Bobbing Around

Volume Twelve, Number Six
February, 2013

Bob Rich's (sunny) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Response to the previous issue
  Georgiann Baldino
  Al Gore criticises coalition's climate change strategy
  Pledge to take action on climate change, from
  A movie you must see: Greedy lying bastards
  Ozone Hole's Shifting Winds May Sap Major Carbon Sink, by Lauren Morello
  Overpopulation Is Huge Concern -- Alexandra Paul's TEDX Talk, from Jesse Thee
*Good news
  Sea Shepherd Claims Early Victory Against Whalers, by Alicia Graef
  England Decides Not to Sell Off Public Forests, by Michael Graham Richard
  Divestment Campaigns Spread Across Massachusetts, by Leslie Friday
  Indonesian rainforest given a reprieve, from Greenpeace
*Deeper issues
  Evidence for past lives: Peter Ramster's work on the web again
  The Extremist Cult of Capitalism, by Paul Buchheit
  Changing the World From the Inside Out, by Ed and Deb Shapiro
  Brain language
 I've been grieving for 12 years
 He used to abuse me. Should I leave him?
 She is stealing my boyfriend!
  Carcinogens Used in 1 Out of 3 Fracking Operations, by Beth Buczynski
  Questions About Mandatory Influenza Immunization, by Oleg Reznik
  Also by Oleg: What's worse: the chronic pain or the medication for it?
*For writers
  Fun with English
  Name generator for characters
*What my friends want you to know
  Climate Revival: An Ecumenical Festival to Embolden the Renewal of Creation
  Stop Reader's Digest litter
  Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources
  Learn mindfulness
  Mediation e-conference, with Ed and Deb Shapiro
  Summer Solar BBQ on Sunday February 24
  Ecuadorean Tribe Will "Die Fighting" to Defend Rainforest
*Book reviews
  Endless Time, by Frances Burke
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Frances Burke
  Purposeful living, by Peter Faithfull

Well, 70

   Like on every previous day of my life, I became one day older on the 4th of February. However, other people chose to see this day as special, because I was born 70 years before.

   My attitude is, so what. It is just another day, and should be savoured, used and enjoyed as well as possible. Every day can be Christmas, birthday, and a celebration of all that's good -- if we choose to make it so.

   Also, when I was born, I was only a passenger. My mother did all the work, did most of the suffering. If anyone should be celebrated, it's my mother. So, Mother, thank you.

   This is going to be a good year for me, in at least one way: I am eagerly looking forward to the publication of the best book I've written to date, Ascending Spiral: Humanity's last hope. I am happy to let you know that Victor, my publisher, has a cover design, and that I have completed another review swap. This is with Frances Burke. I got a great deal of enjoyment reading her Endless Time, and she wrote very kind things about my book.

   You can see, doing review swaps is a good lurk. Last month, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Magdalena Ball's Black Cow. A couple more reviews have been promised.

   As a subscriber to Bobbing Around, you also have the opportunity of doing an advance review for me, with or without an exchange. (Be warned: my reviews are honest. If I don't think a book is up to my standards, I'll give you some private feedback, but I won't write a negative review. Why trample on someone else's baby?)

   Also, looking ahead to the (as yet unspecified) publication date, I would like help in publicising this book. Those people who are whizzes at social networking might be willing to spread the word for me.

Have a good life,

This is the tentative cover. Comments solicited.

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.

Response to the previous issue

From Georgiann Baldino

   Thank you for your newsletter. As always it is informative and helpful. I would like to add a follow-up to the article: Dangerous Drugs by Randy Fritz.

   I recently attended a talk by Dr. Bill Walsh, who tests lab samples from violent offenders and has developed a database showing abnormal levels in brain chemistry. His research is available in a book called Nutrient Power. Please consider his important findings.

Thanks again.

Georgiann is the author of several compelling historical novels.


Al Gore criticises coalition's climate change strategy
Pledge to take action on climate change from

Al Gore criticises coalition's climate change strategy
from AAP with Business Spectator

   Australians should take a careful look at the progress made to slow climate change here and around the world before the federal election, according to former United States vice-president Al Gore.

   The prominent environmental campaigner believes Prime Minister Julia Gillard's carbon tax shows courage and vision but the coalition's direct action plan to deal with climate change won't work.

   Speaking from Tennessee, Mr Gore said he would be watching how the 2013 federal election unfolded and what that meant for action on climate change.

   "I'm very impressed with your current prime minister," he told ABC TV, referring to Labor's carbon tax.

   "She's shown a great deal of courage and vision."

   Asked what he thought about the coalition's plan to abolish the carbon tax and replace it with direct action programs, Mr Gore said: "It didn't work here, it hasn't worked anywhere."

   He said with recent floods, fires and extreme weather, there was powerful evidence the climate crisis was having a harsh impact on Australia.

   "Mother Nature (is) now speaking very loudly and persuasively, in keeping with what the scientists predicted would unfold," he said.

Climate Spectator

Pledge to take action on climate change

   2012 was the year of Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Bopha, and unprecedented droughts and wildfires the world over. Global food prices rose by 6% and we hit 333 consecutive months of above-average temperatures, as half the Arctic ice disappeared into the ocean.

   In short, 2012 was the year of extreme weather and climate change. And that's why 2013 must and will be year zero in our fight against it.

   This will be the year we look back upon when everything changed -- when we rose up to meet the challenge of climate change at the scale that it required, and the world rose with us.

   Global Power Shift will be the starting point, and then we'll need all hands on deck. Are you in?

   Already, we've begun to ramp up in a big way. The Fossil Free divestment campaign has rapidly spread to over 200 college campuses across the U.S. and we're not stopping there. Soon, this divestment campaign will be in Canada, Europe, and beyond.

   This June, 500-600 of the most capable and fired-up youth leaders from around the world will be meeting in Turkey to spark a Global Power Shift. The basic plan is this:

  1. They'll train in grassroots and digital organizing, share their stories, and chart an aggressive strategy for the coming year
  2. Attendees will then return to their home countries in teams to organize mobilizations
  3. These national or regional events will be launchpads for new, highly-coordinated campaigns confronting the fossil fuel industry and promoting strategic solutions to climate change

   From there, we will continue to grow bigger and gain steam until -- town by town, and country by country -- we come together to win the kind of planetary transformation that this climate crisis demands.

May for the GPS Team


A movie you must see: Greedy lying bastards
Ozone Hole's Shifting Winds May Sap Major Carbon Sink by Lauren Morello
Overpopulation Is Huge Concern -- Alexandra Paul's TEDX Talk from Jesse Thee

A movie you must see:
Greedy lying bastards

    One Earth Productions has announced that the feature documentary GREEDY LYING BASTARDS will open nationally on March 8, 2013 in the top twenty markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Miami, Denver, Phoenix and San Diego.

   Produced and directed by Craig Rosebraugh, with Daryl Hannah serving as executive producer, GREEDY LYING BASTARDS investigates the reason behind stalled efforts to tackle climate change despite consensus in the scientific community that it is not only a reality but also a growing problem that is placing the world on the brink of disaster. Two-time Emmy-Award winner Patrick Gambuti, Jr. co-wrote and edited the film and Michael Brook composed the original score.

   Rosebraugh documents the impact of an industry that has continually put profits before people, waged a campaign of lies designed to thwart measures to combat climate change, and used its clout to minimize laws and regulations -- ultimately undermining the political process in the U.S. and abroad. The film takes aim at two companies, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, charging them with being the main financial drivers of the climate change denial campaign worldwide.

   "Concerned about the future of the planet and our ability to exist on it, I wanted to undertake a project that would uncover the hidden agenda of the oil industry and provide answers as to why as a nation we fail to implement clean energy policies and take effective action on important problems such as climate change", says Rosebraugh. "This is particularly crucial following the warmest year on record in the United States, one in which the country experienced record drought, wildfires and Hurricane Sandy."

   Director/Producer Craig Rosebraugh, founder of One Earth Productions, is a writer, filmmaker and activist in the United States advocating for political and social justice, human rights, and environmental and animal protection. GREEDY LYING BASTARDS was an official selection of the United Nations Film Festival, Costa Rica Documentary Film Festival, Bahamas International Film Festival and winner for feature documentary at the Burbank Film Festival and Ecofilm Award at the Boston Film Festival.


Ozone Hole's Shifting Winds May Sap Major Carbon Sink
by Lauren Morello

   High above Antarctica, the atmosphere is slowly recovering from the decades-long barrage of manmade chemicals that ate a hole in the protective ozone layer. But the legacy of that destruction lingers. Scientists have linked the ozone hole that forms each Antarctic spring high above Earth to changes in the fierce band of westerly winds that swirls around Antarctica. Those winds, closer to the continent's surface, have grown stronger and moved poleward over the past several decades.

   And now a new study suggests that the ozone hole has an even broader reach. It finds evidence those shifting winds are speeding circulation patterns in polar waters. That shift is important because it may already be weakening the Southern Ocean's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and slow the march of manmade climate change. Even a small change in the Southern Ocean carbon sink could have a noticeable impact, because the region's waters takes in about 40 percent of the total carbon absorbed by the world's seas.

   "The models were indicating there could be some change in ocean circulation (caused by ozone depletion), but there was a lot of debate about whether what the models were saying was actually happening," said lead author Darryn Waugh, a climate scientist at Johns Hopkins University. His research, published Thursday in the journal Science, bears those models out. It was published alongside a separate study, from researchers at Pennsylvania State University, that affirms the ozone hole has been the main driver of the changes in Antarctica's winds, dwarfing the role played by climate change.

Read on here.

Lauren Morello is a senior science writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Climate Central, she spent several years covering climate change science and policy for E&E Publishing's ClimateWire. Her work has also appeared online in the New York Times, Scientific American, New Scientist and Audubon. She holds a Master of Science in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University.

Overpopulation Is Huge Concern -- Alexandra Paul's TEDX Talk
from Jesse Thee

   Every major global issue requires spearheading by influential individuals. Global warming had Al Gore and the famine in Ethiopia in the 80s had the fundraising supergroup Band Aid. At long last, the issue of overpopulation is being raised by someone with good exposure in the media. Alexandra Paul, host of the PBS documentary JAMPACKED and star of over 75 films and televisions shows, including the series Baywatch, gave a speech on overpopulation to the TEDX event in Topanga, California.

   Alexandra explains correctly that modern man first showed up on earth 200,000 years ago. By 1830 there were 1 billion people on the planet. Therefore, it took 200,000 years for humans to put the first billion humans on earth. The second billion we added in just 100 years. Now, we add 1 billion people every 12 years. And in 2011, the human population reached 7 billion people.

   To give you an example of how fast the population grows, Bangladesh had a hurricane that catastrophically killed 139,000 people. As a point for comparison, the population growth in Bangladesh is 139,000 new births every 17 days!

   In her talk, Alexandra says "forcing people to have fewer children doesn't work. The fastest, most efficient way to stabilize the human population is to send girls to school and Empower women. And give everyone access to, and education on, birth control."

   Our economic system will suffer as the population lowers, but it will less dramatic now than if we have 10 billion people on the planet in 40 years, as the UN projects. She then asks, "And at some point we'll have to stop the growth, so why not do it now instead of wishing for technologies that don't yet exist and might not even work."

   The talk concludes with Alexandra encouraging everyone not be afraid to talk about the overpopulation issue: "It is not about taking rights away, it is about giving opportunities to women, children and future generations."

   The viewers may disagree with what number of children we should have or if we need only to stabilize the global population or to go further and reverse it. However, all viewers will agree that her talk is a positive beginning for this important topic, and that it is presented in a thought provoking manner.

Environment News Network

Good news

Sea Shepherd Claims Early Victory Against Whalers by Alicia Graef
England Decides Not to Sell Off Public Forests by Michael Graham Richard
Divestment Campaigns Spread Across Massachusetts by Leslie Friday
Indonesian rainforest given a reprieve from Greenpeace

Sea Shepherd Claims Early Victory Against Whalers
by Alicia Graef

   The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society set out with an ambitious campaign this year aiming to send whalers home empty handed and so far they've been successful.

   January is considered peak whaling month for Japanese whalers, but this year it came and went for the first time without a single whale being slaughtered.

   Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has continued to hunt whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, where commercial whaling is banned, under the guise of scientific research, which many believe is nothing more than a pathetically transparent cover for commercial fishing for whale meat, which is sold in Japanese markets. This year, the Japanese fleet set out to kill 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales before returning home this spring.

   In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling that prevents Captain Paul Watson and his group from coming within 500 yards of Japanese whaling vessels, overturning a prior ruling in the organization's favor. The injunction was sought by the ICR and the Japanese firm Kyodo Senpaku Kaisha Ltd.

   Now that Captain Paul Watson has stepped down from his leadership roles within the organization in order to comply with the court order, this years campaign is being led by Sea Shepherd Australia under Jeff Hansen and former Australian senator Bob Brown.

   "The first 24 hours of contact with the whale poachers have been a victory for Sea Shepherd and a complete loss for the Japanese whaling fleet," said Brown.

   A lawyer for the whalers has threatened the organization with a contempt of court action, claiming the Brigitte Bardot violated the court order, but the group's lawyer is arguing that since Sea Shepherd Australia is running this years campaign it's not subject to the restraining order.

   Australia has also demanded that Japanese whalers leave the Southern Ocean after one of its ships, the Shonan Maru No 2, entered the country's exclusive economic zone near Macquarie Island in pursuit of Sea Shepherd's ship Bob Barker.

   "Australia has made it clear to Japan on a number of occasions that vessels associated with its whaling programme are not welcome," said Australian environment minister Tony Burke in a statement. "Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese government."

   A New York Times article last October stated that the ICR admitted to suffering a loss of $20.5 million as a result of Sea Shepherd's actions during its 2010-2011 whaling season. Whalers are making up the loss by taking government subsidies and stealing millions from the tsunami relief fund.

   The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released a report on the true cost of whaling: annual government subsidies for whalers average around $9.78 million, while the cost in 2011 alone rang in at an estimated $28 million. Numbers from 2008 also show that whale watching in Japan actually generated $22 million.

   The report also debunks claims that whaling is a cultural and historical necessity with studies conducted by the Japan-based E-Square and Nippon Research Centre, which show whale meat consumption has fallen to about 1 percent of its peak, which was in the 1960s when it was considered a vital source of protein. Stockpiles of thousands of pounds of unsold whale meat are now sitting in warehouses and estimated to be four times more than they were 15 years ago.

   "Here it is, for the first time, in black and white. IFAW's report proves conclusively that Japan's cruel whaling industry is dying in the water while Japanese taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill. This cruel, outmoded industry is in the red. Whaling is an economic loser," said Patrick Ramage, Director of IFAW's Global Whale Program.

   "Now is the time for concerned citizens, NGOs and governments around the world to stop bludgeoning the good people of Japan and start helping them migrate from whaling to whale watching -- a profitable solution that benefits whales, people and coastal communities in Japan and around the world."

   Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd is intent on keeping Japanese vessels divided and on the run and each of the groups ships has enough fuel to stay out there until March when whaling season ends.


England Decides Not to Sell Off Public Forests
Michael Graham Richard

Creates Trust to Hold Them for Future Generations

   The government of England has backtracked and decided that it won't sell a significant portion (about 15%) of the public forests it holds, but will instead create a trust to hold them for future generations.

   "The new body will have greater independence from Government and greater freedom to manage its resources and maximise its income but with the right safeguards in place to operate for the long-term benefit of people, nature and the economy," said UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.

   Kudos to Save Our Woods (SoW) for fighting the good fight and raising awareness about public forests in England. The half a million names that they collected in a petition against the proposed disposal of public forested land certainly helped. SoW describes their mission thus on their about page:

   We formed Save Our Woods, a grass-roots organisation, to get to the facts behind the 2010 proposed sell off of our Public Forest Estate (PFE), which led us to campaign for the removal of the forestry clauses from the Public Bodies Bill and to ensure that our publicly owned forests remained in public ownership, in perpetuity.

Tree Hugger.

Michael has been with TreeHugger since 2005. He started out as a part-time writer, but after about a year (circa February 2006) he made the transition to full-time editor-in-chief. He held that role until January 2008 (the highlight of this period was of course the acquisition of by the Discovery Channel), and he's now editor of the Science & Technology and the Cars & Transportation categories (his two main loves).

Divestment Campaigns Spread Across Massachusetts
by Leslie Friday

   Harvard University is a world leader in higher education, but sophomore Chloe Maxmin wants her college to also blaze trails battling climate change. The social studies and environmental science major helps coordinate Divest Harvard, an offshoot of a campaign pushing colleges, local governments, nonprofits and pensions to divest from the 200 companies with a majority of the fossil-fuel reserves.

   Maxmin's group started speaking to students in August about the urgency for action on global climate change while pitching divestment as a powerful financial tool. The group then launched a successful petition drive that placed divestment on last November's student ballot and earned 72 percent support for a non-binding referendum urging Harvard to steer its $31 billion endowment away from fossil fuels.

   Divest Harvard's next step is to meet with Harvard's Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility to pitch its case.

   "We don't want our university to be investing in companies that threaten our future," Maxmin said. "Harvard takes a moral stand on academics and research, but its investments are still in companies that pollute without consequence and threaten the future of our civilization."

I was not given permission to reproduce the entire article. Continue reading at

Indonesian rainforest given a reprieve
from Greenpeace

   After more than 10 years of campaigning against Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the biggest companies responsible for rainforest destruction, the company has agreed to immediately halt any further deforestation and develop a comprehensive forest conservation policy. If these commitments are implemented it's BIG news for the people and wildlife who depend on Indonesia's rainforests.

   If this policy is successfully implemented, it will be huge step towards reforming Indonesia's paper industry, protecting its rainforests and the remaining Sumatran tigers that call that place home. Remember our recent victories with Mattel, Hasboro and Lego? When big companies started ditching their contracts with APP, it helped persuade the company to make this new commitment.

   While we celebrate the potential of today's announcement, you should know that this is only the beginning. Having witnessed previous broken commitments before, the real work lies ahead of us as we make sure APP backs up its commitment with real on-the-ground action.

   Here's a basic breakdown of what you helped to make happen:

   APP has:

  • Created a moratorium on clearance of natural forests and peat lands
  • Agreed to protect all forest lands across its supply chain
  • Committed to begin a policy-making process to resolve and avoid social conflicts
  • Agreed to independent monitoring of its progress.

       As of now, Greenpeace has suspended its active campaigning against the company. This will allow the company time to deliver on their commitments. But trust me when I say, we will continue to push for real results, while continuing our campaigning to convince other paper companies to follow suit.

    Deeper Issues

    Evidence for past lives Peter Ramster's work on the web again
    The Extremist Cult of Capitalismby Paul Buchheit
    Changing the World From the Inside Out by Ed and Deb Shapiro

    Evidence for past lives: Peter Ramster's work on the web again

       Sydney psychologist Peter Ramster became famous for his work on past life recalls under hypnosis. He got testable claims from his clients, then obtained a research grant, and used it to seek the evidence.

       Sadly, Peter's son suffered a terrible car smash, and Peter focussed all his energy into caring for him. He withdrew his book from publication, and removed the film of his work from the web.

       I am very thankful that someone has disobeyed him, and made this work available again, as a series of 11 YouTube videos. If you want to improve your understanding of the universe we live in, you owe it to yourself to watch this.

    The Extremist Cult of Capitalism
    by Paul Buchheit

       A cult, according to Merriam-Webster, can be defined as "Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (and) a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion."

       Capitalism has been defined by adherents and detractors: Milton Friedman said, "The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system." John Maynard Keynes said, "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."

       Perhaps it's best to turn to someone who actually practiced the art: "Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class." Al Capone said that.

       Capitalism is a cult. It is devoted to the ideals of privatization over the common good, profit over social needs, and control by a small group of people who defy the public's will. The tenets of the cult lead to extremes rather than to compromise. Examples are not hard to find.

    1. Extremes of Income

       By sitting on their growing investments, the richest five Americans made almost $7 billion each in one year. That's $3,500,000.00 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour.

       Our unregulated capitalist financial system allows a few well-positioned individuals to divert billions of dollars from the needs of society. If the 400 richest Americans lumped together their investment profits from last year, the total would pay in-state tuition and fees for EVERY college student in the United States.

    2. Extremes of Wealth

       The combined net worth of the world's 250 richest individuals is more than the total annual living expenses of almost half the world -- three billion people.

       Within our own borders the disparity is no less shocking. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars. That's equivalent to a can of soup versus a mansion, a yacht, and a private jet. Most of the Forbes 400 wealth has accrued from nonproductive capital gains. It's little wonder that with the exception of Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon, the U.S. has the highest degree of wealth inequality in the world.

    3. Extremes of Debt

       Up until the 1970s U.S. households had virtually no debt. Now the total is $13 trillion, which averages out to $100,000 per American family.

       Debt appears to be the only recourse for 21- to 35-year-olds, who have lost, on average, 68% of their median net worth since 1984, leaving each of them about $4,000.

    4. Extremes of Health Care

       A butler in black vest and tie passed the atrium waterfall and entered the $2,400 suite, where the linens were provided by the high-end bedding designer Frette of Italy and the bathroom glimmered with polished marble. Inside a senior financial executive awaited his concierge doctor for private treatment.

       He was waiting in the penthouse suite of the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

       On the streets outside were some of the 26,000 Americans who will die this year because they are without health care. In 2010, 50 million Americans had no health insurance coverage.

    5. Extremes of Justice

       William James Rummel stole $80 with a credit card, then passed a bad check for $24, then refused to return $120 for a repair job gone bad. He got life in prison. Christopher Williams is facing over 80 years in prison for selling medical marijuana in Montana, a state which allows medical marijuana. Patricia Spottedcrow got 12 years for a $31 marijuana sale, and has seen her children only twice in the past two years. Numerous elderly Americans are in prison for life for non-violent marijuana offenses.

       Banking giant HSBC, whose mission statement urges employees "to act with courageous integrity" in all they do, was described by a U.S. Senate report as having "exposed the U.S. financial system to 'a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing" in their dealings with Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, which is considered the deadliest drug gang in the world.

       HSBC received a fine equivalent to four weeks' profits. The bank's CEO said, "we are profoundly sorry."

       In the words of Bertrand Russell, "Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate."

       Accurate to the extreme.

    Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

    Changing the World From the Inside Out
    by Ed and Deb Shapiro

       Why do people mistreat each other? After the shooting at Sandy Hook, the response of the NRA was that every schoolteacher should be armed. But isn't this trying to solve the problem from the outside, rather than from the inside? As the new Miss America, Mallory Hagen, said with her winning answer, we can't fight violence with violence. How could it possibly work if the people wielding the guns have anger, hate and delusion embedded in their minds?

       Many ways have been tried to bring peace to the world. We've created organizations like the UN and NATO, we've had treaties and summits and endless meetings, we even go to war in the name of peace, but still there are difficulties and disagreements. Egos battle, greed for power dominates over humanity, and old hatred divides one against another.

       What will it take for us to change from the inside out and generate genuine peace? Rather than being made to change by laws or governance, the real shift has to come within ourselves, so that we become kinder and more caring about each other and our world. As peace must begin at home, could meditation be the missing link?

       Who makes problems? We humans. And who is the controller of the human? The mind. And how to control the human mind? Through meditation. If you can control the pilot, then the pilot can control the plane. -- Mingyur Rinpoche

       We recently interviewed Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, on our LIVE BlogTalkRadio / VividLifeRadio show, Going Out Of Your Mind. He told us how, when he handed President Obama his book, the President said, "I like the title!" Imagine politicians practicing mindfulness meditation; imagine politicians just being mindful! It's not as far fetched as it sounds, for meditation is already being used to help rehabilitate army personnel on their return from war, in hospitals to help deal with pain, and neuroscientist Dr. Richie Davidson, among others, has shown scientifically how meditation affects the brain, increasing attention, happiness and compassion.

       Each of us is a micro version of the greater world. If we work towards transforming our own hate, fears, doubts, aggression, delusions and greed, so we will transform those same qualities in the world. This is a turning away from being focused on self-centeredness, self-survival, and closed-heartedness, toward concern for others, generosity, and open-heartedness. We free our minds from me-centeredness and self-obsession to caring for others and our world, to other-centeredness.

       All of the pain and pleasure that we experience stems fundamentally from the mind. So when we say we want peace on earth, what we are really talking about is reducing the conflict in our own minds. -- Sakyong Mipham

       If we genuinely want to end war, inequality, and abuse, then we need to end the war within ourselves and cultivate kindness toward all, equally. The enemy within ourselves can become our friend by transforming it into our ally. Such a deepening of understanding is essential if we are to end the disregard and violence that destroy so many lives and cause so much unnecessary pain and distress. All this can come through the simple act of meditation.

       The point of meditation is to keep the mind free of confusion. Meditation, past calming our nerves, past being good for our blood pressure, past allowing us to work out our own internal psychological dramas, which it does, past helping us to get along with our kin and our community, is a way of really deeply seeing the truth that the only way to ameliorate our own suffering and the suffering of the world is to keep our minds clear. -- Sylvia Boorstein

       The equation, therefore, is simple: The more meditation becomes a part of our lives, the more we change and evolve; the more we change and evolve the more society is transformed and the world moves into a more sustainable, wise, and loving place.

    ED AND DEB SHAPIRO, authors of fifteen books on meditation and personal development, teach meditation worldwide, and work as corporate consultants. Their books include BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, foreword by the Dalai Lama, and winner of the 2010 Gold Nautilus Book Award; and YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, winner of the 2007 Visionary Book Award. They have 3 meditation and deep relaxation CDs.

       Also see their announcement about an online meditation conference.


    Brain language
    I've been grieving for 12 years
    He used to abuse me. Should I leave him?
    She is stealing my boyfriend!

    Brain language

       There is an increasing fashion in psychology to explain things in terms of brain mechanisms, so much so that this has now spread into the culture in general. Somehow, it seems as if a behaviour pattern is more real if there are neurophysiological changes demonstrated to accompany it. More, people seem to believe that the neuro stuff EXPLAINS the behaviour.

       This approach has certain benefits. For example, since 2004, there have been many experiments demonstrating that talk therapies produce the same kinds of brain changes as the relevant psychoactive medications -- but the effects of therapy last, while the effects of drugs stop when their use stops. So, looking at brain changes is a convincing way of debunking the myths perpetuated by Big Pharma.

       However, there are deeper implications. If the brain is the cause, and behaviour the consequence, then how can changing what you think and do lead to permanent changes in patterns of brain activity?

       Then there are intriguing indications that consciousness can sometimes exist in the absence of a working brain, or a brain at all. Two examples:

       1. In October 2012, an account by Dr Eben Alexander went viral over the internet. He is a neurosurgeon, and was a confirmed sceptic. Then his cortex went dead for 7 days, while he was artificially kept alive in hospital, under 24/24 observation. During this time, with 0 cortical activity, he experienced a vividly recalled and reported journey, which is very similar to many other clinical death descriptions. Naturally, as with all these, the details are determined by his cultural/religious background, but make for a very convincing read.

       2. At the University of Virginia, a research group has been examining apparent past-life experiences of young children since the mid-50s. The current head of this group is Professor Jim Tucker. His book, Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives, is an examination of 25 of the over 2500 cases in which testable claims were obtained from little children, and the evidence was found to substantiate these claims.

       The most remarkable story was the subject of a publication in a high impact peer-reviewed journal. (Keil, H.H.J., Tucker, J.B. An unusual birthmark case thought to be linked to a person who had previously died. Psychological Reports 87:1067-1074, 2000). One particular ethnic group in India has the custom of painting a red dot somewhere on the body of a recently deceased person, in the belief that a baby later born with a birthmark in the corresponding place will be the same soul reincarnated. A little boy with a birthmark on his back consistently named the woman who had painted it there, but the family knew no such person. Using public records, the University of Virginia team found an old woman of that name in a different village within the same culture. Upon seeing a photo of the boy, showing the birthmark, she said, "That's so and so, I painted the dot on him."

       The point is that when the woman painted the dot, the man was dead. The boy was not yet born. So, how did he acquire the knowledge without a brain active at the time?

       My position is that I am a sceptic. I don't believe anything. Instead, I study the available evidence, and devise the best possible tentative model of reality I can.

       On the basis of the evidence available to me, I tentatively conclude that consciousness is possible without an active, functioning brain.

       Petrea King has said, "Your body is a space suit for surviving on this planet." On the evidence, I agree with her. That is, the brain is a tool for doing what I, the passenger, want to do.

       Here is an analogy. When you press down on the brake pedal in your car, you move a piston in a small cylinder filled with oil. That pressure is transmitted to large cylinders near each wheel, which transmit force to levers that push friction pads against metal disks attached to the wheel.

       This is useful information when you're teaching a young fellow to maintain a car. How useful is it though when teaching him to drive? Then, it is a mere distraction.

       So, a neurosurgeon needs to know which bit of the brain is involved in experiencing an emotion. For someone dealing with the emotion, that information is irrelevant.

       If people want to use brain language, they are welcome. But when they do so, they are not explaining anything.

    I've been grieving for 12 years

       My best friend died in 2000. It was most likely suicide (he died of an overdose after the death of his mother, who he was very close to). It's been over 12 years now, and I can't seem to get over it.

       Is it normal to mourn someone for this long? Should I be trying to "get over it"?

    Hi Jim,

       No, this is not normal. You are "stuck in grief." At the same time, no, you should not be trying to "get over it."

       The average period of grief when someone you are very close to dies is 1 to 2 years. If it has lasted over 12 years, then something you are doing keeps it going.

       Of course, given your brief note, I don't know what that is. It may be precisely "trying to get over it." That's what people tell you to do, but it's wrong.

       When you try to not-do something (like thinking of your dead friend), you are focusing your attention on that thought, and attention is energy. Try not to think of Buffalo Bill. Even if you haven't thought of him in decades, trying to not-think about him will ensure that you are. Right?

       What I suggest is that you hold some sort of ritual to put your friend at rest. The details need to suit your way of doing things and your personal beliefs. Examples are spending a day praying for him, or a very private, one person funeral ceremony, or organizing that on the anniversary of his death, you get together the people who knew him to honor his memory, or planting a tree or long-living flowering bush in his honor.

       Second, it is all right to have his memory in your life. Instead of trying to banish it, you can talk to him within your mind. Ask his advice. Share with him the events of your day.

       Third, there is a wonderful book on grief, Seven Choices: Taking steps to a new life after losing someone you love, by Elizabeth Harper Neeld. Read that book.

       If after you have done that you are still facing this problem, then have a few sessions with a psychologist or grief counselor.

       Now I come to the question of why you are still suffering this grief. Clearly, one reason is that you are a caring, loving person. This is a good thing, but the cost is that you feel loss more than other people. But also, I suspect you may be rather isolated and have few friends. This makes the ones you have more precious and irreplaceable.

       As I said, you don't need to banish this friend from your life. You don't need to forget him, or to replace him. But you may need more friendly contacts. I suggest you engage in some new activities: things you find interesting and fun. Find other people who share an interest in these activities, and some of them will become your friends. That will be very helpful in overcoming your grief.

    Have a good life,

    He used to abuse me. Should I leave him?

       I have been married for four years and have three children. Now almost two years I'm having a problem making love to my husband because he has been abusive to me in the past. His abusive words have affected my self-esteem. Our relationship is fine now but I cant forget his abusive words every time I sleep with him. This is affecting my marriage. I want to end this marriage because I feel that I can't forget what he has done to me in the past. I have tried so hard to keep on this relationship for the sake of my children.

    Dear Mary,

       Have I read it right? He used to be verbally abusive in the past, but he has now changed what he does, and treats you with respect? Is that what you mean by the relationship being fine?

       I am going to assume so, but of course I could have misunderstood. If the abuse is continuing, then you have every right to divorce him. And the children are actually better off being out of a home where abuse occurs.

       But if in fact he has learned his lesson, and has made the effort to change how he treats you, then the problem is that you are hanging on to past hurt rather than responding to the present.

       This happens to everyone who has been traumatised, and that bad past experience hasn't been properly dealt with. It means that in certain situations, we act as if we were still back in that bad past. So, when you sleep with him, your emotions and thoughts are as if he were still being abusive, even though he isn't any more.

       If this is true, then the right thing to do is for you to process that past hurt. In Britain, you have free access to a psychologist. A few sessions of trauma therapy with a competent person will have you being able to respond to the present rather than reliving the past.

    Good luck,

    She is stealing my boyfriend!

       I am Kathy. I am 10 years old and I really need help.

       I have a friend named Sue. I have known her for a few months and I call her my best friend. Just recently, I met this guy named Michael. When I introduced Sue to Michael, instantly I felt jealous. She isn't a good singer or dancer. Neither is she good at gymnastics. But, she is very pretty and rich. Me; People say I have a AMAZING voice and I am good at gymnastics, dancing, and acting. But, I'm not very rich or pretty. Sue keeps showing off for Michael and showing him her expensive stuff and doing gymnastics. I know it shouldn't bother me but I am really jealous because he used to really like me and now all of his attention is on her. This also happened with my boyfriend and her. what do I do? :(

    Kathy my dear,

       I know this situation must feel to you like it fills your world. I imagine you keep worrying over it all the time, so that you can't sleep. Maybe you have trouble eating, just filled up with anger at Sue, and feeling how unfair all this is.

       Your problem actually has two parts, and I can show you how you can throw away one part -- the biggest one.

       What's more, you can cope in the same way with whatever problems you have in the future.

       There is a part of your problem that comes from outside: Michael wants to spend time with Sue, and you want him to spend time with you instead. This is the case now, although we can never tell what is in the future. They may have an argument tomorrow and then never speak to each other again. Or they may fall in love, and 8 years from now marry and have kids and live together forever. Or whatever. And if they break up, he may become your special friend or not.

       Whatever happens in the future, you can't have something you want at this moment. That is a given, for now.

       The biggest part of your upset is not this, but that you choose to beat yourself up over it. We all do this, even grandparents like me. But we can choose to react differently, and when we manage to do that, most of the pain goes.

       Until now, the stuff you have been telling yourself has made you feel angry and bitter and hurt, and less good than Sue despite your many skills. Instead, you can choose to tell yourself things that are true, but also positive and make you feel better about yourself and your situation.

       You should make up your own self-talk, but here are some suggestions:

       1. I am only 10. It's silly at 10 years of age to worry about just one boy. I can be friends with many. It's not like I am ready to get married and have kids!

       2. Michael is OK, and I don't mind being friends with him, but who knows what's around the corner?

       3. Yes, Sue has outer beauty. But:

       "Beauty is a tree.

       Inner beauty is the timber that makes a tree a tree.

       Outer beauty is only the bark, of no use whatever."

       I'll work hard at having inner beauty.

       And that means letting go of any blaming. If those two have fun together, they are welcome.

       Kathy, you'll find that when you change what you say to yourself about your situation, then you are in control of how you feel about it.

    Give it a try.


    Carcinogens Used in 1 Out of 3 Fracking Operations by Beth Buczynski
    Questions About Mandatory Influenza Immunization by Oleg Reznik
    Also by Oleg: What's worse: the chronic pain or the medication for it?

    Carcinogens Used in 1 Out of 3 Fracking Operations
    by Beth Buczynski

       The recent natural gas boom has put hydraulic fracturing, an old practice now being utilized on a massive scale, in the hot seat. Fracking has been linked to a growing list of environmental hazards, not the least of which include earthquakes and poisoned water.

       Those alarmed by the widespread adoption of fracking in recent years have tried desperately to expose the water-chemical cocktail that gas companies inject into the ground to access gas deposits. Unfortunately, the industry does not require disclosure of this fluid's ingredients, even though it's very likely to end up in the public water supply.

       Up until now it's been deny, deny, deny, but a recent industry report has exposed fracking for the deadly practice that it is.

       EcoWatch reports:

       While not all hydraulic fracturing operations or all chemicals used in the process are disclosed by the drilling industry, thanks to the lack of a uniform national disclosure law and exacerbated by the liberal use of "trade secret" exemptions, known cancer-causing substances such as naphthalene, benzyl chloride and formaldehyde were used in 34 percent of all fracks reported by industry to

       Did you catch that? The use of carcinocens was voluntarily reported, by gas companies themselves, to a fracking-friendly website. That means no twisting of facts or empty accusations by environmentalists. This is straight from the horse's mouth, if you will, and it's BAD NEWS for communities across the country.

       Further solidifying this dangerous use of cancer-causing chemicals, independent analysis of the SkyTruth Fracking Chemical Database by IT professional David Darling found that 9,310 individual fracking operations conducted between January 2011 and September 2012 disclosed the use of at least one known carcinogen.

       Public health agencies are charged with regulating these substances and preventing the public's exposure to them whenever possible, yet Big Gas is allowed to pump them into the Earth with reckless abandon. Sure, everyone from the EPA down claims to be "looking into" the potential hazards of fracking, meanwhile the gas companies are charging full steam ahead, using their financial and political clout to bully communities into submission.

       It's wrong, it's dangerous and it's time we did something about it.


    Questions About Mandatory Influenza Immunization
    by Oleg Reznik

       More and more hospitals are implementing programs of mandatory flu vaccination for healthcare workers, to reduce sickness and death among patients. The issue I am raising is not so much about flu vaccination in general as it is about mandating it.

       Several arguments are usually offered in favor of mandatory immunization, the most popular being the scientific, the economical and the ethical ones.

       According to the scientific argument, sciences provide reliable answers. Certain conclusions can be drawn and implemented into a daily medical practice... until a better set of conclusions is found.

       However, often a certain medical intervention was performed for a years, then it was found to be either useless or harmful and abandoned. The guideline makers were just as convinced when issuing the initial guidelines as when they subsequently reversed them.

       This is normal for natural sciences where the research method inherently lacks the capacity to grasp the full picture, having to isolate and investigate a limited number of parameters at any particular time. I believe any true scientist will agree with this and will object to mandating medical procedures on this basis.

       The current argument that flu vaccination of health care workers saves patient lives is based on research, but few people actually look at the evidence. Most administrators opt to simply trust the makers of the guidelines. The evidence is often overstated. For example, most of the research of immunization of health care workers was done in Nursing Homes, not in hospitals, and research findings are not generalizable to the different populations.

       In addition, you will rarely hear about the actual magnitude of benefit. Vaccine effectiveness ranges from 50 to 70%, even on a year with a good match between the vaccine strain and the actual circulating virus. This year, for example, according to January 11, 2013 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the vaccine effectiveness is 55% for the more common Influenza A, and 70% for Influenza B. This is considered good but far from the 100% many people expect.

       Also, you are unlikely to hear that the adverse effect profile includes pain at the injection site in 51% of the immunized, fatigue 20%, headache 18%, muscle aches 18%, joint pains 6% (from the package insert of GlaxoSmithKline 2012-2013 FluLaval® (Influenza virus vaccine). You are also unlikely to hear about the Canadian study that compared immunized and unimmunized people in terms of their susceptibility to the pandemic strains of flu, and found that those who were immunized for the regular flu were more susceptible to the pandemic strains. (Skowronski et al. Association between the 2008--09 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine and Pandemic H1N1 Illness during Spring--Summer 2009: Four Observational Studies from Canada. PLoS Medicine, 2010). It was hypothesized that natural infection-induced cross-immunity was superior to cross-immunity induced by the inactivated vaccine strains. Natural infection can make us more resistant to more serious illness.

       The economic argument presents data on the annual cost of influenza. The figures are usually on the order of billions of dollars due to days missed from work and decreased productivity. However, the calculation of such figures only considers one side, because it ignores the concept of negative externality: the sum of all direct or indirect negative effects engendered by a particular intervention. They are usually missed when the intervention is investigated by the usual narrow spectrum of inquiries.

       A negative externality is is difficult to predict, identify and study, in spite of it being very real. Immunization related negative externalities may include an increase in the stress of persons who are reluctant but feel forced to be immunized, increased stress of having to organize and undergo another interruption in the usual work flow for both management and workers, additional financial burden to the institutions to have to acquire sufficient number of vaccines, then implement and report on the success of the program, translating into even greater demands for higher productivity for those same institutions to offset the expenses of supplies and implementation, work-related stress translating into higher work-related injuries (disability claims for repetitive activity injuries, other physical and emotional disabilities) and finally an increase in flu-like illness caused by thousands of viruses, other than influenza, as the link between mental stress and an increased risk of common colds has been well documented. This leaves out the bigger picture of how increasing industrial scale of vaccine production and distribution throughout the world impacts on people and environment in general, as well as on the susceptibility of the world population to the occasional new pandemic flu strains in particular (from which vaccination, by definition, cannot protect).

       Finally, and most importantly, is the ethical argument, which can be seen as either the most persuasive or the weakest, depending on one's point of view. Since the scientific evidence shows reduction in illness and death from vaccination, it is unethical for the healthcare worker to remain unimmunized and thus expose the patient to harm. This argument is logical but it rests entirely on the assumption that the scientific evidence is equivalent to absolute truth. This is much more the case when we cross the line from encouraging immunization by advertising, 'education', and offering vaccines free from cost, to forcing immunization by instituting coercive methods and punitive repercussions. This threshold is being crossed now due to the new Medicare mandates in the US requiring all hospitals to have at least 90% immunization of healthcare workers or else face reimbursement cuts by 2015.

       In reality, modern healthcare system accepts causing illness and death as part of its everyday functioning. My conservative estimate is that at least 100,000 people meet premature death annually as a result of the normal functioning of the system and not as a result of medical errors, which is separate. This includes premature cancer deaths from the use of medical radiation such as CT scans, nuclear scans and fluoroscopic procedures. In 2007, an estimated 29,000 cancers were predicted in the US by CT scanning alone (Berrington de González A et al. Projected Cancer Risks From Computed Tomographic Scans Performed in the United States in 2007 Arch Intern Med. 2009).

       My estimate also includes the deaths of men after unnecessary surgeries for prostate cancer (Screening for Prostate Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Ann Intern Med. 2012). It includes women, for whom it is found that one third are overdiagnosed with screening mammography and treated for cancers that would not affect them in their lifetime (Bleyer, A. et al. Effect of Three Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Incidence. N Engl J Med 2012).

       Most are procedures and interventions done with the good intention of reducing suffering and saving lives and, at the same time, recurrent overestimation of our ability to do good.

       Thus there is discordance between the apparently ethical demand of the system to help save lives and the ongoing acceptance by this same system of sacrificing thousands of human lives as part of its normal functioning.

       I hope not to create an impression of opposing the medical system on all accounts, being its practitioner myself, but rather objecting to its overstepping its boundaries by employing coercive measures in trying to enforce a "health policy." We have many precedents for imposing certain limits based on scientific evidence. This includes wearing of helmets, speed limits, seatbelts, and smoke alarms. The idea of mandating inoculation reaches to another level. Here we are asked to give up the responsibility for our body to an agency that is supposed to have our best interest in mind, but does not have a very convincing track record.

    Oleg Reznik, MD
    Mountain Sage Medical

    Oleg is one of the contributors to my book Cancer: A personal challenge. He is a wholistic physician who keeps getting in trouble with authority for daring to think for himself, on the basis of publicly available evidence.

       More strength to him.

    What's worse: the chronic pain or the medication for it?
    by Oleg Reznik

       Oleg sent me another quite lengthy paper, and I considered it important enough to permanently post it on my web site. In it, he examined the use of opiates like morphine for chronic pain management. You can read it here.


    Fun with English
    Name generator for characters

    Fun with English

       I find English an amusing language, because of its many inconsistencies. Oh, other languages have their strange features (for example der die das in German and its equivalent in French), but most other languages are sane compared to English.

       The point of writing is to represent spoken language, right? Maybe in Hungarian or Spanish, but certainly not in English. Let's look at "oo" as a single example.

       Book - look - sook - took - cook... so far so good.

       But right, "good" also has "oo" in it, but there it sounds different. It has its own family, like hood and stood. Why should these be written like the first lot?

       Don't stop there. We also have roof - proof - spoor - goof. I don't pronounce this lot anything like the previous two groups (and two sounds like too).

       Then we have door, which sounds like "more" and "for" than any of the previous. We can add a few more here, like floor.

       The different pronunciations soon balloon (moon, but also prune).

       On a different slant, a linguistics professor told a class that in English, you don't use a double negative. In Russian you can, and it's taken to be a positive. But in no language can a double positive be taken as a negative.

       "Yeah, right!" came from the back of the class, showing that not even linguistics professors know everything about English.

       Then there are turns of phrase. Again, a single example will do: "catch."

       I think you'd have to be impossibly fast to be able to catch and aircraft, or even a bus or train. Isn't it easier to wait for it to stop? And which hand do you catch a cold with?

       So, here is a little challenge. Please provide me with additional causes for amusement at English. The best contribution will be paid with a free copy of any of my electronic books, listed at my writing site.

    Name generator for characters

       Like every fiction writer, occasionally I've been stuck for a name for a character in a story. I usually go to a baby-name site, especially if my character is not English in background so I can grab a suitable name of the right ethnicity. This is how I got Wotjek and Hieronim for two of the people in the book I am working on when the world allows me the time. You see, they come from Poland. However, if you need vaguely English names, you can now access a new resource. Go to this web site and see what you can see.

    What my friends want you to know

    Climate Revival: An Ecumenical Festival to Embolden the Renewal of Creation
    Stop Reader's Digest litter
    Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite
    Learn mindfulness
    Mediation e-conference with Ed and Deb Shapiro
    Summer Solar BBQ on Sunday February 24
    Ecuadorean Tribe Will "Die Fighting" to Defend Rainforest

    Climate Revival: An Ecumenical Festival to Embolden the Renewal of Creation

    Saturday, April 27, 2013 10am-4pm
    Featuring national and international leaders

       Come to Old South Church UCC and Trinity Church (Episcopal) on Boston's Copley Square

       Direct link to this page:

       This event will be led by national and international religious and environmental leaders. Preachers so far include:

       Come together for an inspirational day of preaching, worship, prayers, and music as we celebrate the splendor of Creation, mourn its desecration, and advocate for restoration and renewal. Led by national and international religious leaders, we will call upon the Holy Spirit as we rise up to stabilize the climate and to create a better future. Churches will have an opportunity to participate in an informational fair about their environmental work.

    Stop Reader's Digest litter

       My friend Chris Gallard has started a Facebook group, because unasked, out of the blue, Reader's Digest have started to bombard him with advertising material.

       He writes:

       Somehow I've ended up on Reader's Digest's competition mailing list. So now I can look forward to copious amounts of glossy, expensive garbage, telling me I am now " the running, for a chance, to potentially win... guaranteed." The quality & amount of the paper & the printing makes me cringe. You can't just call them & ask to be removed, I've tried. It doesn't work. Pressure must be bought to bear on this company to stop this wasteful, disrespectful practice. It's just a matter of numbers. They will change their ways, if enough people hold them to account.

       It is costing us the Earth.

       Join the group at

    Enough is Enough: Building a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources

    Problem: How many economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    Answer: Economic growth!

       Economic growth is pitched like the answer to all problems. It's the universal plan emanating from classrooms, boardrooms, and press rooms. Everywhere you turn, you can hear a professor, a pundit, or a politician prescribing economic growth as the pill to cure any ill. We need to open space for a new conversation and a new plan.

       That's why Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill wrote Enough Is Enough: Building a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources.

       Noam Chomsky says this about the book: "Humans seem to be intent on confirming the argument of biologist Ernst Mayr that higher intelligence may be a lethal mutation. But the grim prognosis is not inevitable. This lucid, informed, and highly constructive book not only outlines where we are heading, but also shows that with the will to act, solutions can be found to build a steady-state economy geared to meeting human needs."

       Filled with fresh ideas, engaging stories, and surprising optimism, Enough Is Enough is the primer for achieving genuine prosperity and a hopeful future for all.

       The first $5,000 from sales of the book will go straight to CASSE, so please consider ordering your copy today. And if you want to broaden the conversation, please tell your friends and family about Enough Is Enough. So get primed with Enough Is Enough this winter, then round it off this spring when Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution comes off the press (with another $5,000 going to CASSE). By summer you'll know more about real sustainability -- the steady state economy -- than 99.9% of the public, academics, and policy makers. And that's what we need!

       In addition to reading the report, please share it with your colleagues to start some much-needed discussion and debate about the transition to a steady state economy.

    Brian Czech, CASSE President

    Learn mindfulness

    Upcoming Courses for 2013

  • Free Meditation Afternoons

       Adelaide: Feb, May, September. Melbourne: March. Sunshine Coast: April

       You are invited to a free meditation afternoon to support and develop your practice. You are welcome to bring friends and family; please RSVP for catering purposes.

       CPD: 3.5 hours for those who use meditation in their work.

  • MBCT-Plus

       8-week and 3-day intensive

       Adelaide: Apr, Jun, Sept, Nov. Melbourne: April. Sunshine Coast: May

       The Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy-Plus course includes 4 hours extra content from ACT, DBT and MBSR. Participants gain depth of understanding from the widely researched, and globally taught MBCT, plus clarity, comparisons and distinctions from the other models to really understand the fundamentals of applied therapeutic mindfulness. This experiential course is the central training to understand and practice applied mindfulness. No pre requisite.

       CPD: 21 hours

       Cost: $880

  • Neuroscience meets Mindfulness

       1 evening (Adelaide: Feb, May, Sept. Melbourne: March. Sunshine Coast: April)

       This interactive workshop explores the exciting nexus between the two and a half thousand-year tradition of mindfulness teachings, and contemporary neuropsychology research and practice. You will be inspired by the scientific proof of these age-old understandings of how the mind works and how you can use this with your clients.

       CPD: 3 hours

       Cost: $170

  • Professional Practice for MBCT Graduates

       1 day. (Adelaide: Feb, May, Sept. Melbourne: March. Sunshine Coast: April)

       A supportive day of supervised practice in teaching mindfulness meditations and exercises for a range of contexts including: therapy, coaching, group work, and collegial gatherings.

       CPD: 6.5 hours

       Cost: $290

       Register online at

    Mediation e-conference, with Ed and Deb Shapiro

       COMING SOON: Join 30 inspiring meditation experts and luminaries on a magical mystery journey that will transform you from the inside out. Join Congressman Tim Ryan, Marianne Williamson, Richie Davidson, Tara Stiles, and others, on a meditation e-Conference, March 4-8. See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, foreword by the Dalai Lama.

    Summer Solar BBQ on Sunday February 24


    Dean here. I work with the 100% Renewable team, coordinating our network of local volunteers and community groups.

       Today I'm writing our first email of 2013 (Happy New Year!) to ask for your help creating the event that will kick off the year's activities - a nationwide Summer Solar BBQ on Sunday February 24.

       Register your interest now:

       Things with solar in Australia have changed a lot in the last few years. I remember when our 1 kW solar PV system was first installed in May 2009. I sat outside with my wife and three boys and watched the sun glint off its shiny black surface, and we felt proud. We were doing our bit. Back then there were only a handful of grid connected systems in my town of Castlemaine and our system cost $11,000 dollars. It was an act of faith in a future for all our kids.

       Now there are hundreds and hundreds of systems around town, on the houses of the dedicated environmentalists, the pensioners, the two income "battlers", local schools, churches and businesses. Across Australia there has been a solar revolution with over 1.5 million houses with solar on their roof. We have been part of thousands of new jobs being created and seen the price of PV fall such that the system I bought for $11,000 four years ago would only cost $2500 today!

       But despite this revolution many politicians, journalists and the public still don't know about the million-plus solar homes, the plummeting costs of solar systems and the role that rooftop panels can play in reducing energy bills.

       That's why on Sunday February 24th local community members right across Australia will be working to change all that. We'll be firing up our backyard barbies, inviting the locals (including the local media and pollies!), running a panel tour and putting the sizzling success story of solar into the headlines.

       Will you take part in serving up the success story of solar by registering to host or join a Summer Solar BBQ? Register here:

       In this election year we need our MPs to recognise that solar is a good news story that everyone can share in. We have all seen the coal lobby and big energy companies telling our politicians that solar is a feel-good luxury for the rich that hurts the real "battlers". And we know that's not true! By inviting our journos and pollies to a fun summer BBQ with their local constituents, we'll put the facts about solar PV on the table, and start to set the story straight!

    With sunny summer wishes,

    Ecuadorean Tribe Will "Die Fighting" to Defend Rainforest

       By Ecological Internet,

       TAKE ACTION to protect Ecuador's rainforests and indigenous nations from oil.

       Please support Ecuador's Kichwa villagers, who the Guardian newspaper reports vow to resist oil prospecting by state-backed company Petroamazonas at all costs. The Kichwa tribe has said they are ready to fight to the death to protect their rainforests which cover 70,000 hectares, adjacent and part of Yasuni National Park, and huge additional Ecuadorean rainforests are threatened by new industrial oil auctions as well. Industrial development of rainforests for oil in the Amazon has a long history of destroying ecosystems including fouling water. Tell President Correa that standing, intact old-growth forest ecosystems are a requirement for local advancement, and local and global ecological sustainability; and demand the invasion of indigenous nations' rainforests be halted.

    Book Reviews

    Endless Time by Frances Burke
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Frances Burke

    Endless Time, by Frances Burke

       Endless Time is a magnificent story of love and hate across centuries. The same people meet each other life after life, working out their destinies, choosing to advance along a spiritual path or to do the opposite. Since I have had past life recalls myself, I find this fully believable, but in fact belief is not necessary: there is scientifically very respectable evidence supporting the concept of reincarnation.

       Sometimes in the 21st Century, sometimes in the Napoleonic era, we get to know and like a man and a woman who, in each of their lives, become fully rounded, vibrant people who leap off the page. Frances Burke has the skill of characterization honed to a high level. Also, her portrayal of 19th Century life is accurate and believable.

       Tension makes a story interesting, and Endless Time has plenty of tension. I found it always believable, always true to character, compelling and intriguing.

    Frances Burke writes about herself:

       I am a Sydney-based writer with a love of travel and have so far published ten historical novels, each set in a different country and usually against a background of war or civil unrest. The past is endlessly fascinating, and I bring it alive, peopling it with men and women who are hardy and adventurous, and willing to travel beyond the boundaries of polite society.

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Frances Burke

       Ascending Spiral is a metaphysical novel with a powerful message. The violence marking each episode is a deliberate evocation of the darkness that is inherent in mankind, and the theme, therefore, shines like a silver thread of promise -- the idea that we are capable of loving forgiveness of ourselves and, more particularly of others.

       The spiral of one soul's journey begins 12,000 years ago, although this is not where the book begins. Padraig lives in 9thC Ireland and his early death at the hands of a Viking starts our common journey. We join him as he is reborn into many lives, sometimes as a woman, always in expiation for a failing and as a learning process that will advance the soul on its upward journey towards perfection.

       The historical background for each period has been meticulously researched and is often so interesting that it's a shock to be forced to leave for another time and place. Nothing, of course, to the shock experienced by our protagonist, who does, however, start to understand the process and value the opportunity to redress the wrongs he has perpetrated through suffering and just through being human.

       The way of karma rings true for many people, and this book is a very well written and thoughtful explanation of its message. It is also an exciting, historically accurate series of linked stories that will hold the reader in his chair for a single sitting.

       Highly recommended.

    Purposeful living
    by Peter Faithfull

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