Saturday, August 20, 2011

The problem of asylum seekers

Australia has a problem with asylum seekers. Now the troll has a great aversion to people that don’t think or behave the way he does. He likes his life simple, predictable and unchanging. And if these people look any different to what he is accustomed to, well all the more reason to prevent them coming across the seas and affecting his life (but at least, should they make landfall, it will easier to point out who they are).

There is a plan in place to curb the tide of asylum seekers (currently contested in our courts as to its legality*). And that is to send them back overseas for processing outside of Australian jurisdiction.
There appear to be four problems with asylum seekers. They come from a torn land or a land with torn ideologies. They cost taxpayers money. They can take our jobs. And they can cause even greater pressures on the already ridiculous cost of housing in Australia.
On the first point, those people that come from areas of conflict can bring that conflict to a relatively placid community like Australia. However, there’s already a measure in place to curb community conflict. It’s called the law. And we have a bunch of guys with big sticks to go chasing those that openly violate it. They’re called the police. If asylum seekers break the law, they go to jail or, even better, they get sent back to where they came.
The second point is that they cost taxpayers money. But once a person enters Australian territorial waters (or airspace for that matter) they are under Australian law and governance. For better or worse that means they can or will cost the Australian taxpayer (regardless of how unsavoury one finds the trade of people smuggling). Sending them off for processing in a distant country to remove Australia’s obligations does not remove the costs (I’m not sure if it is even any cheaper) but it does take away the one benefit of immigration (if one can flip the coin, ignore the illegality, and call it that) - that is: the immigrant. That’s not to say that an asylum seeker, on the Australian mainland, would not place an additional burden on the Australian taxpayer (and he will - teaching and integrating him into the community costs money). But should he be fortunate enough to stay then he and his children could become productive workers and Australian taxpayers to boot. Paying now for a future return is called an investment. There are risks but it is a game worth playing.
That brings us to the next point. They will take our jobs. There’s another way of looking at that. It’s called competition. The last time I looked, that was regarded as a good thing. Nobody really wants to be at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. So if you feel strongly enough about it then get educated, get skilled, look for opportunities, and get out there.
The last point is that they will place pressures on housing and resources. Well, the prices of Australian property, insane as it is, is currently flat and predicted to fall in most capital cities. Property prices in any case is a governance and taxation issue and not directly an immigration problem (although it does play a big role). A big country with limited resources (albeit with decent infrastructure) is, arguably, the real issue. There are proponents for a "Big Australia" (a big vibrant population with the encouragement of skilled immigrants as proposed by our previous prime minister, Kevin Rudd) and there are those that are against this (Julia Gillard, our current prime minister). The argument revolves around the concept of a “sustainable” Australia. How one determines with confidence the population size that is “sustainable” at any particular time given that we live in “a land of drought and flooding rains” is far beyond me and thankfully one we can leave to the Australian government (and just as thankfully they will never always be right so we will have some margin to complain about their policies).
The problem with asylum seekers then comes down to immigration policy and our views on this. Skilled workers are really what Australia wants for growth and competitiveness. This is tempered by the current vogue for a sustainable, or if you will, a “little” Australia. Whether we should be allowing an illegal immigrant who faces persecution in their home country to take the spot of a legal immigrant who flies in with the appropriate papers (and probably more likely to possess the appropriate skills Australia wants) is an argument that has no correct answer. I accept that Australia has an immigration quota and certainly those immigrants that don’t qualify will have to wait their turn or be returned to their home country. But, leaving aside the argument of whether it is "right" or "wrong", sending asylum seekers back overseas for processing just does not make any sense.
Australians, as a rule, are notoriously egalitarian. Except, it seems, when it comes to the problem of asylum seekers.

On the 31 August, Australia's High Court ruled the policy of overseas processing as illegal (albeit only in countries where laws are not in place to ensure the protection of asylum seekers). 
The looming question is what now for Australia's border protection policy? How can a prosperous, democratic country discourage the unpleasant trade of people smuggling? Bring back temporary protection visas? Continue with mandatory detention and overseas processing albeit in a more "agreeable" setting? Or change the legislation so that we can send asylum seekers/ unauthorised immigrants anywhere we choose (a theoretical proposition as it will be impossible to pass through the current senate)? 
My opinion:
Democracy and prosperity has its price. Despite its shortcomings, the temporary protection visa (or some version of it) should be resurrected. And the bleeding hearts out there should harden up and face reality.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Delta brakes with Colnago pantographing

These are 2nd/ 3rd generation delta’s with what appears to be a stamped winged-wheel logo. The slightly rolled edge suggests that the logo has not been etched into the surface (as occasionally seen in the rare version of the 2nd/ 3rd generation delta - see my previous post for an example), rather an impression was left by a stamp or a mold which typifies first generation C Record componentry.

The 2nd generation bodies are wider than the first generation and enclose the standard 3-pivot mechanism (ok 4-pivot if you include the cable-locking bolt). There is no retaining clip on the underside and the faceplate is released by lifting the spring-loaded cable tensioner at the top.

The ebay troll hasn’t stumbled across an example like this before and any further information is appreciated. In the meantime the troll will investigate the identity of the Mr “Colnago” brazen enough to pantograph his name onto such a rare faceplate.

Sold on ebay 16 Aug for USD $635

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cinelli Laser Pista

Well this didn't last long on ebay...

1984 Cinelli Laser Evolution

Sold for BIN USD $15,000 on 14 Aug


Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Lotus and the Lone Wolf

The general populous will probably never understand it but the Lone Wolf (as identified by BSNYC) has many fans within the cycling community.

The Lone Wolf and the road-going Lotus 110 (check out the delta’s with nonstandard-issue levers). He’s pointing to a signature...

...from an American cyclist

Another American star adds her name

“Hammer time” Sarah Hammer - possibly the best sports surname after Usain Bolt

Mike Burrows’ original Windcheetah

Lotus Sport 108...

...and a cyclist from Great Britain

Report of a track race at the Barcelona Olympics (Cycling World Sept/Oct 1992)

Admire me and my exclusive awesomeness

Lotus Sport 108 written up in Popular Mechanics Feb 1993 (via

Lotus Sport 110

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gonzo the Great

Of all the iconic saddles that have come to pass the San Marco Supercorsa has to be one of the most stately shapes to ever grace the humble bicycle.

And yet there are some undeniable similarities to the Great Gonzo.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The One

Ask me five years ago what my perfect bike would be and I would have shown you this:

1980s Colnago Master with full C Record ensemble

Great 1980s colourway yet subtle enough to soothe a modern palate

A time when the Colnago Master came with lugs similar in design to the Supers and Mexicos that preceded it
(and a personal favourite amongst the various Colnago lug styles that have come to pass)

The 1980s sublimated. Sublime, my dear, sublime

Simple elegant lugs and that Gilco-designed tubing. Well!!

Nice set of delta’s Mr R Heeren

The glorious C Record drivetrain

Sold for “buy it now” price of USD $2680 on the 27 July

I wasn’t the buyer but not because I didn’t want it (I did) nor was it because I thought it was too expensive (ok, it’s not exactly a bargain either). It’s because I managed to rein in a slavering troll and made a rational decision based on the available options. For a start, beautiful as it is, the bicycle and the goodies decorating it ain't that uncommon. And that sack of coin could help pay for some house renovations, or buy me 150 delicious meals at my local takeaway, or even get me a fancy take-a-look-at-my-enormous wealth... watch (like the bicycles I collect, an unnecessary indulgence in an era where the mobile phone can do what phones are supposed to do in addition to messaging/emailing/twittering your contacts, taking pictures, accessing the internet, organising your life, holding the world’s entire music collection, as well as tell you the time).
I should probably also wait for the Americans to decide on what they are going to do with their debt limit and see what ramifications this will have on the world economy (I’ll put this quirk of democratic governance next to “filibuster” in my list of why the US political system makes less sense than Australia’s even as our policies are currently held to ransom by the whims of a minority).
And, yes, I already palp a couple of Colnago Masters of my own.

The troll’s contribution to Blue Steel. So wrong yet so right

Not to mention that the troll has managed to squirrel away about 80kg of seductively shiny, if pompously portly C Record parts (yes, that’s almost enough kit to fit out one bike). The fact of the matter is that I seem to have moved on from the wide-eyed, open-mouthed naivety of five years ago: ie I now have affectations of bicycle snobbery. (Actually, "bicycle snob" is a term used by the 2% of the general population with a modicum of interest in bicycles to reflect people like us. The remaining 98% would probably use the more appropriate term of "bicycle dweeb". Unfortunately those that know me in particular seem to prefer the simpler and perhaps less charitable term of "dork")
If I am to buy C Record again it has to be either the 1985 first generation ensemble (the one with the stamped winged-wheel logo's and the closed-cage RD - a time when C Record was arguably at it’s aesthetic peak so much so that it didn’t matter whether or how it worked) or the 1994 last generation (when the groupset reached its functional peak whilst still retaining most of C Record’s aesthetics).

Speedbicycles 1985 Bianchi Specialissima (complete with the most impractical bidon to ever grace a bicycle - um, try finding one of them things nowadays..., now under the troll’s stewardship

This is concerning. NOS NIB 1994 Record groupset purchased in a 1995 clearance sale with spares carefully organised in my dad’s old Echolac bag (cheap Campy 50th anniversary bag eat your heart out)

And the internet now avails us to a mind-boggling array of opportunities. A paradise of choices through which the troll gleefully floats buoyed by a river of his own mucous.

Leaving C Record aside we have the following available for sale:

1980s Agordina in immaculate blue cromovelato with SR - apparently a production Willier Triestina at a time when Willier produced frames for other brands (for sale via ebay with “buy it now” of USD $1900) - ADDIT sold 2 Aug

Willieresque lug cutouts

Not sure whether I can cope with crimping of seat and/or chain stays at the dropout on any bicycle that hasn’t got
C O L N A G O emblazoned on the downtube...

Good God. They really made fork crowns with that shape?

1976 Condor Team Issue with refined Italia lugset and NR ensemble (for sale via Hilary Stone GBP £495) - ADDIT sold sometime in Aug

1984 Raleigh Road Ace with Shimano 600AX groupset (Hilary Stone GBP £495) - ADDIT sold sometime in Aug

Quite possibly the world’s largest Masi Gran Criterium - 64cm seat tube ctt! (ebay “buy it now” USD $3000)

So many choices available yet so little to differentiate those of us with bicycle pretensions. And no single bicycle seems capable of realising all our lusts and desires. I, for one, have now chosen to embark on a state of play that will no doubt leave my hopes and aspirations utterly unfulfilled. I shall look for a bicycle or part that is so rare that I simply cannot afford it. Or a bicycle or part so rare that I simply cannot find it (or rather, find someone willing to part with it).

Moser Time Trial Frame - the same design as used in 1984 when Francesco Moser broke Eddy Merckx’s 1972 hour record (sold USD $9,100)

1986 Cinelli Laser time trial bicycle with full first generation C Record gruppo and factory Cinelli discs (ebay auction still active) - ADDIT sold 7 Aug for USD $16,600

Ibis BowTi - the most beautiful titanium structure (and concept) to ever grace a production bicycle - forgive the flexy ride and the the laws of physics which dictate that pulling the brakes will pogo you over the bars (ebay “buy it now” USD $5500) - ADDIT listing ended early on 15 Aug - presumed sold outside of ebay
I often wonder what would have happened if, five years ago, I had gone out and purchased a Colnago Master with a full C Record ensemble. Whether this would have quelled some inner yearning before things got out of hand. Happiness (well, at least bicycle nirvana) would have been found. And that would have been that. Or whether this would have been just one more piece of wood for a smouldering, greedy, insatiable fire.

I’m too old and too cynical to be sentimental about most things. But a fragment of trivia caught my attention as I was skipping through the news channels. Now I’m not sure of the context nor how a piece like this becomes newsworthy. But the story, as I understand it, is about a couple who met when the chap was just 14 years old. Many years later the lady passed away leaving her life-long partner with some wonderful memories of the time they shared together. Some time later their son took a photo juxtaposing a fragment of the past with the present situation where this chap is once again on his own. When the chap was asked how he knew that she was “the one” (a valid question in our modern world with seemingly endless choices) the chap simply states “She had a skirt!”.
This is the photograph (from

Dear Photograph,
Thank you for everything we had.

Maybe they were lucky.
Maybe it’s not just the choice they made but their ability to stick by it.