Lately US politics is dominating the airwaves. This isn’t exactly a surprise, but it’s only going to get worse, especially as the election campaign over there gets into full swing and becomes the sole focus of even British media.

Quite why we’ll ignore our own problems to focus on what’s happening thousands of miles away is beyond me, but it’s the main talking point of the web at the moment, so I might as well weigh in.

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(I have no idea why Democrats choose a donkey to represent themselves, nor why the Republicans are represented by an elephant)

It will hardly come as a surprise to anyone who knows me (or who follows this blog) to learn that if I were American, I’d probably vote Democrat, and especially right now. The Republican party appear more interested in ensuring their Presidential candidate appeals only to Republican party members, rather than the American people as a whole. Allow me to explain:

Republican candidate Ben Carson is very much anti-abortion, as is Donald Trump. Now, I can respect that position, but I cannot agree with imposing that position upon everyone. They are in effect, seeking to use government authority to impose their personal will upon women across America (the irony being that the Republican party likes to be regarded as the party of small government and greater freedoms).

This is even more of a strange approach for the candidates of a party supposedly valuing freedom when you consider Carson and Trump would be bucking the will of the American people on this one.

This is also the case on the gay marriage issue. Carson has made it clear what he thinks of same-sex marriage, though Trump has actually broken with the party line by saying it’s now the law of the land. Perhaps more importantly, the American people once again favour same-sex marriage. Once again, there are Republican candidates who oppose it, on religious grounds, and would use their religious values to make policy.

Surely this flies on the face of the First Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I would interpret free exercise of religion as also being free to not exercise religion. It should certainly prevent would-be presidents from imposing their beliefs on the rest of the country!

 

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The penultimate round of the 2015 F1 season sees us come to Sao Paulo, Brazil, a venue that usually serves up exciting and entertaining racing.

The backdrops to Sunday’s race are largely concerning Hamilton’s road accident in Monaco on Tuesday (a minor prang, but one that involved his £1.6 million car) and Red Bull’s decision to remain on the grid for 2016, despite being unable to maneuver their way to more powerful engines.

In Mexico Rosberg made a serious statement of intent, dominating the race and sealing a much-needed win. Though it means nothing in terms of the title, Hamilton will want to remind everyone – especially Rosberg – of who is top dog. In first practice for Brazil Hamilton did just that, setting a time just over half a second faster than Rosberg.

In the battle for second place in the championship, Rosberg may be slightly concerned that Vettel’s Ferrari was only fractionally slower in P1, raising the possibility of a close race between those two (though come qualifying, things could well be different).

A major goal on Hamilton’s mind is winning here. He’s yet to win in Brazil, and would love to emulate Senna still further by doing just that. It’s certainly possible, based on the evidence from P1.

Back to F1 2015

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So, we are just over a month from one of the biggest films to hit the cinemas – The Force Awakens! I’m stoked for this now – the final trailer was simply sensational, the TV spots are starting to appear and we’ve even seen a Japanese trailer – one that still doesn’t offer up any plot details, but teases a couple of different scenes.

I’m now avoiding the iMDB page for the film – and in fact, most of my usual sci-fi haunts, to make sure I avoid any spoilers. The work done by JJ and the team to prevent leaks so far has been tremendous, but it only takes one malcontent to ruin it for everyone else, and therefore I’m not going to risk accidentally ruining the film for myself.

What I really want to do is go out and buy a Star Wars advent calendar – and use that to count down to the film!

StarTrekLogoAs the world prepares for The Force Awakens and the excitement builds for that, another popular sci-fi franchise has recently released big news. With Star Trek’s 50th anniversary next year (being marked by the new film Star Trek Beyond), American studio CBS has announced it is producing a new Star Trek series, due to debut early 2017. It is big news for a franchise that was suffering badly at the end of Enterprise. Whether you like the 2009 reboot and its sequel, Into Darkness, the new films have reignited interest in the Star Trek franchise and without those films, it strikes me as unlikely that a new TV show would even be considered, much less be made.

It’s not yet known for certain whether the new show will be set in the ‘prime’ universe (the one inhabited by TOS, TNG, DS9 and VOY), or if it will be part of the rebooted universe. The official statement on the subject that the series will be unrelated to Star Trek Beyond, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be part of the prime universe.

One thing that does have me concerned is the decision to air this show via a subscription service – though to be honest, I have no idea how this will affect me here in the UK. It might be of no consequence – Star Trek shows usually air on Sky TV before anything else, and so the chances are this will remain the case, though nothing is certain.

A lot is happening with both Trek and Wars over the next few years. I can’t wait!

Stop calling it a “culture war,” call it what it actually is – http://wp.me/p6y1O9-1V

This article, reblogged from Unprotected Sects (I love the site name), neatly sums up the attitudes on display from the more radical elements of the religious right. For them, equality is not about living and let living, but about maintaining any sort of status quo that keeps gays hidden away, treated like sick or undesirable people.

I strongly urge you to check out the link. It explains this attitude far better than I could!

wpid-1280px-spa-francorchamps_of_belgium.svg_.pngAfter the straightforward yet unexpected win in Valencia, the next round of my little career was Spa, Belgium – one of Formula 1’s most famous circuits. As with Valencia, practice and qualifying took place under a combination of wet and dry conditions, but this time I was fast in both – though not without an unexpected issue in practice, that gave me concerns about the race.

So far, the game handles engine problems as an all or nothing scenario. It either works or it doesn’t. This time around, it did something different. As I ran my practice laps, the engine (which normally displays as a white box) became orange, which with things like tyres, signifies heavy wear. Sure enough, my lap times dropped off by around two seconds; I was pushing hard on the straights, was I stressing the engine?

Qualifying went well and I nailed pole, but I had that lingering doubt in my mind about the car. Would it hold together? When the race started I was able to once again remain in the lead on the first lap, bullying another car (one of the Red Bulls I think) into turn 1. The race was a wet one, but in practice I’d been easily faster, even in wet conditions, and thus pushed on, not concerned about the chasing pack.

I’d soon have reason to be worried though, when my engine switched to yellow, marking a drop in power. I would still edge away from the chasing cars behind me, but not nearly as quickly as I had before. All of a sudden, things were touch and go.

It would get worse. On lap 19, three laps before my second stop, my rear right tyre developed a puncture. I had little choice but to pit early, and whilst I would regain the lead by taking advantage of traffic, the intermediate tyres were not good at handling even a regular set of laps, let alone extra laps, and my pace as I approached the final stop wasn’t great.

Even though it all, I was able to maintain the lead, seeing off the chasing cars behind, securing my first win in damp conditions! More importantly, Button was only 9th, meaning I closed the gap to just 2 points in the title race! All of a sudden, the title is back on!