Welcome to Janet's Blog

I first used this blog to publish "Trash" before I knew about ebooks. I wrote "Trash" twenty years ago. The novel explains why, in the original version of "If not for the tomatoes" Annie wrote: "We had aliens come and tell us". It wasn't Al Gore at all.

Annie isn't the hero of "Trash", but she has her own story ( a much more polished novel). Go to smashwords.com and look for "Tipping Point". (Follow the link to the right.)

If you're a first time visitor to my blog, try reading "If not for the tomatoes" first. (It's the short story in Annie's future - look in 6/5/07) This is only half the story, though. The complete story that inspired Tipping Point appears in my other blog as "Our choices".

To begin reading "Trash", start at 17/6/07. (Many apologies for the poor navigation.)

READ ON FOR LATEST BLOG POST


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The tears of a child

The class was extremely small - most of Year 9 were either on camp or staying home for the week. The film I was asked to show - "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas." I was not prepared for the tears at the end of the film. Fortunately we had ten minutes to talk.

Their first concern was whether this was what really happened. I briefly explained the Holocaust and stressed that this was one of the reasons we taught History in school (although this was an English lesson). "We have to know what's happened so we don't repeat our mistakes," one wise girl suggested.

I hope I was able to ease the distress, but in the short time available I could not say all I wanted to. How do you answer, "Did the Jews really cause the war?" in five minutes or less?
They had seen the use of propaganda shown in the film, but how do you explain the modern take on the ancient tradition of anti-Semitism? How to discuss the human predilection for hating and persecuting the "other". Could I link it to the way Australia, a nation founded on fear of Asian invasion, continues to target the most recent boat people?

How can I explain to these sweet thirteen-year-olds the way that politicians are increasingly using fear to manipulate their electorates? Fear of refugees, Muslims, terrorists. In a country where a woman dies every week from domestic violence we spend more money combating terrorism, which has barely touched our island/continent. I did not have time to draw parallels between Hitler's Germany and politicians who win office through deceitful campaigns that exploit people's fears while neglecting their needs. Through fear we retain a government that panders to vested interests to the detriment of the people and the land.

And last week our Senate debated whether or not climate change was real. The greatest threat to human society is still being treated as a hoax by people who have power in running our country. It doesn't suit them to acknowledge the damage being done as our environment is exploited in the name of greed. Next year's election is more important than our children's future.

What hope did I have in explaining anti-Semitism and propaganda? A whole lesson would not have been enough. 

When are our politicians going to grow up enough to face the real challenges our world faces, instead of distracting us with scary shadows on the wall?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The news is not improving . . .

Hello again!

So . . . the world wants change. And Trump is the one to give it. Sexist, climate change denier, dodgy businessman; complete loose cannon. I'm not the only one who's feeling a bit anxious about this.

"Catalyst" last night was about the Anthropocene Era. Apparently geologists are about to declare that a new era has begun where the planet has been changed by human actions. Unprecedented warming, radiation and new trace elements appearing in sediments - the evidence is there.

Sticking our collective heads in the sand and ignoring what is happening won't help. We have already changed our climate. The severity of the impact is the question. We need to make changes now that will prevent catastrophic global warming - extreme weather events, increasing extinctions, crop failures. This is not the world I want to leave for my children to inherit.

And the really distressing thing is that we know what to do. As the concerned geologists on the program pointed out, we have the technology. Yet  we continue to allow investment in unsustainable coal power. We continue to encourage (as a society) the consumption that has led to our current predicament. We are consuming beyond the point that can be supported by our planet.

Don't believe in over-consumption? Go look in the cupboard. How much stuff is there that you don't need? When was the last time you up-dated your smart phone? How often do you have to "declutter"?  If you found lots of junk you must be part of the 17% of the world's population whose consumption and energy guzzling has contributed most to the problem. Are we going to jeopardize the future because we couldn't be bothered modifying our life-style?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

I've done it again, haven't I? It's been nearly two months since my last post. I just can't seem to get the knack for writing a blog each week.

My excuse this time is that I've been doing some casual relief teaching that has eaten into my time. Other commitments needed to be met, and the blog came last on the list. The upside to this is how enjoyable the work has been - I should have retired and started doing this sooner!

Of course, I will now get worse at regular blog-writing. I've been hatching a story that I think is now ready to be written. And my health issues are demanding that I put more energy into managing them - meditation has been low on the list, too; just not as low as the blog.

But life goes on. It is heartening to know that I'm not the only person who wants to save the world.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Cute Puppies


Did it work? After all, “Cute Kittens” did actually increase my audience. Go figure?! But to make sure this is not false advertising, I’ve included a photo of Spud as a puppy and a photo of Would’e, who is now nine months old.
 


 
 


 
 
 

The real topic of today's blog is:
 
How to save the world

 

But first, a quote:

“Be kind – everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” John Watson.

I had tried to put this into practice, even before I’d heard the quote. I’d experienced enough of what it is to be human: loss, pain, despair. I’d learned to value those people who are kind in their dealings with the world. I tried to emulate their example.

On days when the black temper hits me I hurt instead of heal. I’m glad those days are now rare.

On days when self-loathing eviscerates me, I try to keep it to myself. Keep smiling. “How am I? Good, thanks.” Just keep swimming.

On good days I try to share the joy.

But I’m straying from my subject. How do we save the world? And I say “we” very deliberately. I can’t do it all by myself.

There are lots of people out there trying to save the world, from Greenpeace globally to local Landcare groups. Each of us, in our small way, can contribute to a powerful change. But the message doesn’t seem to be getting through.

Are my words strong enough to nudge the gathering force; in my small way can I help the world to heal?

I see a clear pattern in the world around me. Let me sketch it for you.

There is a cycle of sorts which begins with human greed. Companies create profit through destroying environments in order to create products which they sell. (Some products, in the war trade, for example, cause further damage to precious ecosystems which may never recover.)

People are persuaded that they need these things: corporations need consumers. The media spreads the mantra that money can buy happiness, re-enforced by the images in popular culture – the cool dudes are rich and living in luxury, let’s face it. Digital enhancement plays on people’s self-esteem and encourages investment in fashion, beauty aids, cosmetic surgery . . . but I’d better not get side-tracked into the way the media is warping reality for the current generation.

Governments, in their turn, encourage this process. It’s good for the economy. Brings in the taxes. They probably would like to do something about achieving sustainability, but they don’t want to act too quickly – don’t want to scare the voters. Besides, big corporations often influence government decisions, and they don’t want to disrupt the status quo – don’t want to disrupt their profits.

And we’re back to the beginning of the cycle. A cycle I think needs disrupting.

Corporations could do it. They could throw all their resources into becoming sustainable and repairing the damage they have done. Some are trying, I know, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Blue is not my colour.

Governments could insist that it happened; in a big way. In times of war governments impose rations, people accept the need to make sacrifices for their country. But I don’t think that’s going to happen either. Do you?

That just leaves us. The people.

The thing that really scares me, is that if we don’t act more decisively and more quickly, the choice will be taken from us. As weather patterns change, crops will fail, famine will increase, extreme weather events will increase. For me that means knowing that a once-in-a-lifetime event, Black Saturday, is likely to happen again. For the people of the South Pacific it means watching their land sink into the ocean.

Our civilization, such as it is, may not survive global warming – in fact, it probably won’t. In these best of times it is so fragile. If it breaks down there will be no international rescue teams coming to bring us food after the hurricane has destroyed our homes.

Fertile land is already becoming desert.

And it is the people who will suffer.

Have you ever seen documentary footage or news reports about famine in Africa? That could be your child with the swollen belly. Or more likely your grandchild.

So what can we, the people, do to disrupt the profit cycle that would bankrupt our planet?

What I don’t understand is why I haven’t already heard this message, the answer to this question, loud and clear before now. Although the cynic in me immediately replies that it’s pretty obvious why. Two out of three in our destructive cycle don’t want this one getting around.

And it’s so blindingly obvious. Just stop consuming.

Simple.

Well – no, it isn’t a simple thing at all, is it? We depend on the corporations for our income as well as being their customers – what will happen to people’s jobs?

At some point there will have to be some pain. But if we all put effort into absorbing the shock, helping each other through it, we’ll win the battle. If corporations co-operate with government, and we all help each other survive the rationing, whatever it entails, we can win the war.

We can hang out the sign: “To be continued . . .”

 

 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Cute Kittens!


Did it work? Has someone googled “cute kittens” and wound up at my blog?

Didn’t think so.

Pity. I was planning on explaining how to save the world today. It was the least I could do after my last post. You see, part of what feeds my depression is a sense of powerlessness in the face of what will be the defining challenge of our time. Can we tackle climate change before it leads to civilization-disrupting chaos?

I’d be worried that you’ll think I’m a real nutter, but since no-one’s listening, I’m safe. (As long as I don’t choke on my tablets.)

 

What really bugs me and sends my brain into a tailspin is that, despite our individual - and at times communal – brilliance, we can be incredibly collectively stupid.

Don’t get my drift?

Humans have evolved past the point where we were able to understand the seasons and develop the tools to survive them. We learned to grow extra food then store it for the lean times. Then in our leisure times we developed increasingly complex technologies that have enabled us to believe that we can live independent of our climate. Strawberries all year round come at a price.

Our activity has changed our planet. Climate change is being felt in the form of increasingly frequent extreme weather events. The residents of Vanuatu are among the most recent to feel the effect. We know it is happening. Our scientists can not only tell us why, they can also tell us what to do. We have the technology!

Yet change for the better is slow coming – it may be too slow to prevent us reaching a tipping point where our efforts will make no difference.

Still people resist change.

Climate change deniers continue to muddy the water, and corporations which depend on destructive processes to create their profits, drag their feet. And the media, puppet of industry, continues to tell us that consumption is good.

And our climate continues to deteriorate.

See what I mean. Stupid. Really dumb.

If we were in a boat that was leaking we’d be bailing like mad. Instead we seem to be knocking more holes in the bottom. And people seem to think that doing next to nothing about this critical issue is acceptable.

What do I think we should do? I’ll save that for the next post and end with a quote from Philip K. Dick.

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Is there anybody out there?


I didn’t choke when I took my tablets this morning. (The one with turmeric in it is particularly chunky, but it helps my arthritis.) If I did choke no-one would find me until Nev came home from work. No-one handy to help.

It’s the feeling of isolation that bothers me the most. Not that I mind my own company – don’t get me wrong. I’m actually enjoying having a bit of time without the complexities of human interaction. But I’m feeling kind of invisible. If I choked would any-one notice? The world would go on.

Here I am, rattling on as if some-one’s listening.

Since no-one is, I can say what’s really bothering me - I’m depressed.

I’m not a celebrity, so it’s not glamourous. It mostly consists of trying not to think about the release of death while my fruitless job-search continues, along with the grieving for the bittersweet job I can no longer do, as I struggle to train the dog, and I try to stay positive, and I focus on the task, and I meditate and try to be mindful.

I’m on the upswing again – I couldn’t write this, otherwise. And I pause to feel for the people who can’t even get out of bed in the morning. At least I can always do that. Somewhere along the way I have learned that, no matter what, you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and do what has to be done. Perhaps it was my children, needy babies, who taught me that.

With them it wasn’t enough to just feed and change nappies. I had to try to act the calm I didn’t always feel. It’s a handy trick.

“Hello. How are you?”

“Good thanks.” (No. I’m not good. I’m fucking awful. I’ve got no job and I can’t go back to the old one and everything in my life is wrong and painful because I‘m having trouble breaking the current loop of self-loathing.) “Could I have three lamb chops, please?”

I understand why people so often fail to pick suicides. You learn to keep your disease to yourself. It makes people uncomfortable. And what can they do anyway? If I had a broken leg people could see the cast and be a bit kind to help me out.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Would'e?

Spud's been dead for three years now and I've finally had the courage to bring another dog into our home.

After animal shelters and on-line rescue organisations, I went to look at a young dog my daughter found in the on-line "classifieds". I could see that he needed training; I could see that he had some issues; but when he melted on my feet and looked up at me with his amber eyes I couldn't say no.

I'm not fussed about the name he had - Woody - but he had so much to learn. Asking him to learn a new name as well at seven months old seemed a bit much. So I renamed him Would'e.

Would'e eat your slippers? Probably.
Would'e try to eat your dinner off the bench? Most likely.
Would'e be adorable? Definitely.

He's a red kelpie of indeterminate breeding. In other words, a beautiful brown dog with yellow eyes. He's full of beans and a bit insecure, but he improves every day. He can sit, and stay (most of the time) and has almost learned to walk properly on the lead. He can even heel without a lead in certain circumstances. He is struggling with coming when he's called, but getting better at it all the time.

And he's bringing some extra sunshine into my days. With the kids all living independently now (more or less), the house has often seemed empty. And as I struggle to re-invent my life after leaving teaching, Would'e is good company. I'm not just rattling around in the house by myself. He's also an excellent personal trainer, needing at least two decent walks a day.

I don't love him like Spud - not yet. But in his calm moments I glimpse a mature dog of sense and nobility. I'm looking forward to getting there with him.