July 31, 2008

Horse 901 - How Is It A $12bn Disaster If Not A Cent Has Been Spent Yet?



There are very few thing for which I generally agree with governments but the decision to bury the Steer Report is something which I whole heartedly agree with. The reasons for this I think are as follows:
Among the criticisms is that the north-western half of the metro would service a low-density and fairly affluent area that is wedded to its cars. With 30 kilometres of tunnel, it would be hugely expensive with no guarantee of high patronage, the report warns. Elsewhere in the world, metros are specifically designed to move people between high-density residential areas and employment centres such as the CBD.
"The north-west metro concept stretches into a 30-kilometre tunnelled route into low-density, high-income suburbs, remote from the congested western corridor, the busiest in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area," the report says. "It would be a brave decision to assume that car users in the low-density north-west can be converted to metro users in large numbers."

Mr Steel, perhaps I should tell you the story of a certain city on the other side of the world. A city of which you might be familiar with. A city whose reknown is known the world over for its forward thinking when it came to underground railways. I refer of course to London and THE Underground. That little rail network which you helped turn around... does it ring a bell for you?

Between 1935 and 1940, the then London Passenger Transport Board spent a staggering £42.2m on expanding the Underground. Bear in mind that this was: a) during the height of the depression and b) breaking ground into areas where the network had not yet been. Lines were built in seemingly open fields in some cases; not because of the immediate economic viability, but of the expected physical expansion of the city itself. Admittedly a little thing known as the Blitz halted expansion but you'd expect that.

Laying Underground lines in areas where the population was expected to grow to rather than merely following the existing trends, requires more testicular fortitude than the plan which the Iemma Government has tabulated. Bear in mind that a line to Castle Hill has been promised since 1891 so I guess that 117 years to do something is actually on schedule.

"It is likely that these assumptions are leading to modelled estimates of transfer to metro over an unrealistically broad area, especially from car." The Government expects the north-west metro to attract 25 per cent of its demand from a shift from private cars, which the Steer report calls a "high proportion". "Demand models sometimes significantly overestimate the propensity to mode shift."

With the Rudd Government announcing a Carbon Trading Scheme on top of existing petrol prices, and the fact that the North-West of Sydney when asked had actually asked for a rail link to the city before the M2 was built and the results that the M2 is now a 30km carpark every morning and evening, that the estimates would be about right. Certainly when I take a train home is crowded to the hilt.

"There is a risk of overcrowding on the CityRail network as demand is rising at rates, if they continue, [that] will lead to a serious deterioration in … reliability." But the metro failed to address Sydney's busiest corridors, and "its ability to relieve what will become very congested CityRail routes is limited".

So what is it Mr Steel? You can't have overcrowding and say that "Demand models sometimes significantly overestimate the propensity to mode shift" at the same time can you? I would have thought that if you overestimate traffic flows then you'd design the system to cope with those estimates and thus future-proof the system. Something which in London as a result of your own damn recommendations, they are currently doing with the Crossrail projects, which I should point out have had £16bn allocated or more than double that of Sydney.

About the only person talking sense is Justin Kelly, who is quoted as saying:
"Mr Steel's work did not adequately address the question of how to deliver on the Government's election commitment to deliver rail services to the north-west by 2015. The Government has a clear commitment to deliver rail services to Castle Hill by 2015 and Rouse Hill by 2017. So when advice was received that took it away from the plan we'd outlined to the people of the north-west, it was never going to be accepted."

What? A government talking about delivering on a promise? Surely you jest. No? If not, then Mr Kelly, you should be Premier for actually wanting to be answerable to the good and fair people of NSW.

July 25, 2008

Horse 900 - Huge Delays in Service

Before I go any further I should like to point out that I spent most of last night carefully considering my first words for this edition of Horse because I realised that they had to be quite prolific, so then, here it goes:
Welcome to Horse 900.

I suppose that it's time that I should give an update in my webcomic which up until this point has not actually been posted. The fact of the matter is that there have been lost of pages actually produced, but for those which are in postable order, there can't be any more than about 120.

The problem stems from the fact that I didn't really have a scanner to begin with and the details of my life being more or less entirely different to what it was even just 12 months ago, have mean that the production has been hideously behind schedule to the point where I didn't even bother to post the first page. Mind you, the techniques for producing a page have changed markedly, and now I have the problem that things don't quite match anymore.

So whilst there may be snippets from time to time, there won't be anything solid until I find a suitable host... sorry.

July 22, 2008

Horse 898 - (additional)

Last night, that paragon of up-to-the-minute information Today Tonight, ran a story informing us that Kath and Kim has fallen flat with an initial audience and that NBC intend to remake the pilot but only this time, they want to do a "slicker" job of it.

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no and NO! For the sake of humanity, just run the original on telly you empty-headed nitwits, FEH!

... and thankyou Today Tonight for running a story which I wrote about in my blog a week ago after reading about it on the internet TEN DAYS AGO. Nice to see that in the event of something major happening like maybe a nuclear holocaust, or a pandemic or even the rapture or something that we won't find out about it from you until late next week, because you've run the highly important story about "which washing powder is really the best value" or "I can't tell the difference between these store brand biscuits and the 3 POUND FIRE AXE THAT'S BEEN THRUST THROUGH MY SKULL"

Horse 899 - Same Old England - Always Losing

Ok so maybe England losing a Test Match isn't the most remarkable thing in the world, nor is it all that unexpected but when I got to work this morning let's just say that I was quietly shocked that they actually forced South Africa to bat again, because early into day four, England's situation looked perilous.

In their first dig, England struggled to find anything with the bat and none of their players even made it past 50; the best of the batsmen was Kevin Pietersen who edged it behind at only 45. In what would have been even a rather poor one-day total, England only managed 203 off of 53 overs.

In reply South Africa made 522 with both Prince and de Villiers finding centuries with 149 and a massive 174 respectively. Faced with a total of 319 to even force South Africa to bat again, England was always going to find this a difficult task at best and it looked like they were digging in to salvage a draw.

England went into this test with five bowlers which let Flintoff back into the side; consequently it meant that Tim Ambrose was batting at number six, which he looked quite out of his depth at - still he still made 36 off of a patient 94 balls. Cook's 60 at the beginning of the innings laid down the foundation but again, the England scorecard sort of dribbles rather than yells. What on earth Pietersen was doing in the second innings made no sense to me, his 13 came only off of 5 balls, and three of those were smacked to the boundary. Some rescue attempt was made by Broad who at 67 found himself stranded at the close of innings. In all England did force South Africa to bat again, but only needing 7, which they made in 4 minutes.

It's not that the England side is terrible, because if we remember vack to the first test at Lord's they did declare at 593-8, so the problem is not to do with the batting line up. It's more to do with England's lack of bite in the bowling department. At Lord's they were able to force South Afica to bat again because they'd posted such a big total but going into Headingley, choosing five bowlers meant that they created a longer tail which is fine if the bowlers are going rip apart the opposition which England isn't currently capable of doing.

A 1-0 lead in the series is very little to do South Africa's pluck, but more about England's impotence.

July 14, 2008

Horse 898 - Krap and Kim


If you want to make a truly horrid television program, why not do what so many have done before and give it to America to produce. Red Dwarf, The Office, The Kumars at Number 42 and now Kath and Kim are being remade for an "American" audience. In reality, that's the euphemism for an "unfunny" television show.

Take The Office - a perfectly understated British comedy which didn't need a laugh track and in fact was heightened by the semi-dead silence in which humour was dripped through the filter of black comedy via the delivery of verbal gaffes, unconscious racism, sexism and other social faux-pas. It was the very uncomfortableness of the show that made it funny, yet when produced for an American audience, this was replaced by a hideous pastiche of put down and sarcasm - truly the lowest form of wit and in this case rather poorly executed.

Kath & Kim is a different take on the comedy of the uncomfortable, but the filter is that of vanity through the eyes of characters who are most definately not high-class at all but believe otherwise. Although I think that the show is as funny as cholera, Kath & Kim plays on what former PM John Howard would have called "aspirationals" or what current PM Kevin Rudd would like to tell you are "working families". It is the sensibilites of decidedly ordinary people who actually think that they are brilliant and special and wait for it, glamorous, when they are very obviously not. Yet when I read an American preview for the new show I find this:
For one thing, it's great to see Molly Shannon with a sassy, blonde haircut and some seriously out-there clothes. For another, I'm loving the attitude Selma Blair's bringing to her role, falling somewhere between entitled princess and petulant teenager.

Or as Rove would say... what the..?

Sassy? Attitude? What in blue blazes is going on here? Oh look, there goes THE POINT whizzing past and sadly NBC, you missed it. It is only Kath & Kim themselves who would actually believe that they are "sassy" and/or possess "attitude", you can't hire "nice" or even "noice" people for the show because the whole premise falls down flat. THE POINT is that Kath & Kim really are horrible people, trying to somehow hide this and not altogether very successfully.

This show is destined to ride the very fast train to oblivion very very quickly, and I hope that it sinks without a trace because having a crappily remade version of an already tedious TV show that becomes popular merely saps even more viewing time from screens which should be better served with motor racing, decent crime or dramas or better yet... comedy that is actually funny.

July 11, 2008

Horse 897 - Mr Iemma Needs Training

Lots of stabs and violence will give this blog a higher rating:
Stab stab stab stab bash bash hit hit violence bomb kill knife gun uzi war terroists Al Qaeda crash wallop wham crash thud.
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou


Somebody needs to give Mr Iemma a swift sharp boot to the head. Apart from trying to sell of MY electric companies without MY permission, he announced plans for another two lanes to be added to the M2. What a joke.


Back in 2001 the NSW State Government commissioned a report to look at Sydney's transport infrastructure. In which the report demanded for immediate attention, the construction of a heavy gauge railway line through Sydney's north-west, a high speed line to the Central Coast, a second underground line through the city and the addition of an outer ring line through the south west.

The Mosman Daily, the Manly Daily and that bastion of reportage the Daily Telegraph, all called for a Metro line to be built through the North Shore and across the Spit after the bridge ceased to work which caused extensive delays.

Even the State Rail Authority a few years ago ran a series of adverts informing us that one train "drove" 2000 cars off the road. With petrol prices set to head to $2/L within the year and $8/L within the next 10 years, I would have though that a progressive government would employ that little used device called "vision" and actually do something for the people who elected it in the first place.

Instead we have a government which is almost leaderless, in which it's members think that the best thing to argue over are misdemeanours at nightclubs, all the while the "good and fair people of NSW" are being shafted royally. 96 years ago, the then McGowen Government set in place the necessary vision to build a bridge across Sydney Harbour, which is still very heavily used today. I note that the time until actual completion of 20 years is still very much government policy.

If a series of railways were to be built, then surely the ideal place would be to build them up the dates of our politicians who obviously must have some vast expanse up there, because for the last 7 years and counting they've had their collective heads wedged firmly up there and continue to talk out of them, and still we've not had very much stuff built at all.

July 08, 2008

Horse 896 - Big Bad Barry

Big Bad Barry Bashing Bastards Brought Barry Bogus Blacklist

Of course you can't get away with it now but back in the 70s and 80s when bashing your opponents for fun and profit was not only in fashion but considered the height of politeness.

I think of Collingwood's poor Phil Carman who was suspended after striking Hawthorn's Michael Tuck in the '77 semi. That little indiscretion saw him miss the tied '77 final but because the VFL considered the replay to be the same fixture, he missed that as well. Quite a penalty for a simple punch in the face.

I can still remember the sight from the outer when in the '89 VFL final, in one of the toughest grand finals in the league's history, Dermot Brereton was lined up at the centre bounce by Geelong Football Club's Mark Yeates and hit with a solid shirtfront. Severely winded and concussed, he was attended to by trainers, he began to vomit before jogging back into the play. Only minutes later in the game, he marked and kicked a huge goal from about 65m out. He would finish with three goals in a game that Hawthorn would win by six points.
Dermie even featured in the song "Dermot Brereton is a Thug"

Sam "You Know It Makes Sense" Kekovich ruled his half-back line so much the nothing moved without his written permission. In 1968 he won North Melbourne's "best and fairest" medal and then was suspended for two matches after breaking someone's nose in the finals series.

The game needs enforcers like Barry Hall. Playing rough and giving people a right thumping on the field is part and parcel for the game isn't it? In this year's State of Origin III between NSW and Queensland, the lacklustre play was very much enhanced by a state of Queensbury Rules decending on the field. It's what the kiddies want to see, a real barney.
"Peace through violence, harmony through brutality and getting everyone to shut-up and behave just like us or they’ll cop a boot up the date and a fist of fives."

What do we expect from footballers? How are we supposed to have hard men if they can't be hard anymore? Do we bring in doilys and frills to AFL, when we need laserz, Godzilla, Shoop da Woop and IT'S OVER 9000!!!?

July 03, 2008

Horse 895 - $5500 Is A Small Price To Pay For Annoying Catholics

This week The NSW Government (and convniently just before Parliament closes for several months), passed a law to stop behaviour that "causes annoyance or inconvenience to participants in a World Youth Day event". Police will have "discretionary" powers (ie open slather) to arrest and/or fine people; all the while, the NSW Bar Association is reported as saying that the laws are "unnecessary and repugnant".

Protest groups, Civil libertarians and the NSW Bar Association have criticised the powers, which will allow police to issue $5,500 fines to anyone deemed to be "causing annoyance" during World Youth Day events, which run in Sydney from July 15 to 20.

The popular but ignorant argument against the law is based on the assumption that people in Australia a right to free speech and to protest, when in reality neither of these have ever been tested at common law. They may be assumed to exist but common law is all non-specific.

Equally, I argue that any law which also relies on non-specific, vague terms such as "annoyance" must be bad law. I suspect that many courts would struggle to define "annoyance"; I could not find a general, stand-alone legal definition for it. NSW Premier Morris Iemma said he did not think the term "annoyance" was too broad and there were no plans to review the powers.

This means in reality that there is a law with an undefined civil term, for which a breach results in a very steep civil penalty. Because of the police's "discretionary" powers, it is now entirely to down to nothing more than the opinion of what the individual police officer finds as an "annoyance" as you whether you cop a nice bill for 5.5K

Am I allowed to fine the NSW Government $5,500 because I find the law annoying?

July 02, 2008

Horse 894 - The Day the Music Died

iFive - Dead.
1. Nil
2. Nil
3. Nil
4. Nil
5. Nil
...and never again
To read the rest of this, you'll need to highlight it.

I no longer have issues with copyright, or the legitimacy of the songs that I own, nor of the content of those songs. For this week, 95% of my DVDs, most of my comics, and the entire of my music collection found its way to Seven Hills Waste Transfer Centre. Irrespective of whether the content was good, bad or indifferent, it was just easier to pitch the lot than to bother to sort it.

Watching two crates of CDs which amounted to a collection spanning 20 years, and a box of DVDs and comics also suffer the same fate as they fell to the bottom of a pit was quite cathartic. I note that it took 8 minutes for the MP3s to be deleted from my PC but just two strikes of a 4 pound sledgehammer to render my iPod totally useless (I hadn't seen inside an iPod before and now I've seen one mangled).

I don't know if this is an unintended consequence, but I've found that in the days that followed (including this morning) I can't listen to music of any sort on the radio and any enjoyment I would have got from it has been drained to the point of zero.

I guess this is one those "Lot's Wife" moments for I don't intend to look back on this at all. Having said this, I now have to endure to stupid chatter of people on the train on the way home from work.