Sunday, April 30, 2006

The changing tides of political fortune

When is something like this going to happen to John Howard forcing him to do something like this?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Back to Bright and Trofeo de Lang Lang Ride reports

Well what have I been up to apart form working in the last week some might ask? Riding naturally, and here follows an in depth report on my recent chamois related activities.

First to Bright, for a lovely sunny long-weekend in the saddle climbing some of Australia’s largest montagnes. The weekend kicked off with a relatively easy day riding the Rosewhite loop to Mt Beauty from Bright- all in all about 120km in the saddle with two very manageable 6-7km climbs being the Rosewhite and Tawonga Gaps. By my own climbing standards (terribly poor I might add) I was on fire on Saturday. Riding the two short climbs close behind the big boys of climbing at Hawthorn (Climbing General Jono ‘EPO’ Lovelock, Climbing Lieutenant Shane ‘Llama’ Miller, and hardman of the track and time trial Stuart Vaughan. This was to prove a classic case of blowing ones wad to early, as my form declined over the weekend and I got a rubbish handicap for the Buffalo handicapped time trial on Tuesday. BALLS PEOPLE. On the roads I managed to win two King of the Wombat sprints- and jumped off to an early lead in that prestigious competition. We also started to sprint at cattle crossing signs- but there were about 50 on the roads between Bright and Mt Beauty- and that competition consequently lost its prestige. Shane and Jono also went head to head for a number of dead roo sprints. The victory salute was either squirting the drying carcass with your bidon, or a bunny hop of the roos tale. The smell was so bad- I kept my distance.

Sunday was the highlight of the trip for me- climbing the mammoth Mt Hotham. 30kms at 4.5%. It doesn’t sound steep but there are parts that kick to around 10%, and there’s a massive 3km false flat in the middle. Within the first few kilometers there’s ‘the Meg’ which is really step, and breaks up your rhythm. Then the climb steadies out ranging in gradient between 3-6%. Then there’s the false flat and afterwards the roads turn North yet again at about 3-6%. With about 6km to go things start to get tough, really tough. First there’s CRB Hill which is about 2km at 7-10%, and then the final hill into the resort which is about the same 2-3kms at 7-10%. An absolute ball breaker. Shane and Jono told me all about the Meg and the false flat but neglected to tell me about the last two hills. Thanks guys. I think I averaged about 10km/h going up the CRB Hill, and 8km/h going up the last hill. SHITHOUSE. To make matters worse visibility was cut to about 50 metres with the fog- You couldn’t tell what was about to hit you until it smacked you right in the face. I was glad to get to the top in one piece, and quickly inhaled two coffees, two cokes and a biker burger. I didn’t have anything to eat on the way up which is a huge mistake when you’re going to be climbing for an hour and fifty minutes. The descent is just about the scariest thing I’ve ever done. After coming off down Kinglake I’ve been descending like an absolute cat, and even the shortest descents in the Nongs send a shiver up my spine. Hotham has a bit of everything- wet at the top with snow and ice lining the road. Fallen rocks, loose gravel, corrugated surface in parts- the lot. Thankfully it wasn’t all that cold on the day because that would have been the icing on the cake. I managed to get down all in one piece- but altogether a little rattled.

Monday was an easy day with a slow 50kms up the Buckland valley chasing KOW points. I won the only wombat sprint of the day taking an unassailable lead in that most prestigious of competitions. Llama and Jono were left to fight it out over the dead roo latter in the ride. That night the folks at Toorak road put on a huge feed of pasta, and the handicaps for Buffalo were revealed. I got 1:10 which was an absolute travesty- but no worries. All in all a great night- and a big thanks to Phil, Mike, Roberta, Stuart and Matilda (hope I haven’t left anybody out) for a great nights entertainment.

Tuesday- Buffalo beckons. The weather was wonderful yet again- but I could have done with it being a bit cooler to keep the heart rate down. Buffalo is a great climb- but at only 20.9km long, is not nearly as daunting as Hotham. It also doesn’t have the steepness in sections which really kills you on Hotham. What it does provide is a more constant climb. It’s a pretty steady 4-5% for the whole 20kms- with a short maybe 1km false flat in the middle, and a 1.5km flat section over the top of the climb, before the short climb to the chalet. I rode 1.12.25. I took it far too easy at the bottom- thinking that it got really steep up near the top- it looked much worse from the car than it did on the road. Big Ring Bex won the handicap, and Jono rode the fastest time yet again.

Some highlights of the weekend for me were John, Roberta and Bex really toughing it out up the big climbs. Well done guys on some huge efforts, for people who don’t do a lot of climbing you really rode hard. Mountain Goat Jono for his cycle2max topping time up Hotham, and all round goat supremacy over Llama child Miller. Also massive props must go to Matilda for driving the support vehicle and being around to lend a hand during the weekend- thanks heaps. To all the organizers- Laurie, Phil and Stuart- well done everything went off without a hitch, and everyone had a great time. Thanks to everybody for the making the weekend so enjoyable! The thing that really inspired me about the weekend were the performances from all riders. Regardless of age, experience, fitness etc, everybody gave it a real good shake and left nothing in reserve. BRAVO ALL. Pats on backs all round.

Now to the Troffeo de Lang Lang- This is a great race that I recommend to all Hawks next year. After having a big week of training including Back to Bright, and a bit of moonlighting on the track on Thursday night- I was feeling pretty confident of a good showing in B-grade at Lang Lang. This confidence was somewhat punctured by the news that the 100km course included three shortish 2km climbs, with one climb 15km before the finish. GASP. HILLS. The race was dominated by two teams- the Croydon Cycleworks guys who did the lions share of the work on the front of the race, and the 6amers. I was riding pretty strongly for most of the race near the front. But the last hill proved too much as the big boys really smashed it. There wasn’t much more I could of done on the day (as opposed to beforehand where training more and losing 10 or so kgs would have probably helped!). I moved to the front of the bunch before the climb- anticipating that I would slide back on the way up. I did slide back- but a bit too far. I made it over the top of the hill just hanging on to the back of the bunch, but couldn’t go on with it over the top. But I wasn’t alone- more than half of the pack got stone cold dropped going up the hill. I ended up time-trialing to finish coming in somewhere between 20th and 30th overall losing about 30 seconds on the front bunch. All in all a strong race- but I really have to work on my climbing legs and lose of few kgs to become more competitive in the road racing department. All well and good. The 6amers got a 2nd and a 3rd place, and I hope the winner was from Croydon because those guys really worked hard. Jono and Dave T were in the hard luck department suffering from a broken chain and flat tire respectively. Bad luck guys- as both of you could have been in with a chance of snaffling the biscuits had your luck been better.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter 1916 turns 90

And a very provocative article, with equally provocative blog responses appeared in the weekend Observer. They are all worth a read- but probably don't add much to the collective memory of Easter 1916.

The history of 1916 is quite well settled. The uprising was an act of misadventure lead by poets and lunatics who had very little popular support. The bungling patriots were raised to the status of martyrs and national heroes by the British who heavy-handedly murdered many who had surrendered.

Nontheless, an interesting article about how two massive errors of judgement have played such a huge role in shaping modern Irish history.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Proof Screamo has 'Jumped the Shark'

I have an admission to make: in 2000 or 2001 Thursday's 'Full Collapse' was my favorite album that I listened to endlessly for almost a year. I was a screamo fan- it made sense- I loved hardcore music, from Youth of Today to Turning Point and Lifetime, and I also like indie music like the Smiths and the Cure. So there was nothing revolutionary about listening to a form of music that combined my two favorite genres in one preprepared musical meal. Since the heady days of the earlier naughties- I think screamo has been on a slow and steady decline as it sold out it's more authentic elements to the music industry. Screamo became marketable and lost it's truth, it's dignity and it's passion.

It's been a death of a thousand cuts but some are suggesting that screamo has finally jumped the shark. Like any genre there are bands that do screamo well, and I predict they will continue to be successful. But the foul tide of shit screamo bands has reached its highwater mark. The music industry has cannibalised yet another genre- pumped it up, used it up and then made it totally unpalatable to most thinking music fans. Screamo has become detached from young peoples real life experiences- and has been subsumed into the record industry and the market economy. Kids no longer see a group of like individuals performing before them when they attend a screamo concert- they see a product being pitched to their hip pocket. Screamo has become a commodity, and people are being invited to treat it the way all other commodities- as disposable.

But my three sure signs that Screamo has jumped the Shark are as follows

1. Stadium extravaganza tours featuring screamo acts
2. discovering screamo about 5-6 years after the firstwave of the current screamo bands realeased LPs.
3. This article from the Washington Post.

'Their momentary musical identity crisis comes at a time when identity means everything, and anything could change in a matter of months. But perhaps it's the underlying question that drives their anxiety: Could their music, so much a part of their lives now, be a meaningful part of their future, or will it amount to just another passing fad?...

Within months, the band was performing nearly every weekend and changing its look to match the scene. They grew "emo hair," long in front with streaks of color; O'Masta and McClain started wearing girls' jeans. As a "cool band thing," they all got white belts, and the guitar players wore the buckles on the side. A few of them pierced their ears with rubber or metal plugs, stretching the holes wider and wider as the year went on. Schumacher gave himself a lip ring, but "it was a huge family ordeal," and he took it out until he turned 18.

With their new tight pants and salon-styled hair, they were some of "the most made-fun-of kids at school," said drummer Zak Cantner, 16. But at shows, surrounded by similarly clad musical compatriots, their star was rising. Their MySpace accounts filled with new friends and admirers. Schumacher, who was credited as the first to bring the music to his school, became known as the "king of screamo," said his friend Jenny Erice.'

It's a pretty funny read- the poor kid wants to quit the band because he gets a sore throat from screaming. What a cat! And what a sad situation- the music they produce is a product to be sold at market like a dry sheep, and their identity is just a passing fad- an image rather than a message.

Thank god screamo has jumped the shark!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kent Kingsley Kicks Eight

This may seem like an obscure topic to blog on, so let me explain.

I recently posted on my mate Bobby Pittman's flickr site that if Kingsley ever kicked more than nine goals again in the history of the universe, I would vote Liberal.

Well he's getting bloody close! The good news- even in the unlikely event that he does bag more than nine goals again in his career- Robert Doyle's Victorian Liberals are so hopeless that I could very easily direct a vote to them in sympathy at the upcoming Victorian State Election.

But a point I hate about Doyle is his rampant pandering to anti-social motorists in the lead up to the election. The Victorian Liberals always want to portray themselves as tough on crime- except when it comes to speeding on our roads. Arguments can be made that speeding fines are revenue raising- but they are undoubtedly important in shaping driver attitudes towards responsible road use, and the saftey of others. Increasing discretionary limits on speeding sends the wrong message to motorists about respecting the safety of other road users.

Apart from that point, Steve Bracks isn't a social democrat's arsehole- so I would have very little difficulty in shifting my vote from one reactionary rabble to another PERIOD. That's a big call considering I hate just about everything the Liberal party has come to stand for.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Forget Shit Celebrities- Shit Dinosaurs

This has to be the shitest dinosaur ever!

A 'birdlike dinosaur resembling a 2.1 metre brightly coloured turkey that could run at up to 40 kph' You're shitting me- A giant meat eating turkey- It looks more like a mardi gras float than a cold-blooded predator. And how on earth do scientists know how fast the thing could run, and what colours it's feathers were? I think a bit of artistic licence has gone into the colour scheme.

Any other ideas for shit dinosaurs?

I've always thought Stegosaurus' were a bit shit also.

But anyhow

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Funny Photo

Funny Photo

This is from the Call of the Wall charity ride last week

It's funny because I was that student just over a month ago.

There’s a picture of my arse there somewhere for all those interested.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Neither Hither Nor Tither

Well it’s been an interesting week.

Naomi Robson’s taste for slippery spivs was outed in the Mokbel trial, and subsequently ‘reported’ in the Herald Sun. Good to see Seven’s PR hacks were all over this one to get this embarrassing disclosure framed in the most favourable terms possible. ‘I was duped’ laments the headline. You’d think she would know a thing or two about conmen considering Today Tonight allocates about 80% of each show to uncovering conmen and liars. The story was nothing if not revealing about the sort of company Naomi keeps when she’s not persecuting lowlifes, giving noddy’s and preaching downward envy to Caroline Springs.

In other news I sold a C-grade road race to a mate for $20. So what if I’m cheap. As my mate Cam says, once you’ve sold a race, you can never buy a race. It was fun, rien, je regret rien. Back up to B-grade!

Tour of Flanders is on tonight. My hot tip- Juan Anotonio Flecha at 35-1 for the win. Get on it! An interesting aside is that Baden Cooke had no odds as recently as yesterday, and now he’s at 40-1- look to him for a strong ride also. I hope Peter Van Petegem does well, because he’s a tough guy, and he’s been coping a lot of flack from the Belgian media in recent weeks concerning his lack of results for Davitamon-Lotto. Vandenbrouke will be riding again for unibet which should be interesting. David McPartland is getting a ride for Tenax which will probably go down as the race of his career. I’m also looking for a good performance from Henk Vogels- my cycling God!

Racial profiling is alive and well in Richmond. Two whitefellas walk into a Richmond noodle shop, the owners ascertain their whiteness, and arrive at a prejudiced view as to the men’s cutlery requirements. One impetuous whitey yells out, ‘hey where's my chopsticks?’ White people can eat with sticks too you know. Just because we’re white doesn’t immediately mean we can’t pinch a pile of noodles, and audibly slurp at them with a culturally sensitive tick of approval. It's not like we're all clumsy, round-eyed, fat fingered culinary epicurean terrorists. We have feelings too, you shouldn't go around racing to conclusions just becasue we're different. (Enough tongue in cheek pettiness please).

On this point I'll finish with a great quote from John Hirst's book 'Sense and Nonsense in Australian History' regarding multiculturalism:

'Assimilation is of course no longer official polciy, but we should not be surprised to find that governments do not determine the dynamics of cultural interaction. We can now begin to see that government policy did not so much control developments as provide reassurance to those who feared them. The Assimilation policy reassured the old Australian population that the new migrants would change nothing, when plainly they would; multiculturalism reassures migrants that their culture will not die, when plainly it does.'

It's a challenging read that really sticks it to stock standard left-liberal thinking on Australian history, and the human experience in general.