Thursday, October 30, 2014

Big for a Spider, Small for a Dog

I was sitting at home admiring my fresh pink nail polish and reading night fighting rules for my wargame on Saturday when I realised that I wasn't really paying attention.  All I could think about was a giant spider the size of a small dog.  You may have heard of this, it turned up on those sections of the media dedicated to absolutely freaking you out and giving the South American tourist industry a blow it may never recover from.

Apparently a naturalist found said spider and took pictures of it.  I saw some of them and it was pretty small for a dog but absolutely huge for a spider.  The good thing about it is that apparently it was so large the naturalist could hear it coming so there shouldn't be too much danger of the thing sneaking up on you unawares.  Actually there is absolutely no danger of this one sneaking up on at all because apparently the naturalist killed it.

This is the bit that stuck in my mind.  Giant spiders don't really rate a second thought.  In my imagination I would be disappointed if any spiders in the South American jungle were smaller than a pig.  It wasn't even the killing of it that affected me.  It was the fact that it was killed by a naturalist.  If the thing had been found by a hunter I would have expected the next sentence to be "and he killed it".  If it had been found by a corporation I wouldn't have been surprised if they had inadvertently built a carpark on top of it but it was a naturalist!  Somehow this doesn't quite fit with my view of the world.  It's like discovering that Sea Shepherd really only chases Japanese whalers away so they can harvest the minkes without competition.

Can you imagine if it was David Attenborough?  "I'm perfectly at home in this community of gorillas, which I have bludgeoned to death with a length of pipe."  This is not what naturalists do in my opinion.  Or at least if they do do it they have the good sense not to tell anyone.  David Attenborough may have left a trail of animal corpses across seven continents but he was careful not let any of it get on film.  One can't help wondering if there are a legion of traumatised camera crews hiding in caves in remote places living in fear that David will tap them on the shoulder for his next voyage of elegant exposition and hideous butchery.

Unsurprisingly there was a bit of an outcry when this news became known.  Well, I made a bit of an outcry when the news became known to me.  A colleague of mine at work proved to be remarkably insouciant about the pointless arachnid death.  She may even have said "good".  The naturalist went into full justification mode, pointing out that the spider had been euthanised so that a natural history museum in Guyana could study it.  Once the museum is finished with it the restaurant next door is prepared to perform an "autopsy".

I have to ask, how does one euthanise a spider the size of a small dog?  With a very large newspaper?  Euthanise brings to mind passing gently away by ones own request with one's loved ones by ones side and Dr Philip Nitschke discreetly gouging another notch in his belt in the background.  I find it difficult to relate any of that to a spider of any size.  I suspect the naturalist used the term "euthanised" because he thought the term "killed" might have negative connotations. 

I am glad that a museum gets to study what a dead spider looks like but if ever there was a time for tag and release surely this was it.  All over my home city of Sydney there are ibis.  These are the ugliest, grubbiest, most irritating birds imaginable.  David Attenborough is free to kill as many of them as he likes.  Yet almost all of them have some sort of tag on them.  At some point people (quite possibly naturalists) have grabbed these filthy creatures and attached labels to them.  I guess they're doing research but frankly the only thing they seem to be discovering is how many tags you can attach to an ibis (quite a few, they're not small birds).

If people are prepared to go to the effort of tagging ibis surely someone would be prepared to put a tracking collar on a dog sized spider.  Not me of course, I'm not going near the damn thing.  Apparently they're harmless to humans (although it might dangerous if they accidentally stepped on a child) but I for one am prepared to wait for David Attenborough's "Life of the Animals that Survived My Visit" to come out on the National Geographic Channel.  As you can see, I'm not actually prepared to act as a human shield to defend any giant spiders from rampaging naturalists but I will be quietly cheering them on from the sidelines.  The sidelines several thousand miles away from the jungles they live (and hopefully will stay) in.

Incidentally, if you google giant, spider, dog all you will get is multiple pages of some joker in Poland who dressed his dog up in a giant spider suit so realistic it frightened his neighbours into hysterics.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tell Us the Penguin News

It occurred to me recently that it has been a long time since penguins were honoured with a mention in my blog.  This is despite a stream of angry, indeed near hysterical, letters from various penguin awareness groups and, for some reason, the Burgess Meredith fanclub.  My reason is that there is only so much you can write about penguins; small, cold, sealion fodder.  That's pretty much it.

Nevertheless in an attempt to seem responsive to the needs of my readership (and because half of the hits on my blog seem to originate in Antarctica) I decided to see if there was anything of interest on the penguin front that I could write about.  With this in mind I googled the term "penguin news".  The result wasn't quite what I was expecting.

Did you know The Penguin News is the name of a newspaper.  Specifically it is the name of the local newspaper of the Falkland Islands.  Why?  I don't know.  I personally would have thought "The Sheep Worriers Gazette" would have been more appropriate but apparently the Penguin News got the nod.

For those who are unaware the Falkland Islands can best be described as "a couple of desolate, remote, sheep riddled islands in a southern ocean that aren't New Zealand".  Despite their isolation the Falklands are by no means cut off from civilisation with such modern conveniences as houses, fire and a local newspaper having recently made their appearance to the general approval of all.  The Penguin News tends to the islanders requirements in the last of these areas.  It also gained some international notoriety recently when it semi inadvertently referred to Argentina's president Christina Kirchner as a bitch.

Diplomatic incidents aside the Penguin News keeps a slightly jaundiced eye on the dealings of the local government and reports on matters of great interest to the community such as who's got a new boat (admittedly somewhat more relevant in an island community than would otherwise be the case).  There does not, however, appear to be sufficient penguin related news to justify the masthead.  It's just another media lie.

The Penguin News comes out once a week on Fridays which means if World War 3 started on a Saturday its entirely likely it would be over before the Falkland Islanders got to hear about it, although they might notice a rise in the number of mutant fish.  In the meantime the Penguin News busies itself with articles on fishing, tourism and unfortunately titled jpegs while waiting for the Argentine economy to get so bad that they launch another invasion.  Hopefully they won't do it on a Saturday.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Miley Cyrus and the Commuter Tide

Miley Cyrus is touring Australia this month generating immense amounts of excitement among the sort of people who are relatively easy to excite.  As you might have guessed I am not included in their number.  Not that I have anything particular against Miley Cyrus.  It's just that if I want to see a semi naked, drug addled twenty one year old dry humping a dwarf there are websites I can go to which won't charge me a hundred dollars for a ticket, and that's even accounting for the fact that my bank account will be cleaned out the by Belorussian cyber criminals who run these sites.

But in honour of Miley's presence on our shores I have produced a blog entry entitled "Miley Cyrus and the Commuter Tide".  Which, I have to admit, sounds rather like the title of a children's detective story.  How would that go I wonder?

"Late one night while twerking on a fire hydrant outside a homeless shelter Miley Cyrus witnesses a robbery.  Hurling herself from the fire hydrant she grapples with one of thieves, wrapping her arms and legs around him and wrestling him to the ground until the police arrive.  Later, after having posted bail on the aggravated sexual assault charges she decides to take up the case..."

OK, it has to be admitted that I'm possibly the most horrifying children's author since Chopper Reid.  Still the above teaser leaves several questions tantalisingly unanswered.  What were the robbers after?  Did Miley have to enjoy the cavity search at the police station quite so much?  And what is the menace of the Commuter Tide?

Well, children's author or no I can at least answer the last of these questions.  The commuter tide is a grim social phenomenon that can be witnessed around 6pm weekdays at most suburban railway stations.  A slow moving but grimly determined mob of commuters flow up the stairs of the railway station on the last leg of their daily migration back to their homes.  Pity the hapless individual standing at the top of those stairs hoping desperately to catch the train that has just pulled in.  He has no chance the poor fool for the tide will not be stopped.  Should our would-be traveller risk the stairs his fate is sealed.

There is no urgency in the commuter tide's attack, no quicksilver flash of tooth or claw, just a relentless, unstoppable engulfing.  For the victim it must be like being drowned in porridge.  Two, three perhaps as many as half a dozen steps down towards the platform can be achieved but the end is never in doubt.  The train will leave without the hopeful passenger of whom no trace can now be discerned.  The commuter tide flows onward, not even caring to rejoice in its victory, a slow upward moving mass purposeful, unstoppable.

Hmm, I think Miley is going to need reinforcements.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yet Another Silly After Action Report

By March 1945 the Second World War was heading towards its inevitable close.  Over on the eastern front (not now very far from the western front) the German army was still fighting ferociously attempting evade the consequences of its actions.  In the west however a good proportion of the German military was focusing more on beginning their self exculpatory memoirs and auditioning for supporting roles in Kelly's Heroes.  Nevertheless the Allies still had to advance and the Germans still made increasingly perfunctory attempts to stop them.  Around the small town of Broich the advancing Americans met some semi organised resistance from a portion of the German army presumably untalented in literature or acting.  This is ASL Scenario A69; Broich Bash which sees me commanding scout elements of the US 4th Cavalry Group attacking the somewhat heterogeneous garrison of Broich.

Jeremy Dibben was my opponent for this game and to hold on to this little piece of the Reich he had seven and a half squads, divided between first and second line, three officers including a formidable 9-1, a heavy machine gun, a light machine gun, a small mortar, a panzerschreck plus a truck and a halftrack mounting a 37mm gun.  My forces were seven first line American squads (poor on morale but awesome in firepower) a bazooka, two medium machine guns and a mortar.  Providing mobility and firepower were a truck, two M3 halftracks and two Chaffee light tanks mounting 75mm guns.  My objective was simple; there were a number of stone buildings within the village, three single storey, one two storey and one three storey.  Each storey of stone building was worth a victory point so there were a total of eight on offer.  I had to capture five.  Jeremy got to set up in the village itself, I had to advance onto the board.  Jeremy got to set up first then I had to select an entry side (north, south or west) but once selected Jeremy moved first thus getting the opportunity to correct any errors in deployment.  The picture above shows the playing area more or less with the target buildings conveniently marked with sinister black acquisition counters.

Jeremy's original set up focused on defending the two large buildings (I needed one of them to win) and defending against an attack from the north although he had his truck, halftrack and an infantry stack covering the crossroads in the extreme southeast.  However I looked at the north approach and decided there was too much open ground, ditto the south so I decided to advance from the west which had some cover and the advantage of being quite close to my destination.  My plan was to send a small force of about two squads to try and seize the woods and wooden building in the northwest, mainly as a defensive position.  Slightly further south I would enter the two tanks and position them where they could conveniently plaster his two strongpoints with smoke and/or white phosphorous.  Four squads, the mortar, the bazooka and the 9-1 leader would try and sneak through trees to capture the target buildings in the southern part of the village while further to the south the truck and the M3s (one carrying an infantry squad) would enter largely as a flanking/diversion force to split his attention.

The rules stated that while Jeremy set up first I had to then position my troops where I wanted them to enter and then Jeremy moved first thus giving him the opportunity to correct any errors in deployment.  He swiftly loaded his southeast squad into his truck and moved it up to a patch of trees just south of the main group of buildings and also pulled some of his north facing troops back to increase the garrison of the large stone building (worth two points) in the middle of the village.  Below you can see the results of his hasty redeployment and my troops lurking offboard waiting for the stage managers call.

My turn started with a mild "success"  I ran an empty M3 past his halftrack.  Jeremy obliged by opening fire and killing it.  I then moved the squad carrying M3 past, covered by the newly created wreck and unloaded my squad next to the southmost of my objective buildings.  What's more the crew of the destroyed M3 survived the wreckage and trotted towards his halftrack.

Unfortunately that was it for good news for a couple of turns.  I advanced as cautiously as I could using trees, buildings and tanks as cover, it didn't matter.  Jeremy's dice were white hot and his strongpoints literally shot my force to pieces.  Seven sniper checks in the first two turns didn't help much either.  At the end of the second turn I had about two and a half squads out of seven still functional.  The only ray of light was one of my morale checks had generated a hero which was good as I was desperately short of infantry.  To make matters worse I had apparently left all my smoke shells at home.  The tanks had the capacity to fire both smoke and WP, they had neither.  The mortar could also fire WP, it didn't have any either.  At the end of turn two I was left with a bunch of shattered squads and absolutely no covering smoke to ease my way forward.

Nevertheless I did not despair dear reader.  Once Jeremy had coaxed me from my foetal position and persuaded me to come out from under the table I was ready to continue.  I had two priceless advantages, firstly my tanks were both intact and could prevent Jeremy from pressing his advantage against my infantry and secondly, American squads rally as easily as they break.  They were down now, they would be back soon.  In the meantime I let metal do the work.  No matter how much stone they hide behind no infantry is going to stand up forever against a pair of 75mm guns firing high explosive.  For the next couple of turns I simply pounded his two strongpoints with my tanks (conveniently just out of useful panzerfaust range) while I focussed on rallying my infantry and improving my position somewhat with the little I had left.

My freshly minted hero joined my southern flankers and were reinforced in time by a bazooka toting halfsquad.  I menaced with my hero, Jeremy took the bait and advanced a squad into close combat.  Neatly ambushing him I withdraw along his retreat path.  When my squad broke him he had nowhere to go and promptly surrendered.  He brought his halftrack up to threate my rear but I was too busy going forward to worry.  I tried to get cute with another intact squad dropping infantry smoke into street to try to advace on the large stone building but I had moved too early and smoke notwithstanding his hmg post broke me and drove me back but nemesis was coming.

Firstly a critical hit from a 75 shattered his hmg position in the rearmost building, then a perfectly normal hit broke his strongpoint in the larger building.  With some freshly rallied troops moving forward I attempted the infantry smoke trick again and with enemy firepower greatly reduce seized a foothold in the larger building.

The picture above shows the scene just prior to this joyous occurrence, his squad has just surrendered and my hero is already moving forward in search of new prey.  His forward strongpoint has been broken (the stack adjacent to my hero are all broken save a 7-0 leader) but his hmg still reigns supreme from the rear, for the moment.

Now it was Jeremy's turn to see a flood of broken units pouring to the rear.  To his credit he didn't flinch but started preparing a new defensive position based around the rearmost building.  He thought he had just enough points to deny me the win, consolidating my hold on the large forward building had left me with just one turn to seize at least one more points worth of buildings.  Even with his straightened forces I could expect any attempt to attack the rear building to meet with a bloody repulse but fortunately I had another option.  If you look closely at the picture above you will see a small stone building in the bottom right hand corner.  Now, remember the vehicle crew who survived the wreck of the halftrack?  Well while all the fighting and dying were going on they had been ambling up a treelined road conveniently covered from all fire to emerge just a few hexes away from that building which at the time was garrisoned only by a broken squad.  The squad fled and my unlikely heroes took the last building I needed to win.  At which point Jeremy conceded.  Now it was him who had to send reduced forces across an open street against American firepower.  The odds were not good and the hour was late.  I heaved a sigh of relief and made a mental note to execute the quartermaster who sent us to capture a village without any smoke.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Another Silly After Action Report

There is an unwritten rule in the behaviour of nation states.  If your country is small, weak and insignificant then you've got to be nice.  You have to impress the world with your civilised behaviour so that university students in stronger nations can bitch about the fact that their country isn't more like you.  This is one of the reasons why Denmark hasn't been invaded too often in the last century, it would be like kicking a puppy.  Conversely if a nation wants to be ruthless, brutal and acquisitive then its got to be efficient.  The worst thing in the world is to have a ruthless, brutal and acquisitive nation that is jaw droppingly incompetent at anything it attempts.  With that as a segue, step forward fascist Italy.

In 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia.  Italian propaganda announced that they were bringing European civilisation to the Africans and there was a lot of truth in that.  Semi medieval African empires rarely develop mustard gas and the Italians dispensed this and similar civilised creations with a lavish hand.  Despite this the invasion wasn't a walkover, at least in the beginning.  The Italians invaded Tigre province and then stopped to reorganise.  With Mussolini sweating buckets and demanding action the Ethiopians decided on a counterattack.  Feeling a little isolated in his position as one of the foremost Italian outposts a Major Criniti called for armoured assistance and received it in the form of several L3 tanks.  Then he received several thousand Ethiopians intent on killing him.  Deciding that running was the better part of valour Criniti went into full retreat to discover a couple of thousand more Ethiopians between him and safety.  This is ASL Scenario SoN2; Criniti's Escape.  Here I shall command a vast horde of poorly equipped Ethiopians attempting to prevent Mark McGilchrist's Italians from fleeing the scene unscathed.

To stop the Italian retreat I have twenty four Ethiopian squads (each of which has about half the firepower of an ordinary one), a trio of light machine guns, four officers, a single horse and a sword wielding Ethiopian tank hunter hero.  This last is to simulate a historical event in the battle where a sword armed Ethiopian soldier leapt onto a moving Italian tank, hammered on the hatch shouting "Open up" in Italian.  The Italian crew did so whereupon he ran them through with his sword.  Facing my large but unruly legions are five L3 tanks, thirteen squads of Eritrean colonial infantry (three of them on horseback), three trucks, three light machine guns, a dismantled medium machine gun and four officers.  This mighty force enters on the west edge of the mapboard and has to make its way through the teeth of Ethiopian resistance to exit off the east board.

In order to win Mark had to exit 32 victory points worth of troops off the eastern edge.  Each tank was worth five, each squad two.  The officers and trucks made up a few more.  Somehow I had to dispatch enough of this force to prevent Mark achieving his goal.  Below is the battlefield, Mark's forces will enter from the top while my forces are lurking modestly behind hillocks and deirs.

As you can see there are hillocks in the centre and on the left and right.  I posted a force on each hillock the theory being that which ever one was hit could hold the attack while the two remaining groups rushed to reinforce.  Unfortunately I cocked it up.  I posted strong forces in the centre and on the left but the force I placed on the right was weaker.  Guess which one Mark chose to attack.  The tank hunter hero was hidden dead centre in the hopes a tank would trundle conveniently by.

Mark brought his forces on on the right and centre and promptly starting attacking my right position in the hopes of pushing through the gap between the centre and right hillocks.  My defenders did little to stop him, in fact the most danger Mark was in was from himself.  Like any dice based game there is always the possibility that a ridiculously lucky or unlucky roll will invalidate the best defence or well planned attack but the sheer volume of dice rolls means that usually this averages out over time.  This was certainly true in our game but instead of a lot of average rolls with the occasional very lucky or unlucky one each of us rolled either ridiculously successfully or with tragic incompetence.  It was like a war game for a manic depressive.  Pretty much every roll of the dice was greeting with hysterical cursing or unbelieving delight depending on which of us had beaten the odds this time.

Mark started as we both went on by breaking the main armament of three of his five tanks and two of his light machine guns in the first turn.  I reciprocated by having one of my few officers accidentally shoot himself while attempting to rally.  Mark left a squad with the medium machine gun on the left to stop my force there from assisting the comrades on the right.  Fearing the automatic fire I kept them silent for two turns.  When I finally decided to risk it Mark promptly broke the gun and then ruined it completely while trying to repair it.  Faced with half a dozen suddenly bold Ethiopian squads Mark pulled his guy back allowing mine through.

The real action was on the right, here despite various weapon issues Mark managed to crush a good number of the defenders under his tank tracks while my poorly armed troops could make little reply.  He captured one of my few machine guns and promptly broke it trying to use it.  Still his tanks bulled forward with infantry following, somewhat to the rear the truck and horse mounted troops moved forward slowly waiting for a path to be cleared to make a dash for the exit.

In the next picture you see the situation at the end of the second turn on the right flank.  Mark has overrun my forward position and is gearing up to sweep the right hillocks of troops.  My centre troops are edging rightwards in an attempt to bring succour to my doomed right garrison.  The purple counters indicate tanks with broken weapons.

In response to this triumphal advance I could offer little resistance (although my sniper did shoot one of his officers dead) but as he started to bring up his infantry my feebly armed troops put up a spattering of fire and with his tanks in range my tank hunter hero broke cover and charged for the nearest.  Sadly he was not to reproduce the heroic efforts of his real life counterpart.  Near the tanks I had taken a very unlikely shot at an infantry squad and officer.  My roll was ridiculously low and inflicted a morale check.  Mark's corresponding role was equally ridiculous and rather than breaking a tubby Italian corporal with less interest in the war than penguins in Antarctica suddenly went berserk.  What's more his Eritrean troops (who could have been forgiven for thinking they had picked poorly in the colonial oppressor stakes) were inspired by his example and went berserk as well.  The nearest of my soldiers was the lone tank hunter now sitting on top of a tank but any hopes of hurting the metal beast vanished when a pack of kill crazy Eritreans lead by an Italian who was positively foaming at the mouth overwhelmed him.  My secret weapon was gone.  On the other hand Mark hadn't really wanted his soldiers that close to my troops either and I would cheerfully shoot at them for much of the next turn.

With broken troops cringing behind the hillock and Mark sweeping the right I was in trouble.  I held the centre solidly (and my left hand troops were now moving up behind the Italians but with my poor firepower and the right nearly cleared Mark could start looking to the exits.  That's when the cavalry charge happened.  With only a single intact Ethiopian squad remaining on the right Mark decided to clean up the broken guys with a cavalry charge.  It worked well, broken Ethiopians died all over the place but he got a little eager and charged right next to the one remaining squad, which promptly killed the horsemen and his best officer.  Now too my meagre firepower which had been unable to harm anything finally managed to immobilise a truck and break another squad.

Five tanks, even if some of them had broken guns made an impressive victory point total and with one of my flanks gone Mark gunned them towards the exit relying on some of his infantry being able to follow.  Now finally I hurt a tank.  I didn't kill it of course but one of my machine guns stunned it and brought it to a shuddering halt.  The next turn I stunned it again, then one of my officers went berserk and promptly charged it.  Sadly the man died after noble attempts to destroy the vehicle with his teeth (apparently he didn't speak Italian).  Meanwhile with his armour having moved off the board suddenly the trivial little low odds shots that were all my troops could muster managed to break about five of his surviving squads in the space of one fire phase.  Now Mark was starting to sweat.  The likelihood of any of them rallying in largely open terrain was low which meant that he absolutely needed to get that final tank moving.  I absolutely needed to stop it.  With its platoon mates gone the tank failed its independent movement die roll and remained where it was for another turn while Ethiopian soldiers gathered in numbers.  I made one attempt to rush it but was sent reeling back in bloody rout.  The next turn I tried again, got a squad in there but couldn't harm the tank in close combat.  On the last turn Mark managed to start the tank and trundled towards the board edge and victory with my machinegun bullets plinking harmlessly off its armour.

So a defeat for the Ethiopians, sadly.  Both Mark and I were the recipient of outrageous luck both good and bad.  Not a turn went by without a shriek of disbelief or hysterical laughter from one or the other.  I guess it all worked out in the end though.  I didn't garrison the right strongly enough and Mark's strategy though greatly hampered by fate (and a rather silly cavalry charge) proved sufficient to get the bulk of his troops through.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Please Die On the Platform

While travelling in the train the other day I was treated to an impromptu karaoke performance from a pair of respectably dressed middle aged Asian ladies who were singing away peering at a shared iPhone for the words.  At least I presume they were words, I didn't actually understand the language.  It is fair to say that myself and a young Indian lady who were the only other occupants of the carriage were slightly bemused.

Karaoke is, of course, a Japanese word.  It is formed from the two core words "kara" meaning "personal development" or "self creation" and "oke" meaning "total prat".  It is generally undertaken in dark bars where there is an element of deniability and the presence of alcohol can at least explain if not quite excuse the behaviour.  Never before have I seen karaoke proudly flaunting itself in the unforgiving light of day.  Although if it was going to happen anywhere a train is probably the most likely place since most of them double as a combined commuter service and mobile mental institution.

I didn't really mind the singing to be honest.  Unlike most people who sing on trains the two ladies were sober and didn't hit the passengers up for money afterwards.  By comparison with most interactions one has with fellow passengers on trains at least this one didn't leave me feeling scared, outraged, irritated or angry.  It was certainly a cut above the latest crop of public announcements CityRail broadcasts to its unsuspecting passengers. 

Firstly we are solemnly informed that police are currently targeting criminal and antisocial behaviour.  That's good to know I suppose but I rather thought that was what the police were supposed to be doing all the time.  If they're doing anything else can we get them to stop?  Once we'd assimilated the concept of police roaming amongst us unaccountably doing their job we got the second message.  In tones designed to indicate a certain level of simulated concern we were asked not to remain on board if we were feeling ill.  Very graciously they didn't expect the diseased amongst us to hurl ourselves from a moving train but they would be terribly chuffed if we got off at the next station where "station staff will be able to assist us".

How the station staff will be able to assist us was left unsaid but there was the distinct impression that people whose normal role was to sell tickets and hold up flags had also had paramedic (or, at least, mortician) training.  The purpose behind this, we were informed, was to avoid delays.  Which makes sense, if you drop dead on a platform people can just step over you whereas if you're inconsiderate enough to do it on a train somebody actually has to come and drag you off.  While CityRail's newfound interest in avoiding delays is to be commended it is a little sad that their initial step towards this goal results in our ill and lame being herded onto railway platforms to die.  Although it is nice to know that station staff can assist them in this goal.

If I started feeling sick on a train I (selfish bastard that I am) would probably try and remain on the train until I reached my destination in the hopes that a speedy transfer to somewhere more congenial might assist in my recovery.  I can't imagine that my journey towards wellness would be speeded by writhing on a strange railway platform while somebody with a flag tucked under their arm attempted to perform CPR on my feet.  At least on the train I would have the dulcet sounds of Asian ladies doing karaoke to ease my suffering.  I'll bet they don't provide that when you're on the station.