Bobbing Around

Volume Five, Number Six
February 2006

Bob Rich's rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  Mocking Mohammed.
  Internet censorship, by Wayne Madsen.
  Viva Fascismo, by Anwaar Hussain
  China leading the way -- to global disaster, from Dr Lester Brown.
  Tuvalu: the people Australia abandoned, from Kim Stewart.
  A wise lady on grief.
  A lonely young man.
  Loving my body, by Cheryl O'Brien
*For writers
  What is poetry?
  Bringing a story to life.
*Have a look at these
  'The secrets of medical decision making' by Dr. Oleg Reznik.
  Read an e-book week coming
  Snapshots... Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Eva Kende
  'Compulsive Reader' praises Carolyn's poetry book.
  Success for TRI Studio authors.
  Ex-Prisoners of War: Stories of Faith, Integrity and Courage
  'Blowin' in the wind' -- an Australian film you MUST see
  'Wal*Mart the High Cost of Low Price' -- film review by John Gorman
  Tsunami Stories: Thailand, complied by Bill O'Leary
  'The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea' by Chris Meeks, reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru
  Fearful Fears, by 'Cosmos'
*Always a FREE contest here
  Irish Leprechaun Hunt.

Festival at Moora Moora

   Saturday 25th February is the date for the second Festival to be held by the Mt Toolebewong Landcare group at Moora Moora, where I live. There is a FANTASTIC program. Just the shows on the Stage alone are worth coming for, including one of my favourite group, Zarafa, who play incredible medieval music.

   I'll be doing my usual building demonstrations. Jeremy Shub will be working on his house, demonstrating the laying and rendering of strawbale. Throughout the day, there will be workshops, talks and demonstrations on all sorts of topics, as well as the very popular tours of the co-op.

   See you there.


   Woodworking for Idiots Like Me is available once more, in electronic format. I have not yet had the time to update my web pages, but you can buy your copy for only $US7.50 or $Au10. email me to buy 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.


Mocking Mohammed
Internet Censorship by Wayne Madsen
Viva Fascismo by Anwaar Hussain

Mocking Mohammed

   The newest escalation in the tragic mutual misunderstanding between Islam and the West is a silly cartoon series that depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist (at least by implication). In my opinion quite rightly, Muslim people all over the globe are upset. There have been riots, attacks upon embassies, public protests. People have been killed.

   The response? Lectures about the role of free speech.

   But we do have conventional limits on free speech. I am not allowed to slander someone's reputation by publishing lies about that person. In most countries, I am not allowed to shout obscenities in the street. If I went to Britain and yelled nasty things at the Queen, I would rightly be arrested, even if the charge had to be 'disturbing the peace'.

   The best way to examine the issue is to reverse it.

   Suppose that the world was swept by a cartoon series depicting Jesus as an evil, ridiculous figure Who incites His followers to drop bombs on anyone who doesn't agree with them? I am not a Christian, so my reaction would be exactly the same as to the ones about Mohammed. It is nasty, infantile and very inflammatory to slander a person who has inspired millions. It would be disgusting to treat Jesus that way. Therefore, it is disgusting to treat Mohammed that way.

   Most of my readers will identify themselves as Christian. I ask them, how Christian is it to make fun of the leader of one of the world's great religions? How Christian is it to incite violence and hatred?

   Free speech has nothing to do with it. The issue is that this cartoon is evil, is going to cause suffering to many people, and it implies slanderous lies about a great man.

Internet Censorship
by Wayne Madsen

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC commentator. This is a slightly shortened version of one of his reports, reproduced with permission.

   Internet censorship did not happen overnight but came to America's shores from testing grounds in China and the Middle East.

   Privacy and computer experts have long warned about massive censorship of the web on a nationwide and global scale. For many years, the web has been heavily censored in countries around the world. That censorship continues at this very moment. Now it is happening right here in America.

   The agreement by Congress to extend an enhanced Patriot Act for another four years will permit the political enforcers of the Bush administration, who use law enforcement as their proxies, to further clamp censorship controls on the web.

   The warning signs have been with us for over a decade. The Clipper chip controversy of the 90s, John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness (TIA) system pushed in the aftermath of 9-11, backroom deals between the Federal government and the Internet service industry, and the Patriot Act have ushered in a new era of Internet censorship, something just half a decade ago computer programmers averred was impossible given the nature of the web. They were wrong, dead wrong.

   Take for example of what recently occurred when two journalists were taking on the phone about a story that appeared on Google News about a Christian fundamentalist move in Congress to use U.S. military force in Sudan to end genocide. The story appeared on the English Google News site in Qatar. But the very same Google News site when accessed simultaneously in Washington, DC failed to show the article. This censorship is accomplished by geolocation filtering: the restriction or modifying of web content based on the geographical region of the user. In addition to countries, such filtering can now be implemented for states, cities, and even individual IP addresses.

   News reports on CIA prisoner flights and secret prisons are disappearing from Google and other search engines like Alltheweb as fast as they appear. Here now, gone tomorrow is the name of the game.

   Google is systematically failing to list and link to articles that contain explosive information about the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, Al Qaeda, and U.S. political scandals. But Google is not alone in working closely to stifle Internet discourse. America On Line, Microsoft, Yahoo and others are slowly turning the Internet into an information superhighway dominated by barricades, toll booths, off-ramps that lead to dead ends, choke points, and security checks.

   America Online is the most egregious is stifling Internet freedom. A former AOL employee noted how AOL and other Internet Service Providers cooperate with the Bush administration in censoring email. The Patriot Act gave federal agencies the power to review information to the packet level and AOL was directed by agencies like the FBI to do more than sniff the subject line. The AOL term of service (TOS) has gradually been expanded to grant AOL virtually universal power regarding information. Many AOL users are likely unaware of the elastic clause, which says they will be bound by the current TOS and any TOS revisions which AOL may elect at any time in the future. Essentially, AOL users once agreed to allow the censorship and non-delivery of their email.

   Microsoft has similar requirements for Hotmail as do Yahoo and Google for their respective e-mail services.

   There are also many cases of Google's search engine failing to list and link to certain information. According to a number of web site administrators who carry anti-Bush political content, this situation has become more pronounced in the last month. In addition, many web site administrators are reporting a dramatic drop-off in hits to their sites, according to their web statistic analyzers. Adding to their woes is the frequency at which spam viruses are being spoofed as coming from their web site addresses.

   Government disruption of the political side of the web can easily be hidden amid hyped mainstream news media reports of the latest "boutique" viruses and worms, reports that have more to do with the sales of anti-virus software and services than actual long-term disruption of banks, utilities, or airlines.

   Only those in the Federal bureaucracy and the companies involved are in a position to know what deals have been made and how extensive Internet censorship has become. They owe full disclosure to their customers and their fellow citizens.

Viva Fascismo
by Anwaar Hussain

   ‘Fascismo’ is Italian for Fascism. Strictly speaking, the term is relevant to the autocratic political movement that ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini.

   Fascismo, however, is also applied to Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and, loosely, to all other authoritarian-cum-totalitarian regimes since then.

   Fascismo is characterized by dictatorial attempts to impose state control over all aspects of citizens’ lives: ranging from political and social to cultural, and economic. Fascismo lauds the nation, state, or race as superior to individuals, institutions, or groups composing it. As an attractive façade, and to whip up mass support, fascismo uses popular rhetoric, calls for a heroic collective effort towards make-believe goals and demands loyalty to a single leader or group of leaders.

   Fascismo thrives in a state milieu of insecurity. As people would sacrifice anything to feel secure from real or imaginary threats (economic, xenophobic, terrorism, crime, etc.), national security remains the main rallying point of fascismo. Toward this end, a sense of insecurity is pumped non-stop into every stratum of societies in fascist states.

   The most distinct characteristic of a fascist state, however, remains corporate power and its sinister collusion with the state. Benito Mussolini -- who knew something about fascismo -- had a more down-to-earth description: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

   Out of the three most dominant attributes of fascismo, i.e., corporate power, militarization of society and racism, the first two stand out as the most common in fascist states. It is clear for all to see that these two traits are now firmly entrenched in the greatest ever power on planet earth. Fascismo has gate-crashed in the grand United States of America. A group of leaders having manifested fascist leanings have America in a stranglehold. Life is slowly being choked out of America’s democratic spirit. The world watches on in a dumbfounded awe.

   Some past American leaders have been most prophetic about America’s current state of affairs. Abraham Lincoln, the great seer, once stated, “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.”

   Likewise, Kennedy once told the Americans, "The biggest threat to American democracy is corporate power.” Sen. Huey Long was even more accurate when he said, “I'm afraid, based on my own long experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."

   Please read the rest at:

Anwaar is an ex-fighter pilot and is now a journalist in Pakistan.


China leading the way -- to global disaster
The people Australia has abandoned

China leading the way -- to global disaster

   Dr Lester Brown is the president of the Earth Policy Institute. He was awarded the United Nations Environment Prize in 1987 and is an honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

   Recently, he has been widely quoted on the implications of China's rapid economic growth.

   Per capita income in China would equal that of the US by 2031 if the Chinese economy continues to grow at its current pace. Given its predicted population, it would:

  • Burn 99 million barrels of oil a day, 18 per cent MORE than current world production.
  • Eat two-thirds of the world's current grain harvest.
  • Use twice as much paper as the world currently produces.
  • Drive 1.1 billion cars, compared to 800 million cars globally in existence in 2005-- forcing it to pave roads and car parks equal to the area it now plants in rice.

       In his new book, Plan B 2.0, he writes, "China is helping us to see that the days of the old economy are numbered. It is hard to find words to express the gravity of our situation and the momentous nature of the decisions we are about to make. One way or another, the decision will be made by our generation."

       Dr Brown points out that this is not specifically about China, but about all of us, in all countries. The world needs to spend $US161 billion a year limiting population growth, restoring forests, fisheries, grasslands and water supplies and controlling global warming.

    Tuvalu: The people Australia has abandoned

    This is a precis of a much longer paper by Kim Stewart, an environmental and media activist working on climate change and nuclear issues with Friends of the Earth Brisbane, Food Irradiation Watch and for independent media. She also produces radio news for 4ZzZ 102.1fm.

       The nine islands that make up the nation of Tuvalu are disadvantaged by climate change in many ways: isolation, delicate natural environment, low height of the atolls, small economic base and poor infrastructure. Tuvalu can easily be devastated by changing weather patterns, cyclones and rising sea levels. "...Because of its location and physical nature, Tuvalu is particularly susceptible to the adverse impacts of climate change and in particular rising sea level." [Environment agency of Japan and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), 1996]

       The Tuvaluan Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Lagitupu Tuilimu, stated in 2001 that scientists have predicted countries like Tuvalu will be totally submerged within around fifty years.

       In 2002, then-Prime Minister Koloa Talake announced plans to sue the United States and Australia at the International Court of Justice over their disproportionate production of carbon dioxide emissions. The suit was never filed because Talake failed to be re-elected later that year, but the potential suit garnered great media attention.

       Rising sea level is worsened by increased severity of storms. NZ scientist Jim Salinger says, "As you heat up the atmosphere, it rains harder when it rains; but when it doesn't, things dry out faster because it's hotter. You get more flooding and more drought." And "El Nińos push cyclones toward Tuvalu."

       Cycone activity has increased markedly. Cyclones like Heta, which struck Tuvalu in 1997, have the capacity to decimate the island's fragile ecosystems and hence the economy, especially the subsistence economy.

       Unlike other islands, Tuvalu is based on a volcano without a continental shelf to dissipate waves. This may also exacerbate the effects of tsunamis and distant storms.

       Over the past decade, the islands have seen a disappearance of 3 metres of beachfront. Increased severity of storms is slowly depleting the islands both of land mass and the trees to hold it together.

       Ecologist Ursula Kaly says the serious erosion along Funafuti's lagoon-front was set in motion by the wartime backfilling and building of sea walls, most of which disintegrated long ago. Mataio Tekinene, Tuvalu's director of environment, shows me where the coral building materials for Funafuti's runway, sea walls and a dozen other World War II projects came from-deep pits in the porous coralline ground now filled with brackish water and trash. Islanders fear that a big storm could force churning seas through the pits and break through to the lagoon, flooding the island.

       Salt-water incursion: Tuvalu has no sources of spring water and relies entirely on rainwater to fill the fresh water lens. A combination of local pollution and salt-water incursion from high-tides and storm activity has compromised the availability of fresh water on the islands.

       When Suila Toloa of TANGO visited Australia in 2004 she told us that in some areas people were forced to grow foods such as taro and sweet potato in buckets to protect them from the salt-water.

       In 2001 the New Zealand government agreed to take Tuvaluans as refugees. Since then almost 3000 Tuvaluans have migrated to NZ. The Australian government, in 2004, declared that they would not recognize Tuvaluans as environmental refugees. Despite this, the stringent requirement of migration to NZ means that the elderly, sick and poor will have great difficulty being accepted there.

       In her address to the public Suilia Toloa echoed what many island nations are saying, that their primary needs are help with education, communications, disaster management strategies and protection of the local environment as much as possible.

       Although in many respects efforts at mitigation in Tuvalu seem in vain, the people of Tuvalu should be given the opportunity to live with dignity on thier ancestral lands as long as psosible.

       "Taking us as environmental refugees, is not what Tuvalu is after in the long run. We want the islands of Tuvalu and our nation to remain permanently and not be submerged as a result of greed and uncontrolled consumption of industrialized countries. We want our children to grow up the way we grew up in our own islands and in our own culture" -- Tuvaluan Governor-General Sir Tomasi Puapua's contribution to the 57th Session of the UN General Assembly.


    A wise lady on grief
    A lonely young man
    Loving my body by Cheryl O'Brien

    A wise lady on grief

       Be kind to yourself. The rest of the world will be at times cold, aloof, and unkind. You are not the rest of the world and so do not have that excuse to not be kind to you, so be kind to yourself.

       Whenever you need to, take time to do things that are comforting to you. Some things you may find comforting are:

  • Take a bubble bath
  • Sit in a park with some fruit and cheese and a glass of your favourite wine.
  • Try the above with your back leaning against a big old tree and feel the lovely strength of the tree support you and feel connected to the tree and experience its grounding nature.
  • Spend time with people who care about you. You won't be expected to be the life of the party so don't think you need to be. Just let these people be there for you.
  • Express yourself. Write, work in the garden, draw, play a musical instrument, hum a tune. Allow the creative energy to flow through you.
  • Spend time in contemplation. This might mean meditation or prayer. The idea behind contemplation is to let go of thoughts and feelings and simply be yourself.
  • Have a facial, massage, pedicure or other kind of tender gift to you.
  • Give yourself the gift of time. Allow time for you.

       Remember that our society does not train people to know what to do when a friend or relative is going through grief. Our society does not have courses in dealing with death. We all learn as we go and those around you are sometimes frozen into inaction by the very desire to not do the wrong thing. So talk to people. Tell them what you need. Ask them to do the things you need them to do. 99% of people will want to help 99% of the time.

       Visit the gravesite at times that suit you. Ask a supportive person to accompany you and don't be afraid to ask for what you need. Perhaps you need them to stay in the car, perhaps you need them to hold your hand or put an arm around you. Ask them to do what you need. Remember that you need to educate people about what you need.

       Write letters to the person who has died. If writing them isn't quite enough put them in an envelope addressed to the person C/O Heaven (or the Universe, whichever suits you) and post the letters in the regular post box.

       What will happen to the letters? I don't really know and I don't think it matters.The practice of posting the letters can release you from some of the feelings. It is a practical exercise in letting go.

       Create a special album of the person who has died and your involvement with them. This is your own memento for yourself. There is no time limit to complete it. You don't have to share it with anyone. There are no rules about how to make it. Let your heart guide you in this. If you write poems you think fit into the album, add them, if you still have a coaster from the pub where you met or similar souvenir, add it too. Make the album as special and individual as you.

       Grief is a feeling. It can't hurt you. No feeling can. Actions can hurt but feelings only feel as though they hurt.

       Grief is a process. There is many times documented the step-by-step stages of grief and they are all pretty spot on. Get a good self-help book on the subject and keep it by your bed to remind yourself you are only grieving and grieving is normal.

       You will feel at times as though you are going mad. You aren't. You are going through the stages of grief and one such stage is that of being darn unreasonable, illogical, irrational, and too darn hurt, sad, angry and/or frustrated to function in the way that society expects adults to function. Don't worry. Society won't fall apart just because your ability to function has phoned in sick. This stage will pass. It may return and then it will pass again. Each time this stage returns you will recognise it sooner and it will pass faster with less effect. It is perfectly sane for a person to experence grief following a loss.

       Use the words 'dead', 'death', 'die' whenever you feel the need. All too often we soften the blow for others by using sanitised terms like 'passed on', 'passed away', 'passed over'. What we are dealing with is not just a trip someone has gone on and is expected to return, it is a physical death. It is a permanent physical condition of that person. Softening the blow for others does not quite reflect what you have experienced.

       (Yes, there is comfort in believing the spirit of the person who has died is on a journey and it is up to each individual to choose how and if that belief works for them. I am not speaking here of the spiritual nature of death.)

       Communicate with others who have gone through grief. It is handy to have others to talk to who understand some of what you are experiencing.

       Grief is an individual process. It is different for each person. Yes, the stages of grief may be similar but the sense of loss, the ramifications in day-to-day life, the intensity of the stages of grief, and every part of the grieving process varies from person to person.

       Say, "No!" Allow yourself to not accept every invitation, request, or demand. You don't have to do everything others would have you do. Simply say:

  • "that isn't something I want to do."
  • "I can't fit that into my schedule."
  • "I need time to myself right now, thank you."
  • "I am planning to go to bed early/ go to the hairdressers / take a nap /or whatever."

       "Thanks for the offer. I would like to do it, but I am busy grieving" was my favourite response to others, particularly if they were demanding that I get over it, move on, or ignore my own needs. My need to grieve at my pace was more important to me than their need to orchestrate my life, my grieving process, or anything else that is mine.

       Christmastime is especially difficult for those who are feeling grief. Each Christmas I write my son a letter and post it to him. I also buy a suitable present for him at the age he would be now and then donate the present to a charitable cause. He would like that. He was a boy with a generous heart. He would now be approaching his 23rd Birthday. (10th January)

       There has never been a Christmas since 10th November 1988, the date he died,

       that I have not felt very deeply affected by my son's absence. The fact the anniversary of his death and his birthday are wrapped around christmas doesn't help.

       What does help is simply being honest about what I am feeling, what I am remembering and what I am presently experiencing. Each year it gets easier, but I wouldn't say it ever gets easy. Ask me that in another 20 years.

    Kind regards
    Cheryl O'Brien

    A lonely young man

    Hi there,

       I'm a 28 year old long term single bloke from the UK and getting a bit sick of the situation, so did a Google on the subject. Amongst all the typical dating agencies results was your reply to a single guy from Oz.

       Just wanted to say: Top advice... I'm crap at chatting the opposite sex up, and always seem to land squarely in the "friend zone" and have sort of gotten used to it. But your article has (hopefully) made me realise that I need to try harder. You only get better through practise and all that.

    So, Thank You!
    - C.

    Thank you for the feedback, C. It worked for me, many years ago.

       Just think of this. Because you have done without a girl, you appreciate what a committed relationship will do for you. When you find someone who is willing to love you, you'll be far better value for her than those popular guys who think of no-one but themselves.

       There are just as many lonely girls as lonely guys. And remember, women are just people who happen to be female. Talk to them as if they were like you, instead of something alien and different, or someone to be impressed, or a Goddess to be worshipped.

       And don't try too hard. That used to be my problem. Nothing is more off-putting than a person who looks like he'll be your slave for life if you smile at him.

       You've been looking for a lover and found friends. OK, look for friends, and like me, you'll find a lover.

    Have a good life,

    Loving my body
    by Cheryl O'Brien

    I want to encourage everyone to really learn to love their body. I will share some ways in which I show my body how much I love it and I will share also the reasons why I love my body.

       I love my body because:

       It is mine. I own it. It has been with me for life and will be with me when I die.

       My body has brought five beautiful cildren into the world.

       My body has worked hard and has earned me a living.

       My body alows me to express my affection, love, and caring for others through hugs, kisses, snuggles, sex, and just being there.

       Although my body has suffered greatly it has persistently overcome that suffering and been there for me.

       My body allows me to enjoy all the sensual things in the world. I can hear beauitful sounds and ugly ones too. I can see all the wondrous and amazing things on this planet. I can tast all kinds of delights. I can smell all kinds of odours. I can touch and feel so many wonderful texures.

       My body has a built in warning system that lets me know when I am in danger. It allows me to prepare to get out of danger and to keep myself safe.

       My body houses my soul, my mind, my spirit and it does a fine job of it too.

    How I reward my body.

       I choose treats I like that are good for me. Like a big juicy mango, or a punnet of strawberries, fresh apricots, and yes fruit has natural sugar in it but that is way better than biscuits and stuff that have little other nutrient. also the nautral fructose is more easily digested by your body and more readily used by your muscles etc.

       I reward my body by taking it out for walks, I dont power walk, old injuries dont allow that, I simply just walk, the sunshine, fresh air, and exercise are all bonuses but not the reason I walk. I walk to enjoy the scenery and to meet people along the way. I dont measure the distance. And I dont wak vry far... just more often..

       I allow my body to soak in a nice tub, when I have acces to one. I use essential oils or bubble bath or whtever I feel like at the time.

       I give myself foot rubs with essential oils, peppermint in the morning or if it is the evening then chamomile or lavender.

       A couple of times a year I go for a facial, massage, the whole works. This is a reward I give to my body for simply being mine.

       I usually cut my own hair, but occassionally I go to the barber, yes barbers are great; they dont try to sell you a hundred bucks' worth of lotions and potions before you leave the door they simply cut your hair have a chat and let you move along.

       I didnt start doing all of this overnight. It took ages for it to soak into mymind that I can reward myself in positive ways that I can enjoy.

       I allow my body to give and accept hugs.

       It has taken several years of building up the habit of doing this.

    For writers

    What is poetry?
    Bringing a story to life.

    What is poetry?

       In olden days, poetry had to rhyme, and there were very specific ways its rhythm had to be organised. Think of Shelley, Keats, Byron, all the many great names. Or, if your taste is for some fun, how about Banjo Patterson:

       Nowadays, Real Poets sneer at rhyme. I have looked at what they produce, and as far as I can determine, the only defining quality is that it has to be written in short lines.

       I've expressed this opinion before, to be severely upbraided for my ignorance and presumption. Poetry, I am told, is defined by the way it can stimulate emotions. It is designed to stir the soul, to light a beacon for the spirit, to delight with words that bring life to vivid life.

       I accept this.

       But then, I think that this is the task of prose also.

       That's why one of my mottoes is:


    Bringing a story to life

       What makes some writing vivid, drawing you in, while reading other stuff is work?

       What converts some characters into people, while others stay two-dimensional creations?

       There is no secret. It is a matter of getting the reader to identify with the people in the story. This is as true for non-fiction like travel writing, a journalistic interview or a biography as it is for fiction.

       Any device, however attractive and useful it may seem, is counterproductive if it gets in the way of this aim. All the rest is detail. There are endless discussions among writers about which point of view (POV) is best, how to show not tell, the use of adverbs and adjectives and the like. All this agonising and debate can be short-circuited. Merely ask yourself: "Which way is more likely to get a reader to feel as if s/he were the character?

       In my non-didactic writing (and sometimes even when I am teaching), I think of the story as being divided into scenes. Any scene needs to have the following components:

    1. A witness. This is the person whose POV we are in. Everything presented in this scene is through the witness's perceptions, thoughts, memories.

       In a journalistic piece, the writer is the witness. This is a great way to share your emotions, and put the reader where you are: talking to a celebrity, flying in an attack helicopter. scaling a mountain. But in a fiction story, you don't want the reader to identify with you, the writer. Your aim is to induce this relationship with your character. So, every word should be through the perceptions of one character.

    2. Distinctiveness. If the witness is someone we have already met in previous scenes in the book, OK, you can just carry on. However, even then, if it's been a while, like several chapters, we need a few subtle reminders concerning identity, role, unique characteristics. This is not through an author lecture, but little phrases slipped in. It is necessary for each person within your story to be unique, with personal characteristics not shared by others. Even if you have a pair of identical twins, at least have them think differently, and show the difference.

    3. Setting The witness is in a setting: a physical environment, a social situation, an activity. This needs to be sketched in, with minimal description. A sentence here, a half-paragraph there is good. A long paragraph of description slows the narrative and should be avoided, unless the current witness is in a musing, observer role for some essential reason. But of course that still slows the narrative.

    4. Other people Any other people appear as they would to the witness: from the outside. Don't state what they think or feel, but the external evidence the witness would notice to realize what they feel. This is where adjectives and adverbs can get in the way. A vivid description in sensory terms is much more powerful. "Jim angrily replied" is not as compelling as "Jim spun around and faced her. His face went red, he seemed to choke for an instant, then he shouted..." OK, it's more words, but they are well used. You can't do this for every exchange; summary description has its function of keeping length within bounds, but as much as possible should be brought to life.

    5. Action and dialogue The dialogue and/or action then fit into this framework. It is as if you were a scriptwriter, and need to give enough evidence to the Director to organize the scene the way you want it to be, except that you also have available the witness's inner experience.

       And that's all you are, as writer. The Director, the actors and the audience are all roles performed -- by the reader.

    Have a look at these...

    The Secrets of Medical Decision Making by Dr Oleg Reznik
    Read an e-book week is coming
    Snapshots... Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain by Eva Kende
    'Compulsive Reader' praises Carolyn's poetry book
    Success for TRI Studio authors
    Ex-Prisoners of War: Stories of Faith, Integrity and Courage

    The Secrets of Medical Decision Making

    Loving Healing Press

       Make the right choices for you and your loved ones...

       We are all patients at some time. Is the medical industry giving us the best treatment possible, at the best price? We all know that it isn't. This new book shows what goes on behind the scenes of the current medical care and how it impacts the patient.

       Dr. Reznik describes actual cases from his clinical practice showing the most common paths that lead to increased patient suffering. He offers possible solutions for outpatient, inpatient, preventive, and end-of-life care settings.

       Learn About...

    About the Author

       Oleg I. Reznik, M.D. is a Board Certified Family Physician working at the Willamette Family Medical Center and in private practice, on staff at Salem Memorial Hospital, Oregon. He completed the Family Medical Residency program at State University of New York at Stony Brook.

       "In my care of patients, I address both the physical and the mental aspects of health. For a patient who is interested in using his or her mental potential for healing of physical or mental illness, I use a holistic approach to address those problems before resorting to medications."

    I originally edited this book for Oleg, and recommended it to Victor Volkman, Publisher at Loving Healing Press. This book should be read by everyone, because all of us are sometimes in need of medical care. It is an eye-opener, a call to arms and a guide. I was so impressed by Oleg's work that I invited him to contribute a chapter to Cancer: A personal challenge.

       Read more reviews of Secrets of Medical Decision Making

    from Rita Toews

    Fresh Voices -- Fresh Choices For Readers

    Each year Read An E-Book Week celebrates the fresh voices and fresh choices of electronic literature. There remains no doubt that e-books have gone from oddity to mainstream when the top 10 bestselling list for 2005 includes the Bible, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

       Book lovers world wide have used their mouse buttons to send e-book sales soaring. Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive, Inc. and director of International Digital Publishing Forum, the trade and standards association for the digital publishing industry, stated: "eBooks represent the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry."

       Read An E-Book Week (March 5-11th, 2006) was created four years ago to educate readers about the advantages of electronic books and to promote the fledgling industry. In 2002 publishers were struggling with low sales and libraries reluctant to consider their books. Today many libraries carry e-books and even provide e-book readers to their patrons. E-book topics now range from dance instruction to science fiction, and from repair manuals to romance novels.

       A new advent in e-books is the short story. Indie publishers like Echelon Press began publishing single novellas and collections of three or four short stories. And e-book distributors like Fictionwise and MemoWare have begun selling individual short stories alongside novels.

       In the past e-book sales were hampered by unpopular reading devices. Sony has recently introduced their electronic ink reading device which closely replicates the experience of reading a paper book. Competing digital publishing platforms have also hampered sales. On February 7th and 8th the International Digital Publishing Forum will meet in New York to develop a standard for content that would allow publishers to produce only one format for entry into their distribution channels.

       E-book sales continue to rise each year by 25%-30% which gives e-book authors and publishers reason to celebrate.

       Help celebrate e-books during Read An E-Book Week this year by having a sale, setting up a display, or approaching your local media to promote electronic literature.

    Rita Y. Toews
    founder of Read An E-Book Week.

    Snapshots... Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain by Eva Kende

       To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, Eva Kende has recently published Snapshots... Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain, a collection of essays recalling the era. While this is Eva's personal story, it reflects the minutiae of everyday life in post war Hungary until the 1956 Revolution when thousands felt compelled to flee to the west to seek a freer life in democratic countries. "I hope to start in-depth conversations, and discussions between parents and their children with these short stories," says Eva.

       Snapshots... Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain is available in both paper and ebook format. To read excerpts, reader's comments or to order the book, please visit or request information from

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

       Magdalena Ball, editor of 'The Compulsive Reader', named Carolyn Howard-Johnson's new chapbook of poetry to that magazine's list of "Top Ten Reads of 2005."

       Howard-Johnson is the author of the acclaimed novel 'This is the Place', a collection of creative nonfiction, 'Harkening', and her newly released chapbook, 'Tracings'.

       Nostalgic, accessible and personal, 'Tracings' explores the corrosive nature of subtle intolerance. Here is a quote:

       Howard-Johnson is also the author of USA Book News' Best Professional Book 2004, 'The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't'. Members of the California Legislature named the author Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment, the Book Publicists of Southern California honored her with their Irwin Award and her community with a Character and Ethics Award for her efforts to promote tolerance with her writing. She is also an instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers' Program.

       The Compulsive Reader includes reviews and interviews of some of the hottest writers working today. It covers literary news, criticism, offers a free e-zine, and more.

       For more information about Howard-Johnson go to

    Tri Studio Authors Take Seven Awards at 2005 Preditors and Editors Readers Poll

       Oceanside, CA—Feb 2, 2005—Four authors at TRI Studio, LLC finished in the TOP TEN for the 2005 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll. Kathe Gogolewski’s fantasy adventure novel for middle grade readers, TATO, placed third in the Mainstream Novel category. TRI Studio Author Ray Grant placed sixth in the Short Story category with A Strange Feeling, as well as sixth in the Best Poem category with The Ship. Ann Durand, author of A Promise to Keep, placed fifth in the Romance Novel category. In addition, TRI Studio Guest Poet, Marilyn Peake, placed fifth in the Best Poem category with her poem, Memory of New Orleans. She also ranked eighth for Best Poet. Ann Durand writes a monthly column for the writers’ ezine, The Muse Marquee, which was also a TOP TEN FINISHER.

       Preditors & Editors, established as a comprehensive guide to publishers and writing services for serious writers, also includes information for artists, composers, game designers, poets and writers of all genres. A representative of the site writes, “As part of our overall effort to assist and promote writers, we are proud to conduct the Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll. We hope this small effort helps all publishers and writers on the Internet to thrive in what is still viewed as a highly experimental and strongly competitive environment.”

       TRI Studio Authors LLC has two releases expected this year. Ray Grant’s book of short stories entitled Flashes in the Pan, 50 Short Stories for the Impatient, will be released by October, 2006 from Double Dragon Publishing. Ann Durand’s science fiction novel, Flight of the Gryphon, will be released from Double Dragon Publishing in December, 2006.

       Kathe Gogolewski’s children’s book, TATO, is recommended by science fiction and fantasy author, Piers Anthony, as “compelling” and “well-written.”

    Ex-Prisoners of War: Stories of Faith, Integrity and Courage

       The Heart of America Chapter of Ex-POWs in Kansas City, MO recently released a new book titled Ex-Prisoners of War: Stories of Faith, Integrity and Courage. Its ninety-seven stories cover soldiers in all branches of the service in both the European and Pacific Theaters of World War II. It also covers a civilian detainee in the Philippines and two men who were Korean War prisoners. Since many of the prisoners of war mentioned are in their eighties, we are privileged to have them share their stories with us.

       These prisoners faced emotions and conditions totally beyond their understanding, and ours. Some saw torture, forced marches, slave labor and solitary confinement. Most experienced malnutrition, dehydration and disease. All dealt with loneliness, lack of cleanliness, the victimization that comes with hatred and the degradation of captivity.

       Ex-POW Albert Rapp, WWII -- European Theater said, “I can never forget the faces of my buddies I had to watch die such horrid deaths. They were my age...and I wonder what their lives would have been like.”

       “Most of us got sick with dysentery, beriberi malaria, malnutrition, and so on,” says Federico N. “Fred” Madayag, US Army, WWII -- Pacific Theater. “We did not have water to bathe ourselves for the duration of our incarceration.”

       Ex-Prisoners of War begins with a special foreword by Col. Jim Coy (Retired), author of A Gathering of Eagles. Ed Slater completed the cover art. The book also includes a poem written by John Romine, National Chaplain of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization.

       The Heart of America Chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners of War is one of 300 chapters in the United States. There are twenty-seven thousand members nationwide, all with stories to tell. This book is the sole fund raiser for The Heart of America Chapter of the Ex-POWs in Kansas City, Missouri for the year. All proceeds go to support the organization and individual veterans in need. To get your copy of the book, send $30.00 plus $4 for shipping to:

    Pat McGrath-Avery
    River Road Press
    13 Torrey Pines Drive
    Laguna Vista, TX 78578

    Or you can go to: to purchase your copy online.


    Blowin' in the wind
    Wal*Mart the High Cost of Low Price
    Tsunami Stories: Thailand compiled by Bill O'Leary
    The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea

    Blowin' In the Wind
    an Australian film you MUST see

    This is a movie you must see. It is a thoroughly documented account of what so-called depleted uranium munitions do, and reveals that the Australian government has allowed the US to use them here.

       i cannot understand the insanity of radioactive weapons. They poison everyone, for all time. It is like excreting on your own dinner table. Do Bush and cronies think they can escape being affected themselves?

       Below is the press release from the film-makers. They say it as well as I ever could:

       Blowin' In The Wind is the latest film from two-time Academy Award nominee, David Bradbury -- arguably Australia's most contentious and provocative documentary filmmaker. It examines the secret treaty that allows the US military to train and test its weaponry on Australian soil. It looks at the impact of recycled uranium weapons and the far-reaching physical and moral effects on every Australian. The film's release is timely as the government currently moves to approve more uranium mines while arguing the contrary -- that by going nuclear we are being both 'safe' and 'green'.

       Blowin' In The Wind reveals that Iraqi babies are now being born with major birth defects. Bradbury wonders whether Australians living downwind from the military testing ranges will be next. He argues that we were lied to by the British over the Woomera and Maralinga atomic tests. Can we trust another equally powerful partner in our 'war on terror'? With a cash budget of just $12,000 Blowin' In The Wind raises pertinent questions which cannot be ignored by the Australian public. The film shocked, angered and surprised large audiences recently when shown at the Sydney and Brisbane Film Festivals.

       Last year Australia signed a 20-year agreement (the terms of which most Australians are yet to see or even hear), which allows the US to test its new weaponry and to use our military bases, our airfields and our naval ports.

       The United States has been forced to withdraw its bases from Puerto Rico, Japan and the Philippines, where they have created a toxic nightmare that will cost billions to clean up and take a conservative 300 years to complete. But the Americans have skipped town and there is no legal obligation on them to repair the areas they have destroyed.

       The facts of high rates of cancer and serious illness wherever American bases have been set up has made a number of Australians ask how this deal will ultimately benefit their country.

       The agreement waives Environmental Impact Studies and carries immunity from our criminal laws. What weapons will the US be testing here? What will be the long-term consequences for our people and for the environment in giving the Americans virtually carte blanche to intrude on our most pristine environments?

       Already under the agreement, the US government has the green light to begin shelling military training grounds at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland, in the Northern Territory and at Lancelin in Western Australia.

       In June of this year, 11,000 US soldiers sailed into Shoalwater Bay in their nuclear warships to join 6,000 Aussie troops in Queensland for military exercises known as "Talisman Sabre 2005". They stormed our beaches for three weeks and pounded our coastline and offshore islands with live aerial bombing and ship-to- shore shelling. No journalists were 'embedded' during those exercises, so they could not see what was used or how our most pristine environments were blasted by US warships and aircraft.

       Two weeks after signing the agreement last year the Minister for Defence, Senator Hill and the Minister for the Environment, Senator Ian Campbell, came to an understanding, now formalised, that an EIS - an Environmental Impact Study - no longer has to be conducted inside a military training area, either before or after training exercises.

       A basic environmental safeguard for the Australian people -- that their most pristine environments have not or will not be contaminated by the Americans testing their latest weaponry -- has been terminated under the guise of being in the 'national interest'.

       Shoalwater Bay near Rockhampton on the Queensland coast is a jewel in the environmental crown of Australia. With its mountains and mangroves, its sweeping beaches and bays, its ancient sand dunes it is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. It's a huge area of biodiversity. 56% of Australia's bird species are found here. Whales, dolphins, dugongs, sea turtles and countless species of fish swim in its waters which border or include the Great Barrier Reef.

       Shoalwater Bay has been home to Australia's defence forces since the Vietnam War. It has been used as a training ground for military exercises and the Army has done a reasonably good job in the past of protecting most of the untouched areas. Under this new arrangement with the US, we will allow them to come in here and test their latest laser guided weapons (the so-called smart bombs).

       The locals in the nearby town of Yeppoon (where the American military will R&R) are split between those who think that the influx of Americans will lead to more jobs and economic prosperity for the townsfolk and those who don't want them there, no matter what.

       "If we have a large American contingent housed in Shoalwater Bay, it's going to grow. The big question is, does this community want that? The inevitable nightclubs and bars and what surrounds large numbers of troops. I don't know anybody who came here for that sort of lifestyle."

       "The Americans aren't going to ruin a perfectly good US training area by using radioactive equipment. They want to turn somebody else's into radioactive mud."

       "If people knew the US used depleted uranium here, it would decimate the tourist industry. People wouldn't want to come here. It would be like saying, we'll build a tourist destination at Chernobyl." (Paul Hoolighan, State Member, Queensland Parliament).

    Wal*Mart the High Cost of Low Price
    film review from John Gorman

       Two and a half centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin observed that, "there is nothing someone cannot make a little shoddier and sell a little cheaper. Those who consider price alone are this man's lawful prey." Wal*Mart, as this film shows, has decided that the world is its lawful prey, and low price is the universal bait.

       But, as we soon learn, "there's trouble, trouble, right here in River City." Not everyone is glad to learn that Wal*Mart will soon be here. The first victims, as we might expect, are the owners of small businesses in nearby towns, like H&H Hardware, 40 years in business in Middlefield, Ohio. Next, of course, come their employees, some with decades of service to the store and its customers. But the casualty list doesn't stop there. In no time at all, the town looks like a neutron bomb has fallen. This once-thriving village is now a ghost town. The buildings are all intact, but the people are gone. Real estate values have plummeted, as no one thinks of moving into a town so obviously doomed.

       The "ripple effect," however, goes on and on. Wal*Mart offers jobs, many jobs, most at wages only a bit over the mandated minimum. For this pittance, workers are expected to put in hour upon hour "off the clock," to fatten the company bottom line. There are, of course, "benefits," a health plan with $75 deducted from each paycheck and hefty co-payments. The company's "generosity," however, does not end there. Employees can get the firm's help in applying for Medicaid, food stamps, free school lunches for their children and other forms of public assistance for which their low wages qualify them to the tune of almost two billion dollars a year. In the meantime, of course, they can shop at Wal*Mart, the only place they can afford to shop, and, for that matter, the only place they can find to shop, since the "big box" has driven every other retail establishment for miles around out of business.

       But the workers at Wal*Mart are not the only ones suffering. Low wages, like a plague, are catching. If a store the size of Wal*Mart is only paying $7.15 an hour, why should any establishment pay more? This rationale has already been used to depress retail store wages by three billion dollars nationwide. Wal*Mart's incessant demands for lower prices from its suppliers require them to find ways to cut costs, with the wages of their own workers a prime target. In Third World countries, labor costs are kept low by repressive governments and brutal bosses to meet Wal*Mart's demands.

       The litany of corporate crime goes on and on, but the most intriguing part of the film is how it was made. As might be expected, a company with policies like Wal*Mart's has generated scores, if not hundreds of "disgruntled former employees," and some of them were more than willing to talk to the film makers. Not only ordinary workers but also managers, some once high in the company hierarchy, were willing to spill their guts and ease their consciences on film, making it clear that these abuses are not individual aberrations but firm corporate policy, set at the highest levels and enforced by unbending company discipline.

       As might be expected, Wal*Mart is hardly a union friendly environment, and the company has already had to pay out notable sums in fines for Unfair Labor Practices. Nonetheless, it is clear that the firm regards these fines, like those imposed for violations of the child labor laws and the wage and hour laws, for pollution, discrimination and other misdeeds, as simply a cost of doing business, and any improvement is unlikely.

       Seeing this parade of oppression and abuse gives rise to the question, "Why? To what end?" The salaries of upper level executives are already astronomical, and the personal fortunes of the Walton family approach the unimaginable. What could they possibly want with still more money? Are we just seeing one more example of the psychopathic behavior described so well in The Corporation? What force can possibly save us from this all-devouring monster, making over $3 million in political contributions as he "goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour"? While unions have had only slight success in battling this giant, Wal*Mart has not been unbeatable. As the film draws to a close, we are treated to a quick survey of the literally scores of towns where aroused citizens have kept this behemoth out, destroying the image of inevitable triumph so assiduously cultivated by the company. Not all of these fights have been won, but each victory brings hope to those who are willing to consider more than price when they buy into their own futures. This film reminds us, to borrow Abraham Lincoln's words, that, "you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time. But you can't fool all the people all the time."

    John Gorman is a frequent contributor to 'bobbing around', and his words are always worth reading. He is the author of King of the Romans, an EPPIE finalist, and works as a freelance journalist based in Florida.

    The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea
    by Chris Meeks
    reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru

    Published by White Whisker Books
    146 pp., $12.94 paper

       IN 13 stories, Christopher Meeks probes relentlessly at the mundane and unexceptional: lives filled more with tedium and tragedy than happiness; lives in which encounters with good luck are few and far between. "The Middle-Aged Man & the Sea" still manages to honor those lives, treating them with the dignity and introspection they deserve.

       Meeks, who teaches English at Santa Monica College and fiction writing in the UCLA Extension Program, is interested in studying the same kinds of characters in each story — mostly middle-aged, unhappily married suburban couples. Though he is less successful at delving into the minds of his female characters, the men who populate these stories are deeply authentic and familiar in their sadness.

       In "Academy Award Afternoon & Evening," he explores suburban malaise and the inevitable envy brought about by keeping up with the neighbors. An unnamed married couple are invited to the home of their friends Lila and Dave to watch the Academy Awards, which the protagonist decides is clearly "a mini-party to use their big-screen TV one last time before they sell the thing."

       As he and his wife arrive, they immediately notice their friends' new Mercedes, which "looks like an ad: silver body, chrome wheels, moon roof, sparkling on the red brick driveway under a sun that also shines across town on movie stars and next to a lawn so perfect and green you want to open up his trunk, pull out a golf club, and hit a ball so hard and imperfectly it leaves a divot the size of Texas on what otherwise is an emerald carpet." Although the afternoon begins with pleasantries and superficial chatter, it builds to uncomfortable silence and awkwardness among friends, suggested by those opening images.

       Marriage and being happy, according to many of the stories in this collection, are mutually exclusive. In "Green River," a family's car trip to Utah brims with resentment and tension. The protagonist reflects that "one day, you're young, laughing, eating Cheerios, the next, you're locked in a car with your wife and 11-year-old son, no one's talking to each other, the acidity of anger drip drip dripping at your insides if not your wife's." When the man tells his son, Harry, "Be happy for the small things," the advice seems intended just as much for himself.

       In fact, this idea resonates throughout the collection: Meeks' characters seek happiness in the small things because they have no choice -- aside from the minor pleasures they occasionally stumble upon, contentment is absent from their lives. In "Nike Had Nothing to Do With It," a man tries to drain the anger of his failed relationship by jogging and finds solace in the beauty of nature around him: "He breathed deeply the smell of the cut grass. He loved that. A bird called above him, and he looked up and saw a swath of blue landing on a limb. He was a man with luck."

       In the book's powerful title story, Meeks uses a fishing trip to explore the unexpected bonds between two men. The mundane outing gives them a chance to share the truths about their marriages, and — when one reveals he is dying of cancer — to appreciate the importance of living in the moment.

       Though a few of the briefer stories in this book are unremarkable, most are poignant and wise, sympathetic to the everyday struggles these characters face. They are also filled with aphoristic revelations: "Our lives turn on the stupidest things," reflects the protagonist of "The Rotary," searching through his family history to understand where he has ended up. When his wife announces one day that she is leaving him, he notes, "Marriages are like oil derricks and motorboats; when they don't work, they're abandoned."

       No matter how difficult or heavy the burden depicted, these stories end on a note of resilience. Meeks' characters might feel melancholy and trapped in their lives, but the reader senses that they refuse to give up, always hoping the next day will bring something better.

    Carmela Ciuraru is a regular contributor to Book Review in the Los Angeles Times and the editor of six anthologies of poetry, including "Beat Poets" and "Solitude."

    Tsunami Stories: Thailand
    Compiled by Bill O'Leary

    Available at
    Price 500 Baht = US$12.50 or Aust $16.60.

       I edited this wonderful little book for Bill, but that was only the words. He sent me a copy, and the pictures lift the volume from the fascinating to the essential.

       The book is a fundraiser, the beneficiaries being 13 Thai children whose families were destroyed by the monster wave.

       A succession of survivors tell their story, in a way that illuminates the strength, courage and generosity of the human spirit. The accounts are personal, immediate, and very different from what you saw on the news. They are inside views of a major human tragedy, and show that people can survive anything, and often come out better for the experience.


    Fearful Fears
    by 'Cosmos'

    'Cosmos' has a high-security job with the US government, so definitely does not want his real identity to be known. His poem is all the more forceful for this:

    The NEW contest at

    Irish Leprechaun Hunt


       Four prize packages will include coin collectibles, two leather journals and books. Eleven further winners will each receive an autographed copy of one of 11 paperbacks on a first drawn chosen basis.

       Details of all the prizes are at Irish.html.

    Contest dates

    February 15 to March 17.


       Click on the author index buttons on the contest page and visit the Books We Love author pages. Sign FIVE author guest books and receive one entry into the Irish Leprechaun Hunt. For those of you who are dedicated to the hunt, find one of the leprechauns (as depicted on the contest page) on an author page that you visit. Sign that author’s guest book and you will be entered to win one of the eleven autographed books featured in our Masters of the Hunt bonus section (on the contest page). Enter as often as you like but you must sign 5 guest books for each entry. Guest book signature winners will be verified before any prizes are awarded. Disqualified entries will be discarded and a new name drawn.

       You will find all contest information and entry form by going to the Books We Love main page and clicking on the Irish Leprechaun Hunt button.

    About Bobbing Around

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       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.)

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