Monthly Archives: December 2016

Rumination of the Day (27th December 2016)

EDUCATION

There seems to be a bit of a ruckus about the standard of education being doled out to our kids in school. People always like to bang on about the “3 Rs” but I often wonder – and I’ve now had 48 years to ponder the subject – if it’s not more than that. A real desire to immerse yourself in the full scope of education also comes into it, and I think that somewhere along the way, berween the traditional and contemporary schools of thought, that the real heed to tailor education to specific groups has been ignored.

I started school around 1959, and though I have little recognition of it, I do remember the little school house in Sylvania Rd, Sylvania Heights, and using slates and chalk. Around this time, Sylvania Heights Public School was built, and I was there from kindergarten to form 6. I spent 12 months at Gymea High School, before being sent to be a boarder at St Gregory’s Agricultural College at Campbelltown, to complete the last three years of my education. I hated school, and was one of those who said a definitive NO to a final two years, and was glad to get out at the end of 1969.

Okay, so we set the “3R’s” as the educational standard, but not all of us feel that way about it. I excelled at English and Social Studies/History at school, tolerated Geography, and loathed Arithmetic/Mathematics and Science. Not only did the subjects not interest me, I could see no value in them, and did really badly in them at exam time. My love of English & History has stated with me all my life, Science has held no place whatsoever, and my use of Mathematics has only ever been at the level of basics, as used in the retail trade. 

So, to me, it would have been of more benefit to me to only have been taught some basic modules of Science & Mathematics instead of years of it, most of which was a waste of time. Algebra, volumes, and that sine, cos & tan stuff was unintelligible to me then…and still is! I think most of us know roughly what directions our lives will take after leaving school, so surely more personalised and directed education would be of more benefit to us than 12-14 years of enforced subjects, most of which ends up being of no value. 

My life has revolved around English & History, so it is not surprising that I excelled in them. When I left school in 1969, one of the Marist Brothers, who tutored me in English, told me That with my imagination, and my ability to use words, that I shiuld take up writing. It took nearly 20 years for me to realise that he was right. Even in Primary school my compositions (often incorporating themes of Science Fiction and Fururism) were considered pretty over-the-top by my teachers. It is probably not surprising that in 2004 I finally obtained my Graduate Certificate in Writing, and also the realisation that I’m not really a story writer, but more inclined to articles, historical pueces, and opion pieces. Writing comes naturally to me, and the basis of an article can be stimulated by a single word, or thought. Likewise with my interest in History, a subject I excelled in all the way through school, often coming out at the top of the class.

The other subjects I did wellmin, though not part of the standard curriculum were Agriculture, and Wool Classing. Perhaps I should have been a farmer or grazier! Heaven knows but that with the right encouragement – not likely in my family – I may have gone on to do journalism.

So, I personally think we need to stop forcing our children tonundergo years of forced education in things that do not interest them. Yes, do the basics of the 3R’s  if necessary, but give more attention to tailoring education towards subjects that interest and excite them. Education should not be a chore, but something that stimulates you, and sets you up for the future.

Tim Alderman (2016)


 

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Rumination of the Day (12th December 2016)

FACEBOOK NEWS

 So what riveting and biased news has Facebook passed onto me in the last few weeks? Well, evidently some very bad muslims were kicking down Australian, New Zealand & British war graves…video evidence available to view. However, it’s bullshit, and never happened. Then there was the hue and cry over the guy punching out the kangaroo that attached both his dog, and him. Again, despite the impromptu nature of the attack, we have very clear and steady video of the incident. The general consensus, except from those who live their lives in bullshit land, is..fake! Then we have a whole string of memes telling people that I am going to wear my poppy (for Renembeance Day) despite being told I shouldn’t…except…wellll…nobody said you can’t! Another bullshit rumour trying to make muslims look bad. Then only a couple of days ago, a photo of a donut with odd writing as a decoration, and an outraged rant that muslims were now using donuts sold in schools to promote their dirty and evil causes. The writing on the donut is, in fact, elvish ie of no particular type. Don’t even start me on the ignoramuses that spout rubbish about halal certification, and Sharia law – I hate to disappoint you, but it won’t be introduced here. Now, of course, it’s Christmas – so we have all the memes demanding that it be called Christmas, and not a “holiday”.  Nobody has insisted on it NOT being called Christmas, nor called for a ban on Santa, lights, decoration or trees. I’d love to know where this all comes from, and though I call it Christnas from habit, to me it is just a holiday. You see, there is this particular “Christ” word in Christmas, and as an Atheist, I find that a bit off-putting. But all the same, I don’t see why “Christmas” or “holiday” is an issue. If you want to call it either one, or the other, then…go for it! Only anal retentives are going to say anything.

What concerns me most about most of this misinformation is the anti-Muslim slant of it all, making muslims seem like the bad guys who want to move here – or elsewhere – and destroy our culture. There is something nasty and evil about it. Opinion-creation via musinformation is just wrong.

I watched a documentary on Australian architect Glenn Mercutt only a week ago. Glenn was in the process of building a mosque here in Australia. During the building process, Glenn!0’s son, who had an incurable illness, took a turn for the worst, and was close to death. Glenn was deeply touched when the muslim community he was building the mosque for included his son in their prayers –  despite neither he, nor his son – being of the Islamic faith. My immediate thought was…why is nobody posting something positive like that! 

As much as I love social media, there is so much garbage & lies spread throughout my feed. People are so lazy now that they don’t bother to research if something is true or not – it’s just all taken at face value.

Next time you share a meme of this nature, do us all a favour…and don’t!

Tim Aldernan (2016)

Rumination of the Day (6th December 2016

56 NAMES FOR SUGAR

I don’t hate sugar per se, but I do hate how it is snuck into just about everything we eat. It is a highly addictive product, despite the sugar industry denying it – no shock there! The only way you can avoid sugar is to not shop in the centre of your supermarket! The less processed foods you eat, and the more you prepare yourself, the healthier you will be. Sure, you do go through withdrawal, and everything fresh & healthy tastes “wrong” for a while, but that passes, and once you adapt, it is hard to go back. I get posts in my feed of things like Malteser desserts, and Tim Tam’s and the such like – and all it does is put my teeth on edge when I think about how sweet they would be. 

When I did Nutrition as part of my Certificate III in Fitness, the tutor asked the class, during a lesson on sugar, what one thing would the body burn first to give you a burst of energy. I was the only one in the class who said…sugar! The human body is intrinsically lazy, and hares to expend energy to run itself, so it looks for the easy way out. Given the choice between sugar, and fat as an energy source – sugar wins because it is easier to burn. However, if you don’t burn it off, it stores it to burn later…thus you get fat.

The sugar industry itself is responsible for a multitude of misinformation, dishonest advertising, and self-funded health reports relling us sugar is not a baddie! It is all very underhanded, and badically caters to the lazy cook, and those who really just don’t care!

There is no harm in some sugar! Have an occasional slice of cake, or biscuit, or a dessert…just don’t do it daily. 

Barley malt
Dehydrated cane juice

Golden sugar

Molasses

Barbados sugar

Demerara sugar

Golden syrup 

Muscovado

Beet sugar

Dextran

Grape sugar

Panocha

Brown sugar

Dextrose

High fructose corn syrup

Powdered sugar

Buttered syrup

Diastatic malt

Honey

Raw sugar

Cane juice

Diatase

Icing sugar

Refiner’s syrup

Cane sugar

Ethyl maltol

Invert sugar

Rice syrup

Caramel

Free flowing brown sugars

Lactose

Sorbitol

Corn syrup

Fructose

Malt

Sorghum syrup

Corn syrup solids

Fruit juice

Maltodextrin

Sucrose

Confectioner’s sugar

Fruit juice concentrate

Maltose

Sugar (granulated)

Carob syrup

Galactose

Malt syrup

Treacle

Castor sugar

Glucose

Mannitol 

Terpinado sugar

Date sugar

Glucose solids

Maple syrup

Yellow sugar

Some of these you will recognize as sugar, but what about ethyl maltol and maltose? Manufacturers are sneaking these types of sugar into everyday products without the consumer knowing what they are eating or drinking. Even the most health-conscious of us consumes processed foods, even if just on the odd occasion. However if we don’t know what these sugars are called, and what they can do to our bodies, how can we make informed decisions? Is the answer to simply avoid processed foods altogether, or are we simply misunderstanding sugar and the effect it has on us?

Tim Alderman (2016)

Rumination of the Day (2nd December 2016)

WORLD AIDS DAY

It’s the day after WAD, and as usual, I’m ruminating! For many years now I have been looking at how I now view HIV/AIDS – through the lense of objectivity. Emotion only muddles the issue, and history has a trail of misinformation, mixed objectives, venom and misunderstanding! 

Even recently I have encountered those who, for reasons known only to themselves, have never been able to move on! The hate is still alive, the dragons still circling. I could be one of these, who still feel that the experiences of the 80s & 90s are still alive, an uncompromising hard line that leaves me stranded in a time that has passed by. Fuck knows there is a lot in my past that I have never fully moved on from – family business that could, at any time in the past, have left me sitting in a gutter, needle dangling…or in a bar, in an alcoholic stupor – and fuck knows I flew very close to the latter at one stage! More so than many, I have reason enough to be bitter, to be a victim. My experience with AIDS has left me close to blind, and there are many who would agree that that is reason enough. But, as in my latter teens, with full knowledge of my families dysfunctionality, living with a solitary knowledge of my younger brothers horrendous death, of violence and unspoken secrets, of my being gay, I made a quiet vow to myself that I was not going to let it get the better of me, to smother me, to stop me being who I would be! So to with AIDS – my survival alone was an unexpected surprise – and blindness! To buckke under, to attribute blame, to become a victim, to allow it to hold me back, swallow me up, would be saying…I do not have the strength for this, the self-empowerment whereby I would become someone who even I didn’t recognise! 

To move on, one has to acknowledge that the past is just that – the past! Yes, what happened was dreadful – the hatred, the discrimination, the accusations, the blame, the misinformation, the segregation, the fear! We need to acknowledge – 40 years along now – that we were all scared shitless. Straight, gay, male, female, religious, non-religious, politicians, doctors, journalists, activists…ad infinitum…were all scared. Perhaps not since the scourges of the Black Death have we encountered something we all knew absolutely nothing about – not even those who, perhaps, should have known! And what does human nature do when it is faced with an unknown that can just kill at will, shows no mercy, is no respecter of life at all – it looks for scapegoats, attributes blame, hands out punishment! It just so happens that the scapegoat was the gay community, and given what was happening at that time, it perhaps should not have been surprising. Minority groups have a long history of misunderstanding, stigma, discrimination, hate and ignominy! I am not defending the direction it took…I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot…but the point is, it was quite a while back now, and as awful and relentless as it was, as a community we not only survived it, but we fought back with the tools to hand – knowledge, facts, patience and dogged determination. 

One can’t deny that some of the negatives from that era live on. There is still prejudice, discrimination, stigma and musunderstanding! But it is also true that we don’t have it on our own – just ask any person with Down Syndrome. To hang onto the hate, and all the other negatives from that period in our history is to hold no one back but yourself! You know, we all walked in the footsteps of those that suffered, those that died! But by walking in their footsteps, when their footsteps stopped…ours continued on! To live with the negativity is to deny that a lot of good, positive, beautiful things were still going on. The community still lived, loved, and laughed. We supported each other, we were staunch in the face of adversity, we celebrated the lives of those who died with a gusto that was ever born of love. If ever there was a time I was proud to be a member of the gay community, it was through the 20 years of that horror!

Okay, it damaged me! As a fanatical reader & writer, it chose to attack perhaps the most important assets I had – my eyes! But it also presented me with new opportunities, new roads to venture down, new challenges to tackle. I can’t carty the hate because, despite everything, my life has not stopped, nor my humour, my inquisitiveness, my talents, nor my ability to just get on with it. I no longer go to candlelight vigils, or other AIDS memorials. It is too raw, too emotion charged, to ready to rip open healed wounds. I don’t forget – those who died are too entrenched in my memories for that – but now I choose to remember in more gentle ways. What every single one of my dead friends would have wanted is for me to get on with my life. Once a year their ghosts are going to waft around, to cajole me to tears, to invoke memories of wonderful times that will stay with me forever. 

But I’ll wake up tomorrow, and the ghosts will be gone. And just as they wanted, my life goes on. Who am I to argue with them!

Tim Alderman (2016)

Rumination of the Day (1st December 2016)

PAR,IAMENT HOUSE PROTEST

As much as our ineffective government is whinging, and despite that horrid & embarrassing Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce, bleating on about the interruption to the “workings” of parliament, the protesters disrupting proceedings today, and drawing attention to the atrocious treatnent of those in our detention centres, and demanding the closing of same, it is – in fact – democracy in action! I, and nany others, applaud them!