Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category


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Q&A: a political TV snack

Although it took a long time, friends (yes I still have some) persuaded me to watch Q&A a panel show on ABC Television., which is chaired by prominent political commentator Tony Jones. They assured me this was a must watch programme for people, like me, who are interested in politics. Taking them at their word I sat down today, Tuesday, 23rd July, to watch the repeat of the show of the previous evening.

Question master Tony Jones chaired a panel of prominent people: Associate Professor Dr Michelle Foster, Director of the International Refugee Law Research Programme in the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at Melbourne Law School; Bill Shorten, Labor MP and Minister in the Rudd Government; Arthur Sinodinos, Liberal Senator; Louise Adler, prominent publisher; and The Hon Tim Fischer former National Party MP and Deputy Prime Minister and former Australian Ambassador to the Holy See.

Because the audience seemed mostly young people, and with the Government mired in controversy over the Prime Minister Rudd’s latest display of his own genius on how he  guaranteed stopping people smugglers from selling passages on decidedly on savoury boats to asylum seekers that would give them unauthorised access to Australia, I expected the panel to face passionate and fiery questions.

I was disappointed. The audience questioned the panellists with less passion than the panellists answered, particularly Foster and Adler, while Mr Shorten and Mr Sinodinos carried on their own battle based on the political positions of their respective parties with regard to stopping the boats.

At the end of the programme when I totted up my score of the battle between politicians Shorten and Sinodinos, I had the latter ahead on points on the basis of his responses to questions. On the other hand I had Foster and Adler ahead of them by a mile.

That said it seems to me the panel was missing an important ingredient: why no Greens panellist? Had there been a Greens panellist not only do I think the session would have been feistier and more interesting it also mitigated Mr Jones’ many irritating interruptions.

At the end of the program the suggestion was made that Q&A could be seen as being in the mould of a town hall debate. When I heard that suggestion my immediate reaction was that to think that with programs like Q&A, little wonder people are apathetic about politics.

I have since spoken to some of the friends who persuaded me to watch the show: some agreed with my views, some didn’t.  No doubt some readers will have the same views.

Comment welcome.

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About Smart Aleck Bloggers, political plagiarists and Green Pirates

Many readers are put off using blogs because the comments they attract come from people who only use the blog’s title as a means of polluting the web with smart aleck remarks and more rubbish than can ever be recycled. Eventually this rubish will destroy the web and blogging as means of transmitting ideas. I get much of this rubbish on my website and it gets there under the cover of making a comment about my blog.

The same thing is happening generally in the media. As with the web much of what appears or is broadcast could be classed as rubbish though it is said to be of interest. Personally I think the interest is confined to the people participating and their friends.This is particularly noticeable  with continual recycling of ABC radio programmes constantly being recycled and called repeats. The ABC and the commercial TV stations are guilty also of repeating programmes ad nauseum on the new channels which says little for the state of the industry.

But radio, TV are not the only guilty recyclers; so too, are newspapers.  Indeed, at times,all three seem to have run out of new things to broadcast or write about. I’m waiting for our politicians to come up with new ideas and stopped visiting the dustbin of history to drag out old ideas, clothe them with different words and then posture in the media like little Jack Horner who, when sitting in a corner eating a Christmas pie, put in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said “what a good boy am I.’

Far be from me to suggest that every Australian voter thinks this is the case but in my opinion most do. That said it seems to me that unless Australia’s political parties wake up to the fact that voters are fed up being treated as children who need to be patted on the head and fed nursery rhymes,  they will face political revolution

This is only a short blog which I’d like to end while sitting watching the ABC’s 7.30 pm .report about the alleged ramming of the Sea Shepherd by Japanese Whalers in the Southern Ocean.

As a former seaman, I can only say the Sea Shepherd’s behaviour was appalling and contrary to the law of the sea. And both former Australian and Greens Leader senator Bob Brown, now a director of the Sea Shepherd Group, who heaped praise on the actions of the Captain and crew of the Sea Shepherd, deserve to be treated as pirates.

Blog: Allan Takes Aim;;

Old events in new costumes

If the organisers hoped the Centenary celebrations would create the impression of Canberra as the Capital of Progress, Innovation, Culture and the Arts I think they will be disappointed. How on earth can this impression be created when many programmed events are old events dressed in new costumes?

In the same way as many programmes on our new TV channels are repeats of programmes as old as Canberra’s main demographic, the Centenary is taking the old saying ‘everything old is new again’ to new heights.

Although I might be growing long in the tooth I have fond memories of birthday parties made exciting and entertaining spontaneously. As I grew older and my tastes changed so did parties. But one thing didn’t change: my hope that the parties would still be exciting and entertaining.

To digress, having worked for decades in the local tourism industry which is hoping the Centenary will fill beds and rattle tills, I trawled the Centenary website hoping to see messages that substantiate the industry’s hopes. I was looking for messages designed to stir the latent jingoism in Australians that would encourage them to cancel an already planned overseas visit for a trip to Canberra.

Sad to say, the messages on the website did little to suggest they would encourage such a thought. Bear in mind that prospective tourists, Australian and overseas, will look at the same site. One hopes they don’t reach the same conclusion as me.

In terms of infrastructure and physicality Canberra is a young city yet the website seems designed to appeal more to an ageing demographic. And so I ask: where are the ideas from young people that some of an older demographic will think zany? They may be there, but if they are they are not obvious, so why expect young people to visit?

This is not to say the photographs on the website are not useful, but I have to say that during my sixteen and twenty five years age span, it was not that I didn’t enjoy some moments of cultural appreciation but in the main my mind was focused elsewhere. I suspect that in this regard things are still the same.

Don Allan blog: Allan Takes Aim; web:

  First Published The Chronicle Canberra,Tuesday, 19 October

True or not, it seems to me the published starting times of TV programmes can only be taken as guides because, apart from the first programme starting on time, many of the programmes that follow never seem start when they’re supposed to. And according to Boadicea, the published times don’t guarantee that the programme will be broadcast.

This causes Boadicea great frustration because, at times, she can’t makeup her mind if she should carry on watching a programme or switch to the start of a programme on another channel. If she decides to change her frustration increases if the programme hasn’t started.

To some extent radio is following the same pattern. No longer can one rely on the start of radio programmes to put their watches and clocks right. This is particularly true with talk back radio many of whose presenters now seem to think listeners prefer them to babble on rather than have the news or next programme start on time. But credit where it’s due: the ABC is better than its commercial rivals. 

Unfortunately, however, even presenters on the national broadcaster seem to have caught the talk over bug to the extent that some presenters now sound like their commercial cousins. Indeed the weight of advertising the national broadcaster now carries for its programmes and products is so heavy that people might think they were listening to commercial radio.

This leads to the obvious question: is this a sign of things to come and are there hidden plans in place for commercialising the ABC? Not that commercialising the ABC would worry me. My worry is, that as the quest for political power becomes more intense and if one political party becomes entrenched in power, the possibility exists that the national broadcaster could be at risk of being used as the Government’s propaganda station. Can’t happen you say! Well if you believe that, take a look at recent world history. Not only did this happen in the last century, more ominously, it is still happening today.        

Other things that annoy me about TV are the promotional messages that intrude on programmes and the information that, increasingly, can be found crawling along the bottom of the TV screen. I don’t know about you but not only do these intrusive promotional messages disturb my entertainment, I find the information crawls along the bottom of the screen on news programmes distracting. Surely if the information on the crawl is vital it should be part of the broadcast? 

In fact these crawls annoy me so much I’m thinking of suggesting to scientists that they develop systems that will give humans two extra eyes, ears and an extra brain so that they can watch, listen and absorb two levels of information at the same time. Naturally, people should be able to close down the extra eyes, ears and brain independently.

But to write in more serious vein: other messages in composite that offer the following warnings: this programme contains violence, sex scenes, drug references, strong language and not suitable viewing for people under fifteen screened that are screened before programmes, also annoy me.  As most programmes these days (children’s excepted) seem to contain one or all of the foregoing I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to create a simple message that said: this programme is suitable for viewers of every age. 

When I put this to the test with some young people some said I should get ‘with it’ not knowing that I’ve been ‘with it’ for a long time, even before my time forty years ago in Sydney when I managed a Kings Cross nightclub ‘The Other Place‘ which had both topless Go Go Girls and a clientele that included many people well known to the police.

That said, I think much adult only TV entertainment pornographic. However, I suspect it is probably too late to try and do anything about it for the simple reason that many people under fifteen today know more about pornography and get less excited about it than their elders.

Sadly and unfortunately I suspect these warnings tempt some vulnerable young people under fifteen to indulge in behaviour that could destroy their lives.

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

First published The Chronicle Tuesday 9 February, 2009

With Tony Abbot as Opposition Leader will the banal exchanges that pass as debate in the federal parliament liven up? And will that extra liveliness be seen as Abbot leads the debate to reject the Government’s Emissions Trading Scheme Bill (for cynics the Extra Tax Slug)? And if the Bill is rejected for a third time will the PM call for a double dissolution? I doubt it. I think the PM will continue portraying Abbott’s new climate change policy as a bigger tax slug?

The ETS is based on recommendations in reports from the scientists of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that say the earth is doomed if humans continue on their current path. In a world more terrifying and dangerous than at any time in history their recommendations were accepted as true by most people principally because they lacked knowledge of climate change science. This pleased the IPCC because acceptance of its recommendations, even when inaccurate, gave it credibility.

But the IPCC is not the first group to make doomsday forecasts; religious groups have done so since time immemorial despite the fact that, time after time, their followers were the only ones to experience doom eg. Peoples Temple (the Jonestown group).

Indeed in some respects the IPCC has donned the mantle of a religious group, which, with its supporters, I will call “The Environmentalists.” Like religious groups, The Environmentalists has prophets. Two prominent examples: Al Gore, a former US Vice President and Sir Nicholas Stern, an eminent British Labour economist and Government adviser, whose 2006 Stern Review could be seen as The Environmentalists’ climate change and economic bible.

Gore and Stern also have something in common with previous doomsday prophets: they do not tolerate ideas other than their own and are blessed with absolute certainty about the rightness of their cause.

Unfortunately for the IPCC, it has since become clear that some reports lacked veracity as details had been doctored to suit preferred conclusions. This lack of veracity has led many previous IPCC supporters seriously interested in climate change, to agree with climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton, eminent British mathematician who, like Sir Nicholas Stern, advised the highest level of British Government whose message is also different to that of Gore and Stern.

His message: global warming is not the cause of the doom forecast by the IPCC, it is the ill thought out policies of diversification into biofuels and other alternative energy sources. He is also adamant the ETS scheme will cost trillions of dollars that even rich economies like Australia cannot afford and, what is more his objections are based on scientific fact not doctored IPCC reports.

I have heard people dismiss Monckton by saying that because he’s a mathematician he would know little about global warming or climate change. Let me say the same could be said about Stern, an economist, and Gore a former politician now a businessman whose businesses are benefiting enormously from his Environmentalists role, a role that some people think a conflict of interest. And while Monckton might be a mathematician because he has done his homework his arguments are both eloquent and reasoned.

Like Lord Monckton and thousands of others, I have long been sceptical of the IPCC reports and written a number of columns about climate change. The following is an extract from my 14 Feb column 2007. “Long sceptical about statements of doom for Australia if the Government didn’t sign the Kyoto Protocol my scepticism increased after reading the “Summary for Policymakers” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The increase was due to the prolific use of get out words and phrases such as ‘probably, very likely, is likely’ in the report. That the word ‘will’ is noticeable by its absence suggests the IPCC is having two bob each way.”

IPCC reports continue to be written in this vein. However, when asked to be more definite about their forecasts, they unlike Monckton, glibly say the science is settled. They also say the IPCC forecasts are based on the “precautionary principle,” which to many sceptics seems another way of saying: “we don’t know.” Well, if they don’t know then why should they be taken seriously?

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


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