Fare you well, commenters who do battle with each other almost every day, readers who simply read and have other lives to live, and occasional readers who write to me privately because they don’t want to be seen in public, so to speak. It has been fun writing the essays and not having to worry about what the editor might have felt. But it got to be a bigger and bigger job as the readership grew, and especially when tempers flared in the Comments. And it actually cost money to maintain the site, as well as an increasing amount of time and energy. I gave all the reasons why I decided to stop some weeks ago. That produced a small volley of requests from people who paid me lovely compliments, but wanted me to keep going. Sorry, people.
The site stats tell me that I wrote more than a thousand essays (averaging 1100 words) in the nine years the site has been up, and they produced more than 36,000 comments (my own responses numbered 1759). My estimate is that I wrote rather more than a million words in those essays, and that not quite a million ‘reads’ occurred over the nine years. I wouldn’t claim a readership of a million, because many people, especially the frequent commenters, went back to the same essay with further contributions as arguments developed. The largest number of comments occurred years ago — more than 2,000, over a piece about Aboriginality that was picked up by Andrew Bolt and effectively run again. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t have to approve his doing it. It was a surprise. But so what?
Three quarters of the readers have been Australian, with the USA, the UK, New Zealand and Canada providing most of the rest. When I last looked there had been readers from more than fifty countries. To my surprise, and this is old data (I can’t find its present-day equivalent) the readers have been about equally divided between those below and above fifty, while men have greatly outnumbered women. How my platform knows these things is a mystery to me.
When I wrote for The National Times(1971 to 1983) I received a couple of death threats over essays I wrote about abortion. You only have to receive one to have your life turned upside down for a while. I never received any such harassment from what I wrote on the website, though I was taken to court by an aggrieved reader about what he thought were personal insults. They weren’t at all, and the unhappy reader dropped the case anyway. On the contrary, the great majority of comments I have received about what I have written have been favourable, or at least positive.
So, to repeat, the site will remain open for the next month as a sort of public service. I’ll have to moderate what is posted there to stop it being hijacked. When I know how anyone can get access to essays and comments I’ll provide that information.
With every good wish to you all,
Join the discussion 33 Comments
Farewell, take care of yourself and enjoy your leisure, it is time well earned. I enjoyed your National Times articles all those years ago as I have enjoyed the writing here in more recent time. If I have occasionally transgressed and offended you I sincerely apologise again. Keep warm in your Canberra bolt hole and stay away from Covid. All the best and keep up the writing of the novels if nothing else.
Sad to see that Don passed away https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7697566/don-aitkin-canberra-academic-and-writer-dies-aged-84/
Thanks Don for all your wonderful essays that always accurately summed up this crazy world. We will all be the poorer for your departure. I hope I haven’t been too much of an embarrassment for you while I certainly have enjoyed commenting. All the very best for the future.
Don, many thanks for your commentary over the years. You’ve clearly moved in circles I can only dream about and become in my mind a valued mentor, yet the internet makes it possible to correspond with people such as yourself which makes up for my insular situation somewhat.
Heterodox and contrarian. A simple prose style applied to complex issues produced clarity. Always enjoyable to read.
And I disagreed with about 80% of it!
I assume you are not now responding to comments.
Good luck and best wishes
Contrarian and heterodox. Simple prose applied to complex issues always produced clarity.
And I disagreed with about 80% of it.
Good luck and best wishes.
Thanks for gracing the public square – and all the best for the future.
Thank you for the thought provoking essays. They have been an education to me, to me, even when I didn’t agree with your position.
Enjoy your additional time for relaxation and family.
Thank you Don for being the great Australian that you have been. Your name has been in the forefront of much that I been interested for many many years. My working days at James Cook University I knew of your work in many fields related to education and research. You have been and still are, a great Australian to whom we are all much indebted. Thank you and good bye.
Thanks Don for all that you wrote even though I have not read all of it. Of late I have not been paying that much attention but I still appreciate that you were there. I wish you well and I hope you are able to visit the Kingston group.
There is always a place at lunch for you, Don.
Don – you have certainly helped me learn a lot about global warming and the tactics and quality of various participants in debate cum argument.
So ‘the carnival is over’? Well, this may be appropriate. If trends continue this will be the fate of humanity.
Even those who focus on Spencer’s LT data must now see a clear global warming trend.
In 2017 Spencer cited global trend at 0.12. It is now  0.14. This in just 4 years.
In 2017 Spencer cited SoPol trend at 0.00. It is now  0.02. This in just 4 years.
In 2017 Spencer cited Aust trend at 0.16. It is now  0.18. This in just 4 years.
Well, that is it … after all.
Gotta have the last word?
Here’s the last word, BJ:
Hottest temp was in 1913. 56.7°C (134°F):
But there were probably hotter temps earlier. Unknown [but reasonably suspected] unknowns.
Thanks for everything.
I endorse Peter Bobroff’s comment: there is always a place at lunch for you Don. All the very best.
Don I hope you have more time to fully relax and enjoy your friends and family and I’m sure you’ve made me think more clearly about climate and how lucky we are to be alive today.
Sure their WOKE garbage + other L W delusional nonsense can be hard to stomach, but given enough time I’m sure most people will eventually start to wake up.
All the best Don.
Thanks Don. You might have left enough data for someone to analyse to determine just how effective common sense is in overcoming group think, on whatever topic. Might even lead to a PhD :-). Take care.
Thanks for your great vision on many subjects. The essays have been great.
Don, I’ve enjoyed your measured, reasoned and conversational essays for many years. I’ll miss them now you’ve finally packed it in. All the best for the future.
Always a pleasure to read your clear and concise thoughts Don, live long and prosper.
Don thank you for all your hard work and wonderful writings on this site. Certainly made me think, always enjoyed them., Loved the eloquence, clarity and perspective you brought.
My best wishes and again, thanks.
We may well wonder about the impact we might have over our lifetimes, impact for good and ill and much in between. Maybe the bits in between don’t have much effect, but they are a part of our lives, and meaningful nevertheless. Your impact has been great and beneficial, through your career, colleagues, legions of friends, many hundreds of readers, and most importantly, family. Our sincere thanks to you.
Aynsley Kellow’s quote from Pasternak is most pertinent to the question I have often wondered for myself: how much have I mattered? Thank you, Aynsley, and pardon my re-quoting it. “And what now? You have always been in others and you will remain in others. And what does it matter to you if later on that is called your memory? This will be you – the you that enters the future and becomes a part of it.”
Thank you Don, you have been a point of contact that has been a stabilizing reference point in a world where so much is unsure. I could always return to you for the real truth. Goodbye live long and prosper.
Thank you Don, for you fine essays and also what they have revealed about you, your departure leaves an empty space that can’t be filled. You are someone to try and be like in one’s own life. bts
Thank you Don for providing a haven of reason and wisdom I could go to from time to time to make sure my own divergence from the pack wasn’t just a sign I’d lost my marbles. All the best.
Thank you ever so much Don. I haven’t looked in often, but ever since discovering this site it has been on my gunnadoo list.
Can the all this information be preserved? Surely some libraries would value it highly. With modern technology it shouldn’t be difficult.
Dear Don, I will miss you. I rarely comment, but you are an old friend, and I’ve had much pleasure republishing many of your pieces when suitable. I feel a little as though I am talking to Bilbo Baggins. We will miss your cool commonsense and clear-sightedness, and despite the dry rationality of your prose there is a real emotional spirit and love lurking under it. Travel slowly to the Isles in the West. Middle Earth hasn’t done with you quite yet.
You may recall that many years ago now I met with you in Canberra and we talked about the Aitkin Family History. At the time I had barely commenced my research into the history and I have to say that much has been discovered since we met. I would like to discuss with you about a few of the individuals in our mutual past. So if you have the inclination this could be via email or phone, which ever suites you and your situation.
My particular interest is the very colorful George Cruikshank Aitkin (my great grandfather John Cruikshank Aitkin was his brother) and if any images of those oldies may have been in your family and filtered down through the generation.
I live in virus light Melbourne and can be reached on 0409429726 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look forward to hearing from you Don, kind regards Vince Aitkin.
Thanks Don for covering such a wide canvas of issues with wisdom and style over such a time frame. A great legacy and a challenge for others to follow. But who?
I wish you a wonderful, comfortable safe and entertaining 2022. You have earned it and you are greatly missed. Live well old Friend
Sad to see that Don passed away: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7697566/don-aitkin-canberra-academic-and-writer-dies-aged-84/