Tuesday 31 March 2009

Catching up on this whole AIG thing

The fiasco over the AIG bonuses is worth looking into, since pulling a stunt like this might be the sort of thing Rudd stoops to if he gets in a jam.

Let me see if I have this right:

  1. One part of a division of AIG fucked up in a major way. They lost the company tens of billions of dollars on bad contracts.
  2. All those contracts were overseen and approved by the US government regulator, and various EU financial regulators as well. There was nothing illegal or "slippery" about them.
  3. AIG executives made large donations to various politicans. The two that got the most in donations were Senator Barack Obama (Democrat) and Chris Dodd (Democrat, and Chairman of the Banking Committee that oversees the financial industry, which includes AIG). Obama and Dodd both recieved over $100,000 from AIG executives.
  4. When AIG went down the shitter, and the government stepped in to bail them out, the AIG managers that had fucked up were all fired. Some managers that stayed behind to try to salvage the wreck volunteered to work for a salary of $1 per year, and to recieve a bonus if they did a good job in retrieving any value (thus limiting losses to the taxpayer)
  5. Chris Dodd (Democrat), as Chairman of the Banking Committee, inserted specific clauses into the Stimulus Bill to ensure that those AIG staff who were entitled to bonuses would still recieve them - even after the government pumped in a supertanker full of cash.
  6. Nancy Pelosi (Democrat) rammed that Stimulus Bill, with Chris Dodd's little clause, through the House of Reps will little review or debate. It had to be done NOW NOW NOW.
  7. Harry Reid (Democrat) then rammed the bill at full speed through the Senate. No hearings were allowed, which might have uncovered gems like the bonus clause.
  8. President Obama (Democrat) then rushed to sign the bill, which included the bonus clause.
AIG then goes to pay the bonuses, and suddenly the poo hits the fan. Dodd, Pelosi, Reid and Obama suddenly think that the AIG executives, working for a salary of $1, and with valid contractual bonus arrangements and recently passed legislation to cover the payment of those bonuses, are the Spawn of Satan. And they didn't know anything about the bonuses in advance etc etc etc. So now the executives have to pay the bonuses back, or have them taxed to almost nothing.

Will those executives on $1 at least be back-paid a salary? It would be funny if the back-paid salary equalled the amount they would have recieved as a bonus, but at least Obama etc would be covered because it would no longer be a "bonus", it would be a salary. As if there is a difference.

This kind of mob-driven populist nonsense worries me. The fact that Dodd, Pelosi, Reid and Obama could ram through a huge bill without being aware of the contents is even more of a worry.

Be very aware of people in a hurry. Their mistakes are likely to be enormous.

Monday 30 March 2009

Negative role models

When did we start to get concerned about people like sportsmen and politicians being role models? When I was growing up, I don't remember being told that this football player or that cricketer was a role model. They kicked a ball or bowled a ball and then got prodigiously and famously drunk. World record drunk. And we adored them for it.

But were they role models? Did we want to live our lives like them?

I don't remember ever wanting to live like Dennis Lillee. I wanted to be able to bowl like him (ha ha ha), but his lifestyle off the field was a mystery to one and all. Gossip mags had not been invented, and frankly, I don't think 12 year old boys really cared whether Dennis ever had an altercation with a taxi driver after a night at the pub or not. If he did, we would have backed Dennis, and castigated the driver for not giving a Real Man a free ride.

But positive role models now seem to be all the rage, with various groups seeming to be almost desperate to promote this person or that person as a model for our youth.

And they are sadly disappointed not long after when their latest model soils their pants and falls off the pedestal.

I am sick to death of this entire role model caper. It's only come about because we have moved from trying to motivate people via the "carrot and stick" to just using the carrot.

When I was at school, if someone acted up badly enough and often enough (which was usually twice, not 200 times), they were expelled. Simple as that. The first bad event would be treated with the cane, and if that didn't set you on the straight and narrow, out you went.

Negative role models were identified and attempts made to correct them. If those attempts failed, they were simply weeded out. Bad apples were not allowed to infect the entire barrel. Expulsion was seen as doom for the kids involved, and it worked well in encouraging the rest of us to moderate our behaviour for a while.

That doesn't seem to happen these days. The cane is long gone and expulsion seems to be a dead issue. No one will use it for fear it will jeopardise the future of the little miscreant, whilst ignoring the terrible influence the little bastard/s is having on all the other kids. In my humble opinion, and experience, kids much prefer to follow negative role models than positive ones. There is no point in promoting positive role models - the aim should be instead to eliminate the negative role models as rapidly and expeditiously as possible.

Islam - it's a gas, gas, gas

How's this for a spot of graffiti? "Free gas palastine jews" (sic).

I decided to zip down the Cooks River cyclepath yesterday, even though I know that it is closed partway down. Normally, on a nice day, I'd ride all the way to the airport, but I didn't have a lot of time in between dawn and family things to do, so I was happy to ride to where the path is ripped up and do a U turn.

I normally don't pay much attention to graffiti, although this area is full of it. I tune it out. However, I spotted this bit just after doing my U-turn. I think the U-turn disrupted the normal harmony of my cycling universe, and I started seeing things that I don't normally look out for.

This was on a building at the back of Lees Park (I think that is a race course) near the aptly named "Harmony St" in Ashbury. Just around the corner were more "free gas" scribblings. I didn't look any more than that - trying to decipher the random thoughts of adle-brained illiterate teens is not my thing. I was there to ride, not infect my brain with this sort of crap.

But there you have it.

What next for this suburb? Swastikas and broken glass?

Who employs these people?

Over in the UK, they appear to have a batshit crazy columnist at the Gaurdian called Polly Toynbee.

Her latest incredibly stupid idea is to put a hyper-tax on earnings over say 200,000 quid - a tax of 90%.

Clearly, like many lefties, she has not thought this through.

Let's say Mr Fat Cat is earning $500,000 (I'll shift to dollars here, because I can't be buggered finding the pound sign) and keeping $300,000 of it after taxes and deductions. If Mr Fat Cat is like a lot of people, he'll have a mortgage, and that mortgage will be eating up 30% or more of his after tax income. Let's assume that he has mortgage repayments of $100,000 a year, which if you think about it, is probably unrealistic. Let's crank that up to $150,000 per year, leaving his family of kittens with $150,000 to live on.

Now that sounds grand - $150,000 a year to live on! They can't be allowed to have that much money! Let's tax it!

So the supertax comes in at $200,000. Suddenly the take home pay of Mr Cat drops from $300,000 to $120,000. That's only fair, right?

But Mr Cat has mortgage repayments of $150,000 per year. How is he to continue to make those payments, and feed his family?

He can't. The cat's home is repossesed by the Evil Bank and sold, leaving them with nothing.

I'm sure Polly and her ilk have previously written many columns denouncing banks for foreclosing on people and taking away their houses. But in essence, what she is proposing will do exactly the same to a lot of well paid people. They have living expenses, just like you and me. Just because someone earns a lot, doesn't mean they don't have a mortgage to pay off.

Instead, they will have a mortgage that dwarfs anything you and I have by a huge margin, and they may in fact be paying an enormous amount of their post-tax salary in repayments, because the banks will lend them proportionally more money. It is not uncommon to find bankers living on their salaries and then using their annual bonus to pay the mortgage. No bonus - oops, no house.

Sunday 29 March 2009

What is it with hippies?

We had lunch yesterday in my favourite cafe in Glebe. I can no longer say "one of my favourite cafes", because we go out for lunch so rarely, I don't get the chance these days to sample the delights of many and various establishments. A fabulous breakfast these days consists of me and Monkey sharing a couple of soft boiled googy eggs with toast soldiers.

But we had an opportunity to go out for once, and we grabbed it with boths hands and split.

Glebe must now be the home of the conscience of the world. Newtown used to be like that, then it gentrified and the character of the cafes changed from home-spun hippy hang outs to something much more chic and hip. Out when the fusty old hippies and the broke students with facial piercings and in came the yuppies with $900 reading glasses.

The broke students, hippies and other assorted types have migrated across to Glebe. As we left our cafe, I noticed that the table by the door was occupied by four women in their 20's, all with stubble on their heads, rings through their noses, combat boots on their feet and all the other accouterments of their sect (whatever that was). It's funny how sometimes those seeking to be alternative all end up looking exactly the same, with a "uniform" to boot.

The food at this place was as great as usual, and the coffee is always very drinkable. It's a fusty old place, meaning it has great big beaten up comfy chairs to slouch into, and they don't give you the eyeball of corporate death if you stay more than half an hour (we stayed an hour and a half, feeding and chatting - although most of that time was spent waiting for all our food to arrive!)

Let me tell you how good the food is. Since I had just come off a 50km ride, I thought I would be healthy and ordered a homemade muesli with cranberry juice and yogurt. I figured that since it was cheap, if it was terrible, I'd feed it to someone else and order some bacon and eggs instead. But the thing is, it was fantastic! I was blown away - no one makes muesli that nice! It's nuts and grains and other boring things, and the only people that should like eating it are hippies with no taste buds - but I really liked it. I almost had seconds. It's that kind of place.

The place had two defects though - one temporary and one permanent.

The temporary problem is that someone walked their dog along the laneway just after we arrived, and the dog did the crap from hell just over the wall from where we were sitting. The dog must have been the size of a yak, and been eating nothing but mung beans, because everytime the breeze blew our way, we all got a dose of steaming dog crap smell wafting in through the open windows. Above all else, that smell said "welcome to the third world!" I guess you could call it an authentic experience in that regard.

The permanent problem is the composition of their clientele. We were the only non-mung bean types in there. The rest had rings through their noses, or sat alone, reading Sartre and drinking tea. They were clearly all very involved with the problems of the world, such as Earth Hour and so on, and they were the gloomiest bunch of unhappy people that I have ever seen. If their faces get any longer, they'll start to look like John Kerry.

I love listening to Mark Levin on my iPod on the way to work - he is a kick-arse conservative. One of his favourite lines is that socialists are all about spreading misery. I've always listened to that line with a pinch of salt, but after seeing that shower of marxists, socialists, fabians and watermelons in that cafe, and how utterly miserable they all looked, I can only conclude that he is right on the money.

You see, I don't care much about the wider problems of the world. I care about my problems, and the problems of my family. If our friends ask us to help out with their problems, then I care about theirs as well - but only by request. That's more than enough for me. I figure that if we all look after ourselves and our own, then the world will be a better place. I can't solve your problems for you. You have to solve your problems. I can help you along a bit from time to time, but in the end, it's up to you to fix whatever issues you are facing.

Those poor old hippies though - at 20 years of age, they are bent and twisted like old women, weighed down with the problems of the world, prematurely aged by worrying about things that they have no hope of solving. And the thing is, even if we do solve the problems that they are most worried about, they will simply find something else to worry about. I think of these members of the "permanent protesting class" as younger Woody Allen's in bad footwear. All they do is worry, worry, worry, and it makes them miserable.

And deep down, they can't stand it. They resent us for being happy. They resent the fact that we have worked hard and climbed up the corporate ladder and bit and made good money, saved some of it, invested some of it, and reached a stage where we are comfortable and pretty content. We don't have a brand new Mercedes and a plasma TV in every room in the house, for we don't need those things to be happy. We don't have a white picket fence either, but we are living our version of the good life.

And the hippies hate us for it. And they want us to be as miserable as them. Their whole lives are not geared towards doing things that will improve our daily lives - they are geared to making everyone else as miserable as possible - or at least as miserable as they are.

If you don't believe me, just go find a cafe that serves free trade coffee, and have a look at the emotional tone of the place. If this particular cafe handed our razor blades with each cup of coffee, we would have been the only table not sitting in a pool of blood.

Bogus WWF push polling survey to promote Earth Hour

Look, I don't care whether you are into this Earth Hour stuff or not. If you choose to turn your lights out, that is your choice. We turn our lights out all the time - 365 days of the year. If a room is not in use, the lights go out. If we are not at home, we don't run the air conditioner or leave the lights on. We don't consume electricity in Gore-ean quantities.

We turn things off when they are not in use because it saves us money. If some happen to believe that doing such a thing saves the planet, well, ok. But our primary purpose for doing so is economic, not environmental. Even though we are comparatively well off and quite comfortable, both J and me were brought up by frugal parents who would walk around the house yelling "Who left this light on?" as they returned the house to primordial darkness. J is morphing into both our mothers on this front.

That said, just after Earth Hour finished last night, an email popped into my inbox asking me to do an online survey. I only took a small number of screenshots from the survey to show how amazingly ridiculous and one sided the questions were, and here they are.

The survey started innocuously enough, asking if I had heard of an event happening last night.

Why, yes I had, but possibly not the event they had in mind.

Q - which non-profit organisation do you think is behind Earth Hour?

A - flat earth, eco marxist nutcase party.

Unfortunately, I forgot to include "no growth" in that answer.

Q - which media organisation is behind Earth Hour?

A - Socialist Weekly.

As far as I am concerned, that is another name for the SMH.

OK, now that we have the niceties out of the way, the leading questions really start:

Now, thinking about your feelings toward the environment:

Which of the following two statements is most likely to motivate you to act in an environmentally responsible way:

- being given a list of small steps I can take to fight global warming
- understanding the full implications of climate change on the world's future

I sat there reloading the page a few times, waiting for some more alternative answers to come up. Answers that were not push-polling. Just look at both the question and the two answers - the first question talks about "fight(ing) global warming", and the second about "the full implications of climate change on the world's future". Boy, where is the answer that says, "I don't believe in any of this crap?" You have no option but to believe.

A whole series of questions were then asked on corporate responsibility, with the idea of pushing the barrow that companies must become more environmentally responsive. I am sure that the WWF will put out a press release shortly saying that "most Australians believe that our banks/insurance companies etc need to care more about the environment". If they do, just remember that they got to that point by using a twisted survey that automatically skewed the results towards what they wanted to hear.

Questions like this made me want to pick up the phone and yell at someone:

Which of the following people, or groups of people, do you personally think should be responsible for ensuring the company they work for takes appropriate action regarding environmental sustainability and climate change?

- the CEO/Board of Directors
- Senior executives/leadership team
- all executives/managers
- All employees (including for instance workers on a shop floor)
- unsure/don't know

Where is the answer that says "none"? Where is the answer that says, I don't believe companies should be wasting their time thinking about climate change, because it is a crock of crap? There is no thought even given to the idea that some people might dissent. Dissenters have been completely designed out of this survey, lest there be enough of them to bugger up the results.

I was pretty steamed up by the time I finished this survey. I spent a good 15 minutes answering questions that were leading in the extreme. I don't care if the WWF comes out with a report that says, "99% of people think the sky is blue" - don't believe a bloody word of it. It's crap. Their questions, their answers and their methodology is crap. It should be mandatory to publish the survey questions and answers when putting out a press release that quotes statistics from a survey.

There aren't enough lamp posts to hang these pricks from.

Let me tell you why I got so mad at the end.

This survey was done on behalf of a group that promotes itself as being "responsible", and it asked lots of question about "corporate responsibility" with the clear aim of jamming more do-gooder regulation down the throats of business. The questions and answers were deliberately put together in a way that I find immensely irresponsible and intellectually dishonest. This survey is designed to produce results that will be used to achieve political aims, and if it is skewed from the start, then it will deliver bad political outcomes. We will all suffer as a result.

Surveys are supposed to be designed "scientifically" and be balanced and fair. This survey is anything but, yet it purports to be just those things. It is a sham. The "junk science" aspects to its design portray the WWF in a very poor light. It is a one-eyed, unbalanced, unfair crock of crap. It is the equivalent of asking someone, "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

The WWF deserves to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. If it can't make its case honestly, it should not try to make its case at all.


Just in case some Wikipedia weasel decides this is like, too conservative, and orders it airbrushed out of history, I've poached it for posterity (ta Margo). I was going to say that this is so Gen Y, but unfortunately the idea seems to have percolated all levels of society.


Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. Sometimes considered a pejorative term that describes taking painless "feel-good" measures in support of an issue or social cause that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction, "slactivism" has been embraced by activists such as Todd Gitlin and Stephen Colbert as the new activism.

Examples of slacktivist activities include signing internet petitions, the wearing of wristbands ("awareness bracelets") with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, joining a Facebook group, posting issue-oriented YouTube videos or taking part in short-term boycotts such as Buy Nothing Day or Earth Hour.

Saturday 28 March 2009


Given a choice between riding down a three lane highway high trucks flying past an inch off my elbow, and cruising down narrow tree-fringed lanes out of earshot of all things petrol driven, I'll usually take the option offering the most greenery. It's more fun - if you are careful, you may get to see a greenie rooting a tree.

So this is one of the places at Homebush where I went riding this morning. I rarely ride through this area, preferring to just zip through Homebush for points further west. I have this mental thing where if I am on my bike, I want to go somewhere. I don't care where that somewhere is, I just want to go there and then get home. Going past the same place again and again and again holds little appeal, but that is what many Homebush riders do. The place is laid out in a huge circle, and they just ride round and round and round, like hamsters in a cage.

But I flipped a mental switch today and did the hamster thing, and as a result, I got to check out some frogs. Actually, I didn't see or hear a single frog, but I did get to check out a sign about frogs. And the swamp that they live in.

There we go; nice green swamp. From a distance, I thought that lush, green mat was grass. Silly me.

The swamp was home to plenty of bird life.

The bird life spent most of its time showing me their bums. Is that what bird watchers do all day? Look at bird bums?

This is what happens when a duck does a duck dive. Ripples. I did see the duck swimming along underwater, which is not something that you get to see that often. You need to be right above them with the light in the right place. Normally, when it comes to ducks, the only light I see them with is the oven light, but this was nice.

There you have it. Non-existent frogs. Ducks that don't want to be photographed and swan's bums. That's what you get for crawling out of bed early on a Saturday morning.

Sunday morning swarm

I have been a lazy git for the last 6 months. For some years, I have been used to arising before the dawn and riding with lights glaring fore and aft. But there is a big difference between riding to work and riding to stop the mid rift from expanding - you have to go to work (assuming you have a job, and are not a bone-idle bludger), but the same motivation is usually not there to avoid eating another chocolate croissant, or getting the odometer past the 100 mile mark for the week.

Riding to work can be physically hard but mentally easy. You have to get there, unless there is a category 4 storm raging outside, or a swarm of killer bees is on the loose. And since most of my jobs have been in the CBD, the distance is an easy 12 to 14km (depending on which end of town I am working in). If it's pouring rain, I know that I only have to put up with it for half an hour, then I will step out of a cold shower (the rain) and into a hot shower (in the office). Why bother about getting wet in those circumstances? Plus, I have invested in clothing that reduces the level of misery to an acceptable level.

The physical issues (you are about to get cold and wet, and may slide over and hit the concrete in a nasty manner) can be dealt with through proper clothing (to a certain extent - rain always finds the gaps and ends up sliding down your back) and being careful; but the mental issues are something that can't be solved through buying something in a catalogue. Motivation in whatever pursuits we choose to follow is a personal thing, and we all have our own ways of extracting ourselves from bed on cold and miserable mornings. Having to go to work helps, as does liking the work you do, and the people you work with.

But if you don't have to go to work? What if you are simply riding because it is good for you? Where does one draw motivation from when the weather is inclement and the knees are sore?

I draw a lot of motivation simply from seeing other cyclists out and about - especially fast, fit ones. I want to be like them, and the only way I'll get like them is to train, train, train. And avoid too many chocolate croissants.

So here is a small motivational strip from this morning.

Regular users of the Bay talk about the "inner west intelligence test", which many pedestrians fail by walking in clearly marked bike lanes. Here we have the Homebush intelligence test, with the jogger in blue in front of me running in a bike lane, when there is a very good running track 10 feet to his left.

I stopped at one spot and decided to see how many cyclists I could photograph in a 5 minute period. Of course at that moment, the supply of bikes utterly dried up. The swarm of cycles evaporated. So I waited a bit more, and snapped this lot in about 2 minutes - popular place, Homebush, at 8am.

This guy was hooting. He must have been up earlier than me, since he is wearing arm warmers and an extra layer. Or, he simply has a lot less natural insulation than I do.

All shapes and sizes.

Another pair having a yakity-yak. Note the preponderance of men aged about 40 and up. It's the perfect physical activity when your knees are shot, and you have a reasonable bank balance.

We step back to the more upright style of cyclist here - a more comfortable stance perhaps, with flatbar handlebars - but they tend to travel much more slowly than I can put up with.

There are actually 4 bikes in this picture. A mix of fast road bikes and a "built for comfort rather than speed" hybrid with, flatbars.

Two more dawdlers.

This is about 5% of the cyclists that I saw this morning. I went past a cafe in Concord that was just a sea of lycra - everyone had done a few laps of the suburb, and then retired for a good coffee and a chat at the preferred latte delivery system. The weather now is about as good as it can get - not too hot, not too cold, no rain, no wind. The perfect time to be wearing the rubber off the tyres.

More yartz in the parks

I normally ride through Homebush rather than around it. It's a nice place to go through, but I have never seen much point in just going round and around the same place, lap after lap. For some reason, that seemed like a reasonable thing to do this morning - plenty of other people were doing it, so I joined the herd and went round and round and round. Unlike most of the others, I stopped and had a look at anything that looked remotely interesting during each circuit.

This is the only thing worth commenting on - a large yartz installation near the Avenue of Debt. Read all about it here:

And here is it. A walkway into a swamp, with a pathetic artificial waterfall to one side.

There are three lines of polished poles like this.

Like giant nit combs.

That's the walkway on the right of this picture.

Here is the Avenue of Debt - the monuments built for the 2000 Olympics. Thanks to these, the state has been unable to pay for a decent hospital, school, dam, power station, port or road since.

The Toxic Waste Dump Hill. Homebush used to be an incredibly polluted industrial site, and it cost a large fortune to clean it to the point where humans could walk across the landscape without wearing suits like an extra in the X-Files. I think this hill is made of spoil. That tiny little dot on the left hand slope is a jogger puffing down the hill.

There she goes. What sort of lunatic gets up early on Satruday morning and exercises?

Stone the frogs

I'll start near the end of my ride and work backwards. After spotting a path I'd never seen before and deciding to give it a go, I ended up at this little park called Wentworth Common - and what should I find, but ginormous stone frogs. Big frogs that the kids can climb on all day, and a big sandpit in the background that will allow them to ingest a sufficient amount of roughage and minerals.

What cool frogs!

Friday 27 March 2009

Great balls of riding

In an earlier post, I invited Senator Stephen Conroy to "suck my balls".

I just thought I'd write a post about cycling and what it does to your balls. Assuming you are male.

Non-cyclists occasionally ask me whether I get a sore arse from riding, or squished balls.

In the early days, I used to get a sore bum, but that rarely happens these days. If I do a lot of miles, I'll sometimes get a small rash in the crease where my legs meet my buttocks, but that is about it. Sore balls - almost never.

What I do suffer from though is what I might term "variable ball consistency".

That means that the elasticity of my sac differs between morning and evening rides.

I don't know why, but in the mornings, my sac is taut and my nuts ride high. On really cold mornings, they might attempt to retract into my body like a sumo wrestler, which is quite uncomfortable, and can only be countered with a "wide leg" riding stance, where I have to spread my knees so that my nuts are not jammed into my guts on each up-stroke. I might spend quite a bit of time trying to push a ball down with one hand if it gets too uncomfortable.

In the afternoon, I have the opposite problem. After a day in the office, I have a sac like an old man - wrinkly and stretched. My balls roll around like a couple of billiards in a pillow case. Instead of staying in one position, they are able to move this way and that. The result is that on the downstroke of my left leg, my left nut will decided to take up position between the side of the seat and my leg, and on the upstroke, it will attempt to roll onto the top of the seat. This is not good. Variable ball consistency can also be discomforting, and regular re-arrangement might be necessary to achieve the right position.

So choose your time of day, Senator Conroy. Regardless of whether it is morning or evening, I can guarantee that they'll be sweaty.

Watch more SpikedHumor videos on AOL Video

Path open to traffic

I suited up for a ride this morning, then stuck my head outside and discovered that it was raining. Well, not really raining. More like sprinkling, but there was a bit of wind as well. Not the most pleasant combination at times.

Then I thought, a bit of rain and wind never killed anyone.

Unless you believe the story about Noah and the flood, where rain killed almost everyone. Or Hurricane Katrina, where incompetent Democrat windbags killed thousands of people.

By the time I finished my internal debate, the rain had stopped and the air had stilled. It was time to go. I only need to ride about one kilometre before I have warmed up slightly, and once the surface chill leaves my skin, I can ride through anything - hail, squalls, plagues of pelicans. The trick is to find the gap in the weather that allows you to leave and put just enough cranks through the pedals to warm sufficiently.

I left at a stupid time yesterday - morning peak hour. I thought because I was heading west, the traffic would not be that bad.

Stupid me.

It was awful.

Today, I left around lunchtime. Traffic was very light, the ride was great. I decided to see how the new path around the bay was going, and this is what I found - a newly opened path!

I must have been almost the first person on it, because as I went around the corner, I found that the entire road was blocked off, and there was a crew loading fencing onto a truck. The fencing must have come down shortly before I arrived.

Is it any good?

Width and curvature is good, but the surface is lumpier than Admiral Adama's face.

I was partly expecting to go around this corner and find myself riding through a ribbon cutting ceremony ribbon in the spirit of Francis de Groot.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Berries and boots

When I was growing up in a country town, we had a plant or creeper of some sort that grew along one boundary fence. It bore a fruit that was encased in a papery sack. At the time (35 years ago), we called them "chinese gooseberries". It turns out that chinese gooseberry was the original name for kiwi fruit, so I don't know where my parents came up with that name. However, I spotted something similar today - at least the papery sack surrounding the fruit was similar, even if the fruit inside was not. They bore a fairly tart green fruit the size of a grape. Buggered if I know what they are.

And then there was this guy - decked out in lycra speedy gear, but wearing steel capped, elastic sided workboots with toeclips. Wierd combination.

You see all sorts out on the road.

Yartz in parks

On my way around Homebush Bay, I hopped off the bike and trudged across the wet grass to take some photos of these giant silver balls. These things must stand 15-20 feet tall. And just think how much they cost you, the taxpayer. I would not be surprised if I am the first person in 10 years to bother walking 50 feet across the grass to have a close look.

I have spent a few weeks in Italy, looking at great art and sculpture. I have trudged around galleries and gardens and parks, paying good money (ok, paying Lire, which was worth stuff all at the time) to see what the old masters could do.

In 300 years time, people are not going to be flying (or transporting) from Italy to see the creations of our "old masters" - because we don't have any. If this is the sort of art that we are paying for via our taxes, I think I'll have my money back.

They do make interesting shadows though - these remind me a bit of blackfella paintings that I saw in the NT, except without the shadow of the dopey photographer in the bottom corner.

Then I saw this installation, and I thought, "Now that looks more like it!"

Then again, maybe not.............


Shouldn't that be "bougainvillea"?

No. Here we have a deadset bogan villa. There was none of the usual demolition permit taped to the front fence, or a demolition contractor's sign, or a DA. Just a very, very trashed house.

I know that demolition crews can be a bit rough, but they don't throw objects through the fence into the next door property.

And the rear view - even worse than the front.

The neighbours across the road.

"Mum, Dad? The toga party got a bit out of control."

The roin in Spoin falls moinly in the droin

Yes, it's another instance in my long running series of trolleywatch, a hysterically funny allegorical expose of Fuelwatch.

As soon as I saw this trolley in the drain, I couldn't help thinking of Julia Gillard, and the way she talks about Wayne Swan - oops, I mean Woin. Many examples of her nasal tones flashed through my mind:

"The roin in Spoin falls moinly on the ploins"

"Money spent on fuelwatch is moinly down the droin"

Ergh. Enough already. It's doing my head in.

Arty pants

Today was my first ride of my riding week, and it involved a "short" 50km jaunt around Homebush and the like. I went all arty-like when I saw the potential for these two photos.

For starters, we have a dirty great big communications tower in the distance, and it is supported by cables that slope down from various points.

And then we have a spider, in immitation, with the tower a blur in the background.

I was so impressed with myself, I went home and applied for a $50,000 grant, a nipple piercing and a bong.