Sunday 28 August 2011

Great speech

Thanks Lex.

I want a helmet camera like this

I'd also like to be fit enough to ride something like this. Mud, glorious mud.

Hat tip - the excellent Cycling Tips Blog.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Friday photos

Electric bike
It's now warm enough in the afternoons that I can ride home in my normal summer rig - knicks, jersey and short gloves. However, it's also cold enough in the morning to need leg warmers and an undershirt (and arm warmers if I could find a pair that fits), so I have a ton of excess clothes to lug home each night. I thought this bloke was wearing way too many clothes for the weather, but then I discovered that he was riding an electric bike. I could keep up with him on the flat, but he took off and left me for dead on the hills without any apparent effort.

His chain was making all sorts of strange noises, and when I caught up with him a bit later, he was complaining about his bike malfunctioning. The electric motor is a nice bit of kit, but when it goes wrong, the whole bike is just a hunk of metal to be pushed home.

Hey, it's not a truck lane
This truck was waiting its turn to pick up rubble at a demolition site just up ahead. See the car with the brake lights on? When I caught up to it, the driver decided to swing left into the bike lane without looking, and damned near took me out. They were simply impatient to get around the truck that was pulling out of the site - they could have waited another 2-3 seconds and gone straight ahead, but no, they had to save a few seconds by pulling into the bike lane, nearly causing a crash. Idiot.

Fixie courier
Normally, I can never catch couriers. They're young, lean and fit as hell. This guy must have been in TGIF mode, because I caught him easily. That's a first.

Friday 26 August 2011

Definitely time for a new tyre

This was one of half a dozen spots where the canvas was poking through. Not good.

Still, I've seen car tyres with less tread than that.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Thursday photos

That would be the perfect photo, if it wasn't for that stupid alien light fitting in the foreground. And why are modern memorials covered in that awful pebblecrete rather than marble?

These photos are actually from more than just Thursday - it rained one day, but I can't remember which.

I think the cameraman standing at the corner of George St interviewing cyclists might have been a response to Tim Blair's campaign against the new bike lanes. I refuse to ride along the street where he's filming - too bloody dangerous. There is a bike lane along part of it, then you're just dumped into four lanes of fast moving traffic. It's an accident waiting to happen.

A reminder that Sydney Harbour is occasionally a working harbour.

Here's a bit of context for you.

Notice the big yellow signs on the right saying "pedestrians use other path" with big arrows? Yes? Now have a look at how many pedestrians are wandering along the bike lane, preventing cyclists from using it.

As luck would have it, I followed this lady partway into town, and then bumped into her again on the way home. What are the odds of that happening on the same day?

This morning. I'm thinking of sending in something like this to Andrew Bolt for his "view from a reader's window".

I actually stopped and posed this one - waited a few seconds for the joggers to run into the shot.

I tried the same here, but it didn't really work.

Rowers. Insane.

A hazard at this time of year - cars with fogged windows. Some drivers take a few minutes to clear all their windows and mirrors before driving off, but I've nearly been collected a few times by morons that can't see out of their car in any direction. It's not like it's ice that needs scraping off - it's just dew.

More pedestrians filling the bike lane.

A newly married couple perhaps, walking under the bridge.

The RSPCA cupcake day was on Monday 15 August - 10 days ago. The banners for it are still up. What I find infuriating is that the banners for ANZAC Day and Easter went up about 2 days before each event and were taken down as soon as possible after they were over. It's almost like the Council was ashamed of promoting those two days. But stuff like Cupcake day and horse racing events hang round for months.

Heading  home. "Head for the light".

Monday 22 August 2011

A proper book review

I pulled the pin on being a part time soldier 20 years ago. I was silly enough to volunteer to serve, and no one ever shot at me. My service had the usual ups and downs - being in the infantry was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever done, and there were nights when I was woken up to man the gun and I was soaked and frozen and utterly knackered and I cursed the day I signed up. On the other hand, when the sun came up and the exercise finished and we stood around and had a beer or 20, it was great to look back on what we'd achieved.

I guess it was like doing a marathon - utterly awful up until the point where you cross the finish line, and then it becomes very fulfilling. Apart from the leeches and the ticks and the flies and the mosquitoes and the hypothermia and the heat exhaustion and the buggered back and the life expired rations and worn out equipment left over from Vietnam and the warm beer and the lack of sex and sleep and the blisters and the cam cream that you couldn't wash out of your ears for weeks, it was great. Really - I thoroughly enjoyed most of my service. If you have a certain kind of mindset, the Infantry can be perversely enjoyable. I couldn't get enough of doing contact drills - I guess that says it all. But if you don't have that mindset, I reckon it would be worse than a penal colony in a malaria infested swamp.

But my service was at my discretion - the Reserves were desperate for men, so they didn't get upset if we decided to go to the pub instead of to a parade, or went to birthday parties instead of showing up for the occasional incredibly boring weekend camp. And I could leave any time I liked. The longest stretch that I was in uniform was about 3 weeks at a time - when I did advance party and rear party for an exercise. I got to try it to see if I liked it - and when I found that I like it, I stuck around. Plenty tried it and hated it and we never saw them again.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have no choice in the matter - to be told you were serving no matter whether you wanted to or not, and knowing that there was no way out. You were just stuck with it for a period of time that was not your choice - and tough shit to that. Your life, your dreams, your future were all buggered up on the whim of a ball in a barrel. Plus there was the small problem of being sent to a war where a lot of very determined people were trying very hard to kill you.

So I take my hat off to those that were called up and went and did their duty whether they wanted to or not. We are so used to having the freedom to choose what we want to do - Nashos didn't have that luxury. You can do yourself a favour by buying this book and reading about it for yourself.

Monday photos

Normal service has resumed because it's now "warm" enough in the mornings for me to change back to fingerless gloves. That means I can pull the camera out whilst on the move without risking it being dropped into the spokes of my front wheel (which nearly happened a few weeks ago - the full fingered gloves don't have as much grip as your fingertips, and thankfully the camera bounced off the front tyre and went well clear of the spokes - otherwise, I would have been going over the handle bars in a self inflicted prang).

This is how bike paths should be - nice and wide with sweeping bends and plenty of visibility.

Good morning, sunshine.

The bloke up the front took off and within about 20 seconds, he was a small speck in the distance.

Why are cyclists avoiding bike lanes and riding on the road instead? Because the silly bloody Council insists on tearing up the newly built lanes for laying pips and such like. I could ride up the bike lane this evening because it was infested with pedestrians - even though there were signs at the top of the hill telling pedestrians to cross the road and use the other footpath.

And that was that.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Who likes to riot?

After the UK riots, the press went to town on the fact that some very unlikely people ended up being arrested for theft and whatnot. People with jobs; university students; teachers.

However, from looking at these two court reports, it appears that most of the rioters and looters were the usual suspects - career criminals, including some who had been released from prison just before the rioting started. If you want to know why a lot of them are being locked up for stealing trivial items, read the remarks in the reports below - particularly the second one. Thanks to the always excellent Bystander for the links.

Sentencing Remarks - HH Judge Robert Atherton at Manchester Crown Court

Sentencing Remarks - His Honour Judge Andrew Gilbart QC  - The Honorary Recorder of Manchester

I've grabbed the following remarks from the above reports. They really are a mixed bag of looters.

Dane Wesley Twemlow

You pleaded guilty to an offence of theft of a 32” television. You were arrested as you were carrying it from the direction of the Salford Shopping Precinct. It follows that the property was recovered. You say you found it in a trolley. There is no evidence to contradict that. It is said you would have had difficulty in taking that the 4 or 5 miles home. That did not deter you from trying. But those facts must be seen in the context of your activities leading up to taking that television. You had been on your way home when your attention was drawn to the Shopping Precinct. You stopped and watched for a period which you estimate at 2 hours. You saw shops broken into goods stolen and you told the police in interview that you saw “loads of TVs coming out of the precinct so that you couldn’t believe how many.” When you saw one, you decided to take it. You said you needed it.

Thomas Downey

You are an alcoholic. That is established by you record which shows that it is a chronic condition. You drink too much, too regularly and when in drink become threatening and abusive. Many attempts have been made to address that alcoholism but none seems to have had much success. It is a notable feature of your record that frequently you have left court only to return very soon after having committed another offence. Indeed on the evening before your arrest you had been released from prison and seem to have got no further than Piccadilly on your way to stay at someone’s house.

Conrad McGrath

You are 21 years old and I shall treat you as being of good character. You came into the city despite the advice of friends and your mother. That was stupid and you should have known better. You are a student at University and have thrown away a lot. It is a heavy price to pay for such behaviour. I hope that you will seek to continue a promising career after your release from prison.

Lloyd Brian Coudjoe

You have previously appeared before courts on two occasions. One was clearly serious and the fact that you breached the order three times gives some indication of your attitude and immaturity.

David Christopher Swarbrick

You are almost 26 years of age. You have a lengthy record of offences of dishonesty which I accept may be due to your addiction. There have been many attempts to help you address the problem and indeed as recently as 15th June 2011 you were made the subject of a suspended sentence of 4 months and in respect of which you are now in breach.

Anthony Winder

You sustained an injury when the police officer seeking to detain you struck you with his baton. I note that you do not make any complaint about that action and are realistic in not doing so.

You are 38 years old. You were certainly not a youth and in fact a man of considerable maturity and worldly experience. After a difficult early life you have made a highly respectable life for yourself and your family. You should have been at the forefront of leading people away from such activities but you became involved in. Now you have thrown so much away. You made a comment when arrested with which I have already indicated my view, that you summed yourself up well by it.


You have a bad recent record. As recently as 25th February 2011 you were convicted of shoplifting, and on 4th May 2011 you received a 10 week sentence for your failures to comply with community orders imposed for offences of battery committed in August 2010. You were released from prison as recently as 12th July 2011. You blame your position on the end of your relationship. Many endure that happening without resorting to crime.


You are 31 years old and in work.You do not have a bad criminal record, and no previous offences for dishonesty.


You are only 18, but have amassed a very considerable record.


You have a long record for petty offending typical of your situation as someone who was addicted to heroin and alcohol. You were in the City centre doing what you usually do there-that is go drinking with friends in the street.

Easy book review to write

Why write a review when you can link to someone else's?

Go read it.

Friday 19 August 2011

Name your victimhood

Instead of sitting at a computer and typing, I've actually been doing a bit of stuff lately.

We went to a poetry reading last week - OK, it wasn't a poetry reading, but I have changed the circumstances to protect the guilty.

We were seated with a gay couple - Mr X and Mr Y. They were a bit older than me, and utterly hilarious. As witty and interesting as the day is long. I'd love to have them to dinner, but they seemed a bit child-phobic.

So the poetry reading gets under way, and Mr X decides to Google the poet to find out something about them. He's reading out where they were born, when they were born, what their influences were etc - and then he stopped and burst out laughing. He followed that by blurting out, "They're Aboriginal!"

We laughed at that, because the person on stage was paler than me and looked about as Anglo as it's possible to be. But Mr X was being serious - he turned his phone around and sure enough, they were described as being a member of a tribe none of us had ever heard of.

Now the poet never made any claim whilst we were there to be Aboriginal, and didn't play it up in the slightest. As far as we could tell, they've never entered a competition open only to Aborigines, or claimed any special rights. They'd just listed it on their web page.

Mr X though thought this was hilarious, and spent the next half hour making all sorts of wisecracks about the poet - some just loud enough that they could probably be heard from the stage. He came out with some very witty thoughts, but would then revert back to saying half-loudly, "They're Aboriginal", and then he'd piss himself laughing very loudly. So would Mr Y.

The rest of the table didn't join in, but we didn't get all PC and tell them off either. We just rolled with it. It was so non-PC, it was like a slap in the face.

And it's saying something that the only people that can say that sort of thing these days are those who are in some sort of victimised minority - if someone had a go at them, I'm sure Mr X would have stood up and yelled, "You're only picking on me 'cause I'm gay!" He was able to use his victimhood as a shield. He just ripped into all and sundry knowing that he was a protected species. It was fascinating to watch. We'll have to go out for dinner with them more often.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Violence is fun

An awfully large amount of ink has been spilt trying to explain the UK riots. I'll add my tuppence worth.

In short, smashing things is fun. If you're a teenage boy and you don't enjoy breaking things, your testicles are probably in a jar at the back of the fridge.

I really don't know how I survived to the age of 21. Quite a few of my friends express the same thought from time to time. We drank too much, drove too fast and had way too many explosives to play with for our own good.

I was fortunate in that I was given plenty of opportunities to work all that testosterone out of the system. We got to drive cars madly round and round in circles in muddy paddocks, occasionally flipping them onto their sides or roof. We'd tip them back onto their wheels, and then go on driving (unless a flat tyre needed changing).

We were given axes and told to go and cut trees down - lots of trees. We were given rifles and told to go shoot things. We were given matches and petrol and told to go and burn a patch of scrub or a pile of dead trees. We knew a mad scientist who mixed his own gunpowder, and we had a blast watching him shoot off enormous rockets, or firing a "melon mortar" made out of an old cut down SCUBA tank. 

I don't remember any of our sports having a "blood rule". If you were bleeding, you just got on with it.

We were given rock drills and dynamite and fertilizer and diesel and told to drill holes in things (trees, rocks, piles of mud), mix up some ANFO and then blow the things with holes in them into lots of little bits. That even applied to old cars. It's amazing how far you can spread the bits of a car if you use enough ANFO. As in "too much" ANFO.

National Service gets poo-poo'd a lot, but one of the best things I did was join the Army Reserve. They gave me weapons and explosives and paid me to shoot things/blow things up! What more could you want?

Those poor sods in the UK have never had the opportunity to do any of that. At best, they might get a bit of make-believe action on an Xbox. It's no wonder they've all gone ferally nuts. 

Sunday 14 August 2011

Goat track cycleway

Someone has a sense of humour. This isn't an off-road mountain bike track they're talking about - this is a badly maintained footpath that's supposed to be used by road bikes.

Harold Scruby - serial pest

Harold and his fax machine have been busy again:

Harold Scruby, of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, has prepared a submission to the government's Staysafe committee, requesting an inquiry into paths that can be used by both cyclists and pedestrians.

Mr Scruby argued that shared paths are unsafe for pedestrians, and that bike lanes and footpaths should not be merged.

''I've got no problems with people riding on designated bike paths, but when they come up onto the footpath it can cause serious injury or death,'' Mr Scruby said.

He is asking that electric bikes, in particular, be more strictly regulated, with mandatory licences, registration and insurance.

Do us a favour will  you Harold? Find another hobby, like gardening or torturing squirrels. Electric bikes don't need regulating and licencing, you nanny state ninny.

Great looter names

I'll have to keep an eye out for the names of those arrested for looting etc in London. This is a good start:

J-Neil Starkei

J-Neil? WTF?

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Tuesday photos

Hen and Chicken Bay

Battling the heavy traffic on the way to work


Early start

There's a rower in a scull out there

Mad buggers. It was 8 degrees.

Bob Carr hates bankers

From Bob's blog:

Want to hear another horror story? One of the local volunteers told us that at the last schoolies week one family sent their daughter and her friends to occupy a $7000 a week Byron Bay rental house with a limousine and driver to shuttle them around. No doubt Daddy Big Bucks who showered this largesse on his spoilt private school darling had a hand in the financial crisis of three years back which is having its second iteration as you read this.

From the Macquarie Bank website:

Macquarie Bank today announced that the former Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Bob Carr, has been appointed to the Bank as a part time consultant.
Mr Carr will advise the Investment Banking Group from time to time, on policy and strategic issues, both domestic and international, and with particular focus on Mr Carr's specialist knowledge of the United States, China and Europe.
The Head of the Bank's Investment Banking Group, Mr Nicholas Moore, said Mr Carr's strong intellect, policy understanding and strategic skills would make a valuable contribution to the development of Macquarie's global businesses.
Mr Carr said he was looking forward to the challenge of working with Macquarie Bank along with other business and non commercial activities he aims to be undertaking.


I wonder if that horrid rich daddy is one of Bob's mates at Macquarie Bank? Perhaps even one of the people that appointed Bob to this plum consultancy gig.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Carbon tax job losses - who is right?

The SMH is claiming job losses of 1850 in the Hunter Valley. Teh Evil Murdoch rags are claiming 18,500.

Which paper transcribed the number correctly from the Treasury document?

If the SMH did get it wrong, will Media Watch care?

And how funny is it that this story is placed next to an ad for Perisher, which according to the global warming prophets, should be clear of snow by now.