Careful with that dog whistle Julia

As part of her cleanup of issues the government was getting slammed with, Julia's looking at immigration and refugees next. She's given every indication that her approach will pander to the braying racists of the boganitariat.

An important thing to keep in mind are the reasons the rodent kept banging on about refugees. It started out as a way of assimilating the populist racist votes of that other redhead. Having observed the ALP tear itself apart trying to come up with a response, Howard saw it as an effective wedge issue.

The danger for Julia is that there's nowhere to wedge the Tories on this issue. Whatever liberal remnant there was in the Liberal Party was comprehensively eviscerated during Howard's long reign. The Tories will always continue to up the rhetoric, bidding up in the nastiness stakes until the whole progressive vote leaves Labor in disgust.

The only winners here will be The Greens who will win back the progressive votes only very recently won back to the Labor brand.

One thing about the NBN that annoys me

One of the things that's annoying me about all the NBN talk is the insistence on metro-equivalent services in regional and remote areas, as though this is a reasonable thing to require.

I live in the inner city of Sydney and I get “metro” services: I can walk to my nearest major hospital, there’s an international airport a short walk away, a shiny modern new swimming pool under construction give minutes' walk away, excellent cafes and restaurants wherever you turn and broadband via two HFC cables or a copper pair running past my house.

I also have horrendous, pause-the-telly-and-wait aircraft noise, air pollution, traffic congestion, neighbours who are, quite literally, as close as 40cm from me and a house price that would make any country real estate buyer wince. It’s the price I pay for enjoying a vibrant, well-serviced metropolis.

Surely if regional and remote Australians want metro-equivalence, they’d put other services higher on their list than fast broadband. Things like schools, hospitals and public transport.

Who should get my Haiti donation?

I've got a bit of a dilemma. I want to give some money for disaster relief in Haiti following the terrible earthquake. Problem is, none of the relief organisations active in Haiti meet my criteria for donations.

My criteria are:

  • Not a religious charity or affiliated with a religion.
  • Respects my request not to be spammed (email, phone or mail).
  • Does not use chuggers.
  • Does not spend inordinate amounts on administration and fundraising.

Oxfam uses chuggers and failed on the second item after my donation from the Indian Ocean Tsunami appeal. They also ignored my complaint about same.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, Red Cross also use chuggers.

Water Aid, much to my dismay as I respect the charity enormously, use chuggers.

Some will defend charities using these techniques, because the cause is too important. That doesn't wash with me because I expect a code of ethics to be applied across the organisation. I once had an argument with a telemarketer who called to solicit donations for Police Citizens Youth Clubs, along the lines of the government Do Not Call list excludes charities, as if that somehow excuses ignoring my expressly-stated preference.

Chuggers really got me annoyed when I worked on New Oxford Street in London and every time I set foot on Tottenham Court Road I'd be accosted by some slimebag raising money for him or herself in the guise of charity.

So can anyone suggest a charity worthy of my cash?

Get a response from your local member: be rude

Yesterday I sent a rather terse and rude email to my local state member, Carmel Tebbutt complaining that I'd received no response from my email sent last December. It seems being rude helps! Does she not realise she sits in a Labor/Green marginal?

Response from the minion came two hours later. Success? Well, we'll see when the RTA gets around to this.

Date: Thu, 3 Sep 2009 12:36:26 +1000
Subject: Fwd: Wilson Street and Erskineville Road intersection
From: Simon Rumble <simon@removed-to-fend-off-spam>

In December last year I send the message below to you and have received no
response.  I know that being a NSW ALP member keeps you busy accepting
bribes (sorry, donations from developers), doing your factional bastardry,
jockeying for position so you can be premier next month and having sex
scandals, but perhaps you could at least get a minion to send the usual
dismissive and condescending response?
This bike lane is now over two years old, and the RTA still haven't bothered
to give the people who use it a safe way to cross the intersection with the
traffic lights.  It seems to me that there's going to have to be a death
before you'll do something.  At that point, I'll remind you of my emails.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Simon Rumble <simon@removed-to-fend-off-spam>
Date: 2008/12/16
Subject: Wilson Street and Erskineville Road intersection

Hi there Carmel.  I trust you're well.

I'd like to see if you can achieve some action on a very dangerous
intersection that I cycle through every day.  Back in mid-2006, City of
Sydney completed a handy contra-flow lane for bicycles up the piece of
Wilson Street between Macdonaldtown Station and Erskineville Road.  It's
a really handy and safe shortcut for cyclists heading towards Newtown,
Marrickville and the like, and I see tons of cyclists using it.

The problem is that the RTA still haven't installed a bike traffic light
at the intersection between Erskineville Road and the Wilson Street
contraflow lane.  So instead of having some indication of when it is
safe to pass through, cyclists have to guess when the signal is right
for them (as they can't see the oncoming traffic's signal) and wing it
through the intersection.

It might be reasonable for the RTA to take a little while to get around
to this, but it's now one and a half years since this facility was
built!  Does someone have to die before the RTA fixes it?

If you'd like to see the intersection I'm describing in action, I'd be
happy to meet you nearby and go through the problem.

Kind regards,

Simon Rumble

131500 site is the reason people are developing third-party apps

131500 site shows no buses for my stop

Back in early March I wrote to the NSW Transport Minister by email about Shittyrail threatening developers of third-party apps using Sydney timetable data. Late last month Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Penny Sharpe finally got around to responding, by post of course.

She spends much of the letter defending Railcorp, but apparently they've come to an agreement with some third-party developers with a standard license agreement. Hopefully the terms aren't ridiculous (I might register just to find out) and it's free, as it should be.

Anyway, she then goes on to say this:
The webpage is specifically designed for mobile phones. Passengers who have access to a mobile phone with a web browser can access timetable information. This service also provides breaking news and information about service changes and major events. With modern phones and the location features, the phone (and sites it talks to) knows where you are. Surely this would be an awesome thing! But don't expect the NSW government to provide it. They still supply timetables as if they were printed documents.

The problems with this site are many. You can't plan trips. You need to know Sydney and its transport system fairly well to get anything useful out of it, which is a common problem for tourists in Sydney: try working out where to wait for a bus to Marrickville in the CBD after the kiosk on York Street has closed. But there's far far worse than that.

The "breaking news" seems to be that the bus stop on Enmore Road near Addison Road hasn't had a bus for about a week. Brilliant site guys! Why would any third-party developer think there's an opportunity for improvement?

Cops kill man in London

After Jean Charles de Menezes was murdered by London police in 2005, you'd think the press would be more skeptical when the Police make claims. But no, when Ian Tomlinson was assaulted and, ultimately, murdered by London Police last week, the press reported "police were bombarded with bricks, bottles and planks of wood" as they assisted him.

Ian Tomlinson after being attacked by police

The Guardian has video footage of the brutal Police assault that ultimately killed the man. He was walking away from the cops, back turned to them and with his hands in his pockets: not exactly threatening behaviour. A cop whacks him on the back of the legs with a truncheon, then pushed him to the ground where it appears he may have hit his head.

I've seen the brutality of these cops first hand, and seen the ridiculousness of their tactics. In my case they herded protestors into Oxford Circus and then held them there for hours without food, water or toilets. I fortunately was far enough back in the crowd to see what was happening and managed to stay out of the encirclement. I was threatened with arrest for taking photos of coppers who had removed their identification, and for asking for their numbers.

Pricks. Don't expect any justice for Ian Tomlinson, just like Jean Charles.