Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why I Hate Connex

I've been meaning to write about why I hate Connex for a while now, but never really got around to it.

Then, in todays Age Kenneth Davidson appears to have done it for me!

'Connex and Yarra Trams have shown, almost from the start of their franchises, that they were not serious about making profits by improving service and lowering costs. They have performed as classic rent seekers whose profits have been based on their ability to extract generous subsidies from a captive government.'

Although I generally ride to work three days a week, having to endure Connex on the remaining two days is a real pain in the arse. They never run on time, the services have been cut to threadbare levels, they never stop at my station, and the timetables are just non-sensical in the first place (especially in the evenings).

It's time to get public transport serving the public again!

There is also the issue of them closing the manually operated boom gates down on beach road in Sandringham- I think there is a protest on this weekend, which sadly I won't be able to attend. The Tuesday night ride goes through those gates each week, and it would be a great shame if this service were to be 'rationalised'. Connex are saying that the manually operated gate should be replaced due to 'safety concerns'- despite its impeccable safety record. We all know the real reason behind the closure- cost cutting and improving returns to shareholders.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday Politics

Maxine McKew seeks pre-selection to face off against John Winston Howard in Bennelong! Can she do it? Argh, probably not.

I applaud the strategy of running her in a non-safe Labor seat, which avoids the usual shit fight surrounding parachuting celebrity candidates into safe seats. She would also be well placed to run in any by-election should John Howard lose the election. Rudd is playing a strategic game here, and obviously thinks he is pretty clever. I doubt that McKew running will unsettle the PM, as Rudd hopes. But it is good that McKew is keen to fight for a difficult seat, unlike Cheryl Kernot who complained bitterly that the seat she had been assigned was not safe enough. I think it also shows the electorate that Rudd has more of a fighting spirit than the Beazley, that and his odd habit of ‘marking’ or following around the Prime Minister on official engagements. But I think there is also a risk that the electorate are starting to get a bit restless, forget the strategy, forget the spin, they want some policy ideas. The ‘education revolution’ was a bit light on in terms of actual policy details, so I think Labor will have to lift its game in this department.

I just heard Prof Nick Economou on 3RRR who thought that the government might just be in serious trouble at the moment. The areas where they have done well in the past are no longer resonating with voters. The public is growing tired of the war against terrorism as the memory of S11 fades into the middle distance, and mistreating refugees seems to have lost its electoral appeal also. The threats to return 85 Sri Lankan refugees to Indonesia have not been as popular electorally as the Tampa incident. The public may be sick of the government throwing money down the drain building detention centres, and shipping refugees to Nauru, or they may be growing morally weary of extended detention and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. Kevin Andrews move to the immigration portfolio seems to have signalled a hardening of the policy approach towards asylum seekers.

Water has also been a big issue with the PMs plan to centralise control of the Murray. I applaud Steve Bracks for showing some backbone in this department, and refusing to cave in to the other States and the PM on this issue. Water rights are clearly of great importance to Victorian agriculture and industry and should not be sold out to other interests. SA are happy with water guarantees, and to a certain degree NSW and QLD are simply happy with more money- So it is only fair that Victoria take a self interested stand like the other parties at the table.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Week on Wheels

Saturday: Nothing
Sunday: St Kilda Crit+track training 50kms. Absolute nightmare of a day- My rear tyre exploded in the back of the car on the way to the crit. This meant I had to borrow a wheel because I had left my track pump, tubes etc at home. The new wheel worked fine in warm up, but every time I went for a sprint the gears were ghost shifting. I was in a good position to win two of the intermediate sprints but couldn;t get out of the saddle to accelerate without the gears slipping all over the shop. TO make amends I went to the track afterwards and did some flying 200's, starts and even a couple of match sprints.
Monday: Pyramid'o'Death at the mellowdrome: 60kms
Tuesday: rest
Wedensday: Kew crit, raced A grade and struggled: 60kms
Thursday: Track- spinning small gears, getting everything sorted for Saturday night. 30kms. Jobe Dajka was out last night and looked a tad overweight- In todays Herald Sun he is saying he's 5kgs overweight- but it sure as hell looked a bit more like 10. James Langdyk was in great form last night, and should be hard to beat in the Austral. Damien Semmler is the other kid to watch. I have never seen an A grade field get so smashed up!
Friday: Rest


After the AUSTRAL the focus will go back onto road and racing crits- so hopefully some more kms (=more time on the bike).

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Monday Politics: The Education Revolution

Just had a quick read of the Labor 'Education Revolution' statement, and whilst I whole heartedly agree with the sentiments contained in the document, it fails to provide the pathway for how Australia can increase its investment in human capital.

What would the real education revolution look like?

I think a good place to start is article 13 of the International Covenant on Social...

Article 13 General comment on its implementation
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right:
(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
(d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;
(e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved. 3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

The revolution should start with universal free education for all. This would cement education at the heart of society, and prevent the underprivileged from being unable to access education. And it is also about values. That is people feeling connected to the one community rich and poor, black and white, Christian and muslim etc. It will build a sense of mutual respect and shared responsibility.

Labor's education revolution should be establishing the Medicare equivalent for education.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Week on Wheels

Saturday: 170kms nice and easy with some great company in the bicigaga crew, and Alex James. A nice slow relaxing ride to destress and lose the kgs.

Sunday: Nuffing
Monday: Pyramid o' Death at the Mellowdrome with Stuart Vaughan 4 laps, 6 laps, 10 laps, 6 laps, 4 laps- Austral wheelrace look out! 50kms
Tuesday: 3*12 minute intervals at Richmond boulevard + one naked lady + Gym session. 60kms
Wednesday: 4*8 minutes intervals at Richmaond. 55kms

Thursday: 30kms

50km points score at Carnegie. 137 laps- I managed to make it down to the 50th lap, but got lapped twice. I did manage a second place in one of the earlier sprints. This race was far to hard for me at the moment, but I am getting there. Just got to race more crits, and get some more intensity. I also found that my track bike is not suited to longer races of this nature. After 10 minutes I couldn't feel my hands and the lower part of my arms due to the ridiculous drop. In the future I would probably upturn the stem/ get some shallow drop road handlebars for this type of event. I rode a 92'6'' gear- which was not to bad, but I think I could have ridden a 94- I'm too big for really spinning out the small gear, and found that I was a bit undergunned.

The top boys finished the 50kms in 1 hour and 6! Which is about 46km/hr I think. The winner was Hamish Taylor- A very impressive ride from him. There were some japanese riders down also who were just crazy. Damien O'Brien of Drapac Prosche also rode a very attacking race.

I have to say that I had some good company when I pulled out in the form of Todd Wilksch and Rusty 'the track turtle' Collins. This race was clearly a bit too hard for the pure sprinters.

I loved this race, and really hope there are more races like this so I can become a better rider!

We should do one at the Mellowdrome!!!

Friday: Gym

km count: 365

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hawthorn Results: Nicole Cooke 'invited to A grade'!!!

B Grade
No. riders 18
1st James Attard CCCC
2nd Nicole Cooke Raleigh
3rd Glen O'Rourke Foots
4th Peter Window North
Sprint Nicole Cooke Raleigh
1st Woman n/a
1st Junior n/a

A Grade
No. riders 15
1st Brett Perez GBR
2nd Dylan Newell Bruns
3rd Peter Braunsteins HCC
4th Tom Crebbin HCC
Sprint Jacob Sutherland Bruns
1st Woman n/a
1st Junior n/a

Recent Promotions
B Grade:
Promotion to A Grade - Cameron Winton.
Promotion to A Grade - Richard Read.
Invited to A Grade – Glenn O'Rourke
Invited to A Grade – James Attard
Invited to A Grade – Nicole Cooke

Dick Pounded

Finally I am actually glad that Dick Pound is on someone's ass about doping!

It's about time he got stuck into Armstrong for the good of world cycling. It's also good to see him go for the big target instead of knocking off the small and weak. If you want to rub out doping in cycling you have to go for the throat, not mess about around the edges.

Armstrong has done a pretty good job of raising suspicions about his innocence given his virulent litigiouness and desire to quash dissent. He sure is showing signs of desperation in the whole matter.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My first appearance in a porno???

I was riding in to work today along Bridge Rd when I noticed a cameraman standing in the middle of the bike lane filming passing traffic.

Strange me thinks, better wave to the camera.

As I get closer I realise that there is a woman wearing nothing but a feather boa standing on the sidewalk.

hmmm, very interesting me thinks.

So I ride by and give the cameraman a little wave, and the camera follows me.

It follows me. I guess figure hugging black lycra will fit in pretty nicely in whatever film it is they're making.

I wonder what they were filming for, I guess I'll never find out.

But I'm still claiming it as my first cameo in a porno!

You see a lot of strange shit when out riding.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Monday Politics

Seeing it’s an election year I have decided to deliver some weekly musings on the state of the union.

And what a day to start: Heavy Kevvy is the most popular opposition leader since... well forever.

I think that this will come as surprise to those who think Howard is a clever politician, with excellent foresight and judgment. Howard hasn’t lost touch as many suggest, he has always been a reactionary, tossed mercilessly by the tides of political fortune. His approach to the last ten years has not been to dictate the national agenda. His failure to counteract the rapid political ascendency of Rudd shows further proves his lack of foresight and good fortune. He hasn't taken Rudd seriously- yet.

It would seem that all it takes to prick the façade of good steady management is a viable alternative. Rudd hasn’t had to do or say much to get people to listen to him, and take him seriously. I think the major points where he has improved on the Latham legacy is to make every issue an economic issue. On the environment he makes the point that global warming will affect our future prosperity. On the lack of education funding- he says that we need to invest in human capital if we are to compete against the growing economies/ middle classes of India and China. He is making traditional Labor values economic issues, as they rightly are- and the benefit is that people with mortgages suddenly recognise the relevance of the Labor message to their lives. They couldn’t make the connection between interest rates and skills/sustainability with Latham. Now they can.

So what it has taken is not so much a change of substance, but a change of message. Rudd knows what to say, and when to say it. It’s the economy stupid Bill Clinton message all over again. I guess the real test for Rudd will be developing relevant and well conceived policies. The make or break moment will be the budget reply in May. From my perspective the strategy should be to get on the front foot right from the gun. His approval rating shows that people are listening at the moment- so when people are interested you have to take advantage of this interest. The time for image is over- and now the electorate will need some substance from Ruddy to stay interested. Howard looks stupid on global warming, stupid on water and stupid on war. A viable policy platform from Labor will be the icing on the cake.

I loved Lindsay Tanner on Lateline last week when he was asked for his reaction on John Howard describing himself as a ‘climate change realist’. Tanner noted Howard’s ‘practical reconciliation’ as an example of Howard using pragmatism as an excuse to do nothing. Coal gas sequestration, nuclear energy for Australia these ideas are not economically or practically realistic, but these are official climate change policy. So how realistic can he be? While revealing Howard’s dishonesty and trickery on one level, I can’t help but feel the fact that John Howard has largely done nothing over the last ten years is the reason people quite like him. He is a benign leader, and largely ineffectual. If you think of his major ‘reforms’- IR, GST, business taxation- they haven’t really achieved much in reshaping the political landscape. Even the so-called history wars appear to be bearing little fruit. So long live Howard’s so called ‘realism’- it equates to doing nothing, and people are beginning to grow restless.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Week On Wheels

Well I finally got back on the bike after crashing and spending a week away in the Hunter Valley for work.

Taking the bus through the Northern suburbs of Sydney made me wonder why there aren;t more great cyclists out of the Nrothern Suburbs. Turramurra has so many hills to smash its ridiculous. There version of the tour de burbs would kick arse if they had one. And all that national park- there must be plenty of places to ride. The streets did look a bit narrow and congested on the other hand.

The previous weekend I went to the Wangaratta track carnival- absolute waste of time. my legs were still smashed from my crash. However, on the Sunday I did go up Falls Creek in under 1:25.00 which was a bit of a surprise!

Now, my week on wheels

Saturday: HCC Mascot ride and a few extra hills afterwards: 120kms
Sunday: Rest
Monday: Riding to work 30kms + weights
Tuesday: Riding to work 30kms + weights
Wednesday: Hawthorn A grade Crit 60kms: Lapped by Daniel Braunstein
Thrusday: 20kms Track- permanent fifth place all night in B grade. I was riding too big a gear in light of all the SE work I've been doing earlier in the week. I have to remember to keep Thursday night a fast night- small gears, high cadence. No more riding a 96" gear all night!


Still battling to get time on the bike (tomorrow morning I'm going to do the Hell ride and give 200kms a nudge).

Things I need to focus on over the next month or so: building leg speed, losing weight and doing more crits to lift the intsensity!

Only two weeks to go until the Austral.