Australia take back the Ashes

So the digg story suggested that “Australia totally outclassed England in the 3rd Test, going to 3-0 in the 5-test series and winning back the Ashes” which is crowing at best. We’ve had fifth day results in all three matches – outclassed means before lunch on the third day.

With the defeat England went 3-0 down, but that Aussie side has more cracks in it that a 5th day pitch. Flashes of genius made all the difference: Gilchrist finally remembering what his bat is for and that Glenn McGrath over on the fourth day when Cook and Hoggard went were the tipping points.

And a very similar story in the second test – it all tipped on madness from England, rather than good Aussie play, on the 5th day – when England had been on top for 4 days.

Outclassed? No. Out-played for critical portions of the matches (all of the first, one session in the second, half of the third)? Yes.

No-one goes to Australia and gets an easy ride but the teams are a lot closer than the 3-0 scoreline suggests. Well done to the Dad’s Army in Canary Yellow, commiserations to England and roll on the one-day series where there really will be some outclassing done.

And when they come back to England in 2009 and Warne and McGrath are on the sidelines commentating? That will hit the Aussies worse than England missing Vaughan, Jones, Tresco et al.

read more | digg story
[tags]cricket, ashes, england, australia[/tags]

UK Piracy Shake-up

Over the last decade I’ve downloaded my fair share of pirated music. In the main this is music that has proven really hard to otherwise get hold of – album tracks from deleted and discontinued releases, live bootleg recordings, mash-ups, etc. Sometimes it’s when I hear a new song on the radio as much to confirm that I’ve heard the wittering DJ correctly as to which track it was I just heard – but if I like the track I’ll normally go to iTunes (or a CD store) and actually buy the thing.

Stealing music via file-sharing is wrong, I know it’s wrong, but equally I can appreciate why you might do it – and I’m not so naive as to think that everyone else will do as I do and actually pay for it. Even if I know that most of the payment I make in the form of CD sales or iTunes purchases never goes near the artist.

So when you read articles like‘s UK looks to crack down on piracy, free up formats, I do have a glimmer of a shudder of hope that, for once, a national government can do the remotely sensible thing.

If I buy a CD I am going to point blank refuse to buy the iTunes/MP3 version. Why should anyone think that that is reasonable? Equally if I do rip that CD to MP3/MP4/AAC, it isn’t fair that that CD re-joins the circulation. That even means someone else listening to the CD while you listen to your iPod – that is the nub of the problem. So long as only one copy of the music is in use at one time, I really don’t see the problem. Whether that second/third copy is a back-up, a tape for the car or the iPod, so long as the CD is in its case and on the shelf, then the CD publisher can like it or lump it.

For years my favourite band has been the Barenaked Ladies. With their latest album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, they are really pushing the boundaries of content release – and their fans are loving them all the more for it. On the previous tours, they’ve sold un-DRMed MP3s of the concert within days of the event – trusting their fans to pay for them. They’re good to us, we don’t muck them around either.

People will pay for things – but we can be pushed too far. The UK government isn’t in the pocket of the recording industry and is acting sensibly. The US government, on the other hand, isn’t acted reasonably. Guess who has the stronger lobby groups from the MPAA/RIAA …

Reinventing the wheel

Cycling to work isn’t just utility, it benefits your body and soul on a number of levels. My commute is about 6 miles each way, so it’s not the longest ride but it’s more than enough to burn some calories. When you factor in showering (whether you do that at work or home) it saves time – as well as your sanity – by avoiding public transport. The tube, bus or train is a good idea in comparison to everyone driving … but the reality is really not as pleasant as the theory.

I’ve been cycling for years, in the last decade I’ve racked up enough miles within the M25 to have gone around the equator (which would probably been a lot more fun, mind). But recently I’ve switched to a fixed wheel and cycling is even more fun than it used to be.

A fixed wheel bike has no gears and no freewheel – if you pedal the wheel moves. If you pedal backwards, the wheel goes backwards. It’s about as simple as a bike can get. Purity of purpose and, for commuting, ease of maintenance.

It’s huge fun. It changes the way you cycle in traffic as you have to be much more defensive because stopping on a sixpence can be quite a traumatic experience, but you feel much more connected to the machine – and by extension to the road.

The major problem with car drivers is their lack of empty with the world around them. In their metal cages, behind toughened glass, enveloped with their personal soundtrack, they see the road and its other inhabitants as an impediment to their progress, only there to be scornfully put up with and, if possible, ignored and threatened. At best, you’re tolerated, at worst you’re physically intimidated.

On a bike – and more so on a fixed – you connect again with the world around you. The air, the views, the surface and the people of the city.

As said to a friend of mine,

"If it ain’t fixed, it’s broken."

[tags]cycling, fixed wheel[/tags]