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Hi there, and welcome back to the Monthly Missive. You can save anything in here to read later in Pocket, and email me at 
Last month I went to see Parkway Drive play at The Forum and their light show made me feel like I was spacing out, even though I was completely sober. I've shared a few links in this thing over the years about all the negative effects technology is having on our brains, but its scope for helping the brain to heal itself (or at least help you not to cook it more with untested and unregulated drugs) is just as powerful. Electronic music pioneer Brian Eno and neuroscientist Mendel Kaelen have been collaborating on an app called Wavepaths which uses generative music to induce a therapeutic psychedelic trip and it sounds fascinating. The Wave VR is a new musical experience platform mixing virtual reality, video games and music, where you can pop on a VR headset and wander through an incredible interactive and very trippy audio/visual experience. In the Wave VR you can even buy "digital psychedelics" to amp the whole thing up a notch. Honestly, no wonder teens today are drinking less booze and doing fewer drugs than their parents. This stuff is way cooler than drinking alcohol until you vomit, which is what I was doing for fun as a teen. 

Speaking of young people, this story about how a group of young black boys set up a book club for where they read books about young black boys (ie, books that are actually relevant to them and representative of their experiences) was lovely. Back in Australia, as a kid who grew up in the country and loves the skill and smarts of working dog breeds like kelpies, heelers and border collies, I loved how this outback school started running working dog training programs as an extra-curricular activity. And of course, as our population ages, a new generation of embalmers are keeping a very old funeral tradition alive (no pun intended). 

I found myself chastened and also able to explain something I had struggled to articulate about "PC culture" and classism while reading Shannon Burns' essay "In defence of the bad, white working class" in Meanjin. This quote really stuck out to me: 

"Those who hail from the lower classes rarely have relatives or mentors who encourage them to modify or scrutinise received ways of thinking about social issues. Many go to schools that are under-resourced, where behaviour management replaces education, and where punitive controls make learning feel like abuse. The only people they know who embrace progressive values are the vegetarians down the street, whom nobody talks to, and those who are materially better off than they are. Because of this, those values take on a particular aura: they represent the world view of those who stand above them."



I started working for Breast Cancer Network Australia just over a year ago, and I love it. BCNA is a truly incredible organisation - every year we send out more than 12,000 My Journey Kits to people newly diagnosed with breast cancer and 12,000 My Care Kits (which include a $80 post-mastectomy bra) to women who've just had breast cancer surgery ... completely free. We also run a telephone helpline staffed by cancer nurses, an online network, information forums and of course, provide clinically endorsed and factually correct info on everything breast cancer related: chemo side effects, how to get your life insurance paid out if you have terminal breast cancer, how to manage fertility if you have breast cancer young and more. We have successfully lobbied politicians and law makers to get certain cancer drugs approved for subsidies so more people can afford them. I could rant on and on about all the great stuff we do, but the important thing is that we provide all of these services for FREE to people with breast cancer, and only 10-15% of our funding comes from the government. All the rest of it comes from donations. 

This September I'm representing BCNA staff as part of a fundraising hike. I'll be hiking Mont Blanc in Europe along with 12 breast cancer survivors and their supporters, covering 65km of mountains in 4-5 days. As part of this, I will be raising a $4000 which will go straight to BCNA (it's not paying for my travel costs) and will therefore pay for our cancer nurses on the phones, the free mastectomy bras, our printing costs and more. I'll also be celebrating my 30th birthday just after I return from Mont Blanc.  

SO - if you've enjoyed this newsletter over the 4 years I've been doing it and can afford to do so, please donate to my fundraising page here. I'd really appreciate it ... and if you live in Australia, your donation can be written off as a tax deduction as part of your tax return! Win win. 
Copyright © 2018 Sophie Benjamin, All rights reserved.

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