Bobbing Around

Volume Eight, Number Three
November, 2008

Bob Rich's (chocolate flavoured) rave  other issues


*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Responses to the last issue
  From Laraine Ann Barker
  From Barry Brooks
  Anwaar Hussein: A Letter to America
  On free trade
  Get rid of dirty electricity!
  The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Meltdown, by Andrew Glikson
  BP solar plant closing
  Global warming - No more business as usual: This is an emergency! by David Spratt
  We campaign: repower America
*Deeper issues
  The prophetic challenge: “Few are guilty, but all are responsible” by Robert Jensen
  On handling conflict, by Paul Bedson
  What is depression?
  Free lectures on childhood trauma
  Medications are twisting her mind
  We're hurting each other
  Another would-be murderer
  Sick of my anger
*For writers
  A few comma rules
  When book sales are getting musty, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
*What my friends want you to know
  EPIC New Voices 2009 Writing Competition
  Ecological Internet launches new magazine
  Sara Webb Quest promoted by Sarah Webb
  Rick Singer's book is a finalist
  Footprints: a newsletter from John James
  Carolyn on career radio show
  Strawbale summer school at Moora Moora
  November Bainstorming
  Free CDs to uplift the spirit
  Download Wendy's audio books
  Golden treasure: free entry, with great prizes
  Warning: compact fluoros
  A worm in the Apple
  A Spring Without Bees, by Michael Schacker, reviewed by Lynne Cargill
  Brain Drain, by Laraine Ann Barker

Family brag

   Here is an item about my daughter Anina's partner:

Researcher has brain in his sights: findings published in Nature Neuroscience
November 7, 2008
Scientists now have a better understanding of how the mammalian brain transfers, processes and stores visual information.

   Just released research published in prestigious international journal Nature Neuroscience details the findings of an international team of researchers led by Australian scientist and Macquarie University senior lecturer, Dr Mark Williams.

   Previously, scientists believed information detected by the eye was transferred to the rear of the brain (occipital cortex) and then transferred on to higher areas for further processing and conscious perception. The occipital cortex was seen as a relay station through which information flowed and was refined, but the real work of consciously seeing involved the higher areas.

   Now, the study led by Williams has shown that, contrary to popular belief, the information is passed back to the occipital cortex to a particular region (the foveal retinotopic cortex), which is then involved in our ability to see things in our environment.

   "The inner workings of the mammalian brain are incredibly complex and our understanding of the processes at work is still rudimentary," Williams said.

   "If we think of the visual system as a complicated web of connections at the rear of the brain, these findings allow us to make better sense of this web by more effectively mapping the way information is transferred and processed."

   While applying this newfound knowledge to a clinical setting may still be a long way off, this greater understanding of the brain's inner workings may even eventually help scientists better understand visual impairment.

   "That's a long way off, but the potential's there," Williams said. "The brain and eye work together to enable us to see - understanding this process better is the first step in improving a person's visual function."

   Dr Williams is a senior lecturer with the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, one of the University's CORE research areas (Concentrations of Research Excellence).

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.

Responses to the last issue

From Laraine Ann Barker
From Barry Brooks

From Laraine Ann Barker

   I've still got to read all the newsletter but I couldn't help noticing that the poor fellow who lost his poodle was mentioned again and still nobody has suggested the obvious: that he should go out and get another dog--preferably, but not necessarily, the same breed as the one he lost. It depends on how attached he is to the poodle breed. A new dog won't get rid of the grief but it helps soften it as it gives you another little life to look after. I know what it's like to cry myself to sleep over the death of a dog. Every loss hurts as badly as the loss of a loved human. It's an experience dog-lovers know they are going to have to face on a far too frequent basis and the death is seldom "natural"; unless the loss is something tragic, like the dog being hit by a car, you nearly always have to make that ghastly decision to end the dog's life. But consider this: a dog gives to his (or her) human family far more than he takes and the joy a dog gives us over his life-span far outweighs the grief of his loss. Mind you, it sure doesn't feel that way to someone grieving over the death of a dog! Incidentally, I would never own only one dog again. Dogs are social animals and no amount of human companionship quite makes up for the company, especially in terms of playing ability, of a real dog. Two dogs give more than twice as much joy to humans as one dog. There's nothing quite so entertaining as watching your dogs in a pretend fight, or chasing each other all over the house or the garden.

   I really felt for Sally in her predicament with that bridge. Fifteen kilos represents THREE of my four dogs. I'd hate to cart two of them, never mind three, across a narrow footpath like this with huge, fast trucks zooming inches from my elbows. But I do envy her ability to take such long treks. These days my feet are killing me by the time I get round the supermarket. By the time we've walked to the other end of the city centre (for the library and/or other shops my SIL wants) I'm wondering how I'm going to make it back to the car. I'm not the driver so I get no say in where the car is parked.

   I've always wondered, Bob, how you cope with most of your working day taken up by people needing psychological help. Now I'm wondering how you manage to find time for anything else!

   Now I wish I could say back to the newsletter. But it's back to the kitchen. :-(

Kind regards
Laraine Barker

From Barry Brooks

Dear Bob,

   Thanks for making a positive difference.

   Alan Watts used to talk about how if he knew someone was coming to help him him would run out the back door. Good intentions are common, but making a positive difference is rare.

   Making no difference is OK... I hope.



Anwaar Hussain: A Letter to America
On free trade
Get rid of dirty electricity!

Anwaar Hussain: A Letter to America

Dear Americans,

   With your election of Barack Hussein Obama, you have almost realized the dream of Martin Luther King. Now truly you have a chance to rise up as a nation and live out the proper meaning of the creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

   Now you have an opportunity to ensure that ‘on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners indeed are able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.’ Now is the time to make certain that your great country does really get ‘transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.’ Now is that moment in time to become color blind forever to the skin tones of not just your countrymen but of all the citizens of our planet. Do that and you have arrived.

   But before you can join Barack Obama’s sweet lilting voice in singing, Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! you have one last ritual to perform. And that is the killing of the demons of your recent past lest they come back to haunt you yet again. Unless you perform that sacred rite too, this transformation stands incomplete.

   Look around yourselves and you will see on your national scene the authors of your misfortunes still strutting about in full vigor. Your dictator president with a God-complex, your conceited leaders with a talent in exploitation, your self-righteous and egotistical political elites who dived to the murkiest depths to perpetuate their villainous rule and your bigoted religious leaders who poured venom in the name of God; all are there.

   Let it not be forgotten that they seized power to wage wars of aggression in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the U.N. Charter and the rule of law and in the process they lied not just to the people of the U.S. and to the U.S. Congress, but to the whole world through the U.N., providing false and deceptive rationales for war. They violated and subverted the Charter of the United Nations and international law to commit with impunity crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes in orchestrated wars.

   Do not forget that these are the original sadistic authors of the Afghan and Iraq wars and the resultant mass genocide, the usage of horrible weapons of war, the PATRIOT Act, torture, water boarding, Abu Ghuraib, Guantánamo, falsified intelligence, the global economic depression, the Katrina debacle, wire tapping, loss of Habeas Corpus, vetoing of stem cell bill, Blackwater mercenaries; you name it. There is not a crime in the book that they did not commit.

   You simply cannot gloss over the fact that they authorized, ordered and condoned assassinations, summary executions, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torment and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners to obtain fraudulent statements. And that they themselves made, ordered and condoned phony statements and propaganda about the conduct of other governments and individuals and acts by U.S. government personnel, manipulated the media and foreign governments with bogus information and concealed information vital to forming informed public opinion in order to create a sham climate of fear and destroy opposition to their wars of aggression.

   It is not a secret any more that in the past eight years, along with ordering indefinite detention without charge of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere, they also authorized secret military tribunals and summary executions of such persons. Not only that, they acted to strip you, dear Americans, of your constitutional and human rights, ordering your indefinite detention, without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention.

   So misgoverned and misinformed have you been these past eight years that without your being aware, America today has become the most despised country with you being the most reviled people despite being the most insecure in your history. Your economy is in shambles with depression looming large on the horizons. Your wars are almost lost with your country firmly stuck in the desolate wastelands of that graveyard of Empires; Afghanistan.

   Now, however, you have done yourselves proud by showing to the rest of the world that only in America would millions of white voters turn out in hordes to elect the son of a Kenyan Muslim Negro as their supreme commander, only in America. By this singularly remarkable act of supporting him in his journey from the lynch mobs to the White house, you have once again launched your country firmly on recovery path from the dank depths of the fascist swamps to the glory heights that should have been America’s always.

   On his website, your President-elect says, “Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inherited.” How can that be if the murderers of today are left to roam scot-free in the world of our children?

   You, dear Americans, are being seen as the accomplices of these ruthless killers unless you ask for the hangman’s ropes.

   What shall it be, my friends?

   Thanking you in anticipation,
Anwaar Hussain

Read the full text at

On free trade

   George Bush has delivered his last speech at an international venue. He chose to speak with passion about the need for free trade.

   That alone would make me want to reject the concept, but there are better reasons.

   Why is there a financial meltdown? Because of bank robbery: high-profile, respectable banks have been robbing their customers for years, and at last the consequences have caught up with them. They should not have been allowed to be free, but should have been answerable. Instead of going to jail, they are now given huge amounts of money. Granted, this is Monopoly money, merely arbitrary entries in computer systems, but as long as people act as if it has value, they can spend it.

   Free trade is responsible for the destruction of many local economies in poor countries, and even relatively wealthy ones. The multinationals move in. Subsistence agriculture for the locals is replaced by monoculture cash crops that enrich a few in the country, but impverish the population at large. Resources such as mineral wealth and forests are exported at a price dictated by the buyer. An example is Australia's hardwood forests, sold to multinationals for barely more than the cost of production, for woodchipping.

   Free trade means that Canada is unable to enforce environmental legislation if it would hurt the business of these real owners of our planet.

   Free trade means that Chinese people work in a chemical soup that would not be allowed in the USA, for a pittance, under dreadful conditions, just so that the multinationals can make more profit. It is what led to Bhopal in India.

   As Andrew Glikson states below, free trade is responsible for the climate change that will kill billions of people, within YOUR lifetime. You could well be one of the victims. If you live within 25 meters (say 80 feet) above sea level, you'll almost certainly need to convert your house into a submarine.

   Free trade between unequals always favours the powerful. Saying that free trade is good for everyone is like saying that getting rid of the police is good for law and order.

Get rid of dirty electricity!


   There has been a week of peaceful direct action taken against coal-fired power stations by the communities right across the country.

   This unprecedented display of coordinated community opposition to fossil-fueled power heralds a new level of climate action in Australia. In New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland, power stations were significantly disrupted and widespread media drew attention to the links between coal and climate change in the country most disproportionately responsible for both.

   It is little wonder that the media are now consistently referring to members of the climate movement as "Power Protesters."

   Over the course of the week, actions took place against:

  • Bayswater Power Station, New South Wales (Saturday 1st November)
  • Collie Power Station, Western Australia (Wednesday 5th November)
  • Hazelwood Power Station, Victoria (Thursday 6th November)
  • Tarong Power Station, Queensland (Friday 7th November)

       See the combined media here.

       Or for more information, check out (New South Wales) (Queensland) or (Victoria) for video, images and stories.


    The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Meltdown by Andrew Glikson
    BP solar plant closing
    Global warming - No more business as usual: This is an emergency! by David Spratt
    We campaign: repower America

    The Methane Time Bomb and the Triple Meltdown
    by Andrew Glikson

    [Triple stands for: (1) ice sheets; (2) global economy; (3) trust in governments.]

       Recent reports of enhanced methane leaks off the eastern Siberian coast (about 100 times the background level) and off Norway have been overshadowed in the media by the collapse of the global credit bubble. At the root of both is a common thread: deregulation, including open-ended permits to pollute the atmosphere and the oceans, little-regulated financial systems and economic globalization, representing failure by governments to protect the life and welfare of their hapless populations. None can come as a surprise.

       For some time now, climate scientists have warned that melting of subpolar permafrost and warming of the Arctic Sea (up to 4 degrees C during 2005–2008 relative to 1951–1980) are likely to result in the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere (methane: 62 times the infrared warming effect of CO2 over 20 years). The amount of carbon stored in Arctic sediments and permafrost is estimated as half as much as the world’s total fossil fuel reserves. The continuing use of the atmosphere as an open sewer for industrial pollution has already added more than this to the atmosphere, together with land clearing and animal-emitted methane. This raised CO2 levels to 387 ppm CO2 to date, leading toward conditions which existed on Earth about 3 million years ago (mid-Pliocene), when CO2 levels rose to about 400 ppm, temperatures to about 2–3 degrees C and sea levels by about 25 +/- 12 metres.

       There is little evidence for extinction at this level. However, by crossing above a CO2 level of 400 ppm, the atmosphere is moving into uncharted territory. At this stage, enhanced methane leaks threaten climate events such as the massive methane release and fauna extinction of 55 million years ago, which was marked by rise of CO2 to near-1000 ppm.

       There is little evidence in Garnaut’s Final Report that this possibility was taken seriously into account. Nor do the consequences of metres-scale sea level rise for a civilization hinged along deltas, low river valleys and coastlines appear to prevent governments and business from "business as usual" behaviour. The $700 billion donated by the US Congress to save corrupt financial dealers is required for fast-tracked conversion from polluting to clean energy utilities and vehicles. The trillions of dollars spent since WWII on bombing peasant populations in their fields in the name of democracy and freedom are needed for replanting deforested regions of the Earth. We need leaders who will place the life and future of humans and other species ahead of the three-years election cycle, ones who will rise above the power game of vested interests and be prepared to lead civilization our of the morass in which it finds itself.

    Dr. Andrew Glikson is a Earth and paleo-climate research scientist at Australian National University. He spends much of his free time invested in efforts to address climate change issues in a timely fashion and can be contacted at

    BP solar plant closing

       Having read Andrew's article, you can see an immediate example of how commercial decisions wreck the support system that keeps companies going. For strictly commercial reasons, BP has decided to close their solar panel manufacturing plant in Sydney, and relocate it in a country where they can be made cheaper. This is perfectly reasonable and rational, taken in isolation. Multiply it by the thousands of such decisions taken every year, and the result is climate change, an increase in pollution-caused diseases worldwide, more exploitation of people in poor countries working in conditions and for rates of pay we would reject, and loss of buying power in the industrialised countries. It's roasting chickens by burning down the egg farm.

    Global warming - No more business as usual: This is an emergency!
    by David Spratt

       A year ago I was researching what was intended to be a short submission to the Garnaut review [commissioned to advise the Australian federal government], when events in the polar north turned the world of climate policy upside down. It was found that eight million square kilometres of sea-ice — an area the size of Australia — was melting, in the immortal words of one glaciologist, "a hundred years ahead of schedule."

       Yet the international policy debate carried on as if this had not happened. Out-of-date scenarios, research and observations were being used to propose emission reduction targets that would still lead to catastrophe even if fully implemented.

       And so a short submission became a long detour into how the climate debate is being constructed, and the result, with Philip Sutton, was a book we did not intend to write, Climate Code Red.

       We came to the conclusion that most of the public policy debate on climate is delusional, that is, a fixed, false belief resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact. In the new Quarterly Essay, Tim Flannery says “There is no real debate about how serious our predicament is,” nor has there been the “understanding of just how profoundly we are influencing the very Earth processes that give us life.”

       Neither of the major political parties [in Australia] at the national level have bothered to tell the electorate what they consider to be dangerous climate change. Neither party in government has ever said how hot would be too hot — one degree, or two, three, four or five? — and then committed themselves to actions consistent with that target. And both seem to have difficulty in saying unambiguously that the loss of the Great Barrier Reef (now inevitable) or the salination of Kakadu (predicted to occur with a half-metre sea-level rise this century) mean that global warming is already dangerous.

       The Australian federal government’s climate vision does not extend beyond the terrain described by the reports of the IPCC, which Flannery notes are “painfully conservative” because the IPPC “works by consensus and includes government representatives from the United States, China and Saudi Arabia, all of whom must assent to every word of every finding.” Thus the IPCC’s most recent report has already been found badly wanting on such issues as the Arctic sea-ice, ice sheet loss and sea-level rises, nor did it not seriously concern itself with the possibilities of non-linear climate change and the long-term effects of carbon-cycle feedbacks (carbon emission-induced warming causing the release of more carbon into the air, for example by the melting of permafrost).

    Continue reading at

    We campaign: repower America

       Follow Al Gore's lead and tell your local paper it's time to Repower America.

       In an editorial published Sunday in the New York Times, Al Gore outlined the Repower America Plan -- how to achieve 100% clean electricity within ten years. We've included the editorial below. Vice President Gore describes what's required to transform our nation's energy economy. Can you help spread the word?

       An easy way to help is to simply write a short letter to the editor of your local paper. If you write today, your letter could get into the Sunday edition this coming weekend. Just go to:

       This is a key moment. President-elect Obama has said that focusing on energy and climate will be a first priority in the new administration. Congress and the new President need to see that they have strong support to "go big" in solving these problems, with clean, homegrown energy -- even in the face of the powerful fossil fuel lobbies.

       To build this kind of national commitment, we need to clearly expose the "common thread" that connects three of our nation's major challenges -- the economy, national security, and the climate crisis. This common thread is our dependence on dirty coal and foreign oil.

       As Al Gore writes, "Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis."

       Our simple online tool makes it easy to submit a letter to your local paper. And the letters-to-the-editor section is one of the most widely read sections of any newspaper, because people want to hear what other people think. Just click here.

    Thanks so much,
    Cathy Zoi

    Deeper Issues

    The prophetic challenge: “Few are guilty, but all are responsible” by Robert Jensen
    On handling conflict by Paul Bedson

    The prophetic challenge: “Few are guilty, but all are responsible”
    by Robert Jensen

    [A version of this essay was delivered as a sermon to the Henry David Thoreau Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Bend County, Texas, August 3, 2008.]

       One of the common refrains I heard from progressive people in Pakistan and India during my month there this summer was, “We love the American people -- it’s the policies of your government we don’t like.”

       That sentiment is not unusual in the developing world, and such statements can reduce the tension with some Americans when people criticize U.S. policy, which is more common than ever after the illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

       I used to smile and nod when I heard it, but this summer I stopped agreeing.

       “You shouldn’t love the American people,” I started saying. “You should hate us -- we’re the enemy.”

       By that I don’t mean that most Americans are trying to come up with new ways to attack people in the Global South. Instead, I want to challenge the notion that in a relatively open society such as the United States -- where most people can claim extensive guarantees of freedom of expression and political association -- that the problem is leaders and not ordinary citizens. Whatever the reason people in other countries repeat this statement, the stakes today are too high for those of us in the United States to accept these kinds of reassuring platitudes about hating-the-policy but loving-the-people of an imperial state. It is long past time that we the people of the United States started holding ourselves responsible for the crimes our government perpetrates around the world.

       This is our prophetic challenge, in the tradition of the best of the prophets of the past, who had the courage to name the injustice in a society and demand a reckoning.

       In the Christian and Jewish traditions, the Old Testament offers us many models -- Amos and Hosea, Jeremiah and Isaiah. The prophets condemned corrupt leaders but also called out all those privileged people in society who had turned from the demands of justice that the faith makes central to human life. In his study of The Prophets, the scholar and activist Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel concluded:

       Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an individual’s crime discloses society’s corruption. In a community not indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.[1]

       In our society, crimes by leaders are far too common. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, as individuals, are guilty of their crime against peace, and war crimes in Iraq that have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, just as Bill Clinton and Al Gore before them are guilty of the crime against humanity perpetrated through an economic embargo on Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocents as well. These men are guilty, beyond any doubt, and they should be held accountable. But would those kinds of crimes be as frequent if the spirit of society were different? For that, we all are responsible.

       In assessing that responsibility, we have to be careful about simplistic judgments, for the degree of responsibility depends on privilege and power. In my case, I’m white and male, educated, with easy access to information, working in a professional job with a comfortable income and considerable freedom. People such as me, with the greatest privilege, bear greatest responsibility. But no one escapes responsibility living in an imperial state with the barbaric record of the United States (in my lifetime, we could start with the list of unjust U.S. wars, direct and through proxies, against the people of Latin America, southern Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, resulting in millions of victims). Bush and Clinton couldn’t carry out their crimes in this relatively open and democratic society if we did not allow it.

       To increase the chance that we can stop those crimes, we also have to be precise about the roadblocks that keep people from acting responsibly: A nominally democratic political system dominated by elites who serve primarily the wealthy in a predatory corporate capitalist system; which utilizes sophisticated propaganda techniques that have been effective in undermining real democracy; aided by mass-media industries dedicated to selling diversions to consumers more than to helping inform citizens in ways that encourage meaningful political action.

       We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, with a realistic analysis not only of how we have ended up in this dire situation but also a reasonable assessment of how different people react to the spirit of our society.

       Some in the United States celebrate this unjust system and seek to enrich themselves in it; they deserve the harshest critique and condemnation. Many others simply move with the prevailing winds, taking their place in the hierarchy without much thought and little challenge; they should be challenged to rise above their willed ignorance and passivity. Some others resist, through political organizing or in quieter ways; they should be commended, with the recognition that whatever they have done it hasn’t been enough to end the nation’s imperial crimes. And we must remember that there are people in the United States suffering under such oppressive conditions that they constitute a kind of internal Third World, targeted as much as the most vulnerable people abroad.

       Of course, those are crudely drawn categories that don’t capture the complexity of our lives. But we should draw them to remind ourselves: Those of us with privilege are responsible in some way. If we want to speak in a prophetic voice, as I believe we all can and should, we must start with an honest assessment of ourselves and those closest to us. For example, I consider myself part of the anti-empire/anti-war movement, and for the past decade I have spent considerable energy on those efforts. But I can see many ways in which I could have done more, and could do more today, in more effective fashion. We need not have delusions of grandeur about what we can accomplish, but we do need to avoid a self-satisfied complacency.

       That kind of complacency is far too easy for those of us living in the most affluent nation in the history of the world. For those of us with privilege, political activism typically comes with very few costs. We work, and often work hard, for justice but when the day is done many of us come home to basic comforts that most people in the world can only dream of. Those comforts are made possible by the very empire we are committed to ending.

       Does this seem hard to face? Does it spark a twinge of guilt in you? I hope that it does. Here we can distinguish the guilt of those committing the crimes -- the formal kind of guilt of folks such as Bush and Clinton -- from the way in which a vaguer sense of guilt reminds us that we may not be living up to our own principles. That kind of guilty feeling is not a bad thing, if we have not done things that are morally required. If there is a gap between our stated values and our actions -- as there almost surely is for all of us, in varying ways to varying degrees -- then such a feeling of guilt is an appropriate moral reaction. Guilt of that kind is healthy if we face it honestly and use it to strengthen our commitment to justice.

       This is our fate living in the empire. We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, while knowing that the powerful systems in place are not going to change overnight simply because we have good arguments and are well-intentioned. We must ask ourselves why we don’t do more, while recognizing that none of us can ever do enough. We must be harsh on ourselves and each other, while retaining a loving connection to self and others, for without that love there is no hope.

       People often say this kind of individual and collective self-assessment is too hard, too depressing. Perhaps, but it is the path we must walk if we wish to hold onto our humanity. As Heschel put it, “the prophets endure and can only be ignored at the risk of our own despair.”[2] To contemplate these harsh realities is not to give in to despair, but to make it possible to resist.

       If we wish to find our prophetic voice, we must have the courage to speak about the crimes of our leaders and also look at ourselves honestly in the mirror. That requires not just courage but humility. It is in that balance of a righteous anger and rigorous self-reflection that we find not just the strength to go on fighting but also the reason to go on living.

    Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 16.
    Ibid., p. xiii.

    Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). Jensen is also the author of The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege and Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity (both from City Lights Books); and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). He can be reached at and his articles can be found online at

    On handling conflict
    by Paul Bedson

    I have the pleasure to belong to an organisation Paul is also a member of. Recently, a meeting ended a little stormy, with a few people shouting, and even being abusive of others. Paul circulated an email I liked so much I asked his permission to reproduce here.

       Paul is the senior counsellor at the Gawler Foundation, which is a healing place for people suffering from cancer and other serious health conditions. He wrote the chapter on meditation in Cancer: A personal challenge

    Some reflections arising from the Nov. meeting incident.

       Although I don’t in any way condone aggressive or abusive behavior, I don’t believe that it helps to be too righteous or full of blame… we are all capable of being pushy, judgmental, defensive and "losing it."

       I see the outbursts in the meeting and afterward to be a symptom of an ongoing challenge to the community which is: remembering to treat each other with respect, showing care and taking responsibility for our speech and actions. This incident is a strong reminder and a wakeup to us all to give more attention to our ways of relating.

       The simple truth is that we can’t expect respect unless we give respect.

       We have to speak how we want to be spoken to (or how we would expect our children to speak).

       We also need to remember to listen deeply and patiently.

       These simple truths of relating are as important outside of meetings as inside them.

       Only then can we make our meetings a "safe" space for sharing ideas and opinions.

       There are many benefits and joys to community living, but with the benefits come the responsibilities to each other. I believe that our primary responsibility is to nurture and sustain community and equality within the community. Our first agenda item in every meeting is to meet each other in a "safe" and respectful way.

       We already have structures and agreements in place to facilitate meeting each other with respect. I think we need to honour and value these structures, not overlook them. These structures highlight the importance of the people over the proposal, and the process of reaching decisions being more important than the decisions themselves.

       Everyone at each meeting could assist by monitoring the "tone" of the speakers, and the "tone" of the meeting and calling a point of order.

       We can all, myself included, be more responsible for creating a safer community. The practice of gossip, sarcasm, old resentments and closed minds will only divide us into factions, not bring us into community.

       I, for one,value the quality of respect for one another.



    What is depression?
    Free lectures on childhood trauma
    Medications are twisting her mind
    We're hurting each other
    Another would-be murderer
    Sick of my anger

    What is depression?

       I often come across people who firmly believe that you can't survive depression without medications. I draw their attention to the evidence that shows this to be false, for example the paper by Scott Miller and associates at my web site, but I'm afraid the drug companies have done their work too thoroughly.

       So, here, I'll come at it another way. If we understand the causation of depression, we understand how to relieve it. Also at my web site is the best theoretical analysis of depression I know, by Michael Gathercole.

       This paper synthesises a great deal of research evidence. Here, I'll give a brief, plain language explanation.

       First, "pure" depression is almost a rarity. We real people suffer in individual ways, and we are not compliant enough to mimic the requirements of a diagnostic category. Depression shows "co-morbidity" with every other diagnosable mental disorder, and this makes sense. If you suffer anxiety, or hallucinations, or outbursts of rage that make you feel guilty, or whatever, you're going to be chronically unhappy about it. And if depression saps your energy so you can't study for that exam or shop for the dinner, that'll make you anxious, and give you a short temper. Substance abuse and other addictive behaviours are very often a way of self-medicating against misery.

       So, things are way too complex for any facile explanation. Research shows that no single treatment method has more than a moderate success rate in real life. This is because the people used as research subjects are a mixed lot. As Gathercole's paper shows, we need to analyse what THIS person's depression is about, and construct an appropriate way of addressing it.

       Second, depression is the result of the interaction of two very broad dynamic interactions.

       One is your susceptibility to depression. This is a very complex result of many factors. Genetics do come into it, as well as a whole complex of experiences, starting before birth and ongoing. Genes can affect the famous "genetic balance/imbalance" of certain brain transmitters, as well as entirely different hormonal functioning, reactions to shortage of daylight in winter, the ability to metabolise certain food components and who knows what else. The experiential part is equally complex. Most important are beliefs young children construct for themselves on the basis of their environment, as the work of Aaron Beck has shown. Childhood trauma and neglect come into it.

       The second interaction is the current environmental load on you, and your current resilience.

       Resilience is the ability to bounce back from nasty experiences. It varies from time to time as a result of many factors, but also varies from person to person. Again, genetics have a lot to do with it, as well as early childhood experiences, and what happens to you throughout your life to the present. It can be increased. Read my first aid against depression to see how.

       Environmental stress is additive. And if you have so much heaped on you that your current resilience is significantly exceeded, you will break. You could become suicidally depressed, go manic, experience hallucinations and delusions, become murderously angry, drown yourself in some addiction like alcohol, chocolates or gambling, or suffer intense anxiety. You can experience combinations of any of these.

       Which lot of symptoms hit you depends on your past experience, particularly the beliefs you picked up as a child and the behaviour of the adults you modelled on, and how these experiences interact with your genetic makeup.

       So, if you are feeling depressed, work on improving your resilience, deal with the environmental stresses on you as problems that have potential solutions, learn to live with permanent problems, and work on your belief system.

       Taking drugs does not achieve any of these. At best, they are a crutch, allowing you enough energy to do the necessary work.

    Free lectures on childhood trauma

       The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (which is both government funded and sponsored by UCLA and Duke) offers online presentations by well-known researchers and writers. You can sign up to listen live (including live Q&A sessions), or you can listen to the archived presentations at your convenience. The only equipment you need is a web browser and speakers on your PC. There is no charge for either the courses or the CE's. The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to award Continuing Education credits.

       The presentations concern various aspects of trauma and disasters and their effects on adults and children. Speakers include van der Kolk, Briere, Putnam, Pynoos, Jones, Newman, The presentations date from 2006 through 2008, and more are promised.

       You have to register and login to see the lists of presenters, but once you have done that, you can come back at other times to listen to the presentations.

       Click here to learn more:

    Medications are twisting her mind


       My name is Kelly. I was researching some information on depression and thoughts and came across a response you posted for someone that had your email address in it...I hope you don't mind me emailing you. Truth is, I don't have health insurance, I am going through severe depression.. and having thoughts that are haunting me day and night but I don't have the resources to get help without admitting myself to a hospital in hopes they will treat me... and to tell you the truth that scares me to death!!

       I started having panic attacks about 4 months ago. I wasn't depressed but instead of just prescribing medicine for anxiety the doctors gave me antidepressants. I started having crazy thoughts like being soo AFRAID (not WANTING to, or PLANNING to.. just afraid) I would hurt my 2 children or myself... I told the doctor about this and he just switched my med. I started taking the new med for just a couple days and the thoughts got stronger, so I stopped taking it! I don't in ANY WAY WANT to hurt my babies... I love them so much and can't picture life without them. and I AM NOT planning anything.

       These thoughts just wont go away and it's scary to the point where I won't let my husband leave them at home alone with me if he isn't there. I don't know how to get rid of the thoughts, I blame it on the medicine.. I have NEVER dreamed of thinking like this, those boys are my life!! I need some guidance. I am not now, nor do I EVER plan on being a murderer so before this drives me insane to the point of where I become suicidal I need help!! I don't want to get admitted. I'm not crazy!! I know these thoughts are crazy, and I have no desire to harm anyone or myself. I am a Christian and I have been praying on this and reading my bible etc. for guidance. Maybe you can be that light from God. Please help!! my kids need me and I don't want to go and tell someone this that will just take them away from me when that is not necessary! If anything, I will let them stay with my mom if it comes down to it. Please help!

    Kelly my dear,

       First, look at

       You don't need any drugs to get rid of panic attacks. All you need is on that page.

       Second, you didn't ask for those unpleasant thoughts. You are not responsible for them, you are not guilty of anything. All you are responsible for is what you DO. Since you know you won't ever do anything bad to your kids, you can stop worrying.

       What gives those thoughts power is that you are struggling with them. If they are there, let them be there, but don't dignify them by treating them as if they were anything important. They are just thoughts in your head, put there by the stupid medicines.

       Drugs have never solved any problems. At the worst, they get in the way of healing. At the best, they act as a crutch until you can walk again. You don't need antidepressants, but thinking about your problems in a way that is kind to yourself.

       So, the secret is the opposite of trying to get rid of those thoughts. Thoughts don't matter, only actions do. Let the thoughts be like the voice on the neighbor's radio, coming through your window. They are there, you can't help hearing them, so you just ignore them and get on with your life.

       Or, think of them as the words of a monster that's invaded you. It's easy to tell the monster's thoughts from your own, because they tell you to do things that are completely foreign to you. But they are not commands, only invitations. Say no to them.

       Instead of spending your energies being afraid of yourself, invest your time in good activities. Take your boys out to have fun. Allow your husband to have his life as before. You don't need a jailer, because you haven't done anything wrong, and you are not going to. Focus on the enjoyable things in your life, and if they have faded away, return to the good things you used to do before all this happened.

       And read too.

    We're hurting each other

       Hi my name is Gary and I have a big problem. I get so angry and frustrated at my girl cause she will not talk and when she does we end up fighting really bad. I have been with this girl for 5 years and this fighting is just getting worse and worse. I have no health insurance and really can’t afford it.

       Honestly, I think that I have anxiety attacks. I'll use today as an example. We woke up this morning and everything was fine, we started playing around and all of a sudden we just got into fighting. I really don’t even know why but it bothered me a lot and when I tried to talk to her about it, it didn’t work and I ended up flipping out.

       This has our relationship on the edge of splitting up. The one thing I do not want is that because of my life the way it is. One this girl is the reason I'm still alive today, and I love her more than anything in this world. But it seems the more and more we fight the further we are getting. We used to be able to talk to each other about anything and everything. Anymore we don’t talk about anything unless we are fighting.

       It is getting to the point that we are putting our hands on each other. I really hate this because I do not believe putting my hands on a female is right. I sit up late nights thinking about it and I just get more pissed off at myself about it. I wish that I could get us to get some help and talk to someone about this. But neither of us can afford to pay someone to listen and help us with this. Can you help?

    Dear Gary,

       You do have a big problem. Fortunately, it is something you can improve, PROVIDED YOU BOTH WANT TO. Does your girl want to improve the life you lead together? Or is she ready to end the relationship?

       Even if she does, you can say this to her:

       There are four possible futures for her:

    1. To fix your relationship so you can have a good life with each other.
    2. To stay together, fighting and in misery.
    3. To split up, and she builds a good life for herself with someone else.
    4. To split up, and she repeats the same pattern of misery with someone else.

       The things you need to do to build a good life together is what she needs to do with a new partner to build a good life. So, why not work at what you’ve got?

       At the moment, you have an automatic dance. One thing leads to an other, and it’s without intent: A does this, and before that’s finished, B does that, round and round. The two of you need to break this pattern, and respond to each other deliberately, doing what you know to be right, rather than unthinkingly doing what is habitual.

       I suggest you find a person she trusts and respects, and have that person chair meetings between the two of you. This could be a priest, the family doctor, an older relative, even one of her girlfriends. It just needs to be someone who enforces the following rules.

    1. We are here talking because we love each other, but have been hurting each other.
    2. Attack the problem, not the person.
    3. Each issue is separate. What I did at another time is not relevant to what I am doing now, or what you are doing now.
    4. All communication must be respectful, free of contempt and blame.
    5. We both have an agenda of issues to work on. In these meetings, you present your most urgent issue. We discuss that. Then we discuss my most urgent issue, and so on.
    6. We each have a notepad and a pen. When A talks, B takes notes. When A is finished, B summarizes the content. Where B got it wrong, A explains further, till you know that B has correctly heard A. Then B speaks, and A takes notes and does the same. This ensures that you both hear each other.

       Research shows some interesting things about what makes couples happy or unhappy with each other.

    1. You need a ratio of at least 5 positives to each negative. So, you need to put lots of positives in the bank. Whenever at all possible, do loving things for each other: a smile, a light non-sexual touch, a special gift (doesn’t have to cost money), a text message of caring, a joke you heard you remember because you know she’ll like it...
    2. People think they are being pulled apart by issues. But in fact the same issues exist in happy relationships too. The divide is STYLE of how conflict is handled, not what the conflict is about. The 4 most important things are:
       a) Complaints are OK. Criticisms are not. The difference is that a criticism is about the person, the complaint is about an issue.
       b) A person making a complaint needs to feel heard. Instead of defending and finding excuses, the other person needs to hear and acknowledge the complaint before addressing the issue.
       c) Each must be willing to be influenced by the other. From your description, your girl has this problem: when you are trying to influence her, she stonewalls, uses anger to hide from having to take in what you are saying.
       d) Most important, there must be mutual respect instead of contempt.
    3. When a person gets angry, it is impossible to think rationally. You should both find early warning signals in your body that you are getting annoyed. This could be tension in some muscle, raising the voice, breathing faster, feeling hot in the face. Whatever it is, as soon as you feel it, have time out. Tell the other person, "I’m getting het up. Let’s have 5 minutes to calm down."
    4. Think of your life together this way. My job as your partner is to make you feel happy. Your job as my partner is to make me feel happy. It doesn’t matter what thoughts, urges, memories, images go on in our minds. What matters is what we do. If I have a sales job and a customer annoys me, I am still required to be polite and effective in serving that person. Same goes.

       Gary, I hope this helps. It would be a lot easier if you could go to an experienced counsellor, but if you both read this and think about it, you may be able to do more than you now think possible. You might want to continue with me, doing email therapy. Look at http://anxietyanddepression-helpcom/intercouns.html.

    Good luck,

    Another would-be murderer

       I got a long email from a young man who stated he had developed a way of killing every person who had sexually abused children in the USA. Here is my answer to him:


       I agree with you that the world would be a far better place if everyone treated kids with love and care. Nothing is worse than sexual molestation of children.

       However, I don't think that's your problem. That's just a hook to hang your problem on.

       Let me tell you about an experiment by John Calhoun in 1962, on the effects of population pressure on rats.

       He constructed rat colonies at 4 population densities.

  • Normal population --> normal rats.
  • One level up --> stress-related physical disorders: stomach ulcers, skin problems, high blood pressure with strokes and heart attacks, cancer.
  • Two levels up --> some females failed to raise their young properly, leading to the rat equivalent of problems like Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, and so on.
  • Top level --> many males became so territorial they attacked their own mate and young. Many young males formed gangs and fought to the death.

       Look around at our crazy world. We're doing the same as the rats, aren't we?

       What you need to note is that NOT ALL RATS BUCKLED UNDER THE PRESSURE. Some rats stayed physically healthy, chose to bring up their kids right, chose to be peaceful even when others became murderous.

       Like them, we have choices too.

       The crazy world you live in has put murderous thoughts into your mind. You have a choice: believe them, consider them as if they were true -- or to identify them as pressured-rat thoughts, ignore them and get on with your life.

       When you stop giving these thoughts the dignity of believing them, or of arguing with them, they'll fade away.


    Sick of my anger

    Dear Bob,

       I'm 46 years old and have had anger issues for as long as I can remember worse as I get older.My kids don't know what will set me off next. It's like a switch: sweat starts pouring off me, my heart races, I fear I'm going to hurt somebody. Am I bipolar? I have got to change as I am tired of feeling this way can you help?

    Dear Brent,

       That doesn't sound like bipolar. Also, in a very real way, what causes it is not all that important. More relevant is what keeps it going, and how to stop it.

       As a first step, you might want to buy my e-book 'Anger and Anxiety.' It's (I think) about $5 at Twilight Times Books

       As an immediate measure, think of this. When the anger hits you, it has already developed for a while. There are always early warning signs, and you need to become sensitive to them. Once you know what they are, you can turn off the anger and examine the cause, BEFORE it gets to the point you now recognize as that switch turning on.

       The second thing is, the anger is not a command but an invitation. It is OK to feel it, but then you have the ability to choose regarding how to act.

       Also look up my web page on how to change a habit. You have a lifetime habit here. It'll be hard to change because it is long-standing and well practiced, but habits can be changed.


    For Writers

    Comma rules
    When book sales are getting musty, by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    A few comma rules

       Recently, I was one of the many presenters at the Muse Online Writers' Conference. About 130 people participated in my one-week email workshop. One lady asked about commas, because she'd been told that she uses them incorrectly. Here is my answer for her:

    1. An interpolation needs to be delimited by commas. "Hey, I saw that." "Listen, George, I won't stand for it." "When he went down the street, dressed in pink, everyone stared."
    2. Clauses need to be separated by commas. "Two ducks got out of the way, but the third one just stood as I desperately stomped on the brake."
    3. Apart from the above, there should never be a comma between subject and verb of a sentence. This is a very common fault when the sentence is long and complex: people plonk a comma in before the verb. "The girl with the curly red hair, green-tinted toenails and a smile to light up a room stood up on a chair and shouted." No comma before 'stood.'
    4. Commas separate items in a simple list. When the last item is preceded by 'and,' the comma before it is optional.
    5. A complex list is when at least one item has a comma in it. Items in a complex list are separated by semicolons.

    When book sales are getting musty
    by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Excerpted from The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't

       Use booksellers' associations to your advantage. You may wonder why authors would want to have anything to do with associations that exist to help bookstores with their business. It goes without saying that we authors have enough to do with writing and promoting. Booksellers' associations won't help you with writing but they sure enough can help you with promotion.

       You do that my marketing your books to their member stores. Yes, even if your publisher is already doing that. Yes, even though your book is a bit older and past its prime. (If your book is an older copyright date, you may have to use the marketing skills you've learned in this book—skills like zoning in on current events, or specific interests of their customers or designing workshops, panels and seminars that will bring them more business.)

       You may have to join some of these organizations to take advantage of the perks they offer but you may not. Go to each website (see below for website addresses) and poke around to find those requirements.

       So, when you see an opportunity, here are some of the things you might consider:

  • Advertise in their member directories.
  • Participate in their Christmas catalogs. By doing this you reach book buyers—certainly an important audience for you—as well as retail consumers. That's because the associations member stores pass these catalogs out (or mail them) to their retail customers.
  • Take a booth at their tradeshows. Those who attend these tradeshows are people who sell books.

       Caveat: Reread the section in this book on book fairs. I don't advise renting table space at tradeshows unless you can be there to pitch your own book.

  • Submit articles complete with your byline and tagline to their newsletters. If you choose to query, be sure you tailor your article idea to their mainstream membership group, i.e. bookstores.
  • Advertise in and send announcements to these same newsletters when you have something of interest to booksellers.
  • Rent the lists of their bookstores/book buyers members to blast out your own sell sheets.
  • If you qualify, enter their book award contests.

       Here are some of these associations.

  • American Booksellers Association (ABA) ( is the largest. Their website lists 12 regional associations, sort of mini associations that will help you target your efforts. The regional organizations within this larger one will be especially useful to you if you have a book set in a specific region, or a nonfiction book about a certain region. Some of them are Great Lakes Booksellers Association, Midwest Booksellers Association, Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association, New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, New England Booksellers, New Orleans South Gulf Booksellers, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, Southern California Booksellers Association, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Find them through the ABA site or Google them individually.

       Here are some specialty booksellers associations:

  • Canadian Booksellers Association.
  • Catholic Booksellers Association.
  • Christian African American Booksellers Association:
  • Episcopal Booksellers Association.
  • Museum Stores Association (they almost always carry books!).
  • National Association of College Stores.
  • Northern California Booksellers Association.
  • The Independent Online Booksellers Association.
  • Mystery Booksellers Association.
  • The New Hampshire Antiquarian Booksellers Association.

       You may want to do an online search for others and don't neglect other kinds of associations as well. Here's my best frugal advice: If you choose to join one and must pay for membership, have a plan of action for utilizing it before you send in your application form. Like anything else, what you get out of your money and efforts when joining organizations of any kind will be commensurate with what you put in.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson, a UCLA Extension Writers' Program instructor, is the author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't, winner of USA Books News Best Book Award and the Irwin Award and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success, also a USA Book News winner as well as winner of Reader Views Literary Award. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less." Learn more at

    What my friends want you to know

    EPIC New Voices 2009 Writing Competition
    Ecological Internet launches new magazine
    Sara Webb Quest promoted by Sarah Webb
    Rick Singer's book is a finalist
    Footprints: newsletter from John James
    Carolyn on career radio show
    Strawbale summer school at Moora Moora
    November Bainstorming
    Free CDs to uplift the spirit
    Download Wendy's audio books
    Golden treasure: free entry, great prizes

    EPIC New Voices 2009 Writing Competition

       EPIC established the annual New Voices writing competition to encourage reading and writing among middle school and high school students and to promote e-book literacy in public and private schools.

       The contest is open to students attending public, private, or home schools, and each entrant is permitted to submit one entry in each category. Information Sheet (in Adobe Acrobat PDF) Contest Guidelines, Entry Form, and Permission Slip (complete and email back -- see instructions) (in RTF format) Looking for volunteers to judge the New Voices contest. Judge's Application (in RTF format).

       I have been a judge in this contest every year since its inception, and it's a lot of fun. If you are a writer, editor, publisher or teacher, you could do a lot worse with your time. And if you know any talented youngsters, send them along.

    Ecological Internet launches new magazine

       Ecological Internet, the world's leading provider of on-line environmental portals and action opportunities, is pleased to announce "New Earth Rising," a new fiercely biocentric online magazine (e-zine), committed to thought and action to achieve global ecological sustainability. The green publication launches today at and free subscriptions can be made at

       The inaugural issue, entitled "Ecological Truth and Transformative Action," features original and diverse green essays that seek to more fully know Earth's crises -- including climate change, water scarcity and forest diminishment -- in order to achieve ecologically sufficient solutions. New Earth Rising links what is known regarding global ecological crises with specific personal and social transformations necessary for shared survival and to sustain being.

       Dr. Glen Barry notes in the opening editorial that "the environment movement is failing because of a dearth of truth telling and a profound lack of ambition... humanity is burning and cutting the natural ecosystems that are the foundation and provide habitat for all life." If we "can simply stop cutting and burning -- and begin an era of ecological protection and restoration -- we have a real chance... of surviving as a species, with other life, on a living Earth."

    Sara Webb Quest promoted by Sarah Webb

       The amazing, bestselling Irish author Sarah Webb -- and a kind friend who inspires me -- was gracious enough to post my poetic review on her cool blog. It reviews her book IT HAD TO BE YOU. Here it is:


       Also, watch here in the coming year for a review on Sarah's first teen book AMY GREEN, TEEN AGONY QUEEN. Her books are funny, quick-paced, and geared toward females. I find them to be deliciously entertaining.

       Also, please send positive "agent vibes" this way. Thirteen good agents now have my query -- and some chapters -- of my own teen-up book "Moving Back to Normal."

       I read from an accomplished author on Sarah's blog that publishers frown on anything controversial in teen books, like sex, drugs, and the like. Um, hello? These are main issues in most teens lives! My book has one sex-UAL scene and part of its central theme involves dealing with meds and alcohol addiction. Rest assured, this book will never change in those aspects.

    Rick Singer's book is a finalist

       Eastern Wisdom for Your Soul has been named an Award-Winning Finalist in the Eastern Religions category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News"

       Thank you everyone for all your support.

       Remember to pass the word on about my upcoming charity event.

    Footprints: newsletter from John James

       Worried about extinctions? Want to do something about them? "For every 100 of these birds that graced our skies, just five remain."

    For all issues please go to our archive page.

    Subscribe at

    Carolyn on career radio show

       Author advocate Carolyn Howard-Johnson will appear with Paul Bruno on his Career Czar talk radio program on January 30, 2009. This unique Internet talk radio program focuses on all aspects of the world of careers.

       The two will chat about something dear to the hearts of baby-boomers--reinventing yourself at retirement. Howard-Johnson was selected because her writing career spans everything from journalism to poetry and writing movie reviews to writing novels. The first segment of Paul's hour-long show will be about careers in freelance and journalism. The second segment will be about forging a career in fiction (novels and short stories). The third segment will cover the joys of poetry. And the fourth segment will be about nonfiction. It will include how Howard-Johnson's nonfiction books for writers have helped her career and those of others and how some similar how to books or books of inspiration can work for yours.

       After the broadcast, the show will be available to those thinking about a career change or enhancement at Download the show dated 01-30-09 or cut and paste into a web browser.

       Learn more about Howard-Johnson at

    Strawbale summer school at Moora Moora

       We are running a two day practical workshop based at the Moora Moora Community.

       The workshops will run on the 10th - 11th of January 2009 and 24th - 25th of January 2009. They will begin on Saturday morning at 10am and finish on Sunday at 6pm.

       Your facilitator is Jeremy Shub. He lives at Moora Moora, a 617 acre Cooperative near Healesville. He has recently received a Certificate of Occupancy for his owner built Strawbale house. He lives with his wife and two children. Jeremy has worked on many different Strawbale projects around Victoria. His is currently supporting two owner builders at Moora Moora.

       Jeremy has been in education for most of his adult life. In his spare time he is a father, husband and sculptor.

       Location: All 30 houses at Moora Moora have been owner built. There are all types of techniques and architectural styles. A variety of houses will be open for inspection. We will also be able to meet the owner builders.

       More detail at

    November Bainstorming

       The November issue of Bainstorming is now live at

       Subjects this month: Bain Muses, Bain Boners,, Blue Outline, Economic crisis not over yet, How I'll Vote, Old Folks Perspective, Book Report, Citizen of the Galaxy, A Shopping Pleasantry, What I Believe, Excerpt From "Hotline to Heaven"

    Darrell Bain
    Fictionwise 2005 Author of the Year. Double Eppie Award winner 2007.
    Dream Realm Award, 2007. See for all my books.

    Free CDs to uplift the spirit

       The Mother Daughter Club radio show is a segment of By For and About Women Radio Network, which is one of the fastest growing networks for women on the net, and is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization. All mp3 files are offered as a free service. You will find recent and upcoming shows for The Mother Daughter Club radio show listed at Each show ends with a read from funny lady Joyce Faulkner. Shows may be downloaded and even burned onto a CD for your listening convenience at home or in your car.

       If you don't have the capability to "burn" a show onto a CD, we are also providing free CDs of shows while supplies last. Email for details.

    Download Wendy's audio books

    Wendy Laing's Audio Books Released as downloads.

       Writers-Exchange Epublishing, Wendy's publisher, has just released Audio versions of Wendy's books through their online bookshop, Reader's Eden.

       Just in time for Christmas shopping -- the audio versions of Wendy's books are now available as downloads (mp3) to put into Ipods, or burn a CD to use in your car.We will be updating our home page later this weekend to reflect the links.

       Each book is usd 4.95 -- hey, that's really cheap for a book! Audio books are hugely popular for listening while travelling in a car, on the train, bus, or doing the ironing (grin) and are invaluable for the sight-impaired.

       Here's the page link:

    Golden treasure: free entry, great prizes

       Popular reading site is running a FREE contest. This time it's a golden treasure chest full of books. You can win some by visiting


    Warning: compact fluoros

    Warning: compact fluoros

       Compact fluoro lights are an excellent idea, but a recent press release warns that some kinds emit so much UV light that you can get affected in the same way as being out in bright sunlight.

       Some fluoros are double-skinned: the actual light is enclosed in another layer of glass, often shaped like an old-fashioned light bulb. These are safe. The ones that don't have this feature can be used safely too, provided you place them so they are at least 30 cm (1 foot) from bare skin, including the eyes.

       For more details, check at the web site of the excellent e-zine The Green Pages.

    A worm in the Apple

       Apple computers have a wonderful reputation. It’s a bit of a status symbol to be seen with the distinctive Apple Mac notebook. People are told, if you want to make movies, do graphics work, design books, you’ve got to have a Mac because everyone else in those industries does. Personally, I've found both platforms to have advantages and disadvantages, with them coming out about equal.

       My daughter Anina fell in love with a Macbook when she was in Boston. While I visited her there, she was so enthusiastic that I bought one too. After all, there were some physical problems with my aging Dell notebook.

       Part of the deal was an extended warranty: for the next 3 years, any fault in any component would get free replacement surgery.

       This worked when the hard disk failed. Mind you, it was rather young for such a serious problem, and I put this fault down to the fact that Macbooks are made in China. I’d not have bought the unit had I known the place it was manufactured in, but by the time I’d found out it was too late.

       Recently, the cord that comes out of the little power box frayed, and it became impossible to charge the batteries or run the unit from the electric supply. Murphy’s Law is of course that things always go wrong at the worst possible time. This minor disaster happened while I was taking minutes at a meeting, far from home, late at night. I had clients the following morning, and needed to computer for essential things like reading case notes before each person arrived.

       8:30 in the morning, I started phoning Mac repairers, and got a lot of recoded messages. When finally I got through to the nearest one, it was an hour’s drive from home.

       I managed to reschedule the first appointment, and went off, breaking some speed limits.

       When I got to the shop, I was given a choice: leave the faulty unit, and have it replaced within a couple of days. They could post it out to me (which would mean another day). Or, I could buy a new unit for $130.

       I had no time to argue, or make other arrangements. I had to leave five minutes ago to be back in time for my first client, the one after the person I’d rescheduled. So, I paid up, fully confident that I could sort matters out later.

       Don’t you believe it. I eventually got through to the top service person in Australia. I’d broken their rules. Go to jail. Go directly to jail and forfeit your right to $200. Stay there till you throw a double 6.

       Things on warranty come from a different account from things for sale. Had I not been so rash, I could have asked the sales person at the shop to phone and they might have made some accommodation. But I bought a unit, and they could not do anything to fix this situation.

       The fellow thought to sweeten me: I could have an e-voucher. This means that if I spent $450 on something I don’t need, I could have it for only $300.

       So, don’t go around thinking that Microsoft is terrible and money-grubbing, and Apple is all shine. They are cut from the same cloth.


    A Spring Without Bees
    by Michael Schacker
    reviewed by Lynne Cargill

       We really need your help. We need help getting the word out about Michael Schacker's book, "A Spring Without Bees, How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Suppy".

       Michael's book is the only authoritative book out on the the major suspected cause of massive honeybee die-offs--a widely used neurotoxic pesticide. The insecticide should be technically illegal because each of the combined ingredients, nicotine and chlorine have been banned in pesticide formulas previously--the combination is extremely poisonous. They were shoved through the approval process without testing for toxicity for pregnant women or young children on an "emergency provisionary basis". It is in most lawn maintanence or "Chem Lawn" type mixes--(the books tells you the many names of the chemical so you can know what is on the label). So the problem is not just out there in the fruits and vegetable and alfalfa fields, our children are rolling around in it and we are tracking it into our homes on our feet! France, Germany, Spain and Italy have banned this class of pesticides. In France, it took several years for the soil to recover, but the bees did come back. In addition, Michael Schacker is the only person to have designed a comprehensive plan on how to save the bees and our food supply. But Michael had a CVA and then a massive left hemipshere stroke just the day after completing the book! He is unable to tour the country or speak about all the information in the book, so my daughter Melissa and I along with a few friends are trying to do it. With running 2 companies and overseeing Michael's speech recovery or stroke recovery, I feel I am not doing a good enough job with promoting his book and getting the word out about the real story on this.

       The beekeepers are going bankrupt--and there is "domino effect" (explained in the book) to this particular environmental crisis. We have to work on this now! Rachel Carson's, "Silent Spring" only became a best seller because it got on the Book of the Month Club and because a Supreme Court justice recommended it. Even so, it took another 10 years to ban DDT! Without a best seller, I believe we have little chance of getting the word out and overcoming the misinformation that continually replicates itself about the honeybee and the potential food and fresh produce crisis--a worldwide crisis.

       From my research, email lists are the new "book of the month". I need to get on as many email lists of people who are interested in the organic lifestyle, the environment and planetary survival as possible. If you can refer us to any lists that would be a great help. Also in your message to your email list, you can tell people to copy and paste and then email to their lists so we get a "word of mouth" campaign going. The request to send to other email lists of friends of bees and friends of the Earth should be replicated in each message.

       You can help right away by buying a copy of "A Spring Without Bees" and reading it. It is not a "depressing environmental disaster" book, but rather is written in a surprisingly smart, easy style, almost like a mystery novel--you'll see! Then you can pass the book along to a friend and ask them to put the message out on their email or urge them to buy a copy and pass it along if they wish. You can also go to Plan Bee Central online to sign up for the Plan Bee Action Plan and to find out more about what you can do to ban these pesticides. Buy a copy for Thanksgiving and give thanks to the bees for creating the food you are eating. Buy them as Christmas or holiday gifts so that people can read them over the winter and be prepared to ban locally, plant their bee garden or get their hive to replenish honeybee populations in the spring. I guarantee you will be rewarded for your efforts by meeting a lot of nice people on this journey--I have!

       Feel free to--and please--copy and paste this message into your email list or send it to someone with an email list who would be interested. I am so very grateful for your interest and your help. --Barbara Dean Schacker, (his wife) email: or

       Related websites to support:,

    Brain Drain between Australia and New Zealand

    by Laraine Ann Barker

       There are probably few countries that haven't complained about a "brain drain:" the loss of highly skilled workers and, even worse, members of such critical professions as medicine. It's happening all the time in New Zealand--if we are to believe the media, and we have to take into account how the media blow nearly everything they report out of all proportion. So at first I tended to snort with disbelief. However, I had to believe New Zealanders were indeed leaving in serious droves for Australia when, searching for a second-hand fridge on TradeMe I started seeing a stream of household goods on auction because the owners were "moving to Australia." No reasons were given on TradeMe, of course, but on the TV news, reasons cited were usually better pay, better career prospects, better standard of living, and occasionally warmer (or winterless) climate.

       But just the other night it was the other way round. The news declared the Australian government is concerned about all the skilled people leaving Australia, mostly (big surprise) for New Zealand.

       Several Australians cited as their reasons the same things New Zealanders said made Australia the place they wanted to be! One added lower cost of living, lower house prices and, with almost embarrassing enthusiasm, went on to ask where else in the world is the beach so accessible no matter what part of the country you live in? But certainly, stuck here in the middle of the North Island surrounded by enough lakes to make the area qualify as New Zealand's "Lake District", we can get to the sea in about an hour and a half.

       But back to the "brain drain". How can BOTH countries have a better lifestyle than the other?

       Well, house prices are lower in New Zealand than Australia, and even as I write they are getting lower. I've watched a few Australian real estate TV series and been horrified at the high prices. It led me to expect wages should be higher in Australia than in New Zealand, and a bit of research showed that to be true.

       I guess it’s what you value more: higher income or lower costs.

    Laraine has been writing fantasy for young people since 1987 but has scribbled most of her life. She has also published two romantic suspense novels. She lives near Rotorua in New Zealand’s North Island, sharing five acres with her husband, his elderly sister, four dogs, several beef cattle, nine hens and countless white fan-tailed pigeons.

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