Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Wednesday photos

Up again early this morning, only to face a day that was grim, grey and wet. As I sat at my PC eating a few Weet Bix and reading the usual round of blogs, the rain was pouring down outside. I read a few more blogs than usual and waited for the worst of it to pass me by. I figured I could at least start dry, but that I'd be soaked before I got to work. My biggest problem was deciding what to wear - to add an undershirt beneath my jersey, or just ride in normal summer rig.


I kept to the normal summer rig, which was good, as it didn't rain at all on the ride in, and I was sweating after 10 minutes. The humidity was 93%! The bloke above was a bit of a nong - it was dark enough for almost every car to have its lights on, but this cyclist had no lights or reflectors fore or aft. Just because you can see an oncoming car, doesn't mean they can see you.


The ANZAC bridge was wet and empty of foot and cycle traffic. I think I saw only 3 or 4 other bikes on the whole journey - 90% down on usual. The pedestrians were absent as well. Even the seagulls were in hiding. The wind was quite strong though - enough to have the flags on both bridges pushed out hard.


As Kae has been posting pictures of flowers in bloom, here is a shot of a street full of trees with red flowers - except none of them are showing up. Trust me - there are red flowers on these trees.


HMAS Adelaide in the background. It was going to be sunk as a dive wreck last weekend, but a judge ruled that the sinking could not go ahead. Bloody NIMBYS up at Avoca should all be rounded up and shot.


The ship in the foreground was offloading something white and powdery. There is a pile of it on the wharf, and the pile is surrounded by front end loaders that are scooping it up and dropping it into a line of waiting trucks. Sand? Fertilizer? Crack? No idea.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Posterity

I just had to save this comment that I left over at a Western Heart regarding the nanny state:

The ninnies are killing the daycare industry. In a few years, daycare will be either cactus or too expensive due to the plethora of regulations, policies and so on issued every month. Carers are quitting in droves due to the bureaucracy, stupidity and paperwork.

The problem is that the nannies have a job for life, and many of them feel that they must be doing something to justify their office, salary, budget and so on, so they keep on churning shit out. They should all be employed on a short term contract to produce something specific as and when required - like every few years. That would help to stamp this rubbish out. They all have this idea of, "I have to be seen to be doing something - otherwise, I will be out of a job". Trouble is, the fuckers are going to put everyone else out of a job first.

What it looks like to get hit by a car

It's been three years since I was collected by a car whilst riding home. This post over at Copenhagenize is where I grabbed this footage from a car test lab where they show bike dummies being whacked by cars. Plus a lot of gabbling in Dutch that I can't understand.




Have a look though at what happens to the cyclist when the bike is taken out from underneath them. They cartwheel to one side in a most spectacular fashion.

When I was hit, the car hit the front of my bike, so I didn't go onto the bonnet and into the windscreen. However, I was always sure that I did a complete circle to the left, landing on the road on my right hand side. A 270 degree rotation. Until I saw this footage, I thought that was impossible - now I am not so sure. I might have had enough angular momentum to flip all the way around with no bonnet in the way to impede my progress.

You can also see why I ended up with a wicked case of whiplash, which still gives me grief.

The bloke that hit me didn't see me - his brain simply failed to process what was in front of him. When you've behind the wheel, for God's sake, pay attention and keep your eyes open.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Bike flamethrower - must get one

Read about it here. Poor bugger got arrested. Perfectly sensible adaptation if you ask me. Can't see anything wrong with it at all.

Freaky photo

Try blowing this photo up and then look at it - as soon as I opened it, it did my head in. I can't look at it if it's any larger. This was not deliberate - I turned the flash off, and this is what happened.


It was another early start this morning. Beautiful sunrise over the city. It was good to get away early, as it was horribly humid and around 23 degrees. I would have cooked if I went any later.


Funny that it was Earth Hour yesterday. The importance of electricity was driven home to me this morning when my headlight went flat shortly after taking this photo - I need electricity to keep me from being run down by a car when doing an early start. A minute later, the batteries in the video camera went flat as well, so if I was run over, you'd never know who did it.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cycling vs cars on 60 minutes

I haven't watched 60 Minutes in at least a decade. Found this by chance on their website - it went to air a few weeks ago.

After reading the transcript, they might as well have been interviewing me!

I've done a driving course with Ian Luff - have major respect for the guy. He's right about cyclists being idiots and going through red lights, but I don't agree with the whole registration business.

Bike lockers that work

Some of the bike lockers under the Town Hall building in the Sydney CBD. These are the best lockers I've ever used. They stuck them in a few spots where you couldn't park cars (and most parking lots have quite a few of these), and everyone who wanted to use them was issued with a padlock. It was first come, first served from that point on. If there were 20 lockers and you were the 21st to arrive, you had to lock your bike up the old fashioned way. That was a good incentive to get into work early.



I like lockers because no bastard can steal bits off your bike. You can leave your pump, bike computer, front wheel etc attached and know that all those bits will be there when you get back.

How much for a house in the US midwest?

Answer is here.

And how much for a house in Australia?

Who cares. It's unaffordable in most cases.

Any bets on how long Earth Hour will last?

Am I the only one who thinks there was a lot less hype and hoopla about Earth Hour this year?

I'm wondering how many more years this thing is going to drag on for. I give it 5 at most.....but then again, as the WWF is behind it, and the WWF is a tax-sucking cash cow, they can probably afford to promote it for the next thousand years.

I downloaded usage data for March from here, and looked at electricity consumption for the last four Saturdays.

I have cut the time period of interest down to 6pm to 11pm, so that you get a general idea of what power consumption looks like on a Saturday night. I've also changed the axis to a min of 6000 to provide a better view of the data.

So, can you see any significant difference between last night - the 27th - and the previous three Saturdays?


Here is a different view - I have taken 6pm as the base point, and then shown how demand has changed from that point.


There's nothing outstanding here as far as I am concerned. Look at the data for the 20th - the line falls at the same rate as last night, and it continues falling throughout Earth Hour. However, last night, demand fell a bit in the first hour, and then flatlined. There was a much bigger drop on the 6th.

Friday, 26 March 2010

why people get run over

Watch the bloke in the yellow shirt. Not once did he bother to look in my direction before wandering onto the road.

video

Riding around Darling Harbour

I couldn't be bothered editing this clip, so you get the whole 2 minutes (or however long it is) that it takes to ride around the back of Darling Harbour.

video

Why bother showing this?

I thought it might interest some people to see what it looks like to stay in a narrow bike lane at 40km/h. I tailed another bloke this morning, and we clocked an average of 42 on the flat for the whole distance. Not bad for two blokes with grey in their hair.

At this time of the morning, there was next to no traffic. It can be a little hairy when you have cars blasting past at about 70km/h (I think the speed limit is 50 - but no one keeps to it).

Effective camouflage

The Bay, sometime around dawn.

Believe it or not, there are two pedestrians in this photo. Look hard, and you can see them on the left.

A regular feature of our local "letters to the editor" are complaints from pedestrians about close calls with cyclists on The Bay Run. I wonder how many of those close calls take place in darkness, when the pedestrians are ambling around on the wrong side of the path, dressed in black from head to foot with iPods plugged in and blaring away?

Thursday, 25 March 2010

A tale of two papers

We had a nasty end to a police chase this week - one idiot car thief smashed into a car being driven by what turned out to be another crim, and four people died. The interesting thing is how the SMH and the Daily Telegraph handled the story.

Let's look at the feedback from the readers.

The SMH published 8 letters on Tuesday on the subject, and I reckon that six of them were not supportive of the cops pursuing criminals. In other words, a typically wet, soft cock approach from the SMH.

The Telegraph ran a story and invited readers to comment, and they got 163 comments - a better sample size. I read through the first 60, and found only 1 that liked the idea of stopping police chases. The other 59 generally wanted car thieves to be flogged, jailed, flayed and so on. One even suggesting shooting out the tyres of criminals (and that wasn't posted by me by the way).

Either the editors at the SMH have weeded out all the flog-em and hang-em type letters, or the typical reader of the SMH really is a complete socialist dishrag.

My take on it is this - the SMH only really sells in the metrosexual parts of Sydney; no one west of George St buys it. The Telegraph is the paper of the western suburbs - the battlers. Where are most cars stolen? Out west. Who are the main victims of crime? Those out west. Who can least afford to be a victim of crime? The battlers out west.

Compare two families. You have your typical high income eastern suburbs family with two cars. The cars are fully insured. If one gets stolen, it's a hassle to get by with one car, but the family can afford taxis or a hire car. They probably took the option on their insurance to have a hire car provided in case of this eventuality. At worst, they can rely on public transport to get around. They can walk to their local shops if need be. The kids can also walk to school, as the area is quite compact. Their car is trashed and written off. Leasing a replacement BMW is not an issue - they have good credit, and the dealer brings the car to them for a test drive. The paperwork is a doddle. Car theft is a minor inconvenience.

The other family is out west. They are on the median income - $50,000. They have one car, 10 years old. It is not fully insured, as they can't afford the premiums. They certainly didn't choose the hire car option on their insurance - they couldn't afford that either. They have no public transport in their area. They can't get the kids to school. They can't get to the shops, which are 5km away. They can't get to work. They can't even get to the Police station to do the paperwork. The car is discovered, burned to a crisp. They get $5,000 back on insurance, and now have to go through all the hassle of buying a new car - once the cheque comes through. Until then, the breadwinner either gets a lift to work, or the pay cheque stops coming in. They have no spare cash in the bank - they are living off their credit cards already. The theft of their car could drive them into bankruptcy. It's an extremely stressful ordeal.

Car theft doesn't happen to SMH readers. Hell, half of them probably don't own a car, relying on a bicycle of train to get around. They probably applaud the destruction of each car as a way of saving Gaia. But it happens to Telegraph readers, and they're fed up and pissed off.

It's interesting to see just how far apart Sydney-siders can be, when they live no more than an hour apart.

Thursday photos

The cherry pickers were at it again today, installing fairy lights in this row of trees along The Bay. There's one bloke in the one on the left and two in the other. God knows what all this is costing.... and who is paying for it. They've been at it for weeks, with no end in sight. It's not like they're even proper trees - more like overgrown shrubs.


To the obnoxious twat in BKK 51C - even though your car is rather small, you were never going to be able to turn left from the bike lane. The bike lane is pretty narrow - even narrower than your car. How about you just stay in your own fucking lane from now on and not get in the way of everybody else?


I was very taken by the design on this jersey, as well as the definition in his legs. Yes, I am straight by the way. However, cycling has made me partial to a nicely cut calf muscle. My knicks must be too tight, cutting off the circulation to my balls.


A dapper gent in a suit on a very upright bike. I read a good article at Copenhagenize today about getting rid of the term "avid cyclist", and I agree. I am not an "avid cyclist" - I cycle, and I blog about it, and I do plenty of other stuff. We don't call the mum who drives her kids to school an "avid motorist", do we? Why should we stick that label onto people who choose to use a bike for some of their journeys?


Yes, he was even wearing proper shoes!

He zipped along at a reasonable clip too. I wouldn't want to travel any distance on that contraption and in that get up, but if he was only coming in a few kilometres on the flat, this would be the perfect way to get around. I was trying to get up close to read the office security badge in the back pocket of his back pack in order to see where he worked - failed.



Another jersey design that caught my eye.


And that was Thursday. We are getting down to the fag end of the week now. Monday always starts on a high, with the legs well rested and the bloodstream pumped with vim and vinegar. Once the muscles have warmed up, hills are eagerly looked forward to with the aim of getting up them faster than ever before.

By Thursday, the shine has worn off. Whilst the hills still have their alluring charm, attacking them results in waves of pain and exhaustion that start at in the calves and explode as they shoot up into the thighs. Reaching the crest of each rise brings on a crescendo of sweet agony from each leg. The downward slope provides a brief respite before the next hill looms up ahead, with the challenge of "can I shave a few seconds off this hill today?" Even if I can't, I still have a go.

Monday did involve a nasty coughing fit though - the crusty, green remains of a brief dose of flu had to be hacked from each lung, and they didn't surrender easily. The coughing was so bad, I thought I was going to vomit - which is not easy when you're on a bike and in motion. It felt like one of those 3am on Saturday vomits coming on - the kind when you've already chucked up the 2am kebab and the shooters, then chucked up again, working your way down through the cheap red wine and curry and then chucked again, finally reached the chips and beers that you had at the start of the night. As Abraham Lincoln put it, I was "down to the raisins". Bleah.

Might I just say...

...it's about fucking time, you lazy bastards!

SNN have released podcast 177. Always worth a listen.... even if a "fortnightly" podcast comes out about 3 months late...

The thing is, I downloaded it and then synced the iPod. The iPod is now frozen with the "Apple grimace of death", and I have to find the manual and work out how to reset it. Must be some meaty content in that podcast.

What the kids are studying these days

At Andrew Bolt's urging, I did a 20 question test at the Board of Studies site today. Took me 7 minutes, and I got 17 out of 20. Not bad for never having studied any of the material the questions are based on!

The second question was a pearler - and I got it wrong. Here is the question, and the correct answer. Have a look at the question. My answer was C.

The reason for that is this - although conditions were relatively crap 110 years ago, they are clearly nowhere near as crap today. The standard of living of almost all Australians has increased enormously.

The correct answer as far as the Board is concerned is:

Sydney had limited opportunities for the improvement of people's living and working conditions.

If that is true, why are we so much richer today? Why is that wealth spread through all strata of society? Why are blue collar workers today living in McMansons, owning 3 cars and a speed boat and having holidays in Bali? Surely, if opportunities were limited, only very few people would have been lifted out of poverty in the last 110 years.

Black armband history at its worst.


Arts funding

From The Aus today:

HAVE you heard the one about the nation's biggest annual cultural festival?

It receives one-fifth the state funding of the Melbourne International Arts Festival yet generates four times the box office.

MICF boasts 370 different comedy shows this year and at the ripe age of 24 has become part of Melbourne's establishment, except you wouldn't know as much from its funding. The month-long festival is on track to eclipse its record 424,000 tickets sold and box office of $10.5 million last year, but this year, as usual, got less than $1m funding from the state government and city.

In contrast, the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival received $5.8m from the state government and generated box office receipts of $2.6m.
If the Comedy Festival is that good, why does it need any funding from the taxpayer at all? Surely after 24 years it should have reached the point where it no longer needs to suckle at the taxpayer's tit?

The taxpayer gives the festival $1m and the festival-goers give it $10.5m - either they can increase ticket prices by 10%, or they can cut their costs by 10%. Or they can try a bit of both.

I love their rationale though for requesting more funding. Essentially their argument is, "The Arts Festival is a complete basketcase, and it is showered with cash. Because we are less of a basketcase, we should get more".

My answer - both should get by under their own steam. The comedy festival is close enough to break even to do that; the Arts festival can shutdown. Good riddance to bad art.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Tuesday photos

Another early morning start. This had nothing to do with an insane desire to be at my desk early, or a need to see the sun rise, It was because Mr Squishy woke up at 0530, and I figured that once he crawled into our bed and started making a fuss, there was no more sleep for me.

Boats on The Bay. I had to rest the camera on a fence post, and crank the exposure up a few notches to take this.


For the last few weeks, a crew has been working on these trees using cherry pickers. I finally discovered what they have been doing - installing fairy lights in every tree. I'd hate to think what that has cost....


An orange tinge on the fringe of these clouds.


I have varied my route recently, taking the southern option when entering the CBD. My commute had become somewhat monotonous - and so ingrained that I have to force myself each morning to turn right instead of going over the Pyrmont Bridge. Habit is going to get the better of me one morning, and I will find myself at the wrong end of town.

The change in route has provided a bit of a shock to the system, thanks to a few new hills. In the scheme of Sydney topography, my ride is pretty flat, so even the smallest new humps make a big difference. My legs were screaming at me last week, but after a layoff over the weekend, they bounced back better than every this week. Just that extra bit of climbing and variation has really helped.

One thing about the new route is that I follow the tram lines across town. You don't need to ask "which tram lines" as Sydney only has one set. The trick is to tuck in behind the tram and use it to clear the traffic ahead. It's a slow method, as the tram doesn't move that fast (and motorists complain about slow cyclists!) However, it parts the pedestrians and cars like Moses parted the waters.


However, you've got to make sure that it's not too far ahead - this one got away from me, meaning I had to wait a while at red lights.



Whilst waiting at these lights, I snapped the bikes going by. No helmet guy on the footpath.


First zoomy guy bouncing over the tram tracks.


Even zoomier guy bouncing over the tracks.


Wait, that's not a tram, and we are no longer on the tram tracks. Had to cool my heels whilst this bloke did a bit of reverse parking.


The early start meant an early finish. It was beautiful on the way home - 31 degrees and no breeze. I took a bit of a detour, going over the Iron Cove Bridge for the first time in months. This is Birkenhead Point.


The footpath/cycle path over the Iron Cove Bridge - possibly the suckiest such thing in all of NSW. It's narrow, and there is no guard rail on the traffic side. On a windy day, with the wind howling from the right, I'm always worried that a gust will collect me and push me head on into the cars. Our useless government is spending a poultice of money to duplicate this bridge, when all it really needed was a proper bike/foot path bolting to this side. Idiots.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Dreary morn

Good thing daylight saving is coming to an end - the last few mornings have been miserable and grey. I've been on the road at zero-dark-hundred; certainly early enough to require a headlight from start to finish. It's not cold - just murky and depressing. Could be worse - I could be one of those rowers out there on the flat, cold, grey water.

Motorist runs red light! Shock! Horror!

With annoying monotony, every time anyone anywhere in Sydney ever writes about cyclists, within 5 minutes there will be a flood of comments from angry motorists about cyclists running red lights etc etc etc.

They have a point. Too many cyclists run red lights - and I'm not talking about stopping, looking and then going - I'm talking about those that just blast through regardless. I have been guilty of it from time to time - there is one particular set of lights out near Homebush that refuses to register the presence of a bike. The magnetic loops buried in the tarmac must be too deep down. After waiting through three entire light change cycles once, I jumped the lights. I now do it at that corner out of habit - I am not going to grow old and die waiting for a car to come along and trip the magnetic loops for me. Sorry, but you can just get fucked in that instance.

The thing is though, when a cyclist runs a red, the person most at risk of death or injury is.... the cyclist. When car meets bike, the bike always comes off second best.

And when a car runs the red? Why, that is the fault of the Police, innit?

It's not like motorists are immune from running red lights. If they were purer than driven snow, there would be no need for red light cameras, would there?

No, we're frigging not, thanks very much

Jeez Louise.

Thanks to a very british dude.

The Premier, her bike and her bodyguard

The commentariat at the SMH was predictably up in arms this morning because they discovered that the Premier of NSW rides to work.... followed by a cop on a bike.

They seem to think that Plod is there to save her from angry drivers etc.

No, Plod is there because she is the Premier. If she was driven to work in a car, Plod would be in the car with her. As Premier, she rates a certain level of protection. It's as simple as that.

The commentariat are also upset that she has promised less funding for bike paths than previous idiot Labor governments. The big difference that I see is that although she has promised less ($158m vs $250m), I reckon the $158m she has promised might actually get spent - whereas the $250m promised by previous governments never seemed to end in a single bucket of concrete being poured.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The media and the military - they get it wrong again


Is there a single journalist anywhere in the western world who has ever donned a uniform before taking up the pen?

Take this photo of Prince Harry in Afghanistan:

The caption reads:

Britain's Prince Harry mans a 50mm machine gun on the observation post at JTAC Hill, close to FOB Delhi (forward operating base), in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.

That is not a 50mm machine gun. It's a .50 cal machine gun at best. Big difference. One is half an inch, the other is two inches. Only out by a factor of 4.

More thoughts on Aboriginal law

Don't get me wrong - Aboriginal law exists. No man can live without laws. Every society and social grouping creates laws to live by. Some are written and some are unwritten - but all societies are societies of laws.

And lawyers.

Here are some quick thoughts about the law as it applies to you and me. We have criminal law, commercial law, tax law, industrial relations law, human rights law and environmental law and religious law. We probably have 50 other types of law that I haven't mentioned. Laws are created by the Commonwealth government, the various state governments and the myriad local governments - or councils. Laws are also made up all the time by activist soft headed judges.

So we have lots of law, with lots of different jurisdictions and get this - all that law is evolving all the time. 50 years ago, we used to hang people for murder. Now we don't. Laws are altered, rewritten, replaced every year.

That's white mans law.

What about blackfella law?

I'd expect a similar dynamic to be in play. That is, they'd have different laws in different jurisdictions (tribal areas) with different routes for appeal, and different court systems (although both probably involved a group of middle aged blokes sitting around arguing the rights and wrongs of the case). Different punishment systems would also be in play - and none involved jail, as jails are not something that hunters and gatherers tend to build. Being speared in the leg and then left behind when the tribe moved on was probably a pretty effective way at removing criminals from society. If gangrene didn't remove them first.

The soft heads seem to have this idea that aboriginal law is thousands of years old, and somehow more "worthy" than our laws as a result. Well, given that none of their laws were written down, we have no idea how old any of them are. We know what Hammurabi thought back in 1700 BC about traffic violators and such, but stuff all about what the legal system of the Darug people say 100 years ago. My guess is that regardless of what the Darug legal system looking like in 1910, it was completely different to what it was in 1810 - because their laws would have evolved with changing circumstances. Just like ours. Aboriginals are no different to white fellas - and I fail to see why their legal system should be treated as "ancient" and "noble" and all that crap. It's just a couple of shysters having a fine argument in the end, regardless of their skin colour.

So back to my earlier post about the Darug people and the mob up in the Kimberly and the fuss over a Wanjina. There are something like 500 councils in Australia - as in town councils. As we know, every council has different regulations in regard to parking, development approvals, heritage orders, dog walking, rubbish removal, landscaping and so on. I have no idea what the rules governing dog ownership are in Fitzroy Crossing, which is in the Kimberly.

Let's imagine for a moment that there were 500 tribes in 1788. They all have their own laws regarding marriage, trading with other groups, spear production, fire setting, food consumption, hygiene, humpy construction, kangaroo cooking, religious ceremonies, art funding, tribal elections and so on. As some areas have rock art and others don't, it's clear that some subsidised artistes and others, who were descended from the Philistines, didn't.

That aside, why are a gallery owner and a park ranger in Sydney suddenly experts on the religious laws governing a tribe 4335km away? (I looked the route up on Google Maps). Have they spent 5 years getting a B.Laws (Kimberly) and sat the bar exams and been admitted to the Bar in the Kimberly blackfella courts system? Are they trained and qualified to comment?

Or are they just shooting their mouth's off, and don't have a frickin' clue?

How many Kimberly Aborigines are living in Katoomba?

For those of you not from around these parts, Katoomba is just outside Sydney in the Blue Mountains.

The Kimberley is an area of northern Western Australia - it's a few thousand miles that-a-way.

So, read this story and see if it makes sense to you...

IT WAS meant to be the Dreamtime set in stone, a celebration of reconciliation and a "revival of Aboriginal spirituality". But Wanjina Watchers in the Whispering Stone, an 8.5-tonne sculpture in Katoomba, has sparked vandalism and death threats.
Right, that first paragraph sets the tone and the location.


But the book offended many local Aborigines, not least for its illustrations of wanjina, a sacred creation ancestor of the Kimberley people in Western Australia.
So a white artist, based in Sydney, creates a sculpture that is based on works created by aborigines on the other side of the continent. How on earth would the local aborigines know what a tribe or "skin group" from 4000 miles away was and wasn't sacred? Oh, mobile phones and the internet - two "traditional" forms of communication.


"It's totally inappropriate for a non-indigenous person to be doing wanjinas, especially without permission," said Chris Tobin, a member of the local Darug people who works as a guide with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Who says that a member of the Darug people has any right to speak for another tribe? This would be like me, an Australian, commenting on Swedish rights and customs. The Darug people wouldn't have a frigging clue about the laws and customs of the Kimberly group. I'll bet that the only way the Darug people and the Kimberly mob can communicate is via English, as their native tongues would be utterly incomprehensible to each other.

"Aboriginal law is very specific on what you can and can't do with wanjinas."

Really? Show me the clauses and paragraphs that relate to wanjinas.

The owner of Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery in Bondi, Adrian Newstead, says local Aborigines have every right to be disgusted. ''Only a few Aboriginal artists ever win the right to depict wanjina, and only then after years of initiations and ceremonies. And then this artist rocks up and says, 'Bugger all that; I'll just do whatever I like'. "

Now we have an art gallery owner in Bondi of all places commenting on the laws of a group that live in another state, who speak a different language and have different customs and laws to the locals. Sorry to break it to the soft heads, but there was never an aboriginal people, and there never will be. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of separate tribes, or skin groups, when the white people got here, and they were not unified by language, culture or laws. I bet that 200 years ago, the Bondi mob and the Katoomba mob probably couldn't even talk to each other, and they're only 60 miles apart.

Then again, the Blue Mountains are very rough country. When Hume and Hovell went through them on their journey of exploration, I don't remember them writing about meeting any tribes in the Blue Mountains. I'll have to look that up. It's a nice place to have a cabin amongst the trees, but probably not a great place to live as a hunter-gatherer. Which if true, begs the question of "where the hell did this Darug people bloke originally come from? Is he a blow in from elsewhere?"

Matters escalated when she commissioned the Sydney artist Ben Osvath to sculpt the sandstone mural of wanjina. She describes the work as a "magic stone" with "special healing powers". The night before its unveiling on March 6 it was attacked with an axe.

OK, we are starting to go off with the fairies now. Maybe Obama can solve all their problems by purchasing it and making it the centre piece of Obamacare. The "special healing powers" should sort out the US health care system.

"Some of the locals are going on with the whole 'you are stealing our culture' routine," Osvath says. "But I am an art teacher, and in art it's anything goes."

I love it when Art and Aboriginal guilt collide. The leftie artists are always bleating on about how special aboriginal culture is - until some angry blackfella attacks their work with an axe. Or their house.

Osvath, who teaches at Matraville Sports High School , says there is now a "vigilante thing" going on in Katoomba. The sculpture's opponents have set up a website, which criticises Tenodi for holding in contempt "important spiritual beliefs''.

Ah, a website. A traditional aboriginal method for communicating with other tribes. I also love the bit about them being annoyed for "holding in contempt important spiritual beliefs". I am looking forward to this mob setting up a website next time someone attacks the Christian church.

Asked if she had sought permission to use the image, Tenodi says she did not need to. "It was actually the other way around - the spirits asked me to do this. They asked me to revive the tradition which has turned into dead knowledge, and I agreed."
"The spirits asked me". Yep, after the third bong. Now that's what I call a "smoking ceremony". And now she says that this has turned into "dead knowledge". What have the traditional custodians been doing? Why haven't they kept it alive? Oh, they're pissed all the time on sit-down money.

She calls the spirits "Those-Who-Know" or the "DreamTimeKeepers", "teachers from other realms" with whom she has taken an "oath of secrecy". She says she has been selected to "revive the spirituality from which the so-called Aboriginal elders have become so disconnected".
What a whacko. I think we will visit Katoomba today just to check this out.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Pancake the dog

I like dogs. It's their idiot owners I can't stand. Especially those that have not bothered to teach their dog how to behave when out in public. If dogs aren't taught to heel, they shouldn't be out on the street. I just about crapped myself when this little bugger decided to run out in front of me tonight - especially since he was connected to his owner by a leash, and where the dog went, the idiot human was sure to follow.

video

Waste of sperm and eggs

Ladies, if you are going to stand on the footpath having a gasper, how about not standing in such a way to block the path for absolutely everyone trying to get past?

And yes, I should not have been on the footpath. I had to travel along it for about 30 metres because a courier van had parked across the laneway that I was trying to get into. The only way around it was to take to the footpath a bit before the obstruction. So there.

Friday photos

The cleaners finally decided to clean the nooks and crannies of our locker room at work this week. I'd say the owner of this pair of boots left the company some time ago.


Yes, that is a thick coating of fluff and dust. They weren't the only pair in this state.


I would have enjoyed pulling on those boots though and sticking them right up the arse of the idiot mungbean driver of TTC 864 this morning. I've taken to a meandering route most mornings, as the straight-for-the-bay route doesn't give my legs enough time to warm up. On one particular street that I went down this morning, a car load of spunk-overloaded morons went around an island on the wrong side of the road in order to get a few seconds in front of me. Council, or the RTA, has put in a road treatment to try and prevent fuck knuckles like this mob from speeding on this section of road and smashing into an innocent party coming the other way. That wasn't good enough for these window lickers, who thought that going onto the wrong side of the road on a blind S-bend was a sensible idea. Seriously, were doctors dropping babies on their heads 17 years ago? Here, see for yourself....


video

What's that smell?

I've been noticing a strong sweaty smell lately in the office. Couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Finally twigged to it today - I bought a new watch with a leather wristband, and I haven't been taking it off for every ride. My last wristband was plastic, hence no smell.

Now I have to wash and disinfect my wristband. The perils of leather and cycling!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Smell and the city

I hate rubbish collection day. I always get stuck behind a truck carting several tonnes of rotting prawns and festering nappies.

Imagine my joy this week to being stuck behind not one, but two trucks - and on an uphill section where I was sucking in air harder than usual!


When I got to the lights at the top of this hill, I almost chundered from the smell. The driver of the big truck had pulled up next to me, and he had his window down. He peered down at me and said, "You're puffing hard". I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wasn't so much puffing as gagging on the thick coating of reek that his truck had deposited on the back of my throat.

WTF?

I'm afraid that I am no longer surprised by the amazing behaviour of certain asian ladies in 4WDs. Years ago, I did an excellent day of driver training at the Ian Luff driver school. It taught me a lot about driving - I should go back and do it again as a refresher.

There was a hotshot young P-plater on the course in a BMW that dad had bought for him. He thought he was God's gift to driving. After the 2nd driving exercise, he was a shaking wreck that refused to push his car beyond 60km/h. Good. He was close to brown pants time. I was having a blast. So much so, I almost rolled my 4WD on an exercise. You can have too much fun on these courses.

The other horror on that course was a tiny asian lady in an enormous 4WD. At lunch, we asked her why she was driving that lurching horror. Her answer was, "I have had so many crashes, and written off so many cars, that my husband bought me this thing to keep me safe". Great. She was going to graduate from having prangs in a small car where the injuries might be minor to non-existent to prangs that might be fatal to others. She really was an accident waiting to happen - her husband would have been better off spending the money on a limousine hire service, and having her chauffeured everywhere. She was an utter menace, and one day at driving school did nothing to knock the ineptness and bad habits out of her. She simply had no feel for driving. None at all. And she had been driving (and crashing badly) for over 20 years.

Which takes us to our next video. It starts with me riding up a short section of path in Pyrmont that is clearly a paved pedestrian/bike mall. The only purpose of that footage is to give you an idea of how mallish this mall is. There are big signs at the top of the street telling cars to stay out. And what happens when I am stopped at the lights? An asian lady in a 4WD decides to turn into the mall, disregarding the fact that me and a couple of other cyclists are standing in the middle of the mall and blocking her path.... and she is then followed straight after by a taxi! What is it with these people? Have Weeties been putting licenses in their cereal packets again?

video

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Survival tips

The best two days I have ever spent on training course were those dedicated to getting my motorcycle license. The Stay Upright course was excellent - and everyone that wants any form of drivers license should have to do it, regardless of whether they want to ride a motorbike or not. It was an excellent education in how to stay alive on the roads.

Bikes and motorbikes both suffer from similar problems on the road - many drivers have a blind spot when it comes to seeing us. We can be right in front of them, yet their brain doesn't register our existence. We both need to ride where we can be seen, and be always prepared to hit the anchors. We need to expect that every car driver is about to do something incredibly stupid and kill us.

This clip is a quick example of riding to be seen. The local council has kindly put a bike lane in down the side of the road, but sticking to it could be fatal at times. Riding too close to parked cars cuts off your sight lines, and the sight lines of drivers pulling out of driveways or side streets. Which is what happened here. As soon as I saw a car nosing out, I checked that there was nothing behind me and then got way the hell out into the middle of the road, making sure that the driver could see me. I had both hands hovering over the brake levers, ready to slam them on if I got the feeling that he hadn't seen me, and was going to pull out. That didn't happen - I got out from behind the parked cars and into his sight line, and all was well.

video

Some drivers go ape when a cyclist does something like this and pulls out to dominate the lane. Well, that's just tough shit. I have seen what happens when cyclist hits car, and experienced it myself, and I am determined not to let that happen again. If that means holding up traffic for 5 seconds, so be it. And if you don't like it, you are free to step out of your car and discuss the situation with me man to man. Except every agro driver I have ever encountered is too chickenshit to do that - they're very brave and angry when cocooned in steel, but very wet and apologetic face to face.

Two annoying taxis

One bloody annoying taxi today, and one just a wee bit silly.

The first was parked at the bottom of the ANZAC bridge ramp. There's a "no parking" sign right where he was parked, but like many taxi drivers, he ignored it. I hate cars stopping there for the same reason that I hate cars that park right on the corner of intersections - they get in the bloody way. There is a 10 metre parking rule at intersections, and if you treat this ramp as an intersection, he's clearly obstructing that 10 metre gap.


And he wasn't just stopped - he was out of the car and wandering around.


The second one didn't have any impact on me. I just thought he was being a twat by going through a red light way, way too late.

video

What caused that multi-car pileup?

As I was getting onto the ANZAC bridge this afternoon, I spotted a police paddy waggon stopped on the city side of the bridge. It seemed an odd spot to stop - the bridge is four lanes wide each way, and traffic thunders across at a good clip. Stopping and stepping out of a vehicle, even a police car, is an open invitation to become a former Australian.

As I reached the crest of the bridge, I noticed that traffic was banking up in two of the lanes heading into town. The second lane was blocked because a white van had rear ended a small hatchback (not surprising - white van drivers tend to be amongst the most reckless and aggressive drivers on our roads). Then, to my surprise, I found that slightly further on, the third lane was blocked by a three car pile up. None of the damage looked particularly severe - I couldn't even see any dents in any of the five cars involved. They appear to have been moving just fast enough to break a lot of glass and plastic - the road was carpeted in it.

Two blocked lanes was not a good thing. As I tried to take a photo of the scene (and failed, due to bigger vehicles blocking my view of the crashed cars), I watched the traffic rapidly grind to an almost halt all the way back to Victoria Road.

I don't know if the stopped police car was the cause of all that carnage, or whether it had stopped because of it. I can imagine people panicking when seeing a cop car up ahead and slamming on the anchors, and that causing some rear-end shunts further back down the line.

Whatever. My bike lane was clear from end to end. I clipped into my pedals and kept on moving, homeward bound.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Great ball of fire

No, I am not getting out of bed earlier. The sun is getting up later.


I was trying to capture a coupe of rowers in the reflection of the sun - they are just off to the left of the big golden blob.


Here they are again, without the special effects.


Riding was tough today. As soon as I put the bike in for a bit of maintenance, I got the flu. I've been guts-up for a few days, with this morning being the first tentative attempt to get back on the road. Within 200 metres of leaving home, I was blowing huge green blasts out of each nostril. A kilometre or so after that, I was coughing and hacking up all sorts of muck. I coughed so hard, I almost ripped some muscles in my legs.

Made for a slow, awful ride into work. Felt like I was riding with 20 pounds of lead tied around my waist. I can't remember the last time I felt this flat and unenergetic.

To cap it off, just after I got home, a headache kicked in.

Bleah.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Of rights and wishes

Thank you Paco, for linking to this excellent piece. It's quite short, but worth a read. Worth framing in fact.

To argue that people have a right that imposes obligations on another is an absurd concept. A better term for new-fangled rights to health care, decent housing and food is wishes. If we called them wishes, I would be in agreement with most other Americans for I, too, wish that everyone had adequate health care, decent housing and nutritious meals. However, if we called them human wishes, instead of human rights, there would be confusion and cognitive dissonance. The average American would cringe at the thought of government punishing one person because he refused to be pressed into making someone else's wish come true.

I hope the average Australian would cringe as well.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Greens rooted

From Vexnews comes this shocker:

VEXNEWS understands that Gunns achieved much more than making the Wilderness Society cautious about assaulting timber workers, it also discovered as part of the legal process a raft of embarrassing documents that reflect very adversely against the high-ups in the Wilderness Society.

Sources familiar with the matter have told VEXNEWS that one of these documents revealed a high-ranking official of the Wilderness Society had listed the names of many young women members he’d bedded at a series of camps and had even put a mark out of ten besides their names based on his level of satisfaction.

This is why the main stream media is going to die. They never print this sort of stuff.

I wonder if he wore a koala suit. Or a wombat suit - because we know a wombat eats roots and leaves.

Sydney: the city that hates bikes

The SMH ran an article today based on a study by a US academic called Sydney: the city that hates bikes.

I was going to bag the article to hell, but before doing so, I thought I should read the study itself.

The study turned out to be a good read - and whilst it mentions agro driving in Sydney as being one factor in discouraging cycling, I got the feeling that this was not the point the author was trying to make. The study is in fact utterly non-sensational, and looks at a whole range of factors such as weather, population density, geography, public transport and bike infrastructure. Trust the bloody SMH to cherry pick one sensational paragraph and splash it over the front page (which they did).

Here's an interesting graph from the study, which compares the percentage of female cyclists by suburb with the cycling to work mode share. To me, it indicates a strong relationship between mode share and female participation in cycling. If women feel safe, more of them will ride - and then you get a "safety in numbers" factor kicking in, so more people ride. When I started commuting, women made up 5% or less of bike commuters. However, they've been steadily increasing over the last few years, and they must be up to 20% at least on my route. According to this graph, that is a good thing - the virtuous cycle has kicked in. So the best way to increase cycling numbers is to make women feel safer. We can make them feel safer by issuing potential women cyclists with a handgun, giving them some training, and encouraging them to open fire on angry motorists at the slightest provocation. It's for the best.


Friday, 12 March 2010

Greens don't know what they are talking about

Consider this opening paragraph from the SMH yesterday for this story - Heavily armed security guards alarm Greens:

NEW regulations allowing security guards to carry high-calibre handguns and shotguns is a weakening of gun control that will see more firearms ending up in criminal hands, the NSW Greens say.

The amendment to state firearms legislation, quietly introduced by the Labor government before Christmas, gives the NSW Police Commissioner the power to authorise security guards to carry prohibited firearms.
Sorry, the opening two paragraphs.

What on earth is a "high-calibre handgun and shotgun"? Shotguns are classed according to gauge, not calibre (unless you live in Russia).

I can understand the term "large calibre", but not "high calibre". By referring to "high calibre handguns", do they mean the Desert Eagle .50 cal pistol?

I think what they mean is that from my viewing, most security guards in NSW currently carrying a six shot revolver that looks suspiciously like a .38. The new rules will presumably allow them to carry something like a Glock - and I guess most would opt for the 9mm model. We can quible about the differences all night between a .38 and a 9mm, but for most people, the big difference is you go from 6 shots to 13 when moving to a Glock (more if you get the big mag).

The Greens are once again whipping up fear and hysteria in their heartland - and they can do that because the SMH is full of dills that know nothing about weapons, and the Greens are even worse.

Update

This would make the Greens freak - an education department purchasing shotguns - and they want combat training to go with them.

Thanks to Castle Arrgh.

Yes, things are quiet

Got no wheels at the moment, and I seem to get most of my blogging inspiration from riding. The bike is in the shop, getting the TLC that I never give it. Unfortunately, bike shops don't open at 0700 and close at 1900, which would allow me to drop it off before work and pick it up after work. Most seem to open at 1000 and close at 1500. That can mean days between drop off and pick up, even if the work only takes the mechanic an hour.

I did see a scammer on the bus this morning though. She got on the bus, claiming she couldn't find her money in her purse and and had no bus pass. After about 30 seconds of time wasting, the driver told her to sit down - but pay him before she got off the bus.

She was well dressed - designer sunglasses, designer handbag and plenty of jewellry, and she made a big act of searching through her purse. I was sitting across the aisle and reading a magazine at the time, but she made such a production of it, I couldn't help but glance across at the end of every paragraph.

Around paragraph 20, I noticed that she in fact had a $20 note in her purse - but as soon as she found it, she buried it under a stack of receipts (she had about 50 taxi receipts I noticed - her purse had more crap in it than most septic tanks). At paragraph 40, she made a huffing noise to say, "I can't find it", and then gave up the search. She then pulled out a new looking phone, and checked for messages. Finding no messages, she then pulled a new looking Blackberry and spent the rest of the trip into town with her nose in the Blackberry, doing her best to avoid making eye contact with the driver. They looked new to me, because my phone (a bit over a year old) is scratched, battered, cracked and worn down to bare metal in most places.

I hoped she would get off before me, so I could yell, "Don't forget to pay the driver with that twenty before you get off the bus", but alas, I disembarked before her.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Information is beautiful

I spent an hour looking through the data visualisations at this site. Well worth the time spent.

Pretty much my thoughts on "The Hurt Locker".

Here.

I've tried watching it twice. Got about 10 minutes in each time and gave up. I have to learn to suspend reality, or I'll never be able to watch it.

Not that I've ever defused bombs or anything like that. Helped make a few, and seen a pretty big UXB up close (a thousand pounder that didn't go off when it landed on the bombing range. Our platoon just happened to dig it up when doing an exercise on that same range. Made a big mushroom cloud when the bomb disposal guys lit it up. Also made the RSM go white and crap himself when he saw what the boys had dug up).

I figured that it's about as accurate a portrayal of Iraq as say Avatar is of the NASA space program. Once I get into that mindset, I should be able to watch it all the way through.

Quite funny

And rude.

Samizdata is always full of gems.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

George St by bike

There are two schools of thought regarding bicycles and traffic. The Critical Mass school of thought says that cars must be slowed down to make the roads more pleasant and safer for bikes. I did a Critical Mass ride once. Next time, I am going to buy a 2nd hand Leopard tank from the army and take out as many of the fuckers as I can. Grease my tank treads, you socialist turds.

The second school of thought says that if cyclists are fit and fast enough to keep up with traffic, they'll be safe.

Here is a demonstration of school number two - George St during the morning peak hour.

It's a long video - at over 2 minutes, the longest I have ever done. I tried to cut as much as I could, but Windows Media Maker is not the best for that task.

The first thing you might ask is, "Where are all the cars?" I was wondering the same thing. Traffic on George St was nowhere near as bad as I expected. Most of the time, it moved at 35-40km/h, which is not bad for the CBD.

video

I was a bit hamstrung - the rear gears were playing up, so I only had the bottom 4 to play with, plus the big cog on the front. I was maxing out at 35km/h, but that was enough for me to keep up with every vehicle - except for one delivery truck. Buses make up a large amount of the traffic on George St, and they don't exactly hoon along here when they are full of people.

Notice that I didn't blow through any red lights, attack any pedestrians or "filter" through the traffic to the front of the queue. I just rode as if I was a car (if that makes sense). I had no hassles, no annoyances and no road rage incidents. I think motorists go berko when they are stuck behind a lame cyclist who is pootling along at slightly above the top speed of a zimmer frame. If you can't keep up with the traffic on a particular stretch of road, find another stretch of road with less traffic or slower traffic.

Now that's easier said than done in the CBD, so the next best thing is to get a bike that is quick (no stupid mountain bikes with fat tyres and low gears) and train and train and train until you can flog that thing from one end of the CBD to the other faster than a mad illegal immigrant moonlighting as a taxi driver.

One thing I did discover is that there is an amazingly huge number of manhole covers and the like that have sunken into the tarmac like old mine shafts - dodging and weaving around them was a full time business.