Sunday, July 27, 2008

What is wrong with an ETS?

For those of you outside of Australia, the current political hot potato over here is the introduction of an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

Let's face it, our earth is going to hell one degree at a time and a properly implemented ETS would be a great step toward a sustainable future for our country. That, and investment in Geo-Thermal energy *cough*.

As the government wrangles out the details behind a proposed scheme, the political moves behind the scheme make for some interesting political grandstanding.

You see, the former Liberal government (which is now in opposition with a new leader...Malcom Turnbull I think his name is?) at the last general election was trying to limit the damage from being an 'ungreen' party by stating that its aim was to introduce an ETS from the get-go.

Now, the Liberal Party is opposing any implementation of an ETS until at least 2010. For a piece of legislature that is already 10 years too late, that's a big call.

So why this seemingly anti-green stance?

Well, the shadow government is keen to paint Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong (Environment Minister) as populists keen to inflate their own egos without consideration to well-drafted legislation.

On the Sunday program today, Malcom Turnbull accused the government of rushing out this legislation in order to capitalise on pro-green sentiment.

He has a point.

You see, very little detail has come out regarding the finer points of the ETS, and the government has done a very good job of keeping the Australian public in the dark.

"This new ETS is good for the environment, that's all you need to know"

Yet, the government has stated the ETS would be modeled on the somewhat (from an Aussie POV) successful ETS started in Europe. The fact is, the ETS probably will be good for the environment, after a few learning difficulties.

Mr Turnbull said the government had adopted a 'wait and see' approach to climate change. He said they wanted to wait to see the outcomes of the next US Election and the next environment conference in Copenhagen to gauge whether or not it would be worth the trouble.

The shadow government's reasoning being that without China and India on board, any efforts to change would be fruitless and end up costing Australian taxpayers an arm and a leg.

At this point, Mr Turnbull grew thick eyebrows as they went back to that old stance of 'Those furriners are costing our battlers money'.

So the tactic from the shadow government is to aim squarely at the hip pocket of the Australian voter and to paint the Labor government as pie-in-the sky idealists without a sense of economic reality.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The question remains, would a rushed ETS now be better than an fully thought out ETS further down the track? Can our planet afford to take another one for the team?


Friday, July 25, 2008

What is wrong with the young'uns?

I try not to give authors free publicity, but this video I stumbled across makes some good points about the youth of today.

It features Mark Bauerlein taking about his new book The Dumbest Generation,which makes a pretty valid argument regarding the cons of a digital culture.

He argues that although the digital offers unrivaled information access for young people, that the young people are not taking advantage of this. Now,I'm one of those young people, and it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

When teenagers and young adults go online, they don't go to check out Othello from the school library. They go to the entertainment sites to watch stupid films, and to social networking sites to find other people with exactly the same interests.

It is one of modern life's great ironic twists that when a new generation is faced with the oppurtunity to have the greatest level of education that any generation has ever recieved, we are so eager to wallow in familiarity.

Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but have you talked to a teenager lately?

Ask them to point to Iraq on a map, recite a poem or discuss Fellinni and you'll get a blank stare and an oh so sad 'gah?'.

Once upon a time, young people were intelectually curious. Libraries flourished, art house cinemas were able to operate, but texts were scarce. Perhaps because of this scarcity, that people developed a hunger for knowledge, a desire for understanding.

Now, we have the potential to have anything we want at our fingertips, just waiting for curious young minds to devour. The internet is the biggest library of all, with reams of new information added every day. Indeed,one can spend a whole day on the internet and not scratch the surface.

Instead, young people are using the internet to scracth the event horizon of a blackhole of ignorance.

Instead of seeking out new information to learn and to digest, young people are seeking out ignorant others to talk about asinine topics to feel better about their own vacuous selves.

Of course, they're all very special of course. They're individuals who make a meaningful contribution to society. Why try to become a productive member of society when you're already special?

That seems to be the overriding attitudes being taught in schools. Time was, you could actually get a fail mark at school, now it's harder to fail than pass. What kind of freaky-deaky culture is that?

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is truly the dumbest generation. Dumb not because we don't know our times tables, not dumb because we can't recite Homer (You know...the Greek dude) but dumb because we do not attempt to rectify this situation.

We have convinced ourelves that we are worthy of society despite not contributing, and convinced ourselves that taking the hard road is just dumb.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What is wrong with Melville vs Westside?

Couldn't really come up with a good title there. Anyhow, thought it might be cool to give y'all a look at one of this round's draft reports before it's edited, just to show you what I was on about a couple of posts ago. This should hit the Hockey WA site tomorrow provided I haven't been sued for defamation or anything pleasant like that.

Enjoy hockey fans!



Melville recorded a come from behind 2-1 over Westside Wolves at Melville Turf on Sunday afternoon, in the Wizard Home Loans Cup.

Westside was looking to push into the top four, and Melville was hoping to keep its faint finals chances alive.

Westside grabbed the early initiative though, and looked to play the ball down the right hand side, whereas Melville was content to play on the counter attack. This approach worked well for Melville, who created the better chances early despite the Wolves pressure.

Ten minutes in, Westside’s Russell Ford was able to get a shot in using the reverse stick, to create the first meaningful opportunity of the half.

As Melville made the most of their possession, Westside was unable to capitalise on their possession, despite some promising lead-up play.

Westside almost went ahead with 22 minutes played, with a shot from Justin McDougall going just wide following a short corner.

Melville held on to ensure the status quo at half time, despite a Westside short corner in the last minute of the half making the home fans nervous.

The second half began much as the first finished, with Westside controlling possession, and Melville happy to play on the counter attack. This time though, the Wolves were finally able to capitalise, converting a short corner eight minutes in. The goal was scored by McDougall, who hit the ball low and hard, forcing a deflection off the keeper’s glove into the back of his own net.

The goal spurned Melville into life, which had a goal back just four minutes later after Ben Meacock whacked the ball home after the Westside defence failed to clear the ball from a short corner.

Melville had another goal in no time, with a short corner converted by Dan White, who flicked the ball between the Westside custodian’s legs.

The Wolves went in search of an equaliser, as Melville was forced to play the rest of the half on the back foot.

Westside had a number of opportunities from short corners, but were let down by some poor execution on the trap.

The Wolves task got harder when a yellow card was shown to Adam Bache with five minutes left to go. Despite the setback, the Wolves made the Melville faithful sweat by forming a number of attacks in the final minutes.

Melville’s resolute defence however, was typified by keeper Tristan Clemons, who rushed off his line in the last minute to smother another Wolves attack as they held on for the win.

Westside host UWA next week while Melville face a tough ask against YMCC at home.


That should give you a good example of how to do a pretty detailed match report, and I'm sure it's not perfect either, so you should have some fun poking holes in it.

Till next time.

(Damn I'm getting conceited)

Friday, July 18, 2008

What is wrong with the classifications board?

I'm back after my tussle with the flu, and I'm mad as all hell.

Last week I was browsing Kotaku when I saw a story on Fallout 3 being refused an MA15+ classification in this country, effectively banning the full version from this country. Why?

Apparently because your avatar could shoot morphine, with positive in-game effects. Now, I'm not advocating drug use, it's been a huge issue in our country regarding the indigenous population (especially morphine in the NT), but this whole thing smacks of hypocrisy and ignorance from the rating board.

For example, I just have to browse my DVD collection to see that 21 Grams has been given a MA15+ rating. Something tells me that 21 Grams may just be a teeny little harmful and shocking to young minds than Fallout 3 would ever be. Even SAW IV, yes, SAW IV has been given a MA15+ rating according to classification office's press page!

So what? It's not being given a MA15+ rating in this country, can't you just make it an adults-only game? Well, as it turns out, no.

You see, there's no R18+ classification in this country regarding games.

Wha? But...don't they know adults actually play games? Well, one look at the board may give you some clues.

Do me a favour, go to the classification board's website and look at the board listing.

Notice the hilariously named Donald McDonald, the director of the board doesn't look a day under 60 (his bio said he got a BAComm in 1961, so you make a guesstimate). Do you think he's ever...actually played a video game in his life?

Or is it simply that his only experience with video games stems from watching his grandchildren play?

No wonder there's no R18+ classification for games in this country! The prevailing attitude seems to be that ADULTS DON'T PLAY GAMES! Of course they don't! The rest of the board doesn't exactly paint a youthful picture either.

Coming from a theoretical perspective (as these board members must be), video games do seem more harmful than film or books.

The logic is there, video gaming is a highly interactive medium which can be easily imitated. As gamers though, I bet you you've never learned to load a gun by playing GTAIV or Call of Duty. However, anybody who knows a thing or two about film can tell you that it's a highly interactive medium too.

Through the practice of semiotics and verisimilitude, a film involves the viewer. Viewers are not passive in making meaning, but are active in it.

It's easy to see why the classification board may have this view of video games, but that's not the biggest outrage in all this. There's another player in all this that could put pressure on the board, but idly sits by while gamers are treated like children.


You see the peak bodies on the news all the time, and yet they don't seem to be sticking up for our rights to play the same game the rest of the world will be playing. Could it be that censorship is just not a civil liberty issue anymore?

Unlikely. More likely however, is that they're ignorant of the whole thing.

They're kind of busy fighting lock-out laws and debating the alco-pops tax, so getting the full Fallout 3 here, and creating a R18+ classification is pretty low on their list of priorities. Who could blame them, even the most ardent gamer will tell you that these issues are more important than gaming.

There is something you can do to spur them into action though.

Instead on writing your angry diatribes to the classification board, write them to the civil liberatrian groups, lambasting their lack of action on this. Start with one, and if they don't do anything, move onto the next one.

Gamers writing angry letters to the classifications board will do nothing, however, if the civil liberatrian groups start getting tons of letters, the whole thing may just start to look like a juicy issue for them to pounce on.

So gamers, I implore you, don't post your letters to the classification board, post them to civil libertarian groups instead. There's bitching from gamers, and then there's bitching from peak bodies. Guess which one the classification board will listen to?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What is wrong with match reporting?

As some of you may know, I've been doing a bit of match reporting on the side. It's good experience in a sports-mad Australian market and I'm getting a cool grand for doing it too.

I thought it would be cool if I took y'all through the process behind writing a good match report (because I'm just that conceited).

Let's start with the match itself, and how to take notes on it.

There's no set rules on how you take notes during the game, but there's one thing that's a must. Legibility. If I had a dollar for every time I've gotten home from a game, looked at my notes and just thought 'wah....gah....zah?' I'd be cruising in the Carribean with a model on each arm...good looking ones.

Anyhow, you can't write a report from memory, so make sure your notes are legible. Secondly, work out a system early.

If you start with a page and try to write down everything you see, you will end up with 20 pages of notes and a headache. You need to clearly label things like shots, goals, injuries, and the time they occurred.

If you do what I've described above, you'll have the bones of your report. To make it sparkle however, you've got to give the reader theoppurtunity to 'be there'.

By this I mean, including things like 'They controlled the ball well, creating space to work into' or 'they upped the tempo after half time'. These seem like small things, but they'll lend you report a great deal of credibility, and set you apart from the next guy.

Once you have your report done, you've got to keep in mind that you need to be flexible.

For example, at the moment I write for an actual sporting body. I write a main report for their site which usually comes in at around 300-400 words and gives a throrough overview of the game. Then, I have to send off a report to various community newspapers.

This brings up two things.

Number one, they're only after about 150 words, so you have to take the scapel to your article, to give the papers the bare bones. It's a challenge to say the least. The second complication is thinking about your audience. For example, if you send off your article to a paper whoch covers the area team B is based on, they probably don't want to see the headline "Team A post stirring win", it's probably best to go with "Team B narrolwly lose".

Anyhow, I hope I gave any aspiring student journos a little insight into match reporting. It's definitely something that'll help increase your skill set and you get to take in a game too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What is wrong with Top Spin 3?

It's got a learning curve like a motherfucker. Here's the review.


As sporting video games start to look more and more like their real-life counterparts, the battle between Top Spin and Virtua Tennis rages on like an epic Nadal vs Federer five-setter.

With each itineration, they seek to smack the competition into next week, but with contrasting approaches. Whereas both series are absolutely gorgeous and graphically realistic, it can only be said that Top Spin offers hard core tennis fans a true 'simulation'.

Whereas Virtua Tennis offers players the chance to smack the ball anywhere, regardless of position, timing or execution of a shot, Top Spin takes these things into account before finally you hit the ball into the net. It's phenomenal what exactly is going on under the hood in each match of Top Spin. The attention to detail of player mechanics and physics is truly a sight to behold for the true tennis fan.

For example, if you release the shot button too early, you'll find that your player will reach for the ball, and end up looking like a complete prat. Push it too late and you'll be on the back foot for the next shot, which is absolutely crucial. You see, whereas in Virtua Tennis you can pretty much get away with anything, in Top Spin, there's a flow to each point.

When you hit the ball over the net, you immediately have to be nimble of feet and mind. You have to be thinking about where the opposition is going next, and if you take your eye off the ball, you'll be on a one-way ticket to loser-ville.

So Top Spin offers great simulation and the ultimate tennis experience, but does this necessarily equal fun?

Well, for all of its inaccuracies, Virtua Tennis was awful fun. In between matches, you could play fun mini-games that boosted your skill and kicked ass. What can be more fun than trying to ten-pin bowl with a giant tennis ball?

Then there was the music in each match, that J-Pop annoyance that grew on you until you found yourself humming it at work while practising your backhand. Online play was great, with a good mix of people just looking to have a good time while hitting a few balls around, but with Top Spin, fun is a dirty word.

Nope, it's all about the business for Top Spin. It markets itself as a sports-simulator, no more, no less. This latest version is no exception to the rule, with sparse fun things to do. There's matches, more matches, and then 'top spin school' (which doesn't offer spanking from Anna Kournikova for being naughty, killjoys).

Then again, Top Spin offers tennis fans what Virtua Tennis can't in officially licensed grand slams. With the notable exception of Wimbledon, they're all there. Roland Garros, New York and Melbourne to make the player feel as if they're really playing in front of massive crowds for the most coveted prizes in tennis. It's an experience made all the richer by the crap you had to go through to get there.

I speak of course of the career mode. Whereas the career mode of Virtua Tennis could be conquered in two days, Top Spin has the learning curve of a wall comprised of Roger Federer on a personal vendetta against you.

I spoke of the sheer complication of the match mechanics before, and you'll have to learn all of these if you have any hope of progressing past the junior tournaments. I warn you now, if you're not a fan of tennis, this WILL put you off tennis for life.

The underlying question in all this is, as with all sports games, does realism equate with fun? What's the use of having the most realistic game if it's no fun? What's the use of have a fun game if it's not realistic? That perhaps is a question to be left in the wind, to be decided by the consumers with the almighty dollars.

As for any sort of recommendation, I can only say that if you want the most realistic experience of tennis you can get from your couch, go with Top Spin. If you just want a hit up with mates, go with Virtua Tennis.

Don't even get me started on Wii tennis.

Friday, July 4, 2008

What is wrong with sickness?

Gleeeaaarrrggggh! Having the flu sucks, to state the overwhelmingly obvious.

I've already had to get somebody to cover a shift at work for me this week, meanwhile my boss is pissed off at me for another reason. Staying home instead of working doesn't exactly rectify that situation.

Anyhow, this will be a short post about how the new site is progressing, and what sort of freelance work I've managed to conjure up.

Well, I'm now doing match reports for Hockey WA, which involves going to two games a week, and typing up a brief 200 word report on the matches. So far so good, and despite my limited knowledge on the game of hockey, my employer seems to be happy with them, describing them as great.

During our initial meeting, she mentioned that she'd probably send back the first few week's reports to highlight where I was going wrong, but so far she hasn't. I must be doing okay then.

I've decided to hold back on getting any other work during the break, as the new site will keep my occupied enough.

So far, the biggest hurdle is just getting a site up and running. I have very limited expertise in online publishing, so it's all a bit over my head. I've got a production cycle all set up, and a clear focus on our content. Registering a domain name and buying some hosting space is next. I'll probably end up getting ripped off big time, but it's worth it.

Imagine if I could put 'editor-in-chief, the anti-cookie' on my resume! That'll look absolutely fantastic on any resume, and show that I do have the ambition to one day run a publication.

Anyhow, I just wanted to write a few words on Yahtzee's latest rant.

It seems that the Escapist legal department is out of town....or drunk the past few weeks, as Yahtzee has been given an extremely long leash.

First he blatantly does a bit of 'conflict of interest' by professing his love of Cornetto's during his review of Haze. You know...the brand of ice-cream who advertised with the site in the .au region.

Then he unloads on Control-Alt-Del in a very thinly veiled attack.

If I were at the escapist, I'd be telling Yahtzee to cool his jets a bit. I know that he brings in enormous numbers to the site, but they have to draw the line somewhere.

Anyhow, I'm going to go and lie down now, and hope I don't die at work tomorrow. It'll look bad for the customers.