Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today's scientific reading

Gosh, there are some interesting things on the internet!

If you're not already, you should really be reading the Derren Brown Blog. Derren Brown is, of course, a man who cannot be summed up in a few sentences. If you don't know who he is, google him. Right now. He will challenge your thinking in ways it's never been challenged before.

So I was reading Derren's blog today (faithfully maintained by a whole team of interesting people) and found some truly interesting links that I thought I'd share with you.

Firstly - amazing discovery! A science historian has cracked the hidden codes in Plato's writing and unearthed the most interesting thing: Plato's books were written according to the Greek system of a twelve-note musical scale, his words echoing the harmony, consonance and dissonance of the notes! Isn't that fascinating? It's amazing, because all these modern historians were always, "Oh, there's no hidden codes in Plato's writing! You nincompoops! You've all been reading too much Dan Brown." Well, now they have to eat their words, don't they? There ARE hidden codes! Apparently, it will take a generation to really understand all the hidden codes and meanings, so I'm very much looking forward to following this as it unfolds and learning what Plato had to say about life. I hadn't realised, for example, that he was a feminist! Or that he was the first great defender of romantic love (a grand new favourite topic of mine), as opposed to marriage for financial gain. He was a defender of homosexuality! And he was captured by pirates, at one point, and sold into slavery. What a guy! (Arnold Rimmer? Who? I'm talking about PLATO.) Words from the science historian who discovered this:

Dr Kennedy recalls: "There was no Rosetta Stone. To announce a result like this I needed rigorous, independent proofs based on crystal-clear evidence. The result was amazing - it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself. Plato is smiling. He sent us a time capsule."

Fabulous! Such an exciting discovery.

Secondly, a really interesting scientific discovery made recently (also publicised on the Derren Brown Blog) is to do with why human beings dream. Apparently, according to this new research, it's to enable our minds to think about problems that we cannot solve when we're awake. Interesting, really, as that's why astrologers/dream analysers have been saying for years, isn't it? I have always been aware that my dreams were a tool for my subconscious and conscious mind to reconcile themselves to answers to problems that I couldn't otherwise solve. But now there's scientific proof! Very interesting. Read the article here.

Today, I logged into the 1 Million Women website and have learned that I have managed to save 113kg of CO2 deposits by the changes I've made in my lifestyle to date. Interesting, huh? Apparently, 1000kg would fill 2000 balloons! (I may have remembered that figure wrong.) Amazing what a difference one person can make.

Keep well, cherubs. Winter is upon us, and it's wretchedly cold in Canberra!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mental Health

I received this email from a dear friend who is clearly passionate about the topic, and so I am posting it for you all to read. I don't think mental health is taken seriously enough in Australia. It's a huge problem, and it needs to be addressed.

* * *

Dear esteemed friends and family,

Please don't delete this straight away. Hear me out. I'm not normally the chain-mail sort of person (quite the opposite actually), so hopefully this indicates the importance of this.

I send this email to you because mental health is an issue close to my heart, and the Australian Government can no longer sweep this issue under the carpet. Professor John Mendoza, head advisor to the Federal Government on mental health, has just resigned; citing years upon years of empty promises and inaction of the Federal Government as the cause. Instead he has sparked this campaign as he believes that public action is the only way to make the government listen. Teen and young adult suicide is a leading killer in Australia; so many of these deaths can be prevented by raising awareness of mental health and providing the necessary early intervention, prevention and treatment services to those who need them.

I have suffered from both severe depression and from Generalised Anxiety Disorder at various stages of my life. By far the worst part was the feeling of loneliness that these conditions cause. Just being able to be heard, to simply have somebody to listen to what is going on inside your head, is an incredibly powerful tool in the fight against mental illness. Sadly, many GPs are inexperienced with dealing with mental health issues; instead of emphasising the importance of seeking the help and guidance of a Psychologist, often they simply describe anti-depressants and send you on your way. We need to educate our GPs, we need to educate our young people on the symptoms of depression and other mental disorders, and we need to start talking about this very real issue that affects one in five Australians at some point throughout their lifetime.

Remove the stigma from mental illness now. Help your fellow Australians fight this battle of loneliness. Help to raise awareness of mental health, in memory of the thousands of Australians who lose their lives every year, because nobody will listen.

Go here and sign Professor Mendoza's electronic petition - hell, enter a fake email address if you are worried about spam!

And please remember to forward this to anybody you know who will understand and give their support.

With love,


Monday, June 14, 2010

My favourite poem!

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possibly without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak the truth quietly and clearly. AND LISTEN TO OTHERS, even the dull and the ignorant; THEY TOO HAVE THEIR STORY. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter. FOR ALWAYS THERE WILL BE GREATER AND LESSER PERSONS THAN YOURSELF. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, HOWEVER HUMBLE: it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. BE YOURSELF. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. TAKE KINDLY THE COUNSEL OF THE YEARS, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many tears are born of fatigue and loneliness. BEYOND A WHOLESOME DISCIPLINE, be gentle with yourself. YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE UNIVERSE, no less than the trees and the stars; YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. T H E R E F O R E BE AT PEACE WITH GOD, whatever you conceive Him to be, AND WHATEVER YOUR LABOURS AND ASPIRATIONS, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, DRUDGERY AND BROKEN DREAMS, IT IS STILL A BEAUTIFUL WORLD. Be careful.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oh, Marian.

I have been worrying about Marian Keyes for months. Late last year, her husband sent her mailing list an email to let us know that she was suffering from terrible depression and was therefore unable to write her monthly newsletter. We heard from her briefly after that, and then - nothing. My heart went out to her. I have been waiting, and waiting - and finally, she's back. I'm so proud of her for coming through that darkness. Read all about it here. An excerpt:

I don’t exactly know what to say because I still don’t really know what happened to me. The medical profession call it ‘a major depressive episode’ but I’ve been knocked sideways by a multitude of feelings, not just depression but agitation, anxiety, terror, panic, grief, desperation, despair and an almost irresistible desire to be dead and it’s gone on for a very long time. Every day for six solid months I’ve had to try really hard to stay alive. I’ve literally got through each day hour by hour, trying to hang on until the sun set and it was time to close the shutters on the windows and then I’d feel, Okay I’ve survived another day. It was such a horrible winter and it felt like it went on forever, but when the clocks went forward I felt even worse because then there was an extra hour of daylight to last through. I know I’ll be criticised for saying all this, I know it sounds horribly selfish, when life is such a precious gift and many people desperately want to be alive and are denied it, but honestly, I’ve had no control over it.

Kiva: loans that change lives

Here is a really unique way to help change the world.

How would you like to change somebody's life? I mean, there's only so much that one person can really do, right? And I personally am in no position to really make a difference by myself. But I'm finding that there are so many ways that I can contribute and help others, and not only do I feel fantastic about it, but I'm spreading awareness about things I'm passionate about and showing others how their contribution can help, too! At least - I hope that's what I'm doing.

Wouldn't it be great to give somebody the thing that they so badly needed in order to save their life? It'd be such an amazing feeling to be able to give somebody a livelihood to be able to support their families. Give them a helping hand and a good start in life.

Welcome to the concept of microloans.

Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Entrepreneurs from (what we commonly term as) Third-World countries sign up and tell us about themselves, and what they need in order to continue their business. It might be $400 to buy some material in order to keep their tailoring business going. It could be $800 to buy grain to feed the hens so that they can sell their eggs. It could be $600 to update their office equipment. It could be anything. And here's the thing.

You, as a Lender, loan them the money.

You don't have to loan them the whole amount. You can contribute as much or as little as you like. (Minimum: $25.00.)

The Entrepreneur then agrees on a fixed length of time in which to pay back the money loaned to them.

Kiva looks after it all and keeps track of it.

When the money is returned to you, you can choose to take it, re-loan it, or donate it to Kiva.

The Entrepreneur keeps you updated on how your money is helping them. You get the satisfaction of knowing that you helped somebody out when they needed it most, and now they're landing on their feet because of you (and others).

Isn't that just an amazing concept?

Isn't it absolutely sending an almighty "SCREW YOU" to all the major banking and financing corporations who otherwise wouldn't help these ailing entrepreneurs out?

I'm so proud of the people who came up with Kiva. I think it's the most courageous and beautiful thing that anybody could have done for this world.

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

I have joined Kiva as a musician, in the Musicians for Change community.

See who you could lend to:

Pendo Luisi, 27 years old, borrowed $175 to open a cafe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:

People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.

The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.

By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:

Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and

Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.

Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

1 Million Women

1 Million Women - A campaign of daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers
- Committed to protecting our climate, our communities and our future, leading
change for the better.

Our goal is to inspire 1 million Australian women to take practical action on climate change by cutting 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse pollutant causing global warming.

Every woman who joins has a personal goal to cut 1 tonne of CO2 from their daily lives within a year of joining the campaign.

Here on our 1 Million Women website you'll be guided through ways to cut your 1 tonne, and to track your progress as you go along. You don't have to be an expert on climate change. Just join up and we'll guide you every step of the way.
1 Million Women - a million tonnes of CO2. It's a huge challenge.

With your help we will make it happen.

Check out the Ambassadors of this project.

Getting involved in 1 Million Women is easy - simply join, work out the activities that you can do to help, and follow the steps to start reducing carbon emissions. The goal of "1MillionWomen" is to empower 1 Million Women to collectively cut 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas pollutant triggering climate change.

When you join, you will be taken to a selection of CO2 cutting activities covering your household, food, cars and getting around, flights, shopping and renewable energy.

Select activities that work for you and start cutting CO2 now. To stay on course to reach your 1 tonne saving, track your progress within the activity centre. By registering, you are joining daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers inspiring climate action.

1MillionWomen: Get Involved.