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It’s a case of job done, for both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who both did what they needed to do to keep their title challenges alive following a slow-burning Mexican Grand Prix. It began in somewhat controversial fashion, and ended with considerably more controversy.

In the run down to turn 1 Hamilton misjudged his braking and shot wide, cutting across the grass to retain the lead he had kept in the run toward the corner. Some fans have argued Hamilton should have taken a penalty for gaining an advantage – I’ll stick to my view that he backed off, allowing the gap to close up again – and an early safety car completely negated any perceived advantage Hamilton had. It was to be the only hairy moment for Hamilton, who went on to comfortably control the race.

Rosberg too was largely untroubled, save for a spell where Max Verstappen lurked close by, keeping Rosberg honest and on his toes. At one point Verstappen tried a lunge down the inside of turn 4, trying to exploit a lock-up from Rosberg, but he couldn’t make the move stick and ended up falling back – into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.

Late on, Vettel (who by this point had the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo pressing him) was on Verstappen’s tail as they approached turn 1. Vettel wasn’t actively trying to pass but Verstappen locked up anyway, shooting wide in a manner similar to Hamilton on the first lap. Vettel believed Verstappen had to give up third place, but the teenager was unrepentant, and as the pair squabbled, Ricciardo tried to slip by Vettel at turn 4. Vettel moved under braking, a move that would prove to have consequences.

Hamilton and Rosberg saw out a 1-2 finish, the second consecutive 1-2 and Hamilton’s 51st career win (equalling Alain Prost’s record). The question of who finished third saw Verstappen lose out to Vettel, only for Vettel to lose out to Ricciardo after the podium once the stewards had taken a closer look at Vettel’s defence against the Australian.

Vettel got sweary over the radio as his battles with the Red Bulls unfolded, and it won’t be the first time his temperment has been called into question this season. Might he need to take a breather?

In championship terms, the gap is down to 19 points with two races to go, so the circumstances remain the same – Hamilton needs to keep winning, Rosberg needs only to avoid making any errors and finish second and the title is his. There might be the temptation to push in Brazil – if Rosberg is victorious in a couple of weeks time, the championship will be his with a race to spare.

You might want to read these articles if you want to get a good primer for this – once again, we’re talking about bakers, gay marriage, and where the line is between private rights and professional duty.

This is a recurring theme that in my view is actually very simple – a business that is open to the public and operates in the public domain should be held to the same rules as every other such business – a shop is not a private institution; it has made a commitment to follow certain rules, and in refusing customers on the grounds of sexual orientation, it is failing to abide by those rules. That’s pretty straightforward in my book.

This time, the case in question comes from Northern Ireland, a country known for religious and political turmoil, with the two factors very much entwined. Back in 2014 a bakery refused to make a cake for a gay rights activist, on the grounds of religious freedom. Earlier this year a hearing ruled that the bakery was a ‘business for profit’, not a religious group, and therefore not subject to exemption from business law and rules. In my view, this is entirely correct, yet not unsurprisingly, there has been a furore over this.

In my discussion with Paul on Blogging Theology, the question came up (and I have since seen this question repeated elsewhere) over freedom of expression and whether we would expect a Jewish bakery to make a cake with Nazi symbols – but this is a false dilemma. Supporting gay rights is in no way shape or form the same as supporting an ideology that was based entirely on hate and discrimination, and to suggest the two scenarios are similar is a false narrative.  Expecting a business to fulfil its obligations under law is not the same as expecting a private institution (or individual) to abandon their belief system. The bottom line is, when you open a business that will deal with the public, you don’t get to pick and choose who you serve. That opens the door to all kinds of arbitrary approaches. ‘I don’t like people who wear glasses so I won’t serve them’. It opens the floodgates to all sorts of unpleasantness.

Another unsurprising argument is the position that fining the bakery in this instance is part of a clampdown on religious expression and freedoms. Never mind that homosexuals still face routine discrimination, even in developed countries. Never mind that no one is forcing religious institutions to take part in same-sex weddings. I have to wonder, what freedoms have been curtailed?

 

 

So we come to round 19 of 21, with a few stories to still wrap up. Will Manor hold on to 10th in the constructor’s championship, and thus claim extra prize money? Will Force India keep 4th place ahead of Williams? And of course, who will be crowned world champion of 2016?

That final question is one that could be answered on Sunday. If Rosberg wins and Hamilton places 10th or lower, Rosberg will take his first title. It’s unlikely that will be Nico’s focus – he will instead be focused entirely on the race itself. For Hamilton, the situation remains the same – he must win to keep his hopes alive, and hope Rosberg has a problem.

It was last year that Mexico returned to the F1 calendar after last hosting a race in 1992 – Rosberg won last year – the start of a sequence of 7 consecutive wins – and he would love a repeat of that. The track has been modified from the fast and bumpy circuit that it used to be – some of the speed is gone, but the atmosphere is immense, with Mexican fans turning out in droves to support their drivers, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez. They – and the other drivers – will still have to negotiate a long blast down toward turn 1, which will be an obvious overtaking point, and the chicane that is turns 4 and 5 will be another opportunity. A good enough exit from turn 5 might create chances at turn 6, but from there it will be tricky to keep close enough to the car ahead, especially in dirty air, through turns 7-11, and turns 12-17 are unlikely to lend themselves to overtaking.

Let’s hope for a good race!

​please don’t hate me for what I’m about to do. 

Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local swimming pool. I gave him a glass of water.

I changed my password to “incorrect”. So whenever I forget what it is the computer will say “Your password is incorrect”.


It is important to make breaks between individual exercises. I personally stick to breaks of about 3-4 years.

Having had a disasterous Japanese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton bounced back with a much-needed victory at the Circuit of the Americas yesterday, closing the gap on Mercedes’ teammate Nico Rosberg to 26 points with three races to go. It was a weekend that saw Hamilton ultimately dominate the race, having qualified on pole, and having led every lap, bar one brief spell where Vettel (who hadn’t pitted at the time) was in front.

The nature of this win – Hamilton’s 50th career triumph) raises questions as to why we haven’t seen this sort of performance from him very often this season. One can’t help but wonder if the mistakes in the opening rounds, not to mention in Baku and Japan, plus his out-of-sorts showing in Singapore, might prove to be the key variable.

As far as the race went, Hamilton got a good start and was clear into turn 1 without too much trouble. Rosberg was passed by the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and had the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen loitering close behind. The start wasn’t so enjoyable for Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Wiliams’ Valteri Bottas – they (and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel) were involved a pinch at the first corner, which led to Hulkenberg forced to retire and Bottas forced to pit, pushing him right down the field.

At the front, Ricciardo was keeping Hamilton honest, with Rosberg following. Max Verstappen had made a relatively poor start in the other Red Bull, but within a few laps he had caught and passed Raikkonen, and gave Rosberg some food for thought by straying into DRS range. However, the Red Bulls were on the supersoft tyres, which began to lose performance by lap 8, and the Mercedes were both on the soft compound. Interestingly, Mercedes split their strategy, with Rosberg pitting first and for medium tyres, whilst Hamilton would pit for softs again.

There would be two pit stop calamities, one of which would prove costly for Raikkonen. The first incident though, belonged to Verstappen, and it would hurt Ricciardo’s chances of threatening for a win. Verstappen mistakenly believed he’d been called to the pits, and pulled in with the crew not ready. He’d barely gotten halfway around the out lap when he was forced to slow down, and his team took so long in directing him to pull over that when he finally did stop, the stewards deemed it necessary to use the virtual safety car – this grave Mercedes a free stop, and both cars donned the medium boots. From that point on, they were able to cruise to the end, leaving Ricciardo to settle for third.

Ferrari were at fault for Raikkonen’s untimely retirement, at a point where he’d been showing good pace. They left a wheel gun on his rear-right tyre as he pulled away, and with the tyre not being secure, they had no choice but to pull him over and retire the car.

Things at the front were quite steady, but behind them an interesting race broke out. Carlos Sainz in his Toro Rosso held off the Williams of Felipe Massa for several laps, allowing McLaren’s Fernando Alonso to close in on them both. Alonso had started in 12th, but he would finish in 5th after a bullish move to get by Massa, and a move on Sainz late on. Jensen Button in the other McLaren had qualified in 19th – but finished 9th.

Finally, there were mixed results for the US team Haas. Esteban Gutierrez was forced to retire on lap 16 with brake failure, but Romain Grosjean was able to take the final points place.

So what does this all mean for the title battle? Well, it was job done for both Hamilton and Rosberg. Hamilton needed to win – he needs to win all the remaining races – whilst Rosberg can afford two 2nd places and a 3rd place, even if Hamilton wins the three remaining races – and still be champion. Next up we journey to Mexico – what might we expect?

Where do I even begin here? Twitter is a great tool for connecting to people and spreading ideas – the flipside of this is that some distinctly unsavoury notions can also be spread through Twitter (indeed, through the net). Earlier today I stumbled upon exactly this.

justin1 justin2 justin3 justin4

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Yes, seriously – the above happened. I really can’t begin to understand how this guy can believe any of this, but what’s especially disturbing is his idea that murdering children (indeed, anyone) is acceptable. He regards women as the ‘enemy’ and children as ‘collateral damage’.

He also thinks that men and children are the primary victims of domestic violence. However, a 2009 study, based on police reports, shows that men are the perpetrators in 85% of cases. Women are the victims in 89% of repeat cases. I wonder how Justin will respond to this?

CW/TW: Sexual assault, harassment, rape, victim-blaming NSFW I have recently started a series of blogs following the #TrumpTapes and the #WeAren’tJustStats hashtags on Twitter. The first three, When I Was Twelve, When I Was Thirteen and When I Was Fifteen can be viewed by clicking on the links. In my post We Aren’t Just Stats, there is an explanation as to […]

via #WeAren’tJustStats – This Is Rape Culture — The Melodramatic Confessions of Carla Louise

As the US election draws ever closer, and the world awaits with baited breath to see if the unthinkable can come true, it’s worth taking a closer look at Donald Trump’s would-be vice-President, Mike Pence.

Pence is the Governor of the State of Indiana, a position he’s held since 2013, and his involvement in US politics goes back further. Trump has been clever to get Pence on-side, so to speak – his right-hand man has political experience.

Pence is in many ways the insidious side of Trump’s campaign. Whilst Trump (rightly) receives condemnation from various quarters for the things he’s been saying, Pence is arguably worse. No, that isn’t a typo. Mike Pence is a man who is decidedly dangerous in his views, across a range of subjects.

Abortion: Like Trump, Pence is anti-abortion and his state requires women to mourn and grieve the foetus, putting them through a traumatic experience during what will already be a difficult time. One of his constituents was actually jailed, though this sentence was overruled.

Sex Education: Pence seriously believes that abstinence education is better than using protection. I hope I don’t have to explain to anyone how stupid this is.

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LBGT Rights: It’s probably not a surprise to learn that Pence doesn’t believe same-sex couples should have the right to marry and he wants to strip this right from them. More than that, Pence wants to remove any legal protections the LGBT community has.

There’s yet more. Pence is on record as saying that smoking doesn’t kill and he compared a ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It should speak volumes that Trump regards this man as the person he wants to serve alongside him.

 

Round 18 of the 2016 F1 season brings us to Austin, Texas, for the US Grand Prix – the fifth time this venue has hosted the race.

A circuit that has proven popular with drivers, due to a cherry-picking of elements from other tracks that has actually worked quite well, Austin has also proven popular with fans, and it appears to be popular with the Americans as well, with the event well-attended, year after year. Bernie’s long desired to crack the US market, and so far, so good with Austin.

Especially noteworthy parts of the track would have to include the sequence from turn 3 to turn 9, which borrows from Silverstone and Suzuka to create a windy, high-speed set of corners that test a driver’s mettle. Turns 1, 11 and 12 are obvious opportunities to overtake, though some may look to other, more unlikely points to have a go.

In the context of 2016, Lewis Hamilton comes here needing a win to keep his title hopes alive. He is at a stage where he can win every one of the remaining four races and still lose the title, so it is imperative that he doesn’t drop points today. He’s put his Mercedes on pole for the first time here, but pole position, especially this season, is no guarantee of victory. His teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg lines up beside him, so the blast up the hill to the wide first corner should be interesting.

Lurking just behind the Mercs are the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Both are ‘punchy’ drivers who aren’t afraid to go for an overtake and the Red Bulls had good long-distance pace here in practice. Might they be the variable that upsets Hamilton or Rosberg today?