Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for November 2011

To all commentators

You’ll have noticed that I answered someone saying that although I have Twitter I rarely use it. The fact is that I write opinion pieces of approximately 700 words on a specific subject, as a weekly contributor to The Chronicle, Canberra, hoping it might spur readers into replying to the editor with brief opinions .

These pieces are what you see posted on Allan Takes Aim.

Unfortunately with regard to Allan Takes Aim many correspondents send replies that have no connection with the blog and in many cases seem copies of comments they have read about blogs on other websites. And let me reiterate a previous comment that using the word ”about” is of no great value if I don’t know what your comment is “about.

Unfortunately as checking the comments can take some time and also take up valuable download space, I have been forced to delete what might be many valuable comments.

Your ends will be better served, as will mine, by you taking time to compose your opinion about my blog. For me the quality of comment is more important than the quantity, so don’t stop trying.

Let me end also by saying to people for whom English is not their first language that good ideas are more important to me than good grammar.

Don Allan

dca@netspeed.com.au

First published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 22 November, 2011 

Christmas will soon be here and even if not a Christian more than likely you will follow the tradition of giving people you love a Christmas gift even if not members of your own family. Indeed for many people, Christmas Day is that day in the year when families expand as they ask people they respect and consider great humanitarians, to join their family celebrations.

Christmas time is also a time for writing letters to Santa Claus, that benign representation of all that is good in the world who has the job of delivering a Christmas gift to every boy and girl no matter how old or young. Of course he is getting older and his job is getting harder. For example when I was a small boy I had to write a letter to tell him what I wanted. Today, however, fewer children write those letters and because with Santa is getting older some parents reduce Santa’s workload by getting a gift for you.

Unfortunately, however, some people don’t think Santa Claus exists. Indeed I once heard my mother say that because some people didn’t get the gift they asked for in their letter they stopped believing in Santa Claus. I can on only say that many a time I didn’t get what I asked for but the fact that I got something made me so happy I eagerly awaited the coming of next Christmas so that I could write Santa another letter.

But talking about letters, I’ve often wished that it was me who wrote the following letter to the editor of the New York Sun in September 1897, that has since become famous through being reprinted in books and editorials, not to mention featuring in films.

“DEAR EDITOR,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so. Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus? Virginia O’Hanlon,

115 West Ninety-Fifth Street.”

The editor answered the letter in an editorial that has also become famous (www.newseum.org/yesvirginia). So who knows? Perhaps a letter of yours to the editor of The Chronicle might also become famous. You think not. Well you might be surprised at how a letter to the editor can bring a result you’d never expect, even in your wildest dreams, something that happened to man in England early in the 1870s, who wrote a letter to The Times (London) suggesting that a monument to Nelson’s victories in Egypt be erected in London.

The British Government said no perhaps because Nelson already had a monument in Trafalgar Square. It was not until 1877 that Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a distinguished anatomist and dermatologist, took up the idea and sponsored the transportation to London of Cleopatra’s Needle, gifted to Britain in 1819 by Sultan Muhammad Ali, the ruler of Egypt and Sudan, because of Nelson’s Nile Victories.

The cost of the needle’s transportation from Alexandria to London was £10,000, a figure that blew out because during a storm the needle fell into the ocean and had to be retrieved. Finally, it arrived at Gravesend and was then transported to London where in September 1878 it was erected on the Thames Embankment.

To his credit the ACT’s former Chief Minister tried his hardest to come up with something that would have the same cachet as either Nelson’s Column or Cleopatra’s Needle. He didn’t. I also believe he resigned because he couldn’t find a suitable person to remember by way of a significant monument.

But with the centenary not far away perhaps Chronicle readers might have some suggestions that will engage the editor of The Chronicle Iin the same way as Virgina O’Hanlon’s letter did the editor of the New York Sun. On the other hand I feel sure there’s a rich Canberra philanthropist waiting patiently in the hope that someone will inspire him/her with an idea for a monument that will make Canberra the envy of the world for centuries to come. Let it be said that I believe Chronicle readers will be able to produce an appropriate idea.

So letter writers, don’t let that philanthropist escape. Get your ideas in as soon as possible.

dca@netspeed.com.au

First published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday, 15 September 2011

The political Silly Season will soon be upon us although some people think it’s always here. It is called the Silly Season because just as weather forecasters talk of wet springs, cool summers, poor autumns and winters bereft of snow, in the Silly Season journalists take great delight in reporting statements and actions of politicians or should that be silly statements and actions of silly politicians. I won’t be surprised if an enterprising journalist doesn’t take a leaf out of Twitter’s book and start an SSS – Silly Season Site.

Last week, my column on space travellers was based on a dream that would have been an ideal post for an SSS. I hasten to add that my dream was not induced by artificial stimulation but came courtesy of nature doing its job of reducing my stress level that had risen due to the result of politicians from all parts of the political spectrum playing their interminable childish political games in the media. Would that my dream prophesied that the result of their childish games was that Australia had again become egalitarian and a country with more divisions of political opinion than it has sporting teams.

I admit to being a dreamer and perhaps you dismiss dreamers. However, I didn’t realise until studying the subject of dreams how important dreams are in everyone’s life. It is study I recommend everyone take up because, once you realise just how important dreaming is to your well-being, at the top of your list of gifts you want for Christmas will be the ability to dream more often.

Do not underestimate the importance of dreams. As Craig Webb, Executive Director of the non-profit Dreams Foundation for over 16 years and McGill University graduate who led a pioneering dream and lucid dream research at Stanford University says: “not only do they help our bodies repair themselves they also help bring other health benefits such as adding to our quality of life.

“And dreaming also provides mental, spiritual, and emotional coping mechanisms that help us develop creative solutions and new ways of thinking about our challenges, questions, and problems in life” something that showed in last week’s dream column that Ceromans from Planet Velo in the Amore Galaxy had briefly visited Canberra.

During the week my stress levels must have been higher than I thought because I had another dream. This dream was about a team of disaffected voters who decided to stage a revolt. They had two schemes. Scheme 1.They would round up the elected politicians of all parties and their policy advisers, march them to a large boat without navigation aids, a small crew, minimal fuel and a limited supply of food and drinking water, then get the Navy to tow the boat to the middle of the Pacific Ocean before letting the tow line go.

Scheme 2. They would do the round up as in scheme 1 but in this case they would get the SAS to transport them to the middle of the Simpson Desert. As in Scheme 1, the strategists would have a limited supply of food and drinking water, no navigation aides and Shanks Pony would be their only means of transport.

Whichever scheme the disaffected voters used the politicians and advisers would also be deprived of mobile phones, GPS systems, laptops or equipment of any kind that would help them communicate with supporters. Last but not least, search and rescue parties would not be allowed for a week.

But whichever scheme they chose, they would give the politicians and advisers pen, ink and paper enough with which to record the ideas they think would make the disaffected voters feel satisfied after the next election.

The result could be memorable. Think of it. Perhaps we would get new ideas about asylum seekers, refugees, and if the Simpson Desert scheme was used perhaps they might come up with new ideas about the war in Afghanistan. That said, I think the politicians and advisers should consider themselves lucky: at least they were being given a choice.

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, their detachment from civilisation might have helped them realise that to benefit Australia, and regardless of their political views, they needed to work together.
dca@netspeed.com.au

The Chronicle for Canberra’s best Community News. published every Tuesday

11 05 AM (Canberra Time) Monday, 14 November, 2011

I am not ungrateful for your comments but it would make replying to them easier if you identified the article you were commenting on. This would help solve the problem of me having to delete comment after comment because I don’t know what the comment refers to. The word “about” tells me nothing perhaps because the commentators take the blog from a linked site.

That said, as all of my blogs have a title and relate to specific issues I hope all commentators will outline the reasons for their comment if only because I hope my blog will raise interest in the subject.

No matter where you live, most of the issues I write about are to be found in your society. And you need have no fear of injuring my feelings with a comment saying you think that what I wrote was rubbish.

Let me emphasise also, that no one else writes for me; my work is my own. And, much as I would like to, I cannot answer technical questions. I have to use “ experts” when I run into problems with my computer.  

Last but not least: my website is from the standard range of WordPress websites, available on the WordPress web page, so that you can pick out one that satisfies you.

Let me wish you more happy reading and commentating.

 Don Allan

E-mail: dca@netspeed.com.au

First published The Chronicle,Canberra, Tuesday, 8 September, 2011

If there are billions of galaxies in the great, expanding universe with billions of galaxies and millions of planets with civilisations, perhaps we might be wise to start thinking seriously about how important earth really is in the galactic scheme of things? This topic should give Canberra’s serious thinkers much to think about

 Among the many who think themselves serious thinkers are Federal and ACT politicians; Federal and ACT Bureaucrats; regiments of consultants; mansion occupying developers; self- important people who think no-one more important; academics; and some journalists. What all these people have in common is, they think themselves so wise that Canberra’s lesser mortals should kneel before them in veneration.  

Many times during my life, I have heard truly wise people say the inhabitants of these planets will be more intelligent than us. The less wise say: ‘ if they are more intelligent than us why haven’t they come and taken over the earth? When I hear such words the thought that springs to mind is: if they are of higher intelligence then probably they know quite a lot about earth so I’m not surprised they keep their distance.

Being a bit of a dreamer too, one winter night when sitting at the window cogitating while staring at the heavens, I fell asleep and dreamed a dream in which I wondered what a group of citizens from one of these planets would think of earth and our civilisation if, while taking a mystery tour around their own galaxy, their spaceship accidentally strayed across many galactic divides and landed in Canberra.

Although hard to believe, my dream became reality when suddenly a spaceship came into view and landed just off Narrabundah Lane. A few minutes after coming to rest, a panel on the side of the spaceship opened and number of human like figures floated to the ground.

Because they seemed friendly I approached and asked who they were. One replied in English, saying they came from Velo, capital city of Planet Ceroman in the Amore galaxy and that they had been on a tour of the universe and had landed on earth by mistake.

When I made the news public, those people who thought themselves the most important people (MIPs) in Canberra assumed they would be the first to be asked to meet the Ceromans. They were, but because I hadn’t made it known to them that normally Ceromans don’t speak. In fact they communicate mentally by mind reading, something that seemed to worry the MIPs – using a mental foreign language translator.

The Ceromans were Interesting people even if a bit different from Canberrans. But that’s only to be expected because many Canberrans also think themselves different to other Australians. And because it was winter I asked them did the cold bother them because they were dressed in light Caftan like garments. They said Canberra’s cold weather didn’t bother them because their clothing automatically adjusted to heat and cold.

But other questions were asked so that if ever you’re on a spaceship from earth that strays to Ceroman you might want to know what kind of place it is. For example Ceramon has no separate countries and one language Ceromese. Its civilisation is carried on through men and women marrying and having children while science, their main industry has developed a range of materials, unknown as yet on earth, that they use to build their homes. Apparently, homelessness is unknown. When asked their opinion of Canberra they thought it must be a very sad city because so many men and women were dressed in black.

But one question did stump them. When asked about war, because they didn’t  know what was they said they would send the question in a mind message to the Great Seer, leader of the Ceroman’s Council of the Wise.  In his reply the Great Seer said war was a useless exercise that the Ceroman and other civilisations in the universes had abandoned many millenniums before. He said also, that if earth was still indulging in war clearly it was a dangerous place to be so that they should return home as soon as possible.

They did; and my dream ended 

dca@netspeed.com.au

The Chronicle , for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday

This article first published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday, 1 November 2011 

To ensure we live a long and healthy we’ve got ‘experts’ by the dozen warning that to keep healthy without adding too much to our waistline, we need exercise and a good diet.  They also advise what we should and shouldn’t drink, not to mention giving up smoking. And that’s only a few things on what seems like an endless list of dos and don’ts
 
Not that I’m against being warned but after scrutinising their list I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a miracle I’m still alive even if some people think I’m a miracle the world could have done without. If you agree, write and let me know.
 
Regardless of my diet, but with a strong desire to keep living and contrary to Boadicea’s usual threats to dispatch me from this mortal coil, I decided to desist immediately from consuming the experts’ list of life threatening foods and drink and avoid areas where the air is so toxic that even the slightest inhalation could be dangerous. 
 
On the surface it would seem that if Boadicea and I followed the expert advice about food drink not only would it help us keep alive and well and significantly extend our life span but our cost of living would slide in inverse proportion to the extra period of time we would live. Indeed my back of the envelope calculations suggested that the AFC (Allan’s Financial Crisis) would be averted not to mention that if my calculations were correct we would save so much money we could soon be in position to help Wayne Swan pay off the national debt. Not only did this make Boadicea happy, it made both of us feel we could made a difference.
 
However, paying of the national debt would be of great appeal to me because it might relieve me of having to listen to Treasurer Wayne Swan and various expert economists pour out a stream of solutions to the new Global Financial Problems that their advice caused in the first place.
 
However, as usual, Boadicea’s enthusiasm for expert ideas began to abate, at which time I said to her: if the diet experts advice also turned out to be as effective as the advice economists give governments about money, adopting it woud not have been a good idea in the first place.
 
My opinion was bolstered by more and more people telling me their consumption of chips, chocolate and cordial hadn’t done them much harm. In fact, Boadicea’s has long complained that no matter what she eats she can’t seem to put on weight.  I must add that as my father he lived until he was ninety eigh his daily fry up diet didn’t seem to affect him either.
 
The fact is, the changing of eating and drinking habits is being driven by the Obesity factor. Indeed, obesity has become so much of an obsession that combating it has helped create another serious problem – anorexia. The great problem: early recognition of the problems are difficult although obesity becomes more obvious sooner.
 
Fortunately both conditions are treatable. Unfortunately in the case of obesity, young people in particular are often taunted by their peers, and though not intended to be maliciously, such taunting can lead to the onset of even more dangerous conditions.  
 
In some cases however, obesity develops by overeating aided by lack of exercise. That lack of exercise in a country obsessed by sport seems odd. However, these days for a lot of people, sport participation means sitting in front of a TV set with a remote control. Unfortunately, in the late nineteenth century when professionalism started to dominate sport strong community participation in sport has declined. And as the world progressed to Radio, TV and Video, sport also ceased to be an activity and became an entertainment
 
So can sport opnce again become a strong community participation activity. I suspect arguments about this could go on for years without ever being resolved because, as is common in such arguments, some people will always say yes and some no.
 
In finishing it also seems to me that tracing the decline of community participation in sport would be a good subject for a PhD Thesis.

The Chronicle. Best for Canberra’s community news. Published every Tuesday



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