a tribute to man’s best friend

26th August was National Dog Day. Below is a tribute to man’s best friend.

Note: This is a work of fiction, as are the names and associations mentioned in the story.


Tammy Davis was, in every way, a fun-loving nine year-old girl. She went to a local primary school and separated her time between, family, friends and schoolwork. Only thing was, she suffered from Grand Mal seizures and had been diagnosed at the age of two as epileptic.

Medication helped, but her parents worried that a seizure could occur at any time and in a place they were unable to control, leading to the need for an emergency ambulance, hospitalisation, or worse. Julia Davis, Tammy’s Mum, explains;

Tammy’s my only daughter, and as a mother I can’t help but be concerned that her exposure to sunlight could cause an epileptic fit at a time when my husband and I are not there for her. She’s so good at school and no-one would know what she has to endure every day. She has EEG’s (electro-encephalograms), sees a wonderful neurologist, and I couldn’t love her more. But she needed more support. I never imagined that would come in the form of a dog.

Julia was referring to Scallywag, the three year-old Golden Labrador who won’t leave Tammy’s side. Julia says that anyone who loves dogs could not help but stop and give Scallywag a pat. “She is as cute as a button.” But Scallywag is more than just a pet. She is an assistance dog, trained to warn Tammy’s family or teacher that a seizure is imminent.

Labradors are one of the very few breeds of dog that potentially have the ability to warn of the likely onset of a seizure prior to it occurring. Labradors are the most popular breed of dog amongst Australians, according to the Australian Pet Association (APA). They put this down to their “loving, companionate nature, their way with children, their friendly personality and their natural instinct to guard against danger.” They can sense whether a stranger is ‘friend or foul’ and will always put the welfare of their family first.

The Australian Assistance Dog Association (AADA) trains Labradors like Scallywag specifically for this purpose. Only a small minority of dogs are able to finish the course successfully. Gail Hardy, of the AADA, says;

We don’t know why Labradors in particular have such an understanding of seizures and their onset. What we do know is they have an extreme sense of smell and although further research is required, it is possible they can sense a change in the scent of their human companion prior to the seizure occurring. Labradors have a strong sense of companionate love for their owner(s), and this level of unconditional commitment and their naturally friendly persona makes them the perfect dog to train.

Scallywag was the 55th Labrador Gail’s organisation had trained for the purpose of assisting a child with special needs. She tries to keep in touch with some of the families she has helped and receives letters of thanks in return. The testimonial page on her organisation’s website attests to this.

Scallywag will stand over Tammy during a seizure in order to protect her from harm. ‘Scally,’ as Tammy calls her, cannot stop a seizure from occurring, but the knowledge that she is Tammy’s protector has made Tammy feel safer away from home, given her added confidence, not to mention the relief felt by her parents.

Scallywag is wagging her tail as I walk through the front door of the Davis’ home. I give Scally a pat and rough her up a little. The smile on her face is infectious. To think a dog can assist not only in protecting a lovely girl like Tammy and make her life that little bit easier, but can also provide the love one can only receive from a pet, is truly something to be cherished.

Tammy’s mum bends down to give Scally a kiss on the head – once a dog-lover always a dog-lover.

I am so pleased that Gail was able to assist us and provide Tammy and our family with such a wonderful pet and protector. Her seizures continue but she knows when she looks up, Scallywag will be there for her. I hope other families are able to make use of the AADA. Gail’s team has given our family a new lease on life.


If you need a service dog and don’t know where to start, the following associations may be able to assist (Australia only);

http://www.assistancedogs.org.au

http://www.awaredogs.org.au

http://www.aiddogs.com.au

http://www.deltasociety.com.au

http://www.guidedogs.com.au

Crime, the sensational ‘truth.’

Do you ever get tired of watching the news? Localised news broadcasts in particular seem to concentrate on the most sensational news stories of the day. ‘Man overboard, feared drowned.’ ‘Murder in South-western Sydney – two dead, more critical.’ ‘Road rage kills three.’ These could well be the lead stories of the evening when I switch on and tune in to the day’s events this evening.

Daniel Kahneman, The Nobel Prize Winner and pre-eminent psychologist is renowned for the philosophy that what you see is all there is, known as WYSIATI. In other words, we believe what we see. The more we see it the more we are led to believe it. Kahneman believes that humans are inherently lazy. He discusses this in detail in his best-selling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. From the book;

“A reliable way in making people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.”

If we take crime as an example, there is a high likelihood that the majority of people would think that the crime rate is rising, that it is higher today than it was fifty years ago. Those same people would have no credence for their opinion, they got it from watching the evening news. ‘You see it every night,’ they’d say. ‘If only we could go back to the good old days when there was no crime, I’d feel a whole lot safer. I drive my children to school because I’m afraid of what will happen to them in a crowd.’

This gives authority to Kahneman’s suggestion that familiarity breeds falsehoods.

In fact, studies have shown our belief the crime rate is rising is not substantiated by the figures. In Australia, studies have shown a substantial proportion of the population incorrectly believe crime rates are increasing when, in fact, they are stable or declining (Weatherburn & Indermaur 2004).

The Australian Institute of Criminology backs up this statement. Consider the following statement, http://aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/ (June 2008)

“If homicide is the yardstick by which the level of violence in society is measured, then the belief that violence is increasing in Australia cannot be substantiated.”

In 2012 the AIC further supported this claim with the following statement;

“While the volume and rate of individual crime types has fluctuated over the past few years, overall, crime in Australia has been decreasing.”

People generally over-estimate the rate of crime in their community. The closer to home the crime occurs the greater the impact on their over-estimation. The media’s role in this is critical. The more stories they cover on crime, the greater the influence those stories have on you and I, whether we’re aware of their influence or not. And the more violent the crime, the more likely the media will cover the ‘story’ in detail, sending a reporter to the scene to interview local police, and neighbours who witnessed the ‘atrocity,’ giving weight to the potentially ‘sensationalist’ way the news broadcast reports the story.

The result can be an over-emphasis of the risks and dangers we face as a whole in society at large, affecting the way we interact with others in our local community.

What role does the media play in this over-emphasis of risk?

Crime statistics have shown over time that the majority of crime is non-violent but the media concentrates on broadcasting stories related to violent crime, sensationalising crime, making us feel insecure and unsafe.

Certain groups have been shown to be over-represented in news broadcasts of crime, leading to those groups being alienated from the community at large, and society having a negative view of them due to the coverage they receive in the media. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (Report of Crime statistics), shows:

an over-representation of violent crimes,

an over-representation of children and the elderly as victims, and

an over-representation of youth as perpetrators of crime.

So why the fascination with crime in the news?

Professor Justin Lewis, head of the School of Journalism at Cardiff University, has been quoted in;

http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/media_portrayals_of_crime.pdf;

“Crime stories have long been a staple of news reporting, but crime news doesn’t reflect the real world…Crime is usually reported because it is dramatic or alarming, not because it is typical or likely to have an impact on our lives. So while increases in the crime figures are seen as dramatic, decreases are seen as dull.” (quoted in 2009).4

In the UK in the 1990’s, according to the British Crime Survey, the total crime rate was over 15 million crimes per year. In the 2000’s this had declined to about 10 million. Yet in 2009, 65 per cent of the population still believed that crime rates were rising. Daniel Kahneman was right;

“…familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.”

The same situation prevails in the USA: http://www.humantruth.info/usa.html

“News programs devote a disproportionate amount of air time to violent crimes. Consider that from 1993 to 1998, the homicide rate nationwide dropped by 20 percent. In the same period, coverage of murders on the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news increased by 721 percent (Vincent Schiraldi, director of the Justice Policy Institute).”

So in order to ensure citizens in Australia, the UK and USA don’t continue to be deceived by sensationalism in the media, perhaps we could all consider reading;

Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking Skepticism and Science Exposed

by Robert Todd Carroll

Let’s improve our thinking, and let’s stop being thought a fool by news media. We can do this by not deceiving ourselves into believing what we see, by questioning what we’re told, and by thinking for ourselves. 

Quotable quotes

Originally posted at: http://quotablequotes1.blogspot.com.au/

Here’s just a snippet of quotes I was given years ago. Can anyone help acknowledge their derivation?

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

“I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. I love to keep it by me, the idea of getting rid of it truly breaks my heart.”

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”

“A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.”

“To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful than to be forty years old.”

“There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.”

“Thank goodness the sun has gone in and I don’t have to go out and enjoy it.”

“I grew intoxicated with my own eloquence.”

“A smattering of everything, and a knowledge of nothing.”

“Knowledge is power. To believe without understanding is the act of mental bankrupt.”

“To many, total abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.”

“Skill comes so slow
And life so fast doth fly
We learn so little
And forget so much.”

“Every minute dies a man, and one and one-sixteenth is born.”

“The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice.”

“The night hath a thousand eyes.”

“He more had pleased us had he pleased us less.”

“Before man made us citizens
Great nature made us men.”

“In this world a man must be either anvil or hammer.”

“I don’t believe in principle, but O, I do believe in interest.”

“He earns whate’er he can
And looks the whole world in his face
For he owes not any man.”

“In baiting a mousetrap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse.”

“Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing
Onward through life they go.”

“Still pleased to teach
And yet not proud to know.”

“A little learning is a dangerous thing.”

“One murder makes a villain, millions, a hero.”

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything, and the value of none.”

“Laugh at all you troubled at before.”

“Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.”

Claire

Initially posted on youngatheart76@blogspot.com.au

It has been said that one has an influence on everyone they meet in life, positively or negatively, everlasting or fleeting. Everyone I came across in hospital influenced me one way or another, but none more so than Claire O’Brien. Claire was a registered nurse in Ward 8C, where I would, within days, take my first steps since the operation. 

When she first walked into the ward to introduce herself to me, the ‘new kid on the block,’ I knew she was ‘different’ to most nurses. The light shone on her long, blonde hair, which sparkled as she moved closer to the window. Her smile was infectious, as I soon became conscious I too was smiling, duplicating her facial expression. Her conversation brought out my best humour, laughter, and aided my recovery in ways medication could not. As she told me to take deep breaths, in and out, I couldn’t help but think she was, herself, a breath of fresh air.

“So you have an interest in politics do you,” she would say as she saw me reading ‘Hawke – A Biography.’ We would go on to discuss cars. “So what car do you drive,” she would ask. “What car does your father drive,” she would continue, having now come to know my dad rather well. “What will you do when you’re discharged from this place,” Claire would continue. “Go to the ‘local’ for a few beers,” was my audacious reply, bringing a grin to my face and laughter to the room. Past girlfriends and other topics of interest would also be mentioned during my stay in recovery. 

All the while Claire would be sure to administer the pain relief needed, ensure my heart rate was at an acceptable level. It was invaluable having her there as she was cognizant to my recovery in so many subtle ways.

As I had plenty of spare time to think and ponder, Claire’s ‘way’ of administering patient care made me consciously realise for the first time how important the nurse-patient relationship really was. Did the fact Claire was on duty the vast majority of the time I was in Ward 8C create a relationship between nurse and patient that had the potential to improve the quality of my recovery? The answer, surely, was yes.

There was little time for a nurse-patient relationship to form, but form it did. This would have the effect of personalising the relationship, making me feel at ease in her presence, and reducing any stress or tension I may have had. 

It seems I was anything but alone in my discovery of the importance of the nurse-patient relationship. A paper by Mona Shattell in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, 13, 714-722 made available courtesy of Blackwell Publishing, discusses the importance of the nurse-patient relationship and its importance in clinical nursing practice. Shattell discusses social interactionism, of theoretical importance within the field of social psychology. 

Social interactionism, put simply, is to say that a person reacts to things based on the meaning those things have for them and the way that person interprets the meaning. The meaning is derived from social interaction, that is, in the case we are discussing here, personal contact between nurse and patient. As Shattell states:

“Research on nurse-patient interactions” has shown that “nurse–patient relationships were able to be formed after very few nurse–patient interactions and of relatively short duration. [Many] patients believed that these relationships were important in their care, and in fact, more important than other aspects of care. Patients wanted nurses to be genuine, not in a hurry, available and willing to talk to them. Patients wanted to be valued and respected as individuals and believed that social interaction was important. Patients did not want to be treated like objects.” 

This finding is backed up by Arash Salehi, Lesley Strawderman, Laura Ruff of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Human Systems Engineering Lab, Mississippi State University, in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Volume 20, Issue7 in July 2008. Entitled ‘The Importance of Communication for Patient Satisfaction’ they state their study shows “that the number of nurses which patients have talked to was inversely correlated with satisfaction and perceived quality. 

My own recovery proves this point. On discharge from hospital, Claire was there. By 10am that day of Tuesday, 5th October, all that was left was to go to the transit lounge where my meds would be disbursed and I would be on my way.

“Not so fast.” I heard a voice enter the ward. It was Claire. Suddenly I felt myself breathe easier, knowing she was on duty that morning. She had just signed on for her shift. “Don’t be in a hurry,” she advised me. “It’ll take a while for the pharmacy to prepare your medication.” I took my time, as told. But all that stopped me from leaving Ward 8C was the need for a wheelchair, which soon arrived, with the assistance of another nurse, one with whom I was unfamiliar. He would take me from the eighth floor to the third. 

As I was slowly wheeled away from the ward that had seen my early recovery from bypass surgery, one I’d always remember, Claire wished me all the best and said: “you might need this.” She handed me a cushion to place over my chest to relieve the pain I’d feel for a while whenever I coughed or sneezed. After all, my breastbone had been opened and would take time to heal.

It was at that moment that I fully comprehended the importance of social interactionism in nursing, the need for ‘face time’ in the nurse-patient relationship and its significant role in improving the quality of recovery and patient care. It was something I’d never forget, something I’d always hold dear to my heart.

Postscript:
Looking about the cardio ward on one of my walks I noticed it was fully occupied by patients of an anglo-celtic background. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Was this co-incidence? Or was there a relationship between heart disease and ethnicity? The best person to answer this question is Sonia Anand, a Canadian epidemiologist. She is attributed with having conducted “the largest study of heart risks worldwide.” Or so the byline to an article entitled ‘Ethnicity, At Its Heart’ by Daniel Grushkin states. 

But first, what is ethnicity anyway? Does someone from Poland have the same ethnic background as someone from Pakistan? The answer, clearly, is ‘no.’ According to S. Dindyal, in an article found in The Internet Journal of Third World Medicine. 2004 Volume 1 Number 2 and entitled ‘How Personal Factors, Including Culture And Ethnicity, Affect The Choices And Selection Of Food We Make,’ ethnicity “refers to a social group, which shares certain distinctive features, such as language, culture, physical appearance, religion, values and customs.” 

So what was it that Sonia Anand found that was and remains of such interest? As Grushkin explains:-

“In 1997, the epidemiologist and MD at McMaster University found that when South Asians move to Canada, their risk of heart attack mysteriously spikes…Anand theorized that something in their new country is upping their chances for a heart attack.”

 And so, with the assistance of “world-renowned cardiologist and epidemiologist Salim Yusuf,” the INTERHEART Study began. It began in 1999 and took five years to complete, included hundreds of researchers around the world and about 30,000 people in communities near and far but the results were worth the effort – and the wait.Grushkin again:

“The study proved that ethnicities worldwide share the same nine risk factors for heart disease. Cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, abdominal obesity, smoking, stress, exercise, diet, and alcohol…though some groups were more susceptible to one factor or another (for example, Indians are prone to diabetes and the Chinese more likely to smoke cigarettes), no group showed novel risk factors.”

Anand then found that most risk factors for heart disease are modifiable, that is, behaviour that can be changed has a greater effect on the incidence of heart disease than genetic factors that can’t change. Her finding has been supported by another study out of Ontario, Canada, from 2010. In a CBS News item entitled ‘Heart Risks Vary By Ethnicity: Ontario Study,’ it’s reported that “Chinese, South Asians, whites and blacks…show striking differences in their cardiovascular risk factors.” 

It goes on to state that “Smoking and obesity were more common in the white population, while the South Asian and black populations of African or Caribbean descent had the highest levels of diabetes and hypertension, the researchers found.” One of the study authors, Maria Chiu, explains:

“The good news for this story is that these are modifiable risk factors…We can certainly take measures and make lifestyle changes that could prevent a large proportion of cardiovascular diseases.”

This certainly backs up Sonia Anand’s findings and supports that old saying we are all aware of that tells us prevention is better than cure.

So when strolling through the corridors of the cardiothoracic wards on the eighth floor of the hospital at which I was soon to be discharged, I could rest assured the high incidence of Anglo-Celtic patients could be attributed to something other than a higher level of heart disease amongst that ethnic grouping. Co-incidence perhaps? Locality of the hospital? Or was my eyesight playing tricks on me? 

Our future at stake

Walking out the back door this morning, I strolled down the pathway to the front gate. Opening the gate, I picked up the paper, The Australian, from where it had been carefully thrown. After a moment or two struggling to open it I turned to the front page and saw the face of one of Australia’s pre-eminent journalists on foreign affairs matters, Greg Sheridan.

The headline read;

‘Warning: Australia is becoming a risky place to do business.’

The article was about the Adani mine and how it had been held back from development due to bureaucratic red-tape, the yakka skink and the ornamental snake.

I kid you not.

Still don’t believe me? I quote Sheridan;

“An environmental group, funded…by NSW taxpayers, mounted a challenge about whether Environment Minister Greg Hunt had considered in precisely the proper way the effect of the mine on the yakka skink and the ornamental snake. So the whole thing has to go back for Hunt to fix up the paperwork.”

The Baird Government is, at least in part, funding a challenge to a $16billion Indian investment in Australia’s future. Sheridan believes the coalmine has the potential to employ 10,000 people.

Couple that with the Labor Party’s opposition to the Chinese Free Trade Agreement and it seems Australia is reverting to the bad old days. Once again, the Labor Party is peddling ideas that Chinese workers will, in Sheridan’s words, “flood the Australian market, whereas any Chinese who come in under the FTA will have to satisfy all the normal 457 visa class regulations.”

Australia used to be a country populated by people with a ‘can-do’ attitude. The country received convicts who were unwanted elsewhere but who served an important role in the establishment of the colonies. Convicts were transported for petty crimes and were put to work as brick makers, carpenters, labourers, nurses. By the 1820’s a growing number of convicts were granted rural land. The vast majority of convicts by this time were employed by private land-holders, working hard to build trust and respect and contribute to the economic growth and independence of the colonies.

Decades later, the Chinese made their way to Australia for the ‘new gold mountain,’ coming after the gold rush in California. But as the Chinese came so arose fear and loathing, and with it, racist sentiment. This continued for decades until in 1901, the Immigration Restriction Act was implemented by the new Federal Government.

At this time, 98% of the Australian population was white.

By 1947, Arthur Calwell, as Immigration Minister, said in Parliament:

“Two Wongs don’t make a White.”

Meant jocularly or otherwise, Calwell was widely reported as having made a racist remark. Unfortunately for him, it was too late to recant.

Nineteen years later, sixty-five years after the White Australia Policy had been implemented, it was brought to an end by the Holt Government by the establishment of the Migration Act 1966.

And yet, the Labor Party continued to maintain a white Australia policy as official party policy for another seven years, proving, if anyone remained in doubt, that they were behind the times culturally.

Today, Australia ranks as one of the most successful multi-cultural sovereign nations, one of the very few continuous democracies, and one of the safest and most secure nations the world over. And yet, even today, the Labor Party cannot separate itself from the vested interests of the union movement. Even today, the Labor Party considers a free trade agreement with China a threat to Australian workers, rather than an opportunity.

Surely, as a nation, we have matured. Surely, as a convict nation, we value the self-reliance this country was built on. And so, surely there can be no good reason why we cannot share with China in the riches a free trade agreement offers both countries today. Is there not room for both countries to prosper, together?

If there is room, then surely, by extension, we can agree the future of the ornamental snake should not take precedence over a $16billion coalmine that would see India invest in this country and 10,000 new jobs created.

You’ve probably noticed the feature photo attached to this article. It’s of a little boy, no more than seven, with his Collingwood jersey on, sitting upright, keen to see his mighty ‘pies win the 2010 AFL Grand Final. He’s looking out at the 100,000 other people also present that day.

All of them have one thing in common – their love of AFL football. Most of them want to do well in life, at least live a comfortable life with their family around them for love and support. Few, if any, would think Australia was only five years away from signing a free trade agreement with China. Some, if asked, would realise the gravity, the import, of such an agreement.

The future of our seven year-old ‘pies fan could well rise or fall on the investment of nations like China (and India) in the Australian economy.

We want our ‘pies fan’s future to be bright, not to be put in jeopardy by the ornamental snake. God forbid!

Got the Goodes

Everybody’s talking about it. According to http://www.aflcommunityclub.com.au/index.php?id=790, there are 71 listed indigenous players in the AFL. Only one gets booed. Why? Because the AFL footballing community is racist.

Or so we’re told.

Just have a read of some of the articles shown below and surely you’ll agree there’s no other explanation for the way Adam Goodes has been treated at various stadiums throughout the year.

In case you haven’t heard, Adam Goodes is the star forward playing for the Sydney Swans. He is in the twilight of a stellar career and is a former Australian of the Year. The saga we find ourselves in now all began when my beloved Collingwood Magpies played the Sydney Swans at the MCG in 2013. A little girl called out from afar and has regretted it ever since. We start with this article from Adrian Crawford, posted at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-25/goodes-gutted-but-places-no-blame/4712772 on 27th May 2013 and entitled;

Adam Goodes ‘gutted’ by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated

“A 13-year-old girl has apologised for calling Swans forward Adam Goodes an “ape”, an incident that the AFL star said rendered his side’s breakthrough win over the Magpies meaningless…Goodes, with security staff around him, had stood only metres away and pointed to her following a verbal clash with the fan. Victoria Police said on Saturday morning that a 13-year-old girl was interviewed over the incident and released last night pending further inquiry.”

The girl’s mother then came out and on radio the Monday after said her daughter was doing okay under the circumstances.

Eddie McGuire, the President of the Collingwood Football Club, only added to the tensions by suggesting Adam Goodes could be used to promote the upcoming musical King Kong. “It’s as simple as this. It was said, and I do not resile from that situation. I’ve put my foot in it,” he said.

And so the scene was set.

Move forward to August 2015 and Lateline reporter Brigid Anderson posted this online;

Adam Goodes debate: Prominent Aboriginal Australians reveal toll of racism

“Indigenous Australians have opened up about the harsh personal toll racism has taken on them, as debate rages over the booing of AFL star Adam Goodes.

The chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine, revealed on The Drum that he is in therapy because of racism…

Goodes has taken indefinite leave from the Sydney Swans and it is rumoured he is considering his playing future after months of being relentlessly booed by crowds at matches.”

Footnote: Goodes was back playing one week later

Suzanne Carbonne posted this online five days later;

“The racial slur during the AFL’s Indigenous round spurred artist Ray Thomas to paint a piece called A Shameful History depicting the footballer pointing his finger at the Collingwood supporter with a dagger in his back and drops of blood.”

But the story had continued on throughout the season prior. This from James Dampney on 22nd May, 2014;

“Despite having to face another incident of racism, Adam Goodes says he is encouraged by the stand being taken by AFL fans to help stamp out the blight on the game.”

“Almost one year since the Sydney Swan was racially vilified by a young girl in a game against Collingwood, an Essendon fan had his membership revoked for making a racist comment towards Goodes last Friday night…”

Even The Straits Times weighed into the story, with Jonathan Pearlman saying Australia was suffering from “fresh concerns about racism” due to “taunts faced by Aussie Rules footballer” Adam Goodes.

A year later and it seemed Adam Goodes’ was anything but encouraged by AFL fans. In fact, in Indigenous Round, he alienated some by displaying hidden talents and performing what was widely referred to as a ‘war dance’ in front of Carlton supporters.

That night, another indigenous Sydney Swans star, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, kicked seven goals. But the headline was Goodes’. The headline May 30th on http://www.smh.com.au/afl/sydney-swans/sydney-swans-adam-goodes-celebrates-goal-with-indigenous-war-dance-ruffles-feathers-20150529-ghczbr.html read;

“Sydney Swans’ Adam Goodes celebrates goal with Indigenous war dance, ruffles feathers.”

Inside Story’s headline on 1st August this year read; “Football racism row splits opinion in Australia” was just one of many similar headlines to be found in newspapers and online, as well as television news broadcasts throughout the country at that time. Fairfax newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age encouraged their readers to support the #istandwithadam campaign.

Sport had been politicized beyond expectations.

However, out of all the articles on the topic, this one seems to resonate the most, at least with the writer. On 14th June this year in the Daily Telegraph, Neil Cordy wrote the following;

“Goodes was again the centre of attention…at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with many fans booing him every time he touched the ball…He believes the more he talks about [the issue] the louder the boos become…’The booing has got a racial undertone,’ [Sydney CEO Andrew] Ireland told The Daily Telegraph.

‘The only difference [between Adam and other indigenous players] is that Adam is outspoken,’ Ireland said. What Adam does speaking out for his people, he clearly gets a reaction from these people [the fans].

“It started from the time he called out the [13 year-old girl’s] racial abuse at the MCG and has been added to since he became Australian of the year.”

Does that make Adam Goodes a dobber?

Alecia Simmonds, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Technology Sydney, wrote an article entitled ‘Why do we care more about racism when it happens on a footy field?’ on 3rd August this year. Her answer?

She said the footballer personifies the Australian character in that he is resilient, self-reliant, gets up again after having been felled, is “strong and anti-intellectual.”

“The footballer absolves the audience from feeling empathy because he never admits to his pain. He never shows his wounds. And if he does – if, like Adam Goodes, he cries out and says that he is hurting – then he’s told to ‘man up’. He will be infantilised: labeled a dobber and a sook. Like all Australian men, he’s expected to cop it on the chin. The footballer is meant to personify stoicism…”

So, what, or who, is a dobber?

According to https://www.wordnik.com/words/dobber, a dobber can be;

“a tool used to play bingo, a member of the working class in Scotland, one who dobs…an electrical device…”

But according to a more reliable source, the Cambridge Dictionaries Online, a dobber is;

“a person who secretly tells someone in authority that someone else has done something wrong.

And so I went in search of information from the web to prove or disprove my hypothesis, that the Goodes saga is more about ‘pointing the finger’ than the colour of his skin. And this is what I found.

From 11th December 2006, this archived comment headlined ‘Dobbers – good on ‘em, the un-Australian gits.’

“Dobbing is bad, right? So we are all taught by tough parents, older siblings and the school bully when he finds out we turned him in. But in today’s Australia, populated – according to some – by dole bludgers, water wasters and (of course) terrorists, maybe it is the way forward.”

And this from Chris Dutton, Sports Reporter at The Canberra Times, 12th March 2014;

‘Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen says he’s no dobber.’

“ACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen is angry his character has been tarnished by rumours, hitting back at any suggestion he “dobbed” on his Australian Wallabies Test teammates after a drinking session in Ireland last year.”

And lest we forget to mention Jullian Assange, voted the most un-Australian by Zoo Weekly. On AAP, 24th January, 2014;

‘Dobber’ Jullian Assange voted the most un-Australian by Zoo Weekly

“JULIAN Assange is nothing but a dobber in disguise, according to a men’s magazine which has named him Un-Australian of the Year.

Zoo Weekly for the past five years has been putting together a list of the year’s most disappointing Aussies ahead of Australia Day on January 26.

Mr Assange, founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, has taken the dubious title in 2011 for publicly releasing thousands of classified diplomatic cables –  ‘dobbing.'”

And this from a Program Graduate of http://www.calorieking.com.au/ posted 7th March 2008;

“I am acting manager at the moment and I swear..if one more person comes and tells tales out of school I will scream.

I want to turn around and tell them..hey unless your work is perfect…and trust me..it ain’t. I don’t want to hear stories about someone else. What do they say about people in glass houses. Maybe I should just tell them..dobbers wear nappies. I feel like I’m in Kindergarten.”

Even Nigel McNay of The Border Mail weighed into the debate about dobbers with this contribution on 30th April this year;

‘Bali 9 | Cathy McGowan backs move to jail Aussie dobbers’

“…Indi MP Cathy McGowan…spoke out following yesterday’s early-morning execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran on the island of Nusakambangan in Indonesia’s Central Java.

The executions have also led Ms McGowan to support the private member’s bill of the member for Fairfax Clive Palmer on such offences that will be presented when Parliament resumed.

The bill calls for public officials to be jailed for up to 15 years if they disclose information that causes an Australians to be at risk of the death penalty.”

Finally, for those management types who have employees raise issues with them from time to time, this entry may resonate;

From http://blogs.smh.com.au/radar/archives/2004/07/rats_in_the_ran.html comes this;

‘Rats in the ranks’

“Got a bone to pick with your colleagues? We don’t want to know about it. Andrew Taylor reports on dobbers in the workplace.

Do you have a colleague who gets on your goat? Do people leave dirty coffee cups in the office kitchen sink…Well, Fleur Radford and Elena Kazurova have some advice for you: keep it to yourself.

Radford, a human resources manager, says she feels like a kindergarten teacher when employees come to her to dob on workmates. “It gets a bit childish,” she says. “I always take notice in case it’s a matter affecting the company, but sometimes I just want to say, ‘Can’t you solve your own problems? ‘”

So, to use that oft quoted term, perhaps dobbing is ‘un-Australian.’ And perhaps Adam isn’t the only one to get booed, either.

Now he’s no longer captain of the Australian cricket team, we may wish to keep this article in mind next time we feel like criticising Michael Clarke for a poor performance. Isn’t this the epitome of a guy that can take it on the chin, so to speak? This from four years ago. Read on…

From http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-01-31/pup-doesnt-blame-brisbane-for-boos/1923320 came this entry;

“Even Michael Clarke could understand why a Gabba crowd booed the stand-in skipper before he helped steer Australia to a one-day series clinching victory over England on Sunday.

“The woefully out-of-nick Clarke was savagely booed when he took to the crease after a lean summer which included just 70 runs from four ODIs at 17.50 this series.

“But Clarke gradually won over the 30,651-strong Gabba crowd in his knock of 54…

“Obviously you would like people to be cheering but I can understand why a few of them are booing,” Clarke said…

“I haven’t performed as well as I would like so I don’t blame the public for being disappointed with my performances…”

And speaking of performances, good or bad, the following may provide us with a reasonable template with which to judge Adam Goodes’ performances over the course of the 2015 football season;

This from Andrew Wu at http://www.smh.com.au/afl/sydney-swans-champion-adam-goodes-down-but-fafrom out-20150624-ghwbro.html;

“[Adam Goodes’] average of 13.4 possessions across 2014-15 is his lowest since 2000, while his goal-kicking has dropped to pre-2008 when he evolved into a midfielder/forward. And his inability to lay enough tackles painted the picture of a player who was also struggling to defend.”

Doesn’t sound like he’s in career-best form now, does it?

So how can Adam cope with the booing of crowds and opposition fans when he’s away from home. If Michael Clarke gets booed we can only assume they’ll be a certain portion of the crowd that may feel the need for some reason to do the same to Goodes or another AFL footballer. Getting caught up in the emotion of the crowd doesn’t lend itself to serious thought before taking action.

Sports psychology may assist Goodes and other elite sportsmen who struggle to cope with crowd noise, with anti-sentiment.

As we conclude, let’s look at how NFL fans are said to affect games and consider the possibility that concentrating on the positive may well be harder but more productive than concentrating on the negative.

The Bleacher Report ran an article online entitled ‘How Do NFL Fans Really Affect Games?’ Written by Ty Schalter, on 12th December 2013, he has this to say;

“I spoke with Dr. Dan Weigand, editor of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.

‘One of the things that we try to do,’ Dr. Weigand said, ‘is limit the effect that crowd noise has if you’re the away team.’ One of the keys to doing that, Weigand said, is to practice in those distracting, disrupting conditions. In practice, teams can deploy loud sound and then develop coping strategies like hand signals…

“Beyond the preparation for dealing with the noise, though, is psychological preparation.

‘We try to prepare our team to embrace playing on the road,’ Dr. Weigand said, ‘to embrace the crowd noise, and use it as an advantage—to interpret it as they’re rooting for you, rather than against you.’ That kind of mental tenacity doesn’t come easily, of course, but rigorous practice in adverse conditions better prepares teams and athletes to handle adverse game situations.”

Food for thought, perhaps?


Postscript: Adam Goodes retired at the end of the 2015 football season to become Brand Ambassador for retailer David Jones.

Consider this scenario for a moment;

Out shopping in nearby Chatswood, on Sydney’s north shore, last week, my wife and I were on our way back to the car after an uneventful but enjoyable lunch of fettuccini, sav-blanc and stimulating conversation. Walking hand-in-hand Jules stopped suddenly, looked me in the eye and said hurriedly;

“I forgot to pick up the New Idea.”

The New Idea (sometimes referred to as ‘No Idea’) is a magazine of gossip and sensationalism, a classic example of a ‘rag’ that sells copy based on the headline and picture on the cover. “What do you want that for?” I asked. “It doesn’t have a single new idea in it.” “I just flick through the pages and look at the headlines and the pictures,” she replied.

Jules had taken leave of her senses, I thought. But maybe I was wrong. For it was the senses, I’d been taught years ago, that effect our response to what we see and feel. It was our senses that gave rise to sensationalism.

As we strolled hand in hand toward the car, Jules said with surprise; “Look honey, Bec and Lleyton are splitting up, getting a divorce. It says so right here. See!

‘Bec and Lleyton Torn Apart!’

I guess it was only a matter of time.”

Bec was Lleyton Hewitt’s wife of a number of years and a former soap opera star. Hewitt was the Australian tennis star that had once won Wimbledon. As a couple, they were, one could say, ‘celebrities.’ In fact, they had once had a contract with Woman’s Day, another magazine of the same ilk.

If one happened to take the time to read the article Jules was referring to, one was advised that Hewitt’s wife was allegedly sick of following her husband around the tennis circuit and felt a better life could be out there somewhere. Perhaps a retirement was on the cards to keep the family together.

Further down the front page it declared;

‘Harry’s Joy! My palace romance.’

Prince Harry had recently toured Australia and was on his way around New Zealand. He took with him an assistant (female, to be sure) who initially came from New Zealand but worked for the Royal family. She brought with her local knowledge of New Zealand, hence the reason why she was ‘always by Harry’s side.’ To refer to the relationship as ‘a palace romance’ may have been overstating the facts just a little bit.

The Woman’s Day, another magazine one could rely on for ‘updates’ on celebrity gossip, was not to be out-done.

The following link, http://www.womansday.com.au/celebrity/australian-celebrities/bec-hewitts-shock-phone-call-11751, leads one to a story from March of this year.

Entitled;

‘Lleyton’s strip club scandal,’

the article goes on to describe how his wife was allegedly furious at finding out Hewitt had been ‘on the town’ in Europe with Bernard Tomic, another Australian tennis star.

‘Bec would’ve been very cranky,’ confirms one close friend. Shocked at Lleyton’s wild night in Europe last week, the pal reveals Lleyton would’ve dreaded making the phone call to his wife to explain his exploits.

Read all about Bec and Lleyton’s bust-up only in Woman’s Day, on sale 16th March.”

There are many more such titles available, this week’s being about Bec feuding with her long-time friend from Home and Away days, Kate Ritchie. Previously, and for many years now, these magazines have sold copy on such titles as;

‘Bec and Lleyton: It’s Over,’

and;

‘Lleyton is Packing his Bags,’

all of which fit neatly into the sensationalist reporting featured here and elsewhere within certain media outlets.

This story from Susie O’Brien of the Herald-Sun, on 4th July 2015;

“Tennis player Lleyton Hewitt and his wife, Bec, have also copped a lot over the years. For years it’s been game on in Camp Hewitt. Headlines such as “Lleyton is packing his bags” made it look as if the couple were breaking up when he was just going on tour — with his family.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia, comes this;

Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers. Sensationalism may include reporting about generally insignificant matters and events that don’t influence overall society and biased presentations of newsworthy topics in a trivial or tabloid manner contrary to the standards of professional journalism.”

As Lleyton Hewitt says himself, on his website, http://www.lleytonandbechewitt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=219&Itemid=29;

“Week after week, the paparazzi hide in cars, follow us, trying to take photos…where they think…we don’t look happy. Magazines, notably Woman’s Day and New Idea, then buy them and fabricate a negative news story, because they believe that is what sells. [They will] make up whatever they like so long as they can sell [copy].”

Welcome to the world of sensationalism. Welcome to mass media.

Now think back to Prince Harry and imagine what the Royal family have to put up with.

 

“Don’t think…DO.”

“Don’t think… DO.”

Those are the famous words of John Kennedy Snr, the Hawthorn Football Club Coach that has become a living legend of the club. It’s three quarter time in the Grand Final of 1975 and Kennedy’s Hawks are well down. They have little, if any hope of victory. His players are standing around in a huddle, with Kennedy leading them to at least honour their belief in themselves. His players are telling him they think they should do this, try that. In an interview with Mike Sheehan on Fox Sports in 2013, Kennedy says to Sheehan he was sick and tired of hearing his players think. He just wanted them to get out there on the field and do. And so the moment came. The exact quote goes like this;

“At least do something! DO! Don’t think, don’t hope, DO! At least you can come off and say ‘I did this. I shepherded, I played on. At least I DID something.”

His team became known as ‘Kennedy’s Commandos’ for his professional attitude to coaching, for the fitness he instilled in what to that day was a part-time sport played by carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers and the like. It was the beginning of the move to making Australian Rules Football in Victoria a professional sport with salaries to match.

Kennedy went on to coach Hawthorn to three premierships, 1961, 1971 and 1976. 1961 proved to be the first year Hawthorn had ever won a premiership. By the time his coaching career was over he had coached three premiership winning teams from five Grand Final appearances. His statue appears life-like at Waverley Park today. And when asked how he feels when he walks on by the statue, on his way to visit his old club, what does he say? In that same interview in 2013 he said he felt the sculptor had done an excellent job in that he had made something out of nothing.

If only we were all so humble.

“Don’t think…DO.”

Imagine for a moment if the same principle was applied to everyday life. Perhaps a lot more would get done. Perhaps. But perhaps society as a whole and each of us as individuals would be a lot worse off. The thing is, it seems to happen on a regular basis. Sure, on the football field, there’s barely time for thought. Instinct takes over. But imagine this scenario for a moment (of a fictitious nature);

A boy jumps off a bridge. The bridge was considered secured for such occurences, with a suicide prevention barrier installed years earlier and CCTV 24 hours a day. The barrier cost $15million to install. CCTV cost more on top of that.

Counselling groups and suicide prevention community organisations spoke out in support of a higher, more expensive prevention barrier to replace the existing barrier. Anyone opposed to the initiative was hounded down as mindless and careless, or at the very best caring for the almighty dollar and its cost-effectiveness over and above the safety of children and adults alike. A new barrier was costed at $20million. The move was supported by local council and state government. They felt any opposition shown by them would lose them votes at the next election. And besides, it was only $20million. That’d get lost in the State Budget coming up in a few months anyway.

The existing barrier was replaced. Suicides since install have been zero. Suicides prior to install were 2 in 15 years.

Was the new suicide prevention barrier necessary? Has it been effective? Do you consider there was good reason for the action that was taken?

“Don’t think…DO.”

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