bus driver, ambulanceman, ticket inspector

It’s a bit late but here’s my ep-sized playlist for the English riots.

– <a href=”http://youtu.be/yzPbNvIzMf0″>The Clash – London’s Burning (single version)</a>

– <a href=”http://youtu.be/O-W53kDyDhI”>Prodigy – Their law (live in Moscow 97) </a>

– <a href=”http://youtu.be/HwtSdJaPCSI”>KLF – It’s Grim Up North</a>

– <a href=”http://youtu.be/kZGvnI37mxk”>dizzee rascal – fix up look sharp</a>

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American motorsport

For a month or more I’ve had absolutely nothing to do and so I have done almost absolutely nothing. I’m almost tempted to feel guilty about it but I shan’t. Besides it’s all over now. Not because I have to go back to work but because I am told some fairly major revisions need to be made to the dissertation. I guess I should’ve known that would happen.

I’ve been taking a look at the main forms of car racing in the US/canada: NASCAR and Indycar. I used to watch what was known as the CART or champcar series back in 2000. That merged with the IRL (Indy racing league) and is now Indycar. Amazingly, a lot of the same drivers are still around. It’s an open-wheel car design like Formula 1. I think their yearly calendar is split into about 50/50 oval tracks and not-ovals. The rest of the world looks down upon american motorsport because it’s said that all they do is turn left (ie. drive anti-clockwise around ovals). This is partly true. If you look at the top 10 drivers in Indycar only a couple of them are born n’ bread USians. It’s easy for drivers from countries like Australia, UK, NZ, Brazil, Spain, even Canada who’ve grown up learning the standard race-crafts (like how to turn into a right-hand corner) and who swoop in and win all the road/street course races. But it’s a good thing really, that they have such an international driver line-up.

I watched three races from this season. In some ways it really is like amateur hour — lots of crashes: impatience and bonehead moves. One positive is that it doesn’t seem as exclusive as formula one. It’s probably a bit easier for people from not so wealthy backgrounds to get into it, compared to F1 at least. And there’s three female drivers on the grid, a Brazilian, a Swiss and an American. It wouldn’t exist without media coverage but this also appears to be the weakest link, at least the way I watched it. I think it’s espn or abc. I don’t know. Every 10mins they cut to an ad break but the version I see stays with the racing footage but without commentary. It gets pretty abstract when the cars are zipping around an oval with no one explaining what’s happening or why they’re there.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6067485693/” title=”zombie jeff gordon by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6207/6067485693_d595c0444b_m.jpg” width=”177″ height=”240″ alt=”zombie jeff gordon”></a>

I was a little surprised to find that NASCAR is on the whole a more professional package. More interesting too because it goes right into the inner sanctum of the American heartland, where this person ‘Joe Sixpack’ lives. The places where Hollywood doesn’t show the rest of the world and eventhough it’s still the major TV networks (espn &abc) presenting it, there is a bit more of of conservative America showing itself as _it_ sees itself, rather than Hollywood showing us how it sees these people. From what I can tell, the fat southern sheriff is still a fat southern sheriff but he’s not quite as bumbling, and he’s probably doing quite well for himself if he’s involved in some area of NASCAR management.

There’s no pretense in nascar of ‘going green’ in the way F1 has drifted. They go through huge amounts of tyres each race, big engines, heavy cars and the drivers throw plastic water bottles out the window when they’re done with them. A preacher says a prayer over the mic. before the start of each race and the holy trinity is very much God, our Armed Forces (both at home and overseas) and NASCAR. Some of the oval-races are really long, like 4.5 hours and yet who wins is still close to completely random. In some ways it reminds me of test cricket because there’s not a lot happening and it goes for a long time. While Indycar is very international, the people in nascar are mostly white, American and based in the south or did-west but apparently it’s changing slowly. Juan Montoya drives in nascar, as does the Aussie, Marcos Ambrose, who used to race V8s in the Australian series.

One race I watched (in Indycar, but nascar goes there too) was at the Iowa speedway and it was called the Iowa Corn 300 or something like that. A lot of thanks were given to corn and corn was mentioned a lot in general. Indycars run on ethanol, which is made from corn, and nascars use a blend of ethanol and something else. Apparently, they say ethanol is green, but I’ve read otherwise. Anyway, this race was all about corn. It started in the late afternoon and went into the dark of night. Before the race the MC had a touch of fever in his voice when he mentioned corn. It made me think of the Aztecs and the ancient ties to the land and one might fancy that they’d have liked to sacrifice a few virgins there that night too.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6068060844/” title=”fat southern sheriff by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6206/6068060844_60ba5d4bf7.jpg” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”fat southern sheriff”></a>


<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6062505208/” title=”Chevrolet ad by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6066/6062505208_058b555d55.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”Chevrolet ad”></a><br/>_Pronunciation: no one does it right except me_

As you know, there’s no differentiation between the ‘L” and ‘R’ sound in Korean, with results often turning out hilarious. And I could forgive this full-size neon ad I saw in the subway if they’d been translating a strange word never seen in English. But it’s right there in the bottom corner!

non day

Opposite to Australia, summer here is more overcast than winter. I listened to a conversation between two people mentioning cracking the <a href=”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/”>SAD</a>s here lately but I don’t know how you could feel it if it’s as warm and humid as it is. Anyway, often I can open the curtains in the morning and it’ll be really dim but it usually always gets bright, even if still overcast, by midday. Not today. The six years I’ve been here this has easily been the wettest summer I’ve experienced, and I’m sure today would be right up there as far as one of the darkest days. This picture out my window in no way does reality justice.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6051327485/” title=”Untitled by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6208/6051327485_5cdb51bf48.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=””></a>

the seaside holiday

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6014667000/” title=”auntatanglesea by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6009/6014667000_c75e65b67c.jpg” width=”350″ height=”500″ alt=”auntatanglesea”></a>


Another podcast I quite like is the bbc history magazine. They recently went to a weekly format so there’s plenty of listening. It’s all English history so you have to be into that kind of thing. I did have a look around the <a href=”http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/”>radio national</a> podcast page to see if they had any regular history stuff but no go. I’d rather hear AU history but there’s less of it (white, at least) and less people researching it and less people broadcasting it.

Anyway, sometimes there’s overlap like this <a href=”http://cdn.bbcmagazinesbristol.com/bbchistory/audio/BBC_History_29thJul11.mp3″>podcast</a>  from the page <a href=”http://www.historyextra.com/podcast-page”>here</a> on the beginning of the seaside holiday –> the north of England, 19th century. This is one of those cultural things that got picked up in lots of places around the world including argentina etc.

The above photo is of one of my aunts and I guess it might not’ve officially been from a beach holiday but awesome nonetheless. We’ve got a whole bunch of these photos of relis standing next to town signs.

And way back when I was living in Anglesea I remember seeing a photo exhibition of scenes from the 50s in the town. It looked really hoppin’.

stockholm syndrome

Yes I know the most recent episode of top gear purposefully, erroneously referred to this. Message to them: the ‘it’s technologically impressive so it lacks soul’ routine is boring. Say something new.

The only good bits in that whole six eps were 1) Rowan Atkinson: he’s such a great speaker – voice, intonation and vocab. He could’ve easily gone into politics. Why not Atkinson for President of UK? He could sort their mess out. And 2) the 2011 nissan GT-R: technological excellence.


Perhaps as another indicator that I want to go back is I’ve been browsing through used cars on an australian website. Funny considering I don’t have a driver’s license. The don’t seem that expensive.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6019990777/” title=”mx-5-5450 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6005/6019990777_75aa55034f_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”180″ alt=”mx-5-5450″></a>

What about this 1989 mazda mx-5? Only five and a half thousand and can probably go lower. Sporty. Easy on petrol… but even a friendless weirdo like me would eventually end up in a situation where I had more than one other person to transport, so two seats seems rather limiting.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6020543310/” title=”1998-wrx by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6148/6020543310_33b4d35693_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”183″ alt=”1998-wrx”></a>

What about this 1998 subaru impreza? From subaru’s rally years. Sporty. 4 doors. A bit more expensive at $9000 but only 190K kms on the clock – not bad for these.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6019991371/” title=”volvo-244 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6143/6019991371_b22f002cb7_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”153″ alt=”volvo-244″></a>

Lo! But what’s this? A beige (biscuit, officially) 1981 volvo 244 for only $1200? The bourgy middle-classness is perverse yet enticing, like slipping into a bath of luke-warm baked beans. The only real cars my family had during my childhood were two volvo 245 stationwagons, one after the other during the early/mid 80s. I can remember when I first sat in the first one and being amazed by how many buttons were on the central console — it was like K.I.T from Nightrider! As I got to teenagerdom being in and being seen in a volvo was less fun but it’s one of those smaller things that made me who I am. Maybe owning one of these things would be a way of reowning and setting straight that part of my life.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6019991627/” title=”interior-244 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6001/6019991627_6be9a335c3.jpg” width=”500″ height=”359″ alt=”interior-244″></a>