I’ve mentioned in the past that Super Mario World is one of my all-time favourite games and it is easily my favourite Super Mario game. It woul be remiss of me to fail to mention its beautiful sequel, Yoshi’s Island.

Story wise, it’s the tale of how various Yoshis take baby Mario through a perilious world to re-unite him with baby Luigi. The various multi-coloured Yoshis have to traverse various worlds, facing off against the dasterdly Koopa wizard Kamek, who pops up from time to time to turn ordinary enemies into huge bosses.

The mechanics of Yoshi’s Island are very different from the first Super Mario World, which is hardly surprising as you’re no longer controlling Mario but instead an enemy-eating, egg-throwing dinosaur. The ability to turn almost any bad guy into a weapon to then pelt at other bad guys is ingenious, giving the player plenty of scope for tackling the various obstacles that show up. However you have to beware, for whilst there is no time limit to complete a level, should you be hit by an enemy or trap, baby Mario will float away from you (did I mention you’re carrying Mario on Yoshi’s back?), and if you don’t retrieve him quickly enough, Kamek will swoop in and you lose a life. Therefore, you can’t be too reckless.

I can only lavish praise upon the gorgeous (certainly for the time) graphics. Yoshi’s Island was released a few years after Super Mario World, so benefited from the experience of the designers, who devised amazing levels with terrific attention to detail and depth. Moreover, the creativity of the levels was equally impressive, with the bosses being delights to face and the challenges faced at various points being devious and clever.

I don’t think this game gets the recognition it deserves. It’s easily one of the best titles to ever come out on the SNES, and a rewarding experience for any Nintendo fan. 9/10.

Yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was about fighting back, in more ways than one. For Lewis Hamilton, it was about making the most of a pit-lane start after a crash in qualifying. For Daniel Ricciardo, it was about overcoming a poor start and a grid penalty, and for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, it was about reminding everyone that they are still competitive.

Vettel had lined up second on the grid, behind the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen behind them. Would Bottas (who took the third pole of his career) be able to convert his excellent qualifying performance into victory? Well, that opportunity took a blow into the first corner, with Vettel getting a better start and diving down the inside of turn 1 to take the lead. Behind the leaders, a little bit of chaos erupted.

First, Ricciardo took a spin when tagged by the errant McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, who had been hit by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Ricciardo was able to keep going but both Magnussen and Vandoorne were out. Further up the road, the second Haas of Romain Grosjean took out the Force India of Esteban Ocon; a spot of clumsy driving from Grosjean saw him bump into the side of Ocon and give his fellow Frenchman not one but two punctures. Grosjean would earn a 10-second penalty and two penalty points for the incident.

The first incident triggered an early safety car spell, allowing Hamilton to close up on the pack and giving Ricciardo a chance to pit and get his car checked for damage. Once the race resumed, both men would start to charge up the order. Hamilton was aided by a new engine, allowing him to turn up the power and really push. Ricciardo, with a somewhat temperamental Renault engine, had to be more careful, but this didn’t stop him from pulling off a few trademark late braking moves into turn 1.

Up front, Vettel eked out a small gap over Bottas, who in turn was keeping ahead of Raikkonen. Behind them was Verstappen, who lacked the power to threaten for a podium, whilst further back, Felipe Massa, enjoying his final home grand prix, was frustrating Fernando Alonso. With superior Mercedes power, the Williams was keeping the McLaren at bay, despite struggling with the super-soft tyres as the pit stop window approached. With that window approaching, Bottas began to slowly reel Vettel back in, then Mercedes pulled the trigger on the stops, swapping the super-softs for the softs and sending Bottas out, hoping to make the undercut work. It nearly did, with Vettel only just coming out ahead after his own stop, but it wasn’t quite enough. On the soft tyre the Ferrari looked stronger, and Vettel began to pull away again.

For Hamilton and Ricciardo, their strategy was inverted – long stints on the soft tyre with the faster super-soft tyre coming later. This enabled Hamilton to briefly lead the race, then end up in fourth, with the chance to chase down Raikkonen for a podium. Ricciardo ended up fifth but with a faster Verstappen on his tail, and it wasn’t long before Ricciardo let his teammate through. Massa was continuing to hold up Alonso, with Sergio Perez in the Force India closing in to join in the fun. The McLaren worked well through the winding corners of the middle sector but couldn’t live with the Mercedes-powered Williams elsewhere, allowing Massa to just about stay ahead, even with Alonso picking up DRS. Whereas last season Massa’s ‘final’ Brazilian race saw him crash out, this time he would hold on to pick up seventh place and do himself proud. Alonso had to settle for eighth, fending off Perez. Nico Hulkenberg picked up tenth and the final point for Renault, albeit a lap behind the rest.

Hamilton, despite a late charge, wasn’t quite able to challenge Raikkonen for third, whilst Bottas wasn’t able to threaten Vettel for the win. The result was a much-needed tonic for Ferrari, after a dismal spell, especially in Asia, completely ended their title hopes. For Vettel too, the win was much needed, his fifth of the season and a reminder to everyone of his quality. He will now want to build upon that going into F1’s final race in Abu Dhabi.

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The drivers’ championship and constructors’ championship are both settled, but there is still plenty to fight for as Formula arrives at its penultimate destination, Interlagos in Brazil.

Firstly, there’s pride. Ferrari imploded once they arrived in Asia, but they will want to lay down markers in the final two rounds of the season. Red Bull will also want to maintain their recent strong form. Mercedes will want to remind everyone why they are top dogs. For drivers Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, the two will want to emphasise their skills and motivation, despite their title battle being resolved.

For other teams, there is still a lot to play for. The top four are settled – Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Force India have locked in those places – further back, the battle for fifth, and the important prize money it represents, is still very much on. Williams currently occupy that spot on 76 points, putting them comfortably clear of Toro Rosso, who are on 53 points. However, one good race for Toro Rosso could see that gap reduced ahead of the final race, whilst Renault (48 points) and Haas (47 points) won’t have given up the fight either. They are all vying for position, so we could see some juicy scraps before the season concludes.

Brazil will offer a passionate test. The atmosphere is usually incredible, the weather is not consistent and the track combines some raw power with dramatic curves and turns that can out-fox even the most experienced racers. Diving downhill into the Senna Ss and snapping out onto Reta Oposta is one of the most exciting portions of any circuit anywhere in the world, with turn 4 being a surprisingly tight affair – it is all too easy to run wide here. The sequence from 6-12 is going to suit the Red Bulls, with a combo of slow and medium speed corners that just keep on coming. It’s a good track that has seen some high drama (including the controversial title decider in 2012, with Vettel winning his third title that year), and the two nerve-wracking deciders in 2007 and 2008.

Finally, this will be Felipe Massa’s final Brazilian Grand Prix. It was meant to be last year, and Massa actually had quite the emotional send off then, but he stayed on an extra year at the request of Williams. This time though, looks set to actually be his final Brazilian race. It would be fitting if he could get on the podium, though it seems unlikely.

I’ve not done one of these for a while. I figure it’s time to see how the ol’ site is doing – what’s popular, what’s not – let’s take a look!

So far in 2017, there have been 2,187 visitors to my site – ignoring the home page, the most visited page is Sexism in Thailand. Quite why this is my most visited page/post I have no idea, but it has 212 views. In second place is Star Trek vs Star Wars on 117 views, and a newcomer in third place is Meerkat Discussion on 81 views, which is aiming to advertise my forums (please join!).

The UK has contributed the most visits, accounting for 1,524 views, with the USA a close second on 1,465. In third place but waaaaaaaaay back on 328 is The Philippines. The number one unique referrer to the site is the WordPress.com Reader with 288 referals and Twitter is second, on 270, with Facebook third on 130.

So there you have it, a brief and boring rundown!

Following on from conversations mentioned here and here, comes a slightly more revealing look at the animosity that’s on display toward not only Star Trek Discovery, but also its fans. The tweet above is a classic example of the ‘Poisoning of the Well’ fallacy.

What is the Poisoning of the Well fallacy? It’s where you attempt to make large swathes of a group or party appear bad, or pre-emptively try to deter people from taking someone seriously (don’t look at what they have to say, they’re <insert various remarks here>, you can’t trust them!). In this instance, I refer in particular to the further divisive stance of the #TrueTrek hash tag, as well as the leading statement regarding Discovery’s status as a reboot (it isn’t, and you can see this statement for the reality on the subject, as well as this one), and finally, the use of the term ‘Tardifan’, which is related to another term, ‘Talifan’. Patience – all will be explained!

Some background. The tweeter ‘ST-v-SW.Net’ is well known in ‘versus’ circles and has developed two sites, st-v-sw.net and canonwars.com. It’s worth pointing out that the main sites in both instances don’t appear to have been updated for some time, with their creator moving on to discuss things on Starfleet Jedi. I have sparred with him on a few occasions, though by far and away his biggest opponent was Michael Wong, the author of Stardestroyer.net. The pair had a pretty long-winded debate on the subject of what is considered canon in Star Wars (alongside a fascinating argument regarding the Death Star’s manner of planetary destruction), and there were plenty of accusations and attempts of poisoning the well back then. It is, it would seem, the modus operandi of this guy.

The ‘Talifan’ reference is a link between overzealous fans of a franchise and the Taliban. With an interesting degree of irony, given the behaviour on display, Starfleet Jedi’s Wiki page has this to say:

Talifan are fans who insists upon having the only right approach to the object of his fandom. Often followed by ferocious outrage when the authors or creators let others contribute in the further development of the fictional universe, particularly when those others write something which goes completely against the talifan’s view of how powerful the magic, or technology of said franchise should be. The term itself came into being as a contraction of “taliban fan”, though the exact origins of the term are sketchy, and various persons have been credited with the term’s creation. It was used initially by professional writers and others in the industry, but it has since found it’s way into general useage in various fandoms.

The Dark Moose on StarWars.com Blogs defines the distinctive characteristics of talifan further:

  • Harassing demeanor – they seek out the author or artist to attack them verbally on the same point over and over and over. Even if its a point they had nothing to do with in creating. Even if its a point they can do nothing about to change. Harrassment flows quickly into a kind of “e-stalking” in that wherever that artist/author may go on the Internet, they go, too. Even more ominously, they may send letters or make phone calls.
  • Personal attacks – A Talifan doesn’t criticize a book, or a game, or a poster or a model or collector’s item. A Talifan attacks people. Personally. Often times, profanely. Instead of making a suggestion or offering a point for debate, they purposefully attempt to make the author or artist feel besieged. They will attack their professional abilities. They will attack their level of competence. They will attack gender, race, creed, any detail they can glean, they will attack the person simply for being what they are. These are not valid fan opinions, these are malicious, abusive, antagonistic and in many cases some would consider libelous affronts.
  • Intense negativity – Talifans seek out negativity. They hunt it with myopic intent. They’ll draw you into an argument, sometimes over something innocuous, even something you don’t really care about. What they want is to abuse, malign, extort, insult..and oddly, be abused, maligned, extorted and insulted in return. It’s something akin to sadomasochism.

This approach is of course exactly what ST-v-SW.net does on Twitter. Whilst he has not, to my knowledge, taken this to the extreme of death threats (which, sadly, some Star Wars fans are alleged to have done regarding certain pieces of information about that franchise, and some Star Trek fans have done as well), much of the very behaviour he critiques and accuses others of, is attributable to him. He has then taken the hard-line approach of labelling anyone who disagrees with him as a ‘Talifan’ or ‘Tardifan’, seeking to tar by association, or ‘poison the well’ to discredit his opponents.

But don’t simply take my word for it regarding his ‘only my way is the right way’ attitude. The previous discussions I had with him on Twitter highlighted that point quite nicely, along with the continued use of the divisive and misleading #TrueTrek hash tag. His tweet above immediately implies anyone who disagrees with him on Discovery being a reboot is A: wrong and B: a fanatic for disagreeing. There is of course, a lot more…

When it comes to attacking an author/artist, or in this case professionals dealing with the subject of consistency/continuity as part of their daily jobs, ST-v-SW.net made it clear he had no regard (and indeed displayed contempt) for those who dared to present facts that contradicted his opinions. If you look here, you will see the ‘courtesy’ he displayed Star Trek writers and his disdain for those who worked for Lucasfilm can be seen here. He even tried to tell Mike Sussman, the author of Enterprise episode ‘The Augments’, that he had a better understanding of the episode and some of its consequences, than Sussman did! I reproduce the exchange below, with ST-v-SW’s comments in pink and Sussman’s in blue:

Hmmm, guess I’m not seeing where I “goofed”. I have to say I take issue with the new “background” info under the new Klach D’kel Brakt entry. You added:

When writing ENT: “The Augments”, episode writer Mike Sussman based Arik Soong’s “Briar Patch” on cut descriptions of the Briar Patch from an early script of Star Trek: Insurrection. However, the details of the two are quite distinct in the finished works.

You may feel they’re quite distinct, I happen to disagree. Strongly. Personally, I think the original Briar Patch entry was more accurate (although it did contain the inaccurate statement that the cloud was in Klingon space in the 22nd Century).

I mean no disrespect, but I believe you made a lot of specious points in your various arguments. You wrote:

The Insurrection Briar Patch is a system-size phenomenon”

Gotta say I disagree. There is no on-screen evidence that the Briar Patch (in Insurrection or “The Augments”) is restricted to one star system. Piller apparently intended it to be larger in his final draft script, and I remained consistent with that in my script. I don’t believe that the fact you can “see stars” through the cloud in the final film means the Patch must be no larger than one solar system.You further state:

It seems improbable that an area controlled by the Klingons for over a century, fought for in glorious battle by Kor himself, would end up in Federation hands a century later.”

The Briar Patch was never a part of Klingon space in “The Augments” — it was specifically stated to be on the far side of their territory. Soong’s line at the beginning of scene 28:

“Once we’re safely through Klingon space, we’ll set a course for these coordinates. The Klingons call it Klach D’kel Brakt… I call it the Briar Patch.”

I made this clear in dialogue to deliberately avoid any conflicts — actually, the Patch could’ve been very far beyond Klingon space. To me, there’s no conflict with the Federation controlling the region two hundred years later as it was never the Klingons’ to begin with. Moreover, Kor never said his battle was for control of Klach D’kel Brakt, he simply indicated the battle was fought there. Was the Battle of the Bassen Rift in Nemesis fought for control of that rift? Of course not.

• I agree it might seem “unlikely” for the Briar Patch to have been named by a criminal like Soong. For all we know, his name stuck and its origin was lost over the centuries. And maybe it wasn’t the “official” designation after all. In Insurrection, the Admiral says, “They’re calling this whole area the Briar Patch,” which to me sounds like it may be an unofficial moniker. If a little girl can suggest the name for Pluto, I think Soong can suggest the name of a gas cloud.

• There are plenty of good reasons why 22nd Century Klingons hadn’t mapped the gas cloud: 1) as already stated, it wasn’t in their territory and was quite possibly many light-years away. 2) It’s a big dangerous cloud, perhaps the Klingons assumed there was nothing useful inside of it. I think it’s likely Soong’s map came from the Orions or some other enterprising species.

Just some thoughts. I never have a problem if someone simply doesn’t like my work, but if I’m accused of making a “goof”… well, that warms up my Irish blood.

For my next magic trick, I’ll show how to reach Kronos in four days at low warp. Oh wait, I haven’t figured that one out yet. Mike Sussman – VOY/ENT Writer-Producer 21:15, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Mr. Sussman, I have the utmost respect for your work, most especially with “Twilight” et al. And further, your comments on your talk page about enjoying these sorts of discussions so long as nastiness is avoided were grand. However, I must take issue with your somewhat less than non-nasty tone and “warm[ing] of my Irish blood”. You yourself used the term “goof” and when you brought up the other Trek “astronomical goofs” when responding to the issue at hand. Perhaps it was not your intent to imply that your link of the Insurrection Briar Patch with Klach D’Kel Brakt was such a goof . . . but then even the best writers and producers don’t always have things turn out the way they intend. Which is, of course, the matter at hand.

I have already discussed the many reasons why the two cannot be the same in an in-universe sense, and the only answers which have been given by other users have been wildly implausible, inconsistent, and/or required us to believe all sorts of extra wars that never happened. Others simply attempt to apply a slippery-slope idea to a very specific and well-reasoned point. (Regarding the in-universe perspective, to reply to Highwind in a similar tone, the discussion was over, and indeed the matter was settled as soon as I took the field.)
Regarding the first of my points, I have even uploaded a new picture of the Enterprise-E approaching the phenomenon at impulse power, a journey which would take decades according to the view that both are one. Unlike the view of the Delphic Expanse we get in “The Expanse” of the same name wherein we’re told a distance from the phenomenon, a speed, and how big it is, there is no cause to try to rationalize the Insurrection Briar Patch view except to support a view contrary to what the image clearly shows. Piller may have thought it larger in early scripts, but in the end that isn’t what we, the audience, get to see or hear about.
Further, I note that you reply to arguments of mine which I did not make and never supported. I was the one who pointed out that Klach D’Kel Brakt was not in Klingon space in 2154, for instance . . . it was integral to my point of where it lay . . . and yet you respond as if this will come as a surprise to me. I can only assume either that I was not carefully read or else that my own author intent didn’t shine through. C’est la vie.
I do find your use of the Battle of Bassen Rift curious, since that battle supports what I’m saying. That was a battle which occurred along the border regions between the two involved powers. Similarly, the 2271 battle would’ve logically occurred near a border region between the Klingons and Romulans, and … given the Klingon victory, canonically-known Klingon expansionism in the 23rd Century, and the very name of the thing as referenced even in DS9 … it follows that Klach D’Kel Brakt was controlled by the Klingons around the time of the battle, and presumably long afterward. Sure battles between powers don’t always occur in neat little border zones . . . witness the skirmish for Gomtuu in ill-defined territory . . . but that is the most likely occurrence. Combine that with the fact that it was beyond Klingon space from Earth-explored regions in the 2150’s, and it makes no canonical sense to conclude that the Federation would possess it (or that the Son’a would risk running a ketracel white trade when surrounded by Dominion enemies). The Klingon Empire wasn’t carved up like Nazi Germany and Klach D’Kel Brakt isn’t West Berlin. While wild and crazy territory-swapping might seem an ideal solution to this flimsy dilemma, the fact is that the only known instances of territory-swapping have been on border regions . . . refer to the Federation-Cardassian treaty and colonies like Dorvan V, or the Klingon/Federation trade of the Archanis sector. That’s because that’s the sort of territory-swap that makes sense. Israel didn’t take the outskirts of Tehran as their security zone … they took border regions.
In short, the only two ways to derive the conclusion that the two are the same is to (a) do so without bothering to think about it, or (b) start with that conclusion in the first place and start making rationalizations to try to support that conclusion. With the exception of your say-so, we have no need to try to shoehorn the two into the same definition. The pleasure of this sort of thing is applying critical thinking to a silly subject . . . your joke about the four day trip to the Klingon homeworld is just such an instance where we have cause to apply critical thinking. (And I have. It’s what I do.)
Now, since the idea of the two being one is what you had in mind when you wrote it, you’re certainly at liberty to jump through the required hoops when the hoops are identified as they have been, and anyone who prefers author intent over canon can do the same. And I’m sure that with the weight you bring to the table, canon policies such as Memory Alpha’s will crumble and the unwise, counter-MA revision Shran/From Andoria with Love mentions below will occur and be maintained even if I undo his revision. Sure you’re a “restricted validity resource” and don’t override the canon we all see and hear by the local rules, but that’s not important. (Of course in my rulebook you could probably simply declare contradictory elements non-canon and be done with it, a la your “soft canon” comments, but that’s neither here nor there.)
But canon policies, whether my site’s or MA’s, are based on the episodes as aired. It’s great to have you around to know what you were thinking … oh if we could’ve had Coon around … but just as Ira Behr and company knew (especially after the last shot of DS9’s fifth season), writers and producers don’t work alone. Each episode is the product of many talents, and sometimes what the writers want and intend just doesn’t appear on screen. Sometimes it doesn’t even appear in their own final draft. We can lament the loss, but in the end it’s gone, and only what we have on screen remains. It’s a bit more complicated than the old saying Spiner quotes of “if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage”, but the idea is similar.

So, do with it what you will. But the simple fact is that there’s no reason to conclude the two are the same in-universe, many reasons to conclude they aren’t, and even the local rules for determining Trek “reality” side with my position. But as the saying goes, “if the facts are against you, argue the law … if the law is against you, argue the facts … if the facts and the law are against you, yell like hell.”

I invite you, the reader, to decide if Sussman was unreasonable and apparently hostile in his reply. Unfortunately, this sort of ‘baiting’ is yet another form of poisoning the well. ‘You disagreed, therefore you are nasty’, is what’s effectively happening here.

Back to Sci-Fi Analysis

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(A scene from Star Trek Discovery, the latest televised Star Trek)

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(a clip from the trailer for The Last Jedi)

In TV/movie franchise circles, there is a buzz word for what is and isn’t considered a part of the story. That word is ‘canon‘. If something is canon, it ‘counts’ toward the story and be considered a valid source of information for reference. If it’s not canon, it doesn’t count, and might end being considered as a point of interest but nothing more. That’s a rather simplistic take on a subject that, to some fans of some franchises, can become a huge, major issue.

Canon is something that the producers and writers of any given show don’t actually put a great deal of stock in. They will aim to be internally consistent with their material (because glaring contradictions can mess up the stories), but there is no ‘Bible’ that they have to stick to. The fans tend to turn this into a particularly messy topic, with arguments raging back and forth over what is and is not canon. Star Trek and Star Wars are two major cases in point.

Star Trek

According to Star Trek fan database site Memory Alpha, all on screen material (the TV shows and films) is considered canon. This gets a little more complicated with the addition of alternate timeline material (aka the Kelvin timeline, consisting of the 2009 movie, Into Darkness and Beyond). The link includes statements from some of the powers that be, who are involved in the process for deciding what is part of the official continuity, and what isn’t. Not everyone will agree with the official statements, but they represent the final authority on what is and isn’t ‘canon’, not that they even care for the term. Whilst some fans would like Star Trek Discovery treated as part of a reboot, it has been declared canon by the powers that be.

Star Wars

With Star Wars, the situation has historically been more complicated. The movies were always ‘canon’, beyond question. However, Star Wars has produced a large volume of books, comics and games, some of which tell the story of what happened prior to the movies, some of which seek to fill in the gaps, and some of which told the tales of what happened after Return of the Jedi. These stories became known as the ‘Expanded Universe’ or EU. To many fans, these represented the continuation of the saga, furthering the adventures of Luke Skywalker and co after the films had finished.

This didn’t stop an exhaustive effort by some parties to suggest that the Expanded Universe bore no relevance to the movies, existing in an entirely different timeline, and therefore inadmissible as a reference in discussion (and particularly, in Star Trek vs Star Wars debates). This effort ultimately didn’t amount to anything more than an incredibly long-winded way of saying ‘my opinion is somehow superior to yours’, and wasn’t backed up by the powers that be who oversaw these matters.

Up until the Disney purchase of Lucasfilm a few years ago, the EU was part of the continuity, but Disney, wanting to make new films without feeling bound to existing material, relegated the EU, declaring it to fit into under the heading of ‘Legends’. Disney also set about commissioning new novels to fill in the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, as well as creating the Rebels cartoon series, which filled in some of the timeline between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. In the meantime, Disney did take elements from the EU to use as they saw fit, including bringing in the character of Admiral Thrawn (a very popular character from the novels) to the Rebels show. It remains to be seen what else might make it from the Legends EU into Disney’s new continuity.

So there you have it – a brief run down of what’s what with the Trek and Wars universes.

Back to Sci-fi Analysis

Would the hot, thin-air environment of Mexico City provide the backdrop to the F1 title decider, or would the world championship journey onward one more round?

In qualifying, the Red Bull of Max Verstappen offered up a possible wildcard, top of Q1 and Q2, yet it was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who took pole with a huge lap in Q3, just piping the young Dutchman to the front. Directly behind Vettel was his title rival Lewis Hamilton, parking his Mercedes in third. With seven world titles plus one highly rated young man starting in the top three, the stage was set for a feisty opening lap, which was duly delivered.

At the start Hamilton exploited the slipstream of Vettel’s Ferrari, who initially got clear of Verstappen, who then also attempted to use the slipstream of Vettel, tucking in right behind the Ferrari, with Hamilton going out wide, the three of them almost abreast heading into turn 1. Verstappen dove into the first corner with Vettel immediately to his right, squeezing hard but fair, however Verstappen was equally as aggressive, and Vettel ended up clipping his front wing on the rear-right tyre of the Red Bull. Hamilton attempted to surge past his title rival and Vettel, struggling in the wake of that initial contact with Verstappen, did more damage to his front wing on the rear-right tyre of Hamilton’s car.

Whereas Verstappen escaped without any problems, Hamilton suffered a puncture, effectively ruining any hope he had of competing at the front. He limped back to the pits, but so did Vettel, who had no choice but to replace his mangled front wing. This meant the two title contenders were reduced to the back of the pack! Up ahead, Verstappen was starting to pull away from the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel and Hamilton would start to climb back up the order, though Vettel had an easier time of it, with Hamilton asking on the radio if his car had damage, as he was finding it difficult to get close enough to attack anyone. Both of them had their quest to rise up the field aided by a number of problems for Renault-powered cars, with Daniel Ricciardo suffering engine failure (with a brand new engine no less) in his Red Bull, Nico Hulkenberg retiring his Renault following a battery pack issue (that required him to exit the car very carefully, lest he get a shock), newcomer Brendon Hartley forced to pull out over when his Toro Rosso started billowing smoke, and Carlos Sainz withdrawing his Renault from proceedings at the urging of the team.

Hartley’s exit from the race triggered a virtual safety car, under which Hamilton pitted, exchanging his soft tyres for super-softs. At this point his race changed, and he was able to start gradually climbing past some of the cars in front. The title would still be his unless Vettel could somehow reach second place, which was looking more and more unlikely. Bottas was some 30 seconds clear of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, and by the time Vettel had made it to fourth, he was some 30 seconds behind Raikkonen with only a few laps to go.

Both Hamilton and Vettel enjoyed some battles as they moved up the field. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was quite happy to try and hold them up as best they could and briefly succeeded, before the stark lack of power in the Honda engine was exposed. Succumbing to Hamilton didn’t mean a complete disaster for Alonso – he finished tenth and in doing so, took a point, something of a rarity for himself and the team.

At the front, Verstappen was serene and supreme. Despite being asked by Red Bull to take it easy, he kept setting faster lap times, opening up a 20-second advantage on Bottas. He was dominant, taking his second win of 2017 and his third overall. With second place Bottas shrunk the gap between himself and Vettel, whose fourth place was not enough to extend the world championship fight for another round – Lewis Hamilton, despite only managing ninth, joined Vettel on four world titles.

The magnitude of that achievement cannot be overstated. Hamilton can now say he is, without question, the most successful British F1 driver of all time. He is now joint third on the list of champions, alongside Vettel and Alain Prost, with Juan Manuel Fangio (five) and Michael Schumacher (seven) still to be caught. To claim the title with a ninth place finish is unusual, but Formula 1 is often quite unusual!

The day itself though, belonged to Max Verstappen, who put in a powerful, controlled performance to win by a very clear margin over Bottas. It was in some ways reminiscent of the dominant drives Vettel enjoyed for Red Bull, and possibly a mark of what’s to come. On a day where an established F1 great won the world championship, it was a potential challenger to the throne who asserted his authority, right from the start. It makes for an intriguing 2018, even as the 2017 is yet to end.

Originally posted on the Nudge Wink Report:

I’ve sat down on the train. I’m tired after a long day at work. I’ve actually got a headache, and I’m hoping for a quiet, peaceful journey. Will I get one… nope. Not at all. Why? Well, lurking in a nearby seat is a biological weapon, a chemical bomb, a vile, repugnant force.

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(is it behind me? Please, don’t be behind me!)

I can sense it growing in malice. It’s need to spread its diseased power across the landscape is insatiable. Now it’s making disgusting, squelching, gurgling noises… you know, those wet sounds, like someone walking through thick, wet mud. SLURP SLURP SLURP…

Where is it? What is it?

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(it’s really familiar, and I know I’m not going to like what it is…)

The train rumbles along the tracks, juddering and rocking and bumping along. With each new jarring impact, there are groans of woe and fear and dread. Still, one more stop and I’ll be getting off this train…

Except, it’s too late. The final bump triggers the unleashing of this harrowing, terrifying force…


I’m confronted by the coming of The Thing. With that brilliantly disgusting wet ‘blllleeaarrrrerrruk’ sound. What’s happened? What creature has been unleashed?!


The Puke Monster!!!

Basically, a kid on the train was sick.

It’s not really the kid’s fault. I blame the parents for filling them with sugar. Actually, that isn’t fair either. I have no idea why they emptied their stomach. I do know I’m extremely grateful my sense of smell failed me at that moment, and that the train stopped more or less at that moment too. It’s a far cry from a recent flight with my little girl, strapped in and unable to escape as she’s sick over her mother and herself. That I did smell, and I nearly broke out into a sympathetic rainbow-coloured yelp of my own.

I guess the moral of this story is… well… there isn’t one. If you travel with kids, take a sick bag. Take several. Hope for the best, prep for the worst. Assume they will chunder like thunder.

In the course of my interweb travels, I find myself encountering a number of interesting subjects. This next one is directly connected to this blog post and concerns what constitutes ‘true Star Trek‘.

If you click on the tweets you’ll be able to see the entire thread. I’ll offer up my take on it – and I want to stress this is only my personal take on it.

I dare say that the blog post missed the mark a little, as during the course of a discussion on Twitter with the original ‘tweeter’ it became clear just what his position was. Exhibit A, this tweet:

The derision of someone else’s opinion on what Star Trek is and what it means is pure arrogance. It’s not far off outright saying ‘it’s not Trek unless I say so’.

Exhibit B…

This is in relation, regardless of claims to the contrary, to ‘who started it’. It’s pretty much a childish blame game, whilst denying it to be a blame game (see Exhibit C as well). It’s apparently more important to apportion blame than to resolve the issue.

Exhbit C…

Linked to Exhibit B. I can just as easily argue any division is the result of people implying their vision of what Star Trek is should somehow override other peoples’ opinions. This idea that one opinion should be treated as near enough objective fact, whilst baiting/trolling people who disagree, is no different from the very attitudes being criticised in the tweet!

In short, I can easily argue, based on what I’ve observed, that people were so prepared to hate Discovery, even before it had aired, that they were ridiculing fans for being prepared to give the show a chance. Now the show is underway, that rhetoric has only increased.

And for the record, if one of the fans of the show who has been going as far as to issue death threats to people criticising Discovery, you are as bad, if not worse. People are allowed to criticise and dislike Discovery. You can like the show and still criticise elements of it. There’s zero excuse for threatening people who hold different opinions.

Exhibit D…

The nuts and bolts of the ‘#TrueTrek’ hashtag. It seems for Trek to be ‘true’ it must adhere to a particular timeline. Hence the distinction between the ‘Prime’ universe (DSC, TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT) and the Kelvin timeline (the 2009 movie, Into Darkness and Beyond). It also bears noting that the tweeter here regards and treats Discovery as a reboot, but that flies in the face of official statements on the subject, which, despite pronouncements to the contrary, carry more weight than his opinion.

Of course, the timeline or universe any given part of the franchise is set in has no bearing on whether or not the particular film or show is ‘true’. It’s part of Star Trek lore. It carries and conveys the messages of the franchise. Despite the implication (and despite the attempt to turn it around) that ‘Prime’ = better (Prime can simply mean one or first), Prime does not mean ‘more true’.

And Exhbit E.

I’ll stick by my tweet here, very happily.

Back to Sci-Fi Analysis

It’s a short hop from Texas to Mexico City, for the 18th round of the F1 World Championship, where the title could be wrapped up, quite comfortably, by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton. He need only finish fifth, even if chief rival Sebastian Vettel wins, to claim his fourth championship.

Sounds easy right? Well, it may not be so simple. Despite the seemingly fast nature of the track, the high elevation and thin air at the circuit means cars will run in high downforce trim. This means Ferrari and perhaps even Red Bull could go faster than Mercedes, leaving open the possibility that Hamilton will have to wait one more round for title number four. On the other hand, there might be enough grunt in that Mercedes engine, over those long straights, to see it through, and Mercedes won here in both 2015 and 2016, so it’s hardly a certainty that the Silver Arrows will struggle.

The track itself is a somewhat sedate version of the track that previously hosted races into the early 90s. The run to turn 1 will provide overtaking opportunities and it was the run into turn 4 that saw some feisty battles between Vettel and Max Verstappen last year. Part of the track runs through the grandstands, providing an absorbing atmosphere, and local boy Sergio Perez is likely to get roared on every on every time he runs through there.

So, will Hamilton win the title on Sunday? Or will there be a twist to the tale?