Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for December 2012

If people say your New Year resolutions aren’t any good because you didn’t make them on 1 January, don’t believe them until you have carefully checked your family tree for any trace of Scottish ancestors, in particular, ancestors from the Highlands or Western Isles.

However, if you find you can lay claim to even the faintest trace of any such ancestry and for reasons I’ll explain later, you are one of the select band of people who, by right of tradition, can also make New Year resolutions on 13 January.

You’ll notice I said trace of Scottish ancestry, not trace of Scotch. If the latter was a qualification, thousands of people who celebrate New Year’s Day on 1 January would (regardless of their origins) claim the right, because on 13 January the probability is they would still have more than a trace of good – there’s no bad – Scottish whisky left in them.

But it is not only descendants of people from the Highlands and Western Isles who can make resolutions on 13 January, in other countries people of the right ancestry can do the same. Why is this? Although not widely known, in parts of the Scottish Highlands and Western Isles two New Year’s days are celebrated.

Just in case you think that two New Year days is only a clever marketing ploy by Scotland’s whisky industry, or an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s longest Hogmanay celebrations – 31 December to 12 January – it isn’t.

The fact is that the two New Year days came about because of Pope Gregory X111. In 1582 Gregory XIII approved a new style calendar in which he fixed 1 January as the first day of the year instead of 25 March. Despite the advantages Gregory’s new Calendar had over the Julian Calendar, religious divisions made it slow to be accepted.

France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal adopted the new calendar in 1582, Sweden in 1583, some German states along with Belgium and the Netherlands in 1584, Hungary in 1587, and Switzerland in 1812. In 1752, Britain, which had also adopted it, also found it necessary to make a further adjustment of 13 days and so 2 September became 14 September.

Efforts were made to tell people in the Highland and Islands about the change but, as happened when weights and measures went to tonnes, litres and metres some people took a long time to adapt. (Be honest, now, how many of you know what a quintal is?)

Also, because in 1752 communication was slower than it is today, many years passed before some Highland and Island communities became aware of the change – or so they said. When they became aware, but because their lives had not been affected, they carried on celebrating their Old New Year.

Like all good Scots to whom New Year’s day is the year’s most important day of celebration, my forebears thought it made sense to celebrate the new, New Year’s Day as well. Wisely, it seems to me, the tradition has continued to the present day.

This means, of course, that if, by heredity, you can celebrate two New Year Days, you can also have two lots of New Year resolutions, something that gives you a big advantage over the rest of society.

On the one hand if for some reason you break your 1 January resolutions, you can remake them on 13 January. On the other hand, if you forget to make your resolutions on 1 January, you can still make them on 13 January – sobriety permitting.

I am not going to testify as to either the state of my faculties, or the date on which I made my resolutions for 2013, but here they are:

1. I will not listen to people who accuse me of bias;
2. I will not argue against the IPCC’s warnings of climate
change doom;
3. I will not write critically of individual politicians or
4. I will not criticise the government;
5. I will not ask politicians who support legalisation of
Euthanasia to try it first;
6. I will not oppose same sex marriage; and
But wherever you come from and even if there’s no trace of Scottish blood in your veins, I wish you all a Happy New Year today and many more in the future.

Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web:; mail:


As I write this short blog it is 7.30pm on Christmas Eve in Canberra, Australia. The temperature is still 18 degree C a drop from 35 degrees C. Even after forty three years in Austraiia I still find it difficult to equate the latter temperature with Christmas.

Also an agnostic, I had almost decided not to do a Christmas blog but then changed my mind. That I changed my mind was not because I had suddenly been reconverted to a belief in God but because I think the idea of a God might be no more fanciful that some of the ideas in history that people have come to believe in.

The fact is that as a religion only 2,000 years old, Christianity is only a babe in arms compared to other religions still being practiced today. For example Paganism is still extant and practiced, as is Animism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and a host of other beliefs that existed long before Christianity was born. And that is not to mention the many other religions in Asia that were not known about in the Roman world.

And who can prove that Animistic, Jewish or Pagan Gods didn’t have the same powers allegedly held by the Christian God. Although the foundation of these beliefs took root thousands of years before Christianity, their followers all managed to invest them with a hierarchy of high and low priests a practice that continues to this day even in the Christian church.

At the same time, some of these ancient religions had priestesses. Unfortunately the males in the larger groups of pre Christian believers identified God as male, also an identification that continues to this day. Curiously smaller Christian Churches today have re-appointed women as priests while the larger Christian Churches are split on the matter. Little wonder that the proverb attributed to Jean-Baptise Alphonse Karr (1808 -1890) but likely based on a phrase by Aristotle that ‘everything changes but everything stays the same,’ is still in common use.

A prime goal of all churches is the pursuit of peace. And while my wish for Christmas is fanciful and having realised long ago that not only is it unachievable but that it would take the miracle of miracles for it to ever happen, nonetheless my wish for Universal Peace in the world remains.

Now you might think that by my words I am unduly pessimistic; not so: I am merely expressing an opinion that has grown in my thinking over many years. To some extent peace is a universal value. Unfortunately it has also become a commodity that some people use as they pursue their ambition for power.

Indeed the word peace has become so devalued it has lost its meaning and become the shibboleth of politicians, demagogues, dictators, religious leaders and leaders of military regimes who use it to support the falsehood that theirs is the way to peace if people would only support them.

Would that it was otherwise, but unfortunately, no one can guarantee peace.

But fanciful or not let me say to all my readers, do what you can for peace because it seems to me that peace will come only when those whose religion is war are defeated when they meet the might of all people who want peace.

Merry Christmas Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web:; e-mail: v

No doubt the Mayans, would be disappointed that their prediction of the world ending on December 21 didn’t happen. I venture to suggest that the IPCC scientists who predict earthly doom due to global warming and climate change will be equally disappointed.

Will year 13 prove lucky for some people?

It’s coming to the end of 2012, a year which has had some momentous moments that will be remembered more for the tragedy they engendered than the joy they brought. Hopefully year 13 will not only prove lucky for some but lucky for everyone and a year when nightmares economic, political and social will not be a year that causes sleepless nights.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if on January 1st of the coming year, politicians the world over made New Year resolutions they actually meant to keep not ambiguous resolutions that allow them to wriggle out of promises they made to voters. Perhaps when making promises they will think of the following words: ‘a gram of truth is worth more than a million kilos of false promises.’

And perhaps ‘expert’ scientists will do the same and spend less time saying this, probably is what will happen, an adroit method of avoiding telling people the truth without telling a lie. A good example of scientists doing this can be seen in the current climate change debate where scientists from the IPCC predict the probability an apocalyptic global warming that will cause climate change and consign the earth and themselves to extinction if humans do not change their ways.

Unfortunately, more and more scientists as knowledgeable about global warming and climate change as IPCC scientists, dissent from these predictions. They accept that as time goes by global warming will occur, that climates in various parts of the world will change and also accept that the change can be attributed, in part, to anthropogenic activity.

They say these changes have been a continuing process in the world since the evolution of man but that over the millenniums man developed technology to help him survive these changes. That say also that while technology such as wind power, solar panels and the multitude of other energy saving systems will do little to conserve energy use they will destroy the earth’s visual landscape. Then there are dissenters who, even if not scientists, believe that, even if the world changes, man with his innovative capacity will survive long into the future because he will have developed new survival technology not only for the near future but for the countless millenniums to come.

That apart, what I find disturbing about global warming and climate change scientists is their seeming lack of common sense. Their vision of limited range sees the future only in terms of what they see around them today or at best a few decades. Unfortunately there is no Copernicus or Galileo – whose imaginations created pictures of the future that their contemporaries neither understood nor believed right or possible- to disturb their vision.

Many scientists today mentally inhabit a world that would not be unfamiliar to da Vinci. They doubt unorthodox thinking. They see progress only in terms they understand. They are the people who dip their toes into the ocean’s edge at low tide but never go further. I venture to suggest also, that had those early dissenters been listened to, the world today would be a vastly different place.

Unfortunate as it is, people with imagination, even if well qualified, are still regarded as eccentrics by those in their peer group whose minds run on tracks that never deviate and never stop at either the Inventiveness or Imagination stations. The truth is, many scientists today are like well – trained mechanics, they can mend machines but cannot invent them.

Fortunately, and although scarce, many scientists with imagination are to be found among the great contributors to the science fiction novel genre. Let me list a few: Arthur C Clarke, with degrees in mathematics and physics from Kings College London; Isaac Asimov with a Ph.D in Biochemistry from Columbia Universit in the US; or Ursula K.Le Guin with an MA also from Columbia.

I have never met any of these scientists and am never likely to be in a position to tell them that many of their ideas about a future world will actually come to pass. At the same time however, I would ask them also why do they think so many scientists see the world of the future as they see the world today?

Do they think perhaps, that the latter are members of the Julius Sextus Frontinus club, a club formed in honour of a senior Roman engineer who in 10 AD said: ‘Inventions have long since reached their limit, and I see no hope for further developments?’

Blog: Allan takes aim; web:

Have you noticed how people refer to the last few weeks before Christmas as ‘the silly season’? I don’t think it’s silly at all.

In actual fact it’s pretty much the season when people revert to normal as they go about the business of finishing off the year, thinking more about their friends and family and the cards, letters and gifts they’ll send/give/receive, spending a bit more time socializing and looking forward to their holidays It’s all very normal stuff if you ask me.

Is it normal to work like mad to finish something off? Yep, sure is! In fact as well as being normal it’s very satisfying.

Christmas means different things to different people, but it seems to me to be all about celebrating the existence of his benevolent majesty, Father Christmas, acknowledging the solstice and finishing off the year. In the northern hemisphere Christmas is a confirmation that the days are getting longer. Down here, by Christmas day the days are getting shorter. Maybe in the southern hemisphere we should have a celebration on the 25th of June.

If we didn’t have Christmas we’d all go nuts.

The fact that parliaments across Australia shut down for a couple of months has a big impact on the normalizing process because when parliaments close down, journalists and commentators close down as well. What that does is flush out of the print and electronic media the tripe and nonsense that clogs it up for the other 46 weeks of the year. For starters instead of waking up in a lather listening to the frenetic Fran Kelly, I’m listening to the dulcet, boring tones of Roy Slaven.

With speculators, hedge fund operators and screen jockeys taking a break, every one with a self-managed super fund can breathe easier as the stock exchange returns to normal, if only for a couple of weeks.

Taking a holiday in January seems to be a normal thing to do in Australia.
This year Christine, Honey and I are whizzing up to northern NSW to spend a week at the beach with my daughters, Jo and Lisa and their families. (Why don’t you become a friend of Honey, wonder dog from Canberra on Facebook- honeymillercanberra? She’s sitting here beside me wagging her tail at the very thought!)

Paul Pearsal in his book, ‘Super Immunity’ said we need to take at least one 21 day away-from-home holiday each year if we’re to get the most out of a holiday. A week is not enough. It’s too frantic.

Leonardo Da Vinci said:

‘Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.’

Going to the cricket on Boxing Day, watching it on TV or listening to it on the radio is another normal thing to do in this country. On the other hand having a sale on Boxing Day doesn’t seem to me to be a good idea at all. Whilst I know there are plenty of people in essential services and hospitality who have to be on deck, shop assistants don’t have to join them. Where I come from Boxing Day was always a holiday. Give me a break!

Whoever thought up the idea of opening shopping centres on the day after Christmas day needs their head read? I think we ought to have a shopping moratorium for a few days after Christmas and let everyone have a few days off. Surely there are enough days during the year to go shopping.

In fact, if the governments of Australia had a genuine concern for people’s health they’d declare the week between Christmas and New Year ‘National Recharge Week’. During that time people could do the things they don’t have time to do during the rest of the year, particularly nothing.

Whether you’re staying home or going away, this year spend as much time as you can between Christmas and New Year doing nothing. There are 51 other weeks in the year to fill up with rush and nervous haste.

You could broaden the concept of doing nothing to include things like reading, going to the pictures, playing cards, doing lunch, getting a bit of exercise, having a siesta, but definitely no work, no shopping for things you don’t need or things you can’t afford. It’s a good time to give your credit card a recharge as well!

If you’ve come to the end of the year stressed out of your brain, my advice is to get lost – in a book.
In the meantime stay tuned- highly tuned, and take it easy.

I wish you a merry Christmas and hope you receive your heart’s desire in the sack on Christmas morning.

John Miller

The Silly Season is a period of time in Australia, the UK, New Zealand and South Africa when news- papers cannot report either Parliament or Law Courts news because neither are sitting, which tends to inflate the egos of politicians and lawyers and make them think they are world’s newsworthy people.

In the US the equivalent period is called Slow News Time and if only to show the Silly Season or Slow News Time doesn’t only apply to English speaking countries. And you would be wrong to think that silly seasons or slow news periods are confined to the world of English language media. Similar seasons are to be found in a bigger variety of counties than Heinz has products.

Most media organisations, whether in the English speaking countries or elsewhere, rely on advertising to support them. However the silly or slow news season causes advertisers to reduce the amount they spend on advertising with the result that often they resort to attraction grabbing headlines Unfortunate as it is, attraction grabbing headlines are sometimes needed to bring serious issues to the public’s attention.

And nor can I swear to it but in some cases the story behind the headline is better than the published story. It is possible also that without the headline there would be no story worth reading because customers would be hard to come by, something that would be galling for the journalist who wrote the story but didn’t write the headline, which as I know well, is frequently the case.

So what do people elsewhere call the Silly Season or Slow News Time? In Germany, Sommerloch is the equivalent while in France it is la morte –saison. The Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, Slovaks, Hebrews, Hungarians, Poles, and Estonian call it cucumber time with the word ‘pickled’ preceding cucumber.

The word Pickled is apt because in these times of the year journalists often get pickled. It has to be said that no matter in which country they work many journalists could write the authoritative book on getting pickled.

But let me not bore you with any more silliness but invite you to enjoy Australia’s Silly Season without necessarily getting pickled. And so I will complete the blog by offering some good examples of attention grabbing newspaper headlines be they embarrassing slips of the tongue, faulty grammar or less than subtle innuendo as Christmas gifts:
• Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan
• Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers
• Iraqi head seeks arms
• Prostitutes appeal to Pope
• Dr Ruth to talk about sex with newspaper editors
• Squad helps dog bite victim
• Eye drops off shelf
• Miners refuse to work after death.

As to which papers these headlines came from you’ll have to find out for yourselves. And as you search for them you’ll come across more of them that will make your Christmas even happier.

Blog: Allan Takes Aim; Web:

Although you might not put the Mayans disaster prophets in the same scientific class as IPCC experts, the latters’ access to the most up to date technology should enable them to predict the end of the world as we know it more accurately than the Mayans? For me however, their prediction about the end of the world as we know it because of global warming has as much chance of being accurate as that of the Mayans.

In their desire to be seen as more credible than the prophets of previous centuries they say the science is settled. But just how settled can be seen by what has happened at the recent Doha round of talks where the main expellers of CO2 have refused to sign the new form of the Kyoto agreement.

Nonetheless the IPCC keep trying to back up their science is settled statement by citing the opinions of other scientists who agree with their research. And no surprise they cite politicians who need issues to spruik that fit well into the library of emotions they hope will stir people close to budget time. Whether right or wrong is of little import it being likely that both scientists and politicians won’t be around to see if they were right.

It is for these reasons among others that the IPCC has still not managed to persuade the world at large that if its advice about global warming and associated issues is not needed, the world we know will disappear if not by tomorrow, then by a tomorrow not far away.
So what are these issues? The principal issue is global warming caused anthropogenically, although methane gas is now gaining prominence. To try and ensure their message is heeded a campaign to instill fear of CO2 in the world’s population at large is in operation. In this campaign they are aided and abetted by friendly journalists whose knowledge and acceptance of global warming has been gained from IPCC reports.

Both the IPCC and friendly journalists label people who disagree with their predictions about imminent disaster due to global warming as deniers. The reality is different: the people they call deniers, many of whom are prominent scientists, believe in global warming but dissent from the alarmist conclusions of the IPCC. Indeed the campaign smacks of G(l)oebbelisation.

A good example of what I mean is the full page article by four journalists published on pg 1 of Forum in the Canberra Times, Saturday 8 December, under the title HEAT OF THE MOMENT’ a litany of the death and disaster that will be brought by Global Warming.
But what was missing from the article was how the use of nuclear energy, the elephant in the room at the IPCC’s various conferences that could eliminate global warning, No doubt it will be seen when the IPCC thinks it advantageous to change its mind.

An excuse for not using nuclear energy is that is too dangerous. But is it? I do not deny that nuclear power has caused death but has it caused more deaths than global warming? But I am not talking about nuclear fission but nuclear fusion the development of which is currently being pursued by some of the world’s most eminent particle physicists in England, America, Korea and elsewhere including Australia where scientists involved in fusion research are finalists in The Australian Newspaper’s Innovation Award.

While it will be costly to develop fusion – a limitless source of clean pollution free energy – the mind boggles at the amount of CO2 that will be created in the manufacture of solar panels, wind turbines and a host of other minor producers of energy.

In their desire for clean energy I thought the Greens would be right behind the development of fusion but clearly they are not. I wonder why? Unfortunately, it seems that many Green groups cannot see the wood for the trees but have adopted the alarmist prophecies of the IPCC as holy writ in the sense that to deny the is to ensure damnation.

This reminds me of my tutors of long ago whilst a student priest. Like the IPCC residents and their combined media friends they were equally sure that if I didn’t follow their advice and the advice of religious experts I, too, would be damned.

Finally: I don’t know if Australia has people who believe the Mayan prediction but if it’s of any consolation I think that, before long, the IPCC will be forced to change its predictions about nuclear energy (fusion) and the future.
Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web:

There have been no posts from me lately not because my computer had broken down but because some parts of the human computer (me) were not functioning properly. It was only to be expected that of the many spare parts I’ve had to have installed over the years due to losing an argument – not with Boadicea my consort, which I do regularly- but with a tree while driving a car, that one of those parts decided it had enough and so sent me a message.

You’ve probably guessed already that I’m talking about the excruciating pain that attends such breakdown in body parts. It is of the same kind of pain experienced when one’s ears are assailed by politician voters were silly enough to elect, when they orate with what they think is wisdom that Solomon would envy. Little do they realise their wisdom is so poor that it will destroy their party’s political image something that Labor, Green and Liberal politicians are engaged in doing to their parties today.

NB. There is a difference in the pain: the pain I fell is in my hip while the pain given by the politicians is in the neck.

You might not agree with me but, in my opinion, computers are making common sense redundant. Once upon a time people actually thought before answering questions whereas today they say hang on a minute not, as you imagine to give them time to think about how they’re going to answer. No the hanging on time is to give them time to log on to Google, Twitter, Facebook or one of the many other alleged sources of wisdom that can be found on the internet. The result: instead of a getting a wide variety of answers what we get are answers that sound as if they come from robots in repetition mode.

As Christmas nears, the truth is that my emotional memory comes on like a sickness that no amount of money or success will ever cure. This happens to me because although I came from a family that suffered from financial poverty I have emotional memories of two or three family generations because in those far gone days, not only did families live close together they also fought and celebrated together.

However, as the world changed so too did families; they broke up. Some of the family moved far away and in in some cases very far away, as in my own case was the case of two brothers and a sister. In turn they each began new lives, made new friends and if marriage took place they became members of another family even as they, themselves, were starting a new family. These changes were often the prelude to fading memories of the original family not because they had forgotten them but due to the fact that not only daily but annual association and longer also ceased.

And then, as members of the original family move closer to departing this mortal coil, for some, these memories of how they laughed, cried, played and celebrated those special times of the year, such as their birthday or that of brothers, sisters, Halloween, Christmas and New Year together, disappeared. Those who retained these memories treated them as treasures brought out regularly so as to give some meaning to life.

It is in this context that as older people lose the capacity to adapt to the new norms of life, they become prisoners of emotional memories, a point that often seems to escape the notice of social engineering experts.

Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web:


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