Bobbing Around

Volume Twelve, Number Eight
April, 2013

Bob Rich's (sunny) rave  other issues

*About Bobbing Around
  guidelines for contributions
  One more try to reverse an idiotic decision, from Dr Ben Mullings
  Save some lives, from Adam Bandt, MP
  Monsanto wants your vegie garden, sign petition NOW
  Why should taxpayers pay the polluters?
  Stop investing in climate change, from
  Air pollution kills over one million p.a. in China, by Allison Winter
  Coal-fired power in India may kill more than 100,000 p.a. by Lisa Friedman
  Coke and Pepsi are Scamming Consumers, by Judy Molland
*Good news
  Shale-rich Spanish region votes to ban fracking
  Greenpeace celebrating
  KFC promises to stop throwaways
  Zoos for the future
  Unique region saved -- for now
  Ontario is putting an end to coal-burning power plants, by Keith Schneider
*Deeper issues
  Cow intelligence, by Holly Cheever
  Free will and predestination
  5 Ways to Make New Friends, by Diana Vilibert
  Medical Manual "mad," by Sue Dunley
  My daughter has agoraphobia
  Spoiled brat
  What does Climate Change Have to Do With Health Care? by Gary Cohen
*For writers
  POV: the heart of fiction
  Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers poetry, conservation, promotion, and marketing instruction
*What my friends want you to know
  Kinglake has risen. 21st April 2013
  Survivorship 2013 Conference, 4-5 May
  Getting Our Act Together: book launch by Glen Ochre, 10 May
  Bill McKibben in Australia, June 2013
  Psychology for a Safe Climate Conference, 12 Oct 2013
  Friends of the Earth want to get the wind up again
  Getting older? Caring for an old person?
*Book reviews
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Max Overton
  Rouge Program, by Darrell Bain
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Susan Hornbach
  Ascending Spiral, reviewed by Alfredo Zotti

Sea Shepherd needs you NOW

   My wife Jolanda and I have had the pleasure of a tour of the Sea Shepherd ships. They are here for a million dollars' worth of repairs after deliberate ramming by the Japanese whalers.

   At one stage, one of the tiny ships was pushed over to 40 degrees tilt, and there was a real danger of capsize. The Captain said over the radio to the Japanese: "I won't back off. Kill us if you dare." They survived, but the ship is badly battered. The Japanese ship is perhaps 80 times larger than the Sea Shepherd cockleshell.

   After this, the Japanese "research" fleet turned tail and went home. This has been their poorest season, ever: perhaps 100 whales murdered out of their "quota" of 1000.

   I use "murder" advisedly. Cetaceans are far more intelligent than most other mammals, and even rats and the like feel pain, experience emotions, have long term attachments (you can call it love). Cetaceans have a language, form plans, do acts of altruism for each other. A particular pod of dolphins under repeated study have been observed to gossip: two individuals talking about a third with that dolphin not present.

   Killing them is murder, and Sea Shepherd is the only effective opposition to the murder of whales each southern Summer.

   In order for them to return in November/December this year, they need to raise 4 million dollars, including the million for repairing the damage.

   Sea Shepherd's largest support base in the world is the USA. A year and a half ago, a court injunction made the organization illegal in that country. An appeal is due to be heard in September, but in the meantime, American supporters are prevented from giving Sea Shepherd any money.

   It is worth noting that almost all Sea Shepherd personnel are volunteers. The organization is run very cheaply, so that hardly any money goes anywhere else than the ships.

   So, I've had a thought.

   There is no law against an American citizen making me a gift. And, in Australia, I am allowed to make donations to Sea Shepherd (I have, and intend to continue). So, if you have been a Sea Shepherd supporter in the past, or even if you haven't, you can send me the money you want to donate, via Paypal to

   Identify the gift as being "for conservation purposes." I will then donate that money to Sea Shepherd. At your choice, I can either keep you anonymous, or give them your name.

   And please spread the word.

   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.

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.


One more try to reverse an idiotic decision from Dr Ben Mullings
Save some lives from Adam Bandt, MP
Monsanto wants to own your food, again
Why should taxpayers pay the polluters?

One more try to reverse an idiotic decision
from Dr Ben Mullings

   We now have one more opportunity to fix the Medicare system before the Federal election. The annual budget will be released in May and our hope is that Minister Mark Butler and Prime Minister Julia Gillard will hear our concerns. If they care about the mental health of our people, then hopefully they will resolve this otherwise invisible problem.

   Could you please help us by writing a letter, one more time, to our politicians?

   We have prepared a standard letter addressed to both the Minister and Prime Minister that you can use. You can modify our letter or send it as is, but please take a moment to email or post it to them. If you take just a few minutes out of your day to help us with this letter, it could provide people diagnosed with a mental health condition the time they need to recover in therapy.

   To find out more and download our standard letter, please visit our website at

Many thanks, Dr Ben Mullings, Alliance for Better Access

I have written my letter to Mark Butler. I am also encouraging my clients, and the GPS who send people to me, to do the same.

Save some lives from
Adam Bandt, MP

Dear Bob,

   You would have heard today that twenty-seven detainees in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation are on the fourth day of a hunger strike.

   I've met one of them.

   A couple of years ago, when he was in detention, I met someone who had come here seeking a better life. My office has been helping him with his case. Now, he's in hospital in a critical condition.

   Despite his application for refugee status being approved, he has been in detention for three years due to a negative ASIO assessment and has no current prospect of release.

   He and several of the hunger strikers are asking the government to take their lives rather than detain them indefinitely. I find this situation unacceptable.

   Can you help him out of this desperate situation? Sign our petition to the Minister.

   These asylum seekers are asking to be moved to community detention while their cases are still unresolved.

   I have written personally to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Brendan O'Connor urging that his department immediately communicate with the ASIO hunger strikers to let them know their requests are being heard and considered.

   Without food or water we can expect their health to seriously deteriorate within the next 24 hours.

   This is a life or death situation and we need to act urgently.

   Indefinite mandatory detention destroys lives. It's time for the Minister to step in before things get worse for these people.

Yours Sincerely,
Adam Bandt
Federal Member for Melbourne
Deputy Leader, Australian Greens

Monsanto wants to own your food, again

   It's unbelievable, but Monsanto and Co. are at it again. These profit-hungry biotech companies have found a way to exclusively 'own' something that freely belongs to us all -- our food! They're trying to patent away our everyday vegetables and fruits like cucumber, broccoli and melons, forcing growers to pay them and risk being sued if they don't.

   But we can stop them from buying up Mother Earth. Companies like Monsanto have found loopholes in European law to get away with this, so we just need to close them shut before they set a dangerous global precedent. And to do that, we need key countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands -- where opposition is already growing -- to call for a vote to stop Monsanto's plans. The Avaaz community has shifted governments before, and we can do it again.

   Many farmers and politicians are already against this -- we just need to bring in people power to pressure these countries to keep Monsanto's hands off our food. Sign now and share with everyone to help build the biggest food defense call ever:

Sign the petition, now.

Why should taxpayers pay the polluters?

   Our campaign to end handouts to big polluters at the upcoming federal budget just got a whole lot bigger!

   Last week, the biggest mining industry lobbyists declared game on, launching a TV advertising campaign to protect the billions of dollars worth of taxpayer handouts they pocket every year.

   Today, we're fighting back. We've coordinated a national alliance of the biggest and most influential environment and community organisations in Australia. Together we're calling for more than $10 billion worth of polluter handouts to be scrapped at the upcoming federal budget in May.

   We can't match the tens of millions of dollars industry lobbyists can spend to protect the self-interest of big polluters.

   But we have something thing they don't -- people power.

   We need YOU to stand up, to help us fight back against polluter self-interest, and make sure our taxpayer money is spent securing our future, not destroying it.

   We've got a strategy to make sure both major parties commit to cut polluter handouts at the federal budget. But it won't work without you.

   Here's what you can do to help end polluter handouts:

   Sign the new national petition now that will go straight to the Treasurer, and your local federal MP. Then share it far and wide.

   Sign up to take action in your electorate. We're bringing the campaign to the offices of federal MPs right across Victoria, and we want you to be a part of it. Sign up now to get involved in an action near you.

   In the fight against climate change, government handouts to polluters are public enemy number one. By scrapping them we can cut pollution, unlock clean energy and return $10 billion to important government priorities like health, education and clean energy.

   So, will you stand up to cut polluter handouts now?


Stop investing in climate change from
Air pollution kills over one million p.a. in China by Allison Winter
Coal-fired power in India may kill more than 100,000 p.a. by Lisa Friedman
Coke and Pepsi are Scamming Consumers by Judy Molland

Stop investing in climate change

   In the '70s and '80s, divestment campaigns on campuses proved to be one of the most powerful forces against apartheid in South Africa. Now, students all over the country are organizing to encourage their schools to divest from fossil fuel companies.

   The growth of this student movement has been explosive, quickly expanding to off-campus campaigns directed at city and state governments. Five US colleges and the city of Seattle have already committed to divestment.

   The spark for this movement came from Bill McKibben and, and their Fossil Free Campaign (

   As the Fossil Free Campaign puts it: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels."

   Visit to learn more.

   If you want to stop global warming, go to the source. US power plants are our country's worst carbon polluters, responsible for 40 percent of the nation's overall CO2 emissions.

   Back in December, our friends NRDC crafted an innovative proposal to use the Clean Air Act to reduce CO2 from existing power plants, and they are urging citizens to tell the White House to move forward with strong carbon safeguards.

Air pollution kills over one million p.a. in China
by Allison Winter

   In January, NASA revealed satellite images showing dramatic visuals of air pollution over China. Consequently, a new analysis is reporting that more than 1 million people are dying prematurely every year from air pollution in China alone.

   We reported earlier that air pollution, especially around Beijing has greatly been influenced by coal-fired power stations. However, population growth along with increasing development is causing the nation into an air pollution crisis.

   "Cars are being added and trucks are being added to the streets in major cities at record numbers. Power plants burn significant amounts of very low-grade coal, and the energy consumption in China is rising dramatically," says Robert O'Keefe of the Health Effects Institute in Boston and presenter of the findings. "This is the highest toll in the world and it really reflects the very high levels of air pollution that exist in China today."

   The Chinese population does not need a report to tell them the problems of their air pollution. They see the smog on a daily basis and cannot see buildings across the street on certain high-level days.

   In an effort to protect themselves from breathing in this toxic air, many will often wear masks outside. Also, some parents will not let their children play outside.

   O'Keefe and other researchers decided to take a closer look at a massive report about the world's health problems that was released in December by the journal The Lancet.

   They found that in China, approximately 1.2 million people die prematurely from exposure to outdoor air pollution.

   In fact, about two-thirds of all the deaths from air pollution are now occurring in Asia, most of them in China. And air pollution has become the fourth leading cause of death in China.

   "For the most part, the air pollution effects are generally manifested in frail populations -- people with asthma are generally more susceptible to the effects of air pollution," O'Keefe says. "Also the very young and children who live in highly polluted areas for extended periods of time."

   Fortunately, attention is coming to this issue and the fact that the Chinese government is allowing presentation of these findings and is even doing their own air monitoring is a step in the right direction.

   "They've put in place... a nationwide monitoring network that is reporting, in real time, levels of air pollution," O'Keefe says. "So for the first time the Chinese government is providing transparent levels of air pollution that the public can actually see."

Coal-fired power in India may kill more than 100,000 p.a.
by Lisa Friedman

   As many as 115,000 people die in India each year from coal-fired power plant pollution, costing the country about $4.6 billion, according to a groundbreaking new study released today.

   The report by the Mumbai-based Conservation Action Trust is the first comprehensive examination of the link between fine particle pollution and health problems in India, where coal is the fuel of choice and energy demands are skyrocketing.

   The findings are stunning. In addition to more than 100,000 premature deaths, it links millions of cases of asthma and respiratory ailments to coal exposure. It counts 10,000 children under the age of 5 as fatal victims last year alone.

   "I didn't expect the mortality figures per year to be so high," said Debi Goenka, executive trustee of the Conservation Action Trust.

   Goenka described health impacts as "one of the most neglected aspects" of local environmental impact assessments, saying, "We're so used to reading the EIA reports year after year saying, 'There are no impacts on health and human development.'"

Keep reading a fair bit more at The Scientific American web site.

Coke and Pepsi are Scamming Consumers
by Judy Molland

   Water is now the most popular drink in the U.S.

   Unfortunately, almost 40% of that water comes in a plastic bottle.

   This is important to know, because whether you're imbibing water or soda, the chances are that Coke and Pepsi are making a profit from your thirst. That's because 50% of the bottled water market is owned by Coke and Pepsi.

   How on earth did these corporations convince us to pay for something we already own?

   From The Associated Press:

   For more than two decades, soda was the No. 1 drink in the U.S. with consumption peaking in 1998 at 54 gallons a year, according industry tracker Beverage Digest. Americans drank just 42 gallons a year of water at the time. But over the years, as soda increasingly came under fire for fueling the nation's rising obesity rates, water quietly rose to knock it off the top spot.

   Americans now drink an average of 44 gallons of soda a year, a 17 percent drop from the peak in 1998. Over the same time, the average amount of water people drink has increased 38 percent to about 58 gallons a year. Bottled water has led that growth, with consumption nearly doubling to 21 gallons a year.

   That's right: bottled water, not tap water. Coke and Pepsi must be laughing all the way to the bank: with soda sales declining, they launched aggressive marketing campaigns to convince consumers that bottled water was better for them. And it seems to be working.

   Most of us like to think we know how to get a bargain. But when it comes to bottled water, Americans are conned every year to the tune of $15 billion (the amount spent on bottled water) and 21 billion gallons (the amount of bottled water consumed), paying twice for a commodity that's already ours.

Australia Selling Sand To Saudi Arabia?

   Remember the story that broke a few years ago about Australia selling sand to Saudi Arabia? The construction boom in the desert nations of the Middle East created a demand for raw materials, and some clever salespeople at GMA Garnet convinced people in Saudi Arabia to buy Australian sand. Supposedly their sand was especially hard and durable, unlike the sand in Saudi Arabia, making it preferable for their building projects.

   Have the bottled water companies been taking lessons from GMA Garnet?

   Even if you don't mind that these companies are ripping us off, there are plenty more reasons not to drink bottled water:

  • No healthier than tap water: In theory, bottled water in the U.S. is subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In practice, about 70 percent of bottled water never crosses state lines for sale, making it exempt from FDA oversight. On the other hand, municipal water falls under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency, and is regularly inspected for bacteria and toxic chemicals.
  • It's fake: The Natural Resources Defense Council reveals that an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle -- sometimes further treated, sometimes not.
  • 80% of bottles end up in a landfill: Americans buy over 25 billion single-serving (1 liter or less) plastic water bottles each year. Almost eight out of ten end up in a landfill or incinerator. Hundreds of millions end up as litter on roads and beaches or in streams and other waterways. Taxpayers pay hundreds millions of dollars each year in disposal and litter cleanup costs.
  • Oil consumption: Producing all those bottles requires more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil every year -- enough to fuel about 100,000 cars for the entire year. Drinking water is great for your teeth, bones, and general good health, but why not put a cap on bottled water? We don't need to boost the profits of the likes of Coke and Pepsi.

    Good news

    Shale-rich Spanish region votes to ban fracking
    Greenpeace celebrating
    KFC promises to stop throwaways
    Zoos for the future
    Unique region saved -- for now
    Ontario is putting an end to coal-burning power plants by Keith Schneider

    Shale-rich Spanish region votes to ban fracking

    from Reuters

       Lawmakers in Spain's northern Cantabria region unanimously voted on Monday to ban hydraulic fracturing on environmental concerns, shooting down the central government's hopes for a project to boost jobs in a region believed to be rich in shale gas.

       Spain, battling a deep recession and high unemployment, imports about 76 percent of its energy needs and the technology to extract shale gas, known as fracking, could help relieve its foreign dependence on oil, coal and gas.

       Early estimates indicate Spain has large shale gas reserves, but environmentalists have voiced concerns over the safety of the technique, which involves injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into underground rock formations.

       Cantabria's ruling People's Party (PP), which has an absolute majority in the regional parliament, proposed the law to ban the practice.

       The bill passed with support from all political parties in the Cantabrian parliament on Monday afternoon. The Cantabrian parliament said on its Twitter feed: "Unanimous. Law to ban hydraulic fracturing approved."

       "In Cantabria, there is a very large social movement against fracking... the bill will be passed unanimously by the three parliamentary groups. The region is very small and highly populated," a PP source told Reuters earlier on Monday.

       However, at a national level, the PP has voiced support for hydraulic fracturing as long as it complies with environmental rules. The ruling PP, which controls the Spanish parliament, could seek to appeal or overturn Cantabria's ban.

       Experts say if it is done according to best practice it is environmentally safe, but the technology still evokes much public concern, especially in Europe.

       In the United States, shale gas has helped transform the energy market by lowering gas and coal prices, which are in turn helping to lure gas-intensive industries such as petrochemicals back to home soil thanks to the abundance of low-cost energy.

       But in Europe, it has made far slower progress and has met with environmental concerns that have triggered bans on fracking in France and Bulgaria.

       Shale Gas Europe, a lobby group, says Spanish shale gas reserves are among the biggest in the world.

       "Spain's significant reserves, if technically recoverable, will transform its economy at a time when the country is struggling with a burgeoning debt and has been forced to adopt austerity measures," the group says.

       Although there is no reliable data available, some analysts say Spain's shale gas reserves could be as high as 1.4 trillion cubic meters, enough to cover European Union demand for around three years.

       Early estimates have, however, proven unreliable in other cases.

       Poland, which had hoped to be sitting in some of Europe's biggest reserves, had to slash its initial estimates by 90 percent last year after detailed follow-up surveys and drillings disappointed.

    Greenpeace celebrating

    Hi Bob,

       We've sent you a lot of emails lately. But today we're not asking you to sign an urgent petition or write an email to your politicians -- we just want to share this incredible news: thanks to you, Australia will soon become the second market in the world to commit to fishing responsibly for canned tuna.

       That's right. Because of you we WON our campaign to make big Australian canned tuna brands - including John West, Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, IGA and more -- end destructive fishing. Congratulations!

       At Greenpeace we work on some of the toughest challenges facing the planet. So when we have a breakthrough like this, it's important we take a moment to reflect on all we've achieved together. Read about how we won this campaign, then leave a short message about why the Greenpeace movement is important to you.

       A can of tuna might be small in size, but Australians consume a whopping 250 million a year. The thing is, John West, Coles and other brands don't actually catch their own fish. Like many brands, they buy from Thai canneries supplied by huge fleets fishing in the Pacific. By shifting the Australian market, we have had a major impact on the way these fleets fish. And that in turn makes a big difference to our oceans and the millions of people in the Pacific who rely on them for food and employment.

       None of this happens without consumers demanding change. It's our collective passion and persistence -- including the voices of 50,000 Australians that finally tipped the balance.

       Here's a basic breakdown of what this win means:

       Bob, this is what Greenpeace is all about. We put a spotlight on corporations and governments that commit environmental crimes, shifting bad policies and practices to make our future green and peaceful. Read about this win, then leave a personal message today about why you're part of the Greenpeace movement.

       Of course we'll be watching closely to see that these commitments are delivered on, and we'll continue to work closely with Australian tuna brands so they know exactly where their fish is coming from. But today, let's celebrate. We should be proud of what we have achieved together for our oceans, for endangered marine life and for sustainable fishing businesses in the Pacific.

    Thanks again, from everyone at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

    KFC promises to stop throwaways

       Rainforests are worth a lot more than greasy napkins and chicken buckets. And finally KFC is starting to agree. Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, has officially released new policies that -- if they stick -- would prevent its restaurants from using throw-away paper packaging made from rainforest destruction. It is a huge shift that will affect almost 40,000 restaurants around the world.

       This is a big deal for the 400 Sumatran tigers left in the Indonesian rainforest.

       And this breakthrough is no coincidence. It was a result of your efforts. After Greenpeace showed that wood fiber from rainforest trees was ending up in chicken buckets, activists around the world spoke up, telling KFC and Yum! Brands executives that trashing tiger forests was not acceptable.

       Thank you for lending your voice to the orangutans, Sumatran tigers and other species who call the Indonesian rainforest home. You made this change possible. Only weeks ago I got to share with you that Asia Pulp & Paper, a major rainforest destroyer, had announced its commitment to end its deforestation. Now one of the world's biggest fast food companies is taking another huge step forward to protect the world's forests, making two big breakthroughs for the forest in this year alone. With this momentum, imagine what is possible in the years ahead.

       Of course, we are watching Yum! Brands closely to ensure that it really honors the commitments it has made and fills in the details of its plan.

       The company also has a long way to go to phase out palm oil, which is linked to rainforest destruction. Turning a blind eye to the problems with palm oil -- from pushing orangutans to extinction in Indonesia to trashing rainforests and people's rights in Africa -- is not an option, especially when solutions to those problems are beginning to grow.

       We will continue to push Yum! Brands and other fast food restaurants to do more to end their part in deforestation. And if there is one thing that 2013 has made clear, it's that your emails, tweets, Facebook posts and donations can help make even the biggest corporations change their tune.

       Thank you for all you made possible. Now let's get back to work and do it again.

    For the forests,
    Rolf Skar
    Greenpeace Forest Campaign Director

    Zoos for the future

       Low Carbon Australia has certified that Victoria's Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo, and Healesville Sanctuary have achieved carbon neutral status according to the National Carbon Offset Standard.

       Zoos Victoria reduced its carbon emissions through a range of energy efficiency and waste reduction measures such as more energy efficient lighting, improvements to the Melbourne Butterfly House to reduce its energy requirements to maintain its 28 degree temperature, and installing solar PV. It then purchased carbon offsets to cover its remaining emissions.

    From Climate Spectator.

    Unique area saved -- for now

       Woodside, one of the companies behind the proposed gas hub development at James Price Point in the Kimberley, have announced their decision to pull out of the destructive project.

       And we have you to thank.

       You helped spread the word. You supported us financially when we needed it most. You joined tens of thousands of people at our Concerts for the Kimberley in Melbourne and Perth. You were not intimidated by this massive, $45 billion development, backed by government and approved by a compromised Environmental Protection Agency. You stood with Broome to say that the beauty, the wildlife, and the cultural values of James Price Point are worth protecting.

       You are our members and our supporters, and we could not have done this without you.

       Our work is not yet done. Woodside will immediately begin exploring other ways to exploit the Kimberley's gas, and other developers and governments will continue to look at industrialising this area. With your help, we will continue to work to ensure that special places like James Price Point are protected forever.

    Thank you.

    Lyndon Schneiders National Campaigns Director
    The Wilderness Society

       PS. Take the opportunity to read more about this momentous victory, and to share your feelings and chat to other supporters via our Facebook page.

    Ontario is putting an end to coal-burning power plants
    by Keith Schneider

       Ontario is on the verge of becoming the first industrial region in North America to eliminate all coal-fired electrical generation. Here's how Canada's most populous province did it -- and what the U.S. and others can learn from it.

    You can read the full article here.

    Keith Schneider is senior editor of Circle of Blue. He is a former national correspondent and regular contributor to the New York Times. In previous articles for Yale Environment 360, he has written about an increase in the development of unconventional sources of oil across the western U.S. and Canada and about how a fossil fuel boom could slow the development of clean energy.

    Deeper Issues

    Cow intelligence by Holly Cheever
    Free will and predestination

    Cow intelligence
    by Holly Cheever, DVM, reprinted from Action for Animals

       I would like to tell you a story that is as true as it is heartbreaking. When I first graduated from Cornell's School of Veterinary Medicine, I went into a busy dairy practice in Cortland County. I became a very popular practitioner due to my gentle handling of the dairy cows. One of my clients called me one day with a puzzling mystery: his Brown Swiss cow, having delivered her fifth calf naturally on pasture the night before, brought the new baby to the barn and was put into the milking line, while her calf was once again removed from her. Her udder, though, was completely empty, and remained so for several days.

       As a new mother, she would normally be producing close to one hundred pounds (12.5 gallons) of milk daily; yet, despite the fact that she was glowing with health, her udder remained empty. She went out to pasture every morning after the first milking, returned for milking in the evening, and again was let out to pasture for the night -- this was back in the days when cattle were permitted a modicum of pleasure and natural behaviors in their lives -- but never was her udder swollen with the large quantities of milk that are the hallmark of a recently-calved cow.

       I was called to check this mystery cow two times during the first week after her delivery and could find no solution to this puzzle. Finally, on the eleventh day post calving, the farmer called me with the solution: he had followed the cow out to her pasture after her morning milking, and discovered the cause: she had delivered twins, and in a bovine's "Sophie's Choice," she had brought one to the farmer and kept one hidden in the woods at the edge of her pasture, so that every day and every night, she stayed with her baby -- the first she had been able to nurture FINALLY -- and her calf nursed her dry with gusto. Though I pleaded for the farmer to keep her and her bull calf together, she lost this baby, too -- off to the hell of the veal crate.

       Think for a moment of the complex reasoning this mama exhibited: first, she had memory -- memory of her four previous losses, in which bringing her new calf to the barn resulted in her never seeing him/her again (heartbreaking for any mammalian mother). Second, she could formulate and then execute a plan: if bringing a calf to the farmer meant that she would inevitably lose him/her, then she would keep her calf hidden, as deer do, by keeping her baby in the woods lying still till she returned. Third -- and I do not know what to make of this myself -- instead of hiding both, which would have aroused the farmer's suspicion (pregnant cow leaves the barn in the evening, unpregnant cow comes back the next morning without offspring), she gave him one and kept one herself. I cannot tell you how she knew to do this -- it would seem more likely that a desperate mother would hide both.

       All I know is this: there is a lot more going on behind those beautiful eyes than we humans have ever given them credit for, and as a mother who was able to nurse all four of my babies and did not have to suffer the agonies of losing my beloved offspring, I feel her pain.

    Holly Cheever, DVM
    Vice President, New York State Humane Association Member
    Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association's Leadership Council
    Read More Animals Rights Articles.

    Free will and predestination

       Do we have free will, or are we puppets on a string, dancing to the dictates of... God, fate, our genetic and childhood programming?

       I think it's not either-or, but both. There is nothing strange in this: all truth is paradox.

       Think of a novel. Once the book is finished, the ending is fixed. Out of the many paths the story could have taken, one has actualised, and that's it.

       Having read the story, on a re-reading you know in chapter 2 what will happen in chapter 35. Everything is fixed, predetermined.

       However, the characters don't know this. In chapter 2, our hero is facing a life-changing choice. He agonises over it, there is a lot of tension involving the people important in his life -- and this is precisely the interest of the story. Even on multiple readings, the emotions in a well-written novel are still gripping.

       Does the character suffer from an illusion that he is making a difficult choice, when in fact the author is forcing the choice on him?

       If you think so, you are not a writer.

       Once you create a person in your story, that character must come to life, or the story won't. S/he will have a very different personality from you the writer, will say and do different things from you. If you try to force your choice onto them, the story will go dead. This is a hallmark of poor quality writing. Instead, if your plot doesn't suit the characters, it's the plot that must change.

       From within the reality of the story, our hero is able to make choices, or there is no story.

       So, from the outside, once the book is finished, the ending is known. All the same, from within, the characters must exercise free will.

       The same is true in real life.

       From the evidence available to me, it's clear that this 3D-in-time universe is an illusion, or at best a projection of a larger Reality. We exist before we are born, and continue existing after we die. When we are not bound to a body, we are not in the 3D-in-time reality. There is no time. What was, what is and what will be are all... there.

       So, the ending of the book of life is known to Somebody.

       This ending has been shaped by choices we make while alive. We don't know, cannot know the outcome, but the result of our genuine free choice is already known, from outside the story of our life.


    5 Ways to Make New Friends by Diana Vilibert
    Medical Manual "mad" by Sue Dunley
    My daughter has agoraphobia
    Spoiled brat

    5 Ways to Make New Friends
    by Diana Vilibert

    Many of my clients have a low quality of life because of loneliness and isolation. I tell them, "to have a friend, first be a friend." You need to go out, and out of your comfort zone, and meet new people. But what then? This advice from Diana is spot on. It's aimed at women, but what she says can be applied just as well by guys.

       You probably already know that having friends is good for you and makes you happy and healthy -- scientists agree that one of the keys to happiness lies in having strong social ties. They even say that you're more likely to describe yourself as "very happy" if you have five or more people in your life with whom to discuss an important matter.

       But if you're a few years (or decades) out of college, you probably also know how difficult it can be to stay close to old friends, let alone meet new people and grow new friendships. So where do you start? Here are some strategies to try if you're ready to make new friends:


       We all have people in our lives whom we see often enough but haven't made a closer connection to, like a friend of a friend you see at parties or a woman you chat with from your yoga class. But how do you get closer without inviting the out one-on-one, which may feel scary? Researchers have developed what they call the "Fast Friends" protocol, sets of questions for both people to answer that can turn strangers into friends in 45 minutes. The key -- both people have to be up for it. Give it a try with these questions and see if your acquaintance opens up and returns the question:

  • Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  • Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
  • If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?


       Sometimes, the reason we're not making new friends is because we're not meeting new people. It's easy to stick with the familiar (dinner with your significant other followed by a night of television), but you won't make new friends in your living room during a solo Netflix marathon. Challenge yourself to say yes to every invite for a month -- party invitations, drinks with coworkers, book readings, and networking events -- and try to connect with at least three new people at each gathering.


       Look for social opportunities with the things you already love to do -- common interests help people bond, and it's an easy conversation starter. If you run, take it to the next level and join a marathon-training group. Love yoga? Go on a weekend retreat. Volunteering, joining a book group, and taking a class in an unfamiliar subject are other options.


       Going to an event without a friend or significant other by your side can be a little scary... but it can also force you to be more outgoing. Not to mention, people in packs look like established friends -- showing up alone makes you look more approachable and less intimidating. Still not convinced? Ease into it by meeting up with a friend at a social event, but arrive 15 minutes early and try mingling on your own.


       If you usually take a morning Zumba class, switch to an evening class a few times to see some new faces. Walk the dog every morning? Take the pooch to a different dog park than your usual. Have weekly drink plans with two pals? Tell them to extend the invitation to some of their friends you haven't met before

    Diana Vilibert is a freelance lifestyle, dating, and sex writer living in Brooklyn. You can be blog-friends with her at, or tweet her at @dianavilibert.


    Medical Manual "mad"
    by Sue Dunley

       A group of respected psychiatrists have called for the boycott of a new manual, which they claim could lead to a spike in prescribed medication and misdiagnosis of children.

       The experts say the most concerning thing in the updated version of the American Psychiatric Association's guide -- the DSM5 -- is the possible classification of toddler tantrums as a form of mental illness.

       Child psychiatrist Professor Jon Jureidini said he is worried the DSM5 will cause a rise in medication needs of kids.

       His fear are supported by the US psychiatrists who developed the DSM4 -- the manual currently used -- Professor Allen Francis, who is worried it will provoke new fad diagnoses that will see young children heavily medicated.

       The most potentially harmful changes identified by Professor Francis include Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, which could result in toddlers who throw tantrums being diagnosed as suffering from a mental condition.

       Normal grief would also be re-classified as Major Depressive Disorder. This could result in people being drugged when all they are experiencing is a normal reaction to the death of a loved one.

       Other changes would see minor forgetfulness in old age likely diagnosed as Minor Neurocognitive Disorder, people who eat heavily 12 times in three months diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder, heavy internet use labelled behavioural disorder, and first time drug abusers lump[ed in with hard core addicts.

       The DSM5 is also likely to trigger a fad of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, leading to misuse of stimulant drugs.

       Professor Jureidini, from the Adelaide Women and Children's Hospital, said the widely used manual amounted to "a form of American psychiatric colonisation imposing the view of an elite group of American psychiatrists on world psychiatry."

       Anti ADHD campaigner and former West Australian MP Martin Whitely said there are already several online petitions calling for a boycott of the DSM5. He is encouraging Australian doctors to use the World Health Organisation Classification system the ICD-9.

       Former Australian of the year mental health Professor Patrick McGorry said a team of Australian psychiatrists were developing a new system based on a staged approach to identifying and managing mental illness.

       "In the early stages of a mental health problem, there is a need for care and for safe and simple treatment while you work on making fine grain diagnosis," he said.

    From Sydney's Sunday Telegraph 31-3-2013

    My daughter has agoraphobia

    My beautiful daughter, and she really is beautiful, I believe has agoraphobia. I need help to get her help. She has no income, she has no medical insurance. We are not starving, but I can not pay for a therapist.

       This all began about four years ago. She was working full time for a relative she loved and trusted, the dynamics of the business changed and where she was very comfortable and confident, she had to choose sides and chose against the relative, who she had already felt had betrayed her. I believe this is where her issue with panic disorder began. She started getting "sick." I took her to the Dr's, to cardiologists, had all the necessary tests done, which showed her heart was sound. She for all purposes was healthy physically. She was living with a boyfriend at the time.

       The illness intensified, she missed work, would regularly have "spells" with her heart etc. No DR said- Hey this is a panic disorder. She believed herself to be very ill, possibly gravely, and that no physician was diagnosing her properly. This only served to increase her attacks and send her further into her cut off world. Long and short, her boyfriend cheated and that relationship ended, she was "gaming" all day and night, moved home with me, was a full time student at the local Community College, met a boy on line, has had a relationship with him for 3 years - where only he ever came here to see her, as her "condition" won't let her go very far or fly or anything. Now he broke it off yesterday and I have no recourse or resources to help my daughter get well. She needs help, I need help. How do I get her to even the mental health clinic when I can't get her to leave the house except to go food shopping or such with me.

    Dear Kerry,

       Two things need to be done: symptom management, then when she can, dealing with the causes.

       Symptom management is simple to understand, but needs courage to do. The rule is, "Face the fear and do it anyway."

       First, your daughter should read my page on panic attacks

       This explains what a panic attack is, and how it can be defeated. There is a section at the end that shows how panic attacks can lead to agoraphobia.

       She could spend a (very) few dollars and buy an electronic copy of my book "Anger and Anxiety: Be in charge of your emotions and control phobias."

       There is only one way of defeating agoraphobia. Gradually, in small steps, she should set herself challenges that are scary, but manageable. It's good that she has you, because having a support person can make all the difference. The thing is, if she dares to put herself into a feared situation and stays in it, and stays in it, and stays in it, eventually the fear fades away. The reason is explained in my book.

       So, suppose that riding in a car is scary. Then she should sit in the stationary car for long enough for there to be little or no fear left. Then she can have you drive to a nearby place, and do it there. And so on, until she can drive to a predetermined place, by herself.

       In this way, over a matter of a couple of months, she can regain her life.

       Once she has done this, life will change. There is a surprising thing: when you send negative energy to the universe it responds in kind, and bad things come into your life. Once she is sending out positive energy, she will find work she likes, men she likes and who treat her well, a good life.

       At that stage, she can invest some of her earnings into therapy for doing the second stage.

    Good luck, and keep in touch,

    Spoiled brat

       My son and his wife had a baby when they were 41 and Emma is now 11. I was very rarely asked to baby sit until the past few months as the other Grandmother who lived a few blocks away was always available. I don't know why she is no longer doing it, my son and daughter in law was rather vague when I broached the subject.

       Emma learned at a very early age that having tantrums got her what she wanted and she still continues to have them. I was surprised that they made no effort to deal with them and just accepted that it was the way she was. They never asked me for any input or advice so I did not offer any.

       My daughter in law had a very poor childhood and I think she determined when young that if she ever had any children they would have a better childhood than hers. Very understandable but I think she went a bit overboard and Emma gets everything she wants and if its not brand new and expensive then its considered worthless and discarded! They both think Emma can do no wrong and now she is older she realizes this and takes full advantage.

       I was asked to look after her for a few days which I was happy to do but Emma was constantly calling her Mom to complain about every little thing she did not like I had done or said. When my DIL got home from work she then lectured me. Emma was only a little child etc. I should not expect her to behave like an adult. During the lecture Emma stood behind her Mom smirking and looking quite triumphant that she had got her Grandmother into trouble.

       I was there again last week. All Emma wanted to do was go to the mall and look at make up and clothes. At home she pored over fashion magazines and watched all the Kardashian type shows on TV. Its not the sort of thing I am I interested in. I tried to explain to Emma that although we had different interests neither of us was right or wrong we were just different. This was duly reported to her Mother as me being mean and nasty and got me another lecture on how she was just a little girl.

       Next day Emma asked me to take her to a high end mall which I did. We ended up in a perfume store and much to my surprise she picked out a $60 bottle of perfume and pulled out $100 bill to pay. When I asked her about carrying so much cash about and spending $60 on perfume for herself she very snottily informed me it was her money and she could do what she liked with it. Cue of course to phone Mom.

       When my son came home before his wife I told him how surprised I was at what had happened and then he said it was HER money and yes she could do what she wanted with it. Then he lectured me long and loud about how I did not seem to realize she was only a little child and that his wife was not best pleased and would have things to say to me when she got home.

       I then lost my temper and said I was tired of being told I did not know about children after I had raised four of my own and also worked in a children's home for many years.

       I also said I that thought Emma, who is nearly 12, was quite old enough to understand many things but chose to twist them round to make me seem mean. I got shouted at again so I packed my bags and left. I was very upset and did not want yet another lecture when my DIL got home.

       None of my other Grandchildren behave like this, they are not perfect but got over having tantrums long ago.

       Emma is a spoiled brat and her parents seem to think this is good! A sign of a strong will and intelligence. I do realize that children nowadays live different lives to the one I and my children lead but I nevertheless I can recognize a spoiled brat. I very much doubt that I will hear from my son any time soon.

       My question is, what should I do now? Make an effort to try to make peace and what could I say? Or in view of the fact I do not like how my granddaughter acts and the way her parents condone her bratty behavior, should I just keep quiet?

    Dear Vera,

       I fully agree with your insightful analysis of what is going on for your unfortunate granddaughter. Her parents are not doing Emma any favors. In my experience, spoiled kids grow up into unhappy adults. Whatever they get is never enough, they can't stand any frustration, there is always a chip on their shoulder.

       Children need limits, because they don't have the understanding to do it for themselves. They need discipline and correction. Of course, this has to be given with unconditional love, but it has to be done.

       At 11, Emma is not a little child, but, the way children age nowadays, on the verge of puberty. What will her parents say if she comes home pregnant at 13, or with a nasty disease, or goes on to alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs? Or what if the police bring her home after some impulsive crime like stealing from a shop? That's what happens to spoiled kids.

       But your real question is, what can you do about it?

       Hard as it is, nothing.

       You could talk with the other grandmother, and find out why she no longer looks after Emma. I'll bet it's because she can't stand the willful behavior any more either. The two of you could make one attempt at influencing the parents: write a joint letter, including a copy of my answer to you.

       The rest is up to the parents.

       If they were to be motivated, they could use one of a number of readily available programs for training Emma to responsibility, decency and frustration tolerance. But, it's up to them.

       When I am in an impossible situation, which can happen to anyone, I use acceptance. Whatever is, is, and is all right. I like to explain this with respect to physical pain, but it can be applied to any source of distress:

       "Geniuses at survival can live in hell, with peace in their hearts. We can learn from them. If I don't like something, I need to work at changing it. But that takes time, and may never succeed. For now, I can simply accept it. Best illustration is pain.

       Pain = sensation + emotion.

    1. I have an unpleasant sensation. If I simply accept it, I'm not hurting. It can stay there, I'm OK.

    2. Sometimes I can't manage this. Then I'm hurting. I can accept that for now I'm hurting, in pain, do want it to go away -- and it's OK to feel like that. Then I may be in pain, but it's OK.

    3. Sometimes, I can't do this, and am in despair: "What's the point of living like this?" If I can accept that for now, I'm in despair, I can still carry on.

       Acceptance at one level may allow return to a better one, but can't be done for that reason -- or it's not real acceptance and won't work."

       So, a person you care for is having her life potentially wrecked by the indulgence of her parents. This hurts. It is OK to feel the pain, but, hard as it may be to believe, you can still have peace in your heart.

    Look after yourself,

    Dear Dr. Rich:

       I really, really appreciate such a sensible answer and advice. I felt vaguely guilty at first as I thought that I could have maybe handled things better and then later on that it was a relief to know I would not be asked (in the near future at least) to look after someone who has been raised with such different values to me.

       I don't hold out much hope of things changing with my son, his wife and daughter so I am quite prepared for them to cut me off if they so chose. Emma will no doubt grow up to be a very ruthless, wealthy CEO. I just hope she is not running a chain of nursing homes if the day ever comes I need one and she has me at her mercy!!

       Thank you again, you have made me feel much better and given me a solution that works very well for me.


    My pleasure, Vera.

       In order to become a CEO, she needs to do well at school, and then survive job interviews. Being trained to self-indulgence gets in the way of both of these achievements.

       Perhaps a few failures will have her reassess her life. When other kids won't put up with her behavior, if she gets in trouble with the law, she will have an opportunity to remember your attitude, and perhaps choose to do things differently. That is, you may have planted some seeds that will germinate years from now.


    Dear Dr. Rich:

       Once again a great response.

       Emma used to have friends but this no longer seems the case. Her parents (at her request) now send her to a very small private Christian school where in a class of 11 she manages to be top of the class but is probably not very popular with the other pupils. I expect she will go on to a private high school and college. Unless of course she does end up in trouble but then her parents will bail her out and blame everyone but her.

       I was fortunate in that I was a stay at home mother of four and had plenty of time to nip tantrums etc. in the bud supported by a like-minded husband. If I had had a demanding full time job as my son and DIL have I too might have found it easier after a long days work to give in to a strong willed tantruming toddler I had just picked up from daycare. I have never had a problem saying 'no" in all sorts of ways as I spent so many years saying it to my children.

       I have decided not to contact them but if they want to get in touch with me I will not reject them. I am a bit surprised to find although I consciously think I am doing the right thing its upset me more than I would like to believe. I don't like to see my granddaughter growing up with such different values to the rest of my family...but then again there are many things I don't like but can do nothing about.

       I followed the links to your various web sites and found that you are Australian ...that could possibly account for your sensible responses! I am English but have lived in USA for the past 30 years and am still not comfortable with the place and the attitudes. Commonsense seems to be sadly lacking in so many areas including child rearing.

       Once again many thanks for your reply, much appreciated.


       Oh, there is plenty of craziness in Australia too, and in the UK for that matter. There is now one global culture, and it's destroying the world.

       That's actually what my latest book is about, though it is coated in lots of excitement and adventure. I want people to read it!

       I had a 42 year old client who had committed his first major crime at 16. He spent more time in jail than out. The last time he was released, he had no money, so burgled a house. Having turned out all the drawers, he suddenly had a vivid feeling of what it will be like for the occupants to come home. He tidied everything away, and from that moment on, became an honest person.

       It is never too late. There is a Shintoist saying, "There are many mountains to God, and many paths up each mountain. Thanks to the parents' indulgence, Emma's path is likely to be rocky, but in the long term the resulting suffering may advance her in what really matters. Like that man, she may grow in spiritual development because of it.

       All you can do is what you are doing. I suggest that at times like birthdays, Christmas etc., you send out a feeler. For the rest, you don't need the stress. The pain you feel is natural, and reasonable. Treat it with acceptance, like I described.



    What does Climate Change Have to Do With Health Care? by Gary Cohen

    What does Climate Change Have to Do With Health Care?
    by Gary Cohen

       We have witnessed Superstorm Sandy, a massive Midwest drought impacting 40% of the US corn crop, and unprecedented air pollution from fossil fuels that forced Chinese authorities to tell Beijing residents to stay in their homes. Climate chaos has come home and its impacts are being felt all around the world.

       Climate change will bring increased asthma, more virulent allergens, medical emergencies from heat stress, the spread of water- and vector-borne diseases and increased severe weather events. The Lancet, Britain's premier health journal, calls climate change "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century."

       One would expect the healthcare sector to be prepared for the coming public health storm. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the hospitals were completely flooded. Because they all had their electrical equipment as well as their back-up generators in the basement, they lost all power. And because none of the windows in the hospital were operable, hospital staff had to break windows to admit air.

       Five years later during Hurricane Sandy, a similar story occurred. Both Bellevue Hospital and New York Langone Medical Center had to be evacuated because all their electrical systems were in the basement. At NYU Langone, millions of dollars of medical research specimens were destroyed because of lack of consistent refrigeration. It took Bellevue more than ten weeks to clean up the mess.

       What should the role of healthcare be in dealing with climate change?

       First, hospitals need to focus on preparedness and resilience in their design and operations so they can be critical players in responding to extreme weather events, rather than being one of the victims. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston is scheduled to open in April 2013. It employs on-site power generation, operable windows for natural ventilation and has all the mechanical/electrical equipment on the roof.

       The second critical role for health care should be to model the transition to a post-fossil fuel economy. In the U.S., health care represents 18% of the GDP, likely to increase to more than 20% when health care reform is in full swing. Given its enormous economic clout and its healing mission, health care should model the transition away from our addiction to fossil fuels, which both contributes to global climate change and has local pollution and public health impacts. Reliance on coal, for example, contributes dramatically to increased asthma and respiratory diseases while fracking for natural gas contaminates local groundwater and vents toxic chemicals into the air. Health care has a mission-related imperative to lower its own extensive carbon footprint and lead the effort to a secure and sustainable energy economy.

       Reducing hospital dependence on fossil fuel improves resilience -- the less energy hospitals require, the longer they can operate during and after extreme weather events. An alternative source of power also helps in weather emergencies; while all hospitals have diesel generators, much of this infrastructure has proven to be vulnerable and inadequate for prolonged grid outages.

       During Sandy, hospitals with on-site power generation continued to provide critical care. Known as co-generation (or Combined Heat and Power), this technology dramatically improves the hospital's energy efficiency and saves money, and is also a critical climate resiliency strategy. Kiowa County Hospital, destroyed by a massive category 5 tornado in 2007 that damaged 95 percent of the town of Greensburg, Kansas, has been reconstructed with a wind energy system. According to FEMA, renewable energy infrastructure has performed well in extreme weather events, demonstrating that sustainable design and increased resilience go hand in hand.

       The third central role of the health care sector is in education and advocacy around climate change policy. Health care professionals can be positive messengers for health. As we begin to calculate the enormous health care and social costs of climate change, they should educate their patients about the public health impacts of climate change and help prepare them for these impacts, and also become potent spokespersons for policies at all levels of government that would rein in climate change.

       Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization has stated, "the health sector must fight to place health issues at the center of the climate agenda. We have compelling reasons for doing so. Climate change will affect, in profoundly adverse ways, some of the most fundamental determinants of health: food, air, and water."

       Climate change will bring us many more heat waves, hurricanes and droughts. We need to engage the health care sector in climate change mitigation so they can help communities be prepared to weather these crises and help lead us to a healthier and more sustainable future. Who else will to play this role?

    Gary Cohen is Co-Founder and President of Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Sambhavna Clinic in Bhopal, India, established to help heal people affected by the Bhopal gas tragedy. He is on the board of the American Sustainable Business Council and Health Leads.


    POV: the heart of fiction
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers poetry, conservation, promotion, and marketing instruction

    POV: the heart of fiction

       My point of view (POV) is the reality I live in. While I am awake, and even when I am dreaming, I am aware of thoughts, images, emotions, bodily sensations, and also information arriving about the world around me through my skin, mouth, nose, ears and eyes. I select from this complex barrage to construct my perception of what is: me in an environment.

       When this environment includes another person, it is in principle impossible for me to know that person's reality. A cliche of philosophy is that you and I may both describe an object as red, but there is no way of knowing if your subjective experience of "red" is the same as mine.

       Imagination, based on empathy, is the tool we use to manage the world of others. If I see you fall over, I "know how it must feel," and identify with what you "must be going through." I can do so because, in the past, I have had similar experiences. So, I construct an internal representation of what I think your reality to be like.

       I have never plummeted from a plane with a failed parachute, or won a huge lottery, or been a bank teller held up at gunpoint, or been chased by a sex-starved princess, or suffered sexual abuse from an older brother. All the same, given the experiences I have had, I can construct an imaginary reality so that I can respond as if I was a person in one of these situations.

       People who don't have this skill get nothing out of reading fiction.

       This is why POV is the heart of fiction. The reader needs to create a reality in which s/he can experience the emotions of a person in the story. The writer's task is to make that possible. Anything that gets and keeps the reader in that make-believe reality is good. Any reminder that this is only a story is bad.

       Head hopping is when the writer reports the private, inner experiences of more than one person in a scene, switching from one to the other. Some people call this "omniscient POV," but, name it what you will, it gets in the way of the reader "becoming" any one of the characters. Therefore, it is a bad device to use.

       Author lectures, info dumps, are also bad. As a reader, it is not back story or information I need, but BEING there. When the writer tells me stuff, I am reminded that the illusion is only an illusion. The information the reader needs should be subtly plaited into dialogue, action, description, and (as little as possible) musings.

       How do we create this temporary make-believe using POV?

       A good way is to think of the story as a sequence of scenes. When starting a scene, immediately give the name of the "current witness," with some inner experience: thought, perception, bodily sensation or the like. Here is an example of such an introduction.

       Jim felt the usual jolt of pain in his back as he stood, but squared his shoulders. "Get out of here," he said as firmly as he could, hiding his terror.

       After this, present the rest of the scene from Jim's POV. That means that you subtly continue weaving in his inside reality, while showing everyone and everything the way he perceives his surroundings. So, we might continue,

       The bigger of the two fellows sneered, showing yellow teeth. "Ya gonna make me, grandpa?"

       Nothing is said about HIS thoughts and feelings, only his outside appearance.

       One frequently seen mistake is something like this:

       Jim felt the usual jolt of pain in his back as he stood up, but squared his shoulders. His brown eyes blazed at the intruders. "Get out of here," he said as firmly as he could, hiding his terror.

       "Brown eyes" is what the two others in the scene can see. Jim can't, unless he is facing a mirror, and even then, he is focusing on the two men, not on his own appearance.

       So, the rule is, report what the witness experiences.

       This will give you characters who are vividly alive, and a story that will hold the reader's attention.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson offers poetry, conservation, promotion, and marketing instruction

       Excited about Magdalena Ball's and my Sublime Planet poetry book released to celebrate Earth Day coming in April. Until April 1 the e-book was free at and on Amazon e-book pages in Europe and Japan, too.

       It's also available in paperback to be used as a gift for the tree huggers you know. All proceeds for that benefit the World Wild Life Fund. Just a click can help Sublime Planet e-book reach #1 so Maggie and I can brag about it forever after.

       Now for the tip -- sort of a thank you gift for helping out with the e-book giveaway. this one is straight from the next issue of my SharingwithWriters newsletter:

       This Issue's Favorite Tip: is a site that promotes your book absolutely free. David even hosts a Shelfari group, the third largest group in the category with some 3,900 members. The page he gives you also encourages reviews on Amazon. What a way to promote a book and learn from others.

    Very best,

    What my friends want you to know

    Kinglake has risen
    Survivorship Ritual Abuse and Child Abuse 2013 Conference
    Getting Our Act Together: book launch by Glen Ochre
    Bill McKibben in Australia
    Psychology for a Safe Climate Conference
    Friends of the Earth want to get the wind up again
    Getting older? Caring for an old person?

    Kinglake has risen. 21st April 2013

    In February 2009, the Victorian town of Kinglake was destroyed by fire. It is now back, and is celebrating:

    Regenerating... people... place... prosperity... preparedness

       Two jam-packed days exploring and sharing a diverse range of community regeneration and disaster preparedness issues and opportunities, experiential learning and the latest in-depth research findings.

       Sunday 21 April and Sunday 5 May 2013 from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

       Kinglake Community Centre, Cnr Exton's Rd, Kinglake Central

       Please see on-line versions of the Program for 'Regenerating...'

       The event is FREE but places are limited, so please book.

       Thanks to CSIRO, RMIT and the ANU for their generous support.

       We're excited about our two day event -- Sunday 21 April and Sunday 5 May 2013.

       Please assist us by circulating and promoting widely.

    Cheers, Daryl Taylor
    KRCRC elected member
    Regenerating Coordinator
    Mobile 0497 097 047

    Survivorship Ritual Abuse and Child Abuse 2013 Conference: Survivors Moving Forward
    4th and 5th May, 2013.

       Two days of survivor and professional workshops, a safe room, great price, good food, safe environment, a chance to mingle with others who share your experience, join together in this unique opportunity to bring the movement forward... Executive Inn & Suite 1755 Embaracadero Oakland, CA 94606


       Survivorship is one of the oldest and most respected organizations supporting survivors of extreme child abuse, including sadistic sexual abuse, ritualistic abuse, mind control, and torture.

       The purpose of the conference will be to help survivors of ritual abuse and their allies. The conference will be for survivors, cosurvivors, helping professionals and others interested in this topic.

       To receive the application form please contact us either by e-mail or postal mail: Survivorship Family Justice Center 470 27th Street Oakland, CA 94612 USA

       Please wait for acknowledgment from Survivorship before submitting your payment. Survivorship reserves the right to limit attendance to protect the safety and security of the conference participants.

    Cost of conference:

       Low income: $100 for both days/$50 for one day Regular participant: $175 for both days/$100 for one day Professional participant: $225 for both days/$125 for one day.

       Executive Inn & Suite Hotel rates are $109-$129 a night. Here is how you get the Survivorship rates and rooms: go to: Go to: book now. Enter: arrival and departure date. Enter: GR296ZA Click on: check availability. Click on: continue. click on: book reservation.

    Getting Our Act Together: book launch by Glen Ochre

    Northcote Town Hall, 1st Floor, 189 High Street (enter from south/city side)

    Friday, May 10, 2013 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm in UTC+10

    Hi there Folks,

       Drawing on a lifetime of experience bringing people together to work collaboratively for a just and sustainable world, Glen Ochre has produced her much anticipated guide to harnessing the power of groups.

       You may know Glen as a co-founder of Commonground Co-operative, as an educator with the Groupwork Institute and as one of the country's leading facilitators and group workers.

       The launch will take on even greater significance with the sad news that Glen has recently been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Glen's doctors have advised her that with chemotherapy, it is estimated she has about two years to live.

       We ask all those who have been touched by Glen's life and work to join us for the launch of Glen's book Getting Our Act Together.

       Please RSVP by clicking here.

       Purchase the book.

       Given the significance of what is happening for Glen, we hope you can make it.

    Warm regards,
    The book launch team.

    Bill McKibben in Australia, June 2013

       We've got some exciting news!

       Bill McKibben is bringing his Do the Maths tour to Australia and we wanted you to be the first to know, and have the first opportunity to get involved.

       After his Rolling Stone article, Global Warming's Terrifying New Maths, went viral last year, Bill plunged into a hugely successful tour around the USA, bringing his clear-eyed vision to American audiences and driving a campaign for individuals, universities and local governments to divest themselves of investments in fossil fuels.

       As we like to say, "get our cash out of coal!"

       Global warming maths is a simple and strikingly clear concept. It presents climate change as a big maths problem, involving the quantity of carbon we wish to burn and the capacity of the atmosphere to contain it. The question is, how much more can we burn before we're in trouble?

       With that question in mind, Bill has decided to make Australia the first international stop on the tour. That's nothing to be proud of. It's because the massive coal expansion that Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer, Campbell Newman and Julia Gillard are planning has enough carbon currently locked in it to tip our planet over the edge if it goes ahead.

       Do we want to be responsible for that as a country? Or do we want to stand up and be counted?

       In the first week of June, Bill will be holding public meetings in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, and we want you to have the first opportunity to book tickets, as well as sign up to volunteer along the way if you can.

       Please go to the site, book tickets, tell your friends, share it on social media (Facebook link here), and sign up to help us where you can.

    Looking forward to seeing you at one of the events in June!
    Best wishes,
    Aaron, Blair, Tim and the whole team

    Psychology for a Safe Climate Conference

    Saturday October 12, 2013.

       We are calling for presentations at our Psychology for a Safe Climate Conference: Saturday October 12, 2013, Melbourne (in North Fitzroy, an inner suburb of Melbourne easily accessible by public transport from the city.)

       We are planning the conference for psychologists and related professionals to address the question: How can psychology and the social sciences help us face the reality of climate change? We are calling for brief outlines of presentations (papers, talks, led discussions etc.) to address this topic and wonder whether you would be interested to participate. If so, would you please send us an outline of a presentation you would like to offer.

       Panel discussion at Conference

       At the conference we are planning a panel discussion on the question of whether climate messaging should focus on fear or be only positive.

       Would you have a view on this matter and if so would like to be part of a panel discussion? Please let us know if you are keen to be included.

       Check at

       Contact by email:

    Friends of the Earth want to get the wind up again

       Victorian readers may spot our ad this morning calling on the Premier to over turn the restrictive VC82 wind laws. (These crazy laws have killed the wind energy industry in Victoria.)

       You can see the ad here

       Or on Facebook.

       It's great to have more groups coming on board with this campaign. Momentum is building!

       Please feel free to pass the ad on to friends and encourage them to sign our petition.

    Cam Walker

    Getting older? Caring for an old person?

       Then you need to look up Carole Marshall's web page. She has written helpful, gentle, inspiring books that help you to keep your health as good as possible if you're the oldie, and be a guide and support for you if you are the carer for one.

    Book Reviews

    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Max Overton
    Rouge Program, by Darrell Bain
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Susan Hornbach
    Ascending Spiral reviewed by Alfredo Zotti

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Max Overton

       Ascending Spiral is a wonderfully curious book and one that defies instant categorisation. At first, I thought it a series of historical stories -- expertly crafted and meticulously researched -- that put you right into the times so you can actually feel what the characters are experiencing. You live as Padraig, his short life terminated by a Viking raider; as Irishman Dermot fighting against British tyranny; as Amelia, the wife of a brutal landowner in Outback Australia; and as Pip Lipkin, a young man in 20th century Australia, fighting prejudice and his own failings. But it was so much more than just historical stories. The central character in each account turns out to be the same soul, experiencing different lives, learning some lessons, failing others, falling and rising, though the overall journey is one of ascent -- one soul's journey on an ascending spiral.

       This, in itself, would be a fascinating tale of men and women buffeted by circumstance, but the story is twelve thousand years in the making. Furthermore, it encompasses the lives of aliens as well as humans, told in a way that seems both realistic and meaningful. A Space Flower and a Walking Plant add their lives to the mix, and if it seems odd that these beings should be included in a story of an ascending soul, think again. Every action leaves its mark, both on ourselves and those around us, and if we do harm, we must atone for our actions before we can move forward. With every death comes an accounting and a chance for the soul to pick a future life that will help it right the wrongs of a previous existence, help it on its spiral of ascent.

       If all that wasn't enough, one is left with a strong feeling that the latter part of the book is at least partly autobiographical, as the character Pip Lipkin finally realises his long history and what it all means. He has learned lessons from his past lives and can now put them into practice. This would be enough for most books, but Bob Rich goes further, pointing out the future of the planet and the fate of every species on it unless we too learn the lessons that Pip has learned over twelve thousand years of existence.

       Ascending Spiral is a book that held me fascinated while I was reading it, and made me sit and think when I finished it. I know I'll be reading it again, especially the latter part where the future of the planet -- my future, your future -- is laid out, and how we can yet save it from destruction. Thank you, Bob, for this wonderful and thought-provoking experience.

    While Max was reading Ascending Spiral, I had the pleasure of reading his coming book, We Came from Konigsberg. I'll publish my review of it after it is released. I found it to be a masterpiece.

    Rouge Program, by Darrell Bain

    Rouge Program is an exciting page-turner in two distinct parts, and the content determines the style of presentation.

       The first part is a very intense personal journey by Lyda Brightner, barely a teenager at the start of the story. Along with 15 million people, she is swept up by alien-controlled machines and taken to one terrible environment after another. Each has great challenges, and many die. Eventually only 5000 are left. Why was this done by the aliens with all their cruelties? You'll need to read the book to find out.

       The second part is geopolitics, in which the 5000 survivors are pitted against all the dictators, power-mongers and large-scale criminal organizations of Earth -- and against all the inertia, bureaucracy and stupidity we humans are so good at.

       Darrell's heroine Lyda very quickly becomes a real person. His demonstration of how some exceptional people can develop leadership is both convincing and realistic. Darrell is very good at getting his reader to feel the emotion, to identify with it.

       I cheered Lyda all the way through the book. Put on your seat belt, and be prepared for a wild ride!

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Susan Hornbach

       Ascending Spiral, written by Bob Rich, is a medley of intertwining lives that result in lessons learned for mistakes of past lives. Dr. Pip is the connecting factor between all of these life forms, and brings wisdom and meaning to each existence as he searches for their reason for being. The stories within this book are filled with adventure, terror, love, hate, loneliness, despair, anti-Semitism, war, slavery, insanity, prejudice, sexism, and above all how mankind of today may be destroying itself on a rapid road filled with misconception and greed.

       Life connects and disconnects as one presumably is reincarnated and finds the meaning for what life is truly about. In the beginning of the book, and also at the end, Dr. Pip realizes that his existence in the here and now is directed toward healing others. His messages to the reader are profound, and without a doubt, will leave you in a soul searching state of mind. His true to life view will grip your emotions and awaken you to what could happen in the world of excessive consuming and industry.

       I believe the author's goal for this book is for his reader to enjoy these pages filled with controversy and adventure, and to join his efforts in thwarting greed, promoting love, and to secure the preservation of the Earth, as well as the human race.

       I give this book five stars plus, for content that grips, stories of true emotion that entertain, and intent that serves others. Great book!

    Susan Hornbach is the author of lovely children's books, and is the survivor of a horrific past she is busy documenting in a book she is working on at present. She is doing this in order to empower other women who may face similar situations.

    Ascending Spiral
    reviewed by Alfredo Zotti

        Ascending Spiral is not only a book but a work of art. Like all works of art, it is not what is immediately apparent that captures the reader's attention but what is hidden, yet still obvious to those who are closer to the Light.

       It is less fiction than it seems, particularly for those of us who have a good hunch that the human spirit relives many lives, and we have some proof if we look at children's past lives stories. There is no doubt that the author is an old soul who looks at humanity from the eyes of someone who does not belong here and yet is here to help others. It is an uncomfortable, yet rewarding, journey that will reap rewards in the end. It is the story of a soul that has been through much trauma through the many lives and comes to embody a young man, a teenager who is bullied by other children simply because of being Jewish. That must have been extremely traumatic for a young man who was kind and gentle and sensitive. A young man who today is a rare psychologist and who would probably look back at the bullies with some compassion and sadness, knowing very well how much help they need and how that experience has served him well. It was not negative but all positive today.

       But above all, it is the story of a quest for the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is the meaning of our life? And what is this Universe all about? Perhaps the questions we are asking have been replied in our dreams, dreams that we cannot recall. The mystery of men and women. Through all of this chaos there is suffering, the negative energy that propels humanity into greatness, for it is out of suffering that we get closer to the light. Those of us who can suffer with dignity and with acceptance are the ones who transform themselves into real artists that shape our life. It is a constant battle but if we look closely there is so much good that comes out of the struggle, perhaps enough to save us all.

       Ascending Spiral is a quest more inner than outer, for there is a Universe out there but also one in each of us, for we are a universe in our own right.

    Long term readers of Bobbing Around are well acquainted with Alfredo. He is a highly skilled artist and musician. He and I have often cooperated on cartoons that appear in previous issues. When he sent me this review, he said he wanted to be sure it's completely different from other reviews. Clearly, he has succeeded. He has looked for the essence of the story, instead of the story line.

    About Bobbing Around

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