Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Well It’s Come To This……

“OH MY GOD!!”

The cry from beloved was so full of anguish that it made me look around for attacking ninja, the kids to run for cover and for the fish to continue swimming unconcernedly. What the hell?

I ask what is wrong and got an answer I could never have been ready for: “I’ve just agreed with a Robyn Riley article.” No, I could never be ready for that.

I read the article shortly after this and found that I too also agreed with it. The world will never be the same. Ms. Riley has written about the recent ban on jumps racing, and how it will mean the death of thousands of perfectly healthy horses.

I think I have worked out how to influence policy in this state. What you need to do is find a small number of like-minded individuals and start writing letters to various people in a position of influence. Find people who disagree with you and try to change their opinions. If they start providing intelligent answers to your questions then shout at them, long and loud, until they simply walk away, unable to put up with your shrill, adenoidal voice any longer. Find facts that back up your story, if you can’t find any just make them up and pretend they’re true. Everyone will be so impressed by your conviction that they won’t bother checking your “facts”, mainly because they will have all walked away, shaking their heads and trying to clear the echoes of said shrill voice.

Jumps Racing is banned from the end of 2010. The animal activists have got together and all twenty of them have forced the Victorian Racing Club to end an industry that employs thousands of people, and cares for (yes, that’s right: cares for) the animals involved.

The original complaint came from the fact that several horses had died while racing in Jumps events. The VRC initially had a think about it and came up with brush top jumps. Rather than save the horse it had the reverse effect. More horses died, the shouting only got louder, more people got headaches and paracetamol sales went up.

Beloved and I are horse people, insofar as, well, we own one. Our boy Jet is a bay thoroughbred gelding and is a marvelous example of how beautiful these creatures can be. Beloved does light work with him on weekends while I walk around his paddock picking up poo. The sight of him jumping for joy (not a euphemism) at the sight of his feed bucket always makes me smile. He is extremely placid and appears to love us as much as we love him. This is the point that the shouty people don’t seem to get. Everyone who works with horses by choice loves their animals. This also goes for the horse racing industry.

Beloved used to work in the industry, I have no such experience. So the next bit will have to be taken with a fair bit of salt as I didn’t check with her to see if I was right; if you all assume that I am, it will go a bit smoother.

The life of a race horse starts off pretty well standard: live in a paddock eat, drink and run around like a loon for about twelve months. Then training starts, this basically consists of living in a paddock, eating, drinking and running around in a more controlled fashion. At two years of age, racing beckons, and this consists of eating, drinking and running around with a little person on your back in a more tightly controlled fashion. This will continue until the horse is about four or five years of age. A decision is then made, based on ability and soundnesss, as to whether racing continues or other options are presented.

A horse that is no longer fit for racing, whether through health or ability, can go onto become a dressage/equestrian horse, a pleasure horse (like our Jet), a jumps horse (until recently), or they can go off to the knackery where they will be turned into glue, dog food and cheap sustenance for detained refugees.

I have had many conversations about horse racing with uneducated types who simply spout the mistruth that it’s animal cruelty. If you are someone who thinks this way I urge you to head out to the Flemington stables and look at how these animals live and are treated. They are given the very best in food, care and shelter. It is so good in fact that even the ancient pharaohs would have had the decency to look around their surroundings and whisper, “Don’t you think this is a bit much?” The simple fact is there is no benefit to the stables to mistreat their charges. Spending the money on care is more likely to net them money on the track.

So we come to Jumps racing. I mentioned above that the VRC installed brush top jumps to combat horse falls and it appears to have failed miserably. All evidence points to the fact that horses aren’t stupid. They soon worked out that the top of the jumps weren’t solid and they could run right through them. This, coupled with the innate desire of the thoroughbred to run and run, meant that the general speed of jumps racing increased dramatically. More falls were inevitable, which unfortunately, meant more horses were injured and had to be put down.

We’re still talking about just over ten horses over the jumps racing season and, while it is very sad that it occurs at all, it is still better to provide many horses with an alternative career to what will happen when jumps racing ceases to be. As Ms. Riley pointed out in her article, stables aren’t charities, and no racing stable is going to hang onto a horse that can’t race. Feeding, vet bills and general stabling costs make hanging onto uncompetitive horses unprofitable and therefore unlikely to happen.

As I write this I still can’t fathom what the activists were trying to achieve here. Animal cruelty? Not really a factor. I do know that they have managed to put trainers, strappers, jockeys and other associated people out of work not to mention punch massive budgetary holes in regional centres like Warrnambool, often regarded as one of the premier jump locations in not only Victoria but Australia, but all this pales into comparison when compared to what will now happen to the horses.

So, I say this to anyone who has worked with the activists, signed a petition or in any other way performed to achieve the ban on jumps racing. Well done. The blood is on your hands. To save a dozen horses a year you have condemned hundreds to death. Sleep well.

This article was first published in the December 2009 issue of The King’s Tribune.

Advertisements

Yeah, okay it’s been awhile since I wrote here. I have been doing a fair amount of writing at my job, and to be honest, the last thing I want to do when I get home is write another thousand or so words. However, the time is now right for me to update my blog. There is a growing scourge of stupidity that has me concerned. Actually, it’s not really stupidity; it’s more anti-stupidity whose implications may not be known for some time to come. I’m talking at the evolutionary level here.

I am oft ranting about road works and the way they inconvenience road users of all varieties. Road works are a necessary evil. They are supposed to keep road maintenance up to date and make sure our journeys are smooth and hassle free. More often than not the reverse is true. I cannot remember a time in the last ten years that there were no works being conducted on the Western Ring Road. Monash Freeway, same problem. Surely by now there is someone who understands the, seemingly, vague notion that road works should be done quickly and quietly with the least amount of fuss caused to all. Alas, it appears that this is not the case and I lay most of the blame at the feet of Occupational Health and Safety.

Recently I commented to friends that, as a species, the human race peaked sometime in the 70’s. Now, for the most part, we seem to be just getting fatter, stupider and spend most of our time complaining about the weather. Recent observations have done nothing but confirm my thinking. For example, I live near a couple of sets of railroad tracks. A little while ago the people who are in charge of the railroads decided that work needed to be done.

The works were being conducted about 300 to 400 metres away from the nearest stretch of road which crossed the tracks in the form of a level crossing. Surely the reasonable person would look at the situation and ask themselves, “Is the location of these works likely to place the workers in danger?” The answer should really have been, “No, the workers are far enough from the actual roadway that any risk of danger is minimal at worst”, and then gotten on with the job. But, no, what they had to do was lower the speed limit to 40km/h in both directions for about 500 metres and make a man, who held up one of those ‘Stop’ and ‘Slow’ signs, stand on the footpath.

I asked one of the guys what the deal with the lower speed limit was and he said that because they were ‘near’ the road that the speed limit signs had to go up. Also, because they had to stop the traffic to let trucks in and out the men had to be there with their rotating signs. “How many trucks do they let in and out?” I asked. “Oh about three or four a day”, he replied. “Are they often standing on the road?” I asked. “No, not really. Probably only twenty minutes a day. They’re normally standing on what would be the footpath if one was there.” So why are we slowing down to 40 km/h for almost a kilometre? These workers spent most of their time holding signs for trucks that were rarely there, and, for most of that they were on the ‘footpath’. What makes them different from ordinary pedestrians? Reflective vests aside.

Another act of recent anti-stupidity is the area surrounding the, ‘currently under construction’, Point Cook train station. Running alongside the construction site is the Princes Freeway, which has been lowered to 80/h in the affected area despite no construction being done near or on the affected road. It matters little though because it appears that everyone is of similar thinking to me and refusing to slow down. So, what’s the point of it? Apart from the black plastic that, for some unknown reason, has been put up on the roadway shoulder there is no change to the actual road conditions. It all comes down to well-meaning but practically stupid Work Safety laws.

Now to the crux of the matter and I ask you to hang on here because I may touch a few nerves. Work Safety laws are essentially in place to stop stupid people dying in avoidable accidents. Have you seen the latest commercial where two blokes are on the roof without scaffolding and safety harnesses and everyone gets upset? Then the smartest bloke there says something similar to, “But it’s only a twenty minute job!” Fair point, right? Then the Work Safe lady gets angry, feels the need to justify her position and asserts her authority. The end result is that scaffolding gets erected. Now I don’t know anything about scaffolding and how long it takes to put up and bring down but I’m pretty sure that it takes longer than twenty minutes. A twenty minute job suddenly turns into a half, or even full, day. That time is never coming back, it’s gone forever. Safety is becoming an ever increasing scourge on our lives. It’s not just for construction sites anymore. There are warning labels on everything, including the Nintendo Wii for frig’s sake.

Now, if you’re too stupid to pay attention to what you are doing when working on a roof, then maybe, life is not for you. Over the last several billion years evolution has done a really good job of making sure that only the strongest genetic lines survived. I wonder now whether we’re working hard to undermine the good work evolution has done. The human race has done a great many things to be rid of other things which could be viewed as a natural enemy. We have built stronger homes to stop predators. We have advanced medical science and either eradicated, or created vaccines for deadly and debilitating diseases. Now we’re trying to save the stupids.

I refuse to accept that spending time and money to save stupid people is going to be worthwhile. During our childhood, most of us will try stupid things. We keep doing these things until it goes wrong. Most of us then learn a lesson from this mistake but, some of us don’t. By all means, cry at the funeral, but really we should be celebrating the fact that his or her genes have left the pool forever.

We have made the decision, as a species, to treat genetic diseases rather than cut them out, root and branch. That’s fine, but stupidity should not, in any form, be tolerated. Workplace accidents, along with other ‘life skills tests’, used to be a great way of eradicating the stupid gene. Now, for some reason, we are protecting these people. This does nothing for anyone. All it does is ensure that in the future; every activity we undertake will have to be performed wearing a reflective vest, while a Safety Officer watches on. Should make bedroom activities a hoot.

What Happened To You Melbourne?

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

You Used To Be Cool!

I have been travelling a lot in peak hour lately, and I have been secretly surveying the driving habits of Melburnians everywhere. And, when I say everywhere I mean…well…the people who live on the same side of the city as me and travel the same route to work.

I have tabled the results of the survey and using some fantastic, scientifical methods I have come up with something I call… results.

I have done also all this to coincide quite brilliantly with the moment that K-Rudd decided to make cigarettes a luxury item that requires you to re-mortgage your house every time you want a pack. Maybe more on that later and by later I mean next month, possibly the one after, or…you get the idea. The upshot is that I can’t afford to smoke anymore.

As it turns out, I am not the most patient and reasonable man in the world and I will never be mistaken for the Dalai Lama. So we come to the results. How do I put this politely, without offending anyone? Hmmm….bollocks to it.

You’re all shit, I hate every last one of you and you should all be killed.

Any regular readers of my column will know that last year before Christmas I wrote an article on things I would like you all to do before and whilst driving. If you did in fact read this article it appears that you have either forgotten all it said or you’ve chosen to ignore its advice altogether. Either way, don’t be surprised if one morning soon a tallish tattooed man punches you forcefully in the face. It may or may not be me but I’m pretty sure you will have deserved it.

I am now at the point where I’m starting to think that in some situations road rage should be encouraged and rewarded. Something along the lines of this:

Angry Man: “I chased down and killed a person who cut across three lanes of peak hour traffic, causing untold chaos, all because they realised they were in the wrong lane and didn’t want to go another two hundred metres where they could safely make a U-turn.”

Road Rage Encouragement Committee: “Excellent sir, have $200 and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).”

As an aside, I remember when I first started driving, some years ago, if you came along someone doing 80 km/h in a 100 km/h zone the trick was to get as close to the back of them as you possibly could and start flashing your high beams vigorously. If it was daylight you could also thrust your arm out the window, (opening it first), and shake your fist in their general direction. What would happen then was that they would either realise their error and speed up or, get freaked out, crash and die. Either outcome was totally acceptable.

What happens now is that people just sigh and accept the fact they are now stuck behind someone who is doing 20 km/h below the legal limit. If you even think about trying the above method you are treated as some sort of social pariah instead of the OAM worthy hero you really are. People are more likely to spit on you in the street when they should be offering you opportunities to speak to high school students at morning assemblies. What the hell has happened to us?

There are basic driving activities that people just don’t seem to be able to come to grips with. Take merging for instance. Why can’t people do it? Why do people stay in the left-most lane when they can clearly see people are trying to merge? Are you all that friggin’ stupid?

When merging onto a freeway, match your speed to that of the cars that are already travelling in the lane you want to be in. Once your speed is the same as the car beside you it becomes a simple sideways motion, easy. There is no need to stop and wait for a gap. There is no need to merge as soon as the line becomes dotted. Chances are there will be ample space for you to match your speed. Do you think there’s a chance that’s why freeway entrance ramps are downhill? Yes, I am aware that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and I don’t care one bit.

When driving on a freeway an important thing to remember is that where there’s an off-ramp, there’s usually an on-ramp. If you are travelling in the left hand lane and spot an off-ramp, try and move one lane across. This will keep the lane free and help the other idiots who are freaking out, trying to get onto the actual freeway.

In peak hour traffic what benefit does one get from sitting as close to the back of the car in front as possible? The ‘scare-them-into-submission’ method does not work in peak hour traffic. The trick here is to back right off until you have two or three seconds space. Then when they brake, you lift off the accelerator, when they come off the brake you speed up again. Repeat as necessary. Trust me. By doing this the only time you will touch your own brakes is when you arrive at a red traffic light. You will be much calmer when you arrive at your destination and you could smugly walk past that Prius owner knowing that by not touching the brakes you have driven your vehicle in the most efficient method possible. After doing this, punch them in the face. for being a pratt.

There are plenty of other methods I could explain to you but, you didn’t listen last time so what chance is there now that you’ll listen this time? If you don’t mind, I’ll just go on hating you all from afar.

I should probably mention, in the spirit of responsible journalism, that road rage is shit. If you actually get to the point where you get out of the car and feel the need to punch someone, then, punch yourself. Hard, in the mouth.

This article first appeared in the June 2010 issue of The King’s Tribune.

God Shmod

Posted: July 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

You know those people, (usually celebrities), that you’ve never met but still hold in high regard. For my money, Bruce Willis is one. Bruce is the epitome of cool. It seems that he would be as comfortable having a beer in the dingiest of pubs as he would walking the red carpet of a Hollywood blockbuster premiere. I have never seen or read an interview that left me thinking he was a bit of a tool. The way he handled his and Demi’s divorce and her subsequent marriage to Ashton Kutcher left me in awe; safe to say that I had a bit of a man crush.

Reading Jane’s article today I was reminded of an interview I read with Patricia Heaton. (Don’t ask me why it reminded me of the interview with Patricia Heaton, my brain works in mysterious ways.) I always had a thing for Patricia Heaton when she was on Raymond. Mature age dame that always looked the business. I have read other interviews with her and knew that she had had plastic surgery, just enough to cure some wrinkles and other slight imperfections. I’m not a fan of plastic surgery unless it’s used to fix things like dog attacks, car accidents and machete wounds but, hey, each to their own. Whatever, I still liked Patricia Heaton.

So, I was reading this interview where she was talking about her new show, The Middle with The Janitor from Scrubs, and she started talking about her plastic surgery again. Okay, I’m still in. She then dropped the ‘G’ bomb and I’m glazing over. She didn’t just mention God like our black ‘homies’ do. You know, “I’d like to thank God for giving me more talent than you”. No, she was into ‘it’, talking about spreading the word of God to everyone and everything. I no longer liked Patricia Heaton.

There are other actors I have lost respect for because of religion, Jason Lee for instance. He may have been a pro-skater, played Brodie in Mallrats and named his kid Pilot Inspektor but Lee has fallen into the clutches of Scientology, along with bum brothers Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Scientology, to me, is the worst of the worst of religions that even comes with a built-in GST. How holy you are depends on how your bank balance looks.

Religion has been tackled more than once by the Tribune but I just can’t stay away, and neither, it seems, can religion. Can we make this clear? Man has always created his own Gods. They were first used to describe the workings of the Universe, eg. Ra, in his flaming chariot moves across the sky during the day to explain the Sun. Sometime in the past, about 400 BC, God cancelled his/her outsourcing policy and took back control of everything, at least that’s the way we who have been brought up in the Judeo-Christian system were led to believe. Maybe Telstra and Optus could have a look at this; although I don’t know how well it’s worked out for God.

Religion has been used to explain to people why their beloved ones died early, “They’ve been taken to a better place.” Why heaven would be so much better than being with their family and loved ones has never been sufficiently explained to me but there we are. It has essentially been used to explain every mystery in the universe until recently.

Why is it that we are now able to witness the birth of new stars and the death of old ones yet never have we come across anything which proves that God exists? Surely by now even the old boy would be thinking, “They may just need a sign.” We now live in an age where unless you can hold it, touch it and taste it it’s just not real. Most religious types will now, at this point, trot out the old faith argument and that you just gotta have it.

I’m sorry, I don’t have it. If I did want to believe that a fictional character from a book controlled the universe and everything I’d probably go with Terry Pratchett’s Rincewind. The universe seems just like the sort of mess that only he and his librarian mate could come up with. We are still told, however, that God has a plan. Good on him/her, maybe though, if he/she wanted the plan to come to fruition, he/she should let someone in on it.

Now, back to Patricia Heaton for a second; I couldn’t help but wonder what God would think of Patricia’s journeys under the medical knife. Surely if you believed that deeply in God wouldn’t you be prepared to let yourself age gradually and gracefully, a la Helen Mirren? Wouldn’t plastic surgery be an affront to God’s handiwork when he/she created you? Or do these people justify it with some crackpot phrase like, God gave us plastic surgery so it’s a sin not to use it?

Ahhhh, no. See, man created plastic surgery to fix all the things that ‘God’s plan’ had done to people. (See aforementioned dog attacks and so on.) Man then saw the potential in creating insecurity in people so that they could use plastic surgery to make themselves more betterer.

What I keep asking myself is why the hell religion has hung around for so long? Is it that ingrained in our psyche that we have to believe or feel guilty if we don’t? Why do we have to go to a place on Sunday to feel closer to him/her? Why can’t God just fade away like other horrible fads, you know, men’s skinny jeans, fluorescent colour clothing, leg warmers and ugg boots…….ummm……wait.

This article first appeared in the February 2010 issue of The King’s Tribune.

It will no doubt become apparent with every one of these that I write, that I am what Shannon’s Insurance Company refers to as a motoring enthusiast.

My car is not just a means of transportation, I actually enjoy driving it; there are few other things that will captivate me like driving does. Even in peak hour traffic, I can sit back and admire the gentle thumping noise my V8 makes as it idles away merrily. I find the idea of driving along an unknown road full of twists and bends, slight rises and dips and corners that are both off and on cambered, intoxicating. It is challenging and exciting and can leave you breathless at the end.

There is nothing quite like a quick blast up a mountain road full of undulations and tight bends. A series of hairpins that makes the pulse quicken and your hairs stand on end. Blast away towards a corner, brake hard, and start to turn in, search for the apex, point the car at it and back on the throttle. It is such a simple thing but it makes me happier than winning lotto (false analogy – never won lotto but you get the idea).

Victoria is blessed with great roads to drive on, the road to Zumsteins camping ground from Halls Gap is one, and the Alpine region is full of back roads to die for. It is just a pity that the nanny state doesn’t let us enjoy them for what they are, road crafting masterpieces.

To find the best driving road in Australia one must leave our little southern state and head north to mid New South Wales. There you will find an inconspicuous little hill called Mount Panorama. I recommend everyone at least do one lap of this track before they die. Even at the limited 60 km/h you get a rollercoaster of a ride up and down the mountain. The moment you go over the top of Skyline into the Dipper will make you wonder how they do this at speeds up to 300 km/h. In fact, if you don’t leave the place with a newfound respect for those that drive this track than you are an ignoramus, bereft of all senses and probably don’t deserve to live.

However, I digress.

To highlight the village idiot of all that is motoring is a difficult task. There are too many candidates, people with hats, people with stupid bumper stickers and Toyota drivers, just to name a few. In this article I will point to the most obvious one, The Victorian Government.

The Victorian Government makes other idiots seem banal in comparison. They continue to treat motorists as mobile piggy banks, while forcing them to suffer inferior infrastructure and horrible conditions. Recently they made an announcement which ran my blood cold and my head threatened to not only explode with rage but also take the next six months off lying on a deserted beach. The announcement not only fulfilled their undying quest for idiocy but was also incredibly presumptuous. However, given the lack of public outrage about the issue their presumption may have been well utilised. I am talking about the common enemy to the car and motorists everywhere: Buses.

Buses may have been a good idea in the 1920’s or 30’s when cars were expensive and only the rich drove them, so a way was needed to get the proletariat from here to there quickly and inexpensively. That problem doesn’t exist now. Cars are relatively cheap and easy to procure. Buses now simply clog the roads and pump the air full of cancerous causing pollution. The announcement as it related to buses was simple: more priority to be given to them.

Now, you might argue this is a good thing. More people will ride on buses and therefore the roads will be clearer for people like me who enjoy driving. Ah ha nice sentiment, but I have two questions: One, to paraphrase Jeremy Clarkson slightly, why do poor people and others who don’t care enough to buy a car deserve higher priority than me? Two: when was the last time you thought to yourself, ‘I know I’ll take the bus’? That’s right, never. No one in their right mind ever chooses the bus over any other form of transport.

Therefore, no one will use the highly prioritised bus, which simply means there will be more empty buses clogging the road and giving us all disease.

The presumption thing is simple as well. How much more priority can buses actually be given? They already have the right to stop and pull out when they want throwing other road users into panic. I guess the next step is to fit them with cow catchers and tank tracks letting them force their way through and over cars.

Therefore the new announcement does nothing. It won’t fix the traffic issues; it will only buy votes from other idiots while the authors of this abomination walk away to plan their next idiocy.

I just wait for the day when our glorious editors are elected to the top job. I shall become their loyal transport person. Trains will be put under the ground and lines expanded. Trams will be placed above the road and lines expanded, and buses; there is a nice warm place in hell waiting for them.

Last month I wrote several disparaging comments about Toyotas and Toyota drivers. I take nothing of this back. I would, instead, like to add the following:

There are two types of Toyota I would buy and drive under certain circumstances.

1. If I was a tradie and needed a ute, Toyota HiLux 3.0 Turbo Diesel 4 x 4.

2. If I was travelling outback, and not just picking up the kids from school, a Toyota LandCruiser V8 Sahara or turbo diesel would do the trick.

This article first appeared in the October 2009 issue of The King’s Tribune.