Weekend reflections

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

30 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. The tabling of the VSU bill and passage through the Senate was a surprise – for all sorts of reasons. So hobody believes that happy-clapper Fielding struck a deal on another issue?

  2. None of these university things should be government funded, whether or not they are deserving causes – and particularly not these peripheral matters.

    As, when and if they are deserving, the needs should be met outside governmental channels via charitable endowments or whatever. In no case should compulsion be used on students to join things they don’t want and pay fees for them, but there is scope for a degree of sharing facilities and so cross subsidising between different student activities with no other natural connection between their voluntary membership bases.

    As usual, there are huge transitional issues, here complicated in some respects (and simplified in others) by the short span of a student generation.

  3. I learned with immense sadness that the old London double-decker buses have gone out of service as of today (9th December UK time).

    Vale matchless London icon. A tragedy matched only by the abandonment 20 years ago of Melbourne’s superb old trams and their replacement by gleaming metallic Scandinavian slugs, straight from the pages of ‘The Kraken Wakes’.

    Here’s a fine requiem for the beloved Routemaster.

  4. The most recent Melbourne trams are even worse. They are rickety, their floor space is compromised by the bogeys having to intrude into the new, lower floors, the drivers have less observation of interior conditions and boarding, it is impossible to get in and out of the rear section when crowded (no door there) and unnecessary when not crowded (so the whole rear is wasted), the door buttons are non obvious so that toursists, say, are more likely to press emergency signals by mistake… I could go on further, but I’ll let others contribute.

  5. John, you need to update the link to Senator Andrew Bartlett’s blog. He’s moved his blog to a different home.

  6. Sticking the seats of trams parallel to the road rather than perendicular would also be a good idea, as there would be more space for people to stand in peak hour, and you could also get in and out more easily. Having a decent automated system for fare collection would also be good, rather than having to bring shrapnel around if you don’t have a 10-trip ticket. Alternativelty conductors would also be fine, and people might actually start paying for their trips (would it be cheaper to have conductors, who could also work as tourist guides (like they used to), than ticket inspectors ?).

  7. Woke up very sad on Saturday, hearing of the VSU legislation. The student union made my time at uni possible, let alone fun. They came through for me with housing when I was homeless, they provided sport and social facilities, they were the parent body of a mature students association which was vital to my survival and development. The first and the last of this very abbreviated list were services which one needs an organised body to assist with, and I wasn’t the only person who I know wouldn’t have completed their degree except for services such as these. The only start up from the uni was a loan at the start of the year to pay off the fee. As much as I didn’t like the repayments, they were always managed. The uni didn’t want to manage all of the things that the union did. If it doesn’t pick up the lack now, who will? Long live the right wing well funded christian campus groups, you’ve just swept the field of your opposition.

  8. Gaby?

    of course and it will probably determine who goes to the second round.
    This will be a hard match as they have three ‘Aussies’ possibly playing for them and we have a few with Croatian ancestry notably the captain.

    Brazil are still playing Cafu and Carlos as fullbacks and I am as fast as them now, Nor do they possess a midfield general.
    They do possess a hellva lot of world class forwards but only three will play.
    They are bad starters and usually have one bad game.
    I hope it is us and I don’t think they will win!

    don’t know who will though

  9. Rob,
    I too, am sad to see the Routemasters go. They were a great way of getting about the City. Not entirely safe, but the pursuit of safety has occasionally led us down a wrong path. I think this is one example. Seeing them in museums will just be sad.

  10. Thanks, BBEPLP. You could pass for Gaby at a hundred yards on a moonless night, I guess. I hadn’t considered beating Brazil as a possibility, but it’s a nice thought.

  11. Many years ago an intrepid experimenter demonstrated that it was possible to step off the back of a rapidly moving Routemaster in a posture that enabled the experimenter to slide to a controlled and perfectly safe halt, skidding without toppling. The experiment was unauthorised and caused much consternation. In fact tricks like these are used for getting out of APVs under fire.

  12. Just for the record, I think Oz got a rough deal with the World Cup draw, but I won’t go to the extreme of the whingeing Argys who are already claimming it’s all a conspiracy between the Poms and the Brazilians… to keep them out.

    Although, how on earth is England seeded so high?! It just might be a conspiracy after all, or more likely ticket sales and the TV ratings!

    But I always said it might not be a bad thing for Oz to play a BIG team in the first round. They all tend to start slow and I’d much rather play them early, where a draw or a dignified small loss can be key to get ya through the next round. In the knockout phase it’s way too dangerous. Not just because they are hard to beat (which they are), but because they have the experience and match fitness to play under pressure and even while playing bad, managing to get the result…

    Like bloody Italy always does… thanks to a last minute fluke, penalty or another favour from the ref…

    That was also the very danger with Uruguay.

    Anyway, Japan in the first game should be a good start, and with Gus and a focused team it should be no problem. The game with Croatia, will be very tough but on paper seems doable. The goal difference will be absolute key.

    Beating Brazil, is a posibility and perhaps the very best chance we will get to do it. Definitetly not impossible.

    However the team to beat, as always, is the home team: Germany.

  13. Some more problems with the new trams in Melbourne: There’s no bell to indicate that someone’s indicated they wish to get off, and so the only indicator is a bunch of LEDs that protrude from the base, so that unless you’re directly in front of them, they always look lit. I’ve been confused by that a number of times and missed my stop…

    In addition to the get-off buttons not being obvious, they’re buttons, and there’s not enough of them. Newer buses have this problem too, though. I never worked out what was wrong with the cord hanging above that you pull. With the current arrangement, older people often have to get up a stop early, stand by the door and press the button as the tram heads off, because they don’t seem to feel safe walking to get a button whilst the tram is moving. With the cords everywhere, if they don’t want to stand, they can just ask whoever was sitting next to them to do it, no troubles. Or they could ask the driver, which brings me to my next issue…

    The driver problem also has the thing that with the older trams, it’s no problem to ask the driver when to get off or other things. But the new design separates the driver off and so you feel less comfortable doing that. Perhaps this encourages passengers to talk to each other though—maybe that’s their intention! Or maybe they didn’t achieve their ends of a “zero customer” policy when they got rid of the conductors, precisely because people could just talk to the driver reasonably easy.

    They have horns. Whoever heard of putting a horn on a tram? They should ding at you! The number of people who I’ve seen almost run over by trams honking at them to get away is amazing—it takes a while for people to work out it’s not a car honking at someone/-thing else, it’s a tram honking at them! I imagine this problem is less now than when the new trams were new … I don’t use them much nowadays.

    The thing that really gets me about the no-back-door thing? It’s not like they cover it up with seats & the driver’s section like they do in the older articulated trams … they just leave an empty gap that looks almost like the door on the other side! It’s like the designer’s first thought was to put a door in there, and then at the last minute someone said ‘No! We’re paid not to make sense! You have to remove it!’, and so they did.

    The new trams, in line obviously with the latest advancements in modern technology, no longer have blinds. Apparently they also forgot to put in the tinted glass… (It also gets me that when they “refurbished” the older trams, they replaced the blinds that worked (you could have them up, and letting in light/allowing you to see outside, or have them down, and blocking the sun) with ones that do not (you can have them up, and letting in light/allowing you to see outside, or have them down, and letting in bright light like the sun, but preventing you from seeing outside).)

    Sorry ’bout the rant, but P. M. Lawrence, you shouldn’t’ve got me started on this topic.

    (This rant concerns the new trams that run on routes that Yarra Trams always ran. The ones on the routes that M>Tram used to have I have no experience with.)

  14. A sign of maturity in hoWARd’s relaxed and comfortable Australia? Yep, and from the kids! 🙂
    Check out this story in the Toowoomba Chronicle:

    Local News: Plaque honours Aboriginal warrior

    DESCENDANTS of Aboriginal warrior Multuggerah have hailed the unveiling of a plaque honouring their ancestor as reconciliation in action.

    Bill Bonner and his cousin Ken Bonner were special guests at Duggan Park on Tuesday for the unveiling of the plaque in memory of the Aborigine who led an uprising against white settlers in what is known as the Battle of One Tree Hill.

    What particularly pleased the Bonners was that it was an initiative of school children. At the ceremony, Cr Sue Englart said it was the first memorial to an Aborigine anywhere in Toowoomba.

    One Tree Hill is better know to Toowoomba and Lockyer Valley residents as Tabletop.

    But in December 1843 it was the site of a battle between white settlers and the Jagera people of the Lockyer.

    The plaque was dedicated because Middle Ridge State School took up the cause expounded by Toowoomba historian Bob Dansie that Multuggerah was a patriot who fought for his people but had been largely forgotten.

    For decades Mr Dansie has advocated changing Tabletop s name to Multuggerah s Mountain.

    The students wrote to Toowoomba City Council calling for a plaque to be erected and this week one was finally dedicated.

    Bill Bonner’s grandmother Julia was the daughter of Roger Bell, who was the grandson of Multuggerah. Bill was overjoyed at the recognition for his ancestor.

    “Without these young kids and Bob Dansie we would not be recognised in the area,” he said.

    Ken Bonner, the son of Neville Bonner, the first Aborigine elected to Federal Parliament, said it was great that the young were learning about the nation’s Aboriginal history.

    “Hopefully it will expand to other Toowoomba schools, to Brisbane and to others in South-East Queensland. Aboriginal culture should be taught in schools,” he said.

    Middle Ridge State School Year 4 student Sara Driscoll said the class was inspired to request council to erect a plaque because they believed Multuggerah was justified in leading a fight to protect his land.

    As is usually the way with history, there are two sides to the Multuggerah story, and both, one from the white perspective and the other from the traditional owners, are detailed on the plaque.

  15. Andrew R, the great thing abou the Routemasters was that you could jump off if you thought you’d gone too far or in the wrong direction, or had seen a pub you wanted to try out, etc. (Adds virtuously: I always had a daily or weekly travelcard so it’s not as if I wasn’t paying). And like the old class “W” trams in Melbourne, because there were no doors, you felt as if you were still part of the life of the street, not a cocooned spectator. I hate the new Melbourne trams for all the reasons Alexander gives and more. These days in Melbourne I prefer to walk (in the CBD at least).

  16. Rant away, Alexander. It’s most entertaining, even for someone who’s never lived in Melbourne. It’s obvious the new trams were designed by the creators of Microsoft Outlook.

  17. always remember as well Sir Guss of Hiddink has world Cup experience of getting both Holland and South Korea to Semi-finals.

    This is gold. Johan Neeskens is now an assistant coach.

    We have friendlies against Greece, Holland, England & south Korea which are excellent for the matches against Japan and Croatia.

    IF the match against Croatia turns out to be the decider for coming second then I would back out temperament and our coach.

  18. Just joining in the tram bitchfest. I agree with all observations above and would add a few more. There seems to be a definite shortage of handholds on the new Combino trams and the dove grey livery only looks interesting on corporate handouts. You’d think the largest moving objects on the road could be bit more high visibility. The old green and yellow colours were very visible and very distinctive.

    And they still have a pile of the lovely old W-Classes mouldering away somewhere. The ones they promised to put back on the road once the brakes were refurbished. Hah!

  19. Anyone other than me know the Flanders & Swann homage to the London double decker, Transport of Delight?

    Along the Queen’s great Highway I drive my merry load
    At 20 miles-per-hour in the middle of the road.
    We like to drive in convoys – we’re most gregarious:
    The big six-wheeler scarlet-painted London transport diesel-engined 97-horsepower omnibus.

    And while we’re talking buses, has anyone been on one of the new Volvo bendy buses in Sydney?

  20. The story I heard about the old trams was that their back up batteries couldn’t service both the emergency brakes and the new ticket machines. The latter had of course been designed without reference to older tram stock – and to justify the new equipment the old tram stock had to be declared sub-standard.

  21. Rob,
    Before the Hammersmith Bridge was closed to the old Route 9 bus the temptation to jump off on passing the Sun Inn in Barnes or the White Hart in Mortlake was frequently irresistable. The 209 was just never the same.
    BTW, the annual travelcard was the best value – employers would normally lend the money for it without charging interest. Around 800 pounds for 3 zones of pubs for a year. Perfect. Did not do much to help my weight though – you are better off walking.

  22. Much as I sympathise about the loss of the old and beautiful trams/routemasters I’ll point out that the new trams (at least at certain tramstops) allow wheelchair access. It is unlikely the old ones could ever have been made wheelchair accessible.

    For those confined to wheelchairs this must represent a fairly huge increase in their mobility. That doesn’t excuse some of the flaws others have pointed to, and it seems to me that there is scope to bring back some of the old ones on routes that don’t have the wheelchair accessible stops. Not sure whether there is such a basis for the loss of the Routemasters, which I would think will affect London’s tourist income amongst other things.

  23. StephenL,
    The main reason given for the loss of the Routemasters was the lack of wheelchair disabled access. Only real problem with that was that few of the other buses were accessible either.

  24. That wheelchair access thing is a nonsense, not because there shouldn’t be mobility for these people but because this is an endless stream of ad hoc faulty technical solutions. The ideal is a variation of the wheelchair that has the flexibility to deal with more ordinary environments. The more sunk cost gets put into these nonsenses, the harder it becomes to direct attention to the proper area. “The good is the enemy of the best”.

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