Bobbing Around

Volume Six, Number One
July 2006

Bob Rich's rave

bobswriting.com/  anxietyanddepression-help.com/  mudsmith.net/  other issues

 
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YOUR OPINION REQUESTED
*Responses
  Laraine Ann Barker on bird flu
  Robert Ironside on the essay 'The Quiet Revolution'
  Tim Rowe's belated bio
  Carl Stonier on pancreatic cancer (Jim Choron's story)
*Politics
  The tragedy of Israel--again
  Resistance in the US military to the Iraq war, by Colonel Ann Wright
*Conservation
  Portland leads the way
  How to save babies from cancer
  Greenhouse accounting for nuclear power
  Al Gore back, greener than ever
*Addiction knows no boundaries from Everett Beal
*Counselling
  Surviving the unsurvivable
  Implants for depression?
  Another desperate young person
  'I am not scared': a talk about cancer
*Announcements
  Short story contest for Australian writers
  new email group for writers
  Help for authors from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
  Darrell Bain's memoirs--the saga continues
  'Sharing with Writers' newsletter honoured
*For writers
  What makes a chapter a chapter?
  How to start a story
*Two snippets from Elaine
*Money and happiness
*Stories
  Trekking to Jerusalem: progress report from Brandon Wilson
  'Branded' by James Choron

20th recipient of the LiFE Award

   Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death is the 20th recipient of the LiFE Award: Literature For Environment. This book by Helen Chappell is published by Write Words, Inc..
   The sample I was sent is very well written, and certainly shows that the book qualifies for an environmental award.


   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.

Your opinion requested


   Recently, I received a new review of Sleeper, Awake. Here it is in its full glory. You will see that the reviewer is mostly complimentary. However, she has detected a sexist attitude in the author and says so with great firmness. Since neither I nor any other person I know has ever detected any such attitudes within me, I felt rather dismayed. When I wrote Sleeper, Awake, I deliberately created a world where women were not just equal, but had superior status to men. I completely reject the accusation. And 'Ramirendo' is a perfectly good Spanish name.
   Trouble is, you can't argue with a critic; you can't even argue with a reader. Writing is one-way communication, and what you read is the meaning for you.
   So, I am asking for feedback. If you have read Sleeper, Awake in the past, email me and let me know who you agree with--Joan or me.
   In case you have not read this book, I have arranged for it to be on special until the 31st of August, 2006. Normal price is $US7.50. For the next month, it will be only $4. You can buy it from Double Dragon E-books.
   Anyone who responds will earn the right to a free book. Go to my bookbuy page, and select any title that's available in electronic format.

Sleeper Awake by Bob Rich
reviewed by Joan Malpass


   Dr Bob Rich’s historical adventure of the future extends naturally from the environmental vulnerability we face today to one believable outcome. He has taken current risks such as global warming, our careless attitude to ecological constraints, rampant materialism and greed to their logical conclusion. In this future world massive geological events have led to major changes in the structure of earth with subsequent dramatic climate change. For example, the Antarctic has a temperate climate and Southern California has become sub-tropical whilst further north, Sweden remains as the Swedish Isles.
   The story takes place some 1400 years after a Cataclysm has destroyed most of life on earth. In what seems to be an idyllic world, a population of just one million lives in harmony with the planet as it has become. Their homes are either on land or air but can be moved at will. So few people means there is minimal impact on the land and strange animals roam in new places. Cities are now unknown and little evidence remains of life as it was in the 21st Century. Computer assisted life is pleasant aided by ecologically sensitive technology and the planet is run by a group called Control supported by the computer Artif. No-one needs to work for a living but men must compete for the favours of women as they have total say over who shall father their children.
   In this world, sexual mores are far more relaxed than today but also amazingly politically correct. Clothes are only worn when weather conditions or other circumstances demand it. Sharing sex including merging minds in more than one body is enjoyed by consenting and all heterosexual adults. Sex itself is not only forbidden for the young and randy, but actively prevented by the apparently ‘female’ computer Artif who regularly says No. In describing common nudity and sexual interaction, the author has focused on women’s looks without dwelling to the same extent on men as sex objects. For example, he talks of a woman’s ‘split’ a word I found slightly offensive in this context. The somewhat Freudian name of a naked and nubile young woman as Soudo Ramirendo raised similar emotion. The good news is that violence between people, possession and even ‘ownership’ of women and children, no longer seems to be part of this world. However this causes a major problem when a young man begins to demonstrate jealousy and potentially violent behaviour towards the woman he loves.
   Into this world comes Flora, a woman from the past. She is one of a small number of Sleepers who had been placed in suspended animation in the old time, until a cure was found for her disease, breast cancer. Now she has been woken, but is this the right time? This is where the story becomes interesting as it is not clear just why Flora has been awakened right now although there are frequent hints about the mystery. In the event several problems are resolved by her presence.
   Dr Rich raises many social, health issues and psychological dilemmas in this society of tomorrow. His technological answers to today’s questions are well thought out and even worthy of follow up. The quests that young men face underpin the story and the main players are interesting, although in a mere 169 pages, their characters and lives are not always fully developed. However, it is unclear to me who the target audience is for this story. The straightforwardness of the story together with the cover and the focus on men’s credentials being increased and thus their gaining subsequent power suggests young adult but the sexual scenes are a shade explicit for that purpose.
    In Sleeper Awake, Flora’s return to life becomes the point against which several key questions are raised and the story ends with most of these answered satisfactorily. I did however, have a number of bigger questions. I am not convinced that 1400 years would have made the difference in human behaviour he describes. The world we know has been replaced by a society in which men compete to ensure women will have their children (an unlikely concept in some ways) and no children are allowed to be born that will raise the population over the original million. Why only a million, surely a very vulnerable number on which to guarantee the future of humanity? Race as we know it today is apparently no longer an issue although ‘pale skin’ is not the most fashionable. In this world there seems to be no pornography, child abuse, incest or violence of any kind. Homosexuality is not mentioned, either male or female. Religion is constant across the population, but it is demonstrated by mild worship of Tony, the man who created the technology which underpins their society.
   When we look at our own world, with all its faults and foibles, I wonder what happened to the things which interest and excite us today, whether socially acceptable or not. The computer being all powerful may explain some of these results. Yet this raises new questions of control according to the laws of a few which smacks of elitism and extraordinary power.
   Altogether, a book to make you think.

Responses

Laraine Ann Barker on bird flu
Robert Ironside on The Quiet Revolution
Tim Rowe's belated bio
Carl Stonier on pancreatic cancer (Jim Choron's story)

Bird flu

In the last issue, I reprinted a missive about bird flu, which claimed that this disease is actually not at all dangerous. The myth of its potency has been created by the company that makes a drug they claim protects people from it. New Zealand writer Laraine Ann Barker agrees:

   Wow, Bob! That was a real eye opener. I've always suspected it was the drug company producing Tamiflu that caused all this mind-boggling panic. The drug companies hold so much power, and all they're interested in is their obscene profits. They don't care a fig for anyone's health. Look at the way the drug companies who control cancer therapy are squashing anything else that comes along. Never mind that their chemotherapy and radiology treatments are positively barbaric.

   Thanks for a great article. :-)

Laraine has been writing fantasy for young readers since 1987, although she has scribbed most of her life. Her first book, The Obsidian Quest, was a finalist in the Dream Realm Awards 2001, and her short chapter book The Little Dragon Without Fire won a writing competition in 1997.


The Quiet Revolution

Hi Bob,

   Wow!! I just read your essay. Firstly I thank you for writing this. I have been fighting feelings and thoughts for so long, feelings of guilt at being part of this capitalistic 'get what you want' at no holds bared world and yet not quite making it big, due primarily to the fact that my heart wasn't in it.

   We are all (generalisation) raised to work hard, save hard, live hard and become the 'best we can'. The unfortunate part of this motto is we are driven to believe money, possessions and power are the end reward for all this diligence.

   As for myself, I find it very difficult chasing 'The Goals' instead of being content and having a feeling of fulfilment, as I do when tending a vege plot and running my fingers deeply through the composted soil.

   I didn't find answers in your essay however I found I wasn't the only person alive not wanting to be a Captain of industry. In closing, I envy your lifestyle, your life seems to be rich, (no pun intended) and from what I have read tonight, fulfilling.

   I will purchase some of your writing as soon as my better half gives me the (yes you can buy) signal and I have not finished with your web site yet.

Thank you again!
Regards
Robert Ironside


Tim Rowe

   Tim wrote an interesting little essay about poetry in the last issue. He sent me his bio, but too late to be included. He writes:

   Tim is a safety consultant working out of London, England He mainly writes technical reports, but he has had poetry published in the poetry magazines Stride and Notus and as part of a worship installation at the Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival.

   When not working or writing, Tim plays guitar and mandolin in the non-existent folk-rock band "I Wish".

   His ambition is to write an air traffic control centre safety case entirely in Sapphics.


Carl Stonier

Greetings Bob,

   Just read the latest Bobbing Around.

   Re the sad piece from Jim Choron. Many years ago (about 18), I had a client whom I met through a healing centre that I helped to set up, and with whom I used a guided imagery programme.

   When we first met, he had a stomach cancer--not surprising really, he had an appalling diet of convenience snacks, smoked an awful lot of roll-ups every day, took no exercise and made a living driving a coach around. After about a month of healing and Guided Imagery, he went off for his gastrectomy, and the tumour was half the size it had been when he had a barium meal to diagnose it. Recovery was in double quick time, and he went straight back to his previous lifestyle. Next up was a carcinoma of the head of the pancreas. Like Jim, I'd never heard of this improving at all, but with the same interventions, his cleared up. Shortly afterwards, he went down with a skin cancer, followed by a bowel cancer, always with the same story of seeking help through healing and Guided Imagery, then back to his old lifestyle. After that, I lost touch with him, so don't know the eventual outcome, but he was a remarkable, if incredibly stupid, man, who could use such tools as Guided Imagery with exquisite effectiveness.

Carl Stonier is one of the most important contributors to my book Cancer: A personal challenge. He has been using Guided Imagery as an important part of psychotherapeutic interventions for about 21 years. He has recently been awarded a PhD for his research into the effects of a counselling and guided imagery programme on the outcome of people with ischaemic heart disease.


Politics

The tragedy of Israel--again
Resistance in the US military to the Iraq war .

The tragedy of Israel--again

   Once more, people are dying in the Middle East.

   Hate begets hate, injury calls for vengeance, both sides are hurting and blaming. And things continue to get worse.

   One of the reliable findings of psychology is that a chronic problem is typically maintained by the solutions. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a clear example. While the Muslim world is bent on destroying Israel, as protestors in Iran shouted, Israelis feel they have no choice except fighting for their lives. When Israel uses the big guns to destroy cities and kill civilians, they create hate and determination on the part of their enemies to fight on. It goes on, round and round in a devilish cycle.

   Every fight starts by me hitting back. Both sides feel fully justified in doing what the do, and in fact both are right. Therefore, both are wrong.

   A similar situation existed on the Indian subcontinent in 1948. A bloody civil war split a nation of many millions, with Muslim and Hindu committing atrocities against each other. At the height of the violence, Ghandi was addressing an audience of 3000 Hindus. He said, "What should you do if your beloved little son is killed by Muslims? You should find a little Muslim orphan, whose parents have been killed by Hindus. Take him into your family--and raise him to be a good Muslim."

   For this, he was assassinated. And yet, he was right. Now, 58 years later, India and Pakistan are still in a cold war, with mutual hate and distrust. But if enough people on both sides had implemented Ghandi's recommendation, these two nations could by now well be living in harmony.

   Hate begets hate. Violence induces violence. The only way to peace and sanity is to put past hurts behind us.

   Suppose that all the most bitter groups of Palestinians got together, and agreed on a set of demands. These might include:

   And suppose that, at the same time, Israelis also prepared a set of demands, for example:

   This is as unlikely to happen as Ghandi's vision of peace was. And yet, it is the right course of action.


Resistance in the US military to the Iraq war
by Colonel Ann Wright

Ann Wright is a retired Colonel with 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves and as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years, and resisted the war on Iraq by resigning in March, 2003 from her position as Deputy Chief of Mission, or Deputy Ambassador from the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia.

   Ann served in the diplomatic corps in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia and helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001.

   As a U.S. military officer, she participated in post-conflict reconstruction in Grenada, Panama and Somalia. She received the State Department's Award for Heroism as the acting U.S. Ambassador during the evacuation of the international community during the brutal rebel takeover of Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1997.

   This is a condensed version of a longer article.

   As a 29 year Army and Army Reserves veteran, I am horrified to see the politicalization of the U.S. military under the Bush administration. The "ethics and professionalism" of the U.S. military has been targeted for destruction by the civilian appointees of this administration. They want "yes" men and women who do not question the legality of their policies. Tragically, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on down, Rumsfeld and crew have been successful in stifling professional discussion within the military, with the exception of former Army Chief of Staff Shinseki and now six retired generals.

   Under the Bush administration, there is no accountability or responsibility for criminal actions; privates and sergeants are court-martialed, while senior civilian and military leaders responsible for the criminal policies are free.

   Despite the "yes, sir" attitude of senior military officers toward the Bush administration's illegal policies, there is resistance within the U.S. military to the war on Iraq. Military personnel have the right and duty to refuse the order to deploy to an illegal war. They know that the Nuremberg principles adopted by the international community after World War II require civilians and military personnel to stop their government from committing illegal acts. Those in the military who dissent and resist to what they know are illegal actions of the Bush administration are persons of the highest courage and conscience.

   Resistance to the war on Iraq within the US military community is growing. Over eight thousand American soldiers are absent without leave (AWOL), most living underground in the United States. Many now refer to AWOL as "Against War of Lies" instead of Absent Without Leave. Individual non-public resistance in the military generally results in an administrative discharge without publicity. Thousands have turned themselves in to military authorities and have been administratively discharged.

   Public resistance by military personnel to the war on Iraq results in courts-martial to make an example of the resister. Some military personnel have applied for conscience objector (CO) status. Most have been denied CO status and ten have been court-martialed and imprisoned for publicly refusing to obey orders to deploy to Iraq to commit criminal acts in Iraq, including murder by bombing innocent civilians, shooting innocent civilians and torture. Those who refuse to deploy to Iraq and kill for the Bush administration generally receive more punishment than those who commit criminal acts of murder and torture.

   Another aspect of resistance within the military community comes from retired generals who are now publicly questioning the military operational plans that have put U.S. troops in jeopardy in Iraq and the impact of the war on Iraq on the military and its ability to respond to genuine threats to U.S. national security.

   For the twenty-nine years I was in the military either on active duty or in the Reserves, my worst nightmare was that an administration would get the United States into a military conflict that I knew was illegal. Today, if I were recalled from the U.S. Army's Retired Ready Reserves, I would have to say, "I will not serve the Bush Administration's war on Iraq. I will not agree to be recalled. You will have to court-martial me as I will not participate in this illegal war of aggression, this war crime."

   Acts of resistance, big and small, recognized nationally or never heard by most, by military and civilians are all important elements of ending the illegal war, the war crime, committed by the Bush administration. People of conscience all over the country are refusing to be silent and are taking courageous steps to end the illegal war on Iraq.

   What will you do to stop this illegal war?


Conservation

Portland leads the way
How to save babies from cancer
Greenhouse accounting for nuclear power
Al Gore back, greener than ever

Portland leads the way

   The US government may not be interested in climate change, but this does not stop individual citizens, groups and even entire cities from doing something about it. Portland, Oregon is a wonderful example of what can be done. Here are a few of the measures they have implemented: