Monday, 28 February 2011

Monday photos

Tradesman in a ute getting a ticket from a cop - there is justice in this world. Tradesmen in utes, along with men in white vans, are a cyclists worst enemies. I just wish the cop had said, "Sir, are you in a hurry?" If he responded in the affirmative, she should have shot all his tyres out and finished with, "Not any more".


This bloke was thin and keen. Not often that a bloke on a bike with fat tyres goes over the bridge as fast as this fellow - he just stood up at the start and pumped the whole way over.



A one man road rocket. I snapped a photo of this bloke as he went past, and then he was gone. Whoosh. Then again, he's about half as wide as me - less wind resistance.


Drunken grub

It's bad enough having to dodge idiot non-thinking pedestrians who are sober - it's even harder having to avoid them when they're pissed as a parrot.

I tucked in behind this tram, as it is the best thing for clearing pedestrians out of the way that I have encountered yet. You just have to watch out for those that race out behind it without looking first after it goes by.

Just as it gets going, a drunk gets annoyed at having to wait for a few seconds, so he gobs on the tram as it passes by (hard to see in the video) - he then proceeded to step out in front of me, but thankfully saw me coming and back pedalled quickly. What a grub.

video

What would I have done if he'd spat on me? Not sure really - but that's something I'd like to avoid altogether.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Smile, you're on camera

Not something you see every day - a cyclist with a camera on his helmet. Must get as annoyed as motorists as I do.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Have I got meaty calves?


I was just reading a post on compression socks and skinny legs and calf muscles and I was wondering how my legs compare to other cyclists. I put a bit of string around the meatiest bit of my calf muscle - 44cm (and that's after a day off the bike).

Not bad - and I initially thought nothing compared to these guys.

But think again - I then found this anthropometric study (what a mouthful)on different types of cyclists. Track cyclists have bigger calves than road cyclists - but even then, they are only 37.8cm. Then again, your average endurance cyclist weighs 70kg, which is, errr, considerably lighter than me. I have also discovered that I might have trouble finding compression socks large enough for my lower legs if I ever feel the need to get some.

A carbon dioxide tax and compensation

If we're going to be taxed for breathing out, the least the idiots in Canberra can do is make sure that everyone who emits CO2 pays for it equally. No compensation - everyone suffers equally.

"But what about the poor?", you say.

Well, the poor don't currently get a rebate on fuel excise do they? Everyone pays the same amount of tax on petrol or diesel, regardless of their income. The more miles you drive, or the thirstier your car, the more you pay. Everyone has the same incentive to drive less or to buy a stupid little buzzbox.

The whole idea of this lunatic tax is to get us to change our behaviour to one thought more suitable by our overlords in Canberra. What's the point of exempting a whole favoured swathe of the population from the impact of the tax - what incentive do they then have to adjust their life styles to those favoured by the Green elites?

Everyone is going to have to sweat equally in summer. No exceptions. You voted for these clowns, you can suffer with the rest of us.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Friday photos

Not as many photos as I thought this week - I took the memory card out of the camera to transfer some photos, then forgot to put it back in the camera! Rode around pretending to take photos for a few days. Idiot. At least I got some nice early morning photos.





Although the temperature has dropped a bit lately (especially compared to the scorching weather we had a few weeks ago), it's not yet time to pull out the long sleeved jerseys. Still, here we have pretty in pink.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sob story

Read one of the usual sob stories in the paper this morning (can't find a link) - a charity was moaning that poor families were coming to it for assistance with power bills of thousands of dollars, and it couldn't offer them more than $30 etc etc.

We're a family of 5 in an old house that is woeful when it comes to thermal efficiency. We have the usual slew of appliances and gadgets, yet our last power bill was $350. Our worst ever (over winter) just tipped over $1,000 - and that was a big shock (no pun intended).

I just don't get how a family that is supposedly poor in the first place can run up huge power bills. If you're poor, how do you afford all those appliances that chew up all that power? Are they complaining that they can't pay a $1,000 power bill just a few months after buying a $2,500 plasma TV? Or after installing air conditioning?

Here's the thing - if you're poor, life is probably going to be uncomfortable. That is part and parcel of being poor. You'll have to do without a few things, like having a huge TV and running an air conditioner 24x7. You'll have to put an extra jumper on in winter. If you want to be more comfortable, then you need to go out and earn more money (or get a job in the first place). That means working harder, moving to a place with better jobs or getting skilled up.

We had to make a lot of changes to get our power bill down to $350 (and they didn't involve ripping the taxpayers off by installing solar panels). They were simple things like hanging washing out to dry instead of being lazy and using the dryer, using the air conditioner only when it's really bloody hot and laying off the heater when it's cool. We've sacrificed a bit of ease and comfort for a smaller power bill. If we can do that, I don't see why we should have to cough up to cover the power bills of those that are too lazy or too stupid to do the same. They won't learn a bloody thing if we keep giving them handouts every time they stuff their life up. All they'll learn is that they can do incredibly silly things, and the state will always bail them out.

Sort of like the Queensland government.....

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Different religious groups, poverty, and their dependence on the state

The Australian ran a story on Australia's Muslim population yesterday. A few paragraphs stood out for me, and they related to education (or lack thereof) and poverty. In particular, a Muslim spokesman was complaining about the awful condition of state schools in Muslim areas.

But Dandan is far from sanguine about the projected near doubling of Muslim numbers.

"That is of great concern to us because we don't have the facilities and the infrastructure, and the government is not supporting us," he says.

The Muslim community has plenty on its plate already: intergenerational poverty, undereducation and unemployment, a pressing need for more social, welfare and aged-care services, a siege mentality fostered by a suspicious public and often hostile news media, close attention from the police and security agencies and the problem of pockets of religious extremism.

Dandan claims Muslim communities have been abandoned politically, particularly in southwest Sydney, where they happen to live in electorates safely held by the Labor Party.

"We're a growing community, so where are the services? Our youth get no services, our elderly no services, employment, no service, hospitals atrocious, our schools - don't even talk about it, go and have a look at our schools. Are we not getting the services because we're Muslim or because these are safe Labor seats?"

A second set of statistics underscores his complaints, showing that despite numerous success stories such as that of Dandan, who runs a multimillion-dollar IT security firm, Muslims overall remain one of the most disadvantaged groups in Australia.

The figures are in a 2009 report by the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Social and Economic Conditions of Australian Muslims: Implications for Social Inclusion.

On the upside, it found that education-wise Muslims are high achievers: 21 per cent of Muslim males have a university degree, compared with 15 per cent of non-Muslims. But this doesn't translate into financial rewards, apparently because of language barriers, discrimination and non-recognition of qualifications obtained abroad. Unemployment among Muslims is two to four times the rates among other Australians. Twice as many Muslims have no income. Only 15 per cent own their own homes, compared with one-third of other Australians. Twenty-six per cent of Muslim teenagers are unemployed, against 14 per cent of non-Muslims. And, shockingly, 40 per cent of Muslim children live in poverty, almost three times the national average.

The report found Australian Muslims are more vulnerable to multigenerational endemic poverty, "thus making poverty a way of life". This in turn creates alienation from mainstream society, leading to higher rates of delinquency, crime, imprisonment and potentially resort to religious extremism.

These issues require urgent attention, the report advised. But, Dandan says, "The politicians don't care, they literally don't care." He cites an elaborate new youth centre built next to the Lakemba mosque, which took the local community 13 years to build because it received zero assistance from government.
The first thing that struck me was this was an extended rant about the failure of the state to provide services and infrastructure - which is nothing new in NSW - but what really struck me was the mindset of almost total dependence on the state. In all of this, I didn't see a single spark of, "Look, we need this stuff - let's get together and raise some money and do it for ourselves". It's all, "Let's go and ask the government for a cheque".

Since one big problem appears to be education, and the state of the state education system, I thought I'd have a look into that. So I did a bit of searching for two statistics - the proportion of Muslim kids in the state system vs the proportion of Jewish kids in the state system. I decided to use the Jews as a comparison as they are generally renowned for their very hard headed approach to education, and they're a pretty successful mob in general.

In NSW, the state system educates 66-67% of all kids.

Until a few years ago, 91% of Muslim kids were in the state system. That has dropped to 79% thanks to the opening of a dozen or so Islamic schools. Here are two interesting links regarding Muslim schools.

Only 25% of Jewish kids attend a state primary school, rising to 45% in high school.

So if we accept that education is a vital part of turning into a good, productive citizen, what are we to make of the correlation between the problems in the Muslim community and their high dependence on state education, versus the success of the Jewish community and their low dependence on state education?

If the lousy condition of state education is part of the cause of the problems for the Muslim community (high unemployment, intergenerational poverty, language barriers etc), then we should be pushing hard as hell for the opening of a lot more private Islamic schools, and trying to get 30-40% of Muslim kids into them. Hell, why not be like the Jews and go for 75%?

I think the Muslims have already figured that out for themselves. The Muslim private school sector is one of the fastest growing in Australia. Like many of us, they are simply fleeing in horror from a lousy state education system, and they realise that a good education is vital for their kid's future. The current generation might be a bit of a mess, but if we can give the next generation a great education, most of these integration problems might go away. Yes, it's strange to think that educating kids in an Islamic school will lead to great integration, vs putting them into a secular sink school - but why shouldn't it? 75% of Jews start of in a Jewish school - do they have a problem with the rest of Australia?

Plaques, part II

Bugger, I forgot to add a salient point about that plaque story.

When we were wandering around Newtown last week, I noticed that posters had been stuck up in a number of places calling for the TJ plaque to be put up. Someone had walked around and written comments on most of them, along the lines of "It wasn't a Police chase, this is rubbish". I didn't take a photo, so I am relying on my crap memory for this.

I thought it interesting that someone would take the time and make the effort to walk around Newtown and write on all those posters. Someone clearly thinks there is more to this story than we're hearing from the media.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Plaques - what a pain

I heard about this bloody awful battle regarding Dunkirk recently - except it's not what you think.

Dunkirk memorial unveiled after 10 year battle

A memorial honouring the role of the Thames boatmen who bravely helped with the Dunkirk evacuations is to be unveiled tomorrow after a former merchant seaman won a battle against politically correct bureaucrats.

Another plaque battle is happening at the moment in Newtown and Redfern regarding the installation of a plaque for TJ Hickey. Hickey did a runner when he saw the Police, managed to impale himself on a fence and died the next day.

But the talks, involving three agencies, have stumbled over five words. The plaque, donated to the Hickey family by Aboriginal students from the University of Technology, Sydney, says in part: ''T.J. Hickey, Aged 17, Was Impaled Upon The Metal Fence Above Arising From A Police Pursuit.''
So far, so good.

T.J.'s father, Ian West, who learnt of his son's crash from a television report in the common room at Bathurst jail, where he was a prisoner, said he was still burning with a sense of injustice because his family believed the youth died being chased by police. Mr West never said goodbye to the son who was 13 when he last saw him.
TJ was 17 when he died. His father last saw him at age 13 - we're not told why exactly. It could be because the father was in prison, or because he'd done a runner from the family. What I find interesting is that the father is so intent on putting up a plaque for a son that he didn't see for four years. Did they not see each other because the father shot through and didn't want to see the kid, or because the father was in prison and the family didn't want to visit him?

Whatever the case, this whole thing seems as political as hell to me, and I hope that the death of TJ isn't being used to further someone's pet cause.

Memories

Four years after the Kevin07 election, and a year or so after he got knifed - the stickers still appear from time to time (although this one has been half removed).

Bit quiet at the moment - tore my legs to bits last week going way too hard way too early and have been unable to ride thanks to numerous muscle spasms, twangs and ows.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Hello from Newtown


Newtown is one of the avant garde areas of Sydney. I used to spend a bit of time there in my pre-family days, getting plastered and seeing bands at the RSL, or catching a drag show at a gay pub. The area also has a plethora of excellent Thai restaurants, and it's home to one of the densest concentrations of 2nd hand book stores and record stores in Sydney. I guess it's at least 7 years since I was there "properly" - that is, having enough time to walk up and down the main street as well as stop for a bite to eat, a coffee and some book shopping. It's even longer since I was there on a Saturday night, chundering a kebab into the gutter before crawling into a taxi for the trip home.

An old mate was in town on Saturday, and had a few hours to spare before catching a plane home. I picked him up and we spent a good 3 hours just chilling in Newtown and remembering the good old days.

From what I saw, not much has changed. As we were walking back to the car, I suggested a game for us to play. We'd count how many of the following we saw over the next few minutes:

  • children
  • people with no visible tats
  • people with no facial peircings
  • people who were not begging
  • people who weren't playing strange musical instruments in the street whilst dressed like a Nepalese shaman
  • straight people
  • fat people
We got to two - him and me.

Newtown is quite overwhelmingly alternative. We really stood out as a couple of straight squares - we didn't even have a skateboard between the two of us, or a pair of $600 designer eye ware. Or a $200 Armani T-shirt stretched over a finely honed product of the gym.

It's an interesting place to visit, because it is so alien to those of us now living in the suburbs - even if I'm not that many suburbs away. I'm in the inner west, which is reasonably cosmopolitan, wealthy and tolerant - but Newtown is another planet.

Consider this - I saw one pram and 3 kids over a 3 hour period. Out here, kids are everywhere - the place is bursting at the seams thanks to a mini baby boom, and all the schools are overcrowded.

You rarely see someone around here with facial piercings or dreadlocks. You get the odd visible tattoo, but that's more on Saturday night when the slick young wog boys come out to party. We know a lesbian couple, but they aren't brazenly open about it. They certainly haven't gone in for the sorts of hair styles and modes of dress that generally shout "lesbian" to all and sundry. If there are any gays in the area, they're being very quiet about it.

We never get any beggars in any of the shopping areas, and whilst you see some shabbily dressed bogans from time to time, you certainly don't see any outright freaks.

Another thing that stood out is that almost every power pole had a Greens election sign nailed to it. I swear I saw more Green's signage in one street in Newtown than I have seen in the entire inner west.

I'm trying to get to some sort of point here. My point is that Newtown is a mecca for the sorts of people who work for the ABC or Fairfax - the leftoid press. If you lived in Newtown rather than say Strathfield or Macquarie Links (a reasonably affluent gated community way down south), your view of the world would have a certain tilt to it.

I guess this is why the SMH is constantly running stories on stuff like homelessness, gay issues, drug use, squatters and so on. These are all clearly big issues in Newtown - but not out where I live. And Newtown represents about 1% of Sydney if it's lucky.

I can see where the ABC/SMH are coming from - the place where I live is pretty boring. Yes, it's suburban dullsville. The neighbours are chiefly interested in things like which daycare centre to put their kids into and gossiping over the argument that broke out over a parking spot outside the church this morning. Their big concerns are things like mortgages, utility bills and having to get up at 5.30am to drive to work. It's pretty tame and pedestrian compared to getting off your face on acid at a gay venue in Newtown and spending the night playing bongo drums with some Byron Bay gypsies and a couple of trannies with bodies like Marky Mark.

And in case you are wondering why the ABC types cluster in Newtown, here's a map for you. Newtown is the blue circle at the bottom, the ABC the blue circle in the middle. Distance between those two points is 4km - an easy walk.


This is one reason why I think the ABC should move to somewhere west of Parramatta. It's never going to represent the views of middle Australia whilst it's staff are immersed in an environment like Newtown.

And they say cyclists are crazy

Watch the video - scroll down a bit.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Singing, and swearing, like a trooper

If you want to have a glimpse into the way soldiers think, talk and act then look no further at the songs they sing.

I am a reasonably well educated, well read, artistically inclined individual. I like the theatre, I enjoy talking to academic types and I sometimes think that I have taken in a small amount of high culture and art. In general, when I visit a city, the must see places for me are its museums and cathedral.

But when I wore a giggle hat, I happily went pure animal. This site showcases reams of tunes and ditties - and I've sung many of them in bars and boozers in the company of other grunts when I've had a beer or six. Or ten.

Here's a sample:

Oh they say there's a troopship just leaving Bombay
Bound for old Blighty's shore,
Heavily laden with time-expired men
Bound for the land they adore;
There's many a twat just finishing his time,
There's many a cunt signing on;
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads, fuck 'em all!

Chorus:

Fuck 'em all!
Fuck 'em all!
The long and the short and the tall;
Fuck all the Sergeants and W.O.l.'s,
Fuck all the corporals and their bastard sons;
For we're saying goodbye to them all,
As up the C.O.'s arse they crawl;
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads, fuck 'em all!

We didn't sing that exact song - the first verse was adjusted a bit, but the chorus always remains the same.

I suddenly feel like a few beers.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Great stats video

Thanks to Catallaxy for finding this. I love this guy - his TED talks are always worth watching:

Murder, assault and imprisonment in the NT

A slightly more depressing topic for today. I read in the paper last week that the rate at which Aboriginals are imprisoned in the NT is something like 8 times that of the rest of the population. I thought I'd do a bit more digging. As Professor Sumner Miller used to say, "Why is it so?"

To start with - the Bureau of Statistics and an article on Indigenous People's experience of crime and justice in the NT.

Indigenous people comprise about 30% of the NT's population. In 2008 Indigenous people had higher victimisation rates than non-Indigenous people for all selected personal offences excluding robbery in the NT.

There were 5,261 victims of assault in the NT; of these, 59% (3,110 victims) were Indigenous and 34% (1,795 victims) were non-Indigenous. The assault victimisation rate for Indigenous persons was more than four times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous persons at 4,942 Indigenous victims per 100,000 Indigenous persons compared with 1,143 non-Indigenous victims per 100,000 non-Indigenous persons.

Of the 372 victims of sexual assault, 50% (186 victims) were Indigenous and 38% (143 victims) were non-Indigenous. Indigenous people in the NT had a sexual assault victimisation rate that was more than three times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous people at 296 Indigenous victims per 100,000 Indigenous persons compared with 91 non-Indigenous victims per 100,000 non-Indigenous persons.

Indigenous people comprised 65% (17 victims) of the 26 victims of homicide and related offences in the NT, while 23% (6 victims) were non-Indigenous. The homicide and related offences victimisation rate for Indigenous persons was 27 Indigenous victims per 100,000 Indigenous persons, which was about seven times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous persons at four victims per 100,000 non-Indigenous persons.

In contrast, 7% (8 victims) of the 111 robbery victims in the NT were Indigenous while 81% (90 victims) were non-Indigenous. The robbery victimisation rate for Indigenous persons was about one-quarter of the rate recorded by non-Indigenous people at 13 Indigenous victims per 100,000 Indigenous persons compared with 57 non-Indigenous victims per 100,000 non-Indigenous persons.
In short, if you are indigenous and live in the NT, you are much more likely to be killed, beaten or raped than any other group. And I mean much more likely.

Doesn't sound good.

So, to the next question - who is doing all the bashing, killing and raping?

The report also has some info on the prison population:

The NT's prison population increased by 11% (from 953 to 1,056) from 30 June 2008 to 30 June 2009, compared with a 6% increase nationally. At 30 June 2009 about four in five prisoners in the NT were Indigenous (82%), the highest proportion of Indigenous prisoners of any state or territory.

At 30 June 2009 the NT continued to have the highest crude imprisonment rate in Australia at 658 prisoners per 100,000 adult population, almost four times higher than Australia's overall rate of 175 prisoners per 100,000 adult population.

The age standardised imprisonment rate for the NT's Indigenous population at 30 June 2009 was 1,700 Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult Indigenous people. The equivalent rate for the NT's non-Indigenous population was 153 non-Indigenous prisoners per 100,000 adult non-Indigenous population. This represented an age standardised rate of imprisonment for the NT's Indigenous population that was 11 times higher than the rate for its non-Indigenous population.
I found a much more detailed report on the NT's Justice site - the Correctional Services Annual Statistics. It makes for rather depressing reading. The table on page 24 is worth trawling through - the stats are quite shocking. It shows the sentence for each type of crime, and breaks it down into indigenous and all.

Here are the stats on prisoners in 2008-2009:

Murder

4 indigenous, 0 other

Manslaughter

10 indigenous, 2 other

Acts intended to cause injury

Indigenous 935, other 64

Sexual assault

Indigenous 21, other 14

Unlawful entry with intent (break and enter)

Indigenous 117, other 13

About the only major stat where the numbers are reversed is for drug crime:

Illicit drug offences

Indigenous 17, other 34

Interestingly, most of the assault cases carried a sentence of 6 months or less:

0-1 months - 92
1-3 months - 278
3-6 months - 321
6-12 months - 132
1-5 years - 112

If you want to read about some of these cases, you can find all the Supreme Court sentencing decisions here, as well as the sentencing remarks. It's worth having a quick read through those some to get a flavour for the sort of crimes being committed.

eg, The Queen vs Luke Corbett or the Queen vs Roland Djmiti Barrawanga. Here's some detail from the last case:

HIS HONOUR: Roland Djimiti Barrawanga, the offender, has pleaded guilty to causing serious harm to Ruby Blake contrary to s 181 of the Criminal Code. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 14 years.
The offender is an Aboriginal man who was born on Elcho Island on
1 January 1973. He is 38 years of age. He grew up at Galiwinku on Elcho Island where he attended school for a period of time. He did not attend high school and he cannot read or write. He can speak a little bit of English.
The offender has not been able to obtain a lot of meaningful employment over the years. He has done some work under the Community Development Employment Program at Galiwinku and Nhulunbuy. He also did some work with his wife as a tour guide on the Cox Peninsula. The offender has not done very much work at all since 1994.
The offender is a good musician. He is a very good didgeridoo player. He makes his own didgeridoos.
The offender is married. His wife is the victim of his crime.
The offender has a criminal record. His criminal record extends for three pages. Of relevance, he has only been convicted of one previous crime of violence. In 2007 he assaulted the same victim by striking her twice with his hand to her face and head. The offender committed no offences between 10 September 1999 and 31 December 2007 and he committed no offences between 31 December 2007 and 4 August 2010 when he committed the crime for which he is to be sentenced today.
The facts of the offending are as follows:
The offender and Ruby Blake were in a domestic relationship from 2000 until the time the offender was incarcerated.
On Wednesday 4 August 2010, the offender was with the victim and her mother drinking alcohol at a bush camp in Karama. The offender consumed an unknown quantity of moselle and both he and the victim got drunk. Some time later the victim accidentally fell on the offender's tent. This caused the offender to pick up a didgeridoo and hit the victim while she was on the ground.
The offender hit the victim once on each arm with force. The offender then kicked the victim once in the stomach.
After the assault, the victim went to the Karama shops to get help. Police were called and attended a short time later.
The victim was taken to Royal Darwin Hospital by ambulance for treatment. She suffered bad fractures to her left arm and her right arm and she had to undergo surgery in hospital on 7 August 2010. After the operation there were problems with the injury to her left arm because the injury became infected and she had to go back to theatre on 14 August 2010 for further treatment.
If no medical treatment was received, the victim would have suffered longstanding and significant functional problems with her left upper arm.
Why am I bothering with this?

Because the Intervention in the NT copped a lot of flak when it was started. If the critics had bothered to look at the prison stats, or the victims of crime stats, or had read a few sentencing reports, they might have gained an understanding as to why the government of the day was reduced to undertaking such desperate measures. Webdiary for instance gave it the usual sneering approach.

The sad fact is that NT prisons are full of Aboriginal males who have raped, beaten or murdered mainly Aboriginal women. I am not fond of people saying, "Something must be done", and then doing nothing. Something has been done - whether it works is another matter.

Murphy's Law of Combat Operations

Here. It's a long list, but worth a read.

I think I saw a similar list in our boozer in the late 1980's. I'm sure something like this was passed around in Roman times.

Stuff happens

Tony Abbott was stitched up nicely today by a Channel 7 "reporter". For some reason, the tool asking the questions thought that saying "Shit happens" was being insensitive.

Well, putting on my old giggle hat and writing as a rather useless part time soldier, I have only one comment to make - what a load of crap.

Soldiers have a vernacular all of their own, and most of it is incredibly offensive. We use the term "swear like a trooper" instead of "swear like a teacher" for good reason. Soldiering is hard work -physically and mentally harder than just about any other occupation - and it comes with a reasonable risk of death, injury or wounding. Soldiers think, talk and joke in a way that would make many civilians fall over in astonishment. The black humour of soldiers is something to wonder at - shrinks would call it a "coping mechanism".

Soldiers train and train and train and train - and then train some more - because the battlefield is one big bucket of "shit happens". Even though I was just a humble chocko that never had to run around a two way firing range, I was trained quite thoroughly to deal with and handle the wide variety of shit that comes your way on operations. And funnily enough, we used to regularly use expressions like "shit happens", because incredible as this might sound - shit happens in war! War is messy and unpleasant and things rarely go to plan.

Take the ending of the siege of the Iranian Embassy in London by the SAS. You had the best train assault teams in the world doing the work, and they were equipped with the best stuff available at the time. They'd rehearsed the entry many times, yet when they actually started blowing stuff up, one bloke got tangled in his ropes and was nearly roasted alive when flash bangs set the curtains on fire.

Even when you have a well planned op, with highly trained troops, good intelligence and the best equipment, things still go pear shaped. Shit happens - it's how you deal with it that matters.

-----------

PS - the SAS op was called "Operation Nimrod". We used to use the term "nimrod" to denote a complete and utter fuckhead - like Mark Riley. Some crafty sods have been vandalising his Wikipedia entry - at 11.39 yesterday, someone added this to his entry (which has since been locked down):

He is a total fuckface who had [[sex]] with [[Julia Gillard]] in return for a bullshit story about Tony Abbott

Wasn't me by the way. And I don't believe this accusation for one moment. For crying out loud - who would want to screw Gillard?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Tuesday photos

It's a nice time of the year to be up and about reasonably early - it's not too hot, not too cold and not too windy or wet. It's not perfect, but it's nice enough. It beats being frozen, cooked, blown sideways off the bike or pelted with hail. I'm thankful for it being pretty good.


Ah, what is it about single speeders? This bloke tried to do a track stand at the red light, but discovered he couldn't do it, so he rode around in small circles trying to stay upright. He ended up on the footpath. Why didn't he just stop and put his foot down?


Interesting bike - it had a belt drive rather than a chain. It was like a fan belt, but with lumpy cams on it for grip. Very quiet.


And now for something a bit more colourful.


And here's a line of bikes going across the bridge - there were lots more than I could capture in one photo. Good weather brings out the two wheelers in droves.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Monday photos

The heat is finally over - if anything, the drop in temperature was so great, it felt like I was freezing (even though it was a balmy 22 degrees). After a week of broken sleep and hard riding, I was so shattered, I slept for over an hour past my normal wake up time. That didn't matter - i didn't have to worry about getting up early to avoid frying this morning. I wish it would rain though - the lawns need a good drench.


I was waiting at a red light on Friday when this bloke in a motorised wheelchair zipped past me. The lights went green just then and off he went. I fumbled locking my cleat in, so by the time we got through the intersection, he was in front. I then had no hope of passing, as his wheelchair didn't keep a particularly straight line at speed. Every time it hit a small bump (and this newly laid bike lane is a mass of lumpy tar), the wheelchair kicked one way or the other. I really didn't want to end up in the paper as "mad cyclist takes out disabled bloke", so I hung back and relaxed for a few seconds. If only Sydney's impatient drivers would learn to do the same from time to time.


I don't know if it was the change in weather or my very late start, but the route in was covered in bikes this morning. When I hit Pyrmont, I had six in front of me at one set of lights and at least a dozen lined up behind. It was almost getting crowded. Every one of the bastards in this photo overtook me at one point or another - I don't think I was that slow; rather, I reckon none of them rode through the heatwave, so they were all fresh as daisies whilst I was totally wrung out and knackered. At least that's my excuse for being the hubbard today. If you don't know who the hubbard is, then it's you.


Your typical Cyclist Commuterasi (my Latin terminology) - complete with nifty little dual panniers and camelbak. I've never tried riding with a camelbak - it would have been bloody nifty last week in the heat.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Monday photos

My brain has been too fried by the heat this week to bother with posting photos. It's just been too damned hot to sit at the PC. Thankfully, we have a bit of a cool change coming through at present - the house might cool down enough to allow a decent night's sleep.

I was hoping we were in for a thunderstorm on Monday when I took this photo at about 0600 - a good drenching of rain would take the edge off the heat. No such luck. I simply sweated like I have not sweated in years.


This bloke was feeling the heat, riding into town in his work clobber on a very trendy bike (white wheels and all). When I pulled up next to him at the lights, his face was dripping. I was the same - but at least I was heading for a 10 minute freezing shower and a change of clothes, allowing me to feel reasonably fresh and clean for a day in the office.


Normally the only time you see Dikes on Bikes is Mardi Gras time.


Why did I photograph this bloke? Probably because I was overtaking him. The madness overtook me soon after, and I just had to overtake everyone I met. There was a big pack of bikes moving through Pyrmont towards the ANZAC bridge - as soon as we hit the spiral leading up the bridge, I went for it. As others changed down, I changed up, and I fairly ripped past one and all. There was only one out of over a dozen that got away - only because I got stuck behind some dopey pedestrians. Why, oh why, do I do stupid stuff like that on a skin melting day?


The state election is approaching, and we're seeing various political types from time to time standing on street corners, annoying the pedestrians. The bloke in the suit and hat was a Green. He didn't exactly fit the stereotype of hip young thing with numerous facial piercings. He looked about 75 - at least he was in a dark green suit.


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Hot, hot, hot

Whilst half of Queensland either blows away or is submerged under a dozen feet of water, we're sweltering away down here thanks to a very hot, dry spell. That's one big ball of fire coming up over the horizon, with not a cloud in the sky. To avoid the worst of it, I've been getting up a bit before dawn and riding off as soon as it's light enough to see.


That has helped a bit, but not much. It was still 27 degrees when I left this morning. A lot of my workmates don't have air con at home (like us), and all complained endlessly today about a lousy night's sleep.


Even with the heat, there were a lot of people getting some form of exercise at dawn - runners, walkers, cyclists and maniacs doing push ups and so on. I think the smartest group were the rowers - at least they can pretend to catch a crab and fall out of the boat.


The other thing I've been doing to avoid the worst of the heat is to not race into work like an old maniac. I latched onto a hubbard each day, and dawdled into town at a much more leisurely pace than usual. Even so, I had to stand under a totally cold shower for 10 minutes to cool down to the point where I could put my work clothes on without drenching them instantly in sweat.


Here's co-ordination and common sense for you - just after council spent months (and millions) ripping up this bit of road, to build a bike path, along comes another mob with a ditch digger, and they tear up a nice trench across the newly laid bike path.


Riding home was a shocker. The bike thermometer read 27 when I left the car park - I thought I was in for a reasonably cool ride. Then it slowly climbed to 35 as I left the shadows of the CBD. As I crossed the ANZAC bridge, it hit 39, and then wobbled back and forth between 39 and 40. That's 104 for those of you that like Fahrenheit. It wasn't too bad, as the humidity was a lot lower than it has been for the last month, but as soon as I stopped, the sweat literally poured off me. Glad I packed two water bottles for the day.

And I have to say that the 300ml bottle of icy cold Coke that I consumed soon after getting home was the best drink I have had in a very long time.