Bobbing Around

Volume Nine, Number Six
April, 2010

Bob Rich's (purple) rave

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

 

*About Bobbing Around
  subscribe/unsubscribe
  guidelines for contributions
*Politics
  The politics of climate change, from John James
  Water and population
  Tasmanians can be grateful to Gunns
*Environment
  Stop the killing now! by Jennifer Van Bergen
  Solar power in Germany, from Peter Bright
  John James: "Limits to Growth" study verified
  Cadbury goes fairtrade
  Follow Ford and save money
*Health
  Not everyone trusts Monsanto
*Deeper issues
  from Deepak Chopra
  Capital Punishment
  A recipe for nonviolent resistance
*Psychology
  Telephone treatment of PTSD
  Tortured by negative thoughts
  Isolated
  My husband has a bad tongue
*For writers
  Getting your work read
  Fellowship of Australian Writers seminars
*What my friends want you to know
  Eco market in South Melbourne
  E-book association in New Zealand
  Eye of the Mountain God by Penny Rudolph
  Sanctuary Magazine wins global award
  New book from Monette Bebow-Reinhard
  Jumping on Water by Ted Karam
  New from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
  Michael Larocca's new web site and free books
  Saffron Dreams wins awards
*Let's laugh
  Swami's Remarkable New Weightiness-Loss Program!
* Reviews
  Somehwere to Turn by Linda Courtland, reviewed by Michael A. Kechula
  Survivors: What we can learn from how they cope with horrific tragedy, by Gregory Moffat


Peace is ours when we're living from the inside out, instead of from the outside in.
Petrea King

Building a sustainable society

   I have become part of a group of 60 (at this stage) who are set to change the world. I was invited as the Chair of the Australian Psychological Society's "Public Interest Advisory Group," which is a committee whose task is to apply the resources of this society to community benefit. We started with a three-day, 22-hour pressure-cooker experience. I was the only psychologist, but there was a psychiatrist who specialises in working with the top management of large companies, executive coaches, business organisation experts, an actor, a journalist, a top person from the Country Women's Association, a food activist of immense knowledge and considerable influence, and so on.

   We were a very diverse lot, united by a passionate commitment to catalysing social change.

   My perspective as a psychologist allowed me to make significant contributions. I learned facts that will make me a more effective catalyst toward creating a better future (and present!). Most important, I became part of a newly formed community, which to me is like one bubble in a yeast ferment that will hopefully change the world while we have a world worth saving.

   The three-day event was only the start. We are continuing discussion via email, and future get-togethers are planned. A movie is being made on the workshop.

   I am glad that the APS was represented in this worthwhile endeavour. In my evidence-based opinion, the only hope for the survival of civilisation, and maybe of humanity, is if the exponential growth toward sustainability overtakes the exponentials toward self-destruction. This group is one of the many seeds that need nurturing so that they can coalesce to form the new culture.

Bob


I've been interviewed

   My long-term friend Cam Walker is the pivotal person at Friends of the Earth Fitzroy. I thought that his low-paid but immensely worthwhile work takes about 25 hours a day, but it seems he has at least 26 available: he runs a blog in his private time.

   At http://themountainjournal.wordpress.com/, he has almost daily entries. All are worth reading, but one of them may be of special note to bobbing around readers: his questions and my answers. Just go to his site and search for "Bob Rich."


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.

Politics

The politics of climate change from John James
Water and population
Tasmanians can be grateful to Gunns

The politics of climate change
from John James

   A Greenpeace investigation has identified a little-known, privately owned US oil company as the paymaster of global warming sceptics in the US and Europe.

Dear Friends

   The environmental campaign group accuses Kansas-based Koch Industries, which owns refineries and operates oil pipelines, of funding 35 conservative and libertarian groups, as well as more than 20 congressmen and senators. Between them, Greenpeace says, these groups and individuals have spread misinformation about climate science and led a sustained assault on climate scientists and green alternatives to fossil fuels.

   Greenpeace says that Koch Industries donated nearly $48m (£31.8m) to climate opposition groups between 1997-2008. From 2005-2008, it donated $25m to groups opposed to climate change, nearly three times as much as higher-profile funders that time such as oil company ExxonMobil. Koch also spent $5.7m on political campaigns and $37m on direct lobbying to support fossil fuels.

   In a hard-hitting report, which appears to confirm environmentalists' suspicions that there is a well-funded opposition to the science of climate change, Greenpeace accuses the funded groups of "spreading inaccurate and misleading information" about climate science and clean energy companies.

   "The company's network of lobbyists, former executives and organisations has created a forceful stream of misinformation that Koch-funded entities produce and disseminate. The propaganda is then replicated, repackaged and echoed many times throughout the Koch-funded web of political front groups and thinktanks," said Greenpeace.

   "Koch industries is playing a quiet but dominant role in the global warming debate. This private, out-of-sight corporation has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition. On repeated occasions organisations funded by Koch foundations have led the assault on climate science and scientists, 'green jobs', renewable energy and climate policy progress," it says.

   The groups include many of the best-known conservative thinktanks in the US, like Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Foundation for research on economics and the environment. All have been involved in "spinning" the "climategate" story or are at the forefront of the anti-global warming debate, says Greenpeace.

   Koch Industries is a $100bn-a-year conglomerate dominated by petroleum and chemical interests, with operations in nearly 60 countries and 70,000 employees. It owns refineries which process more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day in the US, as well as a refinery in Holland. It has held leases on the heavily polluting tar-sand fields of Alberta, Canada and has interests in coal, oil exploration, chemicals, forestry, and pipelines.

   The majority of the group's assets are owned and controlled by Charles and David Koch, two of the four sons of the company's founder. They have been identified by Forbes magazine as the joint ninth richest Americans and the 19th richest men in the world, each worth between $14-16bn.

   Koch has also contributed money to politicians, the report said, listing 17 Republicans and four Democrats whose campaign funds got more than $10,000from the company.

   Greenpeace accuses the Koch companies of having a notorious environmental record. In 2000 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Koch industries $30m for its role in 300 oil spills that resulted in more than 3m gallons of crude oil leaking intro ponds, lakes and coastal waters.

   "The combination of foundation-funded front groups, big lobbying budgets, political action campaign donations and direct campaign contributions makes Koch Industries and the Koch brothers among the most formidable obstacles to advancing clean energy and climate policy in the US," Greenpeace said.

Top 10 Koch beneficiaries 2005-2008

  • Mercatus center: ($9.2m received from Koch grants 2005-2008) Conservative thinktank at George Mason University. This group suggested in 2001 that global warming would be beneficial in winter and at the poles. In 2009 they recommended that nothing be done to cut emissions.
  • Americans for Prosperity. ($5.17m). Have built opposition to clean energy and climate legislation with events across US.
  • Institute for Humane Studies ($1.96m). Several prominent climate sceptics have positions here, including Fred Singer and Robert Bradley.
  • Heritage Foundation ($1.62m). Conservative thinktank leads US opposition to climate change science.
  • Cato Insitute ($1.02m). Thinktank disputes science behind climate change and questions the rationale for taking action.
  • Manhattan Institute ($800,000). This institute regularly publishes climate science denials.
  • Washington legal foundation ($655,000) Published articles on the business threats posed by regulation of climate change.
  • Federalist Society for Law ($542,000) advocates inaction on global warming
  • National Center for Policy Analysis ($130,000) NCPA disseminates climate science scepticism.
  • American Council on Science and Health ($113,800) Has published papers claiming that cutting greenhouse emissions would be detrimental to public health.

       ARE WE SURPRISED?

    John James


    Water and population

       Australia's population is rising. A minister for population has been appointed, and has duly engaged in puerile debate with a Liberal counterpart.

       Australian legend Dick Smith has bought into the discussion with some sense. He has pointed out that Australia is overpopulated NOW, if you look at resources such as water.

       Australia's climate is characterised by extreme variability. We need to plan for the low times, such as 10-year droughts, which have happened in the past. And then, there is climate change.

       I sought an expert, and found Jamie Pittock. He is Barrie Pittock's son. Barrie is a climate expert who has written for Bobbing Around in the past. Jamie wrote:

    Hi Bob,

       Probably the best data source is the Australian Natural Resources Atlas. More recent CSIRO "sustainable yields project" data for the Murray-Darling and a few other regions are more detailed and include climate change impact scenarios.

       Only a portion of rainfall results in inflows (eg., only around half, historically in the Murray-Darling Basin); Climate change is likely to greatly increase to portion subject to evapotranspiration; Water availability is limited also by the timing of flows; Even then the portion diverted by people may appear relatively low to those unfamiliar with this topic, as a very large amount -- a portion that is hard to quantify and is contested -- is needed to sustain freshwater ecosystems.

    Cheers - Jamie
    WWF Research Associate & PhD scholar
    The Fenner School of Environment and Society
    College of Medicine, Biology & Environment
    Australian National University

       Those CSIRO predictions state that rainfall in southern Australia is due to reduce, with more droughts (and bushfires), while flooding in northern Australia is due to increase. And no, distances are too large to shift excess water from one place to the other. As Jamie said, climate change is going to make the water situation worse in the areas that grow the most food in Australia. This is a time for a planned population reduction, not an increase.


    Tasmanians can be grateful to Gunns

       Tasmania has had a State election. Ten of the 25 seats went to the incumbent Labor party, ten to the Liberals -- and five to the Greens. Without a doubt, this increase in the Green vote is thanks to would-be forest to paper coverter Gunns. This huge company was set to ravish Tasmania. The locals objected, under the leadership of the Greens. In response, the company sued the leaders of the protests, including Senator Bob Brown.

       In a humiliating backdown, Gunns has withdrawn its legal action against all the defendants, and has made large payouts to them and to the organisations they are a part of. In the process, they have united a large proportion of the island State's population.

       It now seems clear that at least one Greens member of parliament will be given a ministry. May this be a new era in Australian politics.


    Environment

    Stop the killing now! by Jennifer Van Bergen
    Solar power in Germany, from Peter Bright
    John James: "Limits to Growth" study verified
    Cadbury goes fairtrade
    Follow Ford and save money

    Stop the killing now!
    by Jennifer Van Bergen

       For the past few years, I have subscribed to newsletters from organizations such as Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, the National Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and Environmental Defense Fund. These wonderful organizations have made me increasing aware that we are not only facing runaway global warming ... not only burning down the rainforests, and not only building more and more condos; we are daily killing the wildlife and wilderness that makes our home planet sustainable.

       Every day, I read another story of wolf slaughter, polar bears drowning, seals clubbed to death, whales illegally hunted, sharks finned, dolphins caught in fishing nets, coral reefs dying, and another Florida panther being killed by a car driving on a road that goes through a designated panther preserve. There are too many of these stories to list them all here. I read also of animals used in cruel experiments, or abused by their owners, chained up to starve to death, or used in vicious animal fighting games. Elephants brutally "trained" for lifelong circus use, "dancing bears" with ropes threaded through their noses, pigs and chickens stuffed into crates or cages too small to turn around in, lambs with their throats cut skinned while still bleeding to death. Exotic animals -- lizards and frogs -- stuffed into bottles or boxes without food or air, snakes the dealers refuse to feed because it would cost them money, sick cattle who can't stand pushed with a bulldozer.

       The appalling stories just mentioned are only the ones about the animals. What about mountain top removal? Who could have thought of anything more disgusting and destructive? How about drilling in wilderness areas, destroying pristine forests and tundra that take centuries to grow and can be destroyed by as little as a PH difference in the rain? How about RV incursions into national parks? The list goes on.

       I can only take so much of these stories. I sob and I must stop reading. For ten years, I was a leader -- I'd like to think -- in writing about the human and civil rights abuses under G. W. Bush. I wrote about torture, violations of the Geneva Conventions, the outrageous and improper presidential signing statements, the PATRIOT Act, and much, much more -- long before anyone else was saying a word about any of these things. But what we are doing to our animals and to our Earth is beyond words. It is beyond my ability to absorb it... and maybe beyond repair.

       I keep trying to think of ways to do my part and hope you all keep trying to do yours. It's so hard when we don't see the immediate consequences, so we have to just be self-responsible and diligent.

       But for me, this is about the world my kids will raise their kids in -- if there still IS a world. What I have seen in recent years convinces me that we don't have as much time as we think. The planet is dying NOW and not only do we need to stop polluting, we need to REVERSE the damage. There is too much beauty in the world and the world it too beautiful for us to ignore this. Think about it. Thanks.

    Jennifer tries to lead a quiet, green life living with her ten rescued cats and ferrets and teaching English, Law, and Acting at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. She was widely known for her legal commentary and investigative reporting from 2000-8 and has published two books: the first, The Twilight of Democracy, about Bush era illegalities; the second, Archetypes for Writers, about a method of characterization she developed from her years as an actress. She has been researching the life of Aaron Burr for many years, has just come out with a landmark article about one of Burr's female friends, Leonora Sansay, an early American novelist whom Burr rescued from obscurity, and she is studying screenwriting with the inimitable Hal Croasmun and plans to complete her screenplay about the Burr Conspiracy in the next year.


    Solar power in Germany from Peter Bright

       I don't like it when Australia lags where it should lead ...

       Germans put sunny Australia in the shade

       Germany may be a cloudy country - but it has 50 times as much solar power as sunny Australia. An international study on clean energy conducted by the Pew Center has found Australia is far from leading the way.

       More here:

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/mp/6988978/germans-put-sunny-australia-in-the-shade/


    John James: "Limits to Growth" study verified

    Three reports on the next probable stage of the financial crisis. This is maturing in front of our eyes. Combine this information with the problems coming from Climate Change, Peak Oil and Sea Level Rise and we each have to individually think through our options for the future. The 1972 study “Limits to Growth” has arrived with a vengeance. I believe these reports, plus those in earlier issues of FOOTPRINTS, compel us to one conclusion: change our expectations and think differently -- and act without delay.

       http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article24903.htm

       http://www.countercurrents.org/heinberg040310.htm

       http://www.mnforsustain.org/meadows_limits_to_growth_30_year_update_2004.htm#The%2030-Year%20Update

    John James


    Cadbury goes fairtrade

       I am a dry chocoholic: that is, I don't buy it but can always do with some. One of several reasons I go easy on my addiction is that I am aware of two things: cocoa is grown through the use of very exploiative work practices, and is lavishly treated with chemicals banned in the over-wealthy countries.

       There is good news for other chocoholics, at least where Cadbury chocolates are sold:

       Cadbury Dairy Milk milk chocolate is now Fairtrade Certified and on sale throughout the country. As the number one selling chocolate block in both Australia and New Zealand, Cadbury Dairy Milk becoming Fairtrade Certified is expected to increase Fairtrade chocolate sales by up to 20 fold, and double last years total sales of Fairtrade Certified products in Australia.


    Follow Ford and save money

       The Ford motor company has made a change that will save them $1.2 million a year. You can copy them to save a lot less, but if you apply the principle more generally, you could cut your electricity bill by up to 25%.

       What is this magical act?

       Until now, Ford's many computers and associated equipment were left on 24/7. They now have automated equipment that turns them off after hours. And, given the size of their operations, that saves over a million dollars a year.

       When my family and I lived in the suburbs, our electricity bill was ONE QUARTER that of our neighbour's. That was 30 years ago. A big part of the difference was the rule: if it's not in use, turn it off. This applies to any electrical appliance at all. However, "turning off" doesn't mean the off switch on the gizmo, but at the switch on the power point. Up to 25% of electricity use in the average home is due to "ghost loads," that is the current draw of appliances that are officially switched off.

       Using your computer but not printing? The printer should be off at the wall, especially if it's one of those "all in one" thingies that has a high-intensity light tube for scanning. Finished with your computer? Turn it off at the wall.

       Leaving a room for a short while? Turn the lights off, even if they are high-efficiency fluoros. Switching one of these on uses as much power as 5 minutes of use. Research shows that when you leave a room for a moment, you're likely to be gone for more than 5 minutes.

       How many flashing 12:00s do you need in the one house? For that matter, how many digital clocks?

       Follow me. We can outdo Ford.

    Based on a Care2.com article.


    Health

    Not everyone trusts Monsanto

    Not everyone trusts Monsanto

       Genetic engineering would have a great potential for good if it wasn't used in an irresponsible way. Unfortunately, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thos who own the patents on life can get away with abusing the privilege. Many countries have given in, and incompletely tested GE organisms are galloping rampant.

       Acording to a recent report, Bulgaria's parliament has voted to tighten a law that effectively banned cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops for scientific and commercial purposes.

       The Indian Government has also banned genetically engineered (GE) eggplant after the ex-Director of Monsanto India admitted the corporation provided "fake scientific data" to regulators.

       It's nice to see that there are politicians who listen to their electorate instead of bowing to the lobbying power of big money. In countries like the USA, Canada and Australia, Monsanto is winning. We don't know the risks, because much of the relevant research is kept secret, because scientists coming up with results that indicate danger find it very hard to get published.

       But there are occasional breakthroughs. A recent study was published in the International Journal of Biological Science [2009; 5:706-726] by Vendômois et. al. They say that we are in the middle of the greatest uncontrolled human diet experiment. They demonstrated that geneticaly modified genes can and do cross organisms. That could well be happening between stuff inside your digestive system and your gut bacteria -- or directly with you. We don't know.

       Do you want to be a guinea pig in this experiment?


    Deeper Issues

    From Deepak Chopra
    Capital Punishment
    A recipe for nonviolent resistance

    From Deepak Chopra

       There is a profound Buddhist doctrine that speaks of a great river that flows through all of reality. Once you have found yourself, there is no more cause for action. The river picks you up and carries you along forever after.

       In other words, effort from the personal level, the kind of effort all of us are used to in daily life, become pointless after a certain point. This includes mental effort.

       Once you become self-aware, you realize that the flow of life needs no analysis or control, because it's all you. The great river only seems to pick you up. Actually, you have picked yourself up -- not as an isolated person, but as a phenomenon of the cosmos. No one gave you the job of steering the river. You can enjoy the ride and observe the scenery.

       Learning to step aside from your false responsibilities means giving up your urge to control, defend, protect, and insure against risk. All of that is false responsibility.

       To the extent that you can let it go, you will stop interfering with the flow. To the extent that you cling, life will continue to bring even more things to control, and to defend yourself against. Risks will loom everywhere.

       It's not that fate is set against you. You are simply seeing reflections of your deepest beliefs, as consciousness unfolds the drama drawn up beforehand in your mind. It's the universe's task to unfold reality; yours is only to plant the seed. From Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).


    Capital Punishment

       As I've previously written, there is scientifically respectable evidence supporting reincarnation. Accepting this has some surprising consequences.

       If I were a criminal and had a choice of decades in prison versus being executed, I'd choose death. After all, death is inevitable. Sooner or later, all of us face it. As a criminal, no doubt I'd live my next life engaged in restitution, and learning the lessons I rejected in this one. But if this is inevitable too, then delaying it has little point.

       So, am I for the death penalty then?

       When a prisoner is executed, a large number of people are engaged in brutalising activities and thought processes. They cannot do their job, except by depersonalising the people in their charge, by distancing themselves from humane considerations. It is for this reason that I oppose capital punishment, not for its effect on the person sentenced to it.

       But then, the same considerations apply to much of law enforcement. If it is brutalising to be the policeman, judge, prosecutor, guard, executioner, then it is brutalising whether the criminal is killed by the State, or held in prison. In fact, when we look at long term incarceration, the negative effects go on for much longer, and are likely to be worse overall.

       The problem is not with the punishment chosen, but the idea that the proper thing to do to a criminal is to punish.

       Here is a scenario.

       Desperate to finance his heroin habit, a man robs a bank. Things go wrong, and he shoots someone.

       Incredible resources are swung into action. At great investment of manpower and money, he is identified, arrested, committed for trial, tried, and then is kept in jail for years.

       The evidence shows that in many cases, he emerges more brutalised, with new criminal contacts, and is more likely to engage in antisocial acts than before his arrest.

       What should be society's response to the crime?

       First, support, assistance and validation for the victims traumatised by the crime. At the moment, this is a mere token.

       Second, rehabilitation for the criminal. Right now, that is not even a token. It just doesn't happen in any systematic way.

       Punishment? That achieves nothing. Nor does it act as a deterrent.


    A recipe for nonviolent resistance

    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/martin-luther-king-six-facts.html
    Adapted from Peace to All Beings, by Judy Carman (Lantern Books, 2003).

       From his deep studies of Gandhi and his own experience, Martin Luther King Jr. developed a list of six facts to help people understand non-violent resistance and join with him in his vision. King's words are as insightful and thought provoking today as they were when he wrote them:

    1. Non-violent resistance is not for cowards. It is not a quiet, passive acceptance of evil. One is passive and non-violent physically, but very active spiritually, always seeking ways to persuade the opponent of advantages to the way of love, cooperation, and peace.

    2. The goal is not to defeat or humiliate the opponent but rather to win him or her over to understanding new ways to create cooperation and community.

    3. The non-violent resister attacks the forces of evil, not the people who are engaged in injustice. As King said in Montgomery, "We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust."

    4. The non-violent resister accepts suffering without retaliating; accepts violence, but never commits it. Gandhi said, "Rivers of blood may have to flow before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood." Gandhi and King both understood that suffering by activists had the mysterious power of converting opponents who would otherwise refuse to listen.

    5. In non-violent resistance, one learns to avoid physical violence toward others and also learns to love the opponents with "agape" or unconditional love -- which is love given not for what one will receive in return, but for the sake of love alone. It is God flowing through the human heart. Agape is ahimsa. "Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate," said King.

    6. Non-violent resistance is based on the belief that the universe is just. There is God or a creative force that is moving us toward universal love and wholeness continually. Therefore, all our work for justice will bear fruit -- the fruit of love, peace, and justice for all beings everywhere.


    Psychology

    Telephone treatment of PTSD
    Tortured by negative thoughts
    Isolated
    My husband has a bad tongue

    Telephone treatment of PTSD

       I have been doing therapy by telephone (and email) for many years, and know it works. It's nice to get some new scientific confirmation. A research group at the University of Montreal has found that trauma survivors diagnosed with PTSD benefit just as much from therapy over the phone as in face to face consultation.


    Tortured by negative thoughts

       I have just read a post on queendom.com about negative repulsive thoughts and I think I may fit this category. I am 16 years old and live in a suburban society that is beyond far from a bad place. So why do I have corrupt thoughts?

       Sometimes I put myself in the worst possible situations and really carry on like I am wanting to do the crime/ weird act. I also try to see the perspective of the person doing the bad act and sometimes I can understand why and it really scares me because I have anxiety of one day committing a bad crime.

       I am in a relationship and my girlfriend is really trying to help me but there is only so much she can do until she tells me I may want to get help. My mom had a stroke when I was in 4th grade and sometimes I think this was my hell on earth for not being a good Christian. I am caught between believing in religion or thinking it is a brainwashing and it really plays with my head (where schizophrenia came in by relating things as signs of god).

       My school life is pretty good I'm part of a (cool) family however I am awkward with my brother and sister and I don't know why. Also in school I am awkward with people who aren't my close friends yet I've known them for my whole life because of my brother and sisters. I am working on branching out but I still have moments. I am scared to get help because I am not sure at all what I am thinking or what I would tell the people because I have been diagnosing myself with mental diseases because I don't know what else to call my feelings. I have jumped from schizophrenia, to bipolar depression, depression, anxiety, and OCD. The thoughts jumped from categories as time went on and they always subside until I get a new negative thought. Currently its about murdering and I HATE it. it really scares me to try and make myself understand why people do bad things and not think its a big deal. Please write back this is the first step I have taken to getting some help because I don't feel ready or know where to go.

    Dear Grant,

       Problems gain strength when we focus on them and worry and feel guilt and shame. This is at the heart of what has been wrong with you.

       First, let's get rid of the nasty labels. You are very unlikely to suffer from any of those conditions, but even if you qualify for one of the labels, for example depression, so what? That doesn't solve anything. If I have OCD, that's a summary for certain activities I do. Then if you ask why do I do those things, it's because I have OCD. This is circular. A summary has become an explanation.

       Second, how it all started is not that important either. These kinds of distressing patterns can start for any number of reasons, and your current suffering may have nothing to do with the reason you got caught by them in the first place. Focus on the present, and that will give you a good future.

       Some of the things you describe are normal for a great many teenagers. Actually, you are doing far better than I did at your age: you have a girlfriend who cares for you. When I was 16, I was sure I'd never have a girlfriend. So, when you have feelings of being distant from other kids, just tell yourself that this is temporary, you'll grow out of it. I did.

       Now, let's deal with the main problem.

       I have a continuous ringing in my ears (from firing rifles in the army, and using chainsaws and power tools for 35 years). Some people are driven CRAZY by this (called tinnitus). It is with me 24 hours a day. When I settle for sleep and everything around me is quiet, it seems so loud it fills the world. But I go to sleep OK all the same, and I feel no upset, worry or resentment about it at all. It's there, it's background. So what.

       Treat your unwanted thoughts in the same way. I didn't ask for the ringing in my ears. You didn't ask for thoughts of violence. They are there. So what. They are not commands, but invitations, and you can say "No thank you."

       When you do this, they lose power. They may actually fade away and disappear, because you are not feeding them. But even if they stay there, so what.

       There is a policeman in my country who carries a terrible burden. Ever since his puberty, he has had strong urges to play with the sexual organs of little boys and girls, and wants to have them do things with his penis. And this horrifies him. He has NEVER given in to these urges. He has never harmed a child. But for 25 years, he carried a terrible load of guilt, shame and horror about himself.

       Finally, he went to a psychologist, and told him about this awful secret. The psychologist came to me for advice.

       The policeman is a good Christian. So, my message through his therapist was:

       Satan offered temptation to Jesus. Jesus struggled for 40 days and 40 nights with it, before finally saying, "Get thee behind me, Satan." And, possibly, He could not have carried out his mission if He hadn't faced this choice.

       If rejecting the temptation had been easy, Jesus would have taken 2 seconds to reject Satan. It took Him 40 days and 40 nights.

       So, I said, God had given this man a cross of his own to bear. For the ennoblement of his soul, he has been burdened with this urge. By resisting it, by refusing to do harm to little children, he has grown and become a noble spirit.

    Same to you.
    Love,
    Bob

       Thanks a lot for your help hearing things from a professional is very relieving. I'm going to continue to work through this because I don't want medication to do it for me. I think I should be ok but if it gets that bad I will seek help. Once again thanks so much its people like you I look up to that care.

    Sincerely Grant


    Isolated

    Dear Bob,

       Throughout my life i have been somewhat 'in myself', In Primary I was a very timid kid, found it difficult to interact with others and only really had one friend throughout.

        Secondary wasn't all that different, I was known as 'the girl that can't talk', I was bullied by my peers and even my only 2 'friends' put me down, making comments as though they are better than me. They Crushed me.

        I was never able to come out of my shell, and i have never opened up to someone regarding the issue. I am left bitter and lost in the world, not knowing what is wrong with me.

        I get infatuated by others easily (males), i find it difficult to feel comfortable with new people and to interact how a person normally would. I feel this has a great impact on my quality of life. I have 2 cousins that are my only friends who are both a year younger than me and i feel older minded which in turn doesn't make me feel like I have satisfying relationships.

        I just wish I could be more sociable. Would talking to say, a psychologist about all this help me at all? I'm thinking maybe I am some sort of Autistic?

        My other theory is; my mum went in hospital when i was age 2 and 5 for a period of 2 months or so and i had no contact with her during this time, which could possibly have made me so insecure not to be able to make friends.

        I wish the would just be a miracle and i could be like everyone else.

       Any Advice would me much appreciated.

    Thanks, Helen x

       Helen, you are definitely not autistic. And yes, talking to a psychologist would be of great benefit to you.

       I also was very isolated and bullied in primary school. It was a miserable time, and I 'lived inside my head' to get away from it. The unkind label they attached to me was 'the absentminded professor' because I escaped reality by reading about everything I could.

       It is OK to be a loner. There are strengths associated with being this way.

       That is not the trouble. The trouble is that you feel inferior, damaged, no good, and then other people react to the vibes you send out and treat you that way too.

       So, you can do both of two opposite things. The paradox is that they work together:

    1. Learn new social skills.

       Find some girls who act in social situations in ways you admire. Study how they do it, then act like them, regardless of how you feel inside. Practice 'being' like that in front of a mirror. Then go somewhere you know nobody, and put on the confident act. This is not to get friends, or impress people, or have a good time, but just to practice. Then think about what you did well, where you stuffed up, how you can do it better next time. Keep doing this until the act is easy. Remember, how you feel inside doesn't matter. You are on stage, an actress pretending to be a socially confident person. Make the pretence so good that it completely fools strangers.

    2. Accept and like the way you are.

       This is what I say about every person on this planet, including me and you:

       You are perfect.

       Some of the things you do are excellent.

       Some of the things you do are OK.

       Some of the things you do are the growing edges: the opportunities for becoming wiser, stronger, more compassionate.

       It is the situations that make you suffer that show you where the growing edges are.

    Love,
    Bob


    My husband has a bad tongue

       I am 52 years old lady having two children. Because of my husband I have lost all charm for life. I want to die but looking at my children, I can't.

       My husband is a very tongue person. He is not there at home for us. He is at home only for his needs. Whenever he is at home keeps on creating disturbance cos of his very very bad tongue. What type of he is but still we love him, we miss him and we want him to give us some time. Myself and both my children miss him very much.

       I know every one says "I AM RIGHT" but now since I want to spent my remaining days in peace, I wish that I should be blessed with so much tolerence that I can bear him, even it is physical, mental or any other injustice.

       Because of my very furious anger I m not able to control my fights with him for last over 25 years.

       Since noone can know a male than his wife, believe me he is a cheater, most non-reliance person, lier, selfish person.

       So, can you please guide me so that my children can live in peace.

    Regards,
    Indra

    Dear Indra,

       You are certainly in a difficult situation. If you didn't love your husband despite all his faults, it would be easy: I'd say to leave him. But I can see that you don't consider this to be an option.

       There is a rule: if something works, do more of it. If it doesn't work, try something else.

       You are the person who knows what you have tried in the past, the things that have not worked. One thing you probably not have tried is to train him in the way you would train a very intelligent being that cannot understand language, say an elephant, or a deaf child.

       The way to do this is to avoid rewarding any activity you disapprove of. Often, shouting at him, arguing with him and the like can be a reward, because it may give him a feeling of power.

       So, if he verbally abuses you with that tongue, do what you would do to a 2 year old who throws a tantrum. Just walk away and act as if he didn't exist. Walk around him like he was a hole in the floor or something.

       When he stops being abusive, give him a big smile and say, "So nice you stopped that. Now, can I bring you a nice drink?" (or whatever would please him).

       When you are in a situation where you expect him to be unpleasant and he isn't, again reward him with a smile, a hug, or whatever makes him feel pleased to be near you.

       So, you are rewarding the absence of bad behaviour, and the stopping of bad behaviour. You do not attempt to punish him but as far as possible ignore what you are discouraging.


    For writers

    Getting your work read
    Fellowship of Australian Writers seminars

    Getting your work read

       So you've written something. It could be flash fiction of 100 words, an 80,000 word novel or a 200,000 word text book. Having written it is only the start. Now you need to induce other people to read it.

       This means getting past gatekeepers. Of course, you can self-publish and then do your best to bring your writing to people's attention, but even then, the decisions of others determine if your words actually find an audience.

       Examples of gatekeepers are:

  • Some poor person in an agent's office, reading 20 or 30 submissions a day and passing 1 or 2 on to someone else as being worthy of a second opinion.
  • The acquisitions editor of a small independent publisher.
  • The editor of a magazine that takes short stories.
  • The judge in a contest.
  • The manager of your local book shop who may or may not display your self-published book on consignment.

       If you were in that person's place, you would be faced with too many submissions, of very varied quality, your job being to separate joy from junk. In that situation, you'd be LOOKING for reasons to reject the current item. The one that offers no excuses for rejection makes it to the next level.

       This has a number of implications:

  • Appear professional. What this means varies with the situation. You would not visit that bookshop manager dressed like a tramp. You would not send a query letter written like a text message. You would not phone the magazine and abuse the editor for not having responded to your wonderful story.
  • Ensure the venue is appropriate. There is no point in sending a science fiction novel to a publisher who specialises in erotica -- or vice versa. The most wonderful 3000 word story will fail to make it into Reader's Digest, because it is too long. A travel article is unsuitable for a magazine that has never published a travel article before.
  • Study submission guidelines. If there aren't any, then contact the venue and request guidance on what they require. If the response is "We don't accept unsolicited material," then that's that.
  • Follow submission guidelines to the letter, exactly. This is actually what triggered this rave. I have clear submission guidelines for my editing service, but very frequently, prospective clients completely ignore them, or even a specific emailed request, and send me something I don't want. Just yesterday, I responded to a query by asking for the first 1000 words. The person sent me the whole book.

       OK, I am tolerant. Getting a 1.2 Mb file instead of 45 K costs me some money. Separating off the first 1000 words takes me a few minutes. These are minor annoyances, and I'll put up with them.

       But this attitude is diagnostic. When I have edited the book, and the author has revised it, he will still need to submit it to someone. When he does, he will be rejected if he responds to their instructions in the way he responded to mine.


    Fellowship of Australian Writers seminars

       The Fellowship offers mentoring and support services to upcoming writers, writing groups and writing students. We are introducing a seminar series for anyone that has an interest in developing their writing to publishable standard. These seminars are aimed to enhance existing skills and provide ongoing support through our Hive network. At these seminars will be editors, publishers, professional writers, booksellers and others who will provide insights into what they are looking for from writers.

       Three weekends over three months at $50 a day, break that writers block, get feedback and develop your skills. For bookings and further informatoon go to www.thehivecentre.com

    Philip Rainford
    President FAW Victoria


    What my friends want you to know

    Eco market in South Melbourne
    E-book association in New Zealand
    Eye of the Mountain God by Penny Rudolph
    Sanctuary Magazine wins global award
    New book from Monette Bebow-Reinhard
    Jumping on Water by Ted Karam
    News from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Michael Larocca's new web site and free books
    Saffron Dreams wins awards

    Eco market in South Melbourne

       Warm greetings from the Friends of the Earth Eco Market team.

       Most members and supporters will be aware of our long held plan to develop a series of eco markets around Australia. These are intended as viable alternatives to the large supermarket chains, with around 70% of the range of items you would expect to find in a conventional supermarket, but with stock decisions based on sustainability and equity criteria.

       After long months of work investigating many possible sites in the southern suburbs – we now have one! In South Melbourne.

       Because of the unique location – an old primary school – and the partner – the well known priest Father Bob Maguire – we are going to develop a combined eco market and community hub. It is tentatively named the 'South Melbourne Commons'.

    It will feature:

  • a food co-op/ grocery store (six days a week)
  • a cafe
  • meeting space – in a gorgeous old school hall
  • bookstore
  • a weekly eco market, selling everything from soap to grains to fresh fruit and vegies, a regular markets on a range of themes
  • permaculture gardens
  • workshop space
  • offices for NGOs and community groups
  • and much more.

       We now need your help to make this vision a reality. Read on, see pics and plans.


    E-book association in New Zealand

       While the New Zealand e-book market is still very small, an organisation has been created to accelerate the development of digital publishing in this country.

       Formed by Copyright Licensing in conjunction with its shareholders, the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Authors Society, the Digital Publishing Forum aims to provide training and networking opportunities for local publishers.

       The forum also works towards developing relationships with groups and organisations that can support the e-book industry's development.

       The Digital Publishing Forum, which is now a year old, is dedicating a large part of 2010 towards producing "Great New Zealand E-books" is to provide a focus for the industry's own move to digitising books, to provide a platform for a joint marketing programme, and to generate public interest in e-reading.

       A key reason for the Great New Zealand E-books project is to ensure that new e-book adopters' first experience with electronics texts is positive.

       "That means having really good e-books to try rather than the usual bundle of free classics which aren't necessarily the first choice for readers," he comments.

       The planned public launch of the programme will be in the second quarter of 2010. More than 300 of New Zealand's most well-known books have been submitted by 30 publishers to be included in the programme.

       The Forum's initial aim is to have 1000 e-books digitised, made available under licence to libraries, booksellers and the educational sector.

       Digital Publishing Forum


    Eye of the Mountain God by Penny Rudolph

       The publisher, St. Martin’s Press, describes it as:

    An explosive combination...
    A woman who finds five emerald arrowheads wrapped in her newspaper,
    an autistic child who knows the unknowable,
    a man determined to become the American Che Guevara

       ELLA--the nation’s only book club devoted entirely to works by and about U.S. Latinas--will be reading Penny Rudolph’s soon-to-be-released thriller Eye of the Mountain God as their May pick.

       Two-time Edgar Award-winner Warren Murphy calls it, “An exciting thriller with a Southwestern flavor...(that) combines elements of Rudolfo Anaya’s and Tony Hillerman’s novels.”


    Sanctuary Magazine wins global award

    Sanctuary is published by the Alternative Technology Association, Australia’s leading not-for-profit organisation promoting sustainable homes since 1980.

       Treehugger has recently broadcasted the winners of its international Best of Green awards...

     ...and we're pleased to announce that Sanctuary received the award for the Best Shelter Magazine!

       Sanctuary beat a strong field of international contenders, including Dwell and Azure, to take the prize.

       It's worth quoting the citation at length:

       "Australia's Sanctuary is ... 'Sustainable Living with Style' and that is all that it shows. Editors Verity Campbell and Michael Day show so much beautiful stuff -- stunningly photographed and presented -- that I just want to pack up and move to Australia.

       "Sanctuary is a mag with a mission: It is published by the non-profit Alternative Technology Association with the mandate to make sustainability sexy, and it succeeds - modern design never looked so good and worked so well."

       Interested in aligning yourself alongside this international award winner?

       See here for more information.


    New book from Monette Bebow-Reinhard

       Do you enjoy historical fiction? How about fiction so real it has footnotes? Mystic Fire is designed to alter your currently held concepts of the American Civil War, a period, that holds so much fascination for Americans yet today for the very reasons that fill this novel. Wonder about the current state of our political system? That might even make a little more sense after you read this novel. Plus, it's just a lot of fun, because all four Cartwrights, this time, are torn in four separate storylines. This time, unlike my first novel, the footnotes are at the end, and demonstrate how much reality can be embedded in fiction.

       You can read the first chapter free at www.bebow-reinhard.com -- and for purchasing options.

        If you've already read both Bonanza novels, but haven't contacted me for your free anthology novel by email, here's the reminder and the perfect time to do that is now. And please feel free to forward this to anyone who loves historical fiction. This isn’t just the story of the Cartwrights, this is the story of our country.


    Jumping on Water by Ted Karam

       10 years in the making to come to TODAY,
    the official launch Jumping On Water: Awaken Your Joy ~ Empower Your Life.

       Whatever your challenge, whatever you desire - Jumping On Water can help you create the incredible life you've always wanted.

       And on top of that...leading experts like Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup For the Soul), John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), Bob Proctor (from "The Secret"), and many more have joined me to GIVE AWAY an amazing bundle of over 70 gifts worth thousands of dollars when folks purchase a copy of Jumping On Water.

       But I need your help to reach as many people as possible. Here are 4 ways I would be so grateful for your help:

    1. FORWARD this email to your family and friends

    2. POST on facebook: Isn't it time to Create the Life You've Always Wanted? Find out how at http://www.jumpingonwater.com/bkpromo.html

    3. TWEET on twitter: Experience the power of Jumping On Water and Change Your Life Forever. Click http://www.jumpingonwater.com/bkpromo.html

    4. and of course if you haven't already bought the book, or if you want to get one as a gift for someone else, today is a great opportunity to PURCHASE THE BOOK and receive lots of great bonus gifts and help drive Jumping On Water up the bestseller list!!

       CLICK HERE to see the book promotion and all the bonus gifts!!

    Huge Thanks For All Your Help And Support!
    With Love, Ted


    News from Carolyn Howard-Johnson

       The least likely of tech-geeks, authors Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball, are always keen and to meet their readers’ needs, and when Smashwords.com announced its new deal with Apple to produce formats suitable for the iPad and Apple’s new iBookstore, the authors immediately agreed, and jumped into action, pulling together the appropriate formatting for all of their celebration series books and putting them forward for conversion.

       The celebration series has been designed specifically to replace the trite, cliché sentiments of greeting cards, at prices that are little more than the cost of a high end card. Many of the books are beautifully illustrated with paintings or photographs, with poetry designed along themes that focus on mothers (She Wore Emerald Then, www.budurlcom/MotherChapbook for the paperback and http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8846 for the e-book versions), fathers and other men (Imagining the Future, www.budurl.com/Imagining for the paperback and http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/11189 for the e-book versions), and love (Cherished Pulse, http://www.budurl.com/CherishedPulse for the paperback and http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8086 for the e-book versions).

       Judges of the poetry contest sponsored by Franklin-Christoph honored UCLA Extension Writers’ Program instructor Carolyn Howard-Johnson with their first place cash prize on March 17.

       Franklin-Christoph is an American company since 1901 and has been making fine writing instruments beautiful enough to inspire poets since 2001. A few years ago they decided to begin supporting the fine arts, in particular poetry writing via a free-to-enter contest, offering $2500 in cash and prizes. They say, “Many of our clients over the years use our products for creative writing of various sorts, so we thought it a natural fit, and a nice extension of our organization beyond commerce.”

       The poem selected for the top honor is “Endangered Species.” It was inspired when the poet visited the Long Beach Aquarium. She came to face-to-face with a delicate sea dragon camouflaged in its habitat by the gently wafting kelp in its tank. Howard-Johnson’s poetry has appeared in literary journals like the Mochila Review, Banyan Review, Pear Noir and Front Range. One of her poems won a reader award at The Pedestal Magazine

       Learn more about the history of Franklin Christoph at http://www.franklin-christoph.com/TheHistory.html and about their philosophy at http://www.franklin-christoph.com/ThePhilosophy.html

       Learn more about Carolyn Howard-Johnson at http://carolynhoward-johnson.com.

       Read the poem at: http://www.franklin-christoph.com/Writing/PoetryBook/2009Winner.html


    Michael Larocca's new web site and free books

    Hi Bob,

       Here's something one of your friends wants your readers to know:

       Michael LaRocca has a new website at http://www.michaeledits.com and, while he won't claim it's any better than his old website, he is giving away 15 or 20 free ebooks there.

    Thanks!
    Michael


    Saffron Dreams wins awards

    Academic edition of Saffron Dreams released

       Responding to the requests and needs of educational institutions, we recently developed an academic edition of Saffron Dreams. The newest edition includes an Instructor’s Manual containing discussion topics and questions for each chapter. Educators can use this manual in their classrooms to stimulate critical thinking, explore key themes of the novel, and brainstorm decisions and actions of the characters at various points. This edition also contains a suggested reading list, glossary, and recipes of dishes mentioned in the novel.

       A free desk copy can be requested via email by instructors with an academic mailing address. Please pass the word around.

    Triple win for Saffron Dreams

       In a span of just a month, Saffron Dreams won these three awards

  • Golden Quill Award
  • Written Art Award
  • Reader Views Award

    Shaila Abdullah


    Let's laugh

    Swami's Remarkable New Weightiness-Loss Program!

    "I lost weightiness, ask me how!"
    -- Swami Beyondananda

    Scroll all the way down for FREE weightiness-loss supplement!

       In these stressful times, it's easy to gain weightiness. Weightiness gain is not your fault!

       Work ... the economy ... a steady diet of disturbing news and pretty soon ... yes, that's right. You've gained weightiness. Well, if gravity's got you down, let levity lift you up!

       Here are just some of the serious problems that can be caused by overweightiness:

  • Irregularhilarity.
  • Humorrhoids.
  • Irony deficiency.
  • Truth decay.

       Absolutely FREE here is Swami's 5 step program to lose weightiness now!

    1. Take a vow of levity! Remember, levity will help you rise above whatever is bringing you down. In a toxic situation? Laughter will keep you from taking it poisonally. Feel the levitational pull uplifting the corners of your mouth into a smile. You want to uplift humankind? Uplift your face first!

    2. Don't Get Even -- Get Odd. Instead of staying stuck in dueling dualities, use your one-of-a-kindness to find the odd solution that beats the heck out of getting even.

    3. When You See a Sacred Cow Milk It For All It's Worth. When our sacred cows give the milk of human kindness, we are fortified to take the bull by the horns.

    4. Enlighten Your Load. Is your life stuffed with stuff? Unstuff it! Stuff is a major cause of weightiness. You'll be surprised that the more liquid you get, the more solid you will feel.

    5. Wake Up Laughing, and Wise Up Loving. Time to wake up. You'll never lose weightiness if you keep hitting snooze. Wake up with a laugh, and end the day with an embrace, and if you are alone ... embrace yourself, and immerse yourself in a warm solution of love.

    A Free Weightiness Loss Supplement!

       How often does just the right healing solution pop into your inbox? Well, it happened to me and so I will share this tasty weightiness-loss treat with you. I was going through my filtered spam, when I found this most remarkable message -- possibly from a Russian woman trolling for an American sugar daddy. Either it's absolutely straightforward, or else a most brilliant parody. Here it is, exactly as it arrived in my inbox. Read and enjoy: I'm woman. I have a blonde hair with golden shining. My eyes is purple. I am medium height. I have beautiful arms. My hair is short straight. I live in a metropolis. I work in public organization. I like to watch discovery channel. Representations in the circus. I like plants. I like mountains. If you talk about me I am caring nymph. Most of all in men I value sense of humor. When I noticed you at a party at a cafe. immediately decided for myself that must. Because I can be for you a caring lover or someone great if you want. I'm write me on my e-mail.

    Now the REAL Trick: How to Keep Weightiness Off Once and For All

       Sad but true.

       In this serious stressful world, weightiness-loss can be all too temporary. Weightiness has a way of putting itself back on. That's why we've produced the new e-book, Wake Up Laughing: An Insider's Guide to the Cosmic Comedy, to help you use levity every day to overcome gravity. Find out more here and order your copy today for only $15. Note: You can also become a Buddysattva and order copies for a dozen friends!

       Want to REALLY raise the laugh force on the planet? Become a charter member of the Right to Laugh Party ("One big party, everyone is invited"). Just go to https://www.wakeuplaughing.com/epistore/ and scroll down.


    Reviews

    Somehwere to Turn by Linda Courtland, reviewed by Mike Kechula
    Survivors: What we can learn from how they cope with horrific tragedy by Gregory Moffat

    Somehwere to Turn
    by Linda Courtland
    reviewed by Michael A. Kechula

    Publisher: Brookside Press, USA
    ISBN: 978-0984223008
    Price: $12.95 USD
    Special Version of Same book with this title Title: "Somewhere to Turn: On-the-Go Edition" (contains the first section only - very short stories) is available as an e-book on Smashwords for $3.99 Before I discovered Linda Courtland’s book, “Somewhere to Turn,” I wasn’t addicted to anything. But after reading what she calls “very short stories” and “slightly longer stories,” I found myself hooked by her storytelling and craving more. So much so, that if she’d written a hundred books, I’d have immediately bought all of them. Unfortunately, this is the only one she’s written to date.

       I never expected to become addicted to anybody’s flash fiction tales that consisted of 1,000 words or less. But after reading her entrancing, enchanting, engrossing stories that had enough kick to knock my socks off, what choice did I have?

       When I first picked up Courtland’s 162-page collection of thirty-seven stories, I figured I was about to read yet another bunch of light, mundane, fluffy, tales much like I critique by the dozens very week. Even the cover, a scenic view of a river surrounded by mountains, seemed to support my notion.

       Checking the back cover, I didn’t see the usual promotional blurb trumpeting the contents. Instead, I found a teensy tale about an astronaut who received a speeding ticket in outer space. What an incongruity, I thought.

       Then I flipped to the first story, “Day Job of the Dolphin.” That’s where Courtland grabbed my attention and began to cast the spell that led to my addiction. I was pleasantly surprised to find a tale of magical realism that began: When they decided to outsource my department to dolphins, I was skeptical. Outsourcing work to dolphins? What a fascinating concept.

       This absorbing, satirical story poked fun at sensitivity training and other workplace sacred cows. The company began to favor dolphins over human employees, created a Human and Dolphin Resources Department, and faced daunting environmental problems by replacing humans with 600-pound dolphins. When an orca became the company’s new president, there was no doubt the human protag was on a fast path to the unemployment lines.

       In “Single Socks,” a woman left a man, complaining that he loved his collection of 864 single, unmatched socks more than her. Courtland made his rationale so reasonable and compelling, I felt as if I were missing something by not imitating his behavior. This is what I mean about casting a spell through storytelling.

       The opening sentence of “Exposed,” says: Last night, my cell phone took pictures of me while I was sleeping. Turns out the darn phone has a whole secret file of pictures it has taken of the female protag. The idea of a voyeuristic cell phone with a mind of its own is wonderfully bizarre and terribly disturbing.

       Then there’s, “The Street Price of Happiness,” where a woman calls 911 because somebody stole her emotions. Naturally, she wants them returned. As if that weren’t a bad enough loss, another tale, “Lost and Found,” tells of a psych ward patient who complains that somebody stole his name while he was sleeping.

       As I continued reading, I sometimes found myself rolling on the floor with laughter. Then I’d turn to the next story and I’d end up feeling wistful and commiserating with characters facing a variety of existential crises.

       It’s hard to tell which is my favorite in this delicious plate of thirty-three hors d’ouvres Courtland calls “very short stories.” Maybe it’s the goofy, obsessive coffee bean counter whose mother reassures by saying, “It’s God’s way of saying sorry for the strange shape he made your head.” Or the altruistic woman who runs around correcting spelling errors on signs carried by beggars, telling them, “You can’t expect people to take you seriously if you don’t proofread your work.” Or the refrigerated body parts that converse with each other, as they fret about being rejected when they’re finally transplanted. Maybe it’s the story called, “So What If She Has No Feet?” Or “Discount Memories.” Or maybe “315 Is Stealing Cheese Again.”

       In all of the above, Courtland has packed tons of storytelling with great word economy. This shows mastery of her writing craft and the willingness and ability to edit ruthlessly. As one who also writes flash fiction, I can assure you this is a tough task that evades many wanabees.

       Now to the second part of the book, which she calls, “slightly longer stories.” Nothing in these three stories will make you laugh. Not with the titles, “Body Damage,” “Wrongful Life,” and “Religious Differences,”

       These are literary tales that show an entirely different side of Courtland’s art. I found them hypnotic and disturbing. These contemporary stories are written in first person, which adds to their intensity. They grabbed me by the throat and didn’t let go. What a startling contrast to the light, breezy, and often wacky tales that populate the first part of the book.

       After reading this book, and I’ve read it twice, I’m convinced it’s the work of a genius. A genius who can devise and write compelling stories that have addicted me to the point where I want to don a saffron robe, grab a begging bowl, and sit outside Courtland’s door, hoping she’ll assuage my addiction by putting a new story in my bowl every day.

    Michael A. Kechula’s flash fiction has been published by 121 magazines and 34 anthologies in 6 countries. He’s won first prize in ten contests, and placed in eight others. Auhor of five books containing 247 flash and micro-fiction tales, Kechula is moderator for two Yahoo flash fiction writing sites.


    Survivors: What we can learn from how they cope with horrific tragedy by Gregory Moffat

       The theme of this book is best expressed in this quote from page 155: "We know how people are destroyed by trauma, but I want to know how people endure their traumatic experiences, how I might foster that resiliency in my own clients, and how their experiences cause them to grow -- something called 'posttraumatic growth.'" Greg Moffat achieves this aim, and if you work with trauma survivors, if you are a survivor yourself, you need to read what he found.

       A non-fiction book is a gem if it is not a chore to read. The language in this one is beautiful, clear, a pleasure from cover to cover. And, in this book, language matches content. I have read many inspiring books, and will add this one to the list of evergreens I will recommend to my clients and friends.

       As I read on, I got to love Greg as a person. Not only is his work based on great insight and meticulous research, but he is also a man of strong empathy and compassion. He cares.

       Two chapters contain an illuminating analysis of an Auschwitz survivor, showing what made this man surmount his trauma. While I have read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, Moffat has given me considerable additional understanding.

       Equally touching an inspiring is a detailed analysis of the suffering and recovery of a woman whose back was broken in a car smash that had killed her husband. We follow her as she rebuilds her life to a new normality.

       We then go on to children in severely abusive homes. Moffat specializes in child psychology, so perhaps this part is closest to his heart. He follows Dave Pelzer as his main case study, but includes other terribly abused children as well.

       By the end of Chapter 4, Greg has given the reader a good understanding of where resilience comes from, how to foster it and what it involves.

       Chapter 5 looks at a horrendous rape and near-murder. He writes: "All the factors that I see in resilient patients exist in Tammy. She is internal in her locus of control. She has a stubborn streak that gives her enough energy to face down danger and threat. She had meaning in life. She cared deeply for her parents and even if she didn't survive, she wanted to be certain her body was found quickly so her parents could get on with life. As I found with all the subjects I interviewed for this book, Tammy embodied virtues that helped her survive. She finds happiness in life and what it brings, even when life brings difficulties and pain. Her circumstances do not determine her attitudes or moods. She is humble and grateful for the blessings she has in life -- her parents, family, husband, and children." Again, Greg has presented us with a person we can admire, and only hope to copy.

       Going up even further in the horror stakes, Greg moves on to the genocide in Rwanda. Here he focuses on a remarkable man who became a prison chaplain, ministering to the people who had committed the atrocities against him and his group. This shows the healing power of forgiveness. "Forgiveness isn't just about giving grace to a wrongdoer, although it can include that. Rather, forgiveness is freeing oneself. It is the decision to move forward, to release one's hatred, vengeful thinking, and loss, and move on toward the many possibilities remaining in one's future."

       Chapter 8 includes a remarkably good description of PTSD, from the standpoint of the sufferer. Reading it, you just have to experience what it feels like.

       And pages 205-206 tell you what resilience is all about:

    1. Life is full of ups and downs, just like your mother probably taught you.

    2. Life is a journey, not a destination. Focus too hard on the goal and you will miss the process, and it is the process that ultimately makes life meaningful.

    3. There are social issues and protective factors that can make resiliency more likely.

    4. Surviving trauma is partially in the will, but the will to survive can be fostered through relationships with others and strength of community.

    5. Resilience isn't a formula. It is a way of life.

    6. Our courage can only be tested when we experience what we think we could not endure and we can almost always endure more than we thought we could.

    7. Endurance and hard work can compensate for weaknesses in protective and resiliency factors.


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