Round six of the 2016 Formula 1 season brought us to the paradise of the rich and famous – Monaco – for a more interesting race than we are usually treated to.

MonteCarlo

 

 

The race certainly didn’t start out that way. Rainfall prior to lights out meant the race started under the safety car, which led pole sitter Daniel Ricciardo (who had turned up the heat on the Mercedes duo with a blistering pole lap), Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and the rest of the pack around for the first few laps, to the rising frustration of the drivers after a short while.

Once the safety car came in it was a case of managing the blue-walled wet weather tyres for as long as possible whilst the track dried out, with strategic gambles coming into play. Ricciardo surged away of Rosberg, who was noticeably slower than Hamilton and ultimately ordered by Mercedes to let him through (an order that Rosberg followed with good grace – would Hamilton have done the same?).

RosbergHamilton

(Rosberg lacked pace in the wet conditions)

By the time Hamilton cleared Rosberg he was some 13 seconds behind Ricciardo, who was managing his tyres and pace well, but Hamilton was doing likewise and was slowly clawing the gap back. Rosberg fell back, with the Ferrari of Vettel and the Force India of Perez lurking not too far behind.

There were accidents and problems galore quite early on. Kvyat’s Toro Rosso was stuck on the wrong speed setting, and Joylen Palmer lost control on the pit straight to prang the barrier hard and skid off the track. Raikkonen kissed the barrier at turn 7 and Kvyat broke his front wing (along with nearly crunching Magnussen’s Renault) at turn 17. Verstappen, fresh from his win in Spain, had been forced to start from the pit lane after crashing during qualifying, but fought his way up through the grid, only to lock his left front tyre coming through turn 3.

Interestingly, whilst the virtual safety car saw a few deployments, the actual safety car didn’t reappear.

KvyatMag

(Kvyat had a bad day)

The most embarrassing accident came when the two Saubers collected one another, also at turn 17, after the team had ordered Nasr to let Ericsson by. Nasr wasn’t keen to comply and Ericsson made a move that failed, leading to two broken front wings and a retirement for Nasr.

Sauber

(turn 17 was a trouble spot!)

Without a doubt the key moment in the race came when Red Bull pulled Ricciardo into the pits for his second stop. The Australian had already made one stop, replacing his full wet tyres for intermediates, whilst Hamilton had stayed out on full wets, trying to make them last long enough to change directly to slick tyres. Once Lewis had pitted for the ultra-soft compound, Ricciardo came in for the super-softs – only the team didn’t have the tyres ready, leading to a long delay whilst they found the right tyres. Ricciardo spent over 13 seconds stationary in the pits – that lost time almost certainly cost him victory, for when he came out of the pits, Hamilton was streaking by and taking the lead.

Not that Ricciardo didn’t fight back. A huge moment of controversy came at the chicane that is turns 10 and 11, when Hamilton partially cut the corner, and then squeezed Ricciardo as they set down the straight. The stewards investigated and decided no further action was warranted, but Ricciardo was incensed.

Whilst Ricciardo would trail Hamilton closely for the remainder of the race, he couldn’t quite get close enough to make a move stick. Hamilton would see out the race on the ultra-soft tyres (which held up far better than anyone expected) to seal his first win of 2016, and only his second win at Monaco.

HamiltonRicciardo

(Ricciardo couldn’t quite get close enough to make an attack)

Further back, there was a solid drive from Force India’s Perez, who took a rare podium for the team, whilst Vettel was fourth for Ferrari after a fairly anonymous day, and Alonso took an excellent fifth for McLaren (with Button also finishing in the points in ninth). The second Force India took sixth, slipping by Rosberg at the very end of the race, to seal a bad day for Rosberg, whose lead in the championship has been cut to 24 points. Rosberg had some issues with brake temperature during the race but also seemed to struggle in the wet conditions – will he rue letting Hamilton by?

Was Hamilton Lucky?

A tough question. He certainly benefited from Ricciardo’s pit stop disaster, and his move to block Ricciardo was on the cusp of what’s reasonable. On the other hand, he managed his tyres brilliantly and timed his stop to perfection. He might well consider himself somewhat fortunate, at least privately, but he will also be pleased to stay out of trouble and take a much-needed first win in 2016.

Next up is Canada, which can bring wet weather thrills all its own!

Back to F1 2016

Some time ago now I was asked by one of the author’s of The Game Freak Show to produce a top ten list of my favourite games, and I found myself pondering this tricky question. In the end, I hastily produced a list of eight games, but I couldn’t put them into any sort of order, save for placing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past at number one.

As I sit here and contemplate this question, I find it even harder to answer. Over the years I have played many games, across different consoles and platforms, and across several genres. How do I narrow down that list to just ten, then decide what order to put them in?!

Having given it some thought (albeit not much!), here is a provisional list:

10. Star Wars: Jedi Academy

JediAcademy

Otherwise known as Dark Forces IV (if we want to be really technical), Jedi Academy offers, in my humble view, the best experience of being a Jedi, short of actually being one. The game is beautiful to look at, the maps are epic in scope, and the combat is quite refined. There is also a sizable online community that have created a wide range of mods and upgrades for it, keeping the game fresh.

9. Empire Total War

EmpireTotalWar

An incredibly detailed game, and part of the popular Total War series, Empire introduced advanced naval combat to the franchise, and a huge number of combatants. As the above picture shows, the refinement is pretty stupendous, and this is a trait that is found throughout the game.

The learning curve is pretty steep, and as soon as the game starts you’ve got a lot going on, but it’s worth pushing on for the satisfaction of conquering continents later (my British armies swept through Europe and the Americas like a wave, setting me up as the dominant power). With combat, much of the outcome can (as with real war) be determined beforehand – not only is there the size of the force to consider, but how many (and what type) of cannons do you have, what’s the balance of cavalry vs infantry, and what skills and formations are they trained in? You can then deploy them in different ways – it all affects the battle itself.

There’s also the political machine, the subverting of enemy territory through religious conversion, and trade agreements to be made, not to mention alliances to be made or broken.

All in all, this game has fantastic replay value, and is one of the most detailed games of its kind.

8. Call of Duty

image

When talking about CoD, I’m thinking mostly of the first two games in the series, that took us back to World War II and the destructive conflict that raged across Europe. The graphics are obviously not going to compare to today’s releases, but they were good for their day and the games were enjoyable to play. At different points in the campaign you’d be playing as British, American or Soviet soldiers, each of them fighting the Nazis across different theatres of war.

I quite enjoyed the single-player experience, but multiplayer is where the most fun was to be had. Depending on the map, you could find places to hide and pick off enemy players to your heart’s content, though you were always a little wary of someone sneaking up behind you. If given the choice between this and other WWII FPS games, I’ll pick CoD every time.

7. Master of Orion II

MasterofOrion2Combat

Strategy games are something of a vice of mine, and I enjoy quite a few of them, but when it comes to space-based games, it’s hard for me to look past Master of Orion II. Why MoO2? To me, it built upon the strengths of the first game and ironed out some of the weaknesses – it really is that simple. Obviously the game looks dated by today’s standards, but it still plays well (considerably more so than MoO3, which was a disaster in my opinion). With a new Master of Orion game due out fairly soon, I might have to consider looking into it to see if it can offer a fresh new take on the Four X genre.

6. Colonisation

Colonization_map

Yet another strategy game makes it onto this list – this time we go from interstellar empires to the New World, and a game that’s clearly not graphically strong anymore – but one that’s still pretty good and sophisticated in unforeseen ways.

I used to play this and another game (the next one on this list in fact) pretty much one after the other. Colonisation was my ‘thinking’ game that required careful consideration of where to locate colonies (you’d have to look at the resources nearby, whether you were land-locked, who else had colonies nearby and what you relationships were like with the natives). You had to ponder how to react when the motherland started making demands for more money, and balance what you needed from home as your colonies became more self-sufficient. Trade with neighbouring colonies became a feature if you could attract the right Founding Fathers, whilst the longer you left it before declaring independence, the more options you would have – though you would miss out on a considerable points bonus if you left it too long.

5. Doom

Doom

Whereas Colonisation would be where I took my brain to do a spot of thinking and planning, Doom was where I took it to release some aggression. What better setting to vent some fury than blasting demons left right and centre?

Looks can be deceptive. Whilst Doom is clearly a violent shooter, and there is much fun to be had in fighting gigantic armoured spiders and demons with rocket launchers for arms, the game did require you to solve mysteries and find keys – you couldn’t simply blast your way through. A brilliant array of weapons (the BFG 2000 anyone?) accompanied you (I was quite fond of the shotgun) and you were on your toes a lot of the time – darkened rooms with sounds of people and creatures that you couldn’t see would always make me hesitate, even if I’d played the level before and knew what to expect.

Doom 2 continued this trend of brilliant stress relief and sheer terror – something few games have been able to do for me!

4. Star Fox 64

image

This is where things get tricky. As we get to the sharp end of this list, I find myself having to think very hard as to who occupies the final spots. I start with the second installment of a franchise that I have come to regard with great fondness.

I was going to put the original Star Fox game in, and I found it hard to separate the two, until I asked myself ‘which would I rather play more?’ Star Fox 64 (known as Lylat Wars when it first launched in the UK) pips it on that basis. Much of the spirit of the first game is retained in SF64, with plenty of dogfighting action, a nice variety of enemies and bosses, and a good range of levels. An introduction of all-range mode gave rise to some great battles, including an Independence Day-style fight over a base.

You can also choose the direction you take across the map, based on your performance on the previous level, so if you so choose, no two games will be alike.

3. Super Mario Kart

SuperMarioKart2

It’s nostalgia time. I’ve enjoyed pretty much every Mario Kart offering, but the one I enjoyed the most is good old Mark 1 Super Mario Kart for the SNES. Whereas more recent Mario Kart games are more about the items (Mario Kart Wii online could be an horrendously annoying experience thanks to this), SMK was more about pure speed, with the added factor of items making life interesting.

I used to relish playing Mario Kart with one of my old school friends. We were pretty evenly matched and kept each other sharp. I miss those carefree days, and I miss the excitement and nerves of tackling the original Rainbow Road – a nail-biting circuit!

One of the things I came to enjoy were the time trials – a test of how quickly you could handle any given circuit, without items to help you out. This was were I came to hone my skills at the courses, which served me in good stead when racing against friends. There are so many great memories attached to this game, and it’s definitely worthy of a place in the top 3.

2. Super Mario World

SuperMarioWorldWow. Just wow. Whilst the original Super Mario Bros should be fondly regarded for so many reasons, and whilst Super Mario Bros 3 was an immense game in so many ways, it was Mario’s first SNES outing that would come to be my favourite. The launch title for the SNES, SMW was bright, colourful and oh-so-clever, introducing new mechanics like different exits from levels, the character of Yoshi (who was extremely helpful!) and some amazing levels that took full advantage of what the SNES could do. In theory you could complete the game quite easily (bypassing several levels via the Rainbow Road), but everyone who played Super Mario World wanted to complete every exit on every level, thus mastering the game 100%

There were even secrets within secrets. The first hidden level on Donut Island had a secret exit of its own, as did the Rainbow Road levels. Eventually you’d discover levels like ‘Gnarly’ and the incredibly challenging ‘Tubular’, on your way to unlocking every exit.

Even the music to this game was brilliant. It was as vibrant as the game itself. I could happily replay this almost as much as the winner…

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

ALTTP

I don’t need to go into too much detail here, as I’ve already explained elsewhere on this site why this is my all-time favourite game. I love the Zelda series anyway, but this is the best one to me. It’s not nearly as linear as later Zelda games, yet still has a structure to it. There are many hidden secrets you can find, a huge world to explore, and a great many dungeons for you to sink your teeth into. There is no more thoroughly enjoyable and replayable game to me than this one.

So there you have it. On a different day, different games might have made it onto this list. The Football Manager games (and their precursors) might have had a shout. Pirates (both the original NES version and the later PC version) might have had a chance. This list is not a stone tablet – it can change, based on revisiting old games and playing new ones. For the moment though, this is how it is.

Back to Why I Love Nintendo

One of the things I want to do is write a story (we are all meant to have one great novel in us, after all). Over the years I have started to write and then hit a brick wall with my ideas, unable to figure out how to take them any further. Lately, I can’t even focus on how to get started with a story, let alone anything else, and this is currently a source of burning frustration for me.

I know what part of the problem is. I am easily distracted, which straight away doesn’t help. My attention will wander all too easily, and I know this happens but I don’t know what to do about it.

I also find it difficult to focus. My brain is a whirlwind of ideas, none of which will solidify into something that can then be developed. I dare say I am slowly driving myself mad with this.

Finally, I work full-time, and by the time I come home, I don’t have the energy to plow into writing something. From somewhere, I need to find that energy.

The three things I need then are:

  1. No Distractions
  2. Greater Focus
  3. More Energy.

Answers on a postcard please.

In just under a month’s time Britain faces a key referendum on its future with the European Union, and thus far I’ve not said much about it. Well, that’s about to change!

It’s easy to consider the upcoming EU referendum as deciding whether or not we remain in the EU – but the question is should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? This is quite important, because the wording is such that it doesn’t mean we will leave the EU if the vote goes that way. Voting to say we should is not the same as saying we will, so regardless of how the vote goes, those who want Britain to leave the EU shouldn’t presume we will.

Should we leave?

The ‘Brexit’ campaign has been quite vocal in its reasoning behind why Britain is better off going alone – coming up with all sorts of facts and figures to support financial and political reasons why we should leave, but what’s the truth behind these claims? The truth is, I don’t know and there’s a lot of uncertainty. Let’s take a look at a couple of issues…

Finance & Trade

Should Britain quit the EU, we will need to have plans in place to sort out our trade arrangements so we are not at a disadvantage. The best model out there might be Norway’s, which is not in the EU but has negotiated access to the European Economic Area. This grants Norway access to European trade markets but releases her from EU rules on areas like justice and home affairs.

It remains to be seen if a so-called ‘amicable divorce’ would be possible. Would EU members allow Britain to pick and choose what rules and agreements we follow? If we make a clean break, the EU could impose tariffs on us, hampering British industry and exports.

The leave campaign suggests we might end up with a boom in the jobs market as the removal of rules and regulations – but we might also be hindered if businesses decide to leave Britain for cheaper EU alternatives.

Immigration

This is a big issue. Open EU borders have been used by the Brexit campaign to suggest we would be unable to control an influx of immigrants from prospective new EU members like Turkey, and that we are better off with direct controls over our borders. At the moment the net migration to the UK is around 300,000 people per year – is this too high?

A lot rests on how immigrants are perceived. The tabloid press likes to create hysteria around this, suggesting that immigrants are by-and-large benefits scroungers. There is of course the interesting and contradictory argument raised that immigrants are both taking British jobs and skiving on benefits.

Thoughts

There is a lot of stuff we don’t know regarding our circumstances if we leave. The EU may well not respond favourably to us leaving, and won’t necessarily offer us the trade terms other countries have. Economic uncertainty is not what we need right now, given the still-fragile state of our economy. The EU has flaws, but we know what we’re into – if we go it alone, we are plunged into the unknown. My personal ‘gut’ feeling is that we are better off staying.

 

monaco

There’s always something special about the Monaco GP. An event that is steeped in history and glamour, providing the ultimate test of concentration and nerve, everyone looks forward to Monaco. It doesn’t always produce exciting on-track action, but as already mentioned, it’s a test of endurance.

Monaco is unforgiving. There are hardly any run-off areas – make a mistake, and you will prang a barrier and almost certainly ruin your day. Every corner is tight, every straight is narrow, and you absolutely cannot drop your focus, even for a second.

In the context of 2016, Monaco is well and truly crunch time for Lewis Hamilton. After two bad starts, two engine hiccups in qualifying and a first-lap crash with teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg, he is 43 points adrift of the German, and must start turning things around if he is to compete for the title. Having only won at Monaco once (in 2008), Hamilton is desperate to repeat that feat, not only for his title charge but also because being a multiple winner here would mean a lot to him personally. Hamilton nearly won here last season, but a strategy error handed Rosberg his third consecutive win at the Principality.

Both Hamilton and Rosberg will need to be mindful of what’s going on behind them. Ferrari are straining hard to keep in touch with the Silver Arrows, but perhaps more importantly, Red Bull (who took victory via Max Verstappen’s maiden win in Spain last time out) will relish Monaco, a high downforce circuit that plays to their strengths, and they will probably give Daniel Ricciardo an upgraded engine (thought to be worth half a second a lap). Red Bull are fast becoming the wild card that Ferrari want to be, and are looking like they could press the Prancing Horse for second in the constructor’s championship.

Red Bull could well be a nusiance factor for both Hamilton and Rosberg at Monaco – it will be intriguing to see just what they can do.

Back to F1 2016

As those of you who follow this blog are by now aware, I quite frequently dip my toes into potentially choppy waters. I discuss things like religion, homosexuality, and feminism. I’ve recently been talking a little bit about vaccination too.

Today’s post is about feminism, in case you were wondering, and two very different perspectives (MRAs, if you’re reading, take note).

The quote below is from a site called Story Ending Never, and I would dare say from the content that the author would identify as a radical feminist.

A long, long time ago, men realized something.

They are next to useless. Essentially obsolete. There is almost no reason for their existence. And as scientific knowledge has progressed, we can correctly say that now, there really is no purpose for men. Women have the capacity to breed with other women. We don’t even need freeze-dried spunk or the jizz of farmed or jailed males to replicate anymore. Men know this, and especially lately, we are seeing backlash against women in all corners of the world by men and sometimes by women on behalf of men. Male violence increases as their self-awareness and fear of reality increases. Infantile violent backlash: classic male modus operandi. But it is not to be disregarded in the way that you might the temper tantrum of a toddler.

She continues.

Violence is a mandatory part of male existence, and paired with female enslavement and forced breeding, war and conflict are a constant. This is exciting for men because war creates jobs and a false sense of male purpose. There is absolutely no incentive for men to end conflict. 1) They lose a massive supply of rape fodder (‘enemy’ women and forced prostitutes in devastated areas). 2) Natural male bloodlust is satisfied. 3) Money is made off of war through the creation and fake-solving of problems. Take away conflict and men become useless. Look at the aftermath of WWII in North America. Women like my grandmother easily held down the home front. They found new purpose after being freed from mandatory rape and other wife/slave duties. They had jobs. They took over sports and entertainment. They renewed friendships with other women without men getting in the way and making demands. When men came back from war, they were lost with no purpose. They saw that women had easily gotten on without them. Men were not needed at all. So they solved this problem by displacing the women, brainwashing them once again, putting them back in the kitchens and laundry rooms, and forcing them to spread their legs and believe in ‘romance’ (hello Baby Boom – aka post-war-rape-babies).

The link to the article is here, should you want to read what she has to say in its entirety.

This isn’t the first time I have read of the idea that men are predisposed to aggressive and violent behaviour. It’s true that we probably do carry within us more aggressive instincts, but the blanket statements on show here set a dangerous precedent. It was pointed out to me once before that arguments from biological determinism cut both ways – would radical feminists like this one be inclined to listen to arguments that suggest women should be treated as weaker, because this is what happens in nature?

This obviously wouldn’t be fair and one of the goals of feminism is to inform people that a woman is not predetermined to be a sex object just because she’s female. She should be treated as a person, defined by who she is, not what she is. Sadly, this is a struggle that’s far from over (and the author of the article is not necessarily wrong in that society does disadvantage women – despite what MRAs claim). What concerns me is the author wishes to fight this sort of blanket argument with… Blanket arguments.

This is the face of feminism that MRAs and MGTOWs latch onto and use to undermine the idea of equality with the notion that feminism is out to marginalise and destroy men. It’s a position motivated by anger, and whether justified or not, arguments formed in anger are usually more destructive to their cause than their opponents.

I mentioned earlier on that this post is about different takes. Next up, some words from Carla Louise:

Recently, thanks to Curiosetta, I decided to investigate MGTOWs (Men Going Their Own Way, in case you’ve never really heard that phrase before. I hadn’t; nor had my husband, so I’m guessing they aren’t the most relevant group).

To be honest, I could target any one of their videos or threats that I watched or read. Seriously. There was so much for the taking, and you’ll probably hear about it in the future – I definitely plan on dissecting a lot of their opinions. But, basically their intention and main goal seemed to be set on humiliating and demeaning women.

Seriously.

Literally seems to be their motto. 

For example, one video was celebrating a man breaking up with his girlfriend of five years over the radio. Apparently she’d cheated on him, but instead of behaving like an adult and confronting her and asking if there was any truth to the rumours, he set up a break-up scheme with a radio station. During the segment, the radio hosts and her boyfriend led her to believe he was about to propose.

The radio hosts also insulted her continuously throughout the segment (I don’t know how she stayed on the line for so long, I would’ve hung up), mocking her for having the audacity for being a woman.

Then her boyfriend dumped his very confused ex.

While I don’t condone cheating, to me, an act like that is despicable. (And in case anyone’s claiming “You’re a woman!”, my husband listened to the audio as well, and was more horrified than I was. On top of which, I have been cheated on, and have never felt it necessary to behave so pathetically.) No one deserves to be treated that way. Ever. Whilst most commenters felt that the guy was lucky, I felt that opposite (and so did my husband). We both felt that the woman was lucky he’d dumped her.

Anyone capable of such disrespect and hate, so fuelled with vengeance, doesn’t love you, doesn’t care for you, and certainly doesn’t respect you. And – let’s be clear – he didn’t know for certain if she had cheated, or what had happened, before he started the radio segment.

There were plenty of other videos – hundreds, if not more – but they all seemed to share the same theme: shaming, bullying and harassing women.

Carla is not wrong. The attitude taken up by these MGTOWs is fueled by anger. It’s fueled by expectation and bitterness that women are not conforming to those expectations. It’s fueled by entitlement. Women are being harassed and shamed for being women, and later on Carla exposes the double-standard applied between men who want casual sex and women who want casual sex. She’s not wrong that rejection is behind the slut-shaming that takes place there.

What’s quite important here is that Carla makes her points in a controlled fashion. Yes, she is angry (and why shouldn’t she be?), but the arguments are smart. They are well-constructed. They aren’t blanket statements that tar everyone with the same brush. This is the face of feminism that deserves attention.