Thursday, 30 September 2010

Power of the press

I like relaxing with a newspaper over breakfast. As groovy as the iPad is, I don't see myself sitting down to a latte and some bacon and eggs anytime soon with an iPad. I like my table to be covered by half an acre of newsprint.

If I am having a leisurely breakfast, I'll knock off all four major papers - The Aus, the Fin Review, the SMH and the Telegraph. My favourite is The Aus; partly for it's political slant, but mainly because it is the only paper with enough content to last me through a proper cooked breakfast. I can knock off the Fin Review, SMH and Telegraph in the time it takes me to wade through the first section of The Aus.

Somewhere in The Aus today was a whinge from some lefty crackpot about the power of that particular paper, and how it was being misused to attack the Greens. Don't ask me to find that story for you - I've been to the pub, and the keyboard is swimming before my eyes. Googoogoogling is a bit beyond me at present.

The gist of the argument seemed to be that The Aus is powerful because it sells a lot of copies, therefore lots of people read it, therefore the opinions contained therein can have a major impact on the deluded masses.

If you ask me, they got it completely arse about. People read papers because they are attuned to the content. You won't find me reading Green Left Weekly an awful lot, because the articles and editorial slant shit me to tears. I'd rather have holes drilled in my toenails than read that paper every week.

The Aus is more powerful than Green Left Weekly because more people subscribe to the political slant of The Aus than to Green Left Wankly. It is more powerful because more people have the values and beliefs of The Aus than the Green Left Workshy. Papers are not so much opinion shapers as echo chambers. If the editor pushes opinions that annoy the readership, the paper will fail.

The whinger just didn't get that. The Aus is powerful because it echoes a large group of people. Green Left Weekly is a powerless rag because it echoes the beliefs and values of a very small group of people.

I thought that would be pretty fucking obvious to most people. I guess not.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday photos

Sheesh, Wednesday already. The body has finally warmed up after a bit of time off the bike. The first two days back on the bike were misery - I had no energy; no get up and go. I felt soft and winded.

Yesterday morning was completely different - a revelation. The legs had hardened up after 80km or so and were in fine form. After two days of being passed by grandmas and little kids, I was racing the Big Dogs to and from town - and almost holding my own. There's a lesson in there somewhere - the body works so much better if you give it a hiding.

Speaking of which, this was a fit bastard. I was puffing up a long hill when he just cruised past me without so much as a deep breath.


Another fit so-and-so. I held him for a while, and then he just blew me off in a burst of acceleration up a hill.


Two people who didn't go blasting past me. I wanted to go blasting past them, but had a bit of trouble as they were blocking the entire path. Thankfully, they were awake and paying attention and moved into single file as soon as they were aware of me behind them. It's nice to find switched on people like these - too often, I get stuck behind some slow moving gumby with headphones, and they can't hear me yelling at them from behind to move their arse out of the way.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Just suck it up and give way

Haven't seen mounted Police for quite a while. Wonder why they were about? There were two TV camera trucks parked outside the court house on the left (where the clip-clops came from), and crews standing around the entrance, so I guess a case of some import was being heard today.

video

The driver of the car behind me to the left got on his horn when the light went green - he was furious at the driver at the front for not taking off. I could hear him saying, "Oh shit!" as the Police finally cleared the intersection and he suddenly saw the reason for the hold up.

Some people swear at the strangest things

I get sworn at every so often - generally by some angry bloke in a car who is fatter, balder and hairier than I am (if you can be bald and hairy at the same time). I also get a bit of friendly chit-chat from some motorists, and then there are those that like to pull your leg. Four young blokes in a fast looking black Commodore pulled up alongside me today and asked if I wanted to race. I was very tempted - just to give them a laugh - but unfortunately I was about to turn off and couldn't take up their challenge.

I am not used to being sworn at though by joggers. As I went past the woman in the short clip below, she freaked and launched into a tirade of abuse. Of course she had headphones on, so had no idea that I was approaching from behind, and didn't seem to understand that as it's a shared bike/pedestrian path, there is in fact a small chance of encountering someone on a bike.

video

I'm pretty sure I didn't give her cause to jump out of her skin - I wasn't hooning and I didn't get close enough to invade her personal space. I think she was just zoned out with her music, and was shocked at meeting the unexpected.

Alternatively, she could have been bonkers. Which is why I kept going and pretended I didn't hear a thing.

Bicycle backlog

Enough of ranting about crap. Back to photos of other cyclists for a while.

Thankfully this bloke was able to get away quickly when the light went green. I've seen absent minder drivers almost run over cyclists when they wake up and decide to turn left.


I felt better about my bum after seeing this bloke.


A fat wheeled bike struggling home over the bridge - I don't know why people try a commute on tyres better suited to muddy, off road pursuits. The extra rolling resistance is just hard work. And slow.


The Pyrmont bike lane has finally opened for good - although I bet a utility will be along next week to dig a trench down the length of it to lay some new cable. I don't like it - it's too narrow for starters, so it gets crowded when things get busy. The nice wide road next door never got crowded when lots of cyclists were about (and hardly any cars ever drive down this road, so it's not like car-bicycle prangs were a risk). To cap it off, lots of pedestrians decide to bail from the footpath and walk in the cycle lane. Or they step out to cross it without bothering to look first. Someone is going to get cleaned up before long....


The Bay in the morning - with winter over, there are lots more bikes about. There are actually two in this photo, which is two more than I would have seen a month ago.



We'll finish with a skinny, speedy chap. His calf muscles were about the thickness of my forearms. Must do more miles......


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ow

After a short interlude, I got back on the bike yesterday.

Gawd my legs hurt! It's not like I went anywhere more distant than normal, or went particularly fast. If anything, I was crawling - I had no get up and go.

I wonder if my legs are permanently stiff from riding 5 or 6 days a week, and I just don't notice it until I take a break?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Nuts

A short law and order rant.

Seventy-one people have been arrested during a two-day police crackdown on repeat offenders in southwest Sydney.

Operation Stoneridge, which was carried out on Thursday and Friday, targeted people responsible for break and enter and robbery offences.

Over the two days, 71 people were arrested and 123 charges were laid, police say.

One of the most significant arrests included a 36-year-old man who was charged with 27 counts of stealing and fraud offences across southwest Sydney between March 10, 2009 and August 6, 2009.

He was released on bail to appear before Liverpool Local Court on October 15.
27 counts of stealing etc in a period lasting less than 16 weeks - and that's just what the cops have been able to pin on him. It's nearly three weeks until his court appearance - at his normal rate of offending, he'll commit 6 more offences before going before a judge.

I feel so much safer. Not.

Friday, 24 September 2010

My indigidar must be stuffed

It's been a long time since I have watched the 7.30 Report, but I tuned in last night for a few minutes for no good reason. I watched one story and that was it - I must have entered half way through.

The story was about a bunch of medical students at Sydney Uni. We saw them living in their colleges, eating with friends, meeting some big wigs, examining pelvic bones and so on. I listened in, thinking, "Yeah, this is nice - but so what?"

Then we found that they are all on scholarships, which is good - I like scholarships. They were being paid for a private philanthropist - I like that too. They were doing well - can't complain about that.

A few then went on to talk about how they were going to work in indigenous communities once they graduate. Yep, that's nice - health in some places in pretty rooted, and the more doctors, the better.

It then followed one of them home to a country town - Taree maybe? - and showed the student eating with their family. Looked like a normal, middle class family to me.

Then it struck home - all these medical students were Aboriginal. I had to be told that, because nothing up until that point had suggested to me that they were anything but white, middle class kids.

To cap it off, I bumped into Stan Grant in town today. Well, not really bumped. He stood beside me as we waited for a light to turn green. I am the albino of our family - everyone else tans like mahogany, whilst I burn after half an hour in the sun. If you put Dad in the sun for two days, then stood him next to Stan and told a complete stranger that one of them was part Aboriginal, I reckon most people would point at Dad. I'm not saying Stan is pale - but I doubt a tourist would pick him as a blackfella.

Where am I going with this? Dunno. All I can say is that my indigidar (like gaydar) is stuffed. Down here in the city, it's bloody hard to pick out who is a blackfella and who is a whitefella - not that I ever really gave a shit. You're either good at what you do, or useless, and that's about all that counts.

I guess this is why people have to "feel" like they are Aboriginal these days - because not many look classically Aboriginal anymore. The melting pot has seen to that.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Will be interesting to see how this goes in court


A truck driver has been charged with manslaughter over the death of a cyclist who was killed while riding on a western Sydney motorway, police say.

The cyclist, a 35-year-old from Wollongong named by media as David Williams, was pedalling along the M4 at South Penrith in April with three others when a B-double ploughed into them.

It is alleged the truck veered into the breakdown lane at South Penrith about 7.40pm.

A 25-year-old man, his 20-year-old sister and a third man, aged 23, were seriously injured.

The group were not long into their trip from Sydney's western suburbs to the Blue Mountains.

A 27-year-old Colyton man has been charged with a range of offences including manslaughter, aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug, and driving a vehicle with an illicit drug found in blood.

He was granted bail and will appear at Penrith Local Court next month.

No matter what precautions you take as a cyclist, if there's a speeding, aggressive, drug fueled truckie coming up behind you, your number is probably up.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Almost run down... by a cyclist

Had a very close call with an idiot on two wheels last week. I had left the office for lunch, and was standing on the corner at a set of lights waiting for the green thing to come on.

I usually stand back from the corner as some drivers have a habit of cutting the corner a bit fine and the amount of rubber on the kerb is testament to the number of tyres that have rubbed up against it. I am in no mood to have my toecaps polished by a set of retreads going by.

Coming down the hill from my left was a car with a bike close behind. The cyclist decided he wanted to get ahead of the car, so as the car braked for the right hand turn, the cyclist shot up the inside of the car, went up the pram ramp, around the traffic light pole and down the next pram ramp, emerging about six inches in front of the turning car. If the driver hadn't braked, the cyclist would have been sushi.

The idiocy of that maneuver was compounded by the fact that the street to my right has a reasonably steep hill on it, so the cyclist was immediately slowed to about 20km/h - much slower than the car could do. Talk about a way to make friends..... not.

The thing is, in cutting across the footpath, he missed me by about an inch. If I had breathed in deeply, he would have collected me. I was not impressed. Most of the people that I meet on the bike are nice people - but there are certainly plenty of cretinous, arrogant arseholes out there.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

What is the world coming to?


A P-plater carrying eight passengers in his car was nabbed for drink-driving and other road offences after a passing police car noticed the people crammed in the sedan.

The Toyota Camry drew the police attention as it travelled along William Street, Darlinghurst, in Sydney's east about 6.15am today.

A check inside the car revealed nine people - four men, four women plus the 19-year-old male driver who was the only person wearing a seatbelt.

Useless. I used to get 10 into mine when travelling between pubs. Going over speed humps was always a bit of a challenge. I think we once maxed out with 12. Then again, kids are supposed to be getting fatter these days, so stuffing 9 tubbies into a car would be problematic.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Madness

I witnessed a bit of madness today - not on the roads, but in a shopping mall. I was wandering along, lunch in my hand, when I passed a group of four shoppers chatting at the top of an escalator. A fairly normal bloke came up the escalator, walked up to the group and gave one of their shopping bags and almighty slap - and then launched a tirade of abuse against all of them.

It was nothing to do with them being Asian - he was just nuts. The four shoppers had no idea what to make of it - they were as confused as everyone around them, including me.

The nutter stood there and urged them to fight him for a few seconds, then walked off. So did I.

A minute later, I was waiting at a spot for a colleague. I spotted the nutter coming towards me. If I hadn't known he was psycho, I wouldn't have picked him out from the hundreds of other normal looking people in the mall as being nuts. But as he got closer, I could see that his mouth was working hard, and he was talking to himself and working up for another daft encounter with some innocent strangers. I don't know if that was his natural temperament, or whether he had ingested something that made him that way. He went past me, muttering under his breath about "beating the fucking eyeballs out of some c*nt's head - har har har", turne left and disappeared into a shopping arcade.

Whatever his problem was, he was completely off his rocker. I'm used to seeing winos wandering around with the arse hanging out of their pants, harmlessly talking to people that aren't there and generally not bothering anyone or anything. This bloke was in another league though - he was going out of his way to assault people. Probably not seriously enough to get arrested, but certainly nastily enough to ruin your whole day.

I bet he drives a ute.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Riding at night

It's not really this dark - my camera just isn't that good in low light.

video

Friday, 10 September 2010

Death and green taxes

The Greens seem to be remarkably beholden to introducing a Death Tax, saying that it is unfair that so much wealth should be passed to the undeserving without the government getting a big slice.

Just after the election, the Fin Review published a survey (behind their pay wall) that gave a good breakdown of the type of people that vote Green in Australia.

I read it in a cafe over breakfast, and this is what I remember:

  1. Greens are rich - very rich
  2. They have no kids, or one at most
  3. That one kid will go to an expensive private school
Given the lack of offspring, it's no wonder so many Greens favour a death tax - it won't affect them, as they have no one to give their money to. However, as they won't have kids to help support them in their old age, they'll be very reliant on government for services, so I guess those death taxes on other people are seen as a good way to ensure Greens have a cushy retirement.

Look at Bob Brown - together with his partner, they're worth quite a few million dollars. Bob isn't getting any younger - who will they will their money to? A cat home?

What the Greens forget is that if you want to give more money to the tax office, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. You can will your entire estate to the government if you want to. If you want to do that, go right ahead - I won't stop you.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Cure for smoking

One of the pifalls of being a modern smoker is the inability to smoke indoors anymore. Being banished to the outdoors must be tough - but the worst bit would surely have to be the constant exposure to ciggie-cadging bums.

I was waiting at a light this morning. Across the road, a Chinese looking bloke was also waiting to cross, and he pulled out and lit up a fag.

Just after he did so, a shoeless and rather crazy looking bloke fronted him and asked for a light. The Chinese bloke was absolutely speechless - he'd been standing there minding his own business, sucking on some nicotine, when this barking mad wino suddenly got in his face, gesticulating wildly, and demanding to have his nostril hairs lit on fire.

It was early, and everyone was looking sleepy - especially the Chinese bloke. His brain eventually kicked into gear, and he extracted his lighter. Wino stumbled off happily up the street, puffing contentedly.

It was only when he turned around that I noticed that he had a hole in his pants I could have stuck my head through. His entire bum crack was showing - top to bottom. He had no undies on, and it was quite a sight. It must have been something to smell as well, because from across a busy street, I watched a Chinaman with nostrils full of pungent smoke suddenly react in alarm when he suddenly got a whiff of Captain Bumcrack.

The thought of cancer doesn't seem to deter some smokers. But I'm sure that Chinaman must be having second thoughts tonight, knowing that he is part of a slowly diminishing breed, and the ratio of sane smokers to winos is shrinking all the time. He must be weighing the odds, and reckoning how many times in the future he can face being confronted by dudes with no seat in their britches.

I'd have bought a box of nicotine patches by now if I was him.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Friday photos

I just don't get the way our cycle lanes are being built. One day, a section will be open, and the next day, it will be closed. You can see that spring is here - this bloke is tonking along in just a T-shirt with no leg warmers.


A fold-up bike on the ANZAC bridge. I think this bloke parks in Lilyfield, takes the bike out of the boot, and then rides the last mile or two into town. No parking fees required, no hassles of driving into town and finding a parking spot, and the side benefit of a bit of morning exercise. So long as you don't mind getting wet every now and then.


Friday - the bike lane is closed.


Even though we're now in for a few days of showers, it's nice and warm. The leg warmers (tights essentially) have been packed away, as have the full-fingered gloves. The shower proof jacket has been relegated to the panniers - only to be pulled out in an emergency. I'm still wearing an undershirt, as it's chilly when I get going - but it means I'm pretty sweaty by the time I get to work. I've arrived at work at the same time as a couple of blokes on motorbikes - they are still rugged up to the max, and they appear to be shivering when they get off their bikes. They look at me in bare legs and bare arms, sweat dripping off my face, and they wonder what the hell is going on.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Wednesday photos

Just the two happy snaps today. I was getting that flashing red sign on the camera screen that means "your battery is about cactus".

Spring actually seemed to arrive today. I set out with only two layers on top instead of three, and had to drop to one layer on the way home. I even shed the leg warmers, which have been snuggling my legs for the last 3 months or so. You really know things are warming up when your glasses start to steam up at the traffic lights.

I passed this very calm, zen-like lady as I zipped around the Bay. She was barely doing walking pace, but she was serene and relaxed and good luck to her. Note the shirt with the Indian god of something or other on the back - very mystical. Maybe she was meditating. It was a beautiful evening - I should have slowed down and sniffed the rotting fish for a few minutes.


I much prefer calm, laid back cyclists like the one above to meandering, brain dead gumbys like the one below. I don't care about the lack of helmet - he's riding slowly on a dedicated bike path, so unless granny takes a wrong turn and starts driving down amongst the cyclists, he won't get run over. No, what I objected to was the way he failed to keep left, and almost ran me into the shrubbery as I passed him. Idiot.