Bicycle helmet laws slammed by UK doctors

In short according to BMJ survey, bicycle helmet law is insupportable stupidity...

...we are their case in point!

Painting(s) of the Month (20) August 2011: London Transport Artists

This months pictures are a little different from the norm. They are all reproductions of posters commissioned for London Transport. I have chosen a selection of 'places' designed to encourage travellers to visit the countryside although, today all of these places are within Greater London. Posters were also made depicting Wimbledon for Tennis and Wembley Stadium for soccer. It was really the spreading of the Underground Railway network that helped the many London suburbs to expand from country towns and villages to become part of the 30 mile wide urban sprawl that is London. Much of it is still very attractive. For example the second poster, nearly 100 years old, depicts Hainault Forest about two miles from where I live. It's still a favourite hiking place though it now has a children's zoo and a public golf course; no membership, just turn up and play. The artists were leading professionals of the time and many of these posters can be seen and purchased from The London Transport Museum.

High Beech by Charles Sharland 1913

Hainault Forest by Fred Taylor 1914

Twickenham by Arthur Blunt 1912

Windsor Castle by Walter E Spradbery 1930

Flowers of the Riverside by Edwared McKnight Kauffer 1920
London Transport (which was formed by an amalgamation of all the various railway companies operating different 'tube' lines) is still a patron of the arts as the poster from 2007, below, shows!

The West End of London from Primrose Hill by Paul Catherall 2007

Democratic responsibility to hold an opinion

(Photos: Helen Carey Ireland, Melbourne)

Melbourne Punk Commute!!! - a counter culture cycle protest & ride from Federation Square to Parliament House, exercising our responsibility to participate in democracy...

There were:

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* * * * * * * *30 BIKE SHARE BIKES & ANORS

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* * * * * * * *34 ACTIVE PUNK COMMUTERS

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* * * * * * * *SPEECHES++

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* * * * * * * *1 HECKLER

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* * * * * * * *MEDIA & RADIO & TV INTERVIEWS

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* * * * * * * *NO POLICE

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* * * * * * * *NO BOOKINGS

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* * * * * * * *NO ARRESTS

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...& notwithstanding the fact that only a handful of places in the world have made bicycle helmets compulsory and that the countries who lowered cyclist injury did so by preferring instead to improve the cycling environment, we still received the usual specious & predictable comparisons to 'climate change deniers' from the journos...but it was good to see them there anyway!!!

- & great to have a heckler as well!!! - now we really have 'street cred'!!!!

Melbourne Punk Commute - TOMORROW

...our voice, our concern, our ride

...see you then...

(with bells on!!!)

Things, in three parts

You find all kinds of things when you're moving. Some things are just things. Some things are more than things. And some things ... are both.

Part 1

Go read this post from July 2008.

waiting ...
waiting ...

Are you back?  Okay.

Guess what I found while cleaning out closets to get ready to pack. Guess what was at the bottom of a big box labeled PHOTOGRAPHS. Guess what was under 2 cubic feet of photographs and 2 child's play tents. You got it: The missing serving pieces, all three of them.  I was stunned to find them, because I could not imagine how they got there.  I was thrilled to find them, because -- well, because. I don't think I need to say more than that.

The only thing I can figure out is that I had put them in the box when I left the house for the summer: I tucked away my valuables, knowing that my friend's son would have visitors and guests and parties. I probably tossed the tents and a few pictures on top of the serving ware to hide them. Then, when I was packing to move, in that frenzy and crisis mode, I just filled the box with pictures.  ** poof **  My treasured wedding gifts were gone. Stolen. Lost forever.

Except they weren't. Needless to say, I wrote a few very apologetic emails, groveling and begging forgiveness, and I wrote a chunky check to pay for the replacements.  And now, my boys won't have to worry about who gets Mom's Wilton-Armetale when the time comes: They each get a set!

Part 2

While cleaning out a different closet, filling the giveaway box, I came across a grocery bag with some of Nick's clothes neatly rolled up inside. Oh, it's stuff that I've already set aside to give away. I tossed the bag into the box. And immediately grabbed it back. Wait a minute. This bag of clothes was in that box of keepsakes. This was set aside to save, not to give away.

I pulled the clothes out of the bag ... his favorite nightshirt... his favorite pool towel... his favorite boxers... my favorite boxers...

I put everything back into the paper bag and put the bag back into the box. Not the keepsake box, the giveaway box.  Just like that. I shook my head with a sigh and let go of them.

When I told my mother about it, she was so appalled that I still had any of Nick's clothes that she couldn't appreciate what it meant that I was able to let go of them, easily and without tears. Trust me: It was significant. It was a huge measure of progress made over the last 4 years, since I last saw those clothes and tucked them away for safekeeping.

Part 3

Later on that day, in the same closet as the keepsake box, but not in the keepsake box, I found this.

It's an undated anniversary card, in which Nick assures me that everything he says and does for me means he loves me.

Could I ever have asked for anything more?

Starship 'Bicycle-Helmet' Enterprise

The Question:

"To what extent has Australian bicycle helmet policy been commercially driven?"


The Answer:



Whilst "wear-me-bicycle-helmet-safety-promotion" purportedly set out to pursue safety, in reality it pursued (& continues to pursue) its own interests & never the public's!

Essentially the public's best interests were negotiated into oblivion for the benefit of bicycle helmet policy contractors.

Melbourne Punk Commute - MEDIA RELEASE

(Photos: Chapel Street, South Yarra)

Bells, bicycles & BIKE-SHARE!

Q. Why has the latter flopped in Melbourne? a nutshell...

A. Bicycle helmet law!

Ignore shrill protestations trotted out by car clubs & bicycle clubs!!! - this is the reason...

...& Australians are not happy!

This Saturday 30th July 2011, 'Punk Commuters' are taking to the Melbourne streets to peacefully protest about our crippling helmet regulation.

Starting at Federation Square (12:30pm sharp), the bicycle plan is to cycle in a peaceful 'protesterly' manner along most of Swanston Street, along the Bourke Street Mall & then up the rest of Bourke Street to Parliament House and the Treasury Building.

There'll be megaphones & speeches, & of course there'll be plenty of 'ringing of bells' peacefully.

Finally the Bike-share bikes are going to get the love they deserve ♥ ♥ ♥

...& needless to mention, everyone will decide their hat-wear options!

Our democracy, our rules - let's get Australian politicians to 'once-again' recognise cyclists' right to choose whether we helmet or not!!

...& let's give Melbourne Bike-Share a chance!

Gone Too Soon
I wrote about Amy Winehouse back in Ferbuary this year. I was staying with a friend in the north of France for a few days when the news of her death came through; this post was going to be about the good time we all had in the Pas de Calais but I can't do that now. Her death has really saddened me and all of the family for two reasons.

Firstly the devastation one feels for her family and the loss of the greatest 21st century singing talent in the UK. I think Adele and Duffy are terrific so it's not an empty thing to say. I would compare her to the all-time greats such as Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald.

Secondly, when my grandson, Sonny, was in hospital with cancer and we didn't know what the outcome would be Amy's father who sings with his own band did a charity concert to raise money for Sonny to have a holiday. He was someone who 'gave' and now his daughter has been taken from him. It breaks my heart to think of it.

Rest in peace Amy.

Bail me out

At work today I pressed various buttons in various spreadsheets, achieving nothing. The one button I really needed - the ejector seat button - was nowhere to be seen.

Tonight I we had the autism group. A record attendance of eight, half of whom were new faces. I'd say it was my most enjoyable session yet. Whether that was down to the people, or because it provided a nice contrast with my shitty day at work, I don't know.

Amy Winehouse. I remember a couple of years back dreaming that she had died. When it happened for real last weekend it was hardly a shock, but still very sad, especially because she had no real friends at the time of her death as far as I can tell. Today they were playing one of her albums in JB Hi-Fi. I hung around in the store for a while to listen to a few of her songs which just happened to suit my mood. I thought she was a very good singer; sadly she joins the long list of artists who died at just 27.

Rottnest Island 1984


Our Cadel + l’avenue des Champs-Élysées + 'Advance Australia Fair' = super super stuff!!


...& jeez now I can stop being a possum & try sleeping at night again!!!...

...& put the 'family albums' away!!!!!!!!!!!

But before I do either of those...'s a somewhat fuzzy snap of perfectly 'legal' cycling Australians (one well into 2nd trimester with baby no.1!!) cycling perfectly 'legally' in Australia - the good old days!

Memories today

(Photos: my parents - Wallington, England, February 1959)

Sometimes numbers collide into anniversaries giving pause for thought.

As our baby no.4 approaches '21' it has occurred to me that my parents were '21' in this wedding photo, and that I was '21' when, 30 years ago today, my father drowned in the North Atlantic ocean after ejecting from his RAF Jaguar, and that in 5 days time it will be 30 years since I attended a wedding at St Paul's Cathedral in order to sing at the marriage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Lady Dianna Spencer, before I sang at my father's funeral 2 days later.

So many memories & so many decades...'s a privilege to be here to remember

Melbourne Punk Commute - latest update

Diary update!!!

Saturday 30th July 2011 - 12:30pm till 2:00pm...

On your bikes!! - here's some new info on our 'peaceful assembly' ride!

So...after we meet at Melbourne's Federation Square, our 'man-on-the-ground-in-Melbourne' has planned that we 'make our way along a route that takes in most of Swanston Street, the Bourke Street mall and then up the rest of Bourke Street to Parliament House and the Treasury Building'.

Excitingly, our 'man-on-the-ground-in-Melbourne' goes on to report that this particular journey will give us 'maximum exposure in the CBD, especially when we ring our bells like crazy'!!!

- needless to mention there'll be some chatting on our megaphone too!!

Our democracy, our rules - our heads, our choice!!!

The Big Smoke

I touched down at Auckland airport on Saturday lunchtime; from there I made my way to the autism group. I'd forgotten what a head-spinning occasion it can be, and that's speaking as someone who has never been diagnosed with any form of autism. Trying to keep track of ten conversations (or monologues) at once is no easy task. But for all the acoustic challenges the monthly meeting presents, it's still a wonderful thing they've got going up there. Autistic adults need all the support they can get. The Arie Smith case was a major topic of discussion again. The point I made (when I finally got a word in edgeways) was that Cantabrians are less tolerant of people who are a bit "different" than those from other parts of the country. In addition to having Asperger's, Arie is gay, and I'm sure that doesn't help his cause in red-and-black territory. Whatever, it should be blindingly obvious to police that he has a disability, and they should show some compassion (and common sense) by dropping the case.

That evening I settled into my hotel room in Parnell. The woman at reception wanted to know my ZIP code, then told me my room was on the first floor when it was on the ground floor. She sounded perfectly Kiwi to me, so what was with all the American terminology?

On a sunny Sunday morning I went to La Cigale, the popular French market nearby. I only bought some odd bits of fruit but was fascinated by their wine cellar. When it comes to the price of vintage wines it appears the sky's the limit. I couldn't figure out why a bottle sometimes differed in price by $100 from a seemingly identical bottle right next to it. Maybe Richard (who is something of a connoisseur) could give me some idea.

This 1957 Chevy was parked outside the market. A beast of a car with a number plate to match. Forget all those vowelless what-the-hell-does-that-say combinations you see so often; this one gets straight to the point. On the subject of plates, the letter G has started to appear as the first letter of standard (non-personalised) issues. It took a long time to get through the F's in spite of all the combinations like FAG and FUK that they must have skipped over - a sign of the tough economic times I guess. My Camry dates from the two-letter system - appropriately, given my reluctance to make decisions, those two letters are UM.

Sunday afternoon was a bit stressful as I hung around in the city, not really knowing what was happening. This wasn't anybody's fault but by the time we saw the final Harry Potter movie (Richard, another member of the Aspie group and myself) I was really past caring. The film was good, I think, but I hadn't seen any of them since number two and I struggled to concentrate. I was feeling a bit low and my mind was in a dozen other places.

Monday was an unusually busy day for me on the social front. First I met Julie in Devonport for coffee. The mental health system in Auckland has failed her, she's seen six figures disappear in failed finance companies, and most recently her dog (which he was very fond of and gave her some purpose in life) has been put down. She was understandably upset when I saw her. The good news is that she intends to leave Auckland and make a new start (at the age of 65) in Wellington.
I then met Mandy, the only contact I've kept from my last so-called big job. She left the company last September, nine months after I made my exit. She now works for another insurance company and is much happier there. We walked along Takapuna Beach in the sunshine, something I used to do regularly before our offices moved to an impersonal business park where there was nothing to do at lunchtime but attempt the crossword. As a side note, who should I meet on the bus from Devonport to Takapuna? None other than Bazza, for whom going to the shore is almost a day trip.

I had a quick catch-up with a guy from an employment agency who I still keep in touch with, and then met Andy in the Mad Dogs and Englishmen pub in Wairau Park for a drink. In his life things are moving at breakneck speed: he's got engaged (he met his fiancée just six months ago) and there's talk of houses, kids and all those things normal people have. Andy left shortly after six but I stuck around and ate a lamb shank (tasty and more meat than I'd bargained for). I got back to the hotel at around nine and eventually fell asleep watching darts on TV in a flashback to the early nineties.

On Tuesday I met Richard at his new flat in Greenlane after losing my bearings a bit on the way. He lives with three females if you include the Siberian Husky. I think it's a very positive move for him. We had lunch at a nearby eatery and a decent chat. He hopes (as do I) that he can make a trip to Wellington in the coming months. I then hung around town, which is something I did quite a lot of over the long weekend. When the time came to catch the Airbus I was very glad to leave: I find central Auckland an incredibly soulless place.

On Wednesday - my first day back at work - I felt pretty low. All my thoughts were a function of the state of my mental health. That evening though I spoke to someone in the UK about my business idea, and since then I've been back almost to normal, whatever normal is any more.

Keeping an "eye-out"

Given that corporations own much of the media (& a few politicians to boot), advertising is clearly a factor that makes the business of selling media highly profitable.

BUT in the running of these businesses their 'guardianship' role for freedom of press & expression has inevitably been interfered with... is such a shame that a significant proportion of media have sold out on being our 'watch-dog' of power.

Que sera, sera...!

(Photos: Prof Chris Rissel & Dr Paul Martin, base of GMT)

14:00 hrs

Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney

* Square table discussion with the Hon. John Ajaka (Parliamentary secretary to Minister for Roads & Ports), Mr Lance Northey (Media advisor), Professor Chris Rissel (University of Sydney lecturer), Dr Paul Martin (Specialist anaesthetist, Brisbane) & me (?)!

* Submission submitted

* Gratefully received

* Further figures-information required & requested

* Further other-jurisdictional information on child-only helmet law required & requested

* Request that all new information be incorporated in further submission & sent to Roads & Traffic Authority soon to be Roads & Maritime Services (given rising sea-levels - joke! - well, not really; jeez, maybe they're taking 'climate change' seriously!)

* Assurances received that further meeting with today's square table parties to be arranged at point of next submission that a glimmer of change I see before the distance...on the horizon?

Lord Monckton: a legend in his own lunchbox

Full marks to Wendy Carlisle and the ABC for yesterday's Background Briefing programme on Lord Monkton (funnily enough I featured him on my blog a couple of weeks ago too!!!)

Listening to the meeting scene in Hyde Park reminded me of the desert scene in 'The Life of Brian' - it was vaguely comical at first but then it turned very ugly - unbelievably Wendy was intimidated to the point where she had to leave.

Why do we pretend in Australia that this hereditary peer (but not House of Lords member as he claimed to Adam Spencer last week) can add anything to any climate change discussion? He can't - he's a 'flat-earther' with no formal education in science other then two 'O' level certificates in school mathematics.

...& he deliberately chooses not to inform himself of details of his sponsor so that he can be free of any conflict of interest! - that doesn't work!!! - he can't believe that surely?

No matter how comforting it is for him to behave in his puerile 'ostrich' manner, he can't possibly imagine that it places him in a free & unfettered position to herald his 'bunsen-burner' musings as independent quality research.

But who cares when you're trying to get 'bums-on-seats'!

Certainly the National Press Club of Australia didn't a couple of weeks ago though I noticed on their website yesterday that since that first billing of the venerable M & his take on climate change, it's been somewhat credibly rebadged with the inclusion of Dr Richard Deniss in debate format

- now that should be fun!!!


...oh! & PS: he's a 'legend in the Galileo Movement's rather plush lunchbox' as well...!




Dear Mr Attorney-General,

$$$ This levy is nothing more than an arbitrary tax

$$$ No way am I paying one on a bicycle helmet matter

$$$ Shouldn't the offence involve a 'victim'?

$$$ This ridiculousness is going too far!!!

$$$ 'Justice' continues her Australian retreat into the ether

Yours in utter frustration,
Freedom Cyclist

"Follow the yellow brick road...!"

"We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Roads&Ports!!!"

Yes! - next Tuesday three of us have a date with destiny!

Accompanied by a high-powered delegation consisting of the estimable Prof Chris Rissel & the dashing Dr Paul Martin, I will be making my way, by bicycle & business suit ('sigh' to the latter), to Macquarie Towers where it all happens!!

We are busily preparing a short, succinct & 'totally-to-the-point 'submission for the pollie & co.'s convenience - maybe we should draft the bill too, although on second thoughts, given it's a regulation we're endeavouring to revoke, we could probably get away with just providing a pen!!! - funtimes...

...& dare I even suggest (?) - hopeful times!!

Silence speaks volumes

But sometimes, you just need to blurt it out: I'm moving back to Maryland next month.

As happy as I will be to be back East, as glad as I am to be leaving this reddest of Red States, as much as I am looking forward to being back among friends, back at my church, back in green space -- this has been a very hard decision to make.

I moved to Arizona with absolutely no hesitation when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer nearly 4 years ago. I moved out here to be with her, to stay with her until "she no longer needed me." That was my euphemism for her death.

She's in steady decline now. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that our definition of "good days" and "bad days" has shifted dramatically in the last few months.  She still has "good days," but her quality of life, her ability to do things on her own and for herself, has markedly declined.

Some days, it seems as though she could keep going for several more months. She still enjoys time with friends, going to the movies and to restaurants. She still enjoys shopping and helping her daughters make interior design decisions. She still enjoys -- no, adores and clamors for -- time with family, especially with the youngest generation. On these days, it's easy for me to think about going back to Maryland.

Other days, it seems that she's tottering on the edge, ready to plummet to the long-dreaded "end stage" of the disease. The cancer seizes control of her life and of all of our emotions.  On these days, I feel terrible leaving now, while she still needs me is still alive.

And yet, that is what I am doing.  

I wouldn't be able to leave now if it weren't for Nick's wonderful cousin Christy, who has promised to be available to take over the home front when I need to come back to Arizona. Her assurance that I can be gone for a few weeks when it's time gives me the freedom to move now, before the start of the school year.

It is right for me to move back now, on so many levels, for so many reasons. Right for me, right for the boys. I thought and pondered and struggled with the decision for a long time. I have my sister's support to leave now (no small consideration).  I know it's the right decision.

But it's still hard, very hard, to leave at this juncture.

Melbourne Punk Commute - 30th July 2011

Don't miss this date for your diaries!!!

Saturday 30th July 2011 - 12:30pm till whenever...

Grab your bikes!! - we're meeting at Melbourne's Federation Square, opposite the beautiful Flinders Station (see above), before we make our way to somewhere else in Melbourne (still 'planning' that bit!) -

There is a bike share station close to Fed Square so you could grab one of those or one from another nearby bike-share stations in the area - or maybe you'll want to secure your bike beforehand since it would be such a pity to miss out if we end up having a huge rush of protestors!!! - you just never know!?!?!

Whatever; you decide your hat-wear options! - naturally!!

Our democracy, our rules - let's get Victoria to recognise our right to choose whether we helmet or not!!

Having a smashing time at work

Here's a bad analogy to describe what work is like at the moment. It's like a game of tennis where I'm hitting nice-looking forehands and backhands but don't know what the object of the game is. Keep the ball inside the lines? Outside the lines? Try to hit the lines? Hit my opponent? Smash the window of the car parked outside?

Perhaps surprisingly, this state of confusion isn't getting me down. My business idea (i.e. my Plan B) is starting to take some kind of shape, and I've got a long weekend in Auckland to look forward to. On Saturday I'll be popping along to the Aspie group and seeing the latest (and last) Harry Potter film.

Good news: after getting a second opinion (and without shelling out 80% of its value), my car is back in action.

'Sick' by Shel Silverstein

Shel Siverstein was famous for writing songs which tend to have unusual and humourous lyrics. He is best known for the songs he wrote for Dr Hook and The Medicine Show, such as Sylvia's Mother and The Cover of Rolling Stone. He also wrote The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. However it is less well known that he wrote children's poetry and this is a lovely example.

All the song titles link to You Tube for your listening pleasure!

'Sick' by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

"I cannot go to school today,"

Said little Peggy Ann McKay,

"I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,

I'm going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,

I've counted sixteen chicken pox

And there's one more--that's seventeen,

And don't you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut, my eyes are blue--

It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,

I'm sure that my left leg is broke--

My hip hurts when I move my chin,

My belly button's caving in,

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,

My 'pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb,

I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,

I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,

I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,

My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,

There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?

What's that? What's that you say?

You say today is---Saturday?

G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Section 10 dismissal & free nutritious necessity tips

When you first start making pastry with your mum, no matter how grey or lumpy your dough is it's always 'so yummy, darling; the very best; my favourite!'...

...but gradually as you bake a little bit more you appreciate that 'hot clammy hands won't do when making mince-pie pastry, dear' & that 'if the over-head ceiling fan isn't off, pet, forget it!!!'

...& so it was today when I got another 'Section 10 dismissal', I mentally made some pretty handy 'baking' notes.


...the campaign continues!!!

Arie Smith-Voorkamp: for heaven's sake let him go

Last night I attended the Wellington Asperger's group. The hot topic of conversation was Arie Smith-Voorkamp, the young Asperger's man who "looted" two light bulbs from a vacant building following the February 22nd earthquake in Christchurch. I was moved by last weekend's Sunday programme in which he and his partner were interviewed; it was upsetting to see how the police had treated him. Public opinion has been highly supportive of Arie since the programme aired. I hope that common sense prevails and the police decide not to waste any more hours and taxpayer dollars on this case. Let the man go.

Here's an interesting autism-based website - - which has an article on Arie.

We had two new members at last night's group. It was a pleasure to meet them. This Saturday I'll be at the Auckland group for the first time in four months. I'm looking forward to that a lot.

My boss left last Friday; work has already ratcheted up a few notches since then. In the last two days all my feelings of inadequacy have flooded back. A short break from the office (I'm taking next Monday and Tuesday off) could be just what I need.

Judgment to be handed down 1400hrs tomorrow

* climate-change submissions delivered

* 'listened-to' & heard!

* awaiting deliberation - set for Muswellbrook Court tomorrow.

...hmmmn what to wear?...maybe something a little more 'Joan of Arc-y' for probable 'burning at stake'?!