wpid-wp-1418760085629.pngThe German Grand Prix will sadly not be a part of the real F1 season in 2015 (and its long term future is in doubt too), but here on the Wii game diary, it remains a fixture – in real life the 2010 German Grand Prix would be held at Hockenheim, but the game cannot replicate the alternating fixture system, so it’s back to the Nurburgring.

The track has 15 corners, most of which are quite fast, and the track also has several fast straights, making it a circuit for speed more than anything else. In practice I wanted to see how the tyres held up (for the 2009 season this race was crucial in affecting my long-term tyre strategy from Hungary onwards), so I did prolonged stints on the soft tyre to test its durability.

I decided that the soft tyre could manage around 15 laps, so in a 60-lap race that would translate to 45 laps on the soft tyre, and only one mandatory 15 lap stint on the hard tyre. However, by 15 laps the soft tyre (especially the front tyre) was starting to seriously degrade, hampering my lap times considerably, so I had to come up with something else.

The result was to 21 laps on the hard tyre, and then shorter runs on the soft tyre after that. This would also mean less fuel for each soft tyre run, increasing my overall speed.

In qualifying I did overcook things a few times going through corners 8 and 9 (you don’t want to catch the kerb!) and the chicane (turns 13 and 14) would also offer up a challenge if you hit the brakes too late.

Nevertheless, when I got a good lap in, it was enough for pole position.

The race itself saw me slip down to third at the start (I just cannot get good starts) and trailed Trulli (the surprise leader) and Button for several laps, though thankfully not by much. I would close them down eventually, and would also pull away quite well from fourth-placed Rosberg.

I took the lead briefly when the first two pitted, then came in for my first stop, and slipped back down again, but this time, I was on the soft tyre, and would catch the leaders again swiftly. I wasn’t able to quite get away in first at the second stops but by the time we all pitted for the third and final time, I had built up enough of a gap to rejoin in the lead, where I would go on to close off the race and take a seventh win in nine races. Traffic, as usual, helped me to catch those ahead of me (the AI just can’t handle backmarkers) and also helped me to open up a good lead. I was some 28 seconds ahead of Button at the end of the race, and now have a 15 point lead in the championship race, whereas after Germany last time, I was 3 points behind.

The next race in the 2009 season started a good run for me. I won in Hungary, Belgium and Italy last season, so provided I keep composed, I should be able to extend my championship lead still further. Will have to wait and see.

It’s going to take a while for the dust to settle from this one. Victory was snatched from Lewis Hamilton’s grasp today, after a blunder by Mercedes put him from first to third.

The drama took place toward the end of the race, as Max Verstappen crashed into the back of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus as they approached turn 1, putting his Toro Rosso into the barriers as a result. Verstappen was unhurt, despite the high speed of the accident, and Grosjean’s car was undamaged, able to continue.

What the accident did do was to bring out a safety car, and Mercedes inexplicably pitted Hamilton from the lead, gambling that he would get out still in front. It was a mistake, that saw Hamilton not only come out behind teammate Nico Rosberg (who was gifted his third successive Monaco victory), but also behind Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari as well. It took several laps for the safety car to turn in, and by the time it did, Hamilton had eight laps to try and pass Vettel, but the narrow streets of Monaco are not friendly to overtaking, and Hamilton could not find a way past.

It was otherwise a perfect race from Hamilton. He had qualified on pole, started well, pulled away comfortably and was some 20 seconds clear of Rosberg when he pitted.

The race was not a memorable one for McLaren’s Fernando Alonso – first he got a five-second stop-go penalty for a first-lap incident where he bumped Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India into the barriers, then he was forced to retire due to mechanical failure (a fate that yet again befell Pastor Maldonaldo’s Lotus as well).

Daniil Kvyat was fourth, his best result of the year so far, ahead of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo (whom Kvyat let by in the closing stages of the race to challenge Hamilton, but Red Bull then ordered Ricciardo to give the place back to Kvyat when it became clear he wasn’t getting by). The second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen didn’t fare too well, ending up behind both Red Bulls (including being the victim of an unceremonious bump by Ricciardo late on).

It was a terrible weekend for Williams. Valtteri Bottas was knocked out of qualifying in Q1, and Felipe Massa didn’t fare much better. The previously pacey cars ended up 14th and 15th, a bad day at the office for them.

Force India did get a car into the points – Sergio Perez was 7th, but McLaren perhaps had the best cause to celebrate – Jensen Button scored their first points of the season with 8th. Felipe Nasr took points for Sauber too, in 9th, and Carlos Sainz completed the points. All in all, seven different teams scored points.

The biggest talking point from today will inevitably be Mercedes’ decision to pit Hamilton during the safety car. He was set to extend his championship lead to 27 points – instead it has been cut to 10. He will no doubt want to put the race behind him – but a near-certain victory was lost today, in cruel circumstances.

Back to F1 2015

I’ve agonised a few times as to whether I should write this particular article. It’s something that first popped onto my radar a few years ago, when I came across a deeply flawed review of the sci-fi series Firefly, which suggested the show condoned a lot of anti-women behaviour, and even implied the show’s producer (Joss Whedon of Buffy fame) raped his wife.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. That was actually the title of one of the anti-Firefly posts – ‘A Rapist’s View of the World‘.

Let it be said before I really begin in earnest that I am all in favour of equality. Women should earn the same wage as men for doing the same job, and have all the same opportunities to succeed. Feminism is defined as ‘the  advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of equality between the sexes‘, which is a worthy goal. As the father to a daughter, I very much want my little girl to grow up with the same rights and opportunities as any man. The fact she is female should have no bearing on what she can achieve.

Feminism, like a lot of things, comes in different types. You have moderate feminism, which promotes equality through controlled, patient means. Some aspects of feminism have linked themselves to economic concerns (Marxist feminism), and then you have radical feminism.

Radical feminists tend to be louder than their contemporaries, meaning that their views get a lot of exposure. It ought to be noted that not every radical feminist practices a ‘hate men’ agenda, but most want equality too – but on very different terms.

The idea is to create a society where concepts such as gender don’t exist, along with the constructs that arise from these concepts. Some radfems argue these points more fiercely than others.

Gender is a patriarchal construct, used to subdue female-born into becoming ‘women’, who are expected (through societal manipulation) to be subservient to male-born (men).

Men are also being manipulated into this caste system, expected to fulfil roles of their own.

The ‘tearing down’ of the establishment is quite a popular idea with radical feminists.

There is a radical feminism website, Deep Green Resistance, that offers some fascinating insight into radical feminist thinking:

But if the implication is that it’s women’s job to take care of men, we reject that. Men need to take care of themselves and each other. We want to point out that this question of men’s emotional well-being is a central one to way too many people. No one has ever—not once—asked us about women’s emotional well-being, or implied that it’s men’s job to take care of women, even though it’s men who are committing the violence.

It’s true that male-on-female violence is considerably greater than the other way around. I won’t deny that and it needs to change. Indeed, any violence from one person directed at another needs to be dealt with.

That said, I wish to address other parts of this paragraph. The emotional well-being of women is important. Not every man dismisses this and indeed, this is part of the reason why men go to work every day, working hard, to provide food and shelter for their loved ones (men taking care of women and children through doing this work). I am surprised this is completely overlooked.

I love my wife. I want to do right by her. I love my daughter – I want to do right by her. I work hard to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. I do my best to treat them to things they want and need, at my own expense too. You might argue this is a construct of false gender – but nevertheless, to dismiss the role men play in supporting their families is offensive – I would never dismiss the role a woman plays in looking after their children, and nor would I expect them to be the only party responsible for looking after children (nor do I expect women to conform to the expectation that they should stay at home and be homemakers), yet Deep Green Resistance is quite dismissive of what men contribute, and the idea that men might actually care about how their wives and partners feel.

DGR is about more than radical feminism – tied to these ideas are notions of doing away with civilisation as we know it completely, for the sake of the planet and humanity’s survival. I dare say their aims and goals are not likely to go mainstream any time soon. I will however draw attention to the fact that they are not so vocal on the ‘man-hating‘ element that radical feminism is unfortunately known for.

To quote from the link above:

I hate men. Yes, I am a feminist. No, not all feminists hate men. But at this point in my life I have begun to wonder why any woman with half a brain would NOT hate men. It is perhaps testament to the amazing moral superiority of women that most women do not hate men in spite of the tortures men inflict upon them, their children, and each other. Or perhaps it is a reason why feminism has not succeeded. Perhaps in order for women to stop being chattel under the bootheels of cruel, stupid men, they will have to learn to hate men at least a little.

Whether radical feminists like or not, this is the predominant image that radical feminism has. Some (not all, I hasten to add) radical feminists love to make sweeping generalisations about men, about how they act and how they inflict cruelty upon women. If there was a movement out there whereby men made similar statements about women… well, we can all agree such a movement would be rightly condemned, as it should be.

Radical Feminism and Transphopia

There’s a certain element of radical feminism (again, I must stress not all) that have adopted a decidedly anti-transsexual agenda. The root of this can be explained through DGR’s statement here:

Radical feminists also believe that women have the right to define their boundaries and decide who is allowed in their space. We believe all oppressed groups have that right. We have been called transphobic because the women of DGR do not want men—people born male and socialized into masculinity—in women-only spaces. DGR stands with women in that decision.

Yet earlier on, the same site has this to say:

Radical feminists are critical of gender itself. We are not gender reformists–we are gender abolitionists. Without the socially constructed gender roles that form the basis of patriarchy, all people would be free to dress, behave, and love others in whatever way they wished, no matter what kind of body they had.

Whilst DGR is not condoning anti-transsexual and transphobic behaviour, there is an element of hypocrisy here. In one paragraph, they speak of doing away with social constructs of gender and that all people should be free to express themselves in any way they choose – then they apply gender and social constructs as the reason they would exclude transsexuals from their spaces – the man who became a woman is the product of a patriarchy, and therefore not welcome.

Yet the man who became a woman became a woman because they did not identify as male and with every fibre of their being considered themselves female – it seems to me that DGR are overlooking this.

There are further examples of radical feminists being vocal in their exclusion of transsexuals:

From a site called TERF (which is not a radical feminist site, but points out some notable quotes from radical feminists):

Today the Frankenstein phenomenon is omnipresent not only in religious myth, but in its offspring, phallocratic technology. The insane desire for power, the madness of boundary violation, is the mark of necrophiliacs who sense the lack of soul/spirit/life-loving principle with themselves and therefore try to invade and kill off all spirit, substituting conglomerates of corpses. This necrophilic invasion/elimination takes a variety of forms. Transsexualism is an example.

 Mary Daly, PhD, TERF author, lecturer & academic from her book, Gyn/ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism pp 70 – 71

The irony is, radical feminists who target transsexuals have more in common with far-right fanatics (whom they deeply oppose in other ways) than they might care to believe. The Star Observer newspaper in Australia ran an article in March about a prominent radical feminist, Shelia Jeffreys. Jeffreys had this to say:

“In the States for instance they (trans people) were often compared to the black and white minstrels. The black and white minstrels were white men who dressed up with blackface to imitate what they thought were the behaviours of black singers and entertainers. That was seen as very insulting by the black community,”

“Transgenderism for men is about the right to imitate and pretend to be members of the subordinate class even though they are members of – biologically and were brought up in – the superior class. That was problematic for the black and white minstrels. It’s problematic generally when a group of people claim to be another group of subordinate people.”

Suggesting transsexuals or those who desire sex changes are in fact, using the same tactics as racists, is a not-so-subtle means of dismissing an entire group, and one step away from encouraging persecution of that group. It is not an invasion of space – it is a quirk of biology that compels some men to consider themselves women (just as it’s a quirk of biology that some men and women are gay). It isn’t a choice, I doubt it’s something that trans-people find easy to deal with, and they do not deserve transphobic attitudes. Given radical feminism’s schools of thought on oppression and persecution, I find it bizarre that this attitude exists within the movement.

What do other Feminists think?

Honestly, I don’t know, since finding the answer to that question online is proving harder than I thought. I am endeavouring to find out, so I may well add the answer to this page at a later date.

What do I think?

Radicalism tends not to be looked upon favourably. It is however, usually the branch of any movement that is heard the most, because even as a minority, the radical element is the loudest, brashest, most controversial element. Radical feminism is certainly loud, unashamed of promoting women’s rights and spaces, and not shirking from pushing its agenda of removing gender and social constructs from the equation.

Do they have a point though?

My own view is no. Well, not completely. As I said at the start of this post, I am very much in favour of equality for all. However, the fact is, I am a man. I am certainly not the strongest or smartest man, but I am a man. It is part of my identity. Does that place certain expectations upon me? Of course it does. Are these expectations necessarily fair? Not always. Whilst radical feminists may feel that current social models are in place to oppress women, an argument could be made that we are all expected to perform certain functions – that the system keeps us all in certain places. I am expected to be the primary breadwinner, because that’s the male role in society – to go out and go to work, to be hardy in the face of adversity, to not cry but to be strong and brave. I am expected to mask my emotions, to just get on with it.

I don’t identify myself in that way. I define myself, first and foremost, as a human being. Being a man is part of that but only part. I don’t use being a man as an excuse to get away with certain behaviour, I don’t use it as an excuse for failures of any kind. I define myself as a husband, a father, a sci-fi fan, a Formula 1 fan, a lover of football, burgers, Disney, gadgets, and coffee. I chose all of those things, so you might say, I am defined by who I choose to be. Yes, not everyone can choose – their voices are silenced by oppressive forces – but a patriarchal society is not the root cause of all evil – not if everyone is given the right to choose their own fate. What we need to do – all of us, men and women – is fight for those rights, not along gender lines, but along human lines. It does not matter who is discriminating who and why – it all needs to be opposed.

To any feminists who read this – radical or otherwise – I would of course be interested in what you have to say. I do not delete or refuse to approve comments made that disagree with me, only those which are filled with vitriol and anger. Make a compelling case, and you will have a voice here.

Back to What I Think

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Age of Ultron has a lot to live up to. The first Avengers film was a smash hit, popular with fans and critics alike, and it fed the fanboy in all of us with scraps between our heroes, a deliciously evil villain, and of course, that moment when they united to become the Avengers.

A tough act to follow.

I should point out that this review is littered with spoilers. If you don’t want any details, don’t read on!

Continue reading

A word before I begin – I missed out Round 7 (Turkey) as I ran the race ages ago, won it, and promptly forgot to post a report! It evidently can’t have been that memorable!

Nor really, was this latest Silverstone adventure.

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I am simply not quick here. Despite somehow managing to stick the car second in qualifying (I have no idea how I did that), my race pace was mediocre. I was holding third until the first stops, slipped down to 15th, then got back up the field through a combination of rival stops and backmarkers holding up the leaders. I also let myself down in two ways – at times I would push too hard and run onto the grass, slowing me down and costing me a place, whilst on other occasions I’d be too cautious, unwilling to get too close to the spray coming off the car ahead (it was a damp track).

In the end I wound up fifth, better than I’d expected, and one place ahead of my chief title rival Button, putting me 13 points ahead after 8 races. That’s not too bad, considering I was a point behind him at the same point last season.

I was second to Button in Germany last time, but with greater emphasis on the quicker soft tyre this time, I’m hoping to win the next race.

I picked up a copy of The Daily Mail today. I don’t usually do that, but they’re giving away free Lego, so I picked that up for my daughter.

As I flicked through the pages, idly glancing at the articles, I couldn’t help but come across an article (well, several in fact) that annoyed me. On page 28, there is an article about foxes.

The article is written by Andrew Pierce, who recounts some unfortunate experiences he’s had with foxes. I’m not without sympathy – there are foxes in my neck of the woods. I’ll admit to some concern for my little girl – foxes can be dangerous, and yes, they can carry diseases. Pierce refers in his article to tragic incidents where foxes have attacked small children, so yes, the danger is real.

It’s also true that foxes can make a lot of noise. They screech at night sometimes, and yes, they have been known to kill family pets.

The thing is, they have been all but encouraged to slip into urban areas by our wasteful society, as we create easy hunting grounds with our rubbish and scraps for foxes to feast on (indeed, given our steady encroachment upon green spaces and natural habitats, we have left foxes almost needing to come to our doorstep to survive).

We’ve made it easy for foxes to come to us.

Pierce makes the following statements about foxes:

These disgusting and stinking vermin – and that’s what they are – should be culled

I’ve never been on a fox-hunt and have no interest in going on one. But I would love to see a red-jacketed huntsman, followed by hounds, charging through the back gardens of our neighbourhood. Apart from doing us all a service, it would be worth it just to see the look on Joanna Lumley’s face

Foxes are not vermin. They are wild animals, driven into urban areas by the expansion of those areas. They would not be in our cities and streets if we were not chopping up their natural homes.

Pierce’s declaration about fox hunting is telling. Hunts usually involve several men armed with guns who have several dogs that are sent after a single fox, and somehow, this is dressed up as ‘sport’.

It’s not sport. It’s a throwback to the age of toffs who took pleasure in killing defenceless animals. Sport implies two people or teams with a means to compete. There is no such thing in fox hunting.

Finally, whilst it’s true that foxes carry diseases and have been known to hurt people, this is true of other animals. The Daily Mail itself ran an article in 2011 that 6,000 cases of dog-related injuries were reported.

No one is calling for dogs to be culled.

Repeated searches for numbers in regard to fox-related injuries have not revealed any hard numbers (in itself quite interesting – are there too few to warrant articles?).

It’s also worth noting that as of January 2015, most of the UK still favours the ban on fox hunting, and rightly so.

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After a two week break, F1 comes to the jewel in the crown – Monaco!

It goes without saying that a Formula 1 through the narrow streets of one of the richest places on earth would be unthinkable if suggested tomorrow, but such is Monaco’s appeal and history that no one would dream of axing it now.

There’s no track quite like it. It demands the utmost concentration, as one mistake will put you into unyielding barriers and end your race. There are no second chances here. The fast uphill Beau Rivage gives way to the sweeping left and right-handers that are Massenet and Casino, then Mirabeau Haute is a tight right-hander, leading into the Grand Hotel Hairpin (perhaps the track’s most distinctive feature).

From here, you have two more right hand corners and then it’s the tunnel! Cars accelerate quite fast through here, then have to brake hard for the chicane. It’s then a fairly quick sprint past some very expensive yachts, and even turns 13 and 14 can be taken fast if you’re feeling brave.

The final few corners can’t be taken quickly!

Last year, Nico Rosberg won here, having qualified on pole in somewhat controversial circumstances. He may (or may not) have forced yellow flags that prevented Hamilton from setting a pole lap, but the incident led to increased tensions between the two.

Hamilton suffered some sort of eye mishap during the race, that nearly sent him into Daniel Ricciardo’s clutches.

This time, Hamilton will keen to arrest Rosberg’s momentum, after the latter’s fine win in Spain. Hamilton knows he needs to strike back quickly to restore his own momentum and get his season back on track.

Back to F1 2015

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Once in a while, a game comes along that defines its generation. A game so brilliant, that to give it 10/10 would be to underscore it. For me, A Link to the Past is that game.

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It is a work of art in the 16-bit medium. This game is not only beautiful to look at (despite its age, it still looks fantastic, bright and colourful), but it still manages to sound good too.

Of course, graphics and sound don’t define games, gameplay does, so what can I say about it?

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Firstly, I can’t think of any other Zelda game off the top of my head that has so many dungeons! There are 12 different dungeons to explore, each one with different traps and enemies, and nearly all of them have a big bad boss waiting at the end.

The only, tiny complaint I could make is that a couple of the bosses are a bit samey, and one or two are quite easy (though I might be saying that because I’ve played through it so many times!), but some bosses (such as the thief or the giant moth, to say nothing of the horrid worm-like thing!) are fiendish and devised by a deviant mind!

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There’s a great deal to do that doesn’t involve dungeons too. You can travel between two linked worlds (light and dark) and actions in one can have consequences in the other. Indeed, there are points where you have to jump between worlds to get anywhere. The clever mechanics of this also encourage you to explore the world around you, without forcing you down a linear path (though there are elements of that).

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The almost dizzying array of items gives you an impressive armoury (once you collect them all of course!), and you can use some of them in creative ways to further your cause. I tended to stick with the boomerang a lot of the time (a trusty sidearm, as it were), but you could pound things with a hammer, use bombs to open holes in floors, and even turn invisible. This game really did have it all!

Nostalgia isn’t always a good thing. It can make us see things through rose-tinted glasses. In the case of A Link to the Past, there is no need. This remains one of the greatest achievements in video game history.

10/10

Back to Reviews

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Firstly, you might be asking ‘Starwing? I thought you were reviewing Starfox!’ Well, I am, only the game was called Starwing in the UK due to copyright, hence the above image.

Starfox was the first SNES game to use the Super FX chip, a new feature that allowed for 3D polygons to be used to improve visuals. The game looked pretty unique, and more importantly, it would prove to be great fun!

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(The map screen gave you a choice of three courses to choose from, effectively acting as three different difficulty settings)

In terms of actual gameplay, Starfox was more like a traditional scrolling shooter, only semi-3D in nature and offering some clever bosses and levels. The Space Armada level and Meteor were good fun, and the penultimate boss on the easy Venom map was also quite creative. More fiendish levels included Fortuna (featuring some challenging flying fish!) and Sector Y, that had huge spaceborne creatures that could do you persistent harm.

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(Some maps changed your visual perspective, useful for space-based maps)

Like all good games, Starfox has replay value. Not only is it fun to replay the easy campaign, but it provides a firm yet doable challenge on the other two modes. The characters are quite likeable, even if the SNES couldn’t provide actual speech – only gibberish.

It’s no surprise that Starfox has gone on to a Nintendo icon. He’s not quite up there with Mario and Link, but he’s certainly done well for himself. A Starfox 2 game was very nearly finished for the SNES, whilst Starfox games have appeared on the N64, Game Cube, and at some point, on the Wii U. The titular character has appeared in the Super Smash Bros games, cementing his place within Nintendo lore.

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(The first boss in the game)

9/10. I love this game!

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