Editors can influence models’ body shape

Denise Marcos writes: Re. “Emaciated is the new black: Fashion Week models are too thin” (yesterday). Fashion designers are beholden to magazine editors to showcase their collections on the glossy page. If editors sincerely believe models are too thin they should decree larger sample sizes mandatory for fashion shoots. Currently they are disingenuously blaming designers for supplying ridiculously small ones. Making a commercially prudent decision, a publicity-seeking fashionista would be forced to provide bigger samples. Powerful editors are positioned to set the bar, not vice versa. Convince me otherwise.

Incidentally, where are the wafer-thin males?

Spending per student down under new policy

Ben Aveling writes: Re. “Get Fact: has Gillard increased uni funding by 50%?” (yesterday). You need another option on your “fib-o-matic”, namely “true, but misleading”. Total spending may indeed be up, but spending per student is down. And for the students, that is what matters. But even that overstates it, because the increase in the number of students means that the existing infrastructure (classrooms, libraries, staff, computer systems …) needs to support more students — maintaining standards while growing student numbers requires spending more per student than would be the case were student numbers flat, because building new infrastructure costs more than simply maintaining existing infrastructure.

High-speed rail on the right track

David Thackrah writes: Re. “High-speed rail just doesn’t add up — time to move on” (Friday). If you examine railway passenger travel carefully and analyse the time it takes to navigate to the airport, do check-in, luggage and security, then wait the proverbial 45 minutes for actual departure, and add that back on at your destination, rail travel has greater prospects providing delivery to city centres. Passenger train speeds are around 90 to 115kph, and freight can reach 135 kph. The issue now is on single tracks, where huge juggling of almost two-kilometre-long freighters “muscle out”  apparently “delicate” passenger services. The safety protocols seem to have a hold on passenger trains operating at the higher track speed.

Yes, it would be a good investment by say, the superannuation investors, to provision better “existing” railway track in the interim while the high-speed railway new track is developed. Most of the land is already set out, and the railway industry awaits a green signal to bring about a major change in the Australian economy. The initial development will be the much-touted “construction phase” and then the “operational phase”(this is where the entrepreneurs appear) followed by the social change, which will herald more people living in regional areas. Even now it would be possible to have a 90-minute service run between central Sydney and Canberra with a train on the hour every hour, both ways. See Velocity trains leaving Southern Cross in Melbourne for Bendigo and Ballarat on to Ararat as examples. However, track re-planning on existing infrastructure would need to be done at a cost stretched over the next decade.

My grandmother told me in 1950 that “you should never pull up the railways”; her remarks remain current.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey