Bobbing Around

Volume Six, Number Three
October 2006

Bob Rich's rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*The economics of climate change.
*The REAL reason Iran is a threat to the USA.
*What Americans think caused 9/11.
*Nuclear power
  Near-miss in Sweden.
  My submission.
*What's wrong with olympics in China? by Demetrius Klitou.
  The law of the seed.
* Has Islam been misinterpreted? by K. L. Yen
  A lonely young man.
  Surviving suicide.
  14 year old model but...
*For writers
  Ten tips from Lea Schizas.
  How to make a character come to life.
*What my friends want you to know
  Kathe Gogolewski wants to inspire you to kindness.
  Free contest: win one of seven lots of books.
  The Simple Touch of Fate: How the Hand of Fate Touched Our Lives Forever.
  Two communications from Darrell Bain.
  New kids' books from Kam Ruble.
  Joyce Faulkner's book honoured.
  'Dream Pictures' by Carrie Lynn Lyons, reviewed by Misti R. Brock.
  'Rarity from the Hollow, A Lacy Dawn Adventure' by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
  'Bird Flu: Everything you need to know about the next pandemic' by Marc Siegel
  'Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap' by Marc Littman, reviewed by Charlene Austin
  The Australian Writer's Marketplace
*Peace Trek final update from Brandon Wilson
*Music in the mist a story by James Choron.
*Some fun
  How to prevent attacks against airlines.
  A study from the British Medical Journal.

Writing on the wing

   This issue of bobbing around comes far away from home. I am writing in Hungary, where I've spent a week visiting family. Now, I am about to take off again, to see my daughter Anina who is at Harvard on a postdoc.

   Part of the reason for the visit to Hungary is that my cousin Ervin Molnár-Tarján has commissioned a translation into Hungarian of my biography Anikó: The stranger who loved me, and there were details to settle.

   But also, in our peak oil world, this may be the last time I will participate in the madness of converting fossil fuel into stratoshperic pollution.

   Hungary used to suffer from the Communist yoke. Now, it's discovering that capitalism is no better. The country's economy has been stripped by foreign companies that came in and bought everything, putting little or nothing back. There is unemployment, failed businesses, taxation at a horrendous level, homeless people, and a general feeling of anger and hopelessness.

   This is the explanation of the civil unrest. It is fully justified. And actually it was nowhere near as violent as the TV coverage might suggest. All the tear gas granades and shield advances were on the police side, and in some cases they got a reaction. But there was no looting, despite perhaps 50,000 people expressing their anger at their government. I went for a walk on the following morning, to the location of one of the major demonstrations. There was no sign of anything out of the ordinary, not even litter on the ground.

   I know that the haves taking from the have-nots is global. But then, the same companies are doing the same things all over the planet.

   Perhaps humanity needs to dethrone the mighty god Profit?

   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.

The economics of climate change

   CLIMATE change could push the world into the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, with many countries facing economic ruin, a comprehensive British report on the effects of global warming has warned.

   The report, written by former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern and commissioned by the British Treasury, seeks to overturn conventional wisdom by insisting that fighting climate change will save, not cost, governments money.

   The report's contents have been kept secret, but Sir Nicholas briefed environment and energy ministers from the world's top 20 greenhouse gas-emitting nations, including Industry, Tourism and Resources Minister Ian McFarlane, in Mexico this month.

   Britain's chief scientist, Sir David King, told The Guardian the report indicated "that if we don't take global action … we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the Great Depression and the two world wars.

   "If you look at sea level rises alone and the impact that will have on global economies where cities are becoming inundated by flooding … this will cause the displacement of hundreds of millions of people."

   Sir David described the Stern report as the most detailed economic analysis yet conducted and said it would "surprise many people in terms of the relatively small cost of action".

   However, he told a climate change conference in Birmingham that achieving global consensus would be very hard.

   "In my view this is the biggest challenge our global political system has ever been faced with. We've never been faced with a decision where collective decision making is required by all major countries … around risks to their populations that are well outside the time period of any electoral process."

   The United States and Australia have refused to join the Kyoto Protocol -- the international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions -- because US President George Bush and Prime Minister John Howard have argued that it would harm their countries' economies.


This press relase has appeared in several newspapers including The Age. Horrendous as its predictions are, they are an underestimate. What is coming as a result of climate change will be far worse than the 1930s depression. Unless we do something drastic now, billions will die.

The REAL reason Iran is a threat to the USA

   While Iran is ruled by a repressive, fundamentalist regime, it has no more links with terrorists than Iraq did. Nor is it ever going to be a credible nuclear threat. However, in a quite different way, it has the potential power to destroy the USA. This is behind much of what has recently gone on in the Middle East.

   This becomes clear if we look at what gives the American dollar value.

   Once upon a time, there was a gold standard: an invariable link between gold and dollar. During the second world war, the USA refused to accept payment for merchandise in any form other than gold.

   But then, the dollar was 'floated' in 1971. This was in response to a number of countries making an attempt to cash in their dollar holdings for gold -- and the US government didn't have the gold to pay. Now, gold is worth perhaps ten times as much in dollars as it did then. Another way of looking at this, or course, is that the dollar is worth one-tenth as much.

   The US government has been happily printing dollars, without having them backed by anything except people's expectations that they can get a return for it. Worse, banks, financial institutions and large companies have been issuing credit in dollars. Even at 1971 prices, there is simply nowhere near enough gold in the world to back even a small fraction of the dollars that have been 'created'.

   The solution was to tie the dollar to oil. Until now, trading in crude oil has been exclusively through American dollars, and this has given the greenback some value.

   Let us return to Iran. In May this year, it established a brand new oil bourse. The trading currency is Euros, not dollars.

   If this is allowed, the American dollar will no longer be of any real value. It will have the same kind of existence as, say, stamps. While people are interested in collecting used stams, trading in them, considering them to be valuable, then they are. But they have no inherent value. If tomorrow stamp collecting universally went out of fashion, a collection bought for a million dollars would become worthless.

   So, Iran now has the capability of bankrupting the US economy, and through that the whole world.

What Americans think caused 9/11

   A Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll asked 1,010 adults about their beliefs regarding the people responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

   36% of respondents suspect the involvement of the US government.

   Naturally, the report is full of other statistics, but this fact alone makes me wonder: how can a wonderful country full of strong-minded individualists allow a government like this to continue?

   Nixon was brought down over a lie. Clinton only squirmed over a sexual peccadillo. And yet, here is Bush, having been caught in lie after lie, responsible for the death of thousands of young Americans in (so far) two illegal and unjustified wars. Why is he still the President?

On nuclear power

Near miss in Sweden
My submission to an Equiry

Nuclear near-miss in Sweden

   Greenpeace International has reported the following:

Near-meltdown incident at Swedish nuclear reactor Thursday, 3 August 2006, 12:32 pm

   Call for immediate closure of Sweden's nuclear reactors following near-meltdown incident. Greenpeace demands action as Swedish regulator meets to decide on possible shut-downs.

   Sweden 2 August 2006. Sweden's nuclear regulator SKI will meet in emergency session tomorrow (3 August) to decide on a possible immediate shut-down of all but one of the country's nuclear power stations supplying up to 50% of Sweden's electricity. Greenpeace has called for the reactors to be shut down following a serious incident last week at Sweden's Forsmark nuclear power station, in which "it was pure luck there wasn't a meltdown" according to a former director of the plant. The Forsmark incident was caused by the failure of back-up generators following a problem with the main power supply. If the backup system fails after a grid cut-off or a whole blackout, the operator loses instrumentation and control over the reactor leading to an inability to cool the core, which can lead to a meltdown.

   In a report published last year, Greenpeace highlighted the widespread and frequent problems of failing power backup systems of nuclear reactors, which have also been reported in the US and Germany. Swedish media reported yesterday that a former director of the Forsmark plant said "It was pure luck that there was not a meltdown. Since the electricity supply from the network didn't work as it should have, it could have been a catastrophe." Without power, the temperature would have been too high after 30 minutes and within two hours there could have been a meltdown. "The Forsmark incident is just another illustration of the nuclear industry and nuclear regulators gambling with the lives of thousands or even millions of people" said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International. "It has proved that a simple power blackout - something which has been happening regularly during the recent heatwaves - can very easily lead to a catastrophic reactor meltdown. This is a prime example of why this technology is inherently dangerous, must be phased out worldwide and never allowed to return. A combination of safe, renewable sources of energy and energy efficiency measures are the only sane solution for power generation."

Submission to an equiry

   The Australian government's answer to climate change is to move to nuclear power. Part of this has been a proposed deal with China, in which the Chinese would be allowed to mine Australian uranium ore for their use. A government enquiry was set up, and it invited submissions. Here is mine:

   I oppose the sale of uranium to China.

   This is the government with the worst human rights abuse record of our times, working towards genocide in Tibet, using live prisoners of conscience for 'mining' organs for transplant, and so on.

   This government has sold weapons technology to various other countries, including those Australian soldiers have opposed.

   There is a long history of Communist China not honouring agreements with other countries. This is quite acceptable from within a Chinese ethic: agreement with another person is sacrosanct -- unless the other person is a barbarian. Anyone not of Chinese culture is a barbarian. Therefore, Australian uranium is very highly likely to end up in nuclear weapons, to be used or sold in whatever way suits the Chinese government.

   The Chinese record of care for the environment, and for the safety and wellbeing of workers, is also the worst in the world. I am horrified by the thought of Chinese possibly mining, handling and transporting radioactive materials within Australia. If they don't care for their own land and people, are they likely to be any better with ours?

Bob Rich

What's wrong with olympics in China?

by Demetrius Klitou

1) Human rights are practically non-existent in Communist China.

   Religious persecution, imprisonment and murder of non-violent political dissidents, torture, organ harvesting and sentences to hard labour are widespread.

2) The lack of freedom of the press and safety risks for foreign reporters.

   Many foreign websites are banned from being visited within China, foreign reporters are prohibited from interviewing anyone without previous permission from the government, and the content of all broadcasting is severely restricted. Foreign news media reporters have been arrested and sentenced to prison under vague and wide-reaching security laws.

3) The 1980 Olympic Games in Communist Russia were boycotted by 64 states, under the leadership of the U.S.

   Beijing is not any different from Moscow in 1980, which was also the capital of a Communist police state.

4) Communist China constantly threatens to attack Taiwan.

   China's government passed a law that explicitly calls for military intervention in response to any intention by the democratic government of Taiwan to declare independence. Military manoeuvres indicate that the Communists' military is preparing to enforce this law.

5) Beijing has the most polluted air in the world.

   Studies and satellites photos have proven that Beijing suffers from extremely high nitrogen dioxide levels, vitally dangerous to the health of the athletes.

6) China is plagued by widespread social, political, and economic unrest.

   A surge in huge land grabs and forced evictions by the Chinese government for reasons of economic expansion and Olympic Games preparations have sparked thousands of protests. The government has murdered hundreds of protesters.

7) The Chinese have been bribing and threatening large numbers of members of the International Olympic Committee.

   A number of U.S. Representatives, for example, Congressman Tom Lantos, have stated this on national television.

8) A boycott has some potential to serve as a strategy to encourage human rights in Chin.

   Only the greedy and foolish global elite think this is true the other way around.

9) Holding the Olympic Games in Communist China contradicts the Olympic Charter.

   The Olympic Charter defines the philosophy of Olympism as the "respect for universal fundamental ethical principles" and its goal of promoting "a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity."

10) Don't repeat the errors of 1936 when Nazi Germany was allowed to host the Olympic Games.

   The Olympic Games will give Communist China the same propaganda tool Nazi Germany enjoyed. Not since 1936 have the ideals of Olympics been so trampled upon.

Demetrius Klitou is the author of the book The Friends and Foes of Human Rights, available at He holds a BA in International Area Studies and a MA in Diplomatic Studies. He will be pursuing a LL.M. in Public International Law at Leiden University. Published June 28, 2006 by the China Support Network (CSN). Begun as the American response group in 1989, CSN represents Americans who are "on the side" of the students in Tiananmen Square -- standing for democratic reform, human rights, and freedom in China. For dissident news; to support a stronger China policy; or get more information, see

The law of the seed

author unknown

   Take a look at an apple tree. There might be five hundred apples o­n the tree, but each apple has just ten seeds. That's a lot of seeds!

   We might ask, "Why would you need so many seeds to grow just a few more apple trees?"

   Nature has something to teach us here. It's telling us: "Not all seeds grow. In life, most seeds never grow. So if you really want to make something happen, you had better try more than o­nce."

   This might mean: You'll attend twenty interviews to get o­ne job. You'll interview forty people to find o­ne good employee. You'll talk to fifty people to sell o­ne house, o­ne car, o­ne vacuum cleaner, o­ne insurance policy, or a business idea. And you might meet a hundred acquaintances just to find o­ne special friend.

   When we understand the "Law of the Seed", we don't get so disappointed. We stop feeling like victims. We learn how to deal with things that happen to us.

   Laws of nature are not things to take personally. We just need to understand them -- and work with them.

   IN A NUTSHELL Successful people fail more often. But they plant more seeds.

   When Things Are Beyond your control, here's something that you must NOT DO so as to be happy: You must not decide how you think the world SHOULD be. You must not make rules for how everyone SHOULD behave. Many times, such thoughts can bring you spiralling down into more unhappiness.

   On the other hand, let's say you expect that: Friends SHOULD return favours. People SHOULD appreciate you. Planes SHOULD arrive o­n time. Everyone SHOULD be honest. Your husband or best friend SHOULD remember your birthday.

   These expectations may sound reasonable. But often, these things won't happen! So you end up frustrated and disappointed.

   There's a better strategy. Demand less, and instead, have preferences! For things that are beyond your control, tell yourself: "I WOULD PREFER "A", BUT IF "B" HAPPENS, IT'S OK TOO!" You prefer that people are polite.. but when they are rude, it doesn't ruin your day. You prefer sunshine.. but if it rains, it is ok too!

   To become happier, we either need to: a) Change the world, or b) Change our thinking. It is easier to change our thinking!

   IN A NUTSHELL It is not the problem that is the issue, but rather it is your attitude attending to the problem that is the problem. It's not what happens to you that determine your happiness but rather how you think about what happens to you!

Has Islam been misinterpreted?

by K. L. Yen

   Faith is belief without proof or evidence. Faith by its nature, blocks man's power to check, analyse and be rational, affecting all walks of life.

   Wherever there is a large population of Islamic followers, they will always seek to demand self-rule. A good example is the senseless killing in Southern Thailand. When their demand is not met, they will use violent means to achieve it.

   My understanding of the Holy Qur'an provides me a different picture. Peaceful solution can be found in it.

   All followers of Islam should ask these questions:

   a) Did God create this world?

   b) Why did God create various nation and races?

   c) Can people of other religions reach God?

   d) Is God having a presence in every one of us?

   e) Kindly define God.

   f) Who is a Muslim?

   g) Are we allowed to believe or disbelieve in God?

   Here are the answers, from the Qur'an:

   a) Did God created this world?

   Answer: Creation of heaven and earth. Ø Al Baqarah 2:29

   Remarks: We must have faith that God created this world.

   b) Why did God create various nations and races?

   Answer: We made you into nation and tribes, in order to recognise each other. Ø Al-Hujuraat 49:13

   Remarks: God is testing us, if we respect his creation.

   c) Can people of other religion reach God?

   Answer: Those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians and the converts; any of them who believe in God and the last day and lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve. Ø Al-Baqarah 2:62

   Remarks: The key to reach God is living a righteous life, irrespective of religion.

   d) Is God having a presence in every one of us?

   Answer: We are closer to Him than his jugular vein. Ø Q50:16

   Remarks: God is in every one of us.

   e) Kindly define God.

   Answer: God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Ø Al-Ana'an 6:17 & 18; Ø Al-Baqarah 2:33 & 115

   Remarks: God is all powerful, present everywhere and knows everything.

   f) Who is a Muslim?

   Answer: Muslim means submitters (People who believe in God). Ø Al-Maa'idah 5:11

   Remarks: Anyone who believe in God is a Muslim irrespective of religion.

   g) Are we allowed to believe or disbelieve in God?

   Answer: Whoever wishes to let him believe, and whoever wishes let him disbelieve there shall be no compulsion in religion. Ø Al-Kahf 18:29; Ø Al-Baqarah 2:256

   Remarks: God gave us the freedom to choose.


   The day we are born, till the day we die, have already been predestined. Why then must we judge one another? Our judgemental attitude is causing the problems.

   You are the master of your own destiny. Your life adventure begins here because you do not know the end result. Happiness or sadness, heaven or hell is right here. The way you think and act determine the results.

   We will achieve peace when we treat each other as brothers and sisters, for we are all from the same source. Remember similarities unite and differences divide (Al-Baqarah 2:26 -- God misleads many thereby and guides many thereby but never misleads except the wicked).

   I have just proven to you that the Holy Qur'an promotes individual freedom to achieve global peace as opposed to a rigid system (Islamic way of life) promoted by selfish religious clergies and politicians to control their people in the name of ISLAM.

   All religious conflicts in the world are caused by the vigorous promotion and recruitment of members. The culprit here is the promotion of religious differences.

   Share this message with all you friends around the world. The more people knows about this message and act upon it, the faster we will achieve global peace.

   The change of belief system must come from you.

   I am peace.


A lonely young man
Surviving suicide
14 year old model but...

A lonely young man

   To start off I am an 18 year old male. I feel very pathetic for saying this but I have never had a girlfriend, I always hear my friends talking about all the girls that they have been with and it only makes me depressed. Everyone says im good looking, im not overweight or anything (about 5"10 and 135 pounds) I exercise regularly, go on jogs for about 2 hours a day and eat very well. But when I look at myself all I see is someone extremely pathetic. I am usually the "nice guy" in a group. I have never really been in a fight before but this is because I always let everyone push me around. I see everyone as superior to me so if they say something I usually do what they tell me to, or go with their advice.

   I am pretty much anti social and probably the most awkward person anyone has ever met. I think too much about everything, I can never just play it cool and I am overly cautious. I often think that there is something seriously wrong with me mentally. I don’t make friends very easily and most people I shut out because I think they are too good for me.

   I just graduated from High School... something that most people are extremely excited for, right? For me it was hell. I had immediate depression on the last day of school, all I had to do without school is sit around at home. I never really had much contact with my friends outside of school so when I graduated they were all gone but a few. I have never had a job and I still don’t have my driver's license. I see this as very pathetic even though many of my friends were in the same situation, I hate driving all I have is my permit and when people teach me its nothing but stress. The fact that I am anti social really hurts how I will get a job. There arent a lot of jobs out there for me and to be honest I don’t have a lot of skills which is why I didn’t go to college.

   I guess I have been dealing with depression for a while now. When I was around 13 I moved away from my friends and I used to play football there, that’s when I was happiest I suppose. After that I became extremely depressed and became to question my religion (Christian although I don’t practice it, it is what I really believe). Every day I would picture what hell would be like or what the meaning of life is.

   I have thought about suicide at times but I know I will never do it. I guess I am afraid of it but the main reason is what people around me would act if I were to die. My family would all go into depression, and I picture them finding me dead someday and I would never want that to happen. And my dog has always been my best friend. I have had her for probably around 10 years now and I got her when she was around 3 weeks old, I guess she is my obsession. I cant imagine life without my dog, is that weird? Since she is getting older I sometimes think of the day she will die and that is probably my greatest fear. I don’t know how I will act on that day and its very depressing to think about but I do think about it probably about every day.

   I feel like everyone around me is just moving so much faster than me. Friends all have jobs, drive anywhere they want to, tons of friends, most have girlfriends, many are going off to college to be successful. I am just an insecure anti social guy.

   I guess one way for me to forget about depression is online video games. I play those and talk to people on my microphone all day and I guess I just don’t have time to be depressed but this takes up all my time and I recently quit. This has made me start thinking too much and I have been getting depressed again.

   I have never told anyone about these feelings because I know it will make them worry or make me end up going through counceling which I really don’t want to do, I guess it makes me feel a little better just to type this down. And I feel extremely bad about unloading all this onto a complete stranger.



Dear K,

   I had my first girlfriend at 23 years of age. Got my driver's licence at 21.

   When I was your age, I was almost constantly miserable. The only time I felt good was when I went for a long run, so I was very much into distance running. But all the time, I believed myself to be ugly, and stupid, and useless, and unlovable.

   You actually have an advantage over me. You know yourself to be depressed, but can accept that others say you are good looking and so on. I didn't know I was depressed, but simply accepted Depression's lies about me as being true.

   I compulsively used to go to parties and dances, and then made myself thoroughly miserable, looking at the girls, watching other guys having fun. It seemed that everyone had a girl except for me. And it didn't help that some people noticed, and then mercilessly made fun of me. This was worse than teasing, it actually felt like a form of torture.

   I have beaten this demon. I am no longer depressed. Sure, I can get annoyed with myself when I make a mistake, but even then, I don't feel that I am pathetic, but rather that I am facing a learning situation that gives me an opportunity to improve.

   I got married 39 years ago, and my wife still loves me (guys like you and me make good husbands, because we are forever grateful for having been rescued from loneliness). I have wonderful children and grandchildren, friends who appreciate me, and most important, my life has meaning because I can work with people who are where I used to be, and make a difference to them. I have turned past bad into present good.

   If I could do it, you can too.

   When you say you are 'anti social', I think you mean that you are introverted, prefer small groups to large ones. It is perfectly all right to be like that. There are a great many loners in the world, and most of us do fine. That does not make you pathetic.

   It is also good to be the 'nice guy' who doesn't get into fights. At the same time, you can learn to become assertive, and while maintaining your peaceful nature, you can stand up for yourself and ensure that no-one pushes you around.

   You didn't write how well you did at school, only that you graduated. I suggest you consider doing one of two things: get a job, any job, for a year or so; or go traveling for a year. (You can do this backpacking, and working as a WWOOF -- look that up on the internet.) Either way, this will be part of your education, learning about life. Then, enrol in a suitable course. People like you and I make wonderful helpers and carers, because we know what it is like to have suffered. If your school results don't qualify you for the course you choose, then get a job, and study part time to catch up. Once you have the motivation to do well, you'll find that study will be a lot easier.

   You wrote about couseling as if that was something bad. You don't need to be crazy or 'mentally ill' to benefit from counseling. If you lived near me, you might come to me for 4 to 8 sessions, and after that have the inner power to conquer your depression. I am sure there are competent people near you who can help you to achieve the same thing.

   Another thing that can be very useful to you is to take on an Asian martial art. Mine was Judo when I was a teenager, but Karate, Kung Fu, Tai Kwan Do and Tai Chi are all suitable. Once you become competent at one of these, you might progress to Ai Ki Do, which is the ultimate form of being invulnerable. The point of these is not so much the physical fighting skills, but the inner strength the philosophy and discipline give you.

   In conclusion, I just want to say that you are not pathetic, except for believing that you are. Henry Ford said, "Whether you believe yourself to be a success or a failure, you are correct." You are fine exactly the way you are, but you are DOING some things that are no good for you. Learn to do things differently. That's what pulled me out of my black hole. And you will find that counseling will be enormously helpful in achieving this.

Have a good life (you can),

Surviving suicide

Dear Dr. Rich -

   I was impressed when I stumbled across your website based on your approach to depression and other personal issues. I have been struggling with severe depression and an eating disorder for 28 years. I had a near fatal suicide attempt 5 months ago and continue to struggle. I survived a high level of carbon monoxide poisoning and despite the work with my therapist, primary physician and psychiatrist, I have been experiencing severe nausea, mucsle weakness and fatigue, headaches and inner tremors since I was tapered off steroids that I put on for acute adrenal insufficiency.

   I take responsibility for the fact that I attempted to take my life and realize it was an irrational choice; however, I find myself so hopeless and demoralized by the physical and emotional symptoms I am still experiencing. I am committed to "living" again, but the intrusive thoughts about death haunt me as I struggle with the physical symptoms because they have essentially left me immobilized. I have been unable to work for 5 months, which adds to my feelings of worthlessness.

   My husband has, for many years, been a proponent and active member, of the narrative movement, but I find myself struggling to open my mind to this line of thought. I would appreciate any suggestions and/or recommendations that you might have because I am truly fighting for my life on a daily basis. I want hope and I honestly believe that I want and deserve to live. I thank for listening and any time you have to respond.



Dear Bronwyn,

   I have a friend who was dying of cancer. Six months ago, she had secondaries in her brain. She needed to walk with a walking frame, steadied by another person. Now, miraculously, she can walk a couple of miles, and is living by herself without any support services. She drives a car safely.

   Physical problems that the medical profession believes to be irreversible CAN be conquered by using the immense and mysterious powers of the mind. Nor is this mysticism: the science of psychoneuroimmunology has been validating age-old beliefs for the past 20 years.

   There are no guarantees, but the processes that could lead to a reversal of your carbon monoxide poisoning make life better in any case. They involve eating a super-healthy diet, as much vigorous exercise as your body will allow without discomfort, and above all, lots and lots of meditation. When I work with people who have any sort of physical damage or disease, I use hypnosis, which is the same thing. One of the contributors to my book Cancer: A personal challenge has given quite a detailed account of how to use guided imagery when in a meditative (or hypnotic) trance.

   So, with a little luck, the physical leftovers of your suicide may be reversed. The main requirement is a paradoxical attitude: accepting what has happened and its effects, combined with faith that improvement is possible.

   David Epston has done a lot of work using Narrative Therapy with people tortured by eating disorders. It does involve relatively long-term therapy. Recently I attended a workshop at which one of the participants was a lady who uses Narrative Therapy with anorexia sufferers. She has a far higher success rate than the inpatient cognitive-behavioral program that is the official recommendation. However, this is not something we could do via email.

   As for depression, no doubt your original devil, read one of the self-help books by Aaron Beck, which are excellent. When I was young, I re-invented the wheel and got control over my depression by using essentially his process, which was well researched by then.

   It doesn't matter if you have been ruled by your depression for 28 years. You can beat it.

14 year old model but...

   My name is Celia,i am fourteen, and i have a hard time relaxing around people.

   This partly because people don't give me a chance,that's because i model and it's not to say that i'm stuck up or anything.This is hard to explain but, I'm somewhat popular, but i have no real friends at my school.My popularity is due to people finding out i modeled.Girls have said (not directly to me)that i try to hard and things like that.How can i make some friends? and be seen as outgoing instaead of "trying to hard"


Dear Celia,

   I can see, even from your short note, that you are not stuck up, but a perfectly decent person who happens to have the looks that people employing models want.

   It is a sad fact that most people only see the outside, they go by trivial things about a person, instead of getting to know someone. What you want is to be accepted for yourself, as just one of the girls. Some girls play basketball, others may draw well or be good at singing. It so happens that you model, and that's that. Right?

   "Trying too hard" is a problem for a great many young men and women. This is when a person is so keen to make friends that s/he puts on a false front, or gives and gives until things get out of balance, or puts up with attitudes and behavior from others that really should be stopped.

   At fourteen years of age, one of your major jobs is to learn how to handle the full range of social interactions. If you haven't got them right yet, don't worry. You will. If you realize that every contact with other people is a learning experience, you will relax and not be so worried about "Getting it right."

   I suggest you just be yourself without worrying too much about the impression you may make. Enjoy life, do the best you can at whatever you are involved in, and watch as things change for you.


Dear Bob,

   I've been searching on the internet for the last 2 hours, trying to find a good way to kill myself or something to make me stop, and then I stumbled across your page. I'm 19, and I live in the UK. I've been on anti-depressant medication since January, and my doctor is going to start reducing the dose to take me off them when I see her tomorrow. What my doctor doesn't know is that I still want to die. I still hurt myself, either by cutting my leg with a razor blade, or by biting, punching and scratching my arms. I've been in hospital twice since I was put on my medication, once for overdosing on painkillers, and once for bashing my head off a rock several times. My doctor referred my to the community psychiatric nurse, and I had been seeing him regularly, but I just can't talk to him or my doctor. I can't talk to anyone face to face, which is why I thought I would try you. I feel like I have nothing to live for, no reason to keep myself alive, and I know that's not right.

   I need help, because if I don't get it I'm going to end up dead and I don't want my sister to grow up knowing that her big sister killed herself.
please help me.


Katie my dear,

   You are hurting, and feel empty, and lost. I don't know what has taken you to this dark hole, but I am glad you love your little sister enough to hold back.

   You know it's not right to feel like this. Your reason tells you that you have a life, but you feel as if you didn't.

   Katy, I don't know why you are so sad about life. Chances are, when you were little, you took in some things adults, or bigger children around you said, or you thought implied, and this has given you a picture of yourself as in some way faulty or unlovable. And this is not true. You are capable of love, for you are willing to stay within your unhappy situation in order not to hurt your sister. I am sure you have done good things in your life, although probably your depression is blinding you to them.

   What would help you immensely is something called Cognitive Therapy. Go to your doctor, and ask to be referred to a psychologist who is competent at this. And when you take your courage in your hands and face this person, you will find it easy to talk to him or her. You say you can't talk to someone about your situation. This suggests to me that you feel ashamed about being like this, as if you were guilty of something.

   But you see, there is nothing to be ashamed about what you've done. I bet you have rarely if ever been unkind to anyone but yourself. Have you murdered any old ladies lately? Or children? Or committed any great crime? Why then should you deserve the death sentence?

   Suppose smoke was coming from a house, and you knew a child was in there. Would you rush in to the rescue? Of course you would. And during this emergency, would you give a single thought to your sadness and troubles? I don't think so.

   When I used to be depressed, often I got myself out of my terrible feelings by finding someone else who needed my help. I used to feel that there was no meaning to life, so I put meaning into it by being useful to other people.

   Another escape from meaninglessness and depression is to look at beauty, to listen to it, and if you can, to produce it: play music, draw or paint, write poetry. And there is so much to find out about. Learn. I don't know if you are a student or not, but even if you are not doing a course, you could take on a project, like finding out about various ways to relieve depression. The information is there. From your email, you are intelligent. Use your brains for your own benefit -- and who knows, you might end up like me and use it for the benefit of many other people.
With love,

For writers

Ten tips from Lea Schizas
How to make a character come to life

Ten little tips
from Lea Schizas

1. The almighty SHOW DON'T TELL. It's always best to allow your reader to 'see' your character's emotions than 'tell' them.

   TELL: Sarah was frightened.

   SHOW: Sarah's hands trembled and her knees felt as though they were going to buckle any moment.

2. At times having a sentence shown in a dialogue format is best.

   SENTENCE: John wasn't looking forward to his airplane flight.

   DIALOGUE: "I tell you I can't shake this stupid feeling that something's going to happen on this flight."

3. Make your writing voice more active.

   PASSIVE: The red book was placed back on the shelf by the librarian.

   ACTIVE: The librarian placed the book back on the shelf.

4. When we converse naturally in 'real life' we usually omit the 'He will' and say 'He'll'.

5. Make sure to use all of your senses in order to bring your story to life.

   How did the room smell?

   What did it taste like?

   Was the item smooth or rough to the touch?

6. For some reason we writers like to embellish at times, and that's fine, but not when it comes to taglines The simple 'he/she said' is more effective than adding a more descriptive term.

   EXAMPLE: "I tell you that man is up to no good!" she announced quite loudly.

   Placing 'she said' is enough since the tone of voice and the words themselves give us a clear picture of her sentiments plus the exclamation point helps to decipher the possibility of her speaking louder than before.


   Remember to use a comma before 'which' and none with 'that'.

8. Alter the length of your sentences to accent the tempo of your story For action, shorten the sentences; for a change of scene or to slow down the read, lengthen them.


   [Note: This is true for American writing. The 's' should be there in British and Australian writing.]

10. Whenever possible, use simple everyday language. Don't try to stick in a word that will require your reader to pick up the Alien Dictionary.

Lea Schizas is a published author and award-winning Editor of two Writer's Digest Top Writing Sites: Apollo's Lyre and The MuseItUp Club. You'll find more information on Lea's writing here:

How to make a character come to life

   When I start a story, the people in it are concepts. I may actually make a list of characteristics such as age, physical appearance, occupation, hobbies and interests, relationship to others in the story, significant life events.

   Most of these facts may never be explicitly stated to the reader. I, as author, need to know a lot about the character that is way beyond what's relevant to the story. Many beginning writers (and some well-established, multiple-published ones too) make the mistake of compulsively informing the reader about a newly introduced person's dossier. This is not only unnecessary but harmful. It actually emphasises that this person being described is a character rather than someone we've met. We should find out about people in a story the same way we find out about them in real life: by interacting with them, seeing them in action, perhaps talking about them with others.

   All the same, the dossier is essential because it allows the character to become a real person in your mind. They should become more real than the people around you.

   Next, when you write from the point of view of a character, BECOME that person. You will find that you describe words and actions that you'd never do, but which are natural to the character. That's when you know you are there.

   As you write, present everything through the point of view of the current witness, and stay with that person throughout a scene to enable the reader to move into the person too. Use vivid sensory terms: sight, hearing,

   smell, touch, bodily sensations, as well as thoughts, memories and emotions. Describe all other people from the outside, the way the current witness perceives them.

   So, for example, don't say about the current witness: 'His eyes took on a suspicious sheen and his mouth turned down.' That's an outside view -- what someone else can see. It is great for another person in the scene. But, for the one whose point of view you are presenting, it is essential to give an inner event: 'His world had just ended. He felt himself falling into a black hole, even while thinking, I'm not going to cry.

What my friends want you to know

Kathe Gogolewski wants to inspire you to kindness.
Free contest: win one of seven lots of books.
The Simple Touch of Fate: How the Hand of Fate Touched Our Lives Forever
Two communications from Darrell Bain
New kids' books from Kam Ruble
Joyce Faulkner's book honoured

Kathe Gogolewski

   I have never wanted to share a story more than this one. I'm not making a dime, but it's not about the money. This story, called The Gold Coin, is published with Amazon Shorts. I hope you'll read a little more to find out why it's special:

   This is a true story. My father wanted you to hear it, and so I wrote it for you, and for him, of course. Did you ever see the movie, Pay it Forward? It promotes a truly inspiring message: when someone does you a favor, no need to pay it back—pay it forward and do a favor for someone else. This story, my father's story, has an element of that in it. Perhaps it is more than an element. I don't know. You can decide. In keeping with the spirit of the story, 100% of my royalties will be donated to Casa de Ampara, a children's charity in my town.

   You may find the short story here.


   Here's your big chance to win gifts for all those special people in your life! In our Shopping Extravaganza we'll be giving away seven baskets of print books, each basket comprised of five mixed genre books generously donated by our authors.


   Seven baskets of mixed-genre print books as pictured at htp://
   Weekly bonus drawings for baskets of ebooks.

CONTEST DATES: October 20 – November 25, 2006

   To enter the contest and win one of the prizes featured above, all you have to do is visit at least one of our authors, click on their guest books and tell them why you would like to win one of their books.

   You may visit as many authors as you like and enter as many times as you like. The winners will be chosen by random drawings of the author names. Our contest committee will visit the authors' pages, make a list of the names entered in each author's guest book and all those names will be added to our contest folders. The more authors you visit and the more times you enter the better chances you will have of winning (Remember only one guest book entry per author) but you may sign as many different author guest books as you like--the more you sign and enter the better your chances of winning.

   You will find complete contest information by visiting the Books We Love main page and clicking on the contest link.

Arlene Uslander

   Do you believe in fate?

   If you do, you will be interested in this fascinating new book, The Simple Touch of Fate: How the Hand of Fate Touched Our Lives Forever.

   A compilation of amazing true stories of fate, coincidence and Providence (each contributed by the actual participant and stringently verified), showing how at times the lightest touch of an unseen guiding hand can change lives in ways great and small. Call it intuition, divine guidance, or Fate, the force behind these stories will inspire, astound and uplift you. Visit the Fate website to read sample stories, and/or to order the book. We are still accepting stories for the sequel.

Darrell Bain

   Darrell is one of the most prolific writers I know. He produces exciting books in a variety of genres, which readers judge by the only real criterion: sales. At venues like Fictionwise, his books regularly outsell those of high-profile authors. He writes:

1. The latest installment of my memoirs is up at It includes my second tour of Vietnam, leaving the army, another marriage, notes on the war, college and other subjects.

   I've received many comments since I started these memoirs and I thank you all for reading.

2. My November newsletter is up at Just click on the newsletter icon in the menu. I invite you to read and comment if you wish. I always answer mail. The first subject in particular is a good one for debate, I think, even though it's been done before.

Darrell Bain
Author of The Melanin Apocalypse, Savage Survival, Alien Infection, Strange Valley, Doggie Biscuit!, Medics Wild!, Hotline To Heaven, The Pet Plague, The Disappearing Girls, Life On Santa Claus Lane, and others.

Kam Ruble

   Jumping from adult mysteries to children's Christian fantasies is obviously an easy task for author Kam Ruble.

   Aimed at children from 8 and over, Kam's first e-book, The Dawg who Saved Christmas (EIN 2807006) introduced brothers Randy and Jay. These two characters met their demise and ended up in heaven only to be returned to earth as a Collie and talking parrot. In books two and three, Dawg Eyes: Still Top Dog (EIN IBLUE2807006) and Dawg Catches Rat (EIN IBLUE2807007), these loveable characters return with more exciting antics in order to perform God's earthly missions.

   About the first book in the Dawg series, Louise Riveiro-Mitchell, author of Autumn Sky and Dark Skies of Autumn, says, "…A delightful read for readers of any age." In regards to the second and third books in the series, "Ruble's characters are wisecracking but loveable," states Janie Franz, multi-talented author and reviewer for

   Kam Ruble is the author and co-author (with her husband Bobby) of the Have No Mercy mystery series, paperbacks published by Global Authors Publications (GAP). Her e-novelette Dawg series are published by Blue Leaf Publications. GAP is expecting to release Kam's new mystery, Stitchers and Bitchers in November of this year; and her first children's picture book, Princess Annado Tandy's Versery-Rhymes, in 2007.

   For more information on Kam and her books, check out her Website at

Joyce Faulkner

   Joyce Faulkner was recently honored with the 2006 Gold Medal in historical fiction by the Military Writers Society of America for her book In the Shadow of Suribachi. Suribachi, the story of seven young men who meet on the beach at Iwo Jima. The story is told by means of individual fictional stories backed up by Faulkner's interviews with veterans, historical research and her memory of her father's tales of being a Marine caught in that hellish battle over 60 years ago.

   W. H. (Bill) McDonald Jr., President of the Military Writers Society of America, said of Faulkner, "She gives you such an honest and intimate portrayal of men who are in combat that one would think that she was actually there. Her WWII novel about the battle on Iwo Jima In the Shadow of Suribachi is compelling, intense, and realistic. She writes with a male energy unbeknownst to most female authors. She will draw you into her storyline and into the people she writes about."

   Faulkner, originally from Fort Smith, Arkansas, is a chemical engineer turned writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied creative writing at the University of Arkansas before she obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Cleveland State. Her education, along with her private passions of aviation, history, travel and philosophy, allowed her to use her sharp observation and creative skills to write a unique literary novel like In the Shadow of Suribachi.

   For more information, or to schedule Ms. Faulkner for a book signing or presentation, contact Mindy Lawrence at or 573-330-4015. Additional information on Faulkner and In the Shadow of Suribachi can be found at


Dream Pictures by Carrie Lynn Lyons
Rarity from the Hollow, A Lacy Dawn Adventure by Robert Eggleton
Bird Flu: Everything you need to know about the next pandemic by Marc Siegel
Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap by Marc Littman, reviewed by Charlene Austin
The Australian Writer's Marketplace

Dream Pictures
by Carrie Lynn Lyons
reviewed by Misti R. Brock

Mundania Press
Trade Paperback
252 pages

   Certainly witnessing the death of one's parents at any age is a trying, life changing experience. But for one four-year-old who witnesses her parents' brutal murders and narrowly escapes her own death, such trauma is the beginning of her salvation and the realization of her "dream pictures."

   The first novel in the Carnival Soul Trilogy, Dream Pictures is the story of a child who, after witnessing the death of her parents, is rescued by the owners of a traveling carnival. The child, Jaime Weston, heiress to the multimillion dollar Weston Corporation, warms immediately to Solomon and Leon who vow to protect her at all costs. Soon, with the help of Jaime's "dream pictures," an unbreakable bond is formed between the four-year-old and her saviors. The plot unfolds as the two men shelter and protect the child, learning more and more through Jaime's "dream pictures" or psychic visions about her parents' murderer and his plans for the child.

   Carrie Lynn Lyons has an extraordinary ability to capture the tendencies of a child on paper. Through Jaime's use of language to her sudden bursts of emotion, Lyons is able to transport her readers to a place in our childhoods where innocence still prevailed. From page one, despite Jaime's grown-up experiences, her character is able to teach readers to accept unconditionally, much as she does her saviors. Perhaps the most endearing quality of the novel, Jaime helps readers quickly forget the deformities of her new family, and we, too, begin to see past Solomon's hunchback and Leon's Frankenstein-like frame. Through Jaime, the reader is not only exposed to the weaknesses of those judging by appearance but also the fears of those afraid to be loved. If nothing else, Jaime's character teaches the reader to see beyond the physical and to lower our own defenses, allowing ourselves to be loved.

   With Dream Pictures, Lyons has created a novel that enters a world unexplored until now. She opens her readers' hearts to the curiosity and wonder that surrounds the carnival and brings her adult readers to an understanding of the unconditional love and acceptance that is human nature as discovered through a child.

   Carrie Lynn Lyons is the fiction pseudonym for author Charlene Austin. Her reviews, stories, poetry, and articles appear on line and in print. Carrie is working on completing the second book of the Carnival Soul Trilogy, Dream Shadows, while Charlene shuffles the day job, grandchildren, several writing groups, Writers and Readers Network, and the Writing Road Newsletter.

   Misti R. Brock is the Publications Specialist for the Teachers Health Trust, Las Vegas, and teaches composition part-time for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Community College of Southern Nevada. She hails from Texas where she was a reporter/columnist for the Times Record News and earned her Master of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in American Literature.

Rarity from the Hollow, A Lacy Dawn Adventure
by Robert Eggleton, reviewed by Barry Hunter

   Lacy Dawn is the last person you would pick to be the savior of the universe. She's in the fifth grade in the backwoods of West Virginia. Her best friend - Faith, is the ghost of a school mate that was beaten to death and lives in a tree. During recess she gives advice to her schoolmates about their future. Her boyfriend - DotCom, is an android that has lived in a cave for thousands of years keeping watch over her lineage from the first days of humankind.

   Her dad - Dewayne is a disabled vet and her family is on welfare. Tom, the next door neighbor, grows "buds". Jenny, her mom does the best she can. Lacy and DotCom do some "reprogramming" on the parents to make them smarter and stronger and Lacy is up to college level in her studies with DotCom.

   It turns out that in order for Lacy to save the universe; she must raise the prestige of Earth by becoming the greatest shopper of all time and negotiate the best deals for her services and those of her family on the planet Shptiludrp.

   Eggleton has crafted a novel that deals with social commentary mixed with some eerie science fiction and a strange problem that Lacy has to solve to save the universe with the help of her family and her dog, Brownie. I can almost hear a blue grass version of Metallica while reading this. I expect to see more from Eggleton and Lacy Dawn. Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.

Robert Eggleton is the creator of Lacy Dawn Adventures -- exploits of a victim empowered to save the universe. Past writing credits are in his field -- child welfare. He's a therapist in a children's mental health program and author proceeds are donated to prevent child abuse. This is his first novel.

   Barry Hunter has been the publisher and editor of Baryon Magazine since 1996.
   Published by Barry R. Hunter, 114 Julia Drive SW, Rome, Georgia 30165-71039. Baryon is Copyright 2006 for the contributors. Hardcopy of Baryon is available for $5.00, printed and mailed. Artwork by Peter Horwáth.

Bird Flu: Everything you need to know about the next pandemic
by Marc Siegel

Wiley, 2006

   You need to read this book whether you are worried about bird flu or not. It is an education about a whole range of other important issues as well.

   The author is a specialist medical practitioner who has thoroughly researched his field. The book is written in clear, easy to understand language and is full of facts, insights and leads to an understanding of the way our world works.

   You want a summary?

   Briefly, bird flu is not a threat. It is not the next pandemic. It is a beat-up, for political and financial reasons.

   I already know this, but it was great to have my beliefs confirmed by an expert in the field.

Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap
by Marc Littman, reviewed by Charlene Austin
Trade paperback
205 pages
ISBN: 1-4196-1130-5

   Journalist/author Marc Littman has created a cast of enchanting characters to tell a heartrending and heartwarming story of the struggles faced by those challenged by special needs and the challenges faced by those who care for them in "Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap."

   Having an autistic child has cost "Ice Queen" Amy her husband, her career as a lawyer, and as far as she is concerned, her life. Determined to make sure there is nothing left to lose, Amy locks her heart. Even to her son. But she reluctantly accepts the help when her mother insists she allow her down-on-his-luck brother to come live with her and act as nanny.

   Nate Newman has "no digs, no gigs" and no choice but to head back to LA from New York and help his "Ice Queen" sister Amy take care of his nephew. But it doesn't look good when within minutes of stepping in the door he accidentally steps on the kid's mock-up of Whoville.

   "You're fired, Uncle Natie! I'm going to throw you into space and you'll never come back again...ever!"

   But when Nate grabs up his gear, his guitar slips and hits the floor and the bond is formed. Music.

   Instead of pursuing his art, Jake, complete with eye patch and parrot on his shoulder, rules over his family's junkyard business from the helm of his "pirate ship" perched on stilts over his office. He welcomes the visits from his childhood friend Nate, and enjoys sharing some of the hidden treasures of his junkyard with Nate's nephew Eddie. Sharon is a practicing white witch with a haunted past. When she pulls into the Jolly Roger U-pick junkyard to see if she can get her car fixed, she sees the potential in the challenged child and a possible potential future in his uncle.

   Do they junk people, too, Uncle Natie?"

   Eddie tries to be good. He wants to make friends. He wants to fit in with his family. Most of all nine-year-old Eddie wants to make his mother proud of him. But Eddie is autistic, a genius in some areas but unable to comprehend or deal with simple day-to-day life and rules he is afraid he will end up on life's scrap heap. Unwanted. Tossed away. Like the cars in Jake's junkyard. Maybe music is the key to unlock his mother's heart, find his place, and make his way. Because despite his challenges, Eddie has a gift for music and he can play his uncle's guitar "like a ring in a bell."

   Can his dysfunctional family and a group of misfit friends overcome their own prejudices and challenges and help Eddie deal with the challenges of his autism and life in an intolerant and unacepting society, or will their attempts to make him fit scrap all hope from his heart?

   A junkyard pirate, a witch, and a Jewish reggae singer. Despite being intrigued by the story line when queried about doing a review of "Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap", I wasn't really sure about what I was getting into. And the initial block of Jamaican dialect had me putting it down, almost. However, as I set the book on the table, back side up, the blurb on the back had me picking it up again. I am so glad. The dialect that first so distracted me is rare and character-setting. The scenes in the junkyard are humorous and fun. The characters are welcome new friends despite, or maybe because of their flaws and foibles. And Eddie, Eddie is a gift.

   Littman crafts a story like Eddie plays guitar. "Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap," "rings like a bell," a wake up bell, in mind and heart long after the final page is turned.

Reviewed by Charlene Austin

   Charlene Austin is managing editor of the Writing Road Newsletter and founder of Writers and Readers Network. Her articles and reviews appear on line and in print. She changes hats to write fiction under the pen name Carrie Lynn Lyons. Her first novel Dream Pictures, Mundania Press, is available in stores and on line. Visit her at

The Australian Writer's Marketplace
by Queensland Writers' Centre

   I placed a small ad for my editing service in this year's Australian Writer's Marketplace, and so they sent me a copy. I'm glad, because I wouldn't have thought of buying my own -- and yet found it to be a must-have tool for any writer in Australia or New Zealand.

   Naturally, a book like this is essential for a writer seeking to have work published in book form, in newspapers and magazines and in less conventional markets. What I didn't realise was how much more there is in this substantial volume.

   This includes several informative (and would you believe, well-written) articles about different markets, tools of the trade and strategies toward success. These essays alone make the book worth having.

   Check it out in your library. You may then decide that you need your own copy.

Peace Trek final update

from Brandon Wilson

   At long last Jerusalem came into sight yesterday and I entered through Jaffa Gate into the Old City. After five months of trekking across ten countries and 4300 kilometers (2800 miles) I arrived as other pilgrims and knights have done over the past millennia.

   This past month has been some of the most difficult hiking I've ever done. Turkey was incredible and I was amazed by the kindness of the people every day. However the 40-58 kilometer daily treks though 85-95 degree weather was a daily challenge as well. Reaching Antalya, I discovered that the boat now leaves from Alanya some four days east, so I set off again.

   The crossing to Cyprus was swift and I was happy to be able to walk across this beautiful landscape--even across the notorious Green Line and stay in some traditional villages. Next, I caught a cargo ship to Haifa and walked the National Trail 125 ks. to the outskirts of Jerusalem.

   Although I was disappointed not to have been able to cross Syria, this Antalya crossing was similar to one made during the Crusades and also allowed me more time in Israel to visit places like Akko (Acre).

   All along the way I have been able to continue discussions with ordinary people about peace; talking as an alternative to bombing. I have found their response universally positive and hope that I have been able to remind them that we have more similarities as "brothers" than we have differences.

   So now that the trekking is at an end, I return to Maui. Something tells me that this journey will continue as I write my book and continue the journey on paper--and in my heart.

   Thanks again for your kind letters and support.

In peace,

Music in the mist

by James Choron

   Not too far from where I live is the Ucha River. Now the Ucha isn't properly speaking, a river. In Texas, where I was born, they would call it a creek. It's about fifty feet wide and not over four feet deep. It's easy to walk across it, and now, fifty-five years after the end of the war, it's water runs cool, clear and clean… a home for small fish and a summer playground for the local children. It was not always so.

   In the spring and summer of 1943, the now peaceful little Ucha ran red with the blood of the dead and dying. Cutting directly across the main Moscow to Yaroslavl highway, its single wooden, two lane bridge, and its dozen or so easy fording places were hotly contested real estate between the opposing forces of the Red Army and Hitler's crack Waffen SS Divisions. The little river changed hands an average of five times every month for over a year as the front lines drifted back and forth over a two mile wide strip of hotly contested ground.

   During some of the heaviest fighting in the area, the Germans had a field hospital set up on the riverbank. From all descriptions, it was like a scene from Dante's Inferno, with overworked doctors, working around the clock to save the lives of German and Russian alike. Long term local residents even now grimace as they describe the rancid, putrid stench that permeated the air… the smell of gangrene mixed with cordite… and the festering piles of amputated limbs that steadily grew outside the makeshift surgery tents. They also tell of how the wounded, when they were once again lucid, hobbled around the hospital grounds on their crutches, or lay on the riverbank waiting for the chance to be taken away from the front… how at night, they would gather around the cooking fires and eat their meager rations and sing the songs of long ago to pass the idle hours.

   Now, in the evening, just about dusk, if you listen hard enough, you can still hear the sounds of German music being played on a concertina or accordion coming from the area of the old field hospital, and the sounds of men singing. If you listen hard enough, you can make out the words… and if you can speak a bit of German, no matter what your feelings toward the war might be, you will understand… you will feel a deep sympathy for the lonely, pain wracked men who sing of the Watch on the Rhine that they have been called on to keep… three thousand miles from that great river, on the banks of the bloody little Ucha. You will weep for the lovely Lilli Marlene, and the dying soldier who will never see his girl again… "Vor der Kaserne… vor den grossen tor… stand eine laterne, und stai sie nacht dvor…" A sad song sung by even sadder spirits.

   The local children often make a pilgrimage to the site of the old field hospital, trying to find the "ghosts" that they have all heard singing in the night, but so far, none of them have ever seen any. However, the area does hold a notorious "cold spot" where dogs, cats and other small animals will not go, and if you stay there long enough, you are overcome with an overpowering feeling of almost bottomless despair and depression… a seemingly boundless sadness and pain that seems to cling to you like a wet blanket and permeate your very bones.

You may be interested to know that Jim has a contract with Zumaya books for Footprints in the Snow: True Accounts of Paranormal Russia.

A couple of items for fun

A famous person's solution to terrorism.
A study from the British Medical Journal

How to prevent attacks against airlines

   How to save the airlines... Dump the male flight attendants. No one wanted them in the first place. Replace all the female flight attendants with good-looking strippers! What the heck -- the attendants have gotten old and haggard-looking. They don't even serve food anymore, so what's the loss? The strippers would at least triple the alcohol sales and get a "party atmosphere" going in the cabin.

   And, of course, every businessman in this country would start flying again, hoping to see naked women.

   Because of the tips, female flight attendants wouldn't need a salary, thus saving even more money.

   Muslims would be afraid to get on the planes for fear of seeing naked women. Hijackings would come to a screeching halt, and the airline industry would see record revenues. This is definitely a win-win situation if we handle it right -- a golden opportunity to turn a liability into an asset.

   Why the heck didn't Bush think of this? Why do I still have to do everything myself?

Bill Clinton

Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials
Gordon C S Smith, professor, Jill P Pell, consultant

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, 2 Department of Public Health, Greater Glasgow NHS Board, Glasgow G3 8YU


Objectives: To determine whether parachutes are effective in preventing major trauma related to gravitational challenge.

Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

Data sources: Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases; appropriate internet sites and citation lists.

Study selection: Studies showing the effects of using a parachute during free fall.

Main outcome measure: Death or major trauma, defined as an injury severity score > 15.

Results: We were unable to identify any randomised controlled trials of parachute intervention.

Conclusions: As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute.


   The full paper (BMJ 2003;327:1459-1461 (20 December), doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7429.1459) is too long to reproduce here, although I have obtained permission. It is a brilliant satire of the kind of thinking that has led to bizarre decisions in all aspects of outcomes research, including in my field, psychology.

   Here are a couple of snippets:


   The parachute is used in recreational, voluntary sector, and military settings to reduce the risk of orthopaedic, head, and soft tissue injury after gravitational challenge, typically in the context of jumping from an aircraft. The perception that parachutes are a successful intervention is based largely on anecdotal evidence. Observational data have shown that their use is associated with morbidity and mortality, due to both failure of the intervention and iatrogenic complications. In addition, "natural history" studies of free fall indicate that failure to take or deploy a parachute does not inevitably result in an adverse outcome. We therefore undertook a systematic review of randomised controlled trials of parachutes.


Evidence based pride and observational prejudice

   It is a truth universally acknowledged that a medical intervention justified by observational data must be in want of verification through a randomised controlled trial. Observational studies have been tainted by accusations of data dredging, confounding, and bias. For example, observational studies showed lower rates of ischaemic heart disease among women using hormone replacement therapy, and these data were interpreted as advocating hormone replacement for healthy women, women with established ischaemic heart disease, and women with risk factors for ischaemic heart disease. However, randomised controlled trials showed that hormone replacement therapy actually increased the risk of ischaemic heart disease, indicating that the apparent protective effects seen in observational studies were due to bias. Cases such as this one show that medical interventions based solely on observational data should be carefully scrutinised, and the parachute is no exception.

The parachute and the healthy cohort effect

   One of the major weaknesses of observational data is the possibility of bias, including selection bias and reporting bias, which can be obviated largely by using randomised controlled trials. The relevance to parachute use is that individuals jumping from aircraft without the help of a parachute are likely to have a high prevalence of pre-existing psychiatric morbidity. Individuals who use parachutes are likely to have less psychiatric morbidity and may also differ in key demographic factors, such as income and cigarette use. It follows, therefore, that the apparent protective effect of parachutes may be merely an example of the "healthy cohort" effect. Observational studies typically use multivariate analytical approaches, using maximum likelihood based modelling methods to try to adjust estimates of relative risk for these biases. Distasteful as these statistical adjustments are for the cognoscenti of evidence based medicine, no such analyses exist for assessing the presumed effects of the parachute.

A call to (broken) arms

   Only two options exist. The first is that we accept that, under exceptional circumstances, common sense might be applied when considering the potential risks and benefits of interventions. The second is that we continue our quest for the holy grail of exclusively evidence based interventions and preclude parachute use outside the context of a properly conducted trial. The dependency we have created in our population may make recruitment of the unenlightened masses to such a trial difficult. If so, we feel assured that those who advocate evidence based medicine and criticise use of interventions that lack an evidence base will not hesitate to demonstrate their commitment by volunteering for a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial.

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