There goes Usain Bolt, comparing apples with tomatoes

I KNOW that no one likes a bragger, but it’s hard not to feel just a little bit smug about our superior performance in the Commonwealth Games.

Our swim team killed it in the pool, paddling away with a whopping 19 gold medals, and overall Australia is leading the medal tally board.

We’re having a great run, there’s no denying it.

Well, someone just had knock the wind out of our sails, didn’t they? And this time it’s legendary runner Usain Bolt leading the charge.

The Jamaican sprinter – aka the fastest man in the world – apparently told a reporter that the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were “a bit s**t”, adding that he thought that “the Olympics were better”.

Well, no s**t. Of course the Olympics were better.

Consider this for a moment: The original budget for London 2012 was around US$4 billion. By the time the Games arrived, this figure had ballooned out to more than US$15 billion.

The 2014 Glasgow Games, by comparison, had a budget of £575 million, or roughly US$1 billion.

So, Usain is comparing a truly global, multi-billion dollar sporting extravaganza that attracts world-class athletes from every corner of the globe, with a prestigious sporting event that exists in an entirely different market.

It’s kind of like saying that the movie you watched in Gold Class was so much more enjoyable than the movie you saw in a regular cinema.

Well, of course it was! You were sitting in oversized plush leather seats with only a handful of other cinema-goers, chomping away on nachos and sipping on a beer that was delivered to you mid-movie.

How is it fair to compare that with sitting in a crowded cinema with 100 other folks?

And let’s not forget, you pay handsomely for the privilege of that luxury experience.

When you go to the movies, a Gold Class seat costs you more than twice the price of regular entry.

And when you stage the Olympic Games, it seems that you’re working with a budget around 15 times greater than what the bean-counters at the Commonwealth Games have to play with.

So it seems, Usain Bolt’s just not comparing apples with apples – he’s comparing apples with tomatoes.

And that’s just unsportsmanlike, wouldn’t you agree?

The Meddler

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Drunk drivers wreak havoc in suburbia

IF you thought driving in Surfers Paradise on a Friday night was taking your life into your own hands, think again.

Last week a 51-year-old man was arrested for drink driving at more than five times the legal limit. It was at 11:20am on a Tuesday morning – in Pacific Pines.

Earlier this month, a drunk driver crashed into four cars and tried to flee the scene. It happened at lunchtime on a Monday, in Ashmore.

And only this week, a man had his license suspended after being found guilty of dangerous driving – for doing handstands on top of his car while it was moving. It was late afternoon on a Tuesday, in Burleigh.

Seriously – is anywhere safe any more?

Already my driving options are limited if I want to do my part in keeping safe on the road and yet this is happening on a regular basis in my neck of the woods.

I choose to avoid driving around the glitter strip in the late hours of the weekend.

I’m well aware of the road works associated with The G and try to steer clear at peak times.

I know to expect road rage in busy car parks over the silly season.

I know that November equals packs of scooting schoolies weaving up and down the Gold Coast Highway and so I stay away.

Heck, I’m even superstitious of the roads around a full moon and choose to stay at home.

There are some situations that I just can’t account for though. Drunk and reckless drivers wreaking havoc in suburbia in the middle of a weekday; what can I do to avoid that?

At 11:20am on a regular Tuesday morning in suburban Gold Coast, mums with tired toddlers are on their way home from playgroup. Retirees are heading into town for a spot of shopping. Workers are doing a quick lunch run between appointments.

On any given weekday evening, employees are packing up shop and heading home for the day, kids are riding home from school and mum’s taxi is nearing its final destination.

Reckless and drunk drivers of the Gold Coast – wake up! We shouldn’t have to factor you into our already stressful day of negotiating Gold Coast roads.

Don’t be so selfish. The issue you have to consider is not whether or not you’ll get caught. It’s about your responsibility to drive safely; to take care of yourself and take care of others on the road.

Don’t take the risk – for our sake.

The Meddler

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What does 15 minutes of fame cost these days?

EVERYONE wants their 15 minutes of fame, eh?

And it seems like they’ll take it however they can.

Like this prankster from Southport, who filmed himself earlier this year doing handstands on the roof of his car… while he was driving.

Come again?

Apparently, he was cruising through an industrial estate in Burleigh Heads when he decided to climb out of the window and up onto the roof to do a headstand, before sliding back into the driver’s seat. All while the vehicle was in motion.

As you do.

Obviously, there was a bit of planning involved – enough for him to set up a camera to film his little stunt. Then he swung into action.

I understand that some people want to be daredevils, I really do. People far more adventurous than me have that drive to be daring, to push the envelope, to test things at their limits.

But the antics of this guy? They’re plain foolish. And potentially life-threatening, for the driver and for those around him.

Granted, he was in an industrial estate and not in a residential area, but there were still people about. Some of them were concerned enough to call the cops, who turned up quick smart and confiscated his phone footage.

They charged the man with dangerous driving, which is how we learnt what his real intentions were.

It turns out that he performed this “high-risk stunt” (and let’s remember he’s not a kid, he was 30 years old) so he could…

Wait for it…

Post the footage on Facebook. Or maybe it was YouTube.

It doesn’t really matter which one; the point is, he staged this dangerous and unsupervised car “trick” in a public area, all so he could grab his 15 minutes (or is that 15 seconds?) of fame on a social media site.

On Monday, Magistrate Paul Johnstone describe the man’s “deliberate act of handstanding” as one of gross stupidity.

And for his efforts, he’s wound up in court, charged with dangerous driving. On Monday, the judge found him guilty of the same charge, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail.

So for a potential 15 minutes of fame, he risks three years in prison?

The world really has gone mad.

 

The Meddler

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Can I cancel my subscription?

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WHEN I got my Council rates notice this week, I almost fell off my chair!

I quickly reviewed the dates. Sadly, my eyes don’t need checking as the details were all correct: my six-month rate levy of $898.50 was bang on the money.

Almost a grand, for six months worth of contributions towards new and improved services, roads, streetscapes and parklands throughout the Gold Coast.

Look, I’m all for spending money to keep our city moving forward – I know the City of Gold Coast chipped in, along with the state and federal governments, for the light rail and with a construction bill that exceeded $1 billion, it wasn’t cheap.

But still… Almost a thousand bucks? For six months?

I did a little calculation – mathematics isn’t my strong suit, so bear with me – and worked out that since I bought my house five years ago, my rates bills have increased by almost 50%.

Back then, my six-month rates notice was a touch over $600.

Five years later, my council rates are just shy of $900, with water – which is usually about the same – still to come.

I just dug out my rates and water bill from August 2009: It was $1,149. Combined.

So, while CPI has averaged 2 or 3 per cent each year, or a total of 10-15% in five years, my council rates have increased by 50%.

It doesn’t seem all that fair, does it?

The worst part is, there’s nothing we can do about it. If any other non-mandatory service increased its fees by 50% in five years, I’d hightail it out of there, or cancel my subscription, or shop around for a better deal.

But short of selling my home and moving into a rental, I can’t avoid being slugged with ever-increasing council bills.

It appears I’m not alone in my frustration and despair at the situation.

According to recent reports, thousands of Gold Coasters have been struggling to pay their council rates notices.

Last month, the City of Gold Coast voted to sell over 400 properties in an effort to recover more than $1.6 million in unpaid water and city council charges; the average outstanding debt for each household was around $4,000.

In last week’s Friday Flyer, I read that the Council is spending about $30,000 upgrading the pathways and completing “works” in my very own street. I guess if the Council weren’t around to pick up that bill, it’d be up to us as residents to fork out enough cash to keep our street looking pretty.

When I consider it that way, my $900 half-yearly bill doesn’t seem too bad.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

The Meddler

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Have 20,000 punters proved the haters wrong?

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FOR the last three years, Gold Coasters have been pretty vocal in their frustration during construction of our new $1.2 billion light rail network.

[blockquote]“It’s a waste of tax dollars,” they said.[/blockquote]

[blockquote]“An expensive eyesore,” they said.[/blockquote]

[blockquote]“No one will ride the G:link. How long before it’s scrapped?” they said.[/blockquote]

Some people have had every right to feel frustrated, impatient and outright angry.

With all the construction and disruption in certain areas, customers all but disappeared. Hundreds of businesses were impacted, with many forced to shut up shop completely.

Losing your livelihood is something you have every right to be seriously upset about.

But to everyone else? To the whingers and whiners who were barely impacted during construction, bar the odd traffic jam through Surfers, but who continued to complain, loudly, about everything that’s wrong with the G:link?

To those people I say, grow up!

The fact is – we need it.

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The Gold Coast is expanding. We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto. Our population has reached almost 600,000 people, and we’re growing every week.

In 10 years time, if we want to be able to get to work, drop the kids to school, run errands, visit our mates – basically, if we want to get around the Gold Coast at all without sitting in traffic for an hour each way, then we need bigger and better forms of public transport than the old Surfside bus.

On Sunday, the tram transported more than 80,000 people around the city to give Gold Coasters a free taste of the light rail.

On Monday, around 20,000 Gold Coast commuters handed over their hard-earned cash – between $4 and $6 one-way – to ride the tram on its first day of paid operation. Some carriages were standing room only.

This is a great result! It means less cars on the roads, less vehicles in car parks, less pollution in the air.

I just don’t understand why some people seem so determined for the tram to fail, especially now that all the hard work is done. I for one am glad that so far, fears of “ghost trams” remain unrealised.

I’ve noticed one other unplanned benefit of the tram…

Riding between Southport and Surfers on Sunday, I couldn’t believe the number of people who were on their phones. Not on the tram – I’m talking about people in cars. At one point, we paused near traffic lights and of the 20-odd cars waiting for the light to turn green, I could see that all of them were engrossed in their phone. It’s an easy way for police to book dialer drivers is all I’m saying.

Methinks there may be more people riding the G:link to work than anticipated.

The Meddler

Here’s your chance to get your opinion in front of a larger audience. And earn a dollar! Anything from the minutiae to the meaningful, the heartfelt to the humorous, if you’ve got an issue or a rant you think Gold Coasters need to read submit it to The Meddler. There’s $50 for each contribution published. Contributions should be under 400 words, please supply contact details including a phone number. The Meddler reserves the right to edit articles submitted. Please send to news@mygc.com.au