Wednesday 27 February 2008

Wet, wet, wet

The last two days have been a tad wet over here in Sin City. One might almost think that the Almighty is trying to wash away the sins and misdemeanours of our state government, but it will take a few more months of downpours to take care of that.

I didn't get a shot of the radar picture of the storms last night, so this one will have to do. It was nowhere near as bad as what went over last night, but it still shows a poultice of rain.

Here is a dry Anzac Bridge bike path. When I came up this path last night, cars going past in the left hand lane would hit deep puddles on the road and throw up waves of water that went high and far enough to reach me - and go over my head. Plenty of it went into my face as well. To do that, you need a pretty decent amount of water on the road.

I could have missed most of this if I had left the office when I meant to, but I just had to stop and have a chat with a colleague, which delayed me just sufficiently that I rode out of the office just as the rain started coming down. It took me one block to be utterly saturated, and six blocks to work out that my glasses were more of a hinderance than a help. Riding without them meant getting an eyefull of water every few seconds, but at least I could see where I was going.

I went past a number of cyclists who had pulled off the road and were sheltering under awnings etc, but I didn't see the point. Once you are totally wet, you can't get any wetter. Stopping under an awning is just going to make you cold.

The only bit that daunted me was going onto the bridge - there is no shelter once you get onto it, and I wondered what would happen if it started to hail. But it didn't, so I got across ok - although the rain was pelting so hard, it was stinging my thighs on impact.

The bridge was just a complete cataract. The RTA in their wisdom have installed drain grates about the size of the plughole in your average bathroom - and that to drain what is essentially a single lane road with no runoff. Going up the cataract was fun, since the water was rushing down at such a speed that it gave the impression of me going uphill really fast. The other side of the bridge was not as much fun - a low lying bit of the path was one big puddle - deep enough for it to go over my ankles even with both feet in the fore-and-aft neutral position. I hit the puddle at about 45kmh, just as a bloke coming the other way yelled out, "It's really deep". It did demonstrate the value of water brakes - once my feet hit the water, I rapidly slowed to about 20kmh and had to pedal my way out of it.

All of this riding was done of course without my rain jacket, which was hanging at home in the cupboard. Not that it mattered, as the temp never fell below 19 degrees, and it was really kind of pleasant.

The cyclists that were out and about were all smiling and laughing and enjoying the moment - after all, what's the point about getting upset about being wet? Conditions like that bring out a lot of cameraderie amongst cyclists.

The ride totally shattered me though. I got home about 7pm, and was asleep shortly afterwards. I was beyond exhaustion.

So today, I took my rain jacket - and didn't need it - and left work a bit early and avoided another storm coming through. I still feel knackered though.

Stitching things together

The photo below is a stitchfest of shots taken from the walkway over the end of Victoria Road, showing White Bay to the left (which Disney is apparently showing interest in) and the Anzac Bridge and CBD kind of in the middle and a very nice boat mooring spot down to the right. You really need to click on it to see it in all it's "glory", but be warned that it's a bit over 2mb.

I took this photo because I could - ie, it was not pissing down with raindrops the size of small toads.

How to hate banks

I have not seen the TV commercial for the Commonwealth Bank that is getting some stick at the moment (and I have no intention of deliberately looking out for it either - I paid good money for a digital video recorder so I could skip shite like that).

But I have had to put up with these BankWest posters that are infesting Darling Harbour. I shall henceforth refer to the said bank as "BankFester", or "The Festering Bank", because it would be unfair to those that masturbate to call them a pack of wankers.

The marketing manager that sat around and got stoned with the advertising agency that came up with this series of ads should be flung testicles first off the top of the BankWest building, and the advertising people should be impaled.


What kind of gaggle of fucking idiots could ever imagine that the purpose of a bank is to make you happy?

There is only one way my bank could make me happy. Give me at least a million dollars, and then don't expect me to pay it back. And that does not include things like me going bankrupt, or defrauding the bank, computer error, or me taking 19 staff hostage and forcefeeding them the testicles of advertising executives until they gave me lots of money.

I am talking about the bank just being nice and giving me lots of money, with no strings attached.

Can't do that? Well then - fuck off. You lack the ability to make me happy. You exist to provide me with a service, and there is no proviso that says that the provision of that service has to make me happy. If you can figure out a way to make your ATM's give me a handjob everytime I take some money out, you might be getting somewhere, but your function is to take cash deposits, not sperm ones.

To me, dealing with the bank is like doing a poo. It is a necessary thing. It is something that has to be done on a regular basis if normal life is to be sustained. One can generally choose whether to do a poo in a nice place or a nasty place (like the toilets at Town Hall station), and you can use a selection of farty-masking odorisers if you want, and you can make things more pleasant by buying expensive toilet paper, but you can't disguise the fact that you are doing a crap. You are laying a woombi. It may involve skidmarks and slimy bits and heaven forbid, a bit of blood. If curry was consumed the night before, all bets of a pleasant experience are off.

In short, unless you are German and have a fetish for certain odd things, sitting on the porcelein throne is unlikely to be the highlight of your day. You can make it as unpleasant as possible, but I don't run around going, "Gee, I'm really looking forward to doing a crap after lunch. I love doing a crap. It's just ace."

We just do it, try our best not to notice the smell, and move on.

Banking is the same. Accept it, and get over it.

Monday 25 February 2008

The perfect riding temperature

What is it?

For me, it's between 20 and 23 degrees (that's celcius for any yanks who have stumbled onto this site). That's the range where I don't have to put on an extra layer before starting out, but will barely cause me to raise a sweat after an hour in the saddle.

But that's me and my metabolism.

Die, old bombs, die

Rego expired July 2007. Council has posted a "notice to tow" on the crap heap. The only sentient beings to have noticed so far are the spiders that have colonised this car.

At last - this smashed up BMW is heading for the crusher. The day the rego ran out, the cops were straight around to remove the number plates. This busted up piece of crap has been uglifying this street since about March last year. The owner had initially covered it in a car cover, but that got shredded in a storm, and he never bothered to replace it, so we've had to put up with this slowly rusting pile of crap taking up street space.

Not for much longer buddy. Not for much longer.

Personally, I'd like to see a lot more BMW's put into the crusher - preferably with the driver and his dickhead mates still inside.

Interesting and annoying

Spotted the woman on the right on the way home - you can't really tell from this photo, but she had these incredibly wide and turned up handlebars on the bike - her hand position was way wider than her shoulders. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad things, but it is not a common thing.

Aaaarrrrgghh! My pet hate from The Bay has spread to the Anzac Bridge - bloody pedestrians spreading across the path to take most of the available space. Now maybe these two are trying to avoid looking all lezzo, but the least they could do is stay in the left hand lane. What really drives me nuts is when you get three women, and they all decide to amble side by side and fill the entire path from edge to edge.

Unbelievable. You'd think people would have a bit more couresy and common sense. Notice the arm swing on the woman on the right - I just about clocked that arm as I went past. It would have hurt her and lot more than it would have hurt me.

Oh bugger....

Well, it had to happen. After a weekend of rest, relaxation and muscle cramps, I woke up feeling like a million dollars today. That is: plastic, green and able to fit into a small briefcase.

My trouble started when I spotted a sluggishly progressing woman on the Anzac Bridge approach. I had been taking it fairly easy up until then, but I just couldn't resist showing her how one takes out the bridge. Good old Jackie Stewart was bellowing in my ear - "Full power! Full power!", and that's what I did.

I totally left her for dead, but of course was knackered by the time I reached the apex.

And it's Monday, so my legs are now buggered, and I have to get through four more days of riding to and from work. I really must learn not to indulge in thrash-Mondays.

Look! A bridge!

Yes, that is the Harbour Bridge way off in the distance, framed by a couple of rows of trees. Funny how visible the Bridge is from miles away.

Sunday 24 February 2008

Sweat from my balls

I know that some people don't like the look of middle aged men in lycra, but I don't care. If it's a choice between chafed, sweaty balls and looking like a muffin dressed in a tight plastic bag, then I'll take the nice dry balls with all their skin intact.

Here's the thing. If I ride 130km a week, I don't get really stiff and sore. But as I start to advance beyond that limit, bad things start to happen between the legs. On Friday for instance, I found blood spots in my knicks from where some sort of blister near my nuts had popped. If I wasn't wearing lycra, I'd be riding with bleeding sores all the time from sweat and chafing. Normal shorts are fine for short rides, but they really don't cut the mustard when you start approaching the 100 mile limit. Especially with my legs.

So, in the spirit of CB4, here are the lyrics for "Sweat from my balls".

For the ladies, a hundred-thirty pounds of beef, yeah
Chinky eyes, curly hair and gold teeth
Swingin with this here stud, you need practice
I'm leavin used rubbers on the mattress

When I'm with my homies, we're rollin
Can't love a car unless it's stolen
Don't ask me what the price is,
but it's more than pussy tickle devices

[Chorus: (Daddy-O), Hi-C]

(And you can fell the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(You can feel the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(You can feel the..)
Sweat from my balls!
Sweat from my balls!
(You can feel the..)
Sweat-sweat from my balls!
Sweat from my balls!

("What's the matter Mr. Jones?"
"Well I'm ashamed of the way you're playing!")

[Daddy-O and Hi-C]
And we come fully equipped
With a bad attitude and a hard ass [censored]

For demonstrations, watch us slam her
Steady poundin' like a jackhammer

One sword edge you can't cop out
We're poundin you down 'til your eyeballs pop out!

[Daddy-O and Hi-C]
We're not your ordinary players [scratch]

[Chorus: (Daddy-O), Hi-C]

(And she'll get paid with the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(Get paid with the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(Bitch get paid with the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(Bitch get paid with the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(She'll get paid with the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(Get paid with the..)
Sweat from my biggedy-balls!!!
(Puh-puh-paid with the..)
Sweat from my balls!

Ahhh, check check check it out yo
Get a grip on the headboard and hold on to it
or get sent right through it

BITCH! I'm bite ya [censored] the way that I'm lickin 'em
Won't be gentle the way that I'm stickin 'em
I do a damn good job
and bitches on my dick like a human shish-ka-bob

Hey [woof] CB4 is fly
So grab them ankles, throw your [woof] in the sky

[Chorus: (Daddy-O), Hi-C]

(And fell the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(You can feel the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(Bitch, you can feel the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(You can feel the..)
Sweat from my biggedy-balls!
(Bitch, you can feel the..)
Sweat from my balls!
(BITCH!) Sweat-sweat from my balls!
(BITCH!) Sweat from my balls!
(You can feel the..)
Sweat from my balls!

Pizza question number 1

Q. How do you get your completely crap oven hot enough for pizza?

A. I don't.

My oven sucks. It sucks dead dog's balls. It reckons it can get up to 200, but that's like the speedo in a small Hyundai saying that the car can do 200. Yeah, right.

I have tried putting my pizza stones into the oven, then turning on the griller and leaving the door closed, but all that does is set the smoke detector off. So I have been experimenting with pre-heating the oven for half an hour at the hottest setting, then turning on the griller for 5 minutes to crank it even higher, and then pulling the stones out to make the pizza.

There are the odd occasions when the oven amazes me by producing a pizza in less than 10 minutes, and one with a crispy base at that. But those occasions are about as common as the second coming of Jesus. The more normal process is for me to make the pizza, check it after 10 minutes, find the base is still soggy, give it another 5 minutes (ditto) and then come back after another 5 minutes to find that the base is approaching an acceptable level of crunch, but the topping has gone black and crispy.

Never skimp on the oven. Life is too short to eat shitty pizza.

Onion relish and pizza

Right, since it was pizza night tonight, I decided that I wanted to make a vego pizza that included onion relish as one of the toppings. If you like your steak with a bit of onion relish on the side (or a lot, as I do), or bangers and mash with a MOUND of onion relish piled over the top, then you'll know what I am on about.

I have made it a few times before, but have never had to suffer through cutting up enough onions to make a kilo of sliced onion. The recipe, which comes from Donna Hay, calls for double that, but I never would have survived the slicing of 2kg of onion. As it was, it took me four goes to slice this much (which I think came to 12 onions).

You get a nice big pot, like my Le Cruesett (or however you spell it) and heat it up to medium heat, then toss in a lot of olive oil. Coat the bottom of that sucker, don't be scared of a bit of oil. When it's heated up, chuck in the onions, stir them to break them up then whack the lid on.

Come back every 15 minutes and give them another stir. At the half hour mark, you might have to scrape a few caramelised bits off the base. Cook them for 40-60 minutes - however long it takes them to go a nice brown colour.

For 1kg of onions, throw in half a cup of brown sugar and half a cup of red wine vinegar, plus salt and pepper to taste. I also like to toss in a handful of sage, and you can also throw in things like apple and currants if it takes your fancy. I used white wine vinegar today, and I am not sure if it made any difference.

That much sugar makes it a bit too sweet for me, but I do not have super-sweet taste buds.

How was it on pizza?

Bloody magnificent, if I say so myself.

Instead of using drained and squished tinned tomatoes to make the sauce, I bought a small tub of semi-dried tomatoes from the local woggery, plus tried oven drying a kilo of my own, and munched that up the blender with some garlic and salt to make an excellent pizza sauce. It did need a splash of balsamic vinegar though, and a small amount of sugar.

If you want to know why the average westerner is ingesting so much sugar these days, try making a pizza tomato sauce without sugar. Then keep adding sugar until it tastes like the shit that gets delivered. You'll probably have made a sauce that is 50% red stuff and 50% sugar.

I also make my own dough, because J prefers a dough that is about 30% wholemeal flour, and I have come to like it too. It has more texture than the usual lily-white shite that comes in a cardboard box. The trick is to buy some digital scales for weighing the ingredients. I thought weighing stuff to make dough was a complete crock - until I tried doing it for myself.

I usually make 3 pizzas for 3 of us, and on average, one goes in the fridge for snacks the next day. Enough dough for that many pizzas requires:

500gm flour - you can use all plain, or a mix of plain and wholemeal, or even a mix of semolina, plain and wholemeal (as I do). But weigh it, and make sure it comes to 500gm. Not 501gm. Not 499 gm. 500gm.

350gm water - yes, weigh the water. I normally make a mix of 30gm of olive oil and 320gm water. Whatever mix you use, it must weigh 350gm in total.

10gm of yeast and 10gm of flour.

That's it. Throw it all in a mixer, put in the dough hook and go and blog for 10 minutes.

Come back, turn the dough into a floured bowl, cover with a teatowel and go to the pool for an hour.

Get home, cook, eat and then lie around feeling very fat.


I am making pizza tonight, and one of the things that I want to put on one of them is onion jam. When I make onion jam, or onion relish, I like to add a bit of sage. We have a nice little sage bush growing in the backyard, but I noticed last week that it was starting to grow holes in the leaves.

Today, I found out why - notice the green bug having a feed on this leaf. It looks like a baby grasshopper, but it could be something ele.

I just wish the little buggers would eat one leaf at a time, rather than taking a chunk out of this one and this on and this one and this one and this one and so on.

Well worth a read

Sit down and take 10 minutes to read this article. The link came from here.

It's all about checklists, and how they can save your life if you end up in intensive care one day.

Such a simple concept - the checklist - but so difficult to put into everyday use.

I used to manage an area where my team was looking after a lot of equipment, and it seemed that half the time, I'd arrive at the office to find that some disaster had erupted because something had failed overnight and no one had noticed until users started callin gup to report problems.

So I implemented two checklists - one for the guys that arrived before 7am (the office staff didn't start until a bit after that, so they had time to do the morning checklist before the rush started) and one for those that closed up for the night.

I found that when the checklists were used, the number of morning fuck-ups that we faced fell quite substantially, because the guys found problems before the users did, and were able to fix them before the days work began. It made life much more peaceful.

But could I convince everyone to use them?


I had about 8 people working for me at that time, and only 3 could be relied on to run the checklist at the start or finish of every shift. The rest just couldn't be bothered - even if we struck a problem because they didn't run the checks. Nothing I did could make them see sense.

And no, I was not working in a nuclear power plant or a bio-weapons factory.

I have since drawn the conclusion that in some areas, running checklists has to be made part of the job description of particular staff, and failing to run them should be a sackable offence.

Of course my checklists could not last forever. I moved on to a different role after a while, and handed over my team to another manager. I handed over all the checklists, and he looked at them and then filed them in the round filing cabinet next to his desk. His tenure of course was marked by disaster after disaster, but our boss couldn't see that his failure to follow processes - or even write down some processes - was part of the problem.

I called him "fuckwit". With good reason.

In my next role, I wrote some more procedures and checklists. I then moved on again and handed them to the new guy.

He also declined to use them, and a cruisy role for me turned into perpetual crisis management for him - which is how some people like to spend their working day. If they're not having a crisis, they don't feel like they are doing anything. Pity that their crisis has to fuck up everything around them, and make my workday a misery. I called that bloke "suckhole dickhead".

I just like things to work properly. Is that too much to ask?

Tripodi, Scimone, polony, baloney

Tripodi should just quit now and be done with it. When I was working for a government agency, we were lectured to on numerous occasions by anti-corruption mobs from hither and thither, and the thing that we were told time and time again was that it was not good enough to be free of corruption - one had to also not give any impression of being corrupt. Even the merest whif of taint was enough to do one in.

In other words, perceptions about corrupt conduct were as important as corrupt conduct itself.

Joe Polony might not be corrupt, but he has not exactly covered himself in ethical glory during this episode. So what if you are as straight as a die, Joe? The people around you stink, and their stench is rubbing off on you. Absence thyself to the backbench for a while and cleanse the stench.

The whole appointment of Scimone is a hoot. The entire public service is paranoid about being seen to be providing jobs for the boys, so the process of recruiting someone these days is a jungle of red tape. In fact it has been that way for at least 15 years, and it's gotten worse since the early 1990's. The number of hoops that a manager has to jump through to employ someone is ridiculous, but the entire process is designed to make the system appear to be fair and equitable.

You may not appoint the best person to the job, but after you're done and dusted, you have enough paperwork to at least show that you conducted the process in a non-corrupt fashion.

The thing that really cracks me up is that the process is most rigorously applied for jobs that pay say $40,000 per year. It appears it is pretty loosely applied once you get up into the $200k bracket.

However, I bet the Dept of Smelly Waterways will have a file an inch thick to prove that appointing Baloney was the right thing to do...... but then I have interviewed dozens and dozens of people for at least 30 positions, and I know how to fiddle the paperwork to ensure that you appoint the person that you want to appoint.

Harden up

The SMH today reports on a gay officer who was.... a complete poof.

Constable (or ex-Constable) - harden the fuck up.

You're supposed to be a cop for God's sake. Able to handle tough and traumatic situations. It's not all sitting around at the station drinking tea and eating biscuits (unless you are posted to Five Wog - then it's coffee and pastry.)

The powers that be issued you with a Glock - why didn't you stick it in the face of those that tormented you and threaten to blow their prejudiced grey matter all over the most-wanted posters? If you didn't want to go that far, you could have whacked them a few times with the baton, or given them an eyefull of capsicum spray.

That would have shut them up.

I am just stunned though that they let in a bloke who is insulin dependent. Got a heart problem? You're not going to be a cop.

Got a dicky back? No cop uniform for you.

In a wheelchair? Go strut your stuff somewhere else.

Need to shoot up a few times a day? Hmm, perhaps you should consider a low stress office environment for your career.

The way we're going, the next generation of Police vehicles will be vans with wheelchair lifters at the back to accommodate the growing legions of wheelchair bound, overweight blind dwarves and their seeing-eye dogs.

I don't give a fuck whether you are gay or not - I don't need to know about it. I have worked or served with numerous gays and lesbians (and I am sure I once worked with a tranny), but it's not something that they rubbed in your face. They kept their personal lives to themselves and I kept my personal life to me.

I work with you - I am not your friend. I do not need to know all about your husband's snoring or your divorce problems or the renovation issues you are going through or the shit your kid is getting up to at school. We are here to work, so let's just stick to work issues.

If you do open up to others at work about personal issues, expect a bit of ridicule. I once told a colleague that I spent my weekends rebuilding British cars - never heard the end of that one.

What Dallas might not have understood is that perhaps his Police colleagues didn't like him because he was a tool, not because he was gay. I am sure there are many gays who are obnoxious, nasty and mean and just plain unpleasant to be around (there are certainly more than enough straight men that meet that description).

There are always going to be a certain number of gays that feel victimised - and they'll have to face up to the fact that they are disliked because they are dickheads, and not because of who they prefer to sleep with.

When we got fat

Interesting article for once in the SMH today:

TEENAGERS are doing more exercise than they used to, suggesting a lack of organised physical activity may not be to blame for rising obesity levels.

"1985 is where obesity increases started to occur,"

The reasons could include a decrease in incidental exercise - including walking and cycling to and from school, playing with or walking the dog or playing neighbourhood games with other children - coupled with an increase in the time spent watching television or playing video games.

A third factor was the rise in the availability of low-cost junk food, along with an increase in fast food advertising.

I found this interesting because I finished school in the mid 1980's, which I guess puts me in that generation which was skinny at school, but then piled on the pounds in early adulthood.

We didn't have fat bastards at school in my day. We had no fat teachers either - not a beer gut in sight, although most of them drank like fish.

The last line is interesting - I had never really thought about when we really started to eat a lot of fast food, but it must have been around 1985. I don't remember eating fast food of any kind (apart from fish and chips once every few weeks) whilst I was at school. None.

That was mainly due to the absolute paucity of fast food outlets anywhere. I still remember when McDonalds started in Perth - isn't it strange that one can remember a time that was pre-McDonalds - and I distinctly thinking "this will never catch on", because it was shit compared to Hungry Jacks.

Hungry Jacks was the dominant fast food chain at the time, but even it had probably only 10% of the number of stores that are around today. I can imagine managers doing some strategic planning back in 1985 and saying, "Why increase the density of our stores? No one will ever eat enough of our food to justify that many outlets."

Ha ha. I would have been one of the nay-sayers, which just goes to show how much I understand the average Australian. (I probably have a similar level of understanding as Hugh Mackay - which means very, very little).

There was the odd chicken shop, but they were mainly along the lines of Red Rooster, who do roasted chicken with roast spuds, rather than KFC with deep fried everything.

Most tellingly, soft drinks were sold in small cans or small bottles. Whatever happened to the 285ml can of Coke? Consigned to the dustbin of history, that's for sure. Even now, I still search out the old style glass bottles of Coke that contain just enough liquid to sate my thirst - and nothing more. They are rare as hens teeth.

I spent a bit of time working for Coke in the early 1990's - I guess around the time when obesity was really taking off. Coke will never release the numbers, but back then, management was hell bent on growing the Australian market to match the US market in terms of "serves" sold per head. A serve is a standard measure of volume that Coke uses, and I think it might be based on the old glass bottle - 230ml or something like that. When I was there, the yanks were drinking say 300 serves per person per year, and we were the second biggest guzzlers on the planet - but still a distant second to the US.

The whole company was dedicated to ensuring that we caught up with the yanks. The staff there were particularly fervent about it.

I guess they achieved their goals. Our waistlines are proof of that.

Funnily enough, the people that worked at Coke were the fittest that I have ever worked with before or since. Many of them took 2 hours for lunch so that they could run in the Domain for an hour, and they did that nearly every day. Most seemed to prefer to drink the free fruit juice or bottled water than the fizzy stuff that was on offer.

They must have felt like non-smokers working for BAT.

License to shoot greenies

From the letters section of the Aus (in regard to global warming):

While it’s human nature to want to continue living the good life with minimal restrictions, for the sake of our children we must put ourselves on a war footing.

A war footing? Good-oh. I will start to shoot all greenies on sight.

Saturday 23 February 2008

Our local MP - Angela Tripodi

With all the muck swirling around the career of Joe Tripodi at the moment, it is no wonder that his sister in law prefers to go by her maiden name of Angela D'Amore. I'm not sure how many people know that she has married into that particular den of iniquity.

I was never able to figure out how she was pre-selected for our seat, until I was told that she had been parachuted in by head office - presumably after a bit of arm twisting by her brother in law.

Unfortunately, she shows many of the signs of someone that has been dropped into the job, rather than earning it by merit - with merit excluding marrying into the right faction.

As I was driving around today, I spotted her running a kerbside stand where she was spruiking the benefits of another Iron Cove Bridge. If you're going to blow $150 million of our money (yes, money provided by long suffering taxpayers), then the least you could do would be to spend it on something worthwhile. Building another bridge at that spot is like giving a 90 year old smoker a heart transplant - yes, it might work for a while, but you could do better by sticking the heart somewhere else. You could stick the heart up a cow's bum and still get more societal benefit than opening up an old gasper and stuffing in a new ticker (at great expense).

So there you have it - building a second Iron Cove Bridge is like sticking $150 million up the backside of a cow.

I didn't stop to have a chat with Angela, since it would do no good. Apart from giving the impression that she is a 15 watt lightbulb (of the old variety), she is not a good listener. She is a talker, and she will stand there all day trying to tell you what you should have, rather than listening to what I actually want. The righteously stupid should never be allowed into Parliament. Or any other position of power for that matter.

A mate of mine has been corresponding with Angela of late in regard to the bridge, so I drove around to his place, banged on the door and told him to put his underwear on (not on his head) and shoot down there to have a chat with her. Preferably waving a sheaf of her completely useless correspondence. He's sent her a couple of letters, which spell out a certain position, and she has blithely ignored most of what he has said and responded about things which don't concern him at all.

It's like he wrote suggesting that we should graze goats in the local park to keep the grass down, and she responded with a screed about a new MRI machine at Concord Hospital. She's that far off the ball.

Unless we are now using MRI machines to look at the insides of goats that have eaten a sprinkler at the local park.

I hope a comment will appear shortly describing his interaction with the Dense One today.

My aching legs

I managed to crank the weekly distance up to just over 150km this week, and boy, am I feeling it in my legs. About 10 seconds after waking up this morning, I got the most awful calf cramp. As I lay there screaming in bed and thrashing about, I felt the spot where it had cramped - there was this huge knot of muscle sticking out the side of my leg - it was like an alien was preparing to burst forth.

It's nice to know that I have amazingly knottable muscles in my legs now, but I would prefer it if they didn't decide to burst out of my skin early on a Saturday morning.

Then the Monkey woke up and decided it was time to jump on me, and when he landed on my leg, it felt like I had been punched by Mike Tyson.

This cycling is all good fun, except that I'd be dead without having the weekend off.

Next week, I want to crack the 100 mile mark, which should be achievable (bar punctures, getting hit by a bus, lung disease and all the usual things which cut a ride short).

Getting there is simple - all I have to do is get in the saddle around 6.15am and take the long way into work, which is between 18 and 20km - and I need to do that most days next week. Even if I take the short route home, I will be doing at least 32km per day, and that will give me my 160km for the week. If I throw in a few jaunts around the longer route on the way home, I'll go way past the tonne.

The trick is to achieve the weekly target and survive the week intact. There is no point being so buggered on Friday afternoon that I'm asleep at my desk (which is what everyone else is normally doing) or being too exhausted to drag my sorry carcase out of bed in the mornings.

All things in moderation.

Heston Blumenthal

Today I was fortunate enough to be inducted into that select group of people that have watched a few episodes of "In Search of Perfection", which is fronted up by chef-man, Heston Blumenthal.

His series is a delightful change to Jamie, who I am starting to get a bit sick of.

I really liked the third episode, which shows how to cook the perfect steak. There is no point in me trying to describe the episode, since you can acquire it via the usual means (and he has a book out as well, probably available in ABC Shops). All I can suggest is that you have a look at this one episode (if you like steak) because:

  1. It is an absolute marvel, and
  2. It will make you very hungry
  3. For steak
And that has to be a good thing.

The other episodes are also well worth a watch.

Friday 22 February 2008

Girls bike convoy?

There is a function centre on the city side of the Bay called La Montage, or something like that - a horrible 1990's concrete and glass construction that is the favoured location for every wog reception.

The normal state of affairs when I go past each morning is an empty car park and a general air of desolation.

But not this morning.

Nova were holding some sort of bike charity ride. I didn't even bother to slow down as I went past, let alone stop. Nova is the kind of radio station that if it was in say Serbia, and I was an Air Force targetting planner, it would be at the top of my list for repeated bombardment.

I found out later that it was all about blokes riding girls bikes, which explained the blokes pulling girls bikes out of the back of their utes as I went past.

Some people will do anything to get near someone who is too ugly to appear on TV.

Thursday 21 February 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good - riding in to a beautiful sunrise against the backdrop of the city.

The bad - being held up by not one bus but two. It was not that long ago that A Current Affair was running stories of bikes holding up buses. Well, in my case, it is the other way around. Although there is a cycle lane on the inside, only the truly insane would try and use it to pass two buses on a windy road. For most of this section of the trip, their wheels were well and truly in my lane.

The ugly - after my "Venice" photos yesterday showing the Bay at low tide, all sorts of things have started to emerge from the ooze. Here is a rather ancient shopping trolley, looking a bit the worse for wear. I wonder if these things are going to walk out of the Bay one day, like zombies, and start to stalk the land. I hope they only eat other shopping trolleys.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Yes, I have changed the title photo again

The photo is kind of the story of my cycling life.

Sitting on the side of the road, preferably in the shade or out of the rain, fixing a flat tyre.

I am a crab when it comes to fixing flats. It takes me 10 minutes to swap out a tube, I always end up black shit smeared all over my body, and I generally manage to sprain a thumb or bruise a finger in the process.

Today's flat is brought to you by some broken glass that some tool left on the side of the road near the Barnwell Park golf course.

If you run into the back of another car and break your headlight or smash their tail light, do me a favour - sweep ALL the glass off the road. Sweep it down a storm water drain for all I care - just get it off the fucking tarmac.

Hell's Accountants

Is there anything sadder than a couple of middle aged accountants on a Harley?

I hope I don't get this stupid when I reach their age.

Is Australia a religious country?

Plenty of people think not. I don't think we are especially religious or observant.

But check out this war memorial (in Burwood). The inscription at the top says "Thanks be unto God who gave us the victory".

That tells me that we were once a religious country, given how many memorials are dotted around the country with similar sentiments. Try and raise a memorial these days with the word "God" on it and see how far you get.

Things like this are all around us, and they should remind us that our forebears were a lot more Godly than we are today. However, some people like to act like we were never a religious country, and that religion had no part to play in our history.

Well, here is a rather large fact, carved in stone and set in a prominent location - making it a bit hard to ignore. But modern revisionist historians can walk past things like this all day and never take the slightest bit of notice.

Never trust a historian who can't see what is right in front of his fucking nose.

Not quite Venice

Apparently Venice is short of water. So short, some of the canals are dry.

Amazingly, none of the articles that I read on this topic mentioned global warming. Not one! Something is wrong here.... surely global warming must be to blame somehow.

The only reasoning that I can make up is that the water in Venice is actually polar bear wee, and we all know what's happening to polar bears......yes, they are multiplying like rats. So expect Venice to be eleventy-nine feet under water when the bears wake up and have a post-nap wee.

Even the Bay near Five Dock is looking a little dry. Given the way this area smells some times, I reckon my polar bear wee theory holds water (nyuk nyuk).


Haven't seen too many of these things around. This bloke was unloading his from a neat little carry thing on the back of his car as I drove past. His movements were a bit jerky, so I suspect he might have had some sort of motor-neuron thingy, which would explain the use of a Segway around town.

It barely took him any time at all to unload the Segway, mount up and shoot through. I barely had time to do a U-turn, pull out the camera and grab a snap before he was off.

I still remember the hype that was generated before these things were released. And look at them now - how many are around? Stuff all. They never took the world by storm as expected.

Unadulterated twat-monkeys

The scene: the spot where the bike/pedestrian path from the Anzac Bridge disgorges bikes into Pyrmont.

Here we have a classis case of delivery truck wanker-itis. On the left, you can see a bike coming down the bike path, and he has to make a sharp right onto the street just behind where this truck is parked. If you misjudge the turn, you'll go straight into the tailgate of the truck.

The truck was delivering a piano by the way.

To a block of flats.

Bet the other residents will be impressed.

What shits me about this truck is that it completely and utterly blocks the view that a cyclist has of vehicles coming from the right of this photo. The only way to find out what is coming is to stick your nose out from behind the truck, and hope that your front wheel is not taken off by a passing fuck knuckle taxi driver as it screams past (as they are wont to do around this location).

In short, it is Retarded Parking 101.

Tuesday 19 February 2008

How much culture is sufficient

I like to leave the odd comment over at Tim Blair. I would like to think that I recently coined a new phrase, describing the Policies of the Mungbeans as creating Potemkin villages of Aboriginal culture.

A Potemkin village has been described thusly:

The term is now widely used to describe elaborate and superficial constructions designed to pass official inspection, but lacking any real substance...

Well, as far as dinky-di Aboriginal culture goes, that sounds fairly good to me.

But perhaps we should be asking a deeper question - how much culture is enough?

J's background is Croatian. Her uncle is a tremendous supporter of the local Croatian club, which is presumably one of the favourite methods around here for preserving an element of Croat culture in Australia.

But what does that mean - "preserving some Croat culture?"

Having briefly studied her relatives, I think it includes the following:

  • knowing enough language to hold a conversation with grandma, who knows very little English
  • being able to read a Croat newspaper (equivalent difficulty of say the Daily Telegraph)
  • having a liking for traditional foods - but not necessarily be able to prepare them (that's what grandma does)
  • attending the appropriate church on a regular basis (ie, more than Easter and Christmas)
  • drinking too much grappa at the club each week
  • turning up at the various annual festivals and knowing how to do a few of the old dances
Beyond that, I'm not sure what else following that particular culture involves. There might be a few Croat rock bands that the kids like, or they might choose to play gay-ball, I mean, soccer; and it possibly means thumping the odd Serb. I'm not sure, since J's parents made a deliberate decision to stop being Croats when they got here and to becomes Australians. Sure, they do five of the six things above, but they are Australians who happened to come from Croatia, rather than Croatians who happen to be living in Australia (like the uncles).

I think they deliberately turned their back on Croatian culture because they didn't like what they saw before they left, and they split Croatia for a good reason - war, death, pestilence and all that sort of thing. They didn't like the things that their old culture led to, like lots of people being killed, so they took on a new culture - the Australian culture - which didn't get off on things like killing every Serb in artillery range.

The thing is though, people can live here for 5 or 6 generations and still hang onto many elements of their parent culture. Just look at the Chinese or Italians or Greeks that have been here for yonks. They're as Australian as me, with my British background (from about 150 years ago), yet they still follow many of their old cultural traditions when at home or at a festival.

Culture dies hard.

At least the core elements die hard. Various unimportant bits might be dropped pretty quickly when one culture meets another, but the core continues.

So how much Aboriginal culture is it necessary to hang onto in order for "Aboriginality" to survive? Do we need to have people living in communes in the middle of nowhere, supposedly with the aim of them keeping alive 100% of their cultural traditions? If muslims can move here from Iraq and manage to hang onto a huge swag of cultural baggage whilst living in Sydney or Melbourne, why do we think that Aboriginal culture is so fragile that it will not survive contact with the urbanised world?

If anything, we tend to be more worried about cultural traits amongst certain immigrants groups that have proven so resistant to elimination - like slicing bits off vaginas at an early age.

If people are really interested in maintaining their culture, they will go to extraordinary lengths to sustain it. Groups of like minded people will get together and form a club, subscribing funds towards buying a clubhouse. They'll spend inordinate amounts of time publishing newspapers in the old lingo, organising festivals, running language schools on the weekends, ensuring that the religion is sustained and all that sort of thing. Culture will only survive if the members of that culture want it to, and culture can survive in very hostile environments (just think about being a Christian in Iraq at the moment).

We should not presume that Aboriginal culture is so fragile that it needs to be put on life support in some socialist utopia cocoon in the middle of nowhere. If anything, these nirvanas are probably killing it off.

I'll know there is hope for it when I flick open the yellow pages one day and find that alongside the Gaelic Club and the Italian Club and the Macedonian Club, there is an Aboriginal Club.

Until then, all we can expect is for it to fade away to a hollow shell, listlessly subsiding in the Potemkin Villages of Culture.

Evil old man

I have followed this bloke twice in the last few weeks. He seems to be about 55 years old, 5 feet tall and he goes like the clappers. The first time I followed him, I was going too fast to safely take the camera out of my pocket to grab a snap. He had slowed down marginally today - just enough for me to risk grabbing a photo.

This photo is a bit grainy, but check out the calf muscles on the old dude.

Building willy's

This building has silver willys hanging out of the windows. Wierd.

C is for cookie

How cool is this shirt?

Monday 18 February 2008

Odd sight of the week

Spotted in town last week. Crossing at the lights in front of me - a lady dwarf. What's odd about that?

Nothing, apart from the yoga mat in her bag.

I simply find the idea of watching a dwarf doing yoga to be....odd. That's all.

Useful idea for air miles

From the Devil's Kitchen:

Ministers are banned from using air miles accrued on official trips, and are expected to put them towards reducing the cost of future ministerial travel or donate them to charity.

Why would you donate air miles to a charity? Such as one that caters to the homeless.....

.....unless the idea is to send your homeless winos somewhere on a one way ticket, such as Uganda (assuming you can get a ticket on air miles to Uganda). Otherwise, I guess you just ship them off to Romania.

And if they want to come back? Well, have you ever tried booking a seat with air miles? They'll be away at least six months before they get a seat back.


Why is it that you often read of "government advisors" in the press, but never hear about the following job descriptions:

  • Government Decision Maker
  • Government Buck Stops Here
Advisors. Pfft.

Sunday 17 February 2008

Is this Melbourne or Sydney?

Tuesday. I get up, look out the window, decide it won't rain and so ignore my rain jacket. Five minutes into the ride - just at that point where there is no way in hell I am doing a U turn and going home to get some warm clothing - it starts to bucket down. It's a brisk 17 degrees, so I start to wonder whether I am going to start suffering from the cold or not when it stops raining. Phew. Lucky escape.

Wednesday. Looks like rain, so this time I wear my rain jacket. 10 minutes later, I stop and take it off because I am baking, and not a drop has fallen.

Note to self - stop annoying the weather gods.

Pointy headed turds

Here we have a local charity bin.

I can think of two reasons why all that charity clothing and pots and pans are lying on the ground.

Some lazy sod couldn't be bothered getting his stuff in through the slot at the top. I doubt that, since anyone who is organised enough to get all their old crap together and to take it to a charity bin is not the type who will baulk at the last hurdle and fail to stuff their old tweeds into the bin.

The more likely explanation is that some local shithead has decided to go rooting through the bin for something useful, and couldn't be bothered to clean up after themself post mess making.

We have a lovely town square in Five Wog. I'd dearly like to bring back the stocks. And a spot of birching in public.

New shoes

After pretty much utterly anihalating my old riding shoes, I finally worked up the courage recently to buy a new pair. I have been insanely hesitant to do so, mainly because of the ridiculous width of my feet. The old pair were the widest I could find, yet they still caused my little toe to disappear off the nerve network after about 25km of riding. Over the last two years, I have been through a good half dozen bike shops, looked at what seems to be every pair of shoes on the market, and been put off by the worry that I'll splash out $300 on a pair of clogs that don't fit.

But things finally got to the point where I had to bite the bullet and get a new pair. The soles on the old ones had started peeling off from the heel, and they were starting to look like they wouldn't see out the month without a catastrophic sole peeling episode halfway home.

So I bought a new pair. And I left them in the box for a week whilst I bedded in the new bike computer and worried about the chinstrap on my new helmet.

Then the day dawned when I finally worked up the courage to try them on.

Fuck! - they are so comfortable, they make the old lot seem like an iron maiden. What was I thinking?

Shoe shopping - the bane of straight men everywhere.


This is a post about cycling and numbers. Every week, I have the same set of numbers running around inside my head.

If I am to break the magic 150km a week mark, I must do 30km every weekday. That means at least one "long" ride each day (hard core cycle nuts would probably piss themselves laughing at the thought of 20km being a "long" ride, but it's the best I can do in the time available between leaving work and having to do family stuff at home).

That means riding 5 days a week. If I am to crack the 200km mark, which seems to be an ever illusive mirage shimmering in the distance, then I must do two long rides per day, which means getting up before 6am and leaving the house before 6.30am. If some bastard at work has organised at 8am meeting, I have to depart even earlier.

Every day, the numbers keep going around and around as I cycle into work or return home. I do the calculation every time I get in the saddle - am I going to keep my average up at 30km today? Can I extend it and go past 150km this week? I'm feeling like crap - if I drop out early today, can I keep the average at the required level?

So far this year, I have hardly been able to make even the 150km mark. Some conspiracy of medical appointments or work scheduling restricts me to four days of riding. Punctures, mechanical failures and just plain bad weather leave me no option but to keep the ride distance to a minimum in order to get home in one piece. Muscle fatigue hasn't really been a problem this year, which has surprised me greatly.

Every 20km in the saddle represents about an hour of good, sustained exercise. So cracking the ton, or 160km, means 8 solid hours of exercise per week.

I can't get over the fact that various government agencies are still promoting the idea of half an hour of moderate exercise a couple of times per week. I work my arse off making 160km, and the waistline barely shrinks. I presume that the agencies are worried that if they tell people they need to do 2 solid hours of hard exercise per day, it will scare everyone off exercise for good.

Face it, 50 years ago, most of us would have been doing a hell of a lot more exercise than we are now. Even if I do 90 solid minutes per day, I am probably doing less than half of what someone like me would have been doing in say 1935. As a nation, we've largely forgotten what hard work involves, having mechanised just about every possible chore. Even farming has gone soft, thanks to chainsaws, things that help with fencing, tractors with lots of hydraulics and bulk loading. Imagine having to do everything with an axe, shovel and horse.

Ugh. The easier we make our lives, the harder we have to work to stay in shape.

How useful are you?

Mirande Devine rightly puts the boot into the idiotic Jenny Macklin today in the SMH:

Why, asked Kerry O'Brien, had the Government made housing the priority of its new policy commission on indigenous disadvantage?

"So that children can sleep safely at night, so that kids can do their homework in the afternoon, so that mothers and fathers can get ready for work the next day," she said.

What planet is she talking about where bricks and mortar can create such miracles?

How right she is. Housing is not the problem. The problem is the behaviour of the people residing in that housing. We've spent billions over the past decade on building very nice brick and tile houses for poor trash, both black and white, and the behaviour of the recipients of much of that largess has not improved one iota.

On the other hand, I have friends who have lived in rather small weatherboard houses - accommodation that must rank as a much worse alternative - who have lived a normal family existence.

The quality of the housing stock that you live in does not appear to be a good indicator to me of how well your children will perform at school (assuming you bother to send them to one), how much money you earn or how many times DOCS comes knocking at your door.

I reckon if some horrible disaster struck Five Wog and we were all forced to live in a tent city erected on one of the local parks, that life would go on much as before. It would be harder, but the kids would still go to school, I would still go to work, and things like washing, homework, cooking and all the rest of it would continue to be done on a daily basis.

I can state that because I have spent several months living under canvas, cooking in the open air, crapping in an outdoor latrine dug into the ground, and working off a trestle table and reading by a gas lantern at night. Yes, showers are not as comfortable when they are cold and only last 3 minutes and have to be taken under a showerhead strung from a tree, and it's a pain to queue up to do a bundle of laundry at the communal washing machine, but it's not an excuse for sitting on your bum doing nothing.

There would of course be some people that would sit around on their arse all day, expecting "the government" to do everything for them. That's just human nature - on the great bell curve of life, there are those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those that go "what the fuck just happened?"

Personally, unless they were 90 years old (like my neighbour) or struggling with a bunch of kids under the age of 5, I'd leave them sitting there - once they get hungry and cold enough, they might get off their arse and do something about it.

On the other hand, having worked with some world class whingers that wouldn't work in an iron lung, I think all that would happen is that the volume of whinging would steadily increase until those of us that had been working all day got sick of it and went and helped them out. Probably by whacking them over the head with a shovel.

Local government 101

Why does the media have such a problem reporting the plight of many aboriginals?

Partly because they fly in and fly out and have a very limited amount of time to grab a story - and they want a story with plenty of blood - something that will generate a headline with a bit of luck. They need a story with a strong emotional hook, and have no interest in something as boring as the machinations of local government.

Local government is generally laughed at as a repository of lots of little wanna-be Napoleons and ridiculously jumped up shopkeepers, but it's the layer of government that probably has more impact on your life than the other two.

The federal government could probably all decamp to Tasmania for a decade and we probably wouldn't notice that they've gone. But if the local council is a day late in collecting the garbage, you'll know all about it.

Here's something interesting - I have been in contact with various arms of government for multifarious reasons over the last 10 years, and I've found time and time again that the local mob are the most responsive. The mayor and the councillors and probably most of the staff live here. They care about say the state of the local park as much as I do - because they use it to. We share common vested interests, and when they intersect, things happen remarkably quickly.

State governments are more removed from the local action, and by definition, the commonwealth mob are so removed, they might as well be operating from Moonbase Alpha.

Here in whitey-land (as in that part of Australia inhabited largely by white or yellow people of some description), local government gets things done because that is their job. If I ask the Council to fix a pot hole in our street, they don't ask me which family I am member of, which party I voted for at the last election or whether I am a drinking buddy of a councillor. They just fix the flipping thing, because most of us are treated reasonably equally most of the time.

I'm not saying that a bit of favouritism isn't applied from time to time - human nature says that favours will be done in all organisations at all levels. However, basic service delivery is not predicated on you being on the right side of the Mayor. I can sling as much shit at the greasy little bastard as I like, and my rubbish will still be emptied once a week. That's the nature of things. Service delivery is as apolitical as it can be made.

In short, we do not suffer from the "big man" syndrome here in whitey-land. The idea of paramount chiefs or lords doling out favours on a whim disappeared from our culture so long ago, we are no longer able to accept that such a thing exists in any human society. We've grown up believing that the rest of the planet is as polite and civilised as we are.

Well, sorry to break it to you, but most of the planet runs on the spoils system. Why is Kenya in the shit at the moment? Because the mob that are in power, and have been raping the state for the last 30 years, have been unelected, and they don't want to let go of the piggy bank. They've been doling out fat to their supporters, and only their supporters, for years. Those that have benefited don't want to give up the spoils either.

The big man still exists in Australia, but only in blackfella-land. I guess we rationalise it by dropping it in "culture" bucket - as in, "It's ok if they do that - it's part of their culture".

Funny how the activities that we have long accepted of some Aboriginal big men would get a white man locked up for about 50 offences involving corruption, nepotism, favouritism and all the other -isms that I can't think of right now.

Maybe it's time the tilty heads woke up to the fact that one reason why we have an advanced society is because we ditched the idea of the big man a long time ago. It is an impediment to progress. If you go to an aboriginal community and find that some people are living very well (thank you very much) whilst others are suffering all sorts of appalling deprivation, it's a sure sign of the big man syndrome in operation, because the big man always creams off plenty for himself and his family (leaving a much smaller cake for the plebs).

I would not be surprised to find the 80/20 rule operating in a lot of fucked-up communities - 80% of the resources are gobbled up by 20% of the ruling elite, leaving the remaining 80% of the people to get by on 20% of the cake.

Socialists and their ilk are always raving about income distribution and how skewed it is in white society (the paypackets of CEO's vs the average worker), but they've never bothered to study real income distribution in an aboriginal community. I'm not talking about what people get paid officially - I'm talking about what they end up with in reality after various nefarious schemes and lurks have redistributed the money. And I don't mean redistrbution along the lines of our progressive tax system - I mean redistribution from the have-nots to the haves, and from the poor to the rich. I'm sure a reverse Robin Hood is in action in a lot of these places.

Think I'm barmy? How else can you explain how so much money can be tipped into these places, yet there is so little to show for it (apart from some very new and shiny Landcruisers and aircraft being bought on a regular basis by the select few).

You want to fix up some of these shit holes? Give the people the same type of local government that you and I are used to. If that means smashing up the "culture" then so be it. We did it to ourselves a few hundred years ago, and the results were good. Why are we so hesitant to demolish the worst aspects of aboriginal culture?

What's good enough for white people is good enough for black people.

Saturday 16 February 2008

The past is a third world country

The whole "sorry" thing is an exercise in judging the actions of the past by the conditions of the present.

And that, my friends, is frogshit.

The past is the past. The conditions of the day that motivated people to do certain things are different to the conditions of today. Lefties always go on about "context", but I am yet to hear anyone use that word when it comes to saying sorry. Context has become the dirty word as far as the sorry shock troops are concerned.

I hate using the "c" word as well, since I think it has been horribly overused, so I will not use it again. But keep it in the back of your mind.

I'll start with an analogy. When I was a student 20 years ago, this was our idea of a pretty flash car. A 1979 Commodore, three speed auto with a 3.3 litre carby engine. Out of all the cars my friends had, it was the only one to have air conditioning.

Until Trendyman wrote his off by smashing it into a tree in Kings Park (during what I suspect was a blowjob), it was the ducks nuts of cars in our troupe.

But look at it now. If you told a kiddie these days that a friend owned this car, they'd look at you oddly and then say, "What the hell were you thinking?" By the standards of today, it is a total bucket of shit. The engine was underpowered, the styling attrocious, it had the handling characteristics of a delivery van and the interior was designed by bogans. It also lacked ABS, cruise control, climate control, an MP3 player and possibly power steering (I don't recall any of our cars back then having cruise control - I think obesity became a problem when we stopped having to work hard to park our cars).

In 20 years, our country has come a long way. We are much, much richer than we were back in 1987. Engineering improvements have delivered incredible jumps in the standard of the things that we have at our fingertips. Humble items like washing machines have more computing power than the XT computers that I did my uni work on back in '87.

The era that I grew up in is quite different from today in terms of attitudes, wealth, technology, communications and all that. The only thing that doesn't seem to have changed is that people are still beastly to each other.

If you consider how much has changed in 20 years, then try and think how much things have changed since the 1930's.

The 1930's might as well be a different country. If today is Australia, the 1930's are Kenya, Uganda or perhaps the highlands of PNG. We are talking about a country that by the standards of today, would be considered decidely third world. A simple thing to imagine is that the street outside your house is unpaved gravel, rather than tarmac (this does not apply if you are living on a farm).

If you think that's a bit of a stretch, I recently looked at some photos of Haberfield, which is a very nice suburb just around the corner. It's hard to buy a 3 bedroom house there for under a million bucks. It was one of the first "garden suburbs" to be developed in Australia. All the streets in the photos are gravel, and the blocks had laneways at the back for the dunny cart.

If your definition of the first world is where your shit gets taken away in a bucket by a horse drawn cart, then you need to update your view of the world. If you look at all the indicators of wealth that define a modern country today - the percentage of kids that go to secondary school, infant mortality rates, the prevalence of certain diseases, percentage of income spent on food, square metres of living space per person, access to clean drinking water and a proper sewerage system, then by any definition, my parents grew up in a third world country.

Most people walked to work. The last place I saw that was South Africa in 1994, and the only people walking to work were the blacks who lived in mud houses without electricity on the outskirts of the towns. (I recall driving past entire villages at night that failed to show a single light. Once the sun went down, everyone went to bed. It was like medieval England).

The infant mortality rate had dropped quite substantially by 1930, but in 1900, it was up around where the Congo is today, and the Congo is a country completely fucked by civil war, misgovernment and banditry.

Steam trains were the high-tech way to get around.

Most cooking was still done with wood fired stoves. Gas and electric cooking would not make serious inroads into the middle class home until after WWII. Again, the last time I saw a lot of people cooking at home over a wood fired stove was in Soweto, which we drove into by accident.

Drugs like penicillin had not been invented. Medicine was still pretty crude. Most homes did not have a telephone. Mum grew up on a farm out in the wheatbelt, and it was pretty much on the edge of civilisation - if not beyond it. The walls of the house were made of hessian, the uprights of bush poles. Meat was kept in a meat safe - refrigeration was beyond their reach. Hot water did not come out of a tap - it came out of a kettle that you boiled over a fire. Given that she grew up during the Depression, her experience was probably a little rougher than that had by many, but not untypical.

But note that she still grew up with a good education - good enough to get a Masters degree later in life. Her handwriting is beautiful to behold - far better than mine. She is a human calculator - I think my generation are the last of a breed that can add up a supermarket docket in their head - and she leaves me for dead when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation.
I mention these things because although both my parents grew up in environments that would no doubt be defined as "deprived" these days, they turned out to be tough, self-reliant, well adjusted people, and they have gone on to achieve a lot in their lives, including bringing up me and my siblings as succesful, happy, well adjusted people (although sometimes my rantings might give you reason to question that last item).

They did things differently back then. They thought differently. They acted differently, because it was a different country to the one we live in today.

Take Dad. He dropped out of school because WWII had been declared, and he knew that he would be signing up, along with every other male of his age - and he figured that if WWI was any guide, a lot of them would not be coming back, so doing the year 12 exams did not rate high on his list of priorities.

Imagine that - every 17 year old male knowing that they had a duty to serve, even after living with the results of WWI for their entire lives up until then. Fathers and uncles that did not return from France, neighbours hopping around on one leg and some crutches, or the local shopkeeper with only one arm. The enormous repatriation hospitals housing thousands of those that had been gassed or too badly wounded to live a normal life. Seeing men with one arm or one leg was the norm - not an oddity.

And you know what? They all went and queued up and off they went, and thankfully most of them came back in one piece.

But I digress. Or do I? Can you imagine the same thing happening today? Do we live in a country that contains hundreds of thousands of patriotic young Australians who are willing to risk it all for freedom?

I hope we do. I grew up as one of them, and I'd like to think that I grew up with people like that. But I sometimes think that we are a shrinking breed, slowly being squeezed out of existence by the social engineers with the tilty heads.

Those young men and women who queued up at the recruitment centres back in 1939, 1940 and 1941 like my father, his brother and pretty much everyone they knew, looked at the world differently to the way we see it today. Sure, they think a bit differently today to how they thought in 1940, but that's because they have adapted and changed as the world has changed around them. But the reasons for why they did the things they did back then have not changed, because those things were done back then - 60 years ago or more. The reasons have not changed or adapted over that time, because the decisions were made with respect to the thinking,the culture, the attitudes, the technology and the resources that existed at that time.

Once a decision is made, it is made. You can't go back later on and change the reasoning behind why you made that choice. The reasoning is fixed in stone, cemented in the time in which that decision was made.

People have such a bad habit of looking at the past and deriding the decisions that were made because we think we know so much better today. But when you make a decision, you make it with the information you have at the time - not the information you have 50 years down the track. They say that the future is uncertain with good reason. We have no information about the future. We have information about the past, and information about now, but the future is guesswork. Judging the past is the height of intellectual masturbation.

I will wrap up with these thoughts. I have been through a lot of historical houses in my time, and it strikes me that the ones that we have kept are generally those of the elite of that time - we have preserved the houses that were owned by the equivalents of the 1890's Kerry Packer. There are some places around that are a bit further down the scale, but they were probably owned by the upper middle class - think of homes today that are worth say $1.5 million or more.

We have not preserved the hovels of the poor, and with good reason. As soon as we could afford it, we flattened them. Some of the inner city suburbs still have plenty of examples of where the poor white trash lived back in say 1920, but even they have been scrubbed up by bringing the toilet inside, adding a hot water system and a gas stove. Most of us have no conception of how the poor really lived 80 years ago, because we have done away with the shabby infrastructure which housed them. The rat infested, typhoid ridden shacks that made up most of The Rocks were flattened to build the Harbour Bridge. Several generations of renovators and rebuilders have flattened and rebuilt or gutted and renovated the warrens of the lower classes, and instead of a family of 10 living in a cramped, narrow two bedroom terrace, we now have a couple of trendy arty types luving it up in a gentrified existence in Newtown.

We don't see real poverty in the city anymore. You can see a bit of it if you want to - just visit the Block down at Redfern, but most people are not game to visit, since the chance of being mugged by a drug-fucked young fool seems to be abnormally high. The Block is shuttered away so that people like us can safely ignore it. And we do.

When I think of poverty, I think of the mental cases that you occasionally see wandering the streets of the CBD. They're usually drunk, they are badly dressed and filthy, they stink (generally having pissed in their clothes in their sleep, or even crapped in them) and they are all completely off their heads, hearing voices and talking back in an animated fashion. Those people are poor - they lack a roof over their heads, they can easily go hungry, they lack access to washing facilities and toilets and it is doubtful they will ever be gainfully employed.

Now, consider this. Almost all the nutbags are white. None are asian. Their accents indicate that they were born here - none seem to be immigrants. They are home grown nutters.

If one of them had a kid in tow - say four years old - would you think it appropriate to allow them to hang onto that kid?

I doubt it.

The kid would be whisked away before you could say 'boo', and you'd be hard pressed to find someone that would think that unfair and unwise.

Now travel down the road a bit to the park opposite Central. On most days, that park will contain up to a dozen blackfellas, who will be happily getting on the turps and pestering those passing by for change. Most of them appear to sleep rough. Like the white winos, they smell. Some have clearly fried all their remaining brain cells. The only difference between black and white drunks is that the whites seem to be happy on their own, whilst the blacks are a more sociable bunch. I might have to think on that one day.

But let's imagine that the gaggle of blackfellas also have a couple of 4 year old kids with them. Would we think it appropriate that they should continue to grow up in such a fashion? Or should the authorities take them away?

Let's assume that you have voted for removal.

Now transpose the scene to a 'township' out in the NT somewhere. The drunks are the same, except a bit dustier, and all the circumstances are the same except that there are no white people walking past every day. The place is entirely black, and whilst some people are making a go of it, they're constantly dragged down by their drunken, violent, destructive kith and kin.

Would we leave kids in that environment, or take them away?

Me, I'd be stuffing them on a bus and heading for a boarding school in Darwin as fast as the speed limit would allow. And I'd fight tooth and nail to stop the little buggers from escaping and running away to head back to a shit hole like that - a shit hole with no future. Who in their right mind would let them go back to that?

Whilst you ponder this, I'll add something else into the mix. Remember what I told you about the 'country' that my parents grew up in? Try and imagine what the black townships looked like before the government started pouring in money for housing, Landcruisers, phones, electricity, water supplies, sewerage, schools, medical centres, roads, washing machines, sinks, beds, kitchen tables, chairs, fridges and all the other things that we take for granted today.

Imagine growing up in a place without any of that stuff, but instead of growing up with religious, deeply moral and hardworking parents that have very little (like my parents), imagine growing up surrounded by drunks, raised by your mum because your dad has shot through, and without a welfare system to support you, your mum and your sibblings.

I don't have a problem with anyone being removed from a place like that, no matter what their colour.

So all I can say Kevin, is that you can stick your sorry up your arse.