lasted only a few seconds and in that moment I realized how wrong it was. I have never forgotten that day and I feel terrible about it. Recently my sister remembered this happening to her but thought it was a different sibling of ours. She came to me because she didn't know what to do and I told her the truth, that it was me. We are very close and have been best friends since she was a youth and needed my advice and confidence as a young girl. I have never been attracted to children and never touched another child. I am sure that I am not a child molester but how do I live with the guilt? The worse part is how terrified I am that she would tell someone, I don't know how I would face what people would think or having my nieces and nephews taken from me. I want to tell her what she could potentially do to my life if she chose to tell someone but that seems so unfair when she was the one violated.

   I have done some reading on the topic and every page says that this normally only happens when the other child was also sexually abused. Could I have been and I don't even know it? I just don't know what to do. I live in fear that every day could be my last in the life that I know because I know what people would think if this got out. I couldn't imagine people thinking that I may have abused their children that I am very close to and love very dearly in a normal healthy way.

Dear Nellie,

   I am happy to be able to reassure you. A great many children engage in sexual experimentation and play. Only a very small proportion of them are damaged by this.

   And it is simply false that only sexually abused children do so.

   When you were a little girl, you did something that you immediately felt guilty about. You knew it was wrong. As a result, you became a better person, and this has helped you to the present.

   It would have been better not to have made that mistake. But, you have put a silver lining around that cloud by rejecting sexual abuse of children, and no doubt being protective of them.

   Here is my way of dealing with any mistake:

   "There is no such thing as a mistake, fault of defect.

   There are only learning opportunities.

   When you make a mistake:

1. Apologise to yourself within your heart and forgive yourself.

2. If possible and appropriate, apologise to other people affected.

3. If possible and appropriate, make restitution.

4. Work out how you can do it better next time.

   If you find that a past act was a mistake, that's proof that you've gained in wisdom.

   The worst thing you can do is to beat yourself up with shame and guilt. You are responsible for having made the mistake, and the above addresses that."

   So, you have two tasks to accomplish:

1. Forgive yourself. I hope that my answer helps you to do that.

2. Ensure that your sister is also reassured. Simply, show her your message and my reply.

Have a good life, both of you.

I feel lost

   I'm 22 years old. I'm the oldest of 7 kids. My mom was a single parent and passed away when I was 16. She was very sick so being the oldest I had to grow up fast and help raise my brothers and sisters. They moved to their dad's and I was on my own. I've experienced sexual abuse as a child and had a couple of abusive relationships. With no guidance I managed to get myself in debt at such a young age. I honestly got through life knowing I had my best friend. She passed away last month and now I'm scared and feel so lost. at times I just want to give up and wish it was that easy. But it's not I still have goals, dreams, and brothers and sisters who I can't leave. I have a full time job where I work 90 hrs every two weeks. It takes all my strength to wake up every day. Not to mention keep myself together at times I just want to break down and give up. I'm angry at myself for being in the situation I'm in, I wish I had made better life decisions. I wish I had a clean slate. I know everything I've done wrong and wish I could have the opportunity to start over. It sucks because I know I'm a good person. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I don't lie, cheat or gamble. I'm just tired and feel exhausted the weight on my shoulders is killing me. :(

   I'm just looking for a little guidance. I don't believe in God and know there are allot of people way worse off then me. Just need some advice.

Dear Denise,

   You have just lost your best friend only a month ago. And with your mother long dead, and your siblings having moved away, she was very important in your life. You are in the grip of severe grief. It is OK to feel sad and devastated when you are in grief. Maybe you didn't realise how strong the effects of this are on most people, especially on those who care about others like you do.

   All the things you have described about your current life are exactly right for a person who has experienced the death of the most important person in her life, a month ago.

   A wonderful book will help you to understand this better, and be of great help to you. This is Elizabeth Harper Neeld, Seven Choices.

   Grief is like a broken bone. It hurts. It takes time to heal. If everything goes well, it does heal eventually. For most people, losing a person who was very close to you takes between 1 and 2 years to heal. If something doesn't go well, it can take longer. That's why Elizabeth's book will be useful to you.

   You should look for people who can be supportive to you. Although you are grieving, you still need to live a life, and have fun. And yes, it is possible.

   I suggest you focus all your sadness for your friend to set times. You can put her name in your diary, as frequently and for as long as you need to at present. For example, this could be 1 hour on the days you are working, maybe longer on your days off. During that time, you will do whatever your grief needs: crying, anger at an unfair world, thinking the kinds of thoughts of despair you wrote in your message. If can help to keep a journal during these times.

   If you have scheduled your grief for 1 hour today, that gives you 23 hours to live normally. Then you have given yourself permission to laugh, to enjoy the company of nice people, to enjoy beauty, to just live. If a thought of your friend intrudes, you can gently ask her to go away for now and return during the set time.

   Within a few months, when you feel stronger, you can then deal with the longer term issues: the effects on you of the sexual abuse and the abusive relationships. The best way is to seek help from a competent psychologist.

   Such a person will be helpful to you in working through your grief too, so please find one now.

   And I am happy to be here for you.


Stepchild problem

   I have a 13 year old stepdaughter whose parents were never married. History of inappropriate sexual behavior with her half brothers at her moms house, father and mother shared joint custody from 2 until 13 when she came to live full time with us to get away from her mother's abusive behavior. Counseling on and off for years. Mother has court ordered supervised visitation that she hasn't exercised in 8 months.

   My stepdaughter has a lot of issues stemming from her mother's abusive behavior toward her. Her father and I have been together for 8 years, married for 6. We have her, my 3 children and our 2 year old twins. We were finally able to get full custody of her in February and her mother has mandatory supervised visitation which she has failed to use. My step daughter is hurt by this and has started going through my things, stealing make-up, underwear, lotions, and more from me and her step sister. She also lies all the time about things that go missing and has even begun lying to my in-laws about me saying I ripped up a picture of hers and wrote scum sucker across the screen of her tv and more, when it was obviously her. We have had a good relationship until this past year, and I can't help but feel like I am taking the brunt of her anger for her mother. I don't understand her need to go through my things, and I am concerned that some sexy underwear her father bought me has disappeared and was found in her room, as well as some very expensive special face cream that I bought myself. Not to mention she is going through my personal dresser drawers to take these things.

   She doesn't go without, we do take her makeup and cellphone away as punishment for bad grades, because she continues to be irresponsible and not turn in her work.

   She is in counseling but fails to talk, she says it doesn't help. We still continue taking her every week.

   Are these behaviors a result of her mother issues, or is there an underlying issue going on here and what can her father and I do to teach her boundaries and show her that her behavior isn't acceptable?


Lucy my dear,

   I think you are wonderful. You are the mother this poor girl needs.

   Many other people would blame the victim. You have said not one harsh word about your stepdaughter, just described her behavior. I can see that all your concern is for her, not for yourself.

   But also, I have noted an absence of what her father is doing for her, what his attitudes are.

   You are right. Many kids her age respond to a history of abuse or trauma by acting out.

   If you asked her for her opinion of herself, it would be terribly negative. She hates herself. This is because when she was a young child, events happened in her life that she explained to herself as being due to her faulty nature. This is the issue the counseling needs to address.

   Unfortunately, she believes that since the problem is that she is terrible in a dozen ways, she is unwilling to engage in the counseling. After all, how can some other person change her nature?

   So, we need to get her to change her self-assessment before she will be willing to make changes. Here is my view of everyone:

Human nature:

   So, your girl is NOT faulty, damaged or evil. She is hurting, and because of that, she is DOING some things that cause distress to herself and others. She has the power to assess the things she does, and choose to do some of them differently. Her counselor can be her guide in doing this. Tell her that she is welcome to email me. I have hundreds of grandkids all over the planet. If she wants to, she can join them.


Alone and depressed

   It has been 18 months since I got married. I have a pretty good job in a small town and my husband works for a company in a city which is 4 hours drive from the town I live in. We are together only on the weekends. Since we got married I started looking for a job in the same city as my husband, but so far no luck. In past 3 months I am became increasingly sad and depressed, I hate going to work every day, like before I do not involve in any conversations with people at work or have any other social life, in the past I always spent time doing crafts, baking etc., now I do not do anything, can't even put an effort to clean my small apartment, and every little thing makes me sad... I am writing this because I really do not want to discuss with anyone in person either...

   Do you think it's time for me to quit and job and move with my husband? Is that the cause for my depression? If I quit and move I am worried that I'm not going to find any job, as has been in last 18 months... please advise.

Dear Karen,

   I am not going to tell you whether to move or not. That would be arrogant for me. You are the person to make life decisions like that.

   You can grab 2 pieces of paper, and make up two pairs of columns. One piece of paper is for staying, the second for moving. On each, one column is for the positives, the second for the negatives.

   This allows you to make a decision that is relatively free from emotion, and so more likely to be a good one.

   Second, you can expand your choices. For example, how about you both seek new jobs in some location you both like?

   OK, this is a way of improving your decision making. But also, you need to improve the quality of your life, right now, regardless of what decision you come up with.

   Yes, you are lonely and isolated. You didn't marry your husband in order to be apart from him. So, you feel sad and depressed.

   When that happens, we cut out of our lives precisely those things that would help to cheer us up. You gave a perfect description of this. The list of activities you have removed from your life is actually a list of antidepressants.

   So, force yourself to have friendly chats with people at work. Find jokes and make people laugh. Get friendly with a few other young women and rebuild a social life. You can join suitable groups such as a church of your choice, a sport club, groups dealing with your favorite crafts, cooking, whatever used to interest you. And clean your apartment, spend effort to make it a lovely place to be in.

   I know. It feels as if you can't be bothered, as if it was all too much effort. But remember, these are NOT things to do for fun. They are antidepressants.

   If the doctor prescribes a medicine that will stop you having heart attacks, you take the medicine when you are supposed to. "I don't feel like taking a pill this evening" is not relevant. You don't need to feel like it. You need to take it.

   You don't need to feel like doing some crafts, or joining new social groups. You need to do it.

   What you'll find is that only the first step is hard. Once you start, you'll enjoy it.

   Look up for more ideas along this line.

   So, you need to do two things: make your life pleasant right now, and examine how you can improve the problem of being separated from your guy.

You can do it.


Reusable Toilet Paper by Chaya

Reusable Toilet Paper
by Chaya

   You think I'm totally gross, right? I know, I get it. "Wait, reusable WHAT?" is probably how your thought process went.

   When I first heard the term "family cloth," it conjured up such a lovely image, like a warm snuggly blanket that's big enough for the whole family. But no. It's actually when you use cloth toilet paper, and then put it through the wash, and then use it again. Which is, you know... different.

   My initial reaction was the same as most people's -- something along the lines of, "Ew, gross!" But then my second thought was -- "Well, wait. Maybe that kinda makes sense?" See, I was raised by hippies -- all burning sage and dancing drum circles in dry river beds and the like -- so I guess my psyche is primed for that outside-the-norm, super-green lifestyle sort of stuff. For those with a more conventional bent, please just bear with me a moment.

   Much like forgoing traditional roofing for a living roof, the concept is alarming at first (our cultural conditioning does run deep), but really, it's actually just a matter of common sense. We don't wear disposable underwear, right? And we do accept cloth diapers for babies, and many of those cloth-diapering parents choose to use cloth wipes as well. Some people even use cloth menstrual pads. Each of these are sociopolitical decisions, which factor in issues like finances, environmental impact, and individual values.

   For me, this one was an eco-conscious no-brainer... once I'd wrapped my brain around the concept, that is. I mean, of course! Cloth can be washed and used again and again. It's less resource-intensive, it keeps tons and tons of waste out of landfills and waterways, and, bottom line, the "reusable" model is always a more sustainable choice than the "disposable" alternative.

   Just think about toilet paper: Made from trees. Chemically-treated for "sanitation," and bleached for "beauty." Stark white antiseptic. Wrapped in plastic. Mass-produced in factories. Shipped across continents. Endlessly.

   Then think about family cloth. Homemade. Cut from an old cotton sheet, a flannel shirt, a terry cloth towel. All up-cycled. And so soft. Washable. Reusable. Again and again and again.

   For me, my choice was pretty clear.

   And with that, I was off. I cut up a stack of my husband's old shirts, using pinking sheers so the edges wouldn't fray. I displayed my cloth wipes neatly arranged, in a basket atop the back of the toilet. Some people choose to keep their cloth in a easy-to-reach drawer, or a covered container. It's really just a matter of preference.

   To be clear, I use my wipes for #1 only. This helps keep things cleaner and I don't worry quite as much about germs. I drop my used wipes in a lidded plastic wastebasket next to the toilet. When it's full, I take them downstairs to the wash, and clean them well.

   Since I only use wipes for #1, I always have toilet paper available. It's great for guests, and my husband. No one else ever has to deal with my wipes. Nobody, not even my plumber, knows what's going on.

   In the end... well, may I be blunt? I mean, the environment is awesome and all, but honestly? Cloth really just feels better. I'll take warm soft cotton over scratchy paper any day. Maybe I'm just a born-and-bred hippie like that.


Myths debunked
Mental Illness in Academe By Elyn R. Saks
Big hole in health review from Fiona Armstrong

Myths debunked

Chocolate, coffee, red wine not worth the antioxidants: report

   The Heart Foundation says there is no cardiovascular health benefit from eating chocolate or drinking red wine or coffee.

   The foundation says the treats are commonly referred to as part of a heart-healthy diet because they contain antioxidants.

   But the foundation's national director of healthy weight, Susan Anderson, says a review of more than 100 scientific papers has found the treats do not improve cardiovascular health.

   The message to chocolate, wine and coffee connoisseurs is that any cardiovascular benefit is more a case of wishful thinking.

   "Chocolate, coffee and red wine are OK as part of a balanced diet," Ms Anderson said. "But these findings confirm that if you're consuming them thinking you're reducing your risk of heart disease, then think again. The best way to get enough antioxidants is to eat a variety of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts and seeds every day."

   Ms Anderson says people should eat at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables every day.

   She says tea does help lower the risk of heart attack, although where milk is added it should be reduced, low or no-fat.

   There was insufficient evidence to recommend eating either milk or dark chocolate, drinking coffee, red wine or other alcoholic drinks, or using antioxidant supplements such as vitamins E and C.

   Ms Anderson says there are widespread misconceptions about which foods are positive for cardiovascular health, and the results of the review will be sent to doctors and other health professionals.

Mental Illness in Academe
by Elyn R. Saks

   My friend Alfredo has a special interest in discrimination in academic circles against people with diagnosed mental illness. He sent me the link to a wonderful essay by Professor Saks. She has been diagnosed with severe schizophrenia, and is a very effective tertiary educator.

   You've got to read it.

Big hole in health review
from Fiona Armstrong

   Health groups have responded with alarm to a paper released last week from a national review of health and medical research, suggesting the review has failed to identify one of the most significant threats to human health and wellbeing: climate change.

   The Strategic Review of Health and Medical Research in Australia, chaired by former Australian of the Year Simon McKeon, has failed to acknowledge one of the most significant threats to health and wellbeing, according to the Climate and Health Alliance, a broad coalition of healthcare stakeholders including professional associations representing public health experts, doctors, nurses, researchers, allied health professionals and healthcare consumers.

   "Climate change is widely acknowledged in the health and medical literature as one of the most significant threats to human health, and yet this "strategic review" of health and medical research is completely silent on the topic," said CAHA Convenor, Fiona Armstrong.

   The international medical journal The Lancet identified climate change as "the biggest threat to global public health of the 21st century" in 2009 and last week, a report on the human and economic costs of climate change commissioned by 20 governments revealed that it is now a leading cause of deaths with 400,000 people dying each year globally as a direct result of climate change, while the carbon intensive global economy is responsible for 4.5 million deaths annually.

   "The failure of this national review of health and medical research to prioritise research into the impacts of climate change and the carbon intensive economy on human health is a shocking oversight," Ms Armstrong said.

   "The evidence of harm to health is very clear. Climate change should be one of the national health research priorities, and yet there is not one single mention of climate change in this report."

   Spending by the National Health and Medical Research Council on health and medical research with any relationship to climate change over the last decade was just 0.23% of the total spend -- vastly out of step with the risks to health, CAHA said.

   The recent report by the Australian Government Climate Commission demonstrates many Australians are vulnerable to health risks that are exacerbated by climate change, Ms Armstrong said.

   "We are calling for a reorganisation of national health and medical research priorities to fit with actual risks to health and wellbeing. Australians are vulnerable to heatwaves; rising temperatures mean increases in infectious diseases and vector borne diseases; air pollutants and rising temperatures create a toxic mix that contributes to premature deaths; and extreme weather events cause injuries, disease, and deaths. On top of those risks is the inadequate preparation of the already overstretched healthcare system to respond to these risks -- creating a deadly mix that is putting lives at risk."

   The Climate and Health Alliance Submission to the McKeon review can be found here. The Summary Paper from the Review is available here. Both are PDF documents.

Fiona Armstrong
Convenor, Climate and Health Alliance


How To Win Short Story Competitions from Geoff Nelder

How To Win Short Story Competitions
from Geoff Nelder

    Wonder why your short stories are not in the short lists for competitions? We might have the answer and at less than the cost of some entry fees. Two competition judges thrashed out the nitty gritty of why some stories shone while others lack-lustred and their conversation forms the backbone of the e-book How To Win Short Story Competitions by Dave Haslett and Geoff Nelder. It is illustrated by amusing anecdotes, examples of what not to write and a prize-winning story by the brilliant Jonathan Pinnock. Check this link for details including a Kindle or pdf purchase.

Geoff Nelder

One of the essentials of excellent writing is brevity: every word must do a job. Note how brief and concise Geoff's promo is, showing that he knows what he is talking about.

What my friends want you to know

The Chemical Maze by Bill Statham
Kids' writing contest needs judges
British Institute of Learning Disabilities conference, 2013
Sense of Community and Personality Research Study
Way of Nature Quest Australia, 2013
The passing of a great man from Terri Rule & Cheryl O'Brien
Winning environmental essays published

The Chemical Maze, by Bill Statham

   Empower your family to make better choices.

   Know what food additives and cosmetic ingredients to avoid.

   The Chemical Maze was written to make it simpler and easier to recognise additives and ingredients in foods and cosmetics having the potential to cause discomfort and ill-health. With this recognition comes freedom of choice and for many a new lease on life.

   Over ten years of research.

   Bill Statham, author of The Chemical Maze has been growing awareness of what we are putting in our mouths and on our skin.

Kids' writing contest needs judges

   EPIC, an association of writers and other publishing professionals involved in promoting electronic books, has run a wonderful writing contest for kids for several years now. I have been a judge each time.

   This year, the New Voices contest has received a record number of entries, and so we need more judges. Particularly, poetry judging is short on volunteers. To qualify, you need to be a published writer, publisher, editor or teacher.

   This is a very worthwhile cause, and great fun to participate in.

British Institute of Learning Disabilities conference, 2013
Call for Workshop Papers

   A popular event in the suite of events hosted by BILD, the National Positive Behaviour Support Conference is planned to be held on 9th and 10th May 2013 in the South of England.

   It is anticipated that the 2013 conference will attract a wide range of professionals and individuals who have an interest in this field including people with experience of using services. BILD is keen to encourage presentations from people who have intellectual disabilities, their families and experience of using services.

   You can sent submissions by email to Liz Howells, British Institute of Learning Disabilities.

   Download the Call for Papers document here.

Sense of Community and Personality Research Study

Hi There!

   My name is Kath Boekamp, a Curtin University PhD student in Clinical Psychology.

The Purpose of this Study

   Most people know when they have a Sense of Community and when they don't. There are many factors that contribute to the development of a Sense of Community. Some factors are Environmental (i.e., size of town), others are Individual factors (i.e. extroversion or optimism). Little research has been done on whether individual personality type factors have any bearing on how someone develops a Sense of Community

How can You help?

   I am looking for people who might be willing to put up posters, perhaps place my "ad" in their local community newsletter, send out an email to people who might be interested in participating, and just generally support my efforts in reaching people in your town.

   If you are interested (and/or would like further information) please do not hesitate to contact me personally on 0414 266 151.

   Here is the link to the information sheet and survey.

Kind Regards
Kath Boekamp


   The October issue of Bainstroming is now live at

   Subjects this month: Census Counting Illegal Immigrants? We're supposed to respect Islamic nations? Coming Soon, Rogue Program, the book fans of Lyda Brightner have been waiting on! Sometimes the Law is Wrong; Media bias; Book reviews; DEA harming older patients; State of America: Poverty, real poverty, employment and unemployment; Balkanizing of America and the World; Excerpt from Rogue Program


   The November Bainstorming is now also live.

   Subjects This month: Protected Species Act Gone Crazy, Question from Bainstorming, Bain Quote, A Series Worth Reading, Book Reviews, My Brother's Dog, My Take On God, Religion, Evolutionary Genetics and a Quote From Trinity by Sean Chercover, State of America: Our Mixed Up Foreign Policy, Excerpt from Rogue Program, Excerpt from Space Trails, Complete story from Life On Santa Claus Lane, "Tractor and the Three-Legged Iron Scorpion."

Darrell Bain
Fictionwise Author of the Year
Multiple Dream Realm and Eppie awards

Way of Nature Quest Australia, 2013

4-Day Nature Quests in 2013

    WoNA is pleased to announce the following dates for four Nature Quests next year; at Tapitallee on the Sydney South Coast. Each of these retreats starts on a Wednesday evening and finishes on Sunday afternoon. Registrations are now open and, as usual, numbers are limited to 12 for each.

  • 13 - 17 March
  • 1 - 5 May
  • 18 - 22 September
  • 16 - 20 October

    Way of Nature Australia Facebook Group

        The WoNA Community continues to grow and Facebook is proving really helpful. Are you a member of our group? If not, join here to connect with others in our community and see what is going on.

    The passing of a great man
    from Terri Rule & Cheryl O'Brien

       I am deeply saddened that Robin Howat, a music therapist from Nordoff-Robbins Golden Stave Music Therapy Centre has passed away.

       Robin brought music into the life of my daughter, Terri Rule. At a time when many others had concluded that Terri was incapable of learning anything, Robin began music therapy at Kurrambee School for Specific Purposes where Terri attended.

       Robin Howat inspired me to continue along the path of teaching Terri all that I could and he showed a heartfelt belief that Terri related to music and could learn to enjoy music and even create music.

       Many years later Terri attends the Nordoff Robbins Golden Stave Music Therapy Centre in the Kingswood campus of UWS each week. She creates music along with her therapist, Iani Sujoni. Every week Terri communicates with her world and expresses herself with music.

       The Golden Stave Music Therapy Centre was just a pipe dream when Robin began working with Terri and he spoke of it in such present terms and with such excitement that I could only marvel at the intensity of his passion for bringing music therapy to as many people as he possibly could and his joy at Terri's each small step forward.

       Robin had a dream. A big dream. A dream not for himself, but for others, a dream to be able to reach every person who needed music therapy; so full of detail that he could discuss what that centre would look like and who would be working there. Robin turned his dream into a reality.

       In honour of the man who brought so much to my daughter, and brought so much to many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people through his teaching and lecturing at UWS and through the music therapy sessions, I ask you to please take a moment to stop and think about what Robin Howat brought into the world and then go to the Nordoff-Robbins website and make a donation in the honour of this great man.

       Terri and I will both have made donations to the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre by the time you read this email. We do this knowing that it is through money that Robin's dream to reach everyone who needs music therapy can only be a reality.

    With sincere and heartfelt sorrow
    Terri Rule & Cheryl O'Brien

    Winning environmental essays published

       This is to announce the publication of an edited selection of the 2011 WOLFoundation (Web Of Life Foundation) essay competition as an eBook in collaboration with Cultura21 -- a platform for the promotion of a cultural change in the sense of a sustainable, social ecological change process.

    From the Preface: Environmentalism Refreshed

       "Whether expressed in literary style or in a logical exposition of thoughts and arguments, these collected essays express an explosion of feeling that says -- clearly and loudly -- the environmental narrative that has been successful in the past needs to be refreshed with new paradigms and new approaches -- and maybe a new energy. The authors whose work is collected here make some powerful calls for change. Some make them emotionally and metaphorically; others make them rationally and logically; but all make them passionately."

       "These essays are fresh, unconstrained and thought-provoking. They bring new, sometimes quirky perspectives to the environmental debate."
    David Pilling. Asia Editor, Financial Times

       "There's no single "right" answer to the challenges that we face in the world today. The assembly of citizens gathered in this volume takes strength from its dynamic polyvocality: its attention to more perspectives -- and therefore, its access to more possible approaches -- than any conventional environmental text could offer."
    Randy Malamud, Professor and Chair of English, Georgia State University

    Download Information

       The eBook can be downloaded in pdf format free of charge from the Cultura21 web site.

       The book is also available as a Kindle edition for $2.99 in the US. It is also available on European Amazon sites.

       A paper version of the book will be published next year.

    With best wishes.
    Dr J Zammit-Lucia

    Book reviews

    Animals at Play by Marc Bekoff
    Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs

    Animals at Play
    by Marc Bekoff

       Marc is an environmental psychologist with a passion for animals. Much of his research has explored the similarities between humans and other beasts.

       Animals at Play is a kids' book designed to go against a current trend. More and more, books for children are set in an urban environment, worsening the next generation's rift from nature.

       Marc writes:

       It is our goal that Animals at Play will inspire other young people to draw and write about their feelings for animals and to put their own ideas into action to care for animals, protect their habitats, and promote compassion, empathy, coexistence, and peace. It is perfect for classes, discussions, and activities focusing on humane education and conservation education so that we can all expand our compassion footprint (see also).

       While it may be an uphill battle we need to get kids out into nature and away from their desks, couches, computers, and other electronic devices. We need them to have direct experiences with the magnificence of nature including other animals and the best, and most likely the only way to do it, is to encourage them, or if need be require them, to get off their butts and incorporate "nature time" into the curriculum of all schools, not as an after school option but as part of the main school day. The future of the planet depends on our doing this right now. We should use the results of this study of children's book as an indication of just how important and irreplaceable these direct experiences truly are. We need to rewild our children before it's too late.

    Ritual Abuse and Mind Control: The Manipulation of Attachment Needs

    Joseph Schwartz (Author, Editor), Orit Badouk Epstein (Author, Editor), Rachel Wingfield Schwartz (Author, Editor)

    Kindle edition

       There is evil on this planet.

       I am a counseling psychologist. I have clients suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, the worst possible effect of severe, chronic childhood abuse.

       But even worse is people who, as children, were deliberately made to develop this condition. Horrendous sexual, physical and emotional abuse is used in a systematic way to program the child, to convert her (or sometimes him) into a tool for the sick use of the abusers.

       I have such a client, and needed to research what can be done.

       This book, recommended by Ellen Lacter, one of the contributors, was a perfect entry into the subject.


    The skydiver
    Christmas 1942 by Charles Langley

    The skydiver

    Reader's Digest currently runs a contest for the best story of exactly 100 words. Here is my entry:


       Way below, the clouds are a crumpled snowfield.

       Around me, the milky blue stretches forever.

       The clouds are closer now. The top surface is slow-motion, boiling cold porridge.

       Now everything is whiteness, tossed around by mighty winds. No direction, no up or down. I'm tumble-wetted by the turbulence.

       Suddenly, peace again. White above, white below.


       The next layer is approaching: this time its top is a smooth snowfield.

       Will I pull the cord yet, open the chute?

       Not yet. Maybe after this layer.

       The white below is rushing closer.

       It looks solid...

       Too late. It IS a snowfield!

    Christmas 1942
    by Charles Langley

       It was Christmas at Fort Dix. It hadn't snowed and there were no twinkling lights or decorated Christmas trees, but there was a nip in the air and it was Christmas. And I was alone.

       There were seven thousand troops scattered around me, but I was alone.

       I came off guard duty at two o'clock, showered, changed into olive drab and was free until reveille the next morning.

       Well meaning civil authorities had decreed that military personnel without emergency passes could not use public transportation over the holiday. The hard working defense workers needed all the space. Those few soldiers who had their own cars, and ration stamps for enough gasoline to fuel them, were packing their vehicles with paying passengers for the trip home. For the rest of us, it was hitchhike or stay put.

       Cpl. Al Walters and I stood by the road to New York and waited. Not a car passed in half an hour. My chances of seeing my wife for the holiday became very slim. We saw a lone car coming from the opposite direction and changed our minds, crossed the road, and got a lift to Philadelphia. We didn't know a soul in the city, and it was foolish to go there, but it was Christmas. Philadelphia at its best is not a bright, fun loving town. And on Christmas in wartime it was really a drag.

       We made our way to the Salvation Army Canteen. We were too late. The last of the food had been eaten, and the only ones there were four weary women who had spent the day feeding hungry soldiers. They eyed with dismay the mountain of dirty dishes in the sinks, and the smeared pots and pans on every sinktop. But they were game and were ready to go forth into the fray when Al and I intervened.

       KP in the army is a dreaded task. Elbow deep in hot soapy water scraping the stubborn grime from the bottom of a cooking pot is not a proper job for a first class fighting man. It isn't even a fit task for untried dogfaces such as we, but we tied on aprons and dived in. The ladies, tired as they were, argued against our endeavor, but we persisted. We washed, dried and stacked the dishes, shined the pots so they gleamed like a shavetail's boots, and then tackled the floor.

       The ladies somewhere found two pieces of pumpkin pie and made fresh coffee. They sipped coffee with us while we pigged out on the home-made pie. I hoped that their sons, whereever they were, had such caring people near.

       They gave us each a hug and a hand-knitted O.D. Sweater, and we were on our way. We had taken a chance of getting back to the camp late and missing reveille, but luck was with us and we got a ride almost immediately.

       The car radio was playing Christmas music.

       "I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me."

       I wished it were true.

       "Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents on the tree."

       Not this year.

       It had started to drizzle, but the moisture on my cheek wasn't rain.

       The barracks was silent and dark. I hit the sack, hoping to get a few hours sleep before the five-o'clock reveille call.

       God was in His Heaven. All was well. It was Christmas, and I was alone.

    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.