Thursday, 3 April 2014

Impressive. Most Impressive.

I have to say it, even if it comes at the cost of me having to chew on my own hat: my recent visit to Israel has left me with a fairly good impression of the country. No, I am still not a general member of the country's fan club and I'm also a bit shocked by congestion and traffic conditions in the Tel Aviv area. However, I still need to give credit where credit is due.

I'll start with my hat. Following last year's visit, I posted my impressions of overly nationalistic Independence Day celebrations. This time around I arrived during another holiday, Purim (the sort of equivalent of Halloween), and I could not avoid noting the celebrations.
I could not avoid noting them because the main street right under my parents' house was closed off in order to accommodate for various holiday activities. The whole area was full of celebrating kids and parents celebrating in a very similar way to Melbourne's recent Moomba. It was not exactly my cup of tea, being that it was quite congested with people and noise, but it was definitely nice.
More importantly, it was a kind of thing that never took place while I was living in Israel. Perhaps, then, the Independence Day celebrations I noted last year were notable not necessarily because of nationalism, but rather because Israel has finally learnt how to celebrate, big time? I'm willing to give the country the benefit of doubt and eat my hat.

But wait, there were other things to celebrate about Israel.
First things first. Upon landing, I took the train from the airport. That train took me directly from the terminal's exit to a station that's about 15 minute walk from my parents house. The train itself was nice, roomy, affordable, and seemed to be well operated. Now, I was told by friends that I got the best impression possible: as the luck of the draw had it, I had the pleasure of travelling on the newest train without a single interruption. But still: impressive.
More importantly, that whole train line was something that did not exist at the time I left Israel. That is to say, Israel had managed to erect this train line from virtually nothing during the past decade, and do a fairly good job at it.
Now let us look at Melbourne in comparison. When was the last time a new train line was added here? Not a new station, but a new train line? Oh, I hear you, sometimes during the fifties (that's 60 years ago, in case you're mathematically challenged). And it's not like there is no need for extra lines; the whole Doncaster area is uncovered.
Need I mention the elephant in the room, Melbourne's lack of train service to its international airport?
If there is one thing you can say about Australia, it's that it's UnAustralian to invest in infrastructure.
Oh, unless, that is, one is investing in an $8B (that's billions for you) road that no one really needs and the consensus is it will provide poor value for money. Roads we can do, because car travel makes Tony Abbott feel like a man (and if you're wondering where that masculine association comes from, feel free to browse Tony's own book to check his opinions on matters of transport). 

It's not just trains and celebrations that got me impressed. It's technology, too.
During this visit of mine to Israel, I got to travel a lot around the suburbs of Tel Aviv. During these travels I could not avoid noting the large number of high tech companies operating in the area. I could not avoid noting them because of the numerous huge towers devoted to high tech operations, so huge and so numerous and so recognisable from great distances through the familiar brand names (Intel, anyone?). Each of those buildings, on its own, would probably encompass the whole of what is the Melbourne IT industry; yet the Tel Aviv area alone contains them by the dozen, if not more. And I could only note the huge towers; I suspect there are plenty more high tech operations taking place in smaller buildings, too... There is nothing but jealousy that I can feel here.
Yet there is more to be jealous about. Ads everywhere were telling me, and everyone else, that I could get a 100MB Internet connection at very affordable prices. Basically, just "call and we will get you connected". All I could think of was how jealous I am of this scenario.
Here in Australia we have ourselves a popular Liberal government that is hell bent on killing the NBN project. Now they are actually talking about using existing coax cable deployments to offer high speed Internet in areas where such cables are deployed (most of suburban Australia), even though this technology is light years away from the realms of the fiber optics. In other words, us Australians are generally stuck with ADSL and ADSL speeds for years and decades to come, while in Israel people can just call in and get themselves connected to true NBN speed Internet for less than the cost we have been paying for ADSL. And they can do so today.
Yes, I am jealous. But in this particular case, I am also disgusted by how the general ignorance of the people of Australia in matters of technology is getting this nation screwed by a bunch of shortsighted gang of the greedy. If only we opened our eyes to learn from the world around us!

Image copyrights: Bezeq, from its 100MB Internet connection ad (currently here)

1 comment:

wile.e.coyote said...

I assume that finally someone was able to break into your password list and hijack this blog.
It is clear you didn't write it.
Unless it is your way to fix your family issues by writing positive feedback on the old country.