Bobbing Around

Volume Twelve, Number Five
January, 2013

Bob Rich's (sunny) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  The Minister is wrong!
  Fact check: do bushfires emit more carbon than burning coal? by Dr Philip Gibbons
  Everything We Tell Ourselves About America and the World Is Wrong, by Charles Eisenstein
  Fish Feel Fear and Pain and Stress, by Piper Hoffman
  Boys help to save a 500-million-year-old species by Stephen Messenger
  The way to extinction, by Dr Gideon Polya
*Good news
  Seattle stops investing in fossil fuels, by Beth Buczynski
  Possum protection progressing
  China's carbon intensity fell over 3.5% in 2012; Reuters
*Deeper issues
  Acting as Transition Leaders in 2013 by, Andrew Gaines
  Your Life Stories, by Deepak Chopra
  When Children Cannot Imagine a Better World, by Zoe Weil
  Welcoming the New Era, by Dr. Steven Farmer
  How abusers lie to protect themselves, by Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.
  Do I have PTSD?
  I'm a disgrace
  I want to murder, torture -- and kill myself
  A meditation, from Adam Caplan
  Dangerous Drugs by Randy Fritz
  In Pain? Blame Your Brain, from Anne-Marie Botek
*For writers
  Show vs. tell
*What my friends want you to know
  Free book on how to get published, by Brooke Warner
  Help Avaaz to double
  Carolyn and her husband offer 2 FREE books
  Books and Banter newsletter
  Mindful rejuvenation for health professionals
*Book reviews
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Magdalena Ball
  Black Cow by Magdalena Ball

My newest novel, coming

   My newest novel, Ascending Spiral, is the most important book I have written. Reading it might well save your life.

   I am delighted to let you know that it has been accepted for publication by Victor Volkman, publisher at Loving Healing Press. Although most of his books are nonfiction in the field of Metapsychology and working with trauma, he has an imprint, Marvelous Spirit Press, which specializes in fiction that harmonizes with the work of his organization. Ascending Sprial certainly does, and is going to be the next book Victor is publishing.

   I have been circulating advance review copies. You can read the first full review by Magdalena Ball, part of a review swap. Also, have a look at what I think of her novel Black Cow. Incidentally, I only agree to review swaps with authors I respect, and whose books I enjoy reading.

   Here is another response, from Joyce Scarborough, who is an intelligent Southern woman weary of seeing herself and her peers portrayed as either post-antebellum debutantes or barefoot hillbillies, so all her heroines are smart women who refuse to be anyone but themselves. Joyce has three published novels, True Blue Forever, Different Roads and Symmetry, and stories featured in four anthologies.

   This is what she wrote:

    Hi, Bob:

       I made the mistake of reading the beginning of your book last night. I'm hopelessly (and happily) hooked! I don't usually like any type of historical fiction, but maybe I would if they were all as well written and engaging as yours. My heart is already completely invested in Pip's story, and I'm only on chapter three. And it's not only the parts about his loves that have me in their grips. His tactical strategies and details are gripping as well. Thank you so much for letting me read 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.

   After the young fellow delivered the pizza to a cabin in a caravan park, the man asked, "What's the usual tip?"
   "Well, this is my first trip here, but the other blokes say if I get 20 cents out of you, I'll be doing great."
   "Is that so? Well, just to show them how wrong they are, here's five dollars."
   "Thanks," replied the youth, "I'll put this in my school fund."
   "What are you studying?"


The Minister is wrong!
Fact check: do bushfires emit more carbon than burning coal? by Dr Philip Gibbons
Everything We Tell Ourselves About America and the World Is Wrong by Charles Eisenstein

The Minister is wrong!

Beyond Zero Emissions statement, 20 December 2012

   New South Wales Energy Minister Chris Hartcher recently said "If we are unable to access gas the lights will go out. It's as simple as that." (Daily Telegraph, 9 December 2012).

   The statement is clearly wrong, on many counts (see below). Why is Hartcher making such nonsensical statements?

   The only function of this scaremongering is to provide PR for the gas industry.

   Coal seam gas companies operating in eastern Australia -- Shell, British Gas, Conoco Phillips, Origin, Santos, AGL, and others -- have a constant need to "book" gas and oil reserves in advance. This demonstrates to the share market that they have a future, despite dwindling global oil discoveries.

   Now, however, they have over-committed gas exports to the Asian market and are frantically searching high and low to make up this shortfall -- employing whatever methods they have -- from fracking farms to pressuring ministers.

   This rush has nothing to do with providing lighting, or anything other than higher prices to energy users in New South Wales. It does, however, require the one thing that coal seam gas seems to have lost: a social license to operate.

   Hartcher is clearly wrong. Further, he should be supporting clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar, not more fossil fuels.

   Why is Hartcher wrong?

   New South Wales doesn't need more gas. As reported by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) just last week, demand for gas in New South Wales is falling -- in each and every one of the market sectors, mass market, large industrial and the biggest drop of all -- falling gas demand for power generation. Gas prices in Australia are rising as they are now being linked to expensive Asian gas prices thanks to gas export developments in Queensland. These price signals will drive homes and industry to use less and less gas.

   Demand for electricity in New South Wales is also rapidly falling -- more than any other state. Energy efficiency measures and homeowners installing solar panels are having an impact. In recent months, electricity demand is down approximately 20% compared to what just a few years ago, as economists predicted it would be.

   Electricity generated from gas is also in decline in New South Wales. This has only ever been a small contributor to electricity supplies there. The lights are staying on in New South Wales, with less and less gas.

   The largest energy investments in New South Wales are being made in renewables -- and this will continue. Recent studies published by the Department of Climate Change show that New South Wales has the capability to generate an amount of electricity from renewables that is 200 to 300 times greater than current electricity demand, extrapolating from AEMO's 100% renewable energy scenario modeling. Companies such as AGL have recently cancelled plans to build any new gas-fired power generation plants in New South Wales -- clearly not seeing any greater need to use gas to "keep the lights on."

   New South Wales's electricity grid is connected to the other eastern states and the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme. Eastern Australian electricity supply -- at the generation and transmission scale -- is amongst the most reliable in the world. It is all managed by AEMO -- who is tasked with ensuring that the lights don't go out.

   For further information contact Ben Courtice, BZE media co-ordinator, 0413 580 706

Beyond Zero Emissions is an independent, not-for-profit organisation. Our goal is to transform Australia from a 19th century fossil fuel based economy to a 21st century renewable powered clean tech economy. Through the Zero Carbon Australia project BZE is researching climate solutions that are consistent with climate science. By sharing this research with thousands of Australians via the Repower Australia talks program, BZE is engaging, educating and inspiring the community with real and positive solutions to climate change.

Fact check: do bushfires emit more carbon than burning coal?
by Dr Philip Gibbons

   On Wednesday, leader of the National Party and acting Opposition Leader, Warren Truss claimed carbon emissions from the current bushfires are equivalent to decades of carbon emissions from coal-fired power.

   The current bushfires are so large that the statement by Warren Truss seems plausible.

   This spurred me to do some research to find out.

   Coal-fired power stations in Australia emit around 200 million tonnes of Co2 per year. This does not include emissions from our coal exports.

   Around 30 tonnes of CO2 per forested hectare were emitted by the Black Saturday Fires in 2009.

   Bushfires this year have so far burned around 130,000 ha of forest, so have emitted nearly 4 million tonnes of CO2.

   So, the bushfires this year have emitted an amount of CO2 equivalent to 2% of Australia's annual emissions from coal-fired power.

   The current bushfires must burn an area of forest greater than Tasmania to generate CO2 emissions equivalent to a year of burning coal for electricity.

   And the current bushfires must burn an area of forest the size of New South Wales to generate CO2 emissions equivalent to a decade of burning coal for electricity.

   However, the carbon emitted from bushfires is not permanent. Eucalypt forest regenerates after fire, and will quickly begin to sequester from the atmosphere the carbon that has been lost from the current bushfires.

   The same cannot be said of coal-fired power stations.

   Warren Truss' statement reflects a view that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are insignificant relative to natural events such as bushfires that have occurred for millennia in Australia.

   However, when one drills into the data, the current bushfires provide a stark illustration of the opposite: the amount of carbon that is emitted by bushfires is insignificant relative to our principle sources of greenhouse gas emissions such as coal-fired power.

From The Conversation.

Philip Gibbons is a Senior Lecturer at Australian National University. He worked for a decade as a ranger, planner, forest scientist and fire fighter for several land management agencies before completing a PhD at The Australian National University in 1999. He then held research positions with CSIRO and the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service before taking up his current position as a Senior Lecturer at The Australian National University. His current research interests include: rapid biodiversity assessment, metrics to support offset policies and environmental stewardship programs, impacts of land management on house loss during bushfires, sustainable forest management and cost-effective ecological restoration.

Everything We Tell Ourselves About America and the World Is Wrong
by Charles Eisenstein

Why we need a new story that gives meaning to the world.

   Every culture has a Story of the People to give meaning to the world. Part conscious and part unconscious, it consists of a matrix of agreements, narratives, and symbols that tell us why we are here, where we are headed, what is important, and even what is real. I think we are entering a new phase in the dissolution of our Story of the People, and therefore, with some lag time, of the edifice of civilization built on top of it.

   Sometimes I feel intense nostalgia for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Superbowl was important, in which the world's greatest democracy was bringing democracy to the world, in which science was going to make life better and better. Life made sense. If you worked hard you could get good grades, get into a good college, go to grad school or follow some other professional path, and you would be happy. With a few unfortunate exceptions, you would be successful if you obeyed the rules of our society: if you followed the latest medical advice, kept informed by reading the New York Times, and stayed away from Bad Things like drugs. Sure there were problems, but the scientists and experts were working hard to fix them. Soon a new medical advance, a new law, a new educational technique, would propel the onward improvement of life. My childhood perceptions were part of this Story of the People, in which humanity was destined to create a perfect world through science, reason, and technology, to conquer nature, transcend our animal origins, and engineer a rational society.

This essay is way too long to reproduce, but it is a must-read. Please take the trouble to read the whole thing.

   Charles Eisenstein is an essayist and author of the books Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity. He is a contributor to Shareable, where this article first appeared.


Fish Feel Fear and Pain and Stress by Piper Hoffman
Boys help to save a 500-million-year-old species by Stephen Messenger
The way to extinction by Dr Gideon Polya

Fish Feel Fear and Pain and Stress
by Piper Hoffman

   The jury's verdict is in, and it is unanimous: fish feel pain. "In the scientific community, the question of whether fish are capable of experiencing stress, pain and fear is nearly undisputed," the Food Empowerment Project states.

   "Fish feel pain too," agrees Discovery News's Jennifer Viegas in her analysis of Penn State professor Victoria Braithwaite's book on the subject, Do Fish Feel Pain? A 2009 study published in "Applied Animal Behaviour Science" also concluded that fish feel pain and that even after the pain is over, they alter their behavior in response to their memory of it. A 2003 study found "profound behavioural and physiological changes" akin to those higher mammals exhibit in response to pain.

   That throws a wrench into the arguments of a couple different interest groups. One is people who fish. They often justify their pastime with the claim that it doesn't hurt their prey. Those who throw fish back in the water after hooking them claim "no harm, no foul," as though the hook they ripped out of a fish's mouth (or left in) didn't hurt. Those who keep the fish they catch can't possibly watch the desperate thrashing (like that of the tuna in the video below) and believe the fish are not suffering, but if they do, they are now on notice: the fish are feeling pain, stress, and fear as they struggle to breathe.

   The other group that won't like this scientific consensus is self-labeled "vegetarians" who eat fish. More accurately called pescatarians, some of them abstain from eating most meat because they believe it is murder and/or don't want to be the cause of animals' suffering. They make an exception for fish flesh. Those who base that exception on the belief that fishing doesn't hurt fish are now on notice too.

   Of course, there are plenty of hunters and omnivores who know they are killing and eating sentient, feeling beings, and just don't care. This news won't change their world. I'd like to think that the video might, for at least a few empathetic souls.

   Then there is a whole other kettle of fish: aquaculture, or fish farms. 50 percent of the fish people eat comes from aquaculture. Like factory farming of land animals, this version of agribusiness spares not a thought for the fishes' well-being. "Fish raised in aquaculture are unable to swim in open waters and eat natural foods. The cramped conditions cause severe stress." This sounds a lot like egg-laying chickens, sows, and dairy cows: no chance to roam free or even stretch their muscles, and a diet they would never choose in the wild: "aquaculture feeds are increasingly utilizing proteins from grains such as soybeans and wheat, as well as meat meal and poultry meal from industrial animal factories." Not exactly health food for animals that live and eat underwater. I don't know if poor diets cause farmed fish pain or stress, but being packed in like sardines can't be pleasant.

   Whether by capturing them for recreation or commerce or raising them for food, humans subject fish to fear, pain, and stress all the time. It's time to stop kidding ourselves that they don't mind.


Boys help to save a 500-million-year-old species
by Stephen Messenger

   Like all well-mannered children, Josiah Utsch and Ridgely Kelly know that respecting one's elders is an important virtue, even for adults. That may be why the two friends, both aged 12, have made it their mission to protect one of the planet's oldest species, half-a-billion years their senior, from becoming extinct at the hands of grown-ups.

   Last year, Josiah ran across an article in the New York Times detailing the plight of the chambered nautilus, a colorfully-shelled cephalopod with roots dating so far back, it's often referred to as a 'living fossil'. After learning that the neat-looking nautilus was in danger of being wiped-out completely due to overfishing, the youngster from Cape Elizabeth, Maine knew something had to be done to stop it. It wasn't long before Josiah invited his friend Ridgely to join the cause -- not stopping for a moment to consider themselves too young to make a difference.

   Soon, the conservation-minded 6th-graders began a campaign to raise awareness of the threats facing this primitive animal, namely from jewelry makers who can reap a hefty profit from the sale of these as decorative items. The pair even launched a website devoted to their cause, which, in turn, helped raise nearly $10,000 toward funding scientific research to better understand these rapidly dwindling organisms.

   Along with selling special "Save the Nautilus" t-shirts (designed by Ridgley) as a way of collecting funds, the boys also donated their own allowance money -- and encouraged others to do the same in lieu of gifts for their birthdays. As word spread, donations began pouring in from all over.

   For University of Washington biology professor Peter Ward, an expert on nautiluses, the campaign started by Josiah and Ridgely has made a major contribution to conservation efforts, telling the Press-Herald:

   "They have very much played a huge part in saving the nautilus."

   Thanks to their efforts, thousands of folks who might have otherwise never heard of nautiluses have been inspired by the pair's devotion to saving them; so far they've been featured on local news stations, newspapers, and even made an appearance in Time Magazine for Kids.

   Despite their growing notoriety as some of the world's youngest eco-activists, Josiah and Ridgely are always sure to turn the public's attention back to the cause at hand, with a strong sense of clarity purpose not often found in folks even three or four times their age.

   "It would be a tragedy to survive a ton of mass extinctions and have them wiped out by a human mass extinction," says Josiah.

   When considering that two boys, who themselves entered the world just 12 years ago, can realize the importance of creating a better place for coming generations -- it's easy to suspect that the rest of us might have been showing too much respect to old ways of thinking, and not enough to our planet's oldest inhabitants.

Stephen Messenger 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.

   This article from

The way to extinction
by Dr Gideon Polya

   On 31 December 2012 The Age, Melbourne, published an important article by Sydney Morning Herald economics editor Ross Gittins entitled The four business gangs that run America.

   Gittins quotes extensively from Professor Jeffrey Sachs' book The Price of Civilization, in which Sachs says that the US economy is caught in a feedback loop: ''Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth.''

   Sachs identifies 4 key groups that dominate an American Corporatocracy (aka Lobbyocracy), namely the Military-Industrial Complex, Wall Street, the Healthcare industry and Big Oil-Transport-Military of which he states: "Since the days of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust a century ago, Big Oil has loomed large in American politics and foreign policy. Big Oil teamed up with the automobile industry to steer America away from mass transit and towards gas-guzzling vehicles driving on a nationally financed highway system. Big Oil has played a notorious role in the fight to keep climate change off the US agenda. Exxon-Mobil, Koch Industries and others in the sector have underwritten a generation of anti-scientific propaganda to confuse the American people''.

   Thanks to lying, conniving Big Oil, the World is now running out of time to deal with the climate crisis. Thus estimates from the World Bank indicate that global greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is so high that it will exceed the terminal GHG pollution budget of 600 billion tonnes CO2-e that must not be exceeded if the world is to avoid a catastrophic 2C temperature rise (see Doha climate change inaction. Only 5 years left to act.

Good news

Seattle stops investing in fossil fuels by Beth Buczynski
Possum protection progressing
China's carbon intensity fell over 3.5% in 2012 Reuters

Seattle stops investing in fossil fuels
by Beth Buczynski

   Politicians and Big Oil, Gas and Coal have been in bed so long, they're almost indistinguishable. Grassroots efforts to get fossil fuel money out of our national energy policy haven't been very effective. Although it has support from President Obama, a 2012 attempt to end massive fossil fuel subsidies was shot down by a dirty energy-loving Congress. So people -- students, activists, and local leaders -- are taking action on their own.

   The City of Seattle recently joined an effort to divest public funds from the fossil fuel industry. Seattle announced that it will not invest its cash balances in fossil fuel companies and is taking additional steps to divest employee-deferred compensation funds and pressure its pension fund system to pull money from Chevron and ExxonMobil, two of the system's top 10 investments.

   "The City oversees three sets of investments: 1) $1.4 billion in cash balances for daily operations -- essentially the City's checkbook balances; 2) $700 million of our employees' investments from the City's deferred compensation plan; and 3) our pension system, with holdings valued at $1.9 billion," reports Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn on his official website. "The first category is the only one I control directly. City staff report that none of that money is currently invested in fossil fuel companies. I have directed the City's Finance Director, Glen Lee, that the City will not invest in those cash balances in fossil fuel companies in the future."

   McGinn says he was inspired by Bill McKibben and's recent "Do The Math" tour, an effort to connect the dots between extreme weather, climate change and the fossil fuel industry. The 21-city tour kicked off on November 7 in Seattle and sold out every venue it's visited.

   From big state schools like the University of Michigan to small liberal arts colleges like Amherst, students have taken up the cause. At a number of schools, such as Swarthmore, students have already met with their boards of trustees to discuss proposals; at others, like the University of New Hampshire, activists have gathered thousands of petition signatures calling for action. Earlier this month, an official Harvard student resolution supporting divestment passed with 72% of the vote.

   Although we've seen cities pledge to take their money out of big banks, this is the first time an entire city has gone on record as being opposed to the fossil fuel industry on all fronts -- and taken action to hit them where it hurts. We hope Big Oil, Gas and Coal are paying attention. If Seattle's divestment is successful, there are many other cities primed to follow suit. They may be able to ignore public protest and petitions, but three, four, ten billion dollars in funding? That just might get their attention.


Possum protection progressing

Dear Bob,

   Thank you for your incredible support in 2012. Quickly recapping on a big year; the most precious moment of the year was finding the little family of Leadbeater's Possums on the edge of Gun Barrel coupe. The toughest day was learning that our case to protect the Possum failed on Justice Osborn's reading of the instruments that protect listed animals. The appeal will seek to challenge this.

   However, in an incredible turnaround from the sadness of legal defeat, more than 50 people risked arrest to defend Mt St Leonard and even Mr Tony Abbott admitted the industry was not consistent with his idea of best practice. Greens leaders Senator Richard Di Natale visited the great ash forests and Minister Tony Burke undertook to investigate our material claims that the situation for listed species was in conflict with federal obligations. This investigation is still underway.

   The 'take home message' for leaders is that the act of guarding the sentinels of Melbourne's great forests will help bring leadership back into alignment with public expectations, the success of which will also end decades of conflict. This year has grown into the biggest opportunity for legacy actions by government to guard against the extinction of our state emblem. Can Labor or the Coalition administer their duties under the variety of Acts that protect endangered species? We shall see.

   We reached the $11,000 target to pay legal fee's thanks to 100s of people giving to keep the challenge going. Thank you, thank you, thank you. People often say 'we would be nothing without your support' I am telling you, the forest campaign does not exist without the commitment demonstrated by everyone who deeply believes in a better way. Whether it was $5.00 or the biggest recent donation of $3,000, our ability to keep trekking is ultimately incumbent on your support.

   Inquiries can be made at We are open to all media inquiries 0438 368870. Next year will be the most exciting yet.

Warmest Wishes,
The Committee: Sarah, Steve, Megan, Lorraine and Adam.>

China's carbon intensity fell over 3.5% in 2012

   China's carbon intensity, or its emissions relative to economic output, fell more than 3.5 percent in 2012, outperforming its average annual target, China's chief climate change official said on Thursday.

   China aims to cut carbon intensity by 17 percent during the 2011-2015 period, which means an annual average target of around 3.5 percent. Intensity is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product.

   "The situation last year was relatively good. Based on a preliminary estimate, China could achieve a more than 3.5 percent fall in carbon intensity," said Su Wei, director general of climate change department of National Development and Reform Commission.

   Cutting carbon intensity allows China to meet international demands for it to curb emissions and also keep its priority that development must come first while many Chinese still live in poverty.

   The government is currently drawing up a national plan on climate change till 2020, which is expected to be finalised soon, Su said.

   China recently published a new industrial carbon emissions plan. Steel, nonferrous metals and petrochemical sectors are required to cut CO2 intensity by 18 percent by 2015 compared with the 2010 level.

   By 2020, China aims to cut its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent compared to the 2005 level, a target that is stimulating a sharp increase in investment demand in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

   Its efforts to control emissions are also paving the way for creation of a carbon market, which requires accurate measurements of the carbon emitted.

   China's biggest listed steelmaker, Baoshan Iron and Steel, is among the industrial companies that must participate in a pilot carbon trading scheme in Shanghai, the local government said last month.

   China will need 1.24 trillion yuan ($199.2 billion) in energy conservation investments in 2011-2015, an increase of 50 percent from the level in 2006-2010, according to a research report released by Tsinghua University on Thursday.

   The investment in China's renewable energy sector in 2011-2015 will increase 37.5 percent to 1.8 trillion yuan, the report showed.

From Climate Spectator.

Deeper Issues

Acting as Transition Leaders in 2013 by Andrew Gaines
Your Life Stories by Deepak Chopra
When Children Cannot Imagine a Better World by Zoe Weil
Welcoming the New Era by Dr. Steven Farmer

Acting as Transition Leaders in 2013
by Andrew Gaines

   The current state of play: With Hurricane Sandy, and in Australia peak temperatures and catastrophic fire danger, more people are getting that climate change is real. On the other hand, some state governments in Australia and Canada are actively against the environment and in favour of mining. The proposed new planning laws in NSW will make it impossible to block mining or property development on community or on environmental grounds.

   This has not gone unnoticed, and there is a rising community backlash. And with groups such as Lock the Gate directly obstructing gas companies' access to land, we have a state of civil war between the community and the totalitarian state governments.

   Looking at the larger picture of global warming, looming freshwater issues, and food security, if we do not get a major shift in public attitudes, policy and personal aspirations soon, then it will be all over.

   It took me longer than I anticipated, but before Christmas I put up the Transition Leader Network (TLN) website. It is set up as a community of practice -- no centralised control. Anybody can download the teaching tools and begin to use them.

   I also completed Tabletop Presentations, a way of making systems ideas feel tangible. It has physical markers for the key ideas. This way people can focus on specific issues while keeping the whole context in mind.

   So now we have not one but two WSC teaching tools on the website: Tabletop Presentations and The Kitchen Table Conversations Manual.

   Our proper aspiration now is to change the direction of our whole society. And, as in all revolutions, the key is mass public engagement.

   The next step is to begin to talk up whole system change in every forum we can (I would like to hear field reports of your experience with this), and to conduct conversations about whole system change with influential people. In order to equip yourself to be a skilful as you can in such conversations, I suggest that you download one of the teaching tools (thought starter tools) and take a friend through them. You will both learn a lot.

   Probably early next year there will be an explosion of interest in transformative change involving many businesses and NGOs. If so, we need to be prepared run workshops and events to enable people to think through whole system change. Again, conducting Kitchen Table Conversations or doing Tabletop Presentations equips us to be workshop leaders if we so choose.

   Hopefully you are reading this because you want those of us with life-positive values to win, to be successful in transitioning Australia to an ecologically sustainable society. You get that climate change is speeding up, and you...

Your Life Stories
by Deepak Chopra

   Intention, imagination, insight, intuition, inspiration, meaning, purpose, creativity, understanding, all these have nothing to do with the brain. They orchestrate their activity through the brain, but they are qualities of the non-local domain, which is beyond space and time.

   Still, their impact is felt very strongly. Once they enter our minds, we have to do something with them, and what we do with them determines, in part, who we define ourselves to be. That's because we have rational minds, and we tend to create stories around these thoughts. We create rational stories around these thoughts, and then we create meaning out of them.

   Our stories are derived from relationships, contexts, and meanings triggered through memory, arising from karma and experience. As we live out these stories, we start to realize that they are not original. Although the details of the stories vary from individual to individual, the themes and motives are timeless, basic archetypes that replay endlessly: heroes and villains; sin and redemption; the divine and the diabolical; forbidden lust and unconditional love.

   These are the same themes that keep may of us fascinated by soap operas, gossip columns, and tabloids, where we see them expressed in slightly exaggerated form. We're fascinated because we can identify some aspect of our souls in those stories. These are the same archetypes that are represented in exaggerated form in mythologies.

   In nearly everyone, this participation in the stories of our lives is happening automatically, without awareness. But when you get in touch with your soul, you see the whole script for the drama. You understand. You still participate in the story, but now you participate joyously, consciously, and fully. You can make choices based on knowledge and born out of freedom. Each moment takes on a deeper quality that comes from appreciation of what it means in the context of your life.

   Extracted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra at

When Children Cannot Imagine a Better World
by Zoe Weil

   I recently spoke to the middle school students at an alternative, independent, progressive school. I talked first to the 5th and 6th graders and next to the 7th and 8th graders. As I often do when I give presentations, I opened my talk by asking the kids what they thought were the biggest problems in the world. Like every group, their lists included such topics as global warming, poverty and war, along with many other issues.

   Then I asked a question I hadn't ever posed before. I asked if they could imagine a world without these problems. Only three children out of 40 raised their hands. I was stunned. These are children. Children are blessed with active imaginations, yet these kids couldn't imagine a world without a laundry list of terrible problems and crises.

   And so I asked them to close their eyes and imagine that they were very old, approaching the end of their lives. I told them that in their future the air and our rivers and lakes were clean; that while people still had conflicts, we no longer reacted with violence; that species were beginning to recover from the rapid extinctions that occurred earlier in their lives; that no one went to bed hungry because they lacked food to eat. I painted a bigger picture than this, but you get the point. Then I asked them to keep their eyes closed and raise their hands if they could imagine this world; all but a few raised their hands. I was relieved.

   I did the same thing with the 7th and 8th graders. More raised their hands when asked if they could initially imagine a world without the list of problems they'd articulated, but this was still a minority of the group; and after the guided imagery, there were more hands left unraised than among the younger students.

   It is extremely worrisome when young people cannot even imagine a world in which we solve our challenges. Without a belief in the possibility of a sustainable, just and peaceful future, it's much harder to muster the effort to take part in change. I've written before about a creeping apathy among younger and younger kids, and I find this trend terribly unnerving. It's so critical that we keep the fire of hope alive in our children; that we nourish their imaginations with a vision of a better world; that we remind them that we are living in less discriminatory, less violent and less cruel times than ever before in human history, and that what they do matters.

   How can we do this? Here are some ways:

Zoe Weil is the president of the Institute for Humane Education, which offers the only graduate programs in comprehensive humane education, as well as online courses, workshops, and free resources. She is the author of Nautilus silver medal winner Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life; Above All, Be Kind; The Power and Promise of Humane Education; and Moonbeam gold medal winner Claude and Medea, about middle school students who become activists. She has given several acclaimed TEDx talks, including "The World Becomes What You Teach" and "Solutionaries" and blogs. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ZoeWeil.

Welcoming the New Era
by Dr. Steven Farmer

   The much-ballyhooed winter solstice of 2012 proved to be a turning point, not so much in terms of an apocalyptic event on that specific day but more of a demarcation where an intentional shift in consciousness occurred. This was the result of thousands of people synchronizing minds and hearts to prepare for this next phase of our evolution. There were a number of groups throughout the globe praying, meditating, and joining together in physical, etheric and virtual reality welcoming a new era, providing further impetus to what has been in process for some time, yet has now become increasingly evident. We're going through some big changes, internally and externally, individually and collectively. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when something like this began, as it's not an event but a process, like the ever flowing movement of Life itself. Yet be assured that it is gaining increasing momentum.

    When enough of us focus our intentions on a better world, a world of cooperation rather than competition, of compassion and forgiveness rather than hate and avarice, it tips the scales toward a collective renaissance of the best of human nature. Yes, it's an ideal, but as John Lennon wrote in his song Imagine, "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you will join us, and the world will live as one." It's when we maintain and nurture these ideals each within ourselves along with others that we can be better human beings and co-create a kinder, more loving world. Doing so individually and collectively will counterbalance and ultimately surpass the darkness that exists in the world.

   Yes, the planet is evolving as well and not always to our liking. It has been in an evolutionary process since its birth 4.5 billion years ago, and will continue to evolve throughout our lifetimes and for generations to come. This shift in consciousness along with a consistent relationship with Spirit will afford a smoother time of living with and adapting to these changes. Most importantly, we are recognizing the need to revise our relationship with this amazing world. To know that we are only one part of the web of life and come to know that we are in relationship with all beings, not better or worse than any, but realizing our personal existence is tied to the existence of all that is on this planet collectively.

   So welcome this new era by making your spiritual practices a priority, whatever they may be: Commune with the natural world and the spirit-in-all-things as much as possible. Call on your spirit helpers for guidance during these changing times and make gratitude your number one song throughout the days and nights. Express compassion and kindness to all beings at each and every opportunity, and let Love be your guiding light.

Steven Farmer, Ph.D. is a spiritual psychotherapist, minister, professional speaker, shamanic healer and author of several articles and books, including Sacred Ceremony: How to Create Ceremonies for Healing, Transitions, and Celebrations. Dr. Farmer has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, and offers lectures and workshops on a variety of topics.


How abusers lie to protect themselves by Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.
Do I have PTSD?
I'm a disgrace
I want to murder, torture -- and kill myself

How abusers lie to protect themselves
by Ellen Lacter, Ph.D.

   A page on my website seeks to expose a number of common forms of misinformation and tactics of disinformation about psychotherapy for trauma originating in ritual abuse and mind control. Disinformation is distinguished from misinformation in that it is intentionally fraudulent.

   Misinformation and disinformation about ritual abuse and mind control trauma and psychotherapy to treat such trauma appear in both paper and electronic media, but are particularly abundant on the Internet on websites of individuals and organizations, bookseller reviews, blogs, newsletters, online encyclopedias, social networking sites, and e-group listservs.

   Therefore, the Internet serves as something of an unregulated court of public opinion, where, to a large degree, allegedly falsely accused perpetrators of child abuse and their advocates and alleged victims of child abuse and their therapists and advocates, argue about:

   All of this occurs with no rules of order, no penalties for perjury, and an uneven playing field that causes psychotherapists and psychology researchers to have to pull their punches.

   I believe that this fight is being waged, in great part, to prevent child abuse survivors, especially survivors of ritual abuse and mind control, from receiving the help and support that they need to heal from their abuse, from receiving any sense of validation about their abuse, from recalling any dissociated parts of their abuse, from reporting their abusers to the authorities, from suing their abusers, from activism against child abuse, ritual abuse, and mind control, and in some cases, from even breaking away from their abusers.

Do I have PTSD?

My name is Nina and don't know what I need to do or where to go for help. I have not been diagnosed with PTSD Anxiety thingy, but my daughter suffers from that and my daughter's adopted Mom thinks I could suffer from this as well. Please let me know something soon. Thank You

Hi Nina,

   Thank you for seeking me out. I feel honored to be able to help people who need it.

   From the information you sent me, there is no way I can say anything about you. Having had a daughter adopted out is likely to have been traumatizing. If she was hurt while in your care, that would guarantee that so were you.

   I don't even know what country you live in. From your email address, I am guessing USA. Also, I don't know what your financial circumstances are.

   If you can afford it, go to a good psychologist, and one or two sessions should tell you whether you need more work or not. If so, the money spent will be your best investment, ever.

   If you can't afford it, there may be free services where you live. Various religious and charitable institutions do this, and there are often clinics associated with universities that have a cheap service to the public, as a way of giving training opportunities to graduate students.

   But actually, labels like PTSD don't matter. If you are unhappy and suffering, you can do something about it, with or without help. Emotions, feelings, thoughts, memories and the like are things we do. If something you do distresses you, work out how to do it differently.

   When you buy into a problem, you feed it and it grows. If you defy a problem ("Face the fear and do it anyway") you are starving it and it shrinks. So, whatever you have been doing in the past to deal with your anxieties, do the opposite. For example, if some memories have been too painful and scary to face up to, then calmly and with strength, actually invite them. You will be distressed. That's fine. Calmly watch your distress -- and it will fade. Stay with it till it's too small to worry about.

I hope this helps,

I'm a disgrace

   HI I'm 18 years old and I've experienced a quite traumatic experience when I was 8, 9 or 10 I believe. But I was molested my older cousin whose family I was adopted in when I was 2. I really didn't know about sex then my mom kept me from knowing but when it happened I just let it, it felt good to me and I enjoyed it.

   The older I got it continued but then her sister a age younger than me joined in on it. Of course I allowed it. but then I started catching addictions to sex and wanted more.

   I molested little girls when I turned 11 and I was stuck on sex and thought nothing of its effect. By 12 I molested my two nieces and I eventually stopped but they talk in secrecy about what I did what it looked like and stuff like that.

   I was ashamed of what I did to them. But at 15 I stopped my wrongdoings and I just say to myself to deal with the guilt and live my life for the future and not the past, but I'm afraid I will be shunned by friends family and people. One already told her parents they were mad.

   Years later my sister and her husband got a divorce they say its because he was controlling her but I feel its because he wanted me locked up and she was protecting me and she later seemed depressed. I blame myself for it and I just want to live my life freely as possible and move on with my life.

   I love kids they love me ( not in creepy way) for some reason I have a connection with them. I'm still childish I play with them and stuff but I'd stop, knowing what I've done! I'm truly sorry for what I did I feel like dying at times!

Hi Jim,

   I've got good news for you. You are not a disgrace, not evil, not damaged.

   Instead, at only 18 years of age, you have learned some very important lessons, and have become a wiser, better person because of what had gone on in your childhood.

   You want proof?

   1. I ask you: would you under any circumstances, now at 18 years of age, do sexual activities with a child?

   2. Would you, under any circumstances, force sex on a girl or woman?

   3. Would you ever get any enjoyment from causing pain or suffering to another person?

   I am sure the answer to all of these questions is NO. Am I right?

   What was done to you by those girls was wrong. It gave you the message that sex with other children was a good thing, so then, unthinkingly, you followed their example, and did things that now you know were harmful.

   So, now you are suffering from guilt and shame and fear. The entire tone of your message is full of the knowledge that what you did then was wrong.

   This shows that you have grown since then. For the rest of your life, you will be a decent, compassionate, kind person.

   This is what children pick up. You can't fool kids and animals. They sense who is trustworthy. They like you because, rightly, they feel safe with you.

   What you did between the ages of 11 and 15 was a mistake. Here is my take on all mistakes:

   So, there is no need for shame and guilt and wanting to die. You made a mistake THEN. You have grown from it.

   If you feel that apologising to those girls would hurt them more by reminding them, then don't. Otherwise, do so.

   "Restitution" means doing something to make up for damage you caused. At 18, you are starting on your adult life. Maybe you could consider a career with children that will help to protect them from those who would harm them, and to give them a good start in their lives.

   Since 15, you have been carrying a huge load of guilt and shame, and I am sure this interfered with your school learning. I suggest you do some remedial education to improve your results, then you may be able to qualify for a college course in a suitable profession like social work or teaching.

   One last thing. Why is it wrong to have sex with children? Because they don't yet have the ability to make wise decisions, to look at long term consequences and issues of right and wrong. You did a bad thing, having sex with younger girls because those girls were not yet able to make good decisions for themselves.

   In the same way, that older girl who got you to have sex with her did the wrong thing, because you were not yet able to make wise decisions. If we could use a time machine and sent you, at 18, back to the little boy, what would you advise him to do?

   So, precisely because sex with a minor is wrong, you as a minor did something you didn't yet know was wrong. If you were hauled in front of a court of law, the judge would want to be satisfied that NOW, as a young adult, you would not have sexual activity with children. He would not be able to convict you of any crime, because when you did those things, you were a minor yourself, and didn't yet have the ability to make moral decisions.

   So, Jim, you can stop torturing yourself. Instead, spend the rest of your life making this planet a better place for children.

Your new grandfather,

I want to murder, torture -- and kill myself

   I am a fifteen-year-old girl. I have always been rather solemn and kept to myself a lot; had a rather misanthropic view altogether, and I have thought a few times when I was younger about what it would be like to kill someone. I am seeing a psychologist at the moment for these thoughts, as well as anxiety and obsessive behaviours, but she is not being very clear about it.

   I am currently in my third year of high school, I only have a few friends that I willingly keep, and I plan to be a coroner or a mortician once I leave school.

   Over the past several months, I have begun to be plagued by thoughts... /Urges/, even, to kill. I can sit during class, picking targets and imagining ways in which I could either stealthily and cleanly kill them, or mutilate their body completely while people watched. I will come up with entire schemes in my head, right down to the exact instruments I will use. Sometimes when I am stressed, it helps to calm me down to think of how many different incisions in one's body I could make without them dying, if only to see their expression. Other times I will dwell on it to the point of hysterics. Quite often, I will stay up all night thinking because I cannot close my eyes without my head being filled with images of the dead and dying. Usually, I am rather stoic. The thought of killing doesn't bother me while I think of it, but sometimes I will be overcome with guilt, and be crippled by it; sometimes have nightmares for nights in a row about it. I will realise just how messed up my mind is.

   Suicide. I think of suicide a lot, too. I will think of how I will do it, what with, and when. Usually it's a knife to the throat, though sometimes I would love to put a gun in my mouth. I despise myself, really. That's what it boils down to. Self-loathing brought about by the fact that I know I am a completely messed up child. I don't know what is wrong with my head, but I want to get rid of it, whatever it is. I'm sick of it. I'm in two minds, though. On one hand, I like being like this. I enjoy being as sick as I am. I get kicks out of it - it gives me a sense of power, knowing I could kill anyone brutally and without remorse. On the other hand, I want to be innocent and carefree. I will be on a low for days, not talking to anyone, barely eating, and just brooding. I'll either want to kill my entire family, or myself. Then other times I can go for anywhere up to a few months of complete elation. Like I've changed for the better: a feeling of worthiness, like I can accomplish something. Then all too soon, it's gone, replaced with the feelings once again of murder, suicide, and torture.

   Apologies for the long message. I got a little absorbed in it. Though to be fair, it does say to be as specific as possible, so there you go. My mind on a platter. What do you make of it?

   Jill my dear, you are living a difficult life at the moment, aren't you? It's almost as if there were two of you: a vicious murderer and torturer, and a decent girl who would rather die than living with these horrible imaginings.

   Let me tell you, the real Jill is the decent girl who would do anything to make the horrible thoughts go away. If the murderer was the real you, you'd have gone and done it, instead of writing a desperate request for help.

   We can address your problem in several ways.

   1. You didn't ask for these thoughts and images. You didn't say to yourself, "Hmm, what'll I do? I know, I'll fantasise about how to murder Carol." The thoughts come, even though you wish they didn't. So, they are NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. You are not evil for having these thoughts. You would be doing evil if you put them into action.

   It's like, suppose I went into a shop and saw that the security was poor and I could easily steal a chocolate bar. But I know that would be wrong, so I don't do it. OK, am I a thief for having had the temptation, or honest because I resisted it?

   Another person going into the same shop might have no urges to steal anything. Is that person better than me? I don't think so. We both acted honestly. What's more, I have had the benefit of resisting temptation, which has made me into a stronger person.

   You've been having these imaginings for quite a while, right? All this time, if only you'd realised it, you had many opportunities for becoming a better, stronger person because each time, you chose to avoid hurting another person. You can think of it that way from now on.

   2. Imagine that before you were born, you and a Helper (God if you believe in God, a Superior Being if you don't) together decided that in your coming life you needed a really difficult challenge, in order to teach you a particular lesson. You chose to have these murderous obsessions.

   OK, what is the lesson? In what way can you become a better, more noble, stronger, more decent person than if you didn't have these imaginings?

   3. Thoughts, images, urges, memories, emotions, feelings are not real UNTIL YOU BUY INTO THEM. If I have the thought, "I'm going to walk on the ceiling," that's not real because I don't believe I can. Maybe, who knows, if I could make myself believe, I could! I've heard of people doing things like walking barefoot over burning coals, and rising up into the air, and melting snow with their body heat.

   So, you sometimes have a horror movie running in your mind. It is only internal noise unless you buy into it and treat it as something real. You have, until now. In the future, just treat it as noise.

   Here is an analogy for how to do that. Have you ever been in a room with a TV with images on the screen and voices coming from it, and someone asks, "Hey Jill, what's the show?" and you have to answer, "I don't know, I haven't been paying it any attention." So, you can treat your internal movie the same way.

   "I have this horror movie in my head, but I don't need to watch it. It's there, so what. Having it there doesn't say anything bad about me. I just happen to have it there. It's allowed to be, because I am paying it no attention."

   4. Finally we come to a possible explanation of why you have this problem. I don't know if this is true in your case, but I have seen this with many other people, so I guess it holds for you too.

   Attention is energy. If I say to you, "Do NOT think of the word 'hippopotamus'," what happens? The act of trying not to think it is attention to it, so the word is there, in your mind, like it or not.

   So, my theory is that once, years ago, a murderous thought came to you for some reason. This horrified you so much that you wanted it to go away. That made it stay all the more.

   This was a vicious cycle. The horror thoughts kept growing, and spreading into new areas, and eventually they got their own attraction, became more real than reality in your mind.

   Therefore, if you put what I have written into practice, you will start to withdraw attention from them. Therefore, gradually over time, they will start to fade away.

   But even before they do, you can improve your life by knowing that you are a good person, facing a major challenge, and meeting it with strength and moral courage.

Have a good life,


A meditation from Adam Caplan
Dangerous Drugs by Randy Fritz
In Pain? Blame Your Brain from Anne-Marie Botek

A meditation
from Adam Caplan

   Concentrate on your breathing.

   Inhale through your nose, fully, allowing the air to fill up your abdomen. Your stomach will extend, this is normal. (The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the bottom of the abdomen, getting as much breath into your lungs as possible. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less short of breath and anxious you feel.)

   Pause for a second or two when you have reached the fullest inhalation.

   Exhale through your mouth (you might want to make a small whispered 'aahhh' as you exhale).

   Pause for a second or two when you have reached the fullest exhalation before inhaling again.

   After a couple of minutes of breathing like this, you can't help but feel more relaxed and calmer, at peace. Continue this way until you feel fully alert and re-energised.

   Open your eyes if they were closed and focus on something in the room or outside. Look at this item only. When you feel that you 'have' this item, add another to your focus. Now you should have two items to focus on. This can be hard initially as you're used to focussing on one item at a time. You can look at the new one, but don't lose the connection with the original item. As you progress in your ability to do this, you can get quite a few items on board. Experienced practitioners can widen their focus to well over twenty items. Being able to focus on many things at once means you have increased your capacity for mental awareness of the world around you. (For example, when driving you need to be aware of so many things around you so that you don't have an accident. If you can remember when you first started driving, it was easy to feel overwhelmed by having so many things to concentrate on at once. Driving lessons help you increase your awareness of the world outside the car: the more you drive, the more you are able to do this. It's a very similar process.) It doesn't all need to be visual, but can also include sounds, smells, bodily sensations etc.

   The more often you do this exercise, the better you'll get at it.

   At some point in this exercise, you will find your attention is fully in the here and now and you'll start to feel that there's lots to do and you'll feel motivated and excited to do it.

   When you get to that stage, stop trying to focus on more items and think of all the things you want to do. Visualise a successful outcome for each of them and as soon as you've done that, write down all the tasks and items you wish to deal with and list them as your goals. It is extremely important that you write these down.

   With a list of identified goals that you've visualised succeeding in, you are equipped and motivated to do them. End the session and start on the first item on your list immediately.

   It should take at least ten to twenty minutes to really get the full benefit of this, but it can take longer if there's a lot of processing to be done.

   However, even five minutes can make improvements and this can be added to your daily routine. Even if you're stuck in traffic, on the train, at the airport, you can use this breathing exercise to reduce stress and make yourself feel better. You can do it wherever you are and at any time. There are also long term health benefits for doing so.

This mindfulness meditation script was in Adam Caplan's coming book, Cellular Attitude. I recently edited it for him, and found it to be excellent.

Dangerous Drugs
by Randy Fritz

The link between psychiatric drugs and most recent mass-shootings

   A large number of individuals in school and other shootings were either on prescription drugs or coming off them.

   One can make the statement that of course these people were medicated, they were disturbed. They should have been medicated.

   Now experts are wondering whether the cause of these violent tragedies is not the drugs themselves. Depressed people are not violent, but depressed people on drugs may be.

   In the last five decades, more than 20 antipsychotics and 30 antidepressants have been marketed with over $25 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2011 alone. That's a lot of drugs!

    All drugs have side effects and can be dangerous. Now we have just added one more side effect. Surely it must be obvious that this approach is deeply flawed.

   Without minimizing the serious situations some people are in or dismissing the benefits that some drugs have been provided, there are natural alternative many medications.

   For depression, some of the possible alternatives are:

From Real Food For Life.

In Pain? Blame Your Brain
from Anne-Marie Botek

   Anne-Marie Botek has written a very informative essay on how chronic pain works, and what to do about it. Since chronic pain management is one of my professional tasks, and I use the tools I teach myself, I am happy to tell you that I am in full agreement with what she writes. Her essay is a bit long for here, but do go and read it.

   Anne-Marie covers trends in the elder care and healthcare industry that are most relevant to caregivers. Her goal is to ensure caregivers have access to the knowledge and support they need to deal with issues they face today and guidance on what to expect in the future. Anne-Marie graduated from the University of Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the Terry College of Business.


Show vs. tell

   This perennial topic came up on one of my writing lists, causing considerable debate. If those lovely people are interested, then probably other writers are too.

   As with many other "you should only do this" dicta (You should never use passive sentence structure; you should never use words ending in -ly, etc. etc.), my attitude is that showing and telling are both tools. Tools should be used for their intended purpose, for which they are fine. A chisel should not be used to turn a screw, but then a screwdriver is not much good for cutting a mortise-and-tenon joint.

   I think of a story as having two components: action scenes, and bridge passages between them.

   Here is a brief action scene, from my soon to be released book Ascending Spiral: Humanity's last hope:

   Using description and dialogue, my aim is to get the reader to be THERE, within the scene, using as few words as possible.

   Then my people cover time and distance, and so must the story, until the next important development. We need to go through months without slowing the pace. That is the function of telling:

   It's that simple.

   Imagine how boring it would be to cover months of travel, with nothing happening that's worthy of note, showing stuff that adds nothing to the plot. One day is much like another, with minor incidents of living, and changing landscape. I have read books -- even published books -- like that, but not usually to the end.

   By the same token, would this version take you into the scene?

   "Showing" relies on two forms of presentation. One is vivid description, subtly interweaved with the private, internal experiences of the witness to the scene. By that I mean thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, memories, observations of others. The second is dialogue: what people say, as heard by the witness, again interweaved with the witness's private experiences.

   "Telling" is simply a summary report of what happens, from the outside. However, even then, it is important that the telling be done by a character from within the story, not the author. This is a mistake often made: the author hops on the stage and does an info dump. That's a sure fire way of plucking the reader out of the reality you created, of demonstrating that this is only a story.

What my friends want you to know

Free book on how to get published by Brooke Warner
Help Avaaz to double
Carolyn and her husband offer 2 FREE books
Books and Banter newsletter
Mindful rejuvenation for health professionals

Free book on how to get published, by Brooke Warner

   Brooke Warner resigned as acquisitions editor of a publisher in order to start her coaching service for writers. You can grab her free Kindle book What's Your Book? A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You from Inspiration to Published.

Help Avaaz to double

Dear fellow Avaazers,

   Something big is happening. From Tahrir Square to Wall St., from staggeringly brave citizen journalists in Syria to millions of us winning campaign after campaign online, democracy is stirring. Not the media-circus, corrupt, vote-every-4-years democracy of the past. Something much, much deeper. Deep within ourselves, we are realising our own power to build the world we all dream of.

   We don't have a lot of time to do it. Our planet is threatened by multiple crises -- a climate crisis, food crisis, financial crisis, proliferation crisis... These crises could split us apart like never before, or bring us together like never before. It's the challenge of our time, and the outcome will determine whether our children face a darker world or one thriving in greater human harmony.

   This is our challenge. With 17 million members and rising, Avaaz is the largest global online community in history. Our potential is unique, and so is our responsibility.

   It's amazing, but just 20,000 of us make our entire community possible with a small weekly donation of around $1.50, the price of a cup of coffee. That funds all of Avaaz's core expenses. But to rise to this moment and win it, we need to accelerate -- by doubling our number of weekly 'sustainers' to 40,000, and doubling our capacity to do everything we do. Click here to make it happen and buy the world a cup of coffee:

With hope and gratitude for this amazing community,

What Ricken says is exactly right: we need a culture change to one of compassion, cooperation and decency, away from the aggressive, selfish, childish culture that is causing all those problems and more.

Carolyn and her husband offer 2 FREE books

   Multi award-winning poet, novelist, and author of the famed HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, Carolyn Howard-Johnson and award-winning playwright and actor Lance Johnson have been married for far longer than the average couple worldwide and are still doing things together -- in this case joining with Amazon's Kindle Select program to give away e-copies of their books.

   Ta Da! Two books for your Kindle (or your computer if you don't have a Kindle with only a couple clicks.

    All you do is go to on Jan 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17 and click and then to and click. Both e-books will come directly to your computer or your Kindle.

   Anyone can also send the books free to anyone they'd like to give a thoughtful -- and fast -- gift. Send Lance's to a foreign student you know, an emigrant, or about anyone who cut more high school civics (or English!) classes than they should have. Send Carolyn's book to any author you know. Every nonfiction author and even most fiction writers can use it for it is becoming common for publishers to ask for proposals from writers of genre fiction. It's thoughtfulness with the click of a mouse.

   Lance Johnson is an actor with national commercials, plays, and movies to his credit. He has also visited more than 90 countries and taught English and American culture abroad. His book has been endorsed by ambassadors to the US and ambassadors from the US to other countries.

   Carolyn Howard-Johnson's HowToDoItFrugally series for writers has won multiple awards. She has studied writing at universities in the Czech Republic, Russia and UK, UCLA, and USC. And she has been an instructor for the world renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program for nearly a decade.

   For more information on these books or the authors visit: for Lance's work and for Carolyn's.

Books and Banter newsletter
published by C.R. Richards

   Books and Banter is a seasonal newsletter designed to help authors of all genres and experience levels promote their new release. We feature traditionally published authors, E-Published Authors and Indie Authors. Announcements for upcoming events (book signings, conferences, etc.) are also welcome.

   If you have a new release you'd like featured in Books and Banter, please send the following to

  • Book Cover
  • Back Cover Blurb
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  • Author Bio (include links to websites and social media)
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    Mindful rejuvenation for health professionals

       Do you care for the physical or emotional health of others? Only to find that your dedication frequently leaves you drained by the process?

       We are inviting you to recharge with us this winter on beautiful Nusa Lembongan Island. Detailed mindfulness skills will be taught, but best of all practiced. Come home armed with petrol in the tank and some great strategies for keeping it there!

       Dr Alanda Thompson and Dr Samantha Clarke are Psychologists with a passion for maintaining an invigorated approach to professional practice, and to life in general, among health practitioners of all disciplines.

       Early bird rates end 20/03/13

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       Numbers are limited to small group sizes

       Nusa Lembongan is a Mecca for world-class surfing, yoga, snorkelling and other deliciously mindful self-care activities.

       Visit for details.

    Book Reviews

    Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Magdalena Ball
    Black Cow by Magdalena Ball

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Magdalena Ball

    Magdalena Ball is the reviewer at the Compulsive Reader and also has her own radio show. Hers is the first advance review of Ascending Spiral, my new book, to be released very soon.

       Dr Pip Lipkin has lived for 12,000 years, in many lives, different sexes, and even different species and he's here for a reason. Dr Bob Rich's Ascending Spiral is a true genre-buster, incorporating elements of historical fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, and even a hint of nonfiction to create an entertaining novel with an important message.

       Beautifully researched, the book opens in present day, but quickly moves back to 805-806 AD, where the first person protagonist is named Padraig, and he is fighting a Viking attack. The book then moves into the life of Dermot, an Irishman dealing with the campaign of repression conducted by the English against the Irish during this period. Dermot's section is the longest, taking the reader through full scale war, vigilantism, transportation to Australia as a convict, slavery, life on a squat as a free man, and the committing of a terrible crime. Dermot's act has repercussions that take him into the next chapter of his existence, as Amelia, a woman who has to experience the consequences of Dermot's crime again and again. When Amelia dies, our protagonist experiences something completely different -- a life that is free of gender and hate -- focused solely on survival and the support of the species. The next life jumps to 10,000 BCE, where, as a giant space flower, the protagonist commits a thoughtless but devastating crime, the likes of which forms the basis for the atonement and multiple births throughout the novel. The final section belongs to Pip, bringing us back to the start.

       Pip is the most evolved being and the development from Padraig to Pip is the ascending spiral that the title refers to. Along the way he learns (and teaches us) about the meaninglessness and pain of war, about greed and violence, about the folly of our desperation for happiness over wisdom, about the beauty and delicacy of our planet, and about the power of love and forgiveness to change these cycles. The themes of the book are Buddhist, showing us the Samsara or "the cycle of birth and death" and the lessons we all need to learn in order to evolve ourselves and to save our rapidly dying world. Though the ultimate purpose of the book does appear to be didactic -- global warming and impending environmental catastrophe are generally accepted within the mainstream scientific community as proven fact -- and the parallels between Dr Lipkin and the author's own studies are probably the subject of at least a few fascinating interviews, the story reads well as fiction, creating each world entirely so that the reader becomes engrossed in the historical time and place along with the protagonist. The overall message is delivered with subtlety and sophistication, and the descriptions are particularly powerful, especially in Dermot's section where we move from war-torn Ireland to NSW. The long, painful journey by boat is evocative, as this example from Dermot's time in solitary confinement shows:

       The space flower descriptions were also well done -- adding a fun sci-fi twist to the story and showing Rich's scientific bent:

       Through each section there are a number of important threads that link the novel together, including the recurring cycle of racism and prejudice in all of its forms, of uncontrolled hunger and its ability to damage, and of the healing power of sympathy, connection and perception. All of these threads come together through a series of stories that are historically engaging and powerful, at times whimsical, and above all, meticulously presented. Ascending Spiral is a book that will take the reader to many different places and times, showing, ultimately, that our differences and divisions, even at their most devastating, are less important than our similarities. This is an important and timely novel full of wisdom and insight.

    Black Cow
    by Magdalena Ball

       If you're tortured by being on the corporate ladder, and the only choice seems to be between slowly killing yourself or falling into dizzying depths, then this book is for you.

       If you're a worker eaten up by envy for the luxurious lifestyle of the boss, then this book is for you.

       Magdalena Ball's characters very quickly become real people, living very real lives. As a reader, I could feel their emotions, share their hopes and fears, and particularly their despair. And as it happens, the solution they found for their unsolvable problem is what had worked for me 34 years ago. I transformed my life into one of meaning and contentment. Freya and James, the protagonists of Black Cow, are following my footsteps.

       Tension makes a story. Black Cow is unremitting tension, right to the beautiful resolution at the end. In fact, sometimes it's too much: on occasion during the family's continuous crisis, I wished for some light relief.

       Language is the brush strokes of writing, and like all good prose should be, Ball's prose is often poetry. It is always apt for the content. There are particularly beautiful passages that deal with deep philosophical issues, which are presented in a non-preachy, very digestible manner. What's more, I agree with what the people in the story say at these times.

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