Friday, 30 November 2007

On the road again

Did my first ride into work today since May. It's been too long. One thing about riding is that it gets you out of bed early. I was on the road before 7am, and in the office before 8. I've been staggering in around 9am lately, half knackered and not terribly impressed with the world in general, but I was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning. And up and running early.

Almost nothing has changed since May. Lilyfield Road has some green paint on it, and that's the only new thing. Apart from me being a little slower than normal. And the big cog refusing to change down from the top gear, which was very annoying. That kept my top speed down to 35kmh, since I couldn't use the big cog. I just can't go any faster than that without the big cog.

I've now used the showers in at least half a dozen buildings in town, and thankfully the new place has a nice setup. The water is warm, the pressure is good and the showers are clean and well ventilated and free of mould. That's a good change from the last few places I've worked. Even better, it has an area where you can hang your wet towel and manky clothes during the day, which is a first. Most offices might provide a shower, but they never go to the next step and think about where the users of that shower might want to put their wet clothes and smelly shoes and socks and things during the day.

Only downside is that the carpark does not have proper bike cages. I just have to lock the bike against a rail and hope that all the bits are there at the end of the day. And the ramp to the carpark sucks - it must have a 45 degree slope on it. The only way to get in and out safely is to get off the bike and walk it up or down the slope. But at least I'm riding, so I won't whinge too much.

The fun part of working in a new office is finding out how to get into the carpark. I had to go around the block to find the entry, which is off a back street and a tiny, unmarked laneway. Going around the block was also complicated by one way streets running this way and that. Navigating around the city requires a large dose of the Force.

Now all I need to do is work out where to hang 5 shirts during the week, and where to stash my shoes and suit and things. That's always the biggest problem.

No one ever said it would be easy.

Why only worry about the price of petrol?

Everytime the price of oil goes up, the media goes into a tizzy about the price of petrol.

Why aren't they worrying about the price of diesel?

More and more diesel cars are being sold each year. That's partly a product of more European diesel cars coming onto the market thanks to the higher standards of diesel refining that we have now, and partly because of the cost of petrol.

I have no idea what the proportion of diesel cars is as a proportion of the entire market, but it's surely growing year by year.

Anyway, the cost of diesel is much more important to our economy than petrol. The trucks that delivery your groceries to the supermarket run on diesel. The trucks and trains digging and hauling coal and iron ore and gold and zinc all run on diesel. The trucks that deliver the fish wrappers run on diesel. Diesel is the backbone of our economy. That's why I can't understand why the media never bothers to follow the price of it.

I guess that's because your average journalist has less understanding of how the economy runs than I have understanding of the mathematics of orbital decay.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Reconcile this

Another bus tale (of sorts). There I am, doing my usual endless wait for the bus in town when I noticed something not quite right. I was outside World Square, leaning on the window of a very fancy perfume store. It's the sort of shop that doesn't have any price tags on the goods. If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it. I wait there every night, and the only people that go in are men wearing nice suits and well dressed women.

Except for the scruffy, dirty and very badly dressed Abo that walked in whilst I was waiting. He was carrying some sort of pamphlet, like a free brochure that they give out at travel agencies, and he was waving it around trying to get the attraction of the two women working there. I took one look at all this and thought, "Oh great, he's going to rob the place and I am standing right next to the doorway. I'm going to have to try and stop him if he was a go at these women."

Thankfully, they managed to fob him off without anything going wrong, and he took off up the street in a clearly agitated state. He was off his nut on something, and presumably didn't wash too often. As soon as he was clear of the store, one of the women grabbed a big bottle of perfume and sprayed a lot of it at the spot where he had been standing. The wrinkled up look of disgust on her face was something to behold.

I spotted the same guy a few minutes later - he was hassling pedestrians for money, and all were giving him a wide berth. He just looked like one wired up bundle of trouble.

The fun things you spot whilst waiting for a bus.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Headphones are thy friend

Another nightmare on the bus tonight. I am so glad I can start cycling again from tomorrow. Apart from having to wait 25 minutes for a bus (did you realise that time moves 10 times more slowly in a bus queue?), I got a seat and then a madwoman sat down in front of me.

Thank goodness there was a nice woman sitting next to the madwoman, and she diverted her attention all the way home. She sat there, politely nodding her head and saying "yes" every now and then while Her Madness just prattled on about this and that and something else, obviously desperately in need of someone to talk to.

She finally hopped off the bus at a shopping centre on the route home, and I noticed she was wearing tracksuit pants. Dead give away. The only women over the age of 50 that wear tracksuit pants in public are the insane.

It also explained why I could smell wee all the way up to the point where she got off the bus.

That was a close call. If I ever catch the bus again, I am taking a set of headphones with me. Even if I have nothing to plug them into, I'll just stick them in my ears and act like I've got something to headbang to. Cheaper than buying an iPod.

You know what really stuck in my craw? I could not stop her prattle from entering my head. I should be able to sit back and relax and block out the outside world in most situations, but she just cut right through my defences. I don't know what it was about her, but there was no keeping her out. Is madness contagious? Is this how it spreads?

No wonder people want to drive their own car.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Oh for crying out loud...

I know this is a strange thing to be reading, but I have been perusing the minutes of a committee that is looking at our local play space strategy. That is, it's all about playgrounds. I'm vaguely interested in this because the monkey likes to play in playgrounds, and no trip to the supermarket is complete these days without a side trip to the playground outside the supermarket.

Devious bastards, those supermarket people. Getting a playground built right outside their front door.

Anyway, I'm reading the minutes and out pops this classis gem:

Wendy felt that the photos of children in the strategy did not show enough of our multicultural society and that the picture on the cover should show parents and children in a more natural environment.

Oh for crying out loud - we are not living in a multicultural area around here. The census results tell me that the locals are 15% Italian and about 9% Greek and the rest are what I'd call Europeans of one sort or another. I've chatted to the mums at one of our local playgrounds and one is Irish and the other Russian and the rest are all something-generation Australians.

A quick perusal of those shopping or working at the local supermarket shows that the local Asian population is about 0.000%. The local African or Aboriginal population is about 0.0000%. We've got a few Indians, but overwhelmingly, it's a wog suburb. I fit in like a charm, since I look like a wog, and am sometimes mistaken for one. Everytime that happens, I check my back for hairs.

Anyway, there is this woman Wendy Shepherd, from Macquarie Uni of all places, saying that the photos should look more multicultural.

Sorry lady, but this area is mono-cultural. The dominant form here is wog culture, and you'd better get used to it. It's not Anglo-Irish. It's not a bunch of nasty white invaders. It's men with hairy backs that are fond of wearing singlets and drinking espresso.

How can people be so welded onto an ideology (like multiculturalism) that they fail to percieve the real world around them?

What really shits me is that this play space committee has been dragging on for months, and it still isn't complete, yet we have a couple of show-ponies on the committee who seem to be doing little but trying to score points in the media and doing stuff-all to provide my monkey with useable playgrounds.

It just goes to show that you should never appoint anyone to a committee that wants to be on a committee.

There go the cheap laptops

Glad I ran down to Officeworks not long ago and bought two of the cheapest laptops on the market. It looks like they won't be around for much longer.

Take, for example, the much vaunted education revolution. Has the leader thought through the implications of about 75 per cent of secondary pupils already having access to a computer at home? Has he considered whether schools and the bottom line of the budget might be far better off with banks of laptops available as required, rather than one per pupil? Has he heard of estimates in the trade that bulk school orders could generate delays in the supply of laptops to other customers, notably small business, of up to 18 months? Isn't this just a clunky non-solution to a non-problem?

That was from here.

I don't know why anyone would want to give Junior a laptop. All he does on the PC is play Grand Theft Auto and draw South Park figures in Powerpoint. He does very good drawings by the way, but that's beside the point.

Plus I know that given his track record with....stuff, the laptop will be lucky to last 3 months. It will be left on the bus, or in class (and hence stolen) or dropped or kicked or whatever. I just can't see why he needs a computer at school when we have four at home.


Then we'll have five.

Someone should think of the polar bears. How much CO2 will be generated by all these laptops and kids doing Faceplant web pages all day?

Idiocy on the roads

Trawling through the media releases on the Police website can be so much fun.

To start with, we have this idiot charged with avoiding paying tolls and all sorts of other traffic offences. He must have changed his number plate to a dodgy number to avoid paying anything. I am just amazed at the sort of stuff that people will pull. The economy is booming, most people are doing well and this idiot doesn't want to register or insure his car or pay tolls - and it's a VW Polo! I didn't think those cars were that cheap.

Then there is a contestant for the Darwin Award, busted doing 144kph in a 50 zone on a stretch of road not far from where I am now sitting. I've driven down that bit of road many times, and I am hard pressed to know how he got over 80 without bouncing out of his seat. All the main roads around here are constructed out of concrete slabs that were laid back in the 1960s (I am guessing here). Over the years, the slabs have sunk this way and that, just like your average footpath does after a while. The result is a road surface that is more akin to a rollercoaster than a thoroughfare designed for high speed transit. Everytime I drive down that road in the Disco, I pretty much get airborne in my seat as I go from peak to trough.

I could understand if he was practicing for Motocross, but I doubt that was the case. I reckon he's just a dickhead.

The hilarious thing is that about 2 years ago, the residents were in the paper complaining about mad speeders and the Police response was, "We know nothing about it". Well, I guess the evidence has finally crossed their desk, and they'll have to sit up and take notice.

What got me going through the police media files was another story in our local fishwrap about a robbery at a nearby KFC. The store was broken into as the staff were cleaning up, and the robbers got away in a 2006 BMW 325i owned by one of the staff.

Get that will you. A 2006 BMW owned by one of the staff.

Depending on the model, you could expect to pay up to $84,000 for one of these when new, and given that it was new only last year, I suspect this particular car was bought new.

What are the possibilities here?

It belonged to the owner of the store. Fair enough. You can make a motza out of selling deep fried fat.

It belonged to one of the staff. Now either young Spazzboy borrowed the car from Mummy, or KFC are paying fantastic wages these days, or this is a sign of why we are having a global credit meltdown. How the hell does someone working at KFC manage to borrow enough money to buy a new BMW?

Parramatta Road is lined with car dealerships that have lots overrun with repossesed cars, and most of those cars are hotted up one way or another. It's amazing how many bad credit risks our financial institutions will lend money to.

Dog shot 3 times in the head

Check this out. On page 3 of our local rag, there appears a big story about a pitbull cross being shot three times in the head. Two photos accompanied the story, both showing the said dog alive and well. Ok, maybe looking a bit sore, but definitely alive. It is not an ex-dog, or a dog that has ceased to be. It is a living, breathing dog.

How on earth does a dog get shot 3 times in the head and live to bark the tale?

Well, the "bullets" might have been shotgun pellets, and very light ones at that - birdshot for instance. Or it might have been shot with an underpowered pellet gun.

Frankly, I have no idea how you could shoot a dog in the head 3 times with a pellet gun. The dog would go mad after the first shot, and be jumping around so much, you wouldn't be able to put another two slugs into it. Common sense says it has been sprayed with a few rounds from a shotgun.

Just goes to show how little our local media actually knows about firearms. Makes you wonder whether these reporters know much about anything at all.

Anyone for unintended consequences?

We're doing our bit to save water. By diverting all our washing machine water onto the garden, I reckon I've done enough to justify throwing out our stupid, useless "water saving" showerhead and replacing it with something the size of a dinner plate with 1/4 inch holes drilled all over it.

But what will happen if everyone stops sending their washing machine suds down the drain and pours it over the lawn instead? Will this have some sort of horrible consequences for our sewerage system?

If washing cothes makes up something like 10% of household water consumption, presumably the amount flowing into the sewers will drop by 10% or so. There'll also be a big drop in the amount of suds going into the system - having a shower just doesn't consume the same amount of soap powder as a couple of loads of kids clothes per day. Will the lack of suds upset the delicate ecosystem of the sewerage system? Is this the sort of thing that gives water engineers nightmares?

When you add in all the rainwater tanks that are going in, which will surely reduce the amount of water going into the storm water system, will we find that the big surges of water during big downfalls become a thing of the past, and our systems no longer get a good flushing on a regular basis?

For all I know, these could be good things. But then they might be bad things.

Whatever they are, they are unintended consequences.

100 days

I always shudder when a new manager comes along with a bucketload of ideas and energy and wants to implement all sorts of changes in their first few months.

The results are invariably the same. Long hours, chaotic scenes as competing priorities are prioritised and re-prioritised, angry meetings as managers fight over the scarce resources required to do their bit, and in the end, nothing really changes. It's like stirring up a pond. All this mud and crap rises to the surface and then it settles down again and the fish go back to doing whatever it is that fish do.

I therefore dreaded our new PM announcing that he wants to do lots of stuff in his first 100 days. Mate, better to sit back and relax and do it in a calm and measured manner, rather than trying to blast also sorts of new stuff into the system. One reason why this "100 days" stuff never works is because of a lack of follow up. If you throw too many initiatives into the pot at once, you can't devote much time to each, so if your staff just decide to sit around and do stuff all on a few of them, it's never noticed and they can get away with it. You never get time to go back and revisit those issues, because sure as eggs, some crisis will come up and that will distract everyone for a while.

This just tells me how unready for government Labor really are. They've got no idea.

Ah well. Don't blame me. I didn't vote for them.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Check this out

Dinner. Two T-bone steaks, cut by my butcher to my desired thickness (which is thick). 1142 grams between the two of them - or just under 600gms each.

Don't see a steak like that in too many restaurants. Next time I get some, I am going to ask the butcher to cut them even thicker. They were utterly fantastic.

The beauty of eating a steak like this is that there is no room for salad. Just steak.

Good real estate decision

When we were looking for a place to live, we had a look at this house in Drummoyne. It was nice a big, but backed onto the Gladesville Bridge approaches. That meant the price was only around $460 a week for a 4 or 5 bedroom place. We umm'd and ah'd about it, but what put us off in the end was that the agent faffed around like you wouldn't believe.

So we moved to Five Wog instead, and it's worked out well.

I had a squizz at the cars parked out the front this morning in order to get a feel for who might be renting there now.

The cars included:

- one busted-arse, rusted out Falcon ute with many, many dents. And a P plate.

One jacked up stupid 4WD of some sort. The sort of thing a P plater with no brains drives. The kind of thing that flips on its roof at the slightest provocation.

One rusted, beaten up Mercedes with missing trim - and a P plate.

Good decision, Mr Real Estate person. Choose four young males who only own beaten up, trashed cars as your new tenants. I'm sure they will treat your property better than their cars. And pay the rent on time etc etc etc.

A school I would not want my kids to attend

This is Orange Grove primary school. The fence just outside of this photo was plastered in posters from the Socialist Alliance and their ilk. They are still banging on about "no blood for oil" and "troops out of Iraq". Sheesh guys, get with it.

The school authorities seem to be happy with that sort of crap being stuck up on their property. Me - I'd be cleaning it off as soon as I saw it if I was in charge.

Looks like the bloody hippies are in the charge.

This cracks me up though. The school seems to be a dead-set hippy hangout, but there are 16 car parking spots for the teachers in the playground area.

I would have thought that if they really cared about the kids and the environment, they wouldn't drive to work, and they'd give the kids more space to run around in. After all, this is the inner city, and land is limited. Why use it for the parking of evil, evil, polar bear killing, blood for oil cars when the kids could run free?

The hypocrisy of inner-city luvvies knows no limit.

A good review

This I have to agree with. I love this album. Pity I don't get much time to play it good and loud these days.

Must buy another iPod.

I visited Seattle when the whole grunge thing was at its peak in the mid-1990's. It was interesting to tour the area that some of the grunge bands had sprung from - it was completely different to what I was used to in nice, quiet, clean Perth.

On the whole, I found the people there to be wierd, smelly, dirty and badly dressed. Liked a lot of the music, but wouldn't want to live there.

Bearably sanctimonious

At least this prat doesn't have a Mercedes 4WD in the carport. I can live with this.

All I want to see now is the roof smothered in solar panels and the kids sitting on bikes out the front, attached to generators producing the power to cook their dinner.


I spotted a Prius as I was out riding this morning. I was so fascinated at seeing it, I just had to chase it and see what sort of people were driving it.

Personally, I don't see the point in the Prius. If you want good fuel economy, get a small diesel or a moped. Prius - pious piffle.

The Prius ended up parking at the local swimming pool. Two rather well groomed gentlemen got out and headed in for a swim.

The thing is, it looks like they didn't come very far. If they want to be green, why not walk to the pool or ride a bike? Buying a Prius so you can feel sanctimonious on the way to the pool is just just the pits.

You know what really drives sales of the Prius? People that don't want to catch the bus, which is the greenest way of getting around. They can be selfish and feel good about it.

Me - I don't give a crap. I happily drive a 4WD and feel zero guilt.


My post-election Sunday morning ride took me past four schools in Five Wog, Balmain, Rozelle and Leichhardt. The common thread between all of them is that the posters for the Greens are still plastered everywhere. The Labor and Liberal staffers had taken down most of theirs (but not all), but it looked like the Greens hadn't bothered to take down a single thing.

Here we have a view outside the Five Wog school. Greens signs are plastered over three power poles.

It was the same after the last state election. The bloody Greens still had their signs up in some areas 4 or 5 months later. No other party can get away with this sort of crap. Don't you love how the Greens hate the generation of electricity, but just love power poles? Where would they be without power poles?

The house on the left has wonderful views out across The Bay. It must be worth $1.5 million+.

Strange how during the state election, it was covered in Labor party posters. During this election, the same thing happened.

When did the Labor party become the party of millionaires with water views and a Mercedes in the drive?

And check out the place that's being built next door. It's been going up for about 6 months now, and it will be a multi-million dollar place by the time it's finished. I look forward to seeing whether any signs appear on the new place during the next election.

Worthless slugs

Until recently, this house was covered in graffiti. It looked like shit for months. I think the only reason it ever got scrubbed up is that the council got involved.

What type of worthless, lazy good-for-nothing pubes allow their house to be repeatedly vandalised, and do nothing about it?

People with a "work choices" sticker in their window - that's who.

Must remember to visit this shop

Can't beat a good handmade chocolate.

Redundant signage

Now that the election is over, I guess Leichhardt Council can take down this sign saying that they don't like work choices.

Somehow, I think it is going to be there for a long time to come to remind us of the "horror of the Howard era".

Bunch of leftie poseurs wasting ratepayers money.

Tilty head II

A candidate in the Balmain area. I think she scraped up a dozen or so votes.

Note that not only is the head tilted - the entire body is tilted (to the left of course - her left).

Tilting head

A compassionate head tilt - yes, it's a Democrat.

I spotted the Democrats signs when I was riding up Norton St at 8am this morning. Funnily enough, my bus goes up these street every night on the way home, and I had never spotted any of the Democrats posters until today.

You know why? They had them on the wrong side of the poles. They were facing away from the traffic.

Typical Democrats - only they would be so out of touch that they don't know which side of the road the traffic flows on.

A brick for your window

You want to know one of the major differences between lefties and conservatives?

If I stuck a big banner of John Howard up outside my house, I reckon I could count on a brick through the window before long.

However, you stick up a banner of a murdering thug, and nothing happens.

Conservatives are too polite and law abiding and have too much respect for the property of others.

If this idiot owns this house, I reckon it should be confiscated by a revolutionary tribunal and handed over to "the people".

ie, me.

How to walk a kelpie

There is no sense in fat, unfit bastards buying something like a cattle dog that needs to be run into the ground on a daily basis. I saw this meathead today around near haberfield, riding a postie bike without a helmet along the bike path. I can understand the need to run the dog, but surely there are better ways. He eyed me getting ready to take his photo, and that encouraged him to move onto the road and put on his helmet.

Except he didn't do the strap up.


For Damien

666 might be the number of the beast, but it was not the apartment number of Damien when he lived in this street. However, here are some funky chairs that are just his thing.

And a table soccer set. Amazing what people throw out.

Value destruction

I like BMW. I have been to their museum in Munich and thought it was fab. I like driving their cars. They are well appointed, handle well and generally have plenty of get up and go without being uncomfortable or harsh.

What I hate to see though is a BMW in the hands of a P plater, or even worse, a wogboy. Or a wogboy P plater. That to me just destroys the BMW brand. I know they have gone for volume in recent years, but all that has done is driven the brand downmarket. I don't care how fancy the 5 and 7 series are, or how fast an M-this or M-that goes; I cannot ever see myself owning one for the rest of my life.

It's a pity. It has become the Gemini of the latest generation.

Victory is mine

Here we go - the odometer total after the Sunday morning ride. 10,034km. Not bad work.

I do wonder how much further the bike will go before it starts to have serious problems. I need to sit down with it this afternoon and give the chain and cogs and thorough degrease and re-lube, and the front deraileur has decided to stop working, so it probably needs to go to the shop to get that sorted. There may be a new bike somewhere in my near future.

Or perhaps two bikes. I really need a bike that I can just pop down to local locations on without having to put on the cleated shoes and the like. And something with panniers, so I can lug things around.

I can't lug the new kayak around on the bike though, so I had to spend $450 this morning on a set of roof racks for the Disco that are capable of carrying a kayak. How's that for luck - we get given a free kayak, and still need to spend a small fortune to be able to use it. But as they say, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

More annoyance

I now know what bugs me about those Teachers Federation signs on school fences.

The wishy-washy nature of their message.

They say things like "Our children are the future". Well, all children are the future, not just yours. But what sort of children of the future are you turning out? The feral children of the future?

I prefer to see more action oriented stuff. "We improve kids maths scores". "Kids that go here are great at reading". "We teach more Australian history than any other school in the area". "We've produced 4 great cricketers and an Olympic swimmer in the last decade - and we aim to produce more in the future".

I like stuff you can get a grip on. Wishy-washy, airy-fairy dribble that sounds nice but is essentially meaningless hot air gets up my nose.

Given that this attitude appears to infect the entire state system, it's no wonder I favour private education. Not because they are necessarily any better, but because they know what they want to be better at, and they work at getting better. They don't just produce a vapourware vision and then hope that everything turns out ok.

And I don't think private schools are as doctrinaire when it comes to teaching methods. That method not showing any results for the last 20 years? Perhaps we should try something else. State school educrats though seem to be welded onto teaching methods regardless of the outcomes. Not getting the right outcome? How dare you try and measure the outcomes! We do things this way because we believe it is the right way - how dare you try and prove or disprove whether it is the right way with facts. State education seems to be driven by those that prefer feelings over facts.

The horror, the horror.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

How should one live?

I took this series of snaps as I cycled around today. I find this first house to be quite hideous. It's everything I don't want in a house. There are no eaves to keep the sun out (madness in Australia), no balconies or verandahs to relax on at the end of the day, and worst of all, steel shutters on every window. It makes it look like a nuclear fallout shelter.

I also hate the lack of life in the front yard. Councils seem to mandate that these days. You should either be able to build up to the front fence, thus allowing a generous backyard, or build up aga

This place is fairly typical of how the suburb looked until maybe 10 years ago. Lots of 2 and 3 bedroom bungaloes of brick or fibro. These are now being flattened or expanded by the bushell. Not that I am complaining. They did the job - providing cheap housing for workers after the war. They've served their purpose - now they should be remodelled to suit the needs of the current generation. I can't believe how people get fixated on houses and urban forms. If there is one thing that is always changing, it is buildings and the built environment. Suburbs go though cycles from posh to slum and back again. One decade they are bursting with kids, the next they are full of pensioners. Change is constant. The building stock needs to be constantly changing in order to keep up.

Trouble is, some people don't like change. So they resist the necessary changes that are required to reshape the way we live. They generally manage to put a brake on things by using zoning laws, which drive me nuts. I can't stand the fact that a bunch of interfering busy-bodies (generally known as councils and council staff) think they have the right to meddle with every aspect of your property.

Well, bugger them. I can't stand people that think they know best. If you want to bugger up your property, go right ahead. Not my problem. What I think looks hideous may be someone elses masterpiece. I can't stand Picasso for instance. He should have been put in a sack with a bunch of rabid ferrets and thrown in the nearest torrent. But lots of people think he's great, and pay a lot of money for his rubbish. Who am I to stop them? People should have the right to do stupid things with themselves and their property.

Anyway, here are a couple of classic old places around Burwood. The reason I hate shopping at Burwood is that the type of people that shop there live in places like this. Rundown, unrenovated dumps. If there is one thing you can say about renovators, it's that they have energy. They're getting on with doing things. People that sit around in dumps watching reality TV and eating pizza are not the sort of people that I want to be anywhere near in a supermarket.

And there then is the old classic - the weatherboard jobbie. This one looks in good nick. The thing is though, it's small. Given that families used to have more kids in the old days, and possibly had to look after the grandparents as well, how did they manage to grow up in a place like this?

I guess they had less furniture and less crap. We don't need bigger houses because there are more of us in each family. We need bigger houses to house all our crap.

So what does a big house tell you about someone? That they have a lot of crap in their life - that's what.


I went past this pack of cyclists this morning. Well, cyclists plus one goose on a motorised scooter. Someone should knock his head off with a baseball bat. Noisy, stinky, useless bloody contrivances.

What annoyed me was the traffic lights. I have ridden down this street a dozen times or more, and the traffic lights never, ever change for me. I usually have to "run" the red at these lights in order to get across. They just refuse to acknowledge the presence of my bike.

But it noticed this lot. It might have had something to do with there being more of them, or perhaps they are using non-composite bikes that actually register on the magnetic loops under the road.

Whatever. This intersection sucks, and I hate them for getting favourable treatment from the traffic light controlling computer. I might have to set fire to it if it fails to obey me next time.

Demolition man

The interesting thing about riding to Homebush and beyond is that it takes me through suburbs that are wildly different in character. Around Concord, the bulldozers are busily flattening all the old post-war houses in preparation for new McMansions, whilst around Burwood, you can sleep soundly all weekend knowing that you will never be awoken by the sound of noisy renovators. The place is a non-improving slum.

Here is an example of a place being flattened in Concord.

I have no idea why there are some shirts still hanging up in the house. Did someone forget to clean out a cupboard before sending in the excavator?

How should I vote?

I just tried out the stupid "how should I vote" Q&A at GetUp. What a pile of bollocks. It told me to vote Labor, and then preference the Greens.

I put in a set of answers that would have made Attila blush. If it asked me whether we should be setting fire to kittens on a nightly basis, I would have said "yes", and throw in some puppies too.

I cannot for the life of me see how it could generate the results that it did, short of having an engine in the back that said put the Coalition last, regardless of the answers.

It just shows how biased and sucky some of these organisations can be. Scratch a GetUp activist, find a raving socialist.


I am going to assume that this is a case of smoking in bed or letting the kids play with matches. The house is well and truly cooked - you can see where the fire has gotten into the roof and really made a mess of the place.

I checked the smoke alarm when I got home. Suggest you go do the same.


I rode out to Homebush this morning in the drizzle. Either it has been raining heavily of late in some areas, or the tide is right up, because this canal was almost overflowing. Normally, there is a trickle of water about an inch deep and a foot wide in the bottom of it. I don't think I have ever seen it so full.

Blame global warming. Or the moon. Take your pick.

The water in the canal was flowing pretty quickly - these three ducks were paddling against the current, and they were hardly moving. Not often that you see ducks around these parts either. There is some sort of swamp over the road from this canal, but I've never seen ducks in it. Thinking about it, I've never seen water in that swamp either. Last time I went past, it was a dust bowl.

Must think about putting a shotgun rack on the back of the bike. I never thought I could go riding and come home with dinner.

To the crusher

Another old clunker that has been dumped on the side of the road is heading for the crusher. I spotted this pile of rusting junk on my ride this morning and I reported it when I got home. It had no plates, and the rego expired 7 months ago, so I wonder how long it will take the Council to get rid of it. I'll have to ride past this spot next weekend to see if it's gone.

I guess you could call it the revenge of the cyclists.

What changed?

On Friday, the SMH ran a story about another soldier being killed in Afghanistan. The first half of the story was about the soldier, and the 2nd half was about how the Army is supposedly sending younger soldiers off to fight.

I think the SMH was trying to imply that the Army is despatching the young and the innocent to get killed.

I went back to that story this morning and it had changed. The 2nd half was gone.

Good. I thought it was a bloody disgrace. Someone had hijacked a story about a soldiers death and turned it into an accusatory tome against the government. It was "I was only 19" all over again.

Which is all bollocks of course. The Vietnam-era protesters can't get their heads around the fact that our soldiers these days are all volunteers, and as such, many are probably keen as mustard to go and "have a go". I know I was when I was 25.

The soldiers are probably getting younger partly because soldiering is a young mans game, especially in harsh terrain like Afghanistan. Unless you've put on a pack and webbing and picking up a gun and tramped up and down steep hills all day and night, you've got no idea how physically and mentally demanding it is. It's not like going trekking in Nepal with a sherpa and a donkey, except with uniforms. It's excruitiatingly hard work. It takes its toll on people through injuries and stress fractures and the like - and that's apart from getting shot or blown up occasionally.

Those best able to cope with the physical demands are the young. I'm buggered if I could do it now, even if I went on a six month training course. My knees and neck and back would probably kark it in the first month.

So yes, the troops may well get younger as the Army weeds out the fat and the unfit, who if they are like me and my mates, will tend to be older.

In the meantime, someone needs to go punch an SMH sub-editor in the head.

Lest we forget.

Friday, 23 November 2007

How bad can living out bush be?

No TV program on Aborigines is complete without some shots of badly groomed and maintained houses in a dusty township somewhere. Take your pick. Queensland, WA or the Northern Territory. Everything looks ragged, untidy and dirty.

That includes the cars, the dogs and the people.

I just can't figure out why. They've got scheme water, mains electricity and well built houses.

When I was 12, I spent a few weeks working on a sheep station in the mid-North of WA. It was miles away from anywhere - right out in the sticks. Driving to the front gate took half the morning, let alone going into the nearest town. It was isolated as buggery. The water came from a bore, and the only way to heat it was in a wood burning drum. The first thing I had to do each morning was to get up at dawn and light a fire under the hot water system.

They had a diesel generator for power and some solar panels and a big battery bank. They killed their own sheep every now and then, but most of the food in the place was tinned or dry. I don't think the power was reliable enough to risk having a lot of food in the fridge or freezer. All we had was powdered milk. I still can't stand powdered milk to this day.

We worked hard - it was mustering time, and we mustered sheep all day, and on the days when we weren't mustering, we worked in the shearing shed. I learned how to pick up and throw a fleece, and how to drag sheep out of the pens for the shearers, and how to pick off the yucky bits of wool from a fleece, and how to press a bale using a manual bale press. I was pretty handy with rolling big wool bales through the shed and out onto the loading dock.

It was a pretty hard existence. The shearers lived out of beaten up caravans or the shearers quarters, which were a dead basic tin shed on a concrete slab.

In short, the owners of that sheep station put up with a crappier class of facilities than are found in most Aboriginal communities today. And they put up with it willingly, because it was their livlihood. I do not recall anyone complaining about having to cut wood for the hot water system, or the yuckiness of the bore water, or having to swap out the big gas cylinder for the kitchen stove. The diet was monotonous and air conditioning - pfft! You wish! Air conditioning consisted of driving around in a Land Rover with no roof, and folding down the windscreen to get more air (and flies) in your face.

I seem to recall that most of the beds had chicken wire for mattresses.

I did need a bit of medical treatment during my stay. I slid my motorbike into a bore drain and it landed on my leg. The exhaust pipe gave me a lovely burn. Treatment consisted of keeping it clean and putting some sort of ointment on it. I survived without having expert medical attention nearby.

When I think of how hard that family worked, and the years of effort that they put in and the conditions that they happily put up with, it really makes my blood boil when I think that the taxes that they paid go into communities where all the money and effort in the world just sinks into the dust and disappears.

More meat

I must have been buying meat at a supermarket for too long.

I dropped in at my local butcher this week and bought some T-bone steaks. Instead of getting a couple off the tray in the window, the butcher's flunky grabbed a rack and asked me how thickly I wanted them cut.

I was so stunned, I didn't know what to say. It has been a long time since anyone has offered me a choice of how I want my steak sliced up. He asked me if normal was ok, and I just nodded my head. I was too confused to speak.

After cooking them, I discovered that "normal" thickness, which is actually normal, is really too thin for my liking. I am going to ask for "extra thick" this week and some fat bastards on the BBQ. I want them thick enough that they stay rare in the middle. I think I will start with 50% thicker than normal and work my way up.

This is a series of experiments that I am really looking forward to.

Raw meat

I should mention that I went to a Korean restaurant for lunch today. It's not something that I have done a lot of before. Japanese - yes. Almost daily. Korean - once in a blue moon.

There were a few of us, and we were tempted to do the Korean BBQ thing, but couldn't figure out what to order and how to cook it, so we went with hot pots instead.

Except that I went for the raw meat option. I thought I would get a bowl of raw meat and vegetables, and then maybe some hot broth to cook it in.

Nope. I got some raw meat and some vegetables. And a spoon.

It was the Korean version of Steak Tartare.

Fortunately, I just love steak tartare. Except that I can never find anyone that serves it. The Korean version was not that flash. Essentially it was chopped up steak with chilli sauce. I like the steak tartare with raw egg and salt and capers and all the other yummy things that go into it.

Still, nothing stopped me from eating it. My companions probably thought that I was a bit wierd, but I learned something about Korean cuisine and Korean restaurants.

We're going to go back. The food was interesting and they had a "bottomless" supply of condiments. The tiny dried fish were good, as was the kim-chi.

Amazingly enough, I am not farting like a goat. I thought that a diet of kim-chi, chilli and raw meat would have me guffing like a distended cow, but all is quiet on the aflatus front.

Where is the cone of silence?

Going to work on the bus would be so much more enjoyable if each and every seat was fitted with a cone of silence.

It only took one stop from home this morning before my entire trip was ruined by two "old friends" meeting up and sitting behind me and chatting all the way in. I heard all about how one was 3 months pregnant, the work problems of the other, how a couple they know has divorced after 5 months, how her mother can't drive, what her father is doing now that he is retired...I could go on and on, but I'm afraid my brain fell out halfway into town in protest at being fed such a high intake of drivel, and it has refused to work in the normal fashion since.

The best bit was listening to one of them talking about taking redundancy from that amazingly fast moving and customer facing organisation called RailCorp. She spent 20 minutes explaining to her friend why she was hanging around - essentially she was waiting for redundancy, and wouldn't leave until she got it.

Well, shucks. If you hate the place that much, why don't you just do us all a favour and bugger off now? She had this whinging, whining voice and I just bet that she was the type that sat around for 7.5 hours per day complaining about how busy she was and how underappreciated she was and how much she had to do blah blah blah - whilst actually getting nothing done and actually interfering with those that are trying to do something useful and productive.

Redundancy - hell! Find them and fire them. Useless bunch of public tit-sucking bastards.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

World's worst drivers

I caught a taxi home tonight. No, this is not a story about a terrible taxi driver, although I have had plenty of them in my time. I had a very competent driver for once, which was nice.

We were driving onto the ANZAC bridge when I heard a car screaming up beside us in the next lane. We were doing 80, and it was clearly in 2nd gear. The driver was revving the ring out of it. I couldn't see all the car at first - just part of the bonnet - as there was a car in the lane next to us. What I could see was an old Commodore with a mangled front bumper and a dented side panel. The car was dropping back and then surging forward to almost rear end the car next to us. The driver was clearly an idiot without a clue.

My taxi driver shook his head and muttered something about poor driving. I mentioned that it looked like the driver didn't know how to change gears.

Then the car beside use changed lanes and the idiot-mobile came fully into view. Every panel dented. An absolute bomb.

Being driven by what looked like a suspicously 14 year old Aboriginal male, with several other pre-teens in the passenger seats. No seat belts in evidence. Just three yahoo-ing young males in a car on a busy road.

I hate to write this and say "stereotype", so I won't. All I will write is what I saw.

I saw no other idiot driving on the bridge tonight. No other idiot driving on the way home, which is unusual as the young stud-wogs usually like to drag race their wogged-up rice burners around the City West Link. Just a couple of blackfellas driving like utter numbnuts.

My taxi driver got an eyefull of them and moved us into another lane to put as much distance between us as possible. And he was Asian.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

The disconnect between Kyoto and immigration

How much do the eco-nuts think we have to cut greenhouse as emissions and water consumption? 10%? 20%? 50%? Whatever the cuts turn out to be, they're going to be made tougher if the population keeps growing at the current rate.

Immigration is currently something like 130,000 per year. The population is around 20 million. In 20 years time, when we are supposed to have hit these targets, the population will have grown 10%.

So, in order to cut our emissions or water consumption to 20% below what it is now, we are going to have to make even heftier cuts per head, since there will be more heads to go around.

Why is it that none of the eco-boogymen are making a connection between all the usual environmental terrors and immigration? I have no problem with bringing lots of people in, but please don't say that we can have our cake and eat it too. If we want immigration, and we want to cut consumption of oil, water, land etc etc, then we need to be ready to make even bigger cuts per head than the headline numbers suggest.

Why demand health eqaulity?

As I passed a shop the other day, I noticed a poster that said something like "Demand health equality for Aboriginals".

OK, that's nice. Catchy slogan, feels good and all that.

But why do we have inequality today?

Is it because we lack health facilities and health professionals (doctors, nurses) out in Woop-Woop, or is it because some people are treating themselves (and their families) badly?

The first one is easy to fix. Since these luvvie groups are righteously "demanding" that we fix the problem, I suggest we conscript doctors and nurses from those areas where there are lots of them and pack them off to Woop-Woop for a few years. Kind of like how we conscripted people into the Army during the Vietnam War. I'm sure that will be popular, and doctors and nurses won't mind being torn away from their families and inner-city clinics for a few years somewhere north of Alice Springs. We give each doctor and nurse in the inner city a number, and draw numbers out of a Lotto barrel until we have enough to do the job.

I mean, how else are we going to get people to go and work out there? We have inequality within Sydney where we have lots of GPs per head in the east and not that many per head out west. Why? Because doctors do not want to live and work out west. How keen do you think they'll be to go 2000km further west? Not much I bet.

The other cause could be people not treating themselves very well. I don't mean smoking and drinking and fighting and eating bad food. You can also get horrible health outcomes through not washing yourself properly (like having a shower), not washing your hands after having a poo, poor food hygene, not washing clothes often enough etc etc. These things lead to lice, ear infections, eye infections, gastro, skin diseases and so on.

If our problem is that some people aren't washing their kids and their carrots and their clothes often enough, then I reckon we can fix that by rounding up all the luvvies that printed these posters and shipping them off to Woop-Woop for a few years, with the express purpose of having them cook and clean and wash for these families during that time.

I'm sure they won't mind that either.

I mean for fucks sake, if some kid is getting infections because the parents are too whacked out to wash them properly, how is "demanding equal health outcomes" going to fix anything?


Monday, 19 November 2007

Moisturiser is bad for you

I walk around bare foot as often as possible, so I have reasonably tough feet. The flipside though is that they are ugly. Callouses and rough bits abound from top to bottom. J took one look at them a while back and recommended that I start rubbing moisturiser into them.

I finally got around to taking her advice and the results were bizarre. My foot skin (not fore skin) started flaking or peeling off in great rubbery sheets. Everywhere I went, I was trailed by blobs of epidermis. My feet now look like I've contracted leprosy.

I figure that what's happened is that the thick layer of completely dried out leather on the surface has gone rotten at the first sign of moisture. It doesn't know what to do with a bit of moisture, so it hits the eject button and decides to depart from the rest of my skin.

Next thing you know, I'll be sitting in the shower with one of those pummice things scraping off layers of skin. Either that, or a cheese grater.

This did happen to me once before - many years ago. I spent the entire summer barefoot, and had a sole thicker than most shoes. Come winter, I started wearing socks and shoes again and lo and behold, one day the entire sole peeled off in a single continuous slab of sloughed off skin. It looked like one of those odour eater things you put into your shoes. Very wierd. I think I am getting the same thing now, only in slow motion.

Men just shouldn't moisturise their feet. It's unnatural.

Toe nail-less

The nail and I finally departed company tonight. I gently peeled off the bandaid that was holding the nail in place and the nail came with it. Ah well, it is no great loss.

Except that I now need to put something over this manky nail bed for the next month until it toughens up. You can't just put a sock over this in the morning and not feel a certain level of discomfort. The nail bed is always tender, so a bandaid applied daily is a good idea for a while.

This is going to play havoc with my body surfing plans for this weekend. Wearing a flipper over an exposed nail bed is....ugh.

How the bus affects perceptions

I like the read small format newspapers on the bus - things like The Economist and The Spectator. I am now in the habit of folding down the corner of a page if I think there is something worth following up on that page - like adding a book to my Amazon wish list, or blogging about a particular topic that catches my eye.

But what I am finding of late is that I fold down all these pages, then get home and find that they no longer interest me. What on earth made me think tonight that I'd want to read a book about Ronnie Wood? Or a book on musicophilia?

They must be pumping something into the air conditioning on the bus. Probably helps to keep the proles happy and contented on their way to/from the daily grind.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


Hooray. A thief has been busted at Bondi. I hope they bury her up to her neck in the sand and let the sand crabs do their worst.

If only ther were sand crabs at Bondi.

It only takes one person like that to make your trip to the beach an absolute misery. I usually leave all my valuables in the car and take just my car keys and a $20 note to pay for breakfast. Everything is carried in the rattiest looking bag that I own. I wear an old and unfashionable shirt with holes in it and leave that ostentatiously draped over my ratty bag.

It also helps to swim before 7am, when most crims are still in bed.

Toe - oh no!

Well it had to happen. I had a shower, walked out of the bathroom and the monkey ran straight into my foot, kicking my toenail upwards in the process. That was enough to detach the front of the toenail and the right hand side. The nail is now only attached in the bottom left hand corner, which is fairly typical (I think I have lost this nail 7 or 8 years in a row now after skiing).

Note all the black gunge under the nail - all the old blood that has been sitting there for 3 months. The nail has also ripped a bit at the front. There is still a soft, white chunk (that looks like a maggot) attached to the toe.

It was pretty much vertical at first, but it slowly subsided back down towards the nail bed. I have now wrapped it up in tape to hold the nail down. It will probably stay that way for a few weeks until the bottom left hand corner decides to let go.

And yes, everything under the nail is soft and squidgy.

Who would want to be a doctor and have to put up with this sort of stuff all day?

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Locals should be barred from Centrepoint

The Centrepoint tower is the tallest freestanding structure in Sydney. For a while there, I am sure it was the highest thing in Australia, or even the southern hemisphere.

Regardless of how high it is, the tower has a feature common to all these tall things - a revolving restaurant. I prefer to call them revolting restaurants, since I have never been to one that has served up the kind of food that I would go back for. They're all about the view and that allows them to get away with a fairly miserable standard of nosh. Don't get me wrong - it's buffet food that is better than boarding school and military buffet food... but that's not saying a lot.

I blame these people for the root of the problem.

We went to the buffet restaurant again last night. The in laws were in town and the idea was to give the kids a treat - and as far as kids with their undiscerning palates are concerned, it's a great idea. Pity that some of the adults have to suffer by going along. I think a better idea would be for the adults to go to the very flash restaurant one floor down, and leave the buffet as a kids zone. Then everyone would be happy.

What gets me about the buffet is the price. It was over $220 for 3 adults and a kid. They really sting you on this deal. Even if you eat nothing but prawns and oysters (which is what I set out to do), I reckon you'll consume no more than $30 worth of food at market rates. And we're talking about cold seafood here - food that requires zero preparation by the kitchen staff.

The buffet had a couple of zones. One was doing salads and seafood (small, cold, farmed prawns, oysters natural, mussels in something, baby octopus in something), another did roasted meats and spuds and things, and the last was doing Indian and Italian - butter chicken and ravioli essentially.

The desserts were beyond the pale. Really. Jelly with no icecream? That is a new low.

They do their best to get you through the place in 90 minutes. We would have been out of there in about that time, if the lifts weren't such a disaster. I think they can only have a certain number of lifts moving at any one time, so one of the four lifts arrives, the doors open, you enter, the doors close and then you stand there for 2 minutes wondering when you will start moving.

My mood was not enhanced when at the start of the whole saga, the security guard at the bottom of the tower bundled us into a lift and then sent us to the wrong floor at the top of the tower. The lift then refused to take us to another floor, and simply returned us to the ground. We then had to go up again. I wasted a good 5 minutes of my life in that lift.

The view was obscured a bit by windows that seem well past their prime. They didn't look clear at all, so the view appeared to be perpetually shrouded in a light mist.

Essentially, it is a big feeding barn for Asian tourists who don't know any better. It's nice to do it once, but after that, the locals should not be allowed back. Given the number of sophisticated and wonderful entertainments and eating places in this state, it's a bit of an embarrasment.

Crash bandicoot

I had to drive over to Luna Park last night to collect Junior about 11pm. I went the long way around the north of the harbour - just for old times sake, since I used to live around Milsons Point for a year or so.

I got completely lost of course. I have little sense of direction.

I decided to take the short way home by going across the Harbour Bridge. Is faster, but much less interesting (unless you have a thing for driving over bridges and paying tolls).

That turned out to be a big mistake. Once we hit the Western Distributor, five lanes of traffic turned into gridlock. Gridlock that seemed to last forever. It was made worse by the stupid drivers that decided to zip down the outside lane to my left, heedless of the fact that it merged about 50 yards in front of where we were stuck. Those people really annoy me. I should have driven the Disco half into that lane and just blocked it to all except mopeds.

The source of the gridlock was eventually revealed as a half-cooked car in the middle of the Distributor. The front end was burnt out and and the molten and cracked road underneath was being shovelled up by firemen. Five lanes into two creates almighty congestion, even at 11.30pm at night.

We had gone barely a kilometre when we passed another crash. Some idiot must have planted it on leaving the crash scene (probably due to frustration) and lost it when taking the sweeping bend onto the ANZAC bridge. The car was sitting across the two left hand lanes, but all the wreckage was on the right. I reckon he went straight into the concrete divider on the right and then bounced back across the traffic into the left hand lanes.

There were no other smashed up cars around, and the Police hadn't noticed that they had another smash just up the road to deal with.

Most of the other drivers on the road didn't seem to notice either. I saw the busted up car and wreckage from way off, and slowed down to swerve around it at a safe speed. Other idiots, still pent up with frustration from the gridlock just behind them, came flying up behind me and tried to swerve around me to get ahead. All they got was a bumper bar under the front wheels.

I don't blame them for not noticing. Junior failed to see a thing, and the wreck was on his side of the car. He didn't notice the big, gouged out headlights sitting on the road in front of us (that I swerved around) or the torn-off bumper bars or the glass strewn right across the road or the bits of metal and plastic scattered in all directions.

I think people mentally switch off after being stuck in traffic. That was pretty clear last night.

One prang can easily need to another.

Computers for kiddies

I don't agree that shoving computers into schools will do anything to improve education outcomes.
However, if you want to give kids computers, what is the best way to do it?

There are two basic approaches - you give them to the suppliers of education, or you give them to the consumers. ie, you buy "pooled" computers for schools, which then sit in a dedicated classroom somewhere and get used for a few hours a day, or you get the parents to buy a laptop for their kids.

Funnily enough, the "supplier" approach seems to dominate the state sector, whilst the "consumer" approach dominates the private sector. Funny that.

If you're going to do it, I reckon the best approach is consumer driven. People are likely to get a lot more satisfaction out of a computer if they own it themselves. A privately owned car is a lot more useful and flexible than public transport (but don't try mentioning that heresy in the corridors of power). People like owning their own stuff. Don't believe me? Try sharing a single mobile phone or iPod amongst your family and friends. Civil war is generally rapidly achieved from attempting something as stupid as that.

How do you ensure that every family can afford a computer?

Kids really need a laptop - something they can lug from home to school and back again. Face it - if you want kids to become "computer literate", they are much more likely to learn about how things work from fiddling around with it in their own time. You can only learn so much in a classroom. Stuffing around on FacePlant or whatever it is called will teach them heaps more than any stuffed squid of a teacher ever will.

Did you really learn to drive via driving lessons, or did you pick up most of your skills out on the road in your own time with no instructor?

The answer is vouchers.

Laptops are not expensive any more. When I first started buying them at work, they cost around $10,000 a pop (but a PC back then also cost $4,500). Your average "corporate" laptop with lots of bells and whistles should now be under $2,000. You can buy an entry level laptop for $700. I know that because we own two of them. They don't have a lot of bells and whistles that we'll never use - they have just enough to be very useful. And at $700, they are cheap enough for us to own two. We might own three before long.

So my solution is to give families a voucher per kid every three years. The voucher should be enough to buy a laptop with some basic software that they'll use in class plus some anti-virus stuff. You can do that for about $900 if you are prepared to put up with Works instead of Office. You can do it for a bit over $1,000 if you install the Education version of Office.

The thing I like about vouchers is that people can buy a fancier laptop if they want to. Let's say you get a $1,000 voucher. If you want a $2,000 laptop, you can have it - so long as you are prepared to make up the difference. You don't have a government committee setting standards and issuing tenders and evaluating different makes and models (which are constantly changing) and having to deal with the logistics of buying hundreds of thousands of laptops per year. You simply handout vouchers and let the market do the job for you. Parents can shop where they like. They can buy an Acer or a Lenovo or an HP or whatever they like. They can buy the fanciest thing in the shop or the most basic. They can get a 40GB hard drive or an 80GB hard drive. You let them make the decisions based on the performance they want and what they can afford.

That would of course send the education beauracrats into a tailspin. If you give out vouchers for laptops and allow parents some choice, next thing you'll be handing out vouchers for schools and allow parents to choose where to send their kids based on the performance of the school and what they can afford.

It also makes people put some skin in the game. If the computers belong to the school, no one cares about them, and they take a beating. If your family owns it, I'm pretty sure most parents will make the kids take care of them. If they don't, well, they don't get another voucher and they have to pay for a new one out of their pocket. I like the idea of pushing the authority for choosing what to buy back to the families, as well as the responsibility for looking after them.

The Teachers Union would also go ballistic at it would introduce inequality into the classroom. We'd have an el-cheapo basic thing, whilst Bill next door might have something that cost 5 times as much. Bully for Bill. If his parents want to splash out on his education, let them. It's their money. I'd simply explain to Junior when he came home to complain about the paucity of expense that we forked out for his machine that he can have a cheap laptop and a two week ski holiday, or an expensive laptop and a week picking up litter at the local park during the holidays. Kids need to be taught about trade-offs and the fact that you can't have everything you want. Kids also need to be taught about value maximisation and how to evaluate different alternatives. Giving everyone the same committee-chosen machine teaches them nothing about the real world.

I also can't stand the thought of the education beauracracy being put in charge of going out to tender for laptops. They'd take forever to make a decision, probably choose a bad compromise and then not care about the consequences as it is not their money. You need to move purchasing decisions to where people care about it being their money.

I bet Kevin and his Kohorts have not thought this through. Because they are idiots that have never worked in the real world.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Air safety factoid

The reason you’re made to open the window blinds when you’re landing and then they turn off the cabin lights to make it dark, is if there’s an accident, the emergency services can see in the windows if they need to, and also that passengers’ eyes are accustomed to low light in case they need to evacuate in the dark.

From the Transport Blog.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Are we winning in Iraq?

Of course we are.

You know why?

Because I say that we are.

That's all I need to know. I know that self belief is very important when it comes to winning anything. A tennis game. A chess match. A job interview. A war. If you talk yourself down, you're willing yourself to lose.

Me - I reckon we're going to win, because I have belief in me, and belief in our country, and belief in the "western" way of doing things.

Anyone who says we are losing is just a chickenshit who is too afraid to stick up for western values.

Education policy

The Labor policy on education is one of the most misdirected piles of crap I have heard in a while.

Here's my ideas regarding education policy.

Broadband, laptops and other bits of techno-gee-whizz do nothing to educate people. Nothing.

I have been using on-line education tools for years. I learnt how to configure Cisco equipment by doing computer based training. I have read endless manuals on line. Some of them have been good, but all have suffered from the same problem - boredom. Teachers can be boring, but most educational content is more boring than sitting through a meeting of the Democratic Alliance of Teachers Special Needs Education Supplement Assistant Writers Punctuation workshop.

If you want to have a good education system, you need to develop the best education content in the world. Buying laptops is easy. Hell, I went down to Officeworks and bought two without batting an eyelid recently. It's also attention grabbing.

But a laptop without good educational content is as useful as an X-Box with no games to play on it.

Laptops have to be imported. Developing educational content is something that can be exported, and requires a high level of skills. Just the kind of thing that you need a talented workforce for.

I also don't get why the Feds have such a big interest in education policy. Doesn't that belong to the states?

And you don't need highspeed broadband to get an education. Kids used to get distance education via a fairly low bandwidth system - the old pedal radio!

In the end, the only thing that will make you better at something like calculus is practicing solving equations with a pen and a stack of paper. It's that simple.

PS - my new laptop has not made me a better writer. The type of content that I provide for this blog has not been improved by new hardware, or even by loading Vista. Good content only requires good "wetware" - that grey thing between your ears.

PPS - computers in schools equal electronic fingerpainting.

What a lousy burger

There is a fancy burger shop not far from the office. I have previously seen it at a distance, and always made a mental note to visit it one day and see how luxurious their burgers really are.

I finally got the chance today.

A plain burger meal set me back $9.50 - chips, Pepsi and a burger that consisted of a bun, some meat, a few gerkins and a great slather of mustard. And I mean a slather. Noah could have floated the ark on the flood of mustard that had been poured across the bun.

I should mention here that I hate Pepsi. Finding that they only sold Pepsi didn't get them into my good books, but I can live with that. Not every fast food joint is perfect.

The chips were very average. Un-crunchy. Not soggy. Not undercooked. But not even a hint of crispiness.

The bun was..... I don't know how to describe the bun. It was not a floury bap. It was not a plain vanilla mass produced white lump of bread that you get in a supermarket. But it wasn't any good either.

And the mustard. I like mustard. I like all sorts of mustard. But I like fancy mustard in small quantities. I can't bear to have cheap mustard slathered on with a paint roller.

They had about 6 beef burgers, about the same number of chicken and possibly some other types of burgers. I didn't pay that much attention.

I am going to give it another go. It might be that I selected the most boring burger on the list, and paid the penalty for my timidity. I should have gone for something that included everything, along with the kitchen sink.

Every place deserves a second chance.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Ethical question

There I am, getting ready to cross George St. George St is one of the main roads through the middle of the Sydney CBD. Quite a few lanes, lots of fast moving traffic.

The light is red, but a courier with a trolley load of stuff launches himself off the footpath and decides to cross six lanes of traffic against the light.

A car has to brake hard to avoid hitting him - before he has made it across the first lane.

Courier has many tattoos and a bad attitude. He was muttering to himself before he crossed the road. He abused the driver for not running him over.

Ethical conundrum. Should I have pushed him under a bus?

Fair dismissal

I walked outside the other morning to find my neighbour's car resting on all four rims. It had four very flat tyres. I knocked on his door to let him know, but he wasn't around.

I found out the story that night. He had employed a local kid to do some work for him. It didn't work out, so he fired him.

Gracious little bugger then slashed his tyres.

If you ask me, if the little bastard was that much of a turd, he deserved to get the boot.

I bet Kevin would say that he was misunderstood, and force my neighbour to re-employ the trumped up bag of shit.

Some people are just pricks. They should be sacked. Deal with it. The world is not a perfect place.

Monday, 12 November 2007

American imperialism

It's been a while now since I have heard Philip Adams open his yap and complain about Australia being flooded by American culture blah blah blah.

I am now waiting for him to write a column praising "Lions for lambs", being that it is an attack by a bunch of lefties.

But hang on, isn't "Lions for lambs" an American film about American culture and politics? Why on earth would anyone in Australia want to see it? It's got about as much relevance here as say knowing about the garbage collection policies of Podunsky, Alaska (I made that name up). So why would anyone in their right mind want to promote it?

But I'm sure Phil is just waiting to give it a huge plug, and encourage all Australians to go and see it. Just like Sicko, which has zero relevance to our health care system. It's fine for him to plug American culture, so long as it is that part of American culture that he approves of.

Well, thank goodness for that

Apparently a side effect of the drinking bans in the NT is a mass exodus of Aboriginies to SA - so they can hang around in a creek bed and get blind drunk again.

If I was a resident of the communities that they just left, I reckon I'd be saying, "Thank Christ for that."

I have a tough enough time living in a street with a woman who is a serial shopping trolley abandoner, some kids that drop McDonalds wrappers in the street from time to time and a knucklehead down the road who slashed my neighbours tyres recently (that's another story).

Imagine living in a small town in the middle of nowhere with hundreds of drunks, some of them violent, who sit around all day and night getting smashed, being rowdy and probably pissing and crapping wherever they like. There goes the neighbourhood.

Now they've split. If those communities have any sense, they'll burn down the houses that the drunks lived in and never let them back. Never. They might be able to get on with life now that the trash have moved down the road. I was going to say "white trash", but of course they're not. They're black trash, and they make life a bloody misery for everyone in the vicinity, and unfortunately those that suffer the most are other Aboriginals. No white bastard in Balmain is ever going to be kept up all night by these buggers.

We have heard plenty about the problems in these remote communities - the lack of medical care, policing and education etc etc etc. Part of that is because not many white fellas with the skills want to go and live out in those communities. Some of that is due to isolation. A lot of it is probably due to the drunkeness and violence and hopelessness.

Well, the drunks and the violent and the useless just packed up their bongos and moved to another state. There are probably some drunk and useless characters left behind, but I reckon that those that are left are the sober and useful types, and they might now have an opportunity to make things work properly without the dead weight drag of a bunch of useless bastards hanging around their necks.

The strain on policing, medical care, education, social services etc should all be much lower because the greatest consumers of lockup time, truancy, stitches, crutches and welfare benefits have split. Many of these communities may no longer need a copper and a doctor and a nurse because those that tied up 95% of their time are not there anymore. They are now camping out in areas that are better supplied with those services, so everyone should win. If you can't get police and doctors to work in those areas, move the patients and the crims to where the doctors and police actually are. If Mohammed won't go to the mountain, move the mountain to Mohammed.

At least I hope that's what has happened. This might finally be the chance for the up-and-at-'em types in these communities to get things going, knowing that their efforts and hard work aren't going to be trashed by some drunken knucklehead.

The Crackberry

In my current workplace, most of the people I am dealing with have a Blackberry. I have a mobile phone that went out of production 3 or 4 years ago.

I had a Blackberry at one stage, and had it for over a year. I barely used it - couldn't see the point of it. If one is organised, and has a team trained to take over your responsibilities when you are not around, then there is no need to be contactable 24 hours a day. The Blackberry is an unfortunate symbol of managers who are disorganised and unable to delegate or give their staff some latitude when it comes to decision making.

It's something I will look at when interviewing people in future. Have they polished their shoes? Are they nervously fingering their Blackberry? I don't care if the shoes are scuffed, but if they have a Blackberry, they ain't getting the job.

Pack of pain

A story yesterday about the Army's useless backpacks.

I thought the were useless back in 1985, which is why I bought an ALICE pack as soon as I could afford one. There may be better packs on the market these days, but back then, they were the duck's nuts. Everyone that wanted to make a statement about being a serious infantryman had one.

I also bought my own boots, at considerable expense, and outlayed a lot of money on a good waterproof coat. The Army used to issue these paper thin useless bits of plastic that wouldn't save you from getting wet whilst doing the washing up. Again, those of us that were serious about our comfort invested in a Japara. Back then, it was cutting edge in terms of using Gore-tex and all that sort of stuff.

We also bought out own knives, better mess tins and webbing. At the time, the Army was still using WWII type webbing with eyelets and hooks. It was pretty useless. There was a place in Perth that made up webbing using the same stuff as seat belts with a good clasp at the front, and many of us invested in that. They also sold padded shoulder straps, which were essential for carrying heavy loads. Camel-baks were also privately purchased when they hit the market.

Soldiers have always been buying their own kit. The Army provides you with stuff that is serviceable but nothing more. The Army sleeping bags were a joke. I bought one that was lightweight and good down to about minus 2 degrees. Others bought good quality thermal underwear (something I should have bought) and good quality socks. Leatherman tools were also popular amongst those that could afford them.

I see nothing has changed, except for the belief by some soldiers these days that they should have every whim catered to. Well, that would be nice, but no one ever stopped us from fielding our own kit. So long as it didn't look wildly out of place, no one objected to anything we carried once we were out in the field.

These idiots with sore backs simply need to be directed to the nearest quality camping store that also caters to military types. There are heaps of them on the internet. If you want good gear, get it yourself.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Parramatta is a urinal

Don't take my word for it. Just go out there and observe how the locals behave.

I have been to Paramatta twice this year by car. On both occasions, I have witnessed people pissing in public.

The first time was when I pulled up at a set of lights. A bloke jumped out of the car in front and proceeded to wee all over the road. The lights changed, he kept on pissing, and I just sat there quietly and waited for it to be over. No sense in trying to take on the four drunks in that car.

It's not like it was a quiet back street. It was a major intersection with 3 lanes or more in each direction.

Today, I stopped at another set of lights outside the Albion Hotel. Two young boys were standing at the fence with their pants down, having a piss into the garden surrounding the hotel. Just as the lights changed, Mum busted them.

I laughed all the way home.

And people wonder why houses around here cost a lot more than houses out there. It's because people will pay huge amounts of money and go into debt up to their eyelids to stay the hell away from people like that.

So much for "lions for lambs"

I have been watching the lavish marketing campaign on TV for "Lions for lambs" for at least a week now, and for the life of me, I can't fathom what this movie is supposed to be about at all. I don't know who cut this trailer together, but they need to be sent back to film school with their diploma shoved up their arse.

I have watched the trailer again and again on TV. I have watched it on the interweb. I have tried reading some of the promotional material on the interweb thingy and still can't make head nor tail of it.

In short, I am as confused as buggery. What is this movie about?

Thank goodness for Google. I happened upon a review today (a scathing review at that) and decided to Google it. I have never had to Google a film before to find out what it is about. There is a DVD rental machine at our local supermarket, and it has a big TV screen on top that shows an endless series of shorts for its contents. I have watched dozens of shorts on that screen, and often they are only 15 seconds long. And they are silent. And I have walked away with a pretty firm idea of what those movies are about.

But I have watched the "Lions" trailers again and again - in full surround sound - and still been none the wiser.

Having read half a dozen reviews, I think it can be summarised as a three part bag of wind starring three people that nobody cares about anymore. They might have made interesting movies back in the stone ages, but the Cabbage Patch doll was all the rage once as well. I have more interest in going out into the backyard and salting slugs than I do in watching Redford, Streeeep and Cruise.

The only interesting thing is the reviews. The Australian reviews in papers like the Age were generally positive, whilst the overseas reviews generally seemed to call it a boring bucket of shite.

All I can say now is that after reading 10 or so reviews, I think I finally have a grip on what this movie is about. It's no wonder the trailer is so confused and disjointed and unwatchable. I get the feeling the movie is just more of the same.

A movie has to give you something. You pay your money - anywhere from $3 to rent a DVD from our supermarket to $13 to see it at a cinema, and you expect something back for that. You want to buy 90 minutes of laughter or fantasy or action, and you want the maximum return for your money.

What does "Lions" give you? If you are wet, fishy type of person, I guess it gives you a belly full of smug, self-satisfaction. An ego bulging with moral superiority.

I think it would just give me a dose of the shits.

I have one good thing to say about it. At least it was funded by people who put their money where their mouth is. If this was made over here, the poor deluded tax payer would have be paying for this bucket of tripe. Even if it is shite, it is privately funded, privately made shite. That to me says a lot of good things about America, although it will probably piss the producers off no end to hear me say that.

PS - what really ticks me off about the trailers is that they spend 50% of their time telling us that two of the actors have won an Academy Award and one has been nominated.

So what? Just because someone made a good movie years ago doesn't mean that they have made a good movie today. It's irrelvent. It's like saying that past stock market performance is an indicator of future performance. It's meaningless, and it is so pretentious, it gets right up my nose. A film is the product of many people - carpenters, cinematographers, lighting people, stunt men, writers, directors, editors, sound, music etc etc. To say that all it takes is one person to do a good job to make a film great is just ridiculous. Many people have to do a great job, or the whole lot is garbage. In fact all it takes is one person to screw up, and the whole lot falls over. No one person can make a great film, but one person can ruin it.

Maybe awards should be given to the fuckwits that ruin great films - assuming they can be singled out and identified.