Guest Column

Items of notes and interest from the web.

Most Recent Articles by Guest Column:

Celebrate all births

Apr 24, 2018 — Guest Column

The safe birth of a healthy baby is a cause for celebration everywhere. There are about 350,000 babies born worldwide and about 2000 in England each and every day although only one made the front page of most papers around the world and was a leading item on the news on April 23.

It is time to celebrate all people and to remember it is not who you were born that makes you worthwhile but what you make of your life and the opportunities you take up. The Royal family has done much with Prince Philip’s ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ awards and Prince Harry’s work with disabled soldiers with the Invictus games. It is time to value not just the individual but all births.


Stop waffling on about guns

Apr 23, 2018 — Guest Column

It is interesting that the latest sad mass murder occurred at a ‘Waffle’ shop given that the US Government is waffling on about gun control.

It’s not the citizen’s right to bear guns that is the problem although the people’s right to be safe should be the paramount concern. Some people by their prior actions, character or mental health should be precluded from access to guns.



Throwing a political hand-grenade

Apr 22, 2018 — Guest Column

Kim Jong Un has stated on Saturday that ‘…we no longer need any nuclear tests…’ but it’s a political promise so I would trust him as far as I could throw a nuclear bomb.

Phone a friend? - no, hang up on Facebook!

Apr 20, 2018 — Guest Column

I did what Facebook said and downloaded all my data and what did I find - everything. It had about 200 numbers, including the washing machine repairer. It had every email address I seem to have used on the phone and every phone call including the recipient, date and duration.

Why would anybody want to know how long I spoke to the washing machine repairer? It’s time for Facebook to provide some answers rather than 457 pages of data.

Bring back Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Apr 19, 2018 — Guest Column

There are many people who prefer the old ways over the current with George Bush Sr. wanting life to be ‘more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons’ and if we look to the past with the tv show ‘The F.B.I.’ staring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. we see that the F.B.I. were the ‘good guys’ (the 60s were sexist and racist on tv) and nobody doubted their character or actions.

Now we see a President describing the past F.B.I. Director, James Comey, as a slime ball and saying that he lied under Oath. Although the world of TV often includes fictional components - including the 1998 WrestleMania hosted by Donald Trump - nearly all people in the real world see the F.B.I. and its leadership as honest and unbiased. There have been mistakes and corrupt people but rarely in the leadership.

We still need to believe in the F.B.I. and the people who protect us.

Social media is uncharted territory that has the potential for great good and great evil

Apr 18, 2018 — Guest Column

Social media is a product of our generation, it is uncharted territory that has the potential for great good and great evil. Sorting out the different pitfalls and fixing them will be tiresome and difficult. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in the Senate warm, not hot, seat this week as he was questioned mainly about protection of privacy and bias within the company.  One of the problems for users is the lack of competitive options. The other is that we are mostly old dogs for whom even this one new application came hard.

Still, users hold the power, if we are concerned about how we are treated by Facebook we can close our accounts. We also can check information and shine a light on stuff that is untrue. We are able to use Facebook for free because, like radio,  there are advertisers. Someone has to pay the bills. I do like the idea of having the same disclosures for political ads that we see and hear on radio, TV, and print material. I think voters need to know who is paying the tab.

And I for one, do not like the ad by Senator Bill Nelson regarding Facebook. It is just the sort of thing that causes division and strife and prevents honest conversations, solutions and compromises to happen.

Is there still a need for this job?

Apr 18, 2018 — Guest Column

At a community carers forum today there were people from a number of related medical and carers groups, some politicians but also a representative from the LGBTQI support and protection services. It seems sad and that the world has a long way to go when there is need for such services - especially protection.

We cannot ignore a dangerous situation

Apr 16, 2018 — Guest Column

Let’s say your neighbors have a volatile relationship. Usually they fight, scream, slam doors but one day you hear him threaten to kill her or you see him punching her. At what point do you have a responsibility to take action? Most of us probably think that how they live is their business until such point as someone is physically harmed or harm is imminent. And there is always the possibility of retaliation. One or both could turn on you for interfering.  Still, we cannot ignore a dangerous situation. In fact, the shooting in Parkland is a stark reminder of the outcome of ignoring clear and present danger.

If you take those lessons further, 6000 miles to Syria. How Syria (and other Countries) run their business is exactly that-their business. Democrats at one time and Republicans don’t want us to be the policemen of the world. But, for years the world has prohibited to use of chemical weapons. They are a horrific weapon with horrific results. How can the rest of the world look the other way? Syria crossed a line. Can you justify their actions in your mind? Can you pretend that this is ok?

“Evil prevails when good men do nothing”.


I’m sorry (that I got caught)

Apr 15, 2018 — Guest Column

After hearing and reading a number of recent apologies that basically said - I’m sort of sorry if you think I did something wrong although this is not an admission of guilt - that I thought I would make some suggestions for the spin doctors to use.

The following might give some starting points and you can circle the words that apply.

I did…

This was wrong/illegal/immoral.

I ‘m sorry I did…(not just sorry that I got caught).

I will fix it by…

I won’t do it again/I won’t get caught next time.

Yes, I am an idiot/politician/sports person.

Time to rewrite the book

Apr 14, 2018 — Guest Column

The Bible includes the quote ‘An Eye for an Eye’ and this seems to be the current solution to the problems in Syria but there should be some consideration of the rest of that quote ‘…But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also’ and the Koran adds ‘But whoever gives charity, it is an expiation for him’.

There is already too much sadness from the bombings as no matter where or for what reason, innocent people - often children - are injured or killed. It is still time for talking and diplomacy even if it takes a long time. Many leaders and tyrants have found you cannot beat people into agreement only submission.

We must all keep looking for peaceful solutions.


Facing up to saying NO!

Apr 12, 2018 — Guest Column

The solution to the Facebook Privacy dilemma is easy - set it, by law, as a default NO! or maybe NYET! at the start and reset every 3 months.

There are many forms that ask for information and in most cases you have to tick to accept their emails and often emails from ‘Third Party’ groups which are generally advertising. As part of the sign up process you could choose which options you want and that could include the following;

  • I am happy to share with everyone except for that weird kid in second grade.

  • I am happy for Facebook to make billions out of my data - It makes me feel valuable.

  • I am happy to share with the Russians - especially those nice women who write to me all the time.

  • I am happy to help the Russians elect Donald Trump.

  • Who cares - I am so boring nobody would be interested in my shopping preferences.

  • (Tick any or all that apply to you)

    The only other option seems to be to not sign up or never use it again.



    Wrong Clue

    Apr 10, 2018 — Guest Column

    The clue in a recent crossword was ‘Abnormally fat’ with the answer ‘obese’ but unfortunately it’s not abnormal but becoming normal. It’s time to stop doing the newspaper crossword, get out of the chair and go for a walk.

    Humanity shuld be more human

    Apr 9, 2018 — Guest Column

    The search for proof of alien life has taken another twist with astronaut Buzz Aldrin having passed a lie detector test about having seen a UFO.

    There is no need to search that far for proof as the world leaders provide many forms of alien life starting with the humorous - a president with Orange skin and hair and then the horrific - a leader so inhuman that he would gas his own people.

    We don’t need to look to space for inhuman beings, rather we need to look to Earth for more human behaviour.

    A Poker Bluff

    Apr 6, 2018 — Guest Column

    Apparently President Trump is going to ‘double down’ in the Tariff battle. This is real, not a poker game with a bluff being called, although there is something to be considered in the gambling lore of ‘A Smith and Wesson beats 4 aces’.

    Places like California would lose House members if an honest count of legal voters was done

    Apr 4, 2018 — Guest Column

    Every 10 years we are required to take a census (tally) of the number of people in our country. Over time we have found it necessary to add pages of additional information, education, employment, what kind of house you live in and whether you rent or own, age, ancestry, internet use, health insurance coverage, whether you receive food stamps, income, fuel you use to heat your house and much more. But, oh the uproar at the suggestion that you would be asked if you are a citizen. Can there be a bigger hypocrisy?

    In my mind, the citizenship question should be #1. Much government planning is based on census data. In doing that planning, the number that are really eligible for some things is important. I would also contend, if we are not going to ask citizenship question, we shouldn’t ask all the other invasive questions and save money by doing a simple head count.

    The real issue here is not protection of illegals, it is about votes, plain and simple. Places like California would lose House members if an honest count of legal voters was done.

    The election of Pres. Trump has done little to improve the approval rating of Congress which stands

    Apr 4, 2018 — Guest Column

    The election of Pres. Trump has done little to improve the approval rating of Congress which stands at just 15%.  The American people consider Congress virtually useless, unable to solve problems or even agree on simple matters. That is probably the reason that good people like Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy are leaving. They are frustrated with the inability to get the work of Government done. Who can blame them? Most of us see that Congress functions on reelection stats, all decisions are made with an eye toward getting reelected.

    Shame on Congress for abandoning their jobs and the American people.

    Turn - Don’t Swipe

    Apr 4, 2018 — Guest Column

    Being that it was close to April 1st I thought the story that beginner students at schools were ‘swiping’ their paper books rather than turning the pages was a rather amusing April Fools joke but it was actually a fact.

    The members of the National Union of Teachers (UK) have reported that this now a common event. Apparently it’s a result of the overuse of iPads as a childminding device and the cost of paper books.

    As a child I was always happy to read a book and still do almost 60 years later although I read most newspapers online. Books rarely run out of power, they are ready the moment you pick them up and there are not ads at the bottom of the page.

    Print this letter out on paper and show your child how to physically read it.


    Dennis Fitzgerald

    Tariff war: A numbers game

    Apr 4, 2018 — Guest Column

    After teaching Math for over 30 years I have taught a range of students including some who found it ‘challenging’. Even the least able were able to understand some simple arithmetic - if you charged someone $10 and they charged you $10 then nobody was better off and you were probably both annoyed. This works the same for larger numbers!

    Why can’t our world leaders understand this? A tariff war with matching increases will not help anyone in the long term. Get back to looking for positive approaches.

    Dennis Fitzgerald

    Still a long journey to a peaceful school

    Apr 3, 2018 — Guest Column

    Recently Malala, the youngest Nobel Peace winner, returned home to Pakistan but didn’t find the peace that she promotes. For a person who left as a gunshot victim and returned as a Nobel Laureate the biggest change was in her and what she has achieved but until it is safe for everyone to go to school in Pakistan and many other countries the world has a long way to go.

    Australian Cricket Player available

    Apr 3, 2018 — Guest Column

    Re:  Cricket: Disgraced Aussie trio likely to challenge suspensions

    I am available for Test selection. I can’t bat, bowl or field but I am honest.