Monday, 28 December 2009

Things Canberra got right #1

I have been accused of "Canberra bashing" - apparently, this is where you only see the bad side of Canberra, but neglect to see the good side. So, in an attempt to be fair, I'm trying hard to find the good bits of Canberra, as opposed to only the bits that need to be fixed.

So here is my first observation of things Canberra got right: ACT Shopfronts. This is a one stop shop where people can change their license details, look up bus information and buy tickets, register moving their homes when it comes to services, and get pre-paid parking permits. The list does include other services, and I'm sure they do more things, but those are the ones that come to mind. I think this is great, but was only achieved with Canberra's low population, as well as the fact that the whole ACT is governed as a single council. The physical shopfronts themselves are located in each other the major satellite city areas in the ACT.

It would be good to see this type of consolidated service offered by cities like Melbourne, but the fear I have in the nature of people is that this will means some services have to be monopolized for this to work, and this will lead to price hikes in the cost of services.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Best wishes for the festive period of 2009 to 2010

No matter what your beliefs or religion are, I would like to wish you and your family a safe and happy festive period of 2009 to 2010.

I hope to be able to continue to bore / entertain (strike out the one that doesn't apply) with my rantings / insights (strike out the one that doesn't apply).

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Things they could fix in Canberra #7

It appears that when the year draws towards vacation time (ie. around December and January), many Canberrians (some of them may have read this blog) do not like staying in Canberra, and decide to leave it. So this observation is around the exodus mentality that spreads across the region.

Canberrians must know that their city is boring. There is nothing to do here. So when any vacation time is allocated, they leave. There is not enough entertainment or excitement in Canberra to retain its own residents.

I see this as a problem, for the few people that are required to stay (usually not the public servants), have to keep an existence up. The problem is that with the majority of the population gone, most of the supporting services (eg. shops, cafes, restaurants) also will close and take their leave. I guess they're making the call that it costs too much to stay open, while there are no clients or customers to frequent their establishments.

I went shopping last night in the Canberra Centre Shopping Centre. They do not ever have mid-week late night shopping. They advertised that they would stay open until 10pm. Upon arrival, I found that you'd probably find more shoppers on a Sunday morning in Chadstone Shopping Centre than the amount of shoppers I saw last night. Being so close to Christmas, either Canberrians are very organised and do their gift buying earlier in the year, they do it while they are "on leave", or they are just not willing to provide life and atmosphere. As a result, around 30% of the stores were shut by 8pm. There is no possible way Canberra would ever host a "round the clock" shopping experience, as Canberra's own residence have already vacated the region.

The local government should reverse the mentality by keeping the place interesting enough to retain their own residents. And not with once off niche events like SummerNats. I'm sure enough people have good ideas to make Canberra interesting.

Lastly, if you're finding these entries too much to read, try what someone else has done - tweeted about how Canberra is so bad. They don't appear to make any suggestions to try and fix the place.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Recent announcement on censorship of the Australian internet

The good Senator Conroy has made a recent press announcement on his continued effort to protect the families in Australia that use the internet from the nasties that are "lurking out there". It really appeared like he was trying to "slip" this announcement in, during the start of the holiday period - hopefully so that the majority of Australians would not notice, or would be so busy with their own daily lives, that they would not care.

He plans to introduce forced monitoring and cleansing of the internet, which was something that is against the initial policies mentioned during the 2007 election campaign. Why the good Senator still persists to attempt this form of censorship - I do not understand. The technology will only slow down the access of Australians to the internet, especially on heavy traffic websites.

On a positive note, he has mentioned that he will make the process more transparent. I am interested in this new tactic. Will they only reveal what they do if they are caught doing something that they are not supposed to be doing. With much of modern democracy based on freedom of information, and freedom of thought, I do not understand why there has not been a big international backlash on these plans.

I wonder what this will do in the long term to Australians, and their understanding of the world. Or does he just plan on making Australians a captive audience - only allowing them to see information that the good Senator and his department allows. As a future parent (one day), I do not want the internet touched!

Do something (useful) now!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Everyday Hyperizes

Following on in the collection of sneakers I seem to be acquiring, I already have the White Men Can't Jump Nike Hyperizes, but I am not wearing those on a daily basis. Here are my normal day to day Hyperizes, but as you can see, I've already started wearing them, so they're not as clean as when they first came out of the box.

Nike Hyperize 03Nike Hyperize 09Nike Hyperize 01 Nike Hyperize 04Nike Hyperize 05Nike Hyperize 02Nike Hyperize 06 Nike Hyperize 07Nike Hyperize 08Nike Hyperize 10Nike Hyperize 11
Nike Hyperize Gold and White

These shoes are incredibly comfortable. KittyKat says it's like "walking on a cloud". Even her brother has a pair.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Things they could fix in Canberra #6

Today, I'd like to write about geographic location, it being one of the biggest waste of taxpayers' money.

According to 2 former prime ministers of Australia, Canberra is a "great mistake". OK... I'll agree with them, but I do not necessarily agree with their locations, based on the fact I would not like Sydney or Melbourne unnecessarily spoiled with the "public servants' mentality". Former Prime Minister John Howard did everything he could to stay away from Canberra - preferring to live in Kirribilli House (Sydney), than in "the Lodge".

The amount of spending done on the extravagant parliament building was an absolute waste. Completed in 1988, it cost over AU$1.1 billion. It must be a good feeling to spend someone else's money, and then think up new rules and fines to extract more money from them.

To fix it, move Canberra to Bateman's Bay or Albury / Wodonga. Canberrians will get a beach (with Bateman's Bay), and maybe the place will feel like it has some character. Do not do this with another waste of tax payers money. Move it bit by bit. Whenever a new government department is being started in Canberra, build it in the new location. After a while, with the natural attrition of buildings (something Canberra seems to be going through in Woden at the moment - ie. tearing down old buildings to build new ones), the whole city will be relocated. Business and other entities (eg. AIS) can be relocated to other major capital cities. If people are willing to come to Canberra to train for sporting events, I'm sure they would be able to do the same training in Adelaide or some other city. Maybe then Canberrians will realise that their property prices are inflated by the local council / government in an effort to raise stamp duty revenue - as there are no real benefits of living in Canberra.

"Canberra - serving no purpose than to come up with new rules for Australia, and to extract money from Australia!"

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Things they could fix in Canberra #5

Going along the lines that things cost more in Canberra, I have recently discovered that the parking fines are cheaper in Melbourne (on average) than in Canberra. To confirm this yourself, feel free to call the Canberra Office and the Melbourne Office that deal with this particular item.

The average fine for staying longer in a space longer than the advertised allocated time is $58 in Melbourne, and $72 in Canberra. And it just goes up from there. Parking on a pedestrian crossing is in the several hundreds of dollars. Melbourne does not have such steep fines, but in fairness, Melbourne does have Clearway zones, and these can allow for your vehicle to be towed away. Canberra has no legistaltion (yet) allowing for the removal of vehicles from certain areas during certain times.

The city of Melbourne has approximately 3.8 million inhabitants, compared to the 350,000 inhabitants of Canberra. Based on that fact, maybe the city of Melbourne does not have to raise as much in revenue to try to pay for bettering the city. Examples can be seen in beautification, as well as pavement repair - as well as seasonal decoration (if you're visiting Melbourne at the moment, the city has a carpet of fairy lights hanging over the Bourke Street Mall for the Christmas festive period).

Where does the money go in Canberra? There is a lot of paving that needs to be repaired, and the Christmas decorations this year have been limited for a few banners in key streets as well as an odd oversized Christmas tree here and there.

My frustration at parking fines in Canberra basically came after getting fined the first time - incorrectly. The Canberra revenue office were nice enough to dismiss the charges - based on the fact that I had purchased a parking ticket, but it was partially obscured as it had moved on my dashboard to a hard to read area, when my vehicle was inspected. My initial thoughts was "How do they justify charging $72 for a fine, when there's nothing in Canberra to visit?"

On top of that, the on-street parking is limited. Off-street parking is also limited, and always comes with a cost. In Melbourne, you could park your car in a shopping centre like Chadstone, and shop for a day without paying a cent for parking. If you do the same thing at Westfield Woden, that will cost you $15 for parking alone! Maybe they have done it to deter office workers from parking in shopping car parks all day - and if this is the case, then it shows that a planned city's original idea has failed. Centralise the business area, don't spread it out amongst the satellite cities.

Do they seriously think they will attract new families to move in when the cost of living is higher than other cities in Australia?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

White Men Can't Jump Nike Hyperizes

Going along the lines of basketball sneakers and collections, I've managed to get a hold of these gems, being in the form of Nike Hyperizes - done in a tribute to the 1992 film - "White Men Can't Jump".

The dark shoe is based on the Sidney character - played by Wesley Snipes, and the lighter shoe is based on the Billy character - played by Woody Harrelson. Look for the similarities between the movie characters and the shoes. The darker shoe is all "bling'ed up" - being very glitzy and looking like a gaudy diamond. The lighter shoe is very subdued, with accents of neon - but the tongue quotes Billy stating that "I am in the f**king zone!"

I also have another Hyperize shoe, but I did not get any pictures of it before I wore it. I'll post some pictures of it soon, but they may not be squeaky clean.

And in case you're wondering, they do take some breaking in, but they are very light and the sole feels like it floats on a cloud.