People have no dignity.

Jun 25, 2005 | | 0 comments |

This coming monday is big trash day. All sorts of stuff is out at the kerb waiting to be taken away. Yet it seems there's a lot of people now who just have no dignity left, and take great pleasure in digging through other people's trash and taking stuff away.
For example : our old ladder with a missing rung and another which was broken - someone took that and will no doubt hurt themselves when they fall off it. That's why it was there, because it was trash.
Then there's the box that had our BBQ in it. I emptied out my garage wastebasket into there which means it is full of broken glass, knife blades, a mower blade, nails, screws, rusty shards of metal, wood etc, and the whole lot is covered in a carcinogenic, highly toxic weed killer (from a leaking bottle). I sealed the box up and put it at the kerb, and sure enough, some white trash came along and popped the box open and started digging through it. I guess they'll be in the emergency room tonight then with cuts filled with toxic weed killer.
It's sad to see how many people have so little dignity that they'll do this.

Battlefield 2 and NVidia Geforce4

Jun 23, 2005 | | 0 comments |

This is unbelievable. EA have deliberately excluded everyone with NVidia Geforce4 graphics cards from being able to play their new game "Battlefield 2". They claim that because it used pixel shader 1.3 and not 1.4, they wouldn't make it compatible.
This is an inexcusable oversight from EA. What the hell do they think they're playing at? Cutting off their nose to spite their face is one guess. If you look at the survey Valve did on gamers and their cards, this chart shows the number of people currently gaming on cards EA have chosen not to support.

Do the maths. That's 729,595 gamers EA have deliberately excluded. At $60 a pop, EA have pissed away $4.3M in potential sales with this move.

This is - I - its - I - calm down, go to your happy - NO - WHAT THE FUCK, EA??????? Are you insane? You want us to shell out $60 for a game, then upgrade our cards for another $300? That is the most retarded marketing idea I've ever heard of. There is nothing wrong with the Geforce4 cards, of course. They're only a single step behind the current top-end gaming cards. But EA want everyone to upgrade simply for the "priveledge" of playing Battlefield 2.
My vote : fuck 'em. Pirate the game as much as you can. Sell it, give it away, distribute it on the torrents. EA deserve to crash and burn for this move.

Bang goes the right to own your own house.

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In another blow to American's rights and freedoms, the U.S Supreme Court today issued a ruling that all but destroys private property rights in this country. The right of eminent domain was overturned.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S Constitution specifically restricts the government's right of eminent domain. In fact (flicking through the history books) the right of eminent domain was assumed as a basic part of English Common Law. The Fifth Amendment merely said that government could not exercise this right for a public use without paying for it. The exact working is "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." As was supposed to be the case with the Bill Of Rights, it protected the private citizen's right to own property. Well that's all changed.

For hundreds of years the term "public use" was interpreted to mean use for something like a school, library, police or fire station, power transmission lines, roads, bridges or some other facility owned and operated by government for the benefit of the general population. As politicians became more and more impressed with their own power they started to expand this definition of public use.

The new theory is that increasing the property taxes paid on a parcel of property is a public use. Increasing the number of people who can be employed by a business located on a particular piece of property can also be a public use. This would mean that government would be free to seize private property if it can be handed to a developer who will redevelop the property so as to increase the property taxes paid or the number of people employed. For example, tearing down your one house with a nice garden, and putting a four-plex in to get four times as much tax.
As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in her dissent, this decision renders virtually all private property vulnerable to government confiscation.

Bottom line: If you own property, and the government wants that property, you're screwed. You now own your private property only at the pleasure of government; and that means that you own your property, be it your home, your business or a piece of investment real estate only at the pleasure of the local controlling politicians.

Considering this ruling, how likely are you to invest in real estate now? If you saw a tract of land that was placed squarely in the path of growth, would you buy that property in hopes that you could later sell it for a substantial profit? I wouldn't. Not now. Because the developer wanting that property would simply tell me that if I didn't accept his ludicrously low offer price, he would simply go to the local government and start the eminent domain process. Correspondingly, this ruling also means that every piece of raw land out there has decreased in value. The threat of eminent domain for private economic development has severely damaged in most cases, and destroyed in many others, the American dream of investing in real estate.

Well done boys. We're edging ever closer to being able to just tear up the Bill of Rights and use it for toilet paper, because under B*sh and his Nazi-like government, rights are being stripped away faster than the American economy is going down the toilet. People seem to have forgotten that it's the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Don'ts. The truly scary thing is that nobody seems to have noticed.

Of course this is nothing like what happened in Germany in the 1930's. Nothing at all......

Earth tremor.

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Wow! The whole building just shook! Earth tremor!

Great headline :-)

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From Fark today : In a stunning display of common sense by a US company, Krispy Kreme fires 6 top executives instead of 6000 workers.

We could all learn a thing or two from that move :-)

More freedom stripped away.

Jun 22, 2005 | | 0 comments |

And so B*sh and the Republicans strip away yet more of the American public's rights and freedoms.
A new ammendment to the constitution looks like its going to pass:
The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
ie. if you're caught expressing anger by burning the American Flag, it's now a prosecutable and/or jailable offence.
Nice.
Seriously. With the economy on its knees, kids dying by the bucketload every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, looming disaster in social security and the lowest presidential approval rating since Nixon, is it really necessary to waste everyone's time ammending the constitution to ban desecration of the flag? To the word of the law, that means its now illegal to sell underwear or towels, or just about any other product with the American flag on it.

B*sh is getting closer and closer to being able to ban free speech and free thinking.

Orwell was right, but he was 20 years early.

Captain Scarlet

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In an idle moment, I searched for Captain Scarlet on the torrents, and the first ten episodes showed up. Couldn't find 11-13 though, but ten is better than none, which is what we'll get here in America (because nobody will show it).

This is the whole problem with the MPAA. Lets use Doctor Who, or Captain Scarlet as the example. They're both TV series made in the UK and shown on English TV. No networks over here picked up either series so they will never air on TV in America. In England, both series came out on DVD.
So I have two options to watch these shows. I either buy the DVDs, which of course are region-encoded and NTSC. This means I need a region-hacked multistandard DVD player to watch them, which in the eyes of the MPAA is illegal.
So the second option is that I download them from the torrents instead, which in the eyes of the MPAA is illegal.

It leaves viewers like me with no choice. I can't get to see the show legally because there is no method available. So I have to download it. There's no other option. So how can the MPAA justify making that be illegal? Do they suggest that we simply don't watch stuff that we want to? Doesn't that rather fly in the face of the American concept of freedom?

Motorcycle brakes

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I read an interesting stat in my new RiDE magazine last night. Apparently 19% of all motorcyclists never use the front brake, and 21% never use the rear. That means only 60% of people riding motorbikes know how to brake properly, which is a pretty grim idea.

The BBC's view of the FIA

Jun 21, 2005 | | 0 comments |

The BBC commentary on this is great:
Formula One has made itself look stupid on a number of occasions in recent years - but the fiasco that was the 2005 United States Grand Prix took it to a new low.

Veteran British driver David Coulthard - long a beacon of sense in a sport flooded with people with an over-inflated sense of their own importance - cut to the heart of the issue.

"I have no words to describe how damaging this is for F1. I am sick in the stomach to be part of this," the Scot told BBC Radio Five Live after seven of the 10 teams pulled out of the race because Michelin could not guarantee the safety of its tyres.

"That mature adults were not able to put on a show for everybody is very sad."

It is maturity - or the lack of it - where F1's problem lies, and not just in this one case.

Too many of the sport's key decision-makers cannot see the bigger picture because they are blinkered by their attachment to the sport's increasingly labyrinthine rules or blinded by petty political rivalries.

Of course, everyone involved had a valid point of view at Indianapolis on Sunday.


A fan at Indianapolis blames FIA president Max Mosley's rules for the farce at the US Grand Prix
More US GP photos
Ferrari and their tyre supplier Bridgestone were, for example, quite right to ask why they should be penalised for Michelin's error - a mistake that had opened the door to their first win in an unusually poor season for the Italian team.

Any number of solutions were possible, even if all of them had their inherent problems.

But what was needed was someone who could cut through the fog of self-interest and find a solution to staging a race.

And it is worrying for the entire future of the sport - let alone its future in America - that no-one could do that on Sunday.

In the past, that man would have been F1 impresario Bernie Ecclestone.

But perhaps his decision to leap into bed with Ferrari in the political row that threatens to tear the sport apart has terminally harmed his position as F1's deal-maker extraordinaire.

It is difficult not to view the problems at Indianapolis as tied up in that row.

Seven teams and five of the sport's car manufacturers have threatened to set up a rival championship in 2008 because they want a greater say in F1's future and a bigger cut of its finances.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and race director Charlie Whiting discuss the looming catastrophe at the US Grand Prix
Ecclestone (left) and other officials failed to solve F1's problems on Sunday
Crucially, they have also lost faith in the impartiality of FIA president Max Mosley, a view that will not have been erased by his organisation's intransigent response to Sunday's crisis.

In that sense, the US Grand Prix offered a haunting view of F1's future.

If no compromise is reached, then it will not have been the last Grand Prix race involving Ferrari and a bunch of also-rans.

For their own sake as much as that of the sport's fans, F1's bosses need to put aside their differences and bang their heads together until they come up with a solution.

If they fail, a sport steeped in more than a century's worth of history could well be consigned to it.

The FIA again

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I just can't believe this. The FIA have had the gall to now charge all 7 teams who pulled out of the American Grand Prix!
The charges given are that, according to the FIA, each team:
• failed to ensure that they had a supply of suitable tyres for the race
• wrongfully refused to allow their cars to start the race
• wrongfully refused to allow their cars to race, subject to a speed restriction in one corner which was safe for such tyres as they had available
• combined with other teams to make a demonstration damaging to the image of Formula One by pulling into the pits immediately before the start of the race
• failed to notify the stewards of their intention not to race, in breach of Article 131 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

This is just sheer lunacy. Why can't the FIA see that it is to blame for this. There's no gray area hear. No if's and's or but's. The FIA are 100%, totally to blame for this farce and now they're going to charge 7 teams because they pulled out for the safety of their drivers.
This is so damaging to F1 it's painful to watch :-(

A black day for Formula 1

Jun 19, 2005 | | 0 comments |

I think today will likely be the last time F1 comes to America. The FIA asserted their freakish rules to the max today which resulted in an Indy GP with only 6 cars. The reason? Michelin discovered a problem with their tyres after friday practice and refused to certify the tyres for race distance. One Michelin exploded on Ralf Schumacher's car in qualifying and backed him into the wall - again - at 200mph, and Michelin couldn't find a fault. Michelin said they'd allow the tyres to race if a chicane was put into turn 13 to slow the cars down so their tyres didn't get the massive vertical loading that turn puts on them. Max Mosely, Charlie Whiting and the FIA said "no way - if you do we'll pull the sanction and this won't be an official race." As a result, all the Michelin teams garaged their cars after the warmup lap leaving only Ferrari, Minardi and Jordan to run on their Bridgestones.
This is yet another political farce brought about by the FIA's tyre rule change this year. If they hadn't forced the manufacturers to only be allowed one tyre all weekend, then the manufacturers wouldn't have had to change their fabricating techniques - the reason the Michelins all failed on turn 13.
The FIA helpfully screwed over all the Michelin teams even further by telling them Michelin should have supplied them with alternate tyres for just this eventuality. And that if they hadn't, then Michelin was to blame. Pouring more salt into the open wound, the FIA then had the gall to tell the teams that they could either use their existing tyres and run more slowly through turn 13, or make continous tyre changes all through the race and get penalised for that because then they'd be breaking this stupid new tyre rule.
As if this all wasn't bad enough, the typically crass and low-brow American public started throwing beer cans and bottles on to the track to show their contempt, without a thought for the six drivers out racing.
The FIA has overstepped its mark one too many times. I wonder if the WGPC might actually gain ground because of this, and next year we won't be watching the FIA Formula 1 races, but instead be watching World Grand Prix Championship instead.

Brazil and Ethanol

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Interesting. About 40 percent of all the fuel that Brazilians pump into their vehicles is ethanol now, compared with about 3 percent here in the US. The change wasn't easy or cheap.
It's even more interesting that in 1973, Brazil was a dictatorship and the government at the time forced people on to the road to independence from foreign oil. Whilst they didn't like it at the time, now Brazil is reaping the return on its investment in energy security while the US writes checks for $50-a-barrel foreign oil.
Brazil has shown it can be done, but it takes commitment and leadership.

So it won't be happening here for at least another 3 and a half years then.

After the sunset with Steve Zissou

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The summer drought being what it is on TV, we rented a couple of movies last night. "After the sunset" was an excellent diamond-heist yarn. "The Life Aquatic (with Steve Zissou)" not so much. In fact not at all. It had the potential to be a fun film but suffered from the problem of having all the funny bits shown in the trailer. The trailer was 90 seconds, the film was 2 hours. The padding between the 90 seconds of funny stuff and the 2 hours of film was - what's the word I'm looking for? Lousy.
Which is a shame, because Bill Murray can do so much better than this.

On another note, the Torrent Gods have smiled upon us this morning - the last episode of Doctor Who is on the torrents. I'd feared that with the demise of bfenet that we'd end up 2/3 of the way through the series and then lose our source. But it seems we're going to be just fine.