As some of you may already be aware, I am a member of the SD.net forums, posting as darth_timon. Prior to that, I posted as Sothis, before leaving the forums for a while. I’m hardly the most active member of that community, but I still feel like I am part of that community, and that’s what SD.net has become – a community.

The original purpose of the site (and forums) was to present a case for why the Empire from Star Wars would defeat the Federation from Star Trek in a war (it was a versus site). Anyone who has been involved with this debate down the years will be aware that the site’s author, Mike Wong, took a bullish, no-nonsense approach to it. He was at times aggressive, calling out those who made unscientific or pseudo-scientific arguments and he wasn’t afraid to name and shame people who he felt were being idiots.

Mike’s chief approach to these debates was that honesty trumped nicety. One thing I would dare say about Mike is that what you see is what you get – he doesn’t sugarcoat things and he doesn’t (if you’ll pardon the term) bullshit people. His style of discussion has certainly earned him detractors, but I dare say supporters too.

After all, honesty is a trait that seems rarer and rarer these days. It’s far easier it would seem, to paint over problems or issues with lies and deception. Sometimes you do need to be careful with what you say (little white lies to spare someone’s feelings are not, in my view, harmful), and certainly how you phrase something can have a big impact on how it’s taken by the other person, but substance is better than style (at least when it comes to this sort of discussion).

Now, this is not to say I agree wholeheartedly with Mike’s approach. It is possible to be honest without being aggressive. The two are not mutually exclusive positions, but that is a different discussion. What I wish to talk about here is a misguided campaign against SD.net, Mike and the SD.net community.

I’m not altogether clear when this campaign started, but an individual (who shall go unnamed for now) has been waging a one-man war against SD.net for years. It would seem that he is particularly upset by some of Mike’s essays on Star Trek (regarding things such as racism, communism and philosophy), and he has also made some broad remarks about the forum.

For the record, I don’t necessarily agree with Mike’s Star Trek essays, but disagreeing is one thing – to fly the flag of censorship, as this individual does, is another thing entirely. Mike is entitled to his views, and he is entitled to express those views, and this person is entitled to write a rebuttal of those views (as he has already), but he is not entitled to have Mike’s views rubbed from the web, just because he cannot handle them.

Before I go much further, I should mention that last year, I was engaged in email conversation with this person. I had come across his anti-Stardestroyer.net Facebook page and I’d decided (perhaps foolishly) to express my opinions of his comments. The situation escalated and for a short time I named and shamed his page on my old site.

The result of this (which included, among other things, negotiations around removing any mention of each other from our respective pages) was that we agreed to leave each other alone. I dutifully obeyed the truce, whilst keeping an eye on him to ensure he did likewise. During that time, he has continued to post a great many anti-SD.net rants and comments where he has smeared the SD.net community with spurious accusations of harassment and censorship (which, ironically, is an action he has undertaken on his DeviantArt page and on YouTube). Recently I discovered his Facebook page has a comment on it where a third party has made an extremely off-colour post, and this individual has not only been content to let a highly inflammatory post stand, but has suggested he will actually expand upon it at some stage!

I emailed him, suggesting to him he should remove this comment. He has oft-repeated his claims that SD.net is an aggressive, vicious community, so quite why he would want to risk drawing attention to himself is beyond me. My email to him was on 2nd July. As of this post, I have received no reply and seen no action on this post.

So, if I am being honest, I am breaking this truce (not directly, but certainly in spirit. However, this individual’s ongoing vilification of SD.net and its community is an attack on me as well.) He is happy to make grand generalisations about SD.net, repeatedly posts rants about how terrible we all are, and drags our name through the mud. In the past, when I contacted him about it (I made precisely one comment to a YouTube video of his), I wound up being accused of harassment, and he deleted the comment. He had created videos for the purpose of getting attention, but seemed incapable of handling criticism of his views. He attempted (during our email conversation last year) to have me delete the versus page of my old Wix site (including my Idazmi7 responses and my defence of SD.net). Yet when challenged on this, he insisted it was not censorship, but rather, a means of protecting himself.

From what I am not sure, but it would seem this individual has tremendous difficulties accepting criticisms of things they like. If I were to guess, I would say they use things like Star Trek as emotional crutches, so something that criticises Star Trek, or runs contrary to Star Trek as they see it, is harmful to them and they take it very personally (this has also happened with The Lion King).

Maybe this post is a bad idea. Maybe it will stir up a hornet’s nest of trouble. Maybe I should grit my teeth and stay quiet. I’ve done that for over a year and just wound up feeling more and more irritated, so I kind of feel that I need to get this out. To the individual in question, I would advise you to check your emails and consider what I said. At the very least, you should be prepared to have a dialogue.

Back to Star Trek vs Star Wars

When I was thinking about this post, I wondered how best to approach it. 07/07/15 marks the tenth anniversary of a terrible event carried out by young men whose hearts were filled with hate by other, evil men. They did it because they thought they were acting in the interests and wishes of their religious and cultural beliefs.

It would be all too easy to let their act be the thing that defines the anniversary. It is far more important though, to remember the unity and defiance of Londoners, both on the day itself and on the anniversary (and indeed, the unity of the country). We will not be cowed, or coerced, or scared into being anything other than ourselves. We will not turn on one another, or run from one another.

WALKTOGETHER

WALKTOGETHER2We’ll remember those who were lost in the right way, by taking comfort in the memories.

This time of year is important to me. It was on the 10th of July 2004 that I met my wife, so for me, I won’t let the tragic events of 7/7 cloud this occasion. The terrorists won’t take anything away from it for me.

Lewis Hamilton has taken his second consecutive win at Silverstone today (and his third overall), following a race that offered up much in the way of entertainment – and missed opportunities.

The very start of the race saw both Felipe Massa and Valteri Bottas jump the Mercedes’ pair at the start, with Massa taking the lead and Hamilton just about fending off Bottas, though Bottas relegated Rosberg to fourth. Chaos at the back saw both Lotuses crash out, collecting McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and sending Alonso punting into the side of teammate Jenson Button. Button was out, and Alonso had to limp back to the pits to change his front wing – hardly the greatest of starts for a team that has struggled horribly so far this year.

These incidents triggered a safety car spell on the very first lap, and when the race resumed in earnest Hamilton was aggressively trying to squeeze past Massa, but ended up locking up and running wide, letting Bottas through. The two Williams cars then proceeded to keep the Mercedes cars at bay, albeit just barely, but Bottas was noticeably quicker than Massa – and unable to get past. Williams wouldn’t issue orders letting him by – which in hindsight might have been a mistake. Bottas could have pulled away, but Massa would not yield, and thus was holding up Bottas, who had Hamilton close by for company.

When the pit stops arrived, they mixed things up. Hamilton ended up in the lead, but Rosberg was still stuck behind Bottas, who was still behind Massa. With clear air, Hamilton was able to pull away, but then another variable changed things all the more – rain.

It was hardly a torrential downpour, but the sprinkling of rain changed the dynamics of the circuit, especially since the rain was not consistently coming down over the whole track. With parts of the track becoming slippery and others still dry, some drivers pitted for intermediate tyres – such as Kimi Raikkonen, who pitted too soon – and others took a chance to stay out on the dry tyres.

As conditions continued to change, the rain stopped briefly, albeit with the possibility of more. Stopping for inters was a gamble – was it worth the risk?

Williams struggled as the weather conditions changed, allowing Rosberg to charge past both Bottas and Massa. He then took off after Lewis, lapping nearly two seconds faster as the rain returned. Hamilton made the decision to pit for inters, judging that the rain would continue, and he made the call perfectly.

As the circuit became wetter, Rosberg had to stop. Both Williams cars had to stop as well, which allowed Vettel to snatch third place (having started in sixth). For the final few laps Hamilton was untroubled, taking victory to reopen a 17-point lead in the title fight. Williams will be buoyed by fourth and fifth, and in fact disappointed by not getting a podium. Force India continued their upward momentum with more good points, with Hulkenburg taking 7th and Perez 9th, Raikkonen sandwiched inbetween them. Kvyat took 6th for Red Bull, but the other three Renault-powered cars all retired – Ricciardo and both Toro Rossos.

Alonso recovered from the disasterous start to take a point in 10th place, albeit aided considerably by retirements for not only Ricciardo, but also Verstappen, Sainz, Maldonaldo, Grosjean, Nasr and Button. It seems unlikely McLaren will be especially overjoyed by taking a single point today.

We are now at the halfway point of the championship, so I’ll soon be taking a look at my predictions and seeing how they stack up with the actual season.

Back to F1 2015

After a short break, Formula 1 returns, this time rolling up to Silverstone, for the British Grand Prix.

SilverstoneSilverstone first hosted a Grand Prix in 1948, and hosted the first Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1950. The track has undergone a number of modifications since then, but the general shape of the circuit is still visible even today.

For a time the Grand Prix rotated between circuits, but from 1987 onwards Silverstone has been the sole host of the race. It was in 1987 that Nigel Mansell famously sold his Williams teammate Nelson Piquet a dummy down the Hanger Straight by feinting toward the outside line then darting inward into Stowe Corner. 1991 saw Mansell give title rival Ayrton Senna a lift back to the pits, whilst in 2008 Lewis Hamilton would dominate a rain-soaked race.

The track’s current configuration was first introduced in 2010, with changes to the start/finish line placement in 2011. The intention was to slow the circuit down, following ongoing concerns about the speed of the cars. 52 laps will soon ensue, and last year’s race winner, Lewis Hamilton, is on pole.

As with Austria, Hamilton’s pole lap was one of the few good laps he produced. He had struggled in practice sessions 1 and 2, and also in Q1 and Q2. Nailing pole was unquestionably a boost, but Rosberg got the jump on him last time out, and the pole sitter doesn’t usually win here.

The Williams’ cars had a good qualifying session, with Massa snatching third and Bottas fourth, putting both cars ahead of the Ferraris. Given that Silverstone is still quite the power track, and given the strong engine grunt of the Mercedes power train in the Williams, they could have a good race.

One team that will be mystified a little will be Lotus. The same Mercedes engines power their cars, yet they struggled in qualifying, as did the Toro Rossos (despite good practice pace and Verstappen’s bold proclamations about the chassis). McLaren once again had a miserable time, going out in Q1.

The stage is set, hopefully it will be a good one!

Back to F1 2015