Friday, September 28, 2007

The most expensive pile of bikes I have ever seen...

Parlee's Interbike show bikes all locked up at the end of the day...

Also neat... Bob Parlee appraises Delta 7's new, functional and quite cool Arantix frame design with wrapped carbon fibers and voids...

Signs (of a bad business decision)

Ahhhh... Vegas

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rabble Rabble


‘Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia would not follow the US move in imposing economic sanctions because they "would have absolutely no impact".

Mr Downer argued that China was the only country with a hope of convincing Burma's rulers to speed up moves towards political reform.’


"We are going to tighten the existing very tight visa restrictions on regime officials, and we're also examining the adoption of some targeted financial sanctions on regime officials," he told ABC radio.

"You always have a conflict in these situations between demonstrating your position by some kind of sanction, but making sure that those sanctions don't hurt the people who we are really trying to help."

Who do you trust to manage Australia's relations with other nations?

Not this rabble

Melbourne World Cup 2010

I don't know about you guys but I have mixed feelings about Melbourne winning the 2010 Cycling World Cup.

Obviously it's great that we have won the hosting rights, and it will be great to go and watch the race.

However, I have mixed feelings about the Geelong course. It's isn't that difficult as the women's worldcup rounds have shown. Also, it doesn't really showcase the best cycling Melbourne has to offer. Surely the best course from a spectators and difficulty perspective would be one that included the Dandenong and Kinglake Ranges.

This would be more disrputive to the broader community, but it would take the race to the people. The main thing though is that it would show people where cyclists hang out in Melbourne.

I would want a course like the tour of Flanders- Start in the centre of Melbourne, run down Beach Road to Mordialluc, go over the Dandenongs, then Kinglake and then finish the race either at the top of Kinglake, or then somewhere like Winchelsea- so you take in one big loop.

That would be a trully epic race that took in the best Melbourne has to offer in terms of riding and scenary, and would show the broader public what cycling in Melbourne is all about.

What do you think?

Images of Berkeley...

Some reasons why I love it...

The cafe run by an all coloured co-op replete with black power motifs and changing wall murals and artwork...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Peter Brock's Ex-wife vs Peter Brock's Partner

I don't have much time for motor racing and personally I thought Peter Brock was a wanker. However I think a little tragedy did occur with his death. His Ex-Wife (I don't know if officially) stole the limelight morning Brocks demise. The fact of the matter was that they were estranged and his real partner was just pushed aside by the media. I think it was all about maintaining the image of "mr perfect". However I think its quite sad that we still have such a bad attitude to divorce and de-facto relationships.

The court battle over Brocks assets is currently taking place.

I hope his wife gets nothing.

Farmers Grants to Leave Properties

"FARMING families broken by the drought will be paid up to $150,000 by the Federal Government to walk off the land forever." States the header of the Herald Sun story.

I find it completely ridiculous that farmers get the sorts of handouts that ordinary businesses don't. Would the local milkbar owner get subsidisation or grants if they're business is going under? I guess its different because they're mostly ethnic and farmers are real aussies. I think unfortunately that’s the subconscious attitude of mainstream Australia.

Its good to be back posting...

i love teh interwebs

jens lekman on the weekend:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Everything was better in the 80's

Happy Brownlow night!

Hilary fails micro

On genetic testing in insurance:

"And everyday they deny people coverage because of pre-existing conditions or the result of genetic testing. Think about what this might mean down the road with advances in genetic testing. The vast majority of us could wind up being bad risks because genetically most of us will probably show we are susceptible to something and therefore we will become uninsurable."

Think about it a little longer. If we are all uninsurable, from whom will insurance companies make money? And is there really a risk that can't be priced?

There are very strong arguments to prevent genetic screening by insurance companies on equity grounds. Provided anti-screening regulations are enforced and 'cheaters' who screen anyway are heavily penalized, preventing screening should be profit neutral for insurance companies. Risks are spread across a broader section of the community and those who ultimately need care are able to get it. But Hilary is just plain wrong if she thinks we will all be uninsurable and the insurance companies will put themselves out of business.

Even without this problem, private health cover is a mess if it is what you are relying on to carry the weight of patients in your health system. The longer you think about it the more arguments you get for state run healthcare.

Anyone interested in further reading? The July 12 2002 issue of Science has two articles on the problem of insurance screening. Both are a little histrionic, one for and one against. At least the one against is histrionic and rational.

Friday, September 21, 2007

thoughts on a capital afternoon

Great Advice from a Great Australian

This is exactly what what our country needs...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friday Politics

Idiots in the Press

Matt Price, is starting to rival Glenn Milne for inaccurate prognostications and unfounded political warbling.

He even admits it himself.

My criticism- he is forever concentrating on the cut and thrust of day to day politics- the bullshit, spin, the unimportant.

His head is so constantly buried in shit he never seems to get the bigger picture.

Contrast his inaccuracy, with the more considered political analysis delivered by George Megalogenis.

One is a quality journalist, one is a hack.

I don't understand why the major daily papers continue to employ hack journalists who just turn out copy about politics that contains no real insight into policy at all. Grattan, Milne, Price, Shanahan- the list goes on.

Annabel Crabb has been in great form for the SMH/ Age- although she is ostensibly a hack political journalist like Price, at least she is a humorous and talented writer. Not a bar room bore like Milne or Price.

The way they spend hours and hours disassembling the unimportant, the trivial and the inconsequential- shame.

That's what blogs are for- anybody can have a stupid opinion about how some piece of spin will turn out for either side of politics.

I'm just sick of all the crystal ball reading. The way they couch there reports- this gaff could be good for Kevin Rudd, or it could be the end of the Universe for Labor and the Union movement. GIVE US ALL A FUCKING BREAK.

They are so collectively up to their ears in the horseshit end of politics they have lost all grasp of the fundamental ideological differences between the left and right of Australian politics.

If I read one more article saying that Rudd is like a lesser copy of John Howard I will scream. Rudd may be a gentle mannered Christian socialist, and social conservative. But, when he stands before the Australian people he is representing the proud social democratic tradition of the ALP forged over 120 of struggle. He quotes John Curtain and Ben Chifley, he is opposed to Australian involvement in the war in Iraq, he wants to introduce a fairer work place relations system- there are so many philosophical and ideological differences it isn't funny. But because he appears to be a conservative, he is painted as a conservative.


It was sad this week to see Kim Beazley deliver yet another fine speech- when he is on the way out. My only wish for Beazley was that he could capture the eloquence and emotion of his concession and farewell speeches when he was in office. Paul Keating was right when he said that Beazley was let down by his advisers. A moral giant, who was led astray by poll driven hysteria. My endearing memory of Beazley the Parliamentarian is when he was moved to tears by the 'Bringing them Home Report'- compare his response to that of the Prime Minister and the conservative jackals in the press to the dispossession of generations of Koori children.

Who can honestly say there is no difference between the helping hand and the Iron fist.

The Generation Gap

If we were going to hand out awards to those who misunderstand the economic situation faced by Gen Y's- it should probably go to Avril Moore.

As Ross Gittins argued earlier in the week, the Boomers have been able to benefit from tax preferred investment in housing, and a massive supply shortage to become incredibly rich on the back of the real estate boom. Boomers have Gen Y's over the barrel in the housing market.

I have read many articles that state that if current trends are played out, Gen Y's will never become as rich as the boomer generation.

Housing affordability is the elephant in the room in Australian politics at the moment, and a key source of generational inequality. Neither side of politics is willing to accept that two things need to be done urgently to ensure that Gen Ys can avoid housing stress.

1. Remove tax preferred treatment for real estate investment
2. Increase supply of public/ affordable housing.

Unfortunately there are more boomers than Gen X/Y's- so it would be impolitic to remove the tax incentives- but they can still increase the supply of public housing.

I'm not sure why public housing has become so impolitic?

But, Moore picks up on an important point. Boomers control the lives of their children to a much greater degree than their parents generation did. They provide deposits for houses, purchase cars for their children, and provide bridging capital for children as they pursue tertiary learning opportunities/ other life experiences.

This can be a good thing, because Parents are more involved in their children's lives, take a greater interest in what their kids are doing etc. But it can also be an inherently conservative, paternalistic and patronising situation. 'We know whats best for you', 'we will give you money provided you do what we want'. Children are more and become investments- this I think is borne out in tertiary education becoming more vocational in outlook, amongst other things. Parents want the greatest return on their investment, rather than respecting the individual dignity of their children.

If boomers trully valued there children they would make cheap housing affordable to the younger generation within access of employment and cultural opportunities, and they would make free education a birthright to all Australians.

Peter Costello Actually Said This!

Greg Turnbull: Treasurer, Greg Turnbull from the Ten Network. It is easy to see what would have appealed to you about the numbers you have arrived at in the tax reforms that you announced last night, there is the rates at 15, 30, 40 and 45 and the thresholds at roughly 25, 75 and 150, they are a symmetrical, even beautiful, set of numbers. But, I wonder if in what you have picked up in symmetry you have lost in progressivity and equity and my question to you is this: given that I think you must accept that someone on $74,000 a year's income has a higher living standard than say someone on $26,000 a year income, why should they have the same marginal tax rate?

Peter Costello: Well, they do have the same marginal tax rate, but bear in mind, even though it is the same rate they pay different amounts of tax. The person on 30 cents of $24,000 pays is it, correct me if I am wrong here, three times 2.4? 7.2? $7,200? The person on $74,000 pays 74 times 0.3 which is roughly, maybe 20. So, even though they are on the same rate they are paying vastly different amounts of tax, same rate but different income yields different amounts of tax. Thirty per cent of $24,000 compared to 30 per cent of $74,000. Now on your other point, it is true that reducing the top tax rate does reduce the progressivity to some extent. That is true. But if you wanted a more progressive system and if you think it is a weakness to have somebody on $24,000 paying 30 cents and somebody on $74,000 paying 30 cents, you would really favour a tax system that had a 30 per cent rate at $24,000 and 31 at $25,000 and a 32 at $26,000 and whatever it is. You would favour multiple rates moving at small thresholds. That is what you would favour. And what is the downside of that? Well, you may say equity, but the downside of that is every time there is pay raise you would have massive bracket creep as people move into different rates. And so the general thinking in tax policy, and it has certainly been my thinking, is that we should have fewer rates and that they should be lower, rather than multiple rates and that they should vary. And that has been the direction of the Australian taxation system probably from the ‘50s and the ‘60s.

See the transcript:

For those of you that didn't pick it up, Peter's arithmetic example of the tax system is completely incorrect. It's an error noone with the slightest mathematical competence who has ever filled out a tax return would make. So I don't labour the point, ask in the comments if you didn't pick it up.

So Rudd got the top tax rate wrong. Big deal. At least he might understand what a marginal tax rate is. Unlike the Treasurer. Why do the media attack Rudd over slipping a tiny bit, yet not the Treasurer over fundamentally misunderstanding our taxation system? Must be the left wing bias...

Just a random thought

It is increasingly clear that military strategy in Iraq has been hare-brained, bordering on insane. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Invading Iraq can be viewed as 'signalling' - if you are messing with America, they will mess you up, even if it's self-injurious to do so. This kind of non-rational craziness could have powerfully cemented America's leading position in international warfare. However, the weak attempts to rationalise the war take away from the ability to sustain this position. Democratic institutions necessarily moderate these kinds of strategy.

This is just crazy thinking out loud... I don't think we should be in Iraq or pursue irrational military strategies, but maybe once the US has done it, it behoves them to say, 'well, don't f with us then' rather than try to justify the craziness.

i've got my tickets

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

please break

Words to live by

“The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: "Is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride." And we kill those people.”

-Bill Hicks

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Something I've been whinging about for a long time

DSIS Training Rides

The Dally St Institute for Sport is now logging training rides on Bikely. I have added two rides already... the 100km Northern Flats and the 60km Warrandyte-Mt Pleasant-Red Rooter hill blitz. DSIS members please contribute more and provide links.

Bikely is a website with a very easy route plotting tool for bikes. It provides an elevation graph after you have plotted your route! (Go to 'show' --> 'elevation').

Dally St Institute for Sport Scholarship Holders

Tim Watson
Cameron McKenzie
Alex James

Bike Porn: Krishna Utility

I caught this sweet bike out the front of a bookstore in Antwerp.

I think these kinds of practical, utility style bicycles are really missing from the local bike market.

They are the sort of bikes you can carry your shopping in, and use to replace many of the functions of an automobile.

Anyways, nice Krishna beads, and a very nice, handy little bike.

Let's check out the basket again.

Nice rack!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Brain Drain Continues: Another Missed Opportunity

Alan Trounson is going overseas to the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. He is only acting rationally in the advancement of science and this is absolutely not a criticism of him. Rather, it is a criticism of government policies that fail to protect our investment in human capital by allowing our best scientists to go overseas due to a lack of funding for educational and research institutions. Science is a global enterprise and it is right and proper that our scientists travel and get experience in different contexts. However, Australia is hopeless at capturing the surpluses that our scientists create.

The loss is documented here

There is absolutely no reason why Australia can't be on the cutting edge of new technologies like this. Current intellectual property arrangements mean we do better as a net exporter of science and technology rather than as an importer. This means funding and keeping talent, then exporting the products they produce. Not exporting talent to a better funded US institution where the economic spillovers will be captured primarily by US companies. And not claiming that this loss of talent shows what good shape Australian science is in.

Another thing to think about: since it was sold by the government, CSL has gone from an institution that invested in vaccine research to a manufacturer of blood products with substantially less funding for research and development.

Is there something cultural or institutional that I'm missing that stops us from capturing the benefits of our investments in research? Please comment...

Costello is a Pussy

It's hard to win the belief of your party and the nation when you don't have the self-belief to take the opportunities that come to you. Maybe Costello needs life coaching from Rudd.

"On Monday, and for a few hours on Tuesday, for one particular hour on Tuesday, it was there to be taken," he said. On that basis, the MP said, it was highly unlikely that Mr Costello would get another chance.

Whole story at: The Age

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cheney Knew

Some of you may have seen this already, but this is so frightening it deserves to be highlighted. Dick Cheney, in 1994, describing what would have happened had the US unilaterally gone into Iraq at the end of the first Gulf War. It is a perfect description of what is currently happening. If you only watch one youtube video this year... make it this one.

No further comment required.

Google Owns Australian Politics

Google have updated their maps suite to include Australia.

Much more interesting, google has overlayed federal electorate information on the map. You can make it display marginal seats, seats by party and plenty of other things. Amateur election analysis now has yet another fun tool. Go here to play.

Also check out their main website for the Australian election:

Apparently almost every party now has its own youtube channel - see links on the main election page.

Will all this activity online change the dynamic of Australian elections? Not really. It has changed US elections primarily by making fundraising easier and mobilising the base to get out and vote. In Australia, we don't have a culture of giving to political parties. Most significant donations flow through high worth individuals and businesses. We don't have the population for something like, which gets many small donations, to have a significant impact. And mobilisation is a non-issue with compulsory voting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Malcom saves the environment yet he claims its not in danger? I'm confused?


Federal Environment and Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull has withdrawn his support for next week's auction of 8,000 megalitres of water from the Warrego River in western Queensland.

Mr Turnbull wrote to his Queensland counterpart Craig Wallace yesterday to withdraw his support for the sale.

The Warrego River is in the upper reaches of the Murray-Darling Basin and runs into northern New South Wales.

Mr Turnbull says the Queensland Government is still entitled to sell the water and it has not responded to his letter.

He says he changed his mind on the sale after reading a CSIRO report on the state of the river.

"The recent report, while it confirms the 8,000 megalitres would not have an adverse environmental effect ... points out that there is likely to be a significant reduction in water availability in the years ahead," he said.

The Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales says the proposed auction was always an environmental mistake.

Spokeswoman Cate Faehrmann says the Queensland Government needs to act in the best interests of the environment.

"We would be urging the new Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to listen to the community, to put forward a good decision and not allow this sale to go ahead," she said.

"This could be the first decision that she makes as Premier that indicates she really has good environmental sense."


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Some people
You make
Your own
Well tell that
To the gaping
In my
That's right
Not Ass
If I am not mistaken
Is a four legged mammal
But I digress
is something
You fall upon
It can fall on you
Some people have it all the time
Some people have it some of the time
Some people never have it
Some days luck will shine on you
With false glory
The vast back-catalogue of
and mistakes
Collectively known as
Other days
It will
Shine on
Somebody else
And leave you open
To judgment
And the cold comfort of others
won't give you
But in that time you spent
Chances are something bad just happened
to someone else
and you missed out
Because you were praying
Consider yourself lucky
It may be the only break you get
In a very long time
By all means
Give thanks to God
It would be rude not too
But tell Him he could
really use
A better sense of humour
Like genocide
What's the deal with that?
I don't see anyone else laughing around here
Is not something that is determined
A birthright
Or promise
And maybe
That's a good thing
Don't feel the urge
To apply
Twenty vision
You learnt something
Things will be easier next time
What am I trying to say?
Or congratulate
For the luck
You receive
Stop trying
To get lucky
If you are in the
Right place
at the
Right time
Something good is going to happen to you
Here endeth the lessen
Yes I mean lessen
As in guilt and load

Bike Porn: Carbon Flanders

This is a 'Babes Only' pro-continental Flanders team bike ridden by New Zealands 'JK'.

Nothing much to note other than the Dura-Ace/ Ultegra mix in the gruppo.

Loses style points for the pump, and excessive seatpost and spacers.

JK said the bike rode really well, and that he couldn't fault it. These bikes come out of a small bikeshop in Oudenaarde that I visited. I imagine they are all made to measure in Taiwan.

This photo was taken at Evergem. JK found himself riding the Lithuanian Klaipedia train - they had six in a break with him, and a few other lucky riders. He rode the break until about a lap to go when the break split in half and he was stuck in the second half.

I gave him shit at the end of the race- 'what went wrong dude, you were only outnumbered six to one, how come you couldn't win from there?'

That day I was probably having my best day out in Belgie, the corse was perfect for me, I had done a lot of training and rested really well. I went up the road with three other guys, one of whom decided to ride me over a pothole. I got a pinch flat out the back of the course, and had to ride 6kms back to the start finish to get a change. Race over. Ah well, that's racing.

Bloggers and Forum-holics Beware!

(This is fair comment/opinion - please don't sue me, Tim or google for hosting!)

Once again, our defamation laws have led to bizarre and potentially self injurious behaviour by a plaintiff. This time the plaintiff is attempting to curtail forum discussion regarding its products. Whirlpool are a community based internet forum for tech geeks. There are several threads (here and here) in which forum users are sharply critical of 2clix, an enterprise level accounting package. The forum participants have parallels with members of the cycling community forums I have read and engaged with - some seem highly informed whilst others appear to have the primary purpose of being difficult. As most people know, it pays to be a little skeptical when reading product comments on the net and find out the facts for yourself. Nonetheless, 2clix have taken the extreme step of suing the hosts of the forum for failing to moderate and remove the negative (and, they allege, defamatory) content.

Read the Statement of Claim, replete with quotes from forum users in the particulars, here.

So what is the upshot of all this? Hopefully not much... with luck Whirlpool will refuse to settle (that's how it looks right now) and a precedent will be set to absolve forum hosts of responsibility for dissemenating user's viewpoints. The danger is that if 2clix wins, freedom of speech in the context of internet forums, blogs and web2.0 applications could be severely curtailed. Forums are largely run for free for the benefit of a diffuse community of users. Hosts provide a service and rarely make substantial financial gains from it. Blogs are often hosted for free (like this one) with no moderation of their content by the host. There is little prospect that this would continue to occur were forum hosts to be held responsible for the opinions of posters. The risk would be too large to absorb and the cost of insurance could be substantial. Similarly, the additional oversight required would be too labour intensive for most forums with moderate activity to sustain. The problem is an order of magnitude bigger for hosts of blogs.

But you ask, won't the problem be limited to Australia? Not really... courts here already have a record of asserting jurisdiction over foreign companies in defamation proceedings if their web based content is read at all in Australia (see Gutnick v Dow Jones - at wikipedia). For businesses who never foresee having assets in Australia, this may not be such a threat, but large businesses such as News Corp (Myspace) and Google (Blogger) have a substantial role in hosting potentially affected content and these sorts of companies will not want to curtail their ability to enter the Austalian market and place assets therein. In the case of News, it already has substantial assets in Australia (unsurprisingly as it was originally an Australian company). It is unlikely companies like this would want to take on the risk of liability to continue hosting free content. For business models where most content is provided by users, the entire model may be undermined if courts demand significant moderation activity on the part of hosts.

The fear: when a court can assert power or not assert power, what do it's animal instincts tell it to do?

Slightly boring legal bit:

There is hope - Whirlpool have a good chance of mounting one or all of the following defences:

1. Opinion/fair comment

2. Justification/truth

3. Clause 91(1) BSA:

Clause 91(1) of Schedule 5 to the BSA provides that a law of a State or Territory, or a rule of common law or equity, has no effect to the extent to which it:

(i) subjects, or would have the effect (whether direct or indirect) of subjecting, an internet content host/internet service provider to liability (whether criminal or civil) in respect of hosting/carrying particular internet content in a case where the host/provider was not aware of the nature of the internet content; or

(ii) requires, or would have the effect (whether direct or indirect) of requiring, an internet content host/internet service provider to monitor, make inquiries about, or keep records of, internet content hosted/carried by the host/provider.

4. Innocent dissemination - a common law defence, traditionally applied to booksellers, newsagents, etc. I hope it plays a prominent role in shaping jurisprudence regarding the web and 'opinion hosts' (to coin a phrase).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ronde van Vlaanderen, the corse up close PART 1

starting your journey in Ghent, the Tour of Flanders commences with an hour ride down the river Schelde (knowns as the 'canal' by farm residents) to Oudenaarde. The guys always complained that riding the canal would do your head in, but on a nice day the scenary is pretty nice.

Training along the Schelde some guys caught Robbie McEwen motorpacing in preparation for the Tour, and one day I saw Tyler Farrar of Cofidis out training there. The Schelde or canal, is also home to the canal ride. It's like the North Road ride in Melbourne except it leaves at 9:00am every morning (9:30 on the weekends) and consists of everyone from 12 year olds on gear limitations, to pro riders, to old blokes. I did the ride on three occasions and there were always Chocolate Jacques, Landbrouwcredit, Quickstep and other local pro-team riders on the ride being towed along by supefit sixty year olds. Wouter Wylandt from Quickstep lives in Ghent, and even he was spotted out on the ride on a few occassions. Like the Hell ride in Melbourne there are a lot of tall tales and true about the ride. They usually revolve around people ending up in the canal which makes for an entertaining yarn. This is the Church besides the Schelde as you ride through Oudenaarde.

As you ride through the centre of town there is a draw bridge accross the river, one of many in Belgium that decides to go North just as you are running late for a race.

Below is the main chapel in the Grote Market in Oudenaarde, the Ronde Van Vlaanaderen tourist centre is just to the left of the chapel. Shows you just where cycling sits in terms of local importance! The Ronde centre is really worth a look, they have lots of old pictures, bikes, team cars, and all sorts of memorabilia from the race. My favorite story is about one of De Vlaemick's victories in the early 70's. Freddy Maertens got an illegal bike change at the top of the Koppenberg from his brother, he then towed De Vlaemick to victory over the final 60kms all by himself. De Vlaemick refused to work. Maerten's was immediately disqualified upon crossing the finish line due to the illegal bike change. The debate about who was the deserving winner didn't rage on for too long, because Maertens later tested positive to amphetamines anyway.

This is the Stad Huis in the Grote Market, typical of most Belgian towns.

And this is a piece of modern art titled 'man with very snotty nose, and no penis'. I love modern art.

After riding through Oudenaarde you continue along the Schelde too Kluisbergen. the first main climb is the Kluisberg (1.1km, avg 6%, max 11%). It's quite an easy asphalt climb with a hotel at the summit, and great views of the surrounding Schelde valley. I have to say it came as a bit of a shock after having not ridden a hill in four weeks. In the picture below, the steepest section of the climb continues off to the right of the picture, and this is where the hotel is situated, out of view.

The next climb, which straddles the same berg as the Klusiberg is the Knokteberg (1.1km, 8% avg, 13% max). This is another asphalt climb that is not too difficult, and similar in character to the first climb.

After this climb you fly down a section of highway, and then do a right angle turn, and its back over the same berg for the third time up the Oude Kwaremont (2.2km, 4.2% avg, 11% max, 1.5km cobbles). This is the first cobbled climb on the Flanders course. this wouldn't be a difficult climb but for the fact that it has 1.5km of uneven, jagged cobbles. Ouch. 1.5kms of uphill cobbles. It usually comes a bit too early in the race to be decisive, and it isn't the steepest of the climbs, but it sure does hurt. There is a little teahouse just before the Kwaremont that has caricatures of riders out the front of it. The owner told me that she wants to turn the place into a hotel and let riders from around the world stay there. Seems to be a good idea. Here's a picutre of Nico Mattan, a local hero from Waregem.

This is the start of the cobbled section of the Kwaremont.

This is the view looking back down the climb from the top. You will notice that the climb isn't that steep, but the gaps between the cobbles- OUCH!

At this stage it was time for a drink.

During Spring the corse looks a bit like hell, with all the deciduous trees barren, and ghost like. At the height of summer it's another story all together.

With the local wildlife, you're never sure who's the tourist. In Belgian, it appears they don't only dope cyclists either.

After the Kwaremont you enter the French speaking part of Belgian, and the town of Ronse. There are two climbs on the outskirts of Ronse, the Kruiseberg (1.875km, 4.8% avg, 9% max, 400ms cobbled):

and the Hotond (900m, 3.5% avg, 8% max, asphalt.)

Between the Kruisberg and the Hotond there is another short climb which has this roadside chapel beside it.

After the Hotond you head back towards Oudenaarde. The next climb is the Paterberg (400m, 12.5% avg, 20% max, 400m cobbled). This climb starts off steep, and then gets really really steep just before the summit. To make matters worse the cobbles are more like boulders than stones, however they are pretty evenly spaced compared to other cobbled sections. There is a picnic spot at the top of the climb, and when I did it the place was packed. There were more Belgian Blue's at the bottom of this climb also:

you can just see the steepest section kick up in the background.

At the Paterberg, my legs were just starting to hurt. But I'll leave the rest for Part 2, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

When in Rome...

The Belgian mullet New Zealand style, well done Matty

Note Belgian chickens and geese in the background.

Rats... Ships

Good grief, I never thought I'd see the day!

She's ridden the Howard era for all it's worth, gaining herself a place on the ABC board for her services to sycophancy- Now she's one of the first rats to jump ship.

Add treachery to moral bankruptcy, rampant egoism and greed.

Janet Albrechtson you are a disgrace.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

apec works


Call for a new politics

Australian public policy is not the in best shape. As Ken Henry rightly warned, politics at the pointy end of the political cycle can have ugly results. What he forgot to mention is that politics these days is a permanent campaign. Good policy often happens in spite of, rather than because of, the direction of ministers. As I write, the government is so awash with the windfall revenue of the mining boom, over the top consumer spending and company tax from service sector oligopolies that Lenin himself would have a hard time spending his way into deficit were he to be reincarnated as Treasurer. Discredited and deceased communist leaders aside, there aren't many who could be more profligate or less efficient in their dispersal of the public purse than Howard and Costello. Nicholas Lehmann, writing in the New Yorker said of Karl Rove: "He was never a real conservative, except in the liberal hating sense, because the idea that everyone who participates in politics expects something from government was at the heart of his thinking". The same goes double for the Australian Liberal Party. This is the rawest politics of power and nowhere does principle or good public policy come into it.

What has this handout happy, poll driven brand of "conservatism" wrought?

-$10bn on an ill conceived water plan cobbled together without appropriate consultation with the states, key stakeholders or government departments with relevant expertise. A plan that lacks proper efficiency tests and cost-benefit analyses. A plan that hasn't had the benefit of rigorous modelling and criticism from the Productivity Commision or Treasury. Apparently it's too much to ask that the government makes the costs and trade-offs transparent when they have the option of giving handouts and appearing bold and active. Allowing a market in appropriately constructed rights to set prices and make investment decisions seems like a sensible option. Do the self-professed economic wunderkinds at the top of the Liberal Party not understand this?

-Middle class and corporate welfare on a scale never before seen. From the baby bonus to the private health insurance rebate, from incentives for small business to handouts to the auto industry, there can be little doubt that money is spent on those with the resources to clamour for it. Need and efficiency do not appear to be metrics that are considered relevant. The solution to a supply side shortage of housing stock? Increase demand side price pressure with the first homebuyers grant. Population problems? Keep Australia homogenous, say no to immigration and line the pockets of important voting sub-groups with the baby bonus.

-Irrational and inconsistent responses to climate change. From outright denialism to disingenuous obfuscation, neither party has mapped out a coherent response to climate change. Acting under uncertainty is very difficult, but the resources available to the government to tackle the problem are immense. Australia can lead the world, but I'd but money on the government's response bearing a striking similarity to pork barrelling. I'm thinking handouts of carbon credits to heavy polluters, government co-pays on 'clean' technologies with no cost-benefit analysis and further inefficiencies and gaming opportunities.

-An appalling workplace relations system. With bizarre and inconsistent application of economics principles, more power is doled out to those who need it least. The right to free association is limited. Any mooted economic payoff is tenuous, if not downright illusory.

-The erosion of the rule of law. One would hope that, of all principles, the rule of law would be close to the heart of a conservative government with its share of lawyers on the front bench. Not so. Letting citizens languish in Gitmo for five years without trial and holding people back home without charge is apparently fair game now. The legal system is relatively plastic - it can be reshaped to deal with new problems (for a moment I will allow the erroneous belief that terrorism is a new problem). Instead the Howard government have pulled out all stops in an attempt to increase executive power and reduce legal oversight.

The list could go on and on. The Howard government have little to be proud of since introducing new gun laws successfully in 1996. And the Labour Party, though it might do some things better and will certainly run a tighter ship in its first term, will not step outside the constant electioneering and poll-driven policy formulation.

What to do? I think there is room for a new minor party. The construction of the senate ensures power in many parliaments is disproportionately shared by a small number of minor parties. Unfortunately, the Greens are the only remaining viable force, and they are not an option for economically literate people who shower regularly and have a social policy to the right of Trotsky. The Democrats self-destructed in part due to personality but also because they failed to outline a coherent vision of what they stood for - keeping the bastards honest is a start, but it was never clear to which set of principles the bastards were held. I see an opportunity for a minor party with a face like the Democrats but a more explicit and coherent set of political principles: liberal socially and economically, driven by good public policy and accountable government. A thinking person's minor party.

The details need to be spelt out further - but with sufficient political nous I think a party like this could gain enough of a following to win senate seats from votes in the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne.

Perhaps for my next blog entry I will spell out what I would want from this new party.

(By the way, I like the name Libertarian Socialist Democrats - it is highly descriptive of the political dynamic of the party, and, as a bonus, some Greens voters will probably accidentally vote for us on the basis of the initials: LSD).

For a minute

I'm so tired now
I should probably lay down
and forget myself

Jens Lekman isn't my friend

via Pitchfork: 'On the other hand, Jens Lekman isn't quite Jens Lekman anymore. He logged out of MySpace for the last time in February, dissatisfied with the impersonality of the medium. The new Lekman is a 23-year-old American who so far has only one friend; he joins impostor Lekmans already populating Facebook and Friendster. The actual Lekman apparently finds something beautiful in these false copies of himself, and he's come to embrace them. "Just like I've lately embraced all the misinterpretations in the media," he explains, again on his blog.'

i feel cheated, but the new album looks like a better start to summer than equine flu's abatement of horse stories in the back pages.

Father and Son Rule... Belgian Style

A Family that rides together...

Grow mullets together.

Nice bike too (pity about the ShimaNO)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tire Research Update

FMB Silk Tubulars with track glue perform extremely well. About as good as a very good clincher with a latex tube. Perfect for your next big track race or very smooth prologue, if you don't mind dropping down massive cash.

Latex tubes are good - there is a measurable difference between a michelin 18/20 latex and a michelin 23 latex. Run the thinner tube. It will expand and fill the tire anyway.

Tubulars do not improve significantly with very high inflation. Neither do clinchers.

The best performing clinchers from tests I've seen are Michelin Pro2 Race, Deda/Dedatre Giro d'Italia and Vittoria Open Corsa Evo CX. All should be run with an 18/20 latex tube.

These results are pretty much as expected, but I'm interested to finally have some numbers on Crr for a top of the line silk tubular. I would caution against using this to infer that a normal tubular can perform well - eg, tufo, conti, vittoria will not compete with a good clincher and a latex tube. However, I think it would be fair to impute that a good Clement or Dugast will perform nicely... from what I've seen these super-premium tires have higher variability in performance before they are worn in. Wear them in during some club events before your big race.