Change – lots and none at all

coalmineboysWhile investigating the local history of Lambton recently, I’ve been digging around a quite a bit in Trove’s newspaper archives. In doing so I’ve often been struck by how much some things have changed, and yet other things, have changed not at all.

In the changed ‘lots’ camp is the practice of sending 13 year old boys to work extraordinary long hours in the coal mines:

“The 4 boys who drive the horses that take away the coal in loaded skips, leave home shortly after five o’clock a.m., as they must proceed … to get yoked up by the time the bell rings at six o’clock, when work commences, …  and keeps, on till  six o’clock, when the day’s work is concluded for all hands, and the boys … deliver  up their horses to the horse-keeper — getting  home by about seven o’clock, thus having been absent nearly fourteen hours, and working continuously eleven hours”

The Newcastle Chronicle, 11th January 1873.

The thought of sending a 13 year old boy to work in a coal mine for 11 hours is almost unimaginable these days. (I say almost unimaginable – I have a 13 year old son and by the end of six weeks of summer holidays, well I started wondering … )

Anyway, in the changes ‘none at all’ camp is the subject of Novocastrian opinion of the Sydney based government spending, with one local alderman complaining …

” … the broken promises of the Government were simply disgraceful. Many months ago Mr. Goodchap had promised that tenders should be called for within a month, but nothing had yet been done. … He  objected to the principle of spending money in large amounts in and about Sydney, and refusing to do the same thing for Newcastle and the surrounding districts.”

The Newcastle Morning Herald, 8th April 1885.

Yep. That was written 130 years ago, not last year.

Bicycle bells

I was walking in town the other day past some traffic lights when a driver at the front of the queue must have got distracted and didn’t move off when the lights went green. The driver behind gave them a friendly wake-up toot on the horn. I know it was friendly because it was the merest infinitesimal toot, not a protracted drawn out kind of toot that is precursor to violent road rage. We seem to have a fairly well understood convention that the length of car horn toot is proportional to aggression.

bellBut bicycle bells are different …

  • Friendly middle aged man concerned for pedestrian safety wants to say ‘be careful I’m about to pass you’ … Ding.
  • Psychopathic misambulist* expressing utter disdain for idiots in their way … Ding.

Sigh. Oh the inarticulateness of the humble bicycle bell.

* Not a real word (until now) – I just made it up –  it means “pedestrian hater.”

Faux Feedback

The ABC News website recently revamped their home page layout and invited feedback from their audience …

feedback… which was overwhelmingly negative, and the moderator responds with a post basically saying that all that negative feedback is misguided, because, well the ABC is just doing what Facebook and Twitter do …

feedback2… as if Facebook and Twitter is the gold standard of Web user interface design!?!?!

What’s the point of asking for feedback if all you’re going to do is dismiss it?

 

 

 

 

Cycling safety

As I’ve been cycling to work over the last 5 years, I’ve noticed that quite often if a cyclist engages in one kind of unsafe behavior, they are also likely to engage in other unsafe behaviours. So for example, a cyclist that crosses a busy highway against the lights, is very likely to also not be wearing a helmet.

Today I witnessed an example of a high degree of correlated unsafety when I observed a chap riding along

  • using only one hand to steer,
  • that hand also grasping a beer can,
  • while a cigarette hung from the mouth,
  • and the other hand was texting on a mobile phone.

To his credit, he was wearing a helmet. He’ll probably need it.

Another curious observation I’ve made a number of times is cyclists riding along with a helmet draped over their handlebars, thus incurring all the disadvantages of having a helmet without gaining any of the advantages of actually wearing it.

NRL and gambling – apology

In a previous post I railed against the infiltration of gambling sponsorship into the NRL, and I anecdotally observed that,

Every second team seems to be sponsored by a betting agency.

I must apologise for making such a grossly inaccurate statement – it’s not 50% of the teams, but 87% of the teams sponsored by gambling!

After looking up the sponsors for all 16 teams, it turns out that 13 out of the 16 are sponsored directly by a betting agency, and one other team (Bulldogs) is sponsored by a registered club that generates 71% of its revenue from the pokies and assorted gambling.

For the NRL to say that the influence of gambling on the sport is not a problem, is like being assured by Count Dracula that “loss of inventory” from the blood bank is nothing to be concerned about.

[This content was originally posted to Google+]

NRL and gambling

What a joke!

“The National Rugby League has told a Senate inquiry on gambling that the code is already doing a lot to minimise the impact of sports gambling on children.”

The reality is that NRL TV broadcasts have wall to wall gambling promotion, by the presenters, by betting agency personnel appearing as part of the broadcast, by paid commercials, and via ground signage. Every second team seems to be sponsored by a betting agency, and the NRL iPhone app has ads for gambling, as well as gambling odds displayed right in the middle of the live match display.

The NRL’s response is like saying I’ve minimised the risk of theft from my house because I put a padlock on the skylight, while leaving every door and window wide open.

[This content was originally posted to Google+]

Only the bets

It’s approaching the end of the school year and its report card time.

I’m giving Heaton Public School at Jesmond an “F” in the subject area of social responsibility. For the second year in a row, in an end of year fundraiser, not content with one level of gambling (a raffle) they’ve nested it to two levels of gambling, by having a raffle whose prize is a tree of instant lottery tickets – a product that cannot legally be sold to minors.

The school should seriously consider changing its motto from “Only the Best” to “Only the Bets”.

onlythebets

[This content was originally posted to Google+]