Bobbing Around

Volume Twelve, Number Seven
March, 2013

Bob Rich's (sunny) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
*Response to the previous issue
  From Carolyn Harris
  Vote Green, from Bob Brown
  Swami Beyondananda's 2013 State of the Universe Address
  Friendly Oil -- Not the Venezuelan Kind, by Peter Hart
  We are not drowning. We are fighting.
  Reality Drop
  100% of Japanese Nuclear Plants Failed the Safety Test, by Beth Buczynski
  Record snow in a warming world? by Marlene Cimons
  Climate Change Strategies from a Country on Fire, by Michael Looker
*Good news
  Whale murderers running away! from Captain Paul Watson
  Pakistan unveils new climate change policy, by Faisal Raza Khan
  Shell out of the Arctic, for now, by Philip Radford, Greenpeace
*Deeper issues
  When To Let Go, by Deepak Chopra
  The Open Source Ecology Paradigm, by Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.
  The beneficial effects of knowing about reincarnation, by Carolyn Harris
  Teenage molester grown up
  Devastated by lost love, at 15
  I want to kill and torture
  Lives increasingly at risk from 'angry climate'
  Can You Die from a Broken Heart? from
  Death by Coca-Cola, by Michelle Schoffro Cook
*For writers
  How to avoid ungrammatical sentences: beware of the ug
  The plot: avoiding glitches
*What my friends want you to know
  Shame Coca Cola
  Sexism: See It. Say It. Stop It, from Fiona Armstrong
  Kickstarter for Permaculture Australia in April
  Eco Food Fest, April Yarra Junction
  Sarah Hanson-Young, South Australian Greens Senator
  Referendum: recognise Australia's first peoples
  GP the Musical, from Therapeutic Theatrics
*Book reviews
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Joyce Scarborough
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Cathy Brownfield

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.

A modern parable

   The Prince's son had his 10th birthday, and a huge celebration was held up in the castle. The birthday cake was as big as a wagon wheel, and the hundreds of nobles lucky enough to be invited were served a sumptuous 10-course meal.


   The other half of the story is less so. This event took place in a walled town under siege. Many thousands of the enemy camped around the walls, ravaging the countryside. They were terrible, implacable barbarians, determined to kill and rape and pillage, and take any survivors into slavery.

   So far, they had been kept out. Now, they were simply waiting to starve the defenders into submission.

   The ordinary soldiers, the townspeople, the refugees did not share in the birthday feast. This made them resentful, and rightly so. Therefore, they organised celebrations of their own, doing whatever they could to get at food supplies and enjoying ever-increasing consumption of the town's scarce resources. After all, if it's good enough for the nobles, surely it's good enough for us?

   Sounds idiotic?

   Then why are we doing the same thing?

   Today, I saw 6 hot-air balloons up in the sky. These balloons are a wonderful tourist attraction, providing a thrill and a beautiful memory. Only thing is, they are powered by fossil fuel. In my house at Moora Moora, we used liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to cook and run a gas fridge. One balloon trip uses as much LPG as our house over 3 months.

   Multiply this example by a million, such as car races, pleasure cruising, holidays in distant places, replacing stuff that is still functional but perhaps no longer fashionable, leaving lights shining in an empty room, on and on in a splurge of the young Prince's birthday party.

   Add to our overconsumption what is happening in places like China and India, where those who have been disadvantaged insist on joining the party.

   What do you get?

   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.

Empathy defined

   This bloke needed to buy a camel. He saw that some were for 1000 dinari, while "bricked camels" were for 2000. He asked the merchant the difference.

   "You see, Sahib, a bricked camel holds twice as much water, so can go twice as far. I'm about to brick one. You can watch."

   He led a big camel to a water trough. As the camel started to drink, he picked up 2 bricks and smacked them on each side of the camel's testicles. The animal went OOOOOH, sucking up water.

   "Ouch! But doesn't that hurt?"

   "Only if you catch your thumb."

   The buyer had empathy. The merchant didn't.

Response to the previous issue

From Carolyn Harris

   Hi Bob, love the book cover you are considering for 'Ascending Spiral.' It's beautiful :)

   Great to see Peter (Peter Ramster) getting some space here too. It's been so long and I know we lost a very worth while fellow when his son suffered such massive injuries. I'm glad someone has put his work back on show. Reincarnation is such a valuable thing to know as it gives us so much more understanding of who we are.

   I sometimes feel really sorry for people who reject it because this is then the only life they have or will have. It depletes the soul and makes just the one life worthless. No wonder so many of the young wonder what life is all about and why should they try to succeed if all that happens in the end is they die never to come back.

   Life is so much richer than people give it credit for, no matter where we are from or where we go to after this life, it makes this life so valuable.

   Anyway... just my thoughts :)

Carolyn lives in Tasmania. She is the lady who helped me to recover some past life recalls in 2007. She has been internet mother to a great many people with the challenge of breast cancer.


Vote Green from Bob Brown
Swami Beyondananda's 2013 State of the Universe Address
Friendly Oil -- Not the Venezuelan Kind by Peter Hart

Vote Green
from Bob Brown

   Australian democracy is at a crossroads. This election voters have a choice: vote for the Greens or let Tony Abbott run riot by controlling both houses of our national parliament. When John Howard got such control in 2004 he brought in the harshest anti-worker laws in history, sold Telstra and 'invaded' the Northern Territory to implement measures for which he suspended Australia's laws prohibiting racial discrimination.

   Tony Abbott will make John Howard look moderate. But Labor has turned its back on the people and walked directly into the arms of the big miners. For example, the Gillard government has cut the meagre income of struggling single parents and can't adequately fund education in the middle of a resources boom.

   The truth is there are some heroes in politics, and there are some downright villains. We need to get serious about sorting out who is worth voting for. We need to stand up for those who stand up for us.

   That's why I am joining Adam Bandt at Melbourne University on March 15 to remind you that your vote is powerful and that Green is the new Labor, the party of social justice, as well as environmental well-being.

   RSVP here now:

   People in Melbourne have had a huge impact on the national agenda by voting for the Greens. There are few things more important to me than seeing Adam Bandt re-elected this September.

   Please join us. Together we can stop Tony Abbott.

Bob Brown

Swami Beyondananda's 2013 State of the Universe Address

Time to Shift or Get Off the Pot

"Start the world -- I want to get ON!" -- Swami Beyondananda

    Well, the world didn't end on December 22, 2012. Talk about an anti-climax. The shift of the ages happened seamlessly, as the Creator hit Re-Start and the Show got renewed for another 26,000 years.

   I don't know about you, but I'm inspired. I'm like, "Start the world -- I want to get ON!"

   So let's just say the rapture happened and we all got born again without reincarnating. In other words, the shift has hit the fan. And if you're not a fan of shifting now, you will be soon. The planets and stars have done their part. Now it's time for humanity to shift our karma out of reverse and get our assets in gear.

   You probably don't get the Timeless Times where you live, but beings from across the Universe are rooting for us. Last month, their headline was, "We're Betting On the Human Race."

   I know this because I just got back from a trans-universal tour seeking the Key to the Universe (turns out, it's been left unlocked so the joke was on me) and I come bearing a Universal message for humanity: It's time to shift or get off the pot.

   Or, stay on the pot if you need pot to shift you. Whatever it takes.

   It's time for us to use our intelligence intelligently, and begin thinking like a species -- because in terms of global footprint, call us Bigfoot. And given our big global footprint, we must develop a big global brain and even bigger global heart to weave us back into the web of life. We don't want to flunk third dimension, do we?

   And if we are, as evolutionary biology is now telling us, all cells in the body of a super-organism called Humanity, it's time we gather all good intentions under One Big Intent: Thrival for all.

   I know, I know. I am proposing a sane world. I must be crazy.

   But I'm not the only one. More and more humans are going sane, and committing themselves to turning the world into one big sane asylum. People are waking up and wising up, and the good news is the "evolutionary upwising" gathered esteem in 2012.

   Take the Presidential campaign -- please!

   In sharp repudiation of the conventional belief that there's no such thing as a moderate Republican, the people of the United States thumbed their nose at convention and actually elected one President. So there! No longer high on hopium, a more sober body politic made what they saw was the better choice: positive change in small increments, as opposed to negative change in large excrements.

   Speaking of which, the never-ending war on terror ("We're going to win the war to end all wars, even if it takes us forever!") went droning on in 2012, and we now have space-age wind-up toys doing our assassinations for us. As for success, it's been hit-and-miss, mostly hit. Because even when they miss, they still hit something, right?

   Oh, and in 2012 the climate over climate change got heated up, as reality-deniers faced off against... well, reality. So, is climate change real? Well, I'll put it this way. I just came back from a terrific vacation in the future. Spent a glorious week in Tropicanada.

   And the gun debate has had everybody up in arms. Listen, every child in America should be taught the appropriate use of arms as soon as they have arms to raise: hugging. Hug first, ask questions later. Come up with your hands out!

   If that doesn't isolate the sociopathogens, I don't know what will.

   Join the UPwising - Wake UP, Wise UP, Grow UP, Show UP

   Here's some good news. Now is the perfect time to make the shift, and I will tell you why. Because it's too late to do it sooner, that's why. I'll put it bluntly. If we humans don't begin rowing together in the same direction, we're going to be up shift creek without a paddle.

   Now as you know, there are two kinds of mystics in the world: the optimystics and the pessimystics. The pessimystics tell us "the sky is falling!" The optimystics say, "No, it only looks that way, because WE are ascending."

   Personally, I am an optimystic realist. While many look at the world situation and declare the glass 95% empty, I take the opposite position. To me, it's 5% full!

   So yes, we have an uphill journey. But otherwise, it's all downhill.

   Now there are those who say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, while others swear by the 12-step. I present here a compromise: four simple steps to make sure we step out in the right direction, mathematically guaranteed to work three times faster than 12-step.

   Now, if you remember I presented the same four-step program in last year's State of the Universe. Please forgive me for serving up laughed-overs, but these four steps that will take us from children of God to adults of God are even more important this year.

   They are: Wake Up, Wise Up, Grow Up, Show Up.

   First step, Wake Up Laughing. As the ancient Foo Ling Masters who achieved Cosmic Comic Consciousness came to realize, life is a joke, but God is laughing with us, not at us. The Creator is watching the Comedy Channel, and WE are what's on. Yes, the world is in serious condition, largely because of our conditioning to be serious. So instead of having gravity bring us down, we can choose to have levity lift us up. Hearty laughter makes us go completely out of our head, and puts us right in the heart. And that brings us to Step Two.

   Second step, Wise Up Loving. To counterbalance all the challenges of being human, we were given the power of love, the universal solvent. You have a problem? Dissolve it in a warm solution of love. Through the power of love, we can metabolize all the BS (Belief Systems) that we mistake for reality. And the good news is, love is more powerful than fear. How do I know? You ever hear anyone singing, All You Need Is Fear?

   Third step, Grow Up Giving. Each of us has been given a special gift just for entering, so you are already a winner! We are the Creator's creation created to create, so what are we waiting for? Time to give all we were given to give... before we give out. The more of our gifts we give, the more we grow upward. So if you're spiritually upwardly mobile, here is my suggestion. Make a "bucket list" of all the undertakings you wish to undertake before being overtaken by the undertaker. And then undertake, and over-give, and you can't grow wrong.

   And finally, Show Up Living. Show up for the Greatest Show On Earth. It's better than reality TV... it's REALITY! A once-in-a-lifetime world win adventure show, where the whole world can win. It's the Hero's Journey with One Big Hero: the Human Race.

   I've said it before, and it certainly applies now. If you don't like the current programming, turn off your TV and tell-a-vision instead. So, I will tell my vision. I see it now. The Timeless Times headline that reads: "How Did The Human Race Turn Out? They WON. They Achieved Oneness and Won."

Copyright 2013 Steve Bhaerman. All rights reserved. Look for Swami Beyondananda online at

Friendly Oil -- Not the Venezuelan Kind
by Peter Hart

   With the Keystone climate protests in Washington bringing climate change back into the media, we're hearing a lot about how the Keystone pipeline will, at the very least, mean that we'll be getting our oil from a nice country. On NPR's All Things Considered (2/17/13) environment correspondent Elizabeth Shogren explained:

   There's a benefit from this oil that comes from Canada. That means that oil won't be coming from the Middle East. And there are lots of reasons why the president wants to have oil from a friendly nation instead of from someplace far away.

   Right wing pundit Charles Krauthammer (Fox News Special Report, 2/18/13) made the same point:

   The Keystone issue is the most open and shut case I have ever seen. Not only will it reduce dependence on Hugo Chavez and the Middle East if we get it from Canada, and not only would it be an insult to slam the door on Canada, our closest ally, but refusing the pipeline and not building it would have absolutely zero effect on the environment.

   And the USA Today editorial page (2/19/13) argues that

   the pipeline would bring reliable new oil supplies to a U.S. that still imports 40 percent of its crude, 7.6 million barrels a day last year. And 40 percent of those imports come from OPEC nations such as Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria. Keystone is expected to supply 830,000 million barrels a day, a key step toward the long-sought goal of North American energy independence, which suddenly seems attainable.

   And from New York Times columnist Joe Nocera (2/19/13):

   Like it or not, fossil fuels are going to remain the world's dominant energy source for the foreseeable future, and we are far better off getting our oil from Canada than, say, Venezuela.

   One would hope by now that there's some understanding that this is not "our" oil. It would be sold on a global market, like any other oil. The fact that there is a massive pipeline being built to deliver the oil to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico could be a sign that the oil isn't, in fact, destined to stay in the United States, but will be exported and sold like any other petroleum. As a New York Times editorial (10/3/11) pointed out, "much of the tar sands oil that would be refined on the Gulf Coast is destined for export."

   And it is worth mentioning that getting oil from Canada's tar sands will mean the destruction of boreal forests, with severe consequences for wildlife and wetlands. How on Earth the United States, or the world, is "better off" for having done this remains a complete mystery.

   But at least it's not Hugo Chavez's oil.

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpin, Peter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.

Fair blog.


We are not drowning. We are fighting
Reality Drop
100% of Japanese Nuclear Plants Failed the Safety Test by Beth Buczynski
Record snow in a warming world? by Marlene Cimons
Climate Change Strategies from a Country on Fire by Michael Looker

We are not drowning. We are fighting

Malo ni!

   My name is Mikaele Maiava. I'm writing from the Pacific Island archipelago of Tokelau to ask you to join with us in action as we take on the fossil fuel industry.

   Last October, Tokelau turned off the last of its diesel generators. In their place, we switched on our solar plants, making Tokelau the first country in the world to become 100% renewably-powered.

   I woke up before sunrise that day, excited about the history Tokelau was making. My whole village made its way to the site of over 100 solar panels -- we could see the many hours of hard labor that had gone into this project. As we counted down to the switch, I could feel future generations smiling at us and thanking us. Our children's future suddenly looked brighter because we had the vision (and perseverance) necessary to get off fossil fuels and switch to 100% renewable energy.

   You might wonder why we bothered. Aren't we doomed to lose our islands from sea-level rise? I don't blame you for thinking that if you did. So often the global media victimises the Pacific Islands and portrays us as helplessly succumbing to climate change and rising seas. But the global media know nothing of who we really are, or how it feels to live on these paradise islands we call home. They don't know that as Pacific Islanders, we are warriors, and that the land we live on is part of us.

   We know that the longer the fossil fuel industry gets its way, the worse climate change will be, and the more sea-level rise will threaten our islands. But giving up on our home is not an option. We are not drowning. We are fighting.

   That's why on March 2nd, Pacific Islanders across 15 diverse nations will be mobilising at prominent locations to perform our unique war challenges, songs, and dances. We'll be laying down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry. It is their coal and oil and gas vs. our future. They cannot both coexist. And it is our future that has to win.

   In this moment, and in the years to come, we need you to walk beside us. Because we live far away from the mines and power plants that threaten our future, we need the world's solidarity. Click here to stand with us during this weekend of Pacific Warrior climate action!

   We want to show the world that people from countries and cultures everywhere are standing with us -- the Pacific Warriors -- in the fight against climate change.

Fakafetai lahi, Thank you,
Mikaele Maiava

Reality Drop
by Jason Mraz

Dear friends,

   Way too often I hear and read blatantly false statements about climate change, namely that it doesn't exist. It's very frustrating -- and it makes me want to fight back and make sure we all hear the truth.

   There's a new online tool called Reality Drop from The Climate Reality Project, along with Arnold Worldwide, built to spread the truth and destroy denial around climate change. This is the REAL information from scientists' decades of research, not government or corporations. Give it a try.

   There are two things I'm passionate about: my music and nature. Therefore, I'm passionate we get it right about climate change so we may continue to enjoy music and our precious environment. Reality Drop is a way to respond to those who deny climate change and make sure our friends have access to the truth -- and have fun while we're at it.

Jason Mraz

100% of Japanese Nuclear Plants Failed the Safety Test
by Beth Buczynski

   Japan is still recovering from the 2011 tsunami that devastated the Fukushima nuclear plant and triggered widespread radioactive contamination. In late January, an expert panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority proposed new safety standards for the island nation's existing nuclear power plants. Among other things, the new standards would require each plant to build levees high enough to defend nuclear plants from the highest possible tsunami.

   Since the disaster, the Japanese public has shown a marked disinterest in nuclear power. In 2012, the government administration announced plans to move the country off of nuclear power completely by 2040. Unfortunately, the plan, which many saw as a thinly-veiled attempt to garner good will before an election, was short on specifics. The return to office last month of the conservative Liberal Democratic party (LDP) under Shinzo Abe effectively killed off the idea of a non-nuclear Japan, according to the Guardian. The new regime backtracked, saying that reactors would be restarted if they passed safety tests, and it refused to rule out the construction of new ones.

   Thankfully for renewable energy advocates, a recent survey found that not a single one of Japan's remaining power plants satisfies the proposed standards. For nine of the plants, operators even said they cannot tell when they will be able to meet the new requirements being drafted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

   In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, development of both solar and geothermal energy alternatives has skyrocketed as people come to terms with the fact that they're just an earthquake away from another nuclear fallout. While it hasn't been easy, the country has survived for almost two years without support from its nuclear reactors. Although it required sacrifice and a reorganization of the manufacturing schedule, the country has soldiered on, proving that a Japan without nuclear is indeed possible.

   For now, the massive task of making dozens of nuclear facilities 100 percent safe from an earthquake or tsunami (both of which are very common in Japan's geographical location) is enough to delay the government's plans. We can only hope that updating the plants proves to be an economically-irresponsible decision, and that the money and effort go toward renewable energy instead.


Record snow in a warming world?
by Marlene Cimons

   The science is clear. Climate change is serving up doses of extreme weather. Even in winter.

   As the Northeast digs out from under a mammoth blizzard, it might seem easy for climate change skeptics to point to such intense storms as evidence that global warming isn't real.

   They would be wrong.

   "Climate change contrarians and deniers love to cherry-pick individual events to argue that they are somehow inconsistent with global warming, when they are not," said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. "As long as it's cold enough to snow -- which it will be in the winter -- you potentially will get greater snowfalls."

   The reality is that such snowstorms often don't occur despite global warming, but because of it. "It's basic physics, and it's irrefutable," Mann said.

Super-saturated air

   The science behind this is clear: Warmer temperatures cause more water to evaporate into the atmosphere, and warmer air holds more water than cooler air. The air's "water-holding capacity," in fact, rises about 7 percent with each Celsius degree of warming. This results in air that becomes super-saturated with water, often bringing drenching rainfall followed by flooding or -- if it is cold enough -- heavy and intense snowfall.

   A study of 20th century snowstorms, published in the August 2006 Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology -- before the big storms of recent years -- found that most major snowstorms in the United States occurred during warmer-than-normal years. The authors predicted that "a warmer future climate will generate more winter storms."

   True, warming temperatures are bringing us milder and shorter winters in most areas, including a later start to winter and earlier onset of spring. But we still are experiencing big snowstorms, especially in the northern part of the country. Climatologists predict that the coming decades will bring more of the same, meaning unusually warm winters, as well as potentially record-breaking blizzards.


   It's already happened in recent years. Few people will forget the monster snowstorms that walloped the Atlantic states in 2010, most notably a back-to-back punch only days apart in February that broke records in many major cities and, in Washington, D.C., became known as "Snowmageddon." Rare storms also brought heavy snows to the deep South, including the northwest panhandle of Florida. In fact, by the second week of February, every state but Hawaii had snow on the ground.

   The world is growing hotter due to human activities, among them the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil, leading to dramatic increases of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases absorb and radiate heat, and are reconfiguring the Earth's climate.

   The global average temperature since 1900 has risen by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and by 2100 is projected to rise another two to 10 degrees F, according to U.S. Global Change Research Program. The U.S. average temperature has risen by a comparable amount and is very likely to rise more than the global average over this century, with some variation from place to place, USGCRP says.

Shorter season

   Paradoxically, winter, as a season, likely will become shorter as a result of increasing warming -- potentially hurting winter recreation areas that depend on tourism -- while snow, when it does fall, probably will be heavier. "Most likely we will see a shorter snow season, but more intense individual snowfall events," Mann said.

   Moreover, the occasional snow storm likely will occur at odd times, such as October and April. This already is happening.

   "When you look at the seasonal cycle now, the biggest snow storms usually will be in fall and spring because the air is warmer and holds more moisture," said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "There is a bigger chance for a big snowfall in late fall or early spring, and you will get more snow out of a given event."

   "You can still get snowstorms in mid-winter, but you can also get bigger snow amounts in fall and spring storms because the air is a little bit warmer than in mid-winter," he said. "Winter still comes. We will still have cold snaps -- but fewer of them."

   Mann agrees that we are more likely to experience horrible snowstorms when the temperatures hover in the low 30s or high 20s Fahrenheit, rather than in the teens or colder. "There is something to that old saying: 'It's too cold to snow,"' he said.

Marlene Cimons writes for Climate Nexus, a nonprofit that aims to tell the climate story in innovative ways that raise awareness of, dispel misinformation about, and showcase solutions to climate change and energy issues in the United States.


Climate Change Strategies from a Country on Fire
by Michael Looker

   Three recent events have made Australia a flashpoint for the global discussion around severe weather.

   The first: a rash of record temperatures and raging bushfires that has garnered international attention over the last several weeks.

   The second: a series of extreme floods that have displaced thousands in eastern Australia.

   And the third: the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change met recently in Hobart to vet its fifth major paper, scheduled for release later this year.

   The paper will undoubtedly warn us against what our recent experiences have already indicated: that our climate is warming, and that the danger posed to human and animal life is deadly serious.

   It's been nearly 30 years since our world saw a month that was cooler than average. In that time, average temperatures across Australia have uniformly risen -- in some places, by more than half a degree centigrade. Our coastlines are confronted by rising sea levels; once-verdant agricultural regions grapple with decreased rainfall and drought.

   Climate change is already happening; we are now reeling from its impacts. In recent weeks, it has often seemed as though we are powerless against it.

   But we are not. We have at our disposal an array of powerful conservation strategies that will help us cope with a changing climate while we simultaneously reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

   One of these strategies is mitigation. We can create offsets, such as those set up by Australia's groundbreaking carbon pricing system. Monetizing carbon emissions has given us an enormous incentive to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

   This mechanism affects not only major corporations but farmers and Indigenous groups as well. In northern Australia, where the Conservancy has worked with Traditional Owners and the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance on reinstating traditional fire practices that significantly reduce carbon emissions and the danger of dangerous bushfires, Indigenous landholders are earning the first terrestrial carbon credits handed out under the government's Carbon Farming Initiative.

   It's a creative solution, and one that we prefer because it not only furthers the battle against climate change but also helps Indigenous people and creates ecological benefits for iconic Australian landscapes.

   Another strategy for dealing with climate change is adaptation. The Conservancy has long supported and helped Australia's National Reserve System to create and secure large protected areas across Australia. Protecting vast stretches of land like the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area creates important space for the biodiversity most threatened by climate change and gives us the best chance of protecting native Australian species.

   A third strategy for addressing climate change is resilience. By learning from those communities and habitats that have best weathered the effects of climate change, we can reapply those lessons to better protect weakened or vulnerable communities. For example, we can study and replicate the defenses developed by coastal towns responding to rising oceans in those that have yet to strengthen their coasts.

   The Conservancy is a global organization working to apply these strategies across the planet -- from the coral reefs of Indonesia to the rainforests of Brazil to the steppes of Mongolia -- because only worldwide action can fully address climate change.

   But Australia is now suffering the brunt of our changing world -- and while we've shown inspiring leadership on the issue in passing a nationwide carbon pricing scheme and dedicating national resources to the strategies described above, there's still more that we can do.

   Climate change is the issue of our century, yet few have recognized its urgency and movements to address it have stalled. We hope that you'll stand with us in calling for stronger action on climate change and growing Australia's successes against climate change into a global movement for change.

   Visit to learn more about how we can conserve Australia's lands and waters together. You can also sign up today to become a Conservation Champion -- your monthly gift will enable The Nature Conservancy to make progress toward a cleaner, healthier planet for our generation and generations still to come.

The director of The Nature Conservancy's Australia program, Michael Looker is a trained botanist and one of Australia's leading scientists. Under his direction, the program has protected 8.9 million acres (3.6 million hectares) of biodiversity rich land in Australia through 27 direct land acquisitions. Before joining the Conservancy in 2005, Michael was director of the Australian nonprofit Trust for Nature, served as a senior lecturer in environmental horticulture at Burnley College at the University of Melbourne, and was superintendent of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. His major areas of interest and research have focused on vegetation management, achieving conservation outcomes at-scale and forging closer links between private and public investment in conservation.

Good news

Whale murderers running away! from Captain Paul Watson
Pakistan unveils new climate change policy by Faisal Raza Khan
Shell out of the Arctic, for now by Philip Radford, Greenpeace

Whale murderers running away!
from Captain Paul Watson

   The Japanese whaling fleet has left the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and is heading north.

   The ships crossing north of sixty degrees are the Nisshin Maru, Yushin Maru, Yushin Maru No. 2, Shonan Maru No. 2, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker.

   The entire Japanese whaling fleet is now north of sixty degrees and out of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

   The Panamanian-flagged Korean-owned fuel tanker Sun Laurel, traveling with the Yushin Maru No. 3 and flanked by the Sea Shepherd ship Sam Simon, is 120 nautical miles north of the Nisshin Maru and is continuing northward at eleven knots.

   Since the Japanese whaling fleet arrived in the Southern Ocean at 2330 Hours on January 28th, 2013, the Sea Shepherd ships have chased the fleet for over 6,240 miles westward, from the Ross Sea to Pryzd Bay, from 164 degrees 02 minutes West to 60 degrees 20 minutes East.

   The campaign saw two confrontations to prevent the killing of whales and three confrontations to prevent the illegal fueling of the Nisshin Maru from the Sun Laurel.

   During the campaign the Sea Shepherd crews did not throw any projectiles or deploy any propeller-fouling devices. The Japanese whalers threw concussion grenades and hit the Sea Shepherd crewmembers with water cannons. All three Sea Shepherd ships were damaged after being struck multiple times by the 8,000 ton Nisshin Maru.

   Is whaling over for the season? We are not positive but we are 80% sure that it may be over.

   Sea Shepherd will not intervene against any legal transfer of fuel between the Nisshin Maru and the Sun Laurel above sixty degrees South but the Sun Laurel is over 120 miles to the North and still moving northward at 11 knots. It would take at least 48 hours to rendezvous with the Sun Laurel to refuel and another four days to return to the whaling area. This would leave about a week to kill whales and with the weather quickly deteriorating it would hardly be worth the effort.

   How many whales have been killed? Sea Shepherd can only confirm the death of two Minke whales. Some whales could have been taken on the run westward; the Nisshin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 2 had two days to whale unobstructed until the Sea Shepherd ships caught up with them.

   We can confirm that the Yushin Maru and the Yushin Maru No. 3 did not kill any whales this season. These two vessels were under observation at all times.

   My conservative estimate of the number of whales killed this year is no more than 75. It could be much lower but certainly not higher. Last year I predicted the whalers would take 30% of their kill quota. The actual kill was 26%.

   Although Operation Zero Tolerance did not realize zero kills, this campaign will see the lowest take by the Japanese whaling fleet in the entire history of their Antarctic whale hunts.

   The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society campaign led by Sea Shepherd Australia has been enormously successful and the crew of all three Sea Shepherd ships are satisfied with what has been achieved this season.

   All three Sea Shepherd ships will continue to follow the whaling fleet north to ensure that they do not return to kill whales.

Sea Shepherd

Pakistan unveils new climate change policy
by Faisal Raza Khan

   Pakistan's newly launched national climate change policy (NCCP) aims at natural resource conservation at home, but it also sees regional and bilateral agreements as key to ensuring water, food and energy security.

   The policy will be implemented by its provincial governments. At its launch last month (26 February), Pakistan's minister for climate change Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan said efforts would be made to strengthen provincial environment departments to enable them to carry out relevant functions devolved to them.

   Khan said that a national plan of action has been designed to effectively implement the NCCP. The plan, he said, factors in risks and vulnerabilities posed by climate change in various development areas, including energy, food and water; as well as appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures.

   Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, vice-president of the World Meteorological Organisation and lead author of the NCCP, emphasised harnessing of large-scale scientific research and introduction of the latest technologies.

   "Shifting climatic patterns suggest integrated and applied research to benefit the region and the world at large, especially in terms of food, water and energy security, leading ultimately to national security," Chaudhry told SciDev.Net.

   The new policy moots the creation of a 'South Asian Research Centre on Climate Change' and suggests getting the Hindukush- Karakorum-Himalayan countries to declare glaciers as 'protected areas'.

   Also envisaged are possibilities of joint watershed management of trans-boundary catchment areas involving the neighbouring countries -- particularly India and Afghanistan -- to safeguard water inflows into Pakistan.

   Representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Pakistan, Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, said the policy would work to cap carbon emissions by enhancing forest cover. "China and India have increased their vegetation cover to 26 and 23 per cent while Pakistan stands far behind at 4.8 per cent, which is alarming given the vulnerability," he said.

   Marc-Andre Franche, country director for UNDP, described Pakistan as being "among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks and needs to devise mechanisms for greener growth and sustainable development.

Shell out of the Arctic, for now
by Philip Radford, Greenpeace

28th February, 2013

   Bob- Just a few hours ago, Shell announced that it is giving up on its plans to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic in 2013.

   That means no drilling in the pristine waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas this year. It's amazing news. Not just for the Arctic, but for the environment. And your support made it possible.

   I'm so inspired right now. The fight isn't over though. We'll be working in the days, weeks and months ahead to make sure that the good news doesn't stop here by urging President Obama to make the Arctic off limits to industrial exploitation, forever.

   But for the moment it's all about enjoying what we've accomplished together. Thank you so much for all the work you have done to protect the Arctic.

   Sincerely, Philip Radford Greenpeace Executive Director

   P.S. Our Arctic campaign and all the work we do to protect the environment depends entirely on your support. Can you chip in today?

Deeper Issues

When To Let Go by Deepak Chopra
The Open Source Ecology Paradigm by Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.
The beneficial effects of knowing about reincarnation by Carolyn Harris

When To Let Go
by Deepak Chopra

   Because the mind holds on with an endless set of expectations, beliefs, and images, you could practice letting go every moment of your life. This is not feasible, yet strong signals will tell you when letting go is appropriate. Knowing when to let go is obvious, once you have awareness.

   The crucial times to let go are when you feel the strongest urge not to. We all hold on tightest when our fear, anger, pride, and distrust take over. Yet these forces have no spiritual validity. At those moments when you are most afraid, angry, stubborn, or mistrustful, you are in the grip of unreality. Your ego is forcing you to react from the past, blinding you to new possibilities here and now.

   A mind that is desperately holding on says things like: I hate this. It has to end; I can't stand it anymore. If this keeps up I'll die; I can't go on. There's nothing left; I have no choice. It has to be my way or else; You're all wrong; None of you understands me; You always treat me this way; Why do you always have to do this?

   There are infinite variations on these statements, but the underlying feelings are remarkably similar. You feel you can't cope anymore. You feel boxed in. You feel you won't survive. You feel that something bad always happens to you. These feelings give rise to the rigid, contracted state of resistance, disallowing the reality that good things can happen at any time.

   Spirit has a good outcome for any situation, if you can open yourself to it.

   A key word to holding on is always. As soon as your mind tells you that something always happens, you are in the grip of a false belief. "Always" is never true; reality isn't a vast, fixed scheme trapping you without a choice. At any moment you have the choice to break out of what is really trapping you -- your automatic reactions dredged up from the past.

Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).


The Open Source Ecology Paradigm
by Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.

   The Open Source Ecology Paradigm is an idea that the open source economy is a route to human prosperity in harmony with natural life support systems.

   Open Source Ecology (OSE) is a movement to create the open source economy. The movement consists of hundreds of entrepreneurs, producers, engineers, makers, and supporters around the world -- who believe in the power of open -- who share the open ethic. The 'Ecology' in the name refers to the interaction of natural and human ecosystems -- the environmental, societal, and technological systems -- as they interact along open principles. Read a further description of the OSE concept as it was formulated initially in 2003 (see Appendix below). Since then, the concept has evolved to a platform for creating distributive enterprise, as a solid foundation for a sound economy -- a third economic option beyond capitalism or socialism. The distributive economy paradigm centers around open access to efficient production as a means to transcend artificial material scarcity. The paradigm uses open source tools and techniques to produce advanced civilization -- by unleashing the power of the responsible use of technology.

   The main current project of OSE is the Global Village Construction Set -- a set of 50 Industrial Machines that allow for the creation of a small scale civilization with modern comforts.

OSE Mission

   The mission of Open Source Ecology is to create an open source economy, which optimizes both production and distribution, while providing environmental regeneration and social justice.

Overview of the OSE Paradigm

   The backbone of Open Source Ecology is open access to economically-significant information -- product designs, techniques, and rapid learning materials for achieving this. Collaborative development, 24/7 around the globe, leads to best practice designs -- accessible openly via the internet. When economic productivity is unleashed as such, there is a direct effect on community prosperity. As a result of lowered barriers to entry, each community can increase the range of products and services it can provide. Global collaboration in open product and process design leads to best practices being commonly available. This is opposed to the dominant paradigm of today, where a few companies having the best products or monopoly control, and by definition, the rest is mediocre. Open economic development has the potential to raise the bar on the quality of products in the productive economy, as opposed to protectionism and monopoly.

   All wealth comes from nature -- rocks, plants, sunlight, and water. These are found ubiquitously. Yet the presence of strategic resources results in conflicts over their appropriation. "Hey, that's my oil under your land." Open source technology can address this problem via principles of substitutability. There are many routes to producing any economically significant product or service. Resilience of communities depends on having a diversity of options. As open access to technology becomes commonplace, every community can increase its level of productivity and appropriate technology to the point that it can substitute any strategic material with local options, without any reduction in the standard of living while contributing positively to global peace.

   Transparency of the connection between technology and nature means that people begin to respect nature. This happens when people begin to respect that their well-being comes from nature. This transparency is facilitated when economically productive activities happen as close to the community as possible -- not out of sight, out of mind in remote locations. This is true environmental accountability -- as one tends to not destroy their own environment. Thus, there is a direct connection between transparency of production to natural regeneration -- as people begin to make more sound production choices -- by understanding the connection of production to the land. This means that industry no longer needs to occur in the form of toxic wastelands -- but instead -- eco-industry, on a human scale -- serving the needs of people, not centralized industries competing for world domination.

   Thus, technology and technological literacy are a way to reconnect to nature -- not to destroy it.

   The above depends on increasing the density of knowhow and technology in every community -- which comes from the open paradigm -- open information, open communication, open everything. The limit of optimal density of productive knowhow is the point that any community is capable of producing the full range of essential resources necessary for it to exist, grow, and prosper. This is not to say that trade should not happen, but for community stability, trade should be avoided on essential products that the community needs. As much as a community would want otherwise -- when placed in a scarcity condition -- rationality goes out the window and people start to kill each other.

   For the first time in history, we have a chance to do otherwise. Unleashed access to information and technology -- as availed by the computer age -- means that any conflicts related to material scarcity can become a thing of the past. This includes resource conflicts, poverty, overpopulation, and even bureaucracy -- as bureaucracy is not much more than a mechanism to manage scarce resources. Further, regulatory costs are minimized via technological transparency as a technologically-literate populace of the open source age becomes increasingly responsible for its own actions.

   This is not a case for conflict between the rich and poor, the city or the country, the first or third worlds -- it is a case where open access to information helps everyone. As barriers to entry are lowered, social upheaval is minimized. As production remains high -- and increases due to the elimination of competitive waste -- prosperity can only increase.

   This is a paradigm shift. That is the core of Open Source Ecology.

   This does not address evolving as humans in cultural and scientific advancement, or in wisdom that prevents us from reverting to insanity. Open Source Ecology only lays a starting point and foundation from which evolution becomes possible.

Read on at

The beneficial effects of knowing about reincarnation
by Carolyn Harris

   When we were kids we were mostly told stories of how we arrived in this world... by the stork, or under a cabbage patch and a variety of other ideas just to avoid having to describe the true actions of propagation that bring us into this world.

   I was lucky, my mother said I had 'come out of her tummy' and then much later when I was older she explained how I developed and the part my father played in the 'making of me.'

   At some point in our lives we surely arrived at the questions, 'Why am I here?' 'Where did I come from?' 'Is there really only one life and then I die and that's that?'

   Even if we believe in Heaven and Hell, we still have that feeling that there seems to be a great deal of effort put into this three score years and ten and then all we have to show for it is another generation who will arrive at the same questions.

   Is this really enough?

   In this day and age, there is so much going on in the world and really, what's it all for? A better life? A better world? For whom? Ah yes, 'the next generation...'

   For many of us this isn't the answer, and for most of the Eastern religions it isn't the answer either. It is the western world that insists we don't come back but go on to either Heaven or Hell, but what if that is not true?

   Maybe we live many lives and go on to live more, each one of them an improvement on the previous one because of the lessons learned in the past.

   For most of us, our past lives will probably have been here on this earth, but for some the lives could have been elsewhere. What it does do is give us another dimension. We are not just flat paper dolls playing out what nature, intended to reproduce and then die... we are souls who have experienced so much more, we have memories locked away that contribute each day to our worth as human beings.

   This planet is not here to give us a hard time, it is here for us to learn and develop and take on all the issues we face in each life, be it war or famine, large families, no family, grief and joy and all the other things we seem not to understand and like to blame God for.

   This is school and we never stop learning. Our past lives are like beads on the string of our soul and as each 'day' passes -- as each life passes -- we grow.

   It is often possible to remember our past experiences. If we are not aware of past lives, then we wonder what that stray impression was, or was it imagination?

   I had a friend who suffered severe asthma. She could not understand why she had been born with it and why it would come on at the oddest moments. She decided that she needed to know and asked me to help her find out. Under hypnosis where I was nothing more than her anchor man, she regressed into a past life and as she did the asthma grew worse, she was heaving as she finally recalled falling down a well and not being able to climb out.

   Finally she came to the crux of the matter, she drowned, she couldn't get her breath, each time she went under she swallowed more water, she grew tired and then more tired and finally couldn't stay afloat, her final breaths were water.

   As she came to realise this, the asthmatic attack slowed right down and as I counted her out of her memories the asthma vanished. She never experienced asthma again.

   This is just one of the reasons why it is sometimes a good idea to give credit to our past lives, not just for illness, but for a million other things that have affected this life, good and bad. Often our ability to overcome difficulties is due to past lessons learned about accepting the difficulties and shouldering them, other times it is about anger and the hell we go through later when we realise the damage we have caused... sometimes it is simply memories of war and being killed.

   Whatever your memories, treasure them, they are an integral part of you that no one else has and they are what makes you what you are today.

   For me, Peter Ramster was a find, a blessing, an inspiration and a good man. I wish him peace with his family now and know he and his son will find another life in another time one day.


Teenage molester grown up
Devastated by lost love, at 15
I want to kill and torture

Teenage molester grown up

Dear Dr. Rich,

   I recently read your response to the article that was posted on the internet entitled "Teenage molester has grown up". I hope that this is okay and not inappropriate to contact you through e-mail but I have been struggling with a similar case and I don't know what to do. I cannot bring myself to go to a local counselor and I'm scared of the consequences that could come from that.

   I am now a 26 year old male, but when I was 15 I sexually molested a young boy. I have not done anything like that before or since, and I have absolutely no attraction to kids, but it has been something that I have been carrying a terrible amount of guilt from doing knowing that the boy is out there and may remember and it could have destroyed his life. My life then was in a great deal of turmoil from family problems. I do come from a very good, loving family. Since I was 18 years old when I was at the point of flunking out of high school and my life was completely falling apart, I turned my life around and now consider myself a good person today. I came to the realization of what I did when I was around 19 and I couldn't believe what I had done. Before then, I suppressed what I had done and all of the problems in my life through pot/alcohol. Today I live a functional life and can get by most days, but other days I think about this and it controls me to the point that I think of suicide. Never have I done anything remotely like that since and I have graduated from college and have many things going for me. I have suffered other obstacles in my life and have been able to control my problems in life in a productive way since then. I just can't get past the fact that I did this awful thing to this human being.

   I have thought about trying to contact the boy in which I did this to but I'm very scared of the reality that would happen from that. My family are all really good people, we love each other very much, and after the hardships of earlier years, all the members in my family have found stability, and I know that if they knew about what I did it would kill them. But it still feels like the only fair, moral, and just thing to do would be for me to admit what I've done. It feels that is what the boy deserves. That's what I feel in my heart and yet I just can't do it. My family would suffer and I would justly suffer, and this boy would find relief from the pain in which he was the victim of and in no way deserved.

Dear Ben,

   Some children indeed are very badly affected by sexual molestation. However, about 80% aren't. Same is true for other kinds of events that can be traumatic: many people survive them without later suffering.

   Actually, I am an example. I was traumatised by many events in my childhood and youth, and now I recognise that I used to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All the same, when I was 15 an older boy did sexual things to me I had no control over, and it did not end up as traumatic for me. This memory has never haunted me or made me feel damaged, while other memories did.

   So, it is possible that you did harm that child, and it is possible that you didn't, although what you did was wrong, and had the potential of causing long term injury.

    So yes, you are responsible for having done something 11 years ago that you should not have. It was a mistake. And yes, you should do something about it.

   Here is my rule for how to handle any mistake:

   What you did at 15 may or may not have caused harm to the little boy. It certainly caused harm to you: substance abuse for some years as a way of attempting to escape the pain of guilt, your self-torturing thoughts to the present day, even feeling suicidal.

   This is why it is essential to apologise to YOURSELF, for the pain your action caused to you.

   But beating yourself up over and over hasn't improved the situation, has it? No, in fact it is the main source of your distress, and it does nobody else any good. Even if you killed yourself, it would not undo your act. This is why you need to FORGIVE yourself.

   If you still have contact with this person, then you need to judge whether he is affected. Perhaps he has reacted in the way I have, or has forgotten all about it. If in fact he has forgotten, a disclosure and apology may traumatise him. If he was affected, then an apology may be a very healing thing, and what's more could lead to the two of you becoming friends.

   If you no longer have contact with him, best leave things be. Don't risk hurting him now by satisfying your need to ease your own pain.

   How can you make restitution? I don't know your skills and circumstances. A couple of possibilities are to take on some volunteer work with young children and/or teenagers, or to become a prison visitor, easing the path of those who followed up one bad choice with many other bad choices.

   But know this. When you were 19, you realised that your action 4 years before had been something terrible. Therefore, at that moment you grew in spiritual stature, gained wisdom. The silver lining is that you are now a far better person. Perhaps you are a far better person than if you had not made that mistake.

   So, from now on, focus on making this world a better place. Because you once made a mistake, you will be more tolerant of others. You are already compassionate. From this moment on, live by the rule, "Above all, do no harm."

Your new grandfather,

Devastated by lost love, at 15

   HI Bob, my name's Jim. I'm fifteen years old. I play extremely competitive golf, and have played since I was 3. All my life, gf has been my pride and joy. Its been the one thing I excelled in since I was young. I'm writing to you because I've recently lost all love for my game, and through that my life has slowly fallen to ruin. I don't care whether or not I exist. I don't want to commit suicide because that's selfish and the people I have in my life are so amazing that they don't deserve that but they don't deserve me right now either. I'm a wreck.

   It started probably in grade 7, because I had just moved out of my mom's and into my dads, and was a new kid so I was extremely lonely, but I slowly developed a group of good friends and started to do much better in hockey. Then my Dad broke up with his girlfriend, and we were alone for a couple months. Then he started dating a girl who owned a horse farm. After about a year we moved to a city closer to her farm. There I was a new kid yet again. I met some friends, and I took them to the barn where we worked and made a little bit of spare cash and stuff. But there was a problem. A girl there and I kind of fell for each other really hard. And I didn't have the confidence to do anything because, regardless of what I wanted to do, I didn't work up the courage to ignore her saying "I just want to be friends." (And I asked and she wanted more but was afraid too) and she ended up being with one of my friends.

   This crushed me.

   My concept of reality altered. I went crazy. I couldn't deal with myself. I know it sounds ridiculous at 15 but I was in love.

   Well, since then its all been downhill. I lost my passion for golf. I started oversleeping through my alarms. I failed two courses. Started hanging out with the wrong people and had a near death experience. I found your site using Google because I'm honestly desperate. I read over the site and I read one of the letters and I'm having an existential crisis. I don't care whether or not I wake up in the morning. I'm living as to not break the hearts of my family. I have no friends and I'm so scared of talking to people now because I don't want to annoy people or bother them. Its breaking my heart.

   A few weeks ago my Dad split with the girl we moved here for so we may be moving again. I don't know what to do or how to deal with this. I need someone to talk to. Please send me your advice. It would mean the world to me.

Sincerely yours,

Dear Jim,

   It is my privilege and joy to have the ability to sometimes lead people from where you are now to a feeling of inner strength and peace. I hope I can do that service for you. So, welcome to the planet-wide company of my grandchildren.

   You show remarkable insight and wisdom for your age. Perhaps that's because of your past suffering, such as having to leave friends behind a number of times as your parents' requirements forced you to move around. Suffering gives us opportunities for growth.

   While it seems that you may have several things impinging on you, let's use Occam's Razor (look it up) and in the first place assume that your distress is due to one issue. That would just have to be your grief for lost love.

   So, let's assume that you are not going through an existential crisis, and you aren't suffering terrible depression, and haven't fallen out of love with golf, and haven't become academically stupid. You are grieving for lost love, and all the other things are a result of this.

   And no, I don't think it's crazy to be truly in love at 15. You have been feeling suicidal, but have decided to stay alive, because if you killed yourself you would be causing pain to certain other people who care for you. This is what I mean by emotional maturity. That same compassion and empathy is what made you fall in love in a deep, mature way.

   You may realize that you are unusual in this. In our culture, long term relationships are very complex, and so difficult to achieve that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, and of course a great many couples never get married, so they are not included in the statistics.

   Complex skills need time and experience to learn. For most kids, a major task of early to mid teens is to practice how to do man-woman later in life.

   People learn human relationships by playing at them. Some of this play is fun, some painful, but it's all in the service of learning from mistakes, acquiring skills, trying out new ways of behaving. So, kids form and break up relationships, they flirt, they withdraw when they hurt, often they treat potential partners as interchangeable. It's not nest building but learning.

   Even though you were in love with this girl, she was probably learning how to love and be loved, using you as a partner in this. Then, as is wise to do in a game, she changed partners. This was so she could learn from a variety of experiences, although she didn't realize this.

   If I am right, she hasn't rejected you, but is just learning the mating game.

   In that, actually, she is wise. I have often had clients who formed a long term, stable relationship very young. Then the kids come along, and the work routine, and boredom, and "There just has to be more to life than this." Often, they blame their unhappiness on their partner. So, a woman may still love her guy, be strongly motivated to stay with him and the kids, but at 33 years of age has a series of affairs that she hates herself for. Or a man may dislike all the things about his lady that used to attract him, and walk out, then be miserable without her for years.

   If Romeo and Juliet had lived, they might well have felt that way.

   So, what may the future hold for you?

   I have an ex-client, a very nice young man. He and this girl were a couple right through high school. When they were 18, she broke up and then had a series of other partners. At 22, she came back to him. Now they have 2 kids, and a good relationship.

   When I was 23, I asked a girl to marry me. She turned me down. I was devastated -- and married to another girl 6 months later. That will be 46 years ago in April, and we are still married. She still likes me and even laughs at my jokes.

   So, if you let the future unfold in whatever way it will, then you can let go of your terrible grief. This girl could well come back to you in 5 to 10 years' time. Or you could meet someone else and make a good life with her.

   One last thing. Do you know why we suffer? Because we are either in the past or the future. Since your girl broke up with you, you've been living in the past. Well, the past is history, the future is a mystery. I give you a PRESENT.

   Live in the Now. Put back into your life all the things that your grief has sabotaged, particularly the golf. I expect to see you as a future champion.

   By the way, how could a 3 year old handle a golf club?

Have a good life (you can).
Your new grandfather,

I want to kill and torture

   I am 15 and have a beautiful mother. But my dad is very short tempered and isn't to be messed with. At the age of five I bit a large gash out of another child's face over a disagreement in a game and ever since then I've had a rough time in school. I was always fighting or trying to be the big man.

   My problem is that I keep having visions of me in jail because I smashed two people who I don't get along with head in with sometimes a hammer and sometimes a golf club. Other times I carve my name in his face with a knife... I also keep having visions of ambushing a associate of mine... he was my friend but in a drunken argument he hit me with a bottle last year and ever since then even after putting it behind us. I visualize killing his family and him in horrendous ways... the worst part is I am 99.9% sure if I get the chance to carry out the first vision on the two brothers I mentioned I will do so... I feel like beating anyone who crosses me with a weapon... and I am getting closer to really doing it... I haven't had a proper fight in 10 months now but the last time I did I bite the guy's eyebrow off and I take great pleasure thinking about doing worser things... please help

Hi Reg,

   An important first question is: why are you asking for help?

   If you were happy about hurting people, you'd just do it. Instead, you want to learn something that will stop you from acting violently.

   Inside, you no doubt feel like a monster. If you were, you would not ask me what to do about these imaginings.

   It's not just fear of going to jail, is it? I think there is more to it. You would like to be able to look in a mirror and like the person you are looking at.

   This is possible. You can do it.

   To achieve this, we need to understand where your violence comes from. You have described two sources:

   1. Your dad "isn't to be messed with." This to me says that when he doesn't like something, he uses violence. Modelling on him from an early age you learned to do the same. And it's true: violence can often get you what you want, but as you now know, there is a high cost. So, ask yourself: "Do I want to be like dad and be known for my violent behaviour, or do I want to be respected for being strong and gentle?"

   2. By 5 years of age, you already followed dad's pattern. Some other little kid annoyed you, so you hurt him badly by biting him. Although you must have been punished for this, the event also had many rewards. You felt powerful, other kids were scared of you and so you could get your way, and so on.

   This is why you became a rough kid who has bashed people, been in fights, got drunk with friends.

   But you haven't done anything bad to anyone for 10 months. I am sure there were opportunities, but at last you are gaining wisdom. You can see, feel in your gut, that you are on a bad path that may take you to jail, and worse, into constant feelings of being worthless and bad. Well done.

   Your main distress is because of the imaginings of doing terrible things to people who you dislike. You are really afraid that you may do something like that if you get the opportunity, and you don't want to.

   Reg, you are not what you think or feel, but what you do. If from now on, you are determined to stay peaceful and not harm people, then you have stopped being violent, even if the imaginings continue.

   It is OK to imagine smashing someone's head in. It is not OK to do it.

   The reason these imaginings have been getting worse and worse is that you have been trying to make them go away. Even though you enjoy them, they also horrify you.

   Wanting to have a thought go away gives it energy.

   Instead, when one of these imaginings come, say to yourself: "I am watching a horror movie." This movie is not on TV, but inside, but it's only a movie: a story someone made up.

   It is not a command for you to do something. It is only an inside movie. You don't have an off switch, so it plays out, but a movie cannot do anyone any harm, can it?

   As long as you do what you have done for 10 months and avoid harming people, you can have inside movies. Nothing wrong with that.

   And you know what? Once you stop fighting having those movies, they are likely to fade away over time. This is because you have stopped wanting them to go away.

   Try this for a while and see what happens.



Lives increasingly at risk from 'angry climate'
Can You Die from a Broken Heart? from
Death by Coca-Cola by Michelle Schoffro Cook

Lives increasingly at risk from 'angry climate'

   A new report on extreme weather events, The Angry Summer, from the Climate Commission demonstrates the health and wellbeing is increasingly at risk from extreme weather events that are being amplified by global warming.

   The Climate and Health Alliance, a coalition of public health, medical, nursing, allied health professionals, health research institutions and service providers, said the Commission's report highlighted how extraordinary weather extremes were putting more lives at risk, particularly the latest summer with the entire Southern Hemisphere experiencing the hottest December and January ever.

   Climate and Health Alliance Convenor Fiona Armstrong said the record breaking heatwave in which Australia recorded its first ever average maximum of 40.30 degrees C on 7 January 2013 posed the most serious threat to health, but lives were also lost in recent bushfires and flooding following extreme rainfall.

   "Extreme heat is not just unpleasant, it affects human health, animals and ecosystems, damages critical infrastructure and impacts human and agricultural productivity," Ms Armstrong said.

   "Heat kills more Australians than any other extreme weather event."

   Ms Armstrong said the report showed the world was moving into a 'new climate', the consequences for which could be devastating for all people everywhere and for the natural systems on which we rely.

   "How much more evidence do we need before governments respond urgently to this serious threat to health and wellbeing and start making dramatic emissions reductions a national priority?" Ms Armstrong said.

   "This is what would be happening if our state and federal governments were actually acting in the interests of the people of Australia. Instead we see governments captured by mining and fossil fuel interests, while people's lives are being put at risk. We cannot continue to sacrifice human health and wellbeing to support fossil fuel profits."

   The Climate and Health Alliance is calling for a national plan on climate and health to respond to health risks from climate change, including from extreme weather events. "Climate change is widely acknowledged as the biggest threat to public health globally. How is it that a wealthy democracy like Australia has no national strategy to respond?"

   For media enquiries or to speak to experts regarding extreme weather and health, contact Fiona Armstrong

Can You Die from a Broken Heart?

   If it feels like a heart attack and acts like a heart attack, does that mean that it is a heart attack?

   Not necessarily.

   Chest pain and tightness, arm pain and shortness of breath are all hallmark symptoms of a heart attack, but they are also signs of another, lesser-known heart condition --Takotsubo (or "broken heart") syndrome.

Heart attack's less-dangerous doppelganger

   While not as deadly as a full-blown coronary, broken heart syndrome--also referred to as a stress cardiomyopathy -- can mimic a heart attack in many ways.

   Both share similar symptoms, including heart failure, irregular contractions and cardiac fluid buildup.

   In fact, the two conditions are so similar that even medical professionals can have a difficult time distinguishing between them, until certain cardiac imaging and blood tests are performed.

   There is one major difference between the two cardiac conditions. Unlike a heart attack, people with broken heart syndrome typically don't have visible signs of heart muscle damage, or plaque build-up in their arteries.

Triggered by emotions

   Broken heart syndrome got its name from its primary cause -- extreme emotional stress.

   Friedemann Schaub, M.D., a cardiologist and molecular biology specialist says that major, life-changing events (such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, even winning the lottery) can trigger stress hormones to flood a person's body, causing their heart to go into a dangerous state of overdrive.

   If exposed to elevated levels of stress hormones for too long, the heart becomes enlarged with blood and can no longer pump blood efficiently. "Your hormones are essentially asking your heart to do the impossible. It's the equivalent of running all-out on a treadmill for eight hours straight," Schaub says.


Death by Coca-Cola
by Michelle Schoffro Cook

   A New Zealand woman, Natasha Harris, recently died due to excessive Coca-Cola consumption (at least in part). The New Zealand coroner ruled that the woman's death was partially attributed to the 10 liters of Coca-cola she drank daily. The coroner also indicated that Coca-Cola could not be held liable for her death.

   Ms. Harris had previously lost all of her teeth due to erosion. One of her children was born without tooth enamel. According to news reports, the coroner further stated in the report that Ms. Harris died due to metabolic imbalances arising from cardiac arrhythmia due to Coca-Cola consumption.

   This report comes at a time when Coca-Cola has been educating dietitians about Coca-Cola's role in a healthy diet. The American Dietetic Association, the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) approved a nutrition program developed by Coca-Cola for health and wellness. Registered dietitians can even earn Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits for their participation.

   The program informs dietitians that fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and non-nutritive sweeteners are safe for consumption, including by children. Seriously.

   According to information from the Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH), Dr. Ronald Kleinman is the instructor for the Coca-Cola program for dietitians. He is the physician-in-chief at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, chief of the Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Nutrition Unit, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. ANH indicates that Dr. Kleinman has received large sums of money from artificial infant formula manufacturers Mead Johnson and Nestle Ltd. His research has been funded by Gerber Products and he has served as a paid witness for Gerber when they were sued for deceptive advertising. His work has also been funded by the Sugar Association. Now, of course, he is paid by Coca-Cola.

   Coca-Cola's teachings indicate that the majority of studies have not found a link between sugar and behavioral disorders. It is also teaching that there are no connections between artificial colors and neurotoxicity, and that the dangers of fluoride are imaginary.

   These claims contradict huge volumes of research that state otherwise. Nancy Appleton, PhD, author of Lick the Sugar Habit found sugar to be linked to a huge list of serious health conditions. Fluoride is known to be a risk to the kidneys and bones. Most food colors have been linked by research to causing cancer, hyperactivity, allergic reactions, and other serious effects. The European Union is in the process of banning most artificial food colors throughout Europe due to the safety issues. I talk about the issues of many of these toxins in my book, The Brain Wash.

   The American Dietetic Association receives funding/sponsorship from the junk food and soda industries, calling into question its credibility and the credibility of the new Coca-Cola-created educational program for dietitians. At the same time the ADA is attempting to create a monopoly by becoming the only registering body in various states for anyone dispensing nutritional advice.

   Associations claiming impartiality should not be accepting money from large corporations that stand to benefit from influencing the associations' mandate. Perhaps even worse than that is to create educational programs that make a mockery of nutritional research and healthy eating. And, where exactly are the ethics in this type of financial remuneration and propaganda-promotion?

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook is an international best-selling and eleven-time book author whose works include The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Everything You Need to Know about Healthy Eating (but Were Afraid to Ask), The Phytozyme Cure, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Brain Wash and Healing Injuries the Natural Way.



How to avoid ungrammatical sentences: beware of the ug
The plot: avoiding glitches

How to avoid ungrammatical sentences: beware of the ug

   One of my pet hates as a reader is an overdose of ungrammatical sentences. When editing, I mark these with [ug], which I think is quite appropriate.

   The principle is simple: every sentence needs a subject, verb and object. In "George threw the ball," "George" is the subject of the sentence (who or what the sentence is about), "threw" is the verb, and "the ball" is the object. "The table was in the corner" has all three elements.

   This is true even if the sentence is long and complex so that it consists of so many words that they are beyond counting, if it runs over several pages, not that I am going to make this one that long, and even if its syntax is convoluted beyond belief. This ramble can be condensed into subject = "the sentence;" verb = "is true;" and object = "long and complex." There are interpolations and sub-clauses, but they don't affect the need for the three elements.

   A perfect example of a complex but grammatical sentence is from Ngaio Marsh: "A lifesize effigy of a Japanese warrior in an ecstasy of utmost ferocity, clad in full armour, crouched in warlike attitude, his face contorted with rage and his sword poised to strike." Subject = "effigy of a Japanese warrior;" verb = "crouched;" object = "in warlike attitude."

   Personally, I go with KISS: "Keep It Simple, Stupid!" A long, complex sentence takes effort to read and understand, and this distracts the reader from the content, where we want the attention to be. But that's for another essay.

   For now, I'd like to give a few examples of how ugs arise.

   Let me know if you find other common sources of ugs.

   Finally, when are ugs allowable?

   So, there you have it. From now on, there is no excuse for unwarranted ugs in your writing.

The plot: avoiding glitches

   Some writers grow a book organically. This is my preferred method now. I have a concept, get a general idea of what I want to achieve, create some people, and then get off the stage and let them take the story where they will.

   However, this takes oodles of experience. When I tried it as a beginning writer, I ended up with incomplete stories that went nowhere. My first successful novel was plotted in considerable detail, although I modified the original plan many times. A plot is not meant to be set in concrete.

   An intermediate technique is to carefully design a number of key episodes in detail, then fill the gaps between, writing intuitively. These episodes will include the opening and the ending, which hopefully will be the climax.

   I think that even writing without a plot has an implicit structure. It goes where it needs to go because it is subconsciously designed.

   It's like this. A beginning cook will read a recipe and implement it word for word. As experience is gained, the cook can substitute one ingredient for another, vary quantities and cooking times, improvising more and more. Eventually, the cook might produce a lovely meal entirely without a recipe, but this doesn't mean that there are no rules. The rules expressed in an explicit recipe are there, but don't need to be stated up front.

   OK, so how do we construct a plot? The best way is through successive expansion:

1. Tag line. Summarise the entire book in one sentence.

   This is essential, however the writing was done, because people won't wait for you to make an oration about your book in answer to a simple question.

2. Blurb. The blurb is a 30 to 50 word expansion of a tag line. It will be a major marketing tool.

3. Elevator speech. You are in an elevator and someone asks you about your book. You need to finish your speech before one of you gets out. This will be 200 to 300 words.

4. Back of book or inside cover. This could be about 500 words.

5. Chapter summary. Now write a tag line for each chapter, or each scene if a chapter has more than one of these.

   In a similar way, expand each item in the chapter summary until you have considerable detail.

   By then, you'll know who the people in the story are, the setting of each scene (physical environment), and what happens. Writing it all will then be easy, and there should be little or no "writer's block."

   Constructing a story this way will avoid a number of annoying problems:

1. Discontinuities.

2. Repetitions of content.

3. Unintended changes in characters, places and other information. You don't want Joe to become Jim, or his blue eyes to turn brown.

4. Impossible time sequences. In my current work, someone is told that a court hearing will be in 3 weeks' time. The crime was committed on the 12th of July. If you calculate the passage of time as days and weeks have passed, this will have to be the 1st of November. It's a good idea not to have it at any other date, because some obsessive reader will work it out to be wrong.

   Of course, the above is for fiction. However, exactly parallel considerations apply to nonfiction writing too. In fact, an intuitively written nonfiction book is almost guaranteed to have discontinuities, and repeated or missing content, and this is not a good idea.

What my friends want you to know

Shame Coca Cola
Sexism: See It. Say It. Stop It from Fiona Armstrong
Kickstarter for Permaculture Australia in April
Eco Food Fest, April Yarra Junction
Sarah Hanson-Young, South Australian Greens Senator
Referendum: recognise Australia's first peoples
GP the Musical from Therapeutic Theatrics

Shame Coca Cola

4th March, 2013 Unbelievable. This afternoon drinks giant Coca-Cola won its court case to stop a popular and proven 10 cent recycling refund scheme in the Northern Territory.

   This is a program that has already doubled recycling rates in the territory, and operated successfully in South Australia for over 30 years saving tens of millions of plastic containers from ending up in our forests, parks, rivers and oceans.

   If you're wondering how this could happen, we're wondering too. Coke has run misinformation campaigns and other dirty tactics before, but a lawsuit to trash a recycling scheme is beyond belief. So let's turn this around Bob. Coke got their way this time, but they're not the only ones who know how to fight. Click here to help supercharge our ad campaign shaming Coke and calling for a national recycling scheme that would trump this court ruling at federal level.

   We don't make this ask lightly. Because of the thousands of dollars people have chipped in since Friday, we've already been able to schedule our ad in The Age this week. But the fact is, today Coke is vulnerable and they're anxious to avoid a PR nightmare. If we can raise public awareness about all that's at stake, we can expose Coca-Cola and call on our politicians to choose between Coke and those wanting to do the right thing.

   Right now, most Australians have no clue this is even happening, much less what it could mean for the places we love. Our national newspaper ads can change that -- shaming Coke and calling on Environment Ministers to push through a national 'Cash for Containers' scheme at next month's crucial meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).

   We know our ads will work Bob; but we urgently need them where everybody can see them. Can you chip in now and help extend our campaign to more newspapers, more communities and more people?

   This weekend, thousands of Australians took to their cities, beaches and parks to Clean Up Australia. They didn't do it because someone made them; they're not doing it for recognition or rewards. They're doing it because they give a damn. Let's ensure that when Australians open their papers this week, they'll give a damn, too.

   Thanks for turning this around,

Reece and everyone at Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Sexism: See It. Say It. Stop It
from Fiona Armstrong

   I am contacting you to let you know about a new and exciting campaign aimed at stamping out sexism toward Australian women leaders -- Sexism: See It. Say It. Stop It.

   This campaign has been developed by a group of women from health, media and communications, diversity, advocacy and disability backgrounds, who have established a website and social media campaign to launch on International Women's Day 2013.

   We would love it if you would join our campaign and lend your voice to stamp out sexism in Australia!

   Sexism harms all of us. We want to begin to create a culture where it is socially and politically unacceptable to disrespect women and women leaders.

   We are asking women and men to take on a role as signatories for this campaign. This means you publicly lend your support to the campaign by allowing us to use your name and title as a campaign supporter.

Will you join us?

   We ask that you sign our campaign statement and we will the launch the campaign on International Women's Day 2013 on 8 March 2013 and release the statement with the signatures of Australian women and men -- to highlight the sexist treatment of Australian women, and particularly women leaders, and call for it to stop.

   We know you've got amazing people in your networks who would love to be part of this too. Please forward this email and direct your friends and colleagues to the sign on page so they can see it, say it and stop it too!

   Please contact me or our campaign coordinator Sara Irvine if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
Fiona Armstrong

Kickstarter for Permaculture Australia, Bondi, April 26-28

   This gathering is to bring people and ideas together from around Australia. Its purpose is to resolve how Permaculture Australia can best benefit the movement. Representatives from groups and interested individuals are warmly invited.

   Permaculture Australia has great potential to expand its contribution to the permaculture movement. It can do things like support permaculture teachers and education, support overseas aid projects, support National Permaculture Day, Convergences and many other activities relevant to the movement.

   Friday 26, evening -- Dinner and entertainment hosted by Transition Bondi at Chapel by the Sea $40.

   Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 -- Workshops at the Bondi Pavilion. $20 /day, includes full catering.

   For those wanting accommodation we have beds booked at the Bondi Beach Youth Hostel, both shared rooms and family rooms at great rates so let us know if you're interested.

Robyn Francis

Eco Food Fest

   In 2013 Yarra Valley ECOSS is expanding the ECO FOOD FEST of previous years into a broader Yarra Junction Sustainable Community Festival, now called --

Ecotopia Junction

Date: Sunday, APRIL 21 from 10 am.

Location: Yarra Junction central including the kids' playground, skatepark and around the Yarra Centre.

Activities and events include: Solar stage & pedal-powered stage; wacky bikes; BMX, skate, scooter clinic; kid's space; cooking demonstrations; a home-built electric car; Tall Tales from our older community members; the Red Tent; a recycled fashion parade; workshops; a community market and a Health space.

NB. To enter the recycled fashion parade and win great prizes, call Chelsea on 435 741 490 or email her (address below).

We need your involvement as a stallholder, entertainer or volunteer. Contact us on: (stalls - Joe) OR (management - Chelsea)

Sarah Hanson-Young, South Australian Greens Senator

Bob --

   Today I am launching my new campaign video.

   Click here to view the video now!

   My Senate seat in South Australia is last line of defence between Tony Abbott and his control of both Houses of Parliament.

   Tony Abbott's Australia is dominated by self-interest, fear and greed.

   Last time the Coalition gained control of both Houses of Parliament, John Howard gave us WorkChoices.

   Just imagine what Tony Abbott would do with that amount of control and no check on his power.

   Julia Gillard and Labor have lost their way. They are too busy competing with Tony Abbott in the race to the bottom. Labor would rather force 100,000 single parents below the poverty line than tax the big miners' profits.

   Greens are the only party that has the guts to stand up for the things that really matter. We know that caring for our community and environment is more important than serving the needs of Gina Rinehart.

   You have the power to stop Tony Abbott from taking control of the Senate and imposing his dangerous and extreme agenda.

   By helping to re-elect me to the Senate, you can ensure that the Greens keep the balance of power and can continue the important work we have begun.

   The good news is that you can start helping right now! Please watch my video and share it amongst your friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Thank you for your support.
Sarah Hanson-Young

Referendum: recognise Australia's first peoples

   Hi Bob,

   When we were young children, Aboriginal people were not even considered citizens.

   We had only just won the right to vote.

   Through the hard work of many Aboriginal people and our fellow Australians, those wrongs were righted before we were adults.

   Even so, the job is not complete.

   It is now time that our existence -- the existence of Australia's first peoples -- is finally acknowledged in this nation's founding document.

   It's the right thing to do.

   So we are signing up as spokespeople for this cause.

   Because our Constitution, the highest legal document of this country, is still silent on the entire first chapter of Australia's history.

   And it still contains traces of the views that allowed the first Australians to be denied a vote in our own land.

   Like the section which says the States can ban any race of people from voting.

   This is not acceptable. This is not us. It does not reflect who we are as Australians.

   We need to fix it.

   So we are excited.

   If you will help us in this great cause, we can win the second referendum in our lifetime to put things right.

   In 1967, more than 90 percent of Australians voted yes to count us in as citizens. Now it's time to write us in.

   Will you help?

   Join us now at and keep an eye out for more exciting developments this week.

Many thanks in advance,
Jackie Huggins and Aden Ridgeway

GP the Musical
from Therapeutic Theatrics

   Celebrating the humour, the pathos and the colourful characters that inhabit doctors' surgeries, GP the Musical takes a typical day in general practice and injects it with music and fun.

   The writers, director and performers are all practising GPs, who are taking time out from their day job to sing and dance about their day job.

   GP the Musical was premiered at the National GPET Convention 2012 in Melbourne on the 4th September 2012 after a preview performance in Daylesford. It received rave reviews and a standing ovation. A new extended version has been written for the Comedy Festival.

   Although particularly relevant to those working in health care, anyone who has ever sat in a doctors' waiting room should relate to and be entertained by the storyline and characters.

   With songs such as "Eternity Waiting Room", "Stop Your Complaining", "You Don't Listen to a Word I Say", "Come Back Again (the Medicare Dance)", "Trust Me I'm a Naturopath" and "E-health Records are the Way to Go", there should be something for everyone to enjoy!

   YouTube clips:
You Don't Listen
Stop your complaining

   " extraordinary achievement. It was funny, irreverent at times, accessible and deeply meaningful." Good Practice Magazine, October, 2012

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, Cnr Graham and Tickles Streets, Albert Park, Melbourne
Dates: 17th-20th April
Tickets: $25 (all tickets)
Times: 8:00 pm (Saturday matinee 3 pm)

   Info, links and photos can be found here:

   Tickets are on sale through: or

Book Reviews

Ascending Spiral reviewed by Joyce Scarborough
Ascending Spiral reviewed by Cathy Brownfield

Ascending Spiral
reviewed by Joyce Scarborough

   This book is unlike any I've read before. I made the mistake of skimming the beginning one night, even though I was in the middle of reading another book and was committed to reading several others before it. By the time I got to the end of the first chapter, I was hopelessly and happily hooked. I couldn't seem to get my eyes to read fast enough. I don't usually like any type of historical fiction or metaphysical books, but maybe I'd be a fan of the genres if they were all as well written and engaging as this book. My heart was completely invested in the main character's story from the beginning, even though I had to find out about him first when he was several other people.

   The main character, Dr. Pip Lipkin, has lived for twelve centuries as many people -- both men and women -- and even some other species. That may sound strange, but the account of his other lives and how they are all interwoven is an epic saga filled with adventure, fully developed characters, rich historical details, exotic settings and events that run the emotional gamut. I'm a hopeless romantic, but it wasn't only the parts about all his loves that had me in their grips. The tactical strategies and details of his adventures are gripping as well, even when they involve horrific deaths, torture and rape. And although this book makes social, philosophical and ethical statements, the reader is allowed to glean them from the unfolding story rather than having them thrust in their face.

   ASCENDING SPIRAL is the first book I've read by Dr. Bob Rich, but it definitely won't be the last.

JOYCE STERLING SCARBROUGH is an intelligent Southern woman weary of seeing herself and her peers portrayed as either post-antebellum debutantes or barefoot hillbillies, so all her heroines are smart women who refuse to be anyone but themselves. Joyce has three published novels, True Blue Forever, Different Roads and Symmetry and stories featured in four anthologies.

Facebook Fan Page Blog:

Ascending Spiral
reviewed by Cathy Brownfield

   Ascending Spiral by Robert Rich is not your typical read. A novel told in stories joined together by a common thread or two, the novel defies genre distinction, provokes thought, causes the reader to recall the past, and hope for the future. The cycle of life is woven through history, the psyche, and spirituality. Rich invites you to follow his character, Pip Lipkin, on his spiritual journey through space and time.

   Padraig, a shepherd boy in Ireland falls in love. The Vikings land. There is aggression, resistance, war, death, conquering and enlightenment. The religious conflict in Ireland brews around the life of Dermot nearly a thousand years later. "The bloody English" bring aggression which births resistance, that boils into war, death, conquering and enlightenment. Dermot and others are found guilty of treason against the Crown when England wants to expand its borders to include the Green Isle. The traitors are shipped to New South Wales...Australia...for life. Dermot, after a valiant effort as a soldier for his people, becomes a criminal, at last falling dead as he rapes the wife of another man.

   Dermot thinks, "I should become her, the squatter's wife who suffers rape...I should have the power, the ability to ease hurt, to lead people from hate and despair to strength and love."

    Amelia is born in the 19th Century. She marries into bondage to a man who regards her only as his property. He isolates her, regularly rapes her and the Aborigine women employed on his plantation. She is the mistress, the peacemaker. And her good deeds, she hopes, will win her freedom one day.

   The Great Chain of Being continues from humans through plant life. Everything in the Universe is believed to contain some amount of life force. Through reincarnation the narrator experiences the cycle of plant life. "A Walking Plant will die for the love of others of her kind...In my next life I need to continue to defend the weak, the victim, but then progress to doing so without hurting the aggressor."

   The next incarnation is Space Flower living in 10,000 BCE. "Before my drift to the periphery, life had been vital, interesting and meaningful. Now it became a bore. I used to be famous for the beauty of my forms. Now my best was nothing compared to the ordinary of others. I used to be involved in many endeavors. Now I could only observe. So I stopped trying..." And died.

   Death and life are illusions, writes Rich. All people as individual entities are illusions. "There is just the One, and we all are parts of it..."

    In contemporary times, Pip grew up a hated Jew although he claims to be a Buddhist Jew. He fixes spiritually and emotionally broken people for a living because one life is brief and there is the belief that we get to repeat until we get it right. But who knows what the future holds? Rich wants to share his thoughts about that with you through Ascending Spiral, due out March 2013.

   This atypical tale is thought-provoking. The reader can take the major points of the book to craft a measuring stick for the Self to determine, "If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem."

Cathy Thomas Brownfield, a former print news journalist in Northeast Ohio, USA, is a short story writer published in nationally-circulated magazines and anthologies. She is expanding her fiction writing to novel writing. She currently is publicist for a counseling agency in her community.

About Bobbing Around

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