For the Ultra Rich, money is the least of their worries

It was interesting to read this article in the FT about how the Ultra Rich in America (the top 0.1%) are happy to pay a bit more tax. It makes them almost human. Until you realise the amount of work a lot of the Ultras have put into thinking about the future. So much of that thinking is bloody scary and right out of the pages of a pulp dystopian sci-fi novel.

Hyperbole, I hear you shout. I wish it were. A few of the more terrifying things that the super rich are considering include:

Some of these seem funny at first glance. But they’re not when you really begin to think about it. As a handful of billionaires said to Douglas Rushkoff:

“How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?” This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.

Now if that doesn’t scare you, I don’t what does.

Some of it is down to these ultra rich having everything they could possibly want, and more than they could ever spend, so it means little or nothing to them if they spunk obscene amounts up the wall on a worse case scenario. But some of it is equally these dudes thinking about what it going to happen and how they can protect themselves. From the John Cusack starring 2012, through to the bunker that The Kingsmen have to take out, there is plenty in popular culture that points to what these blokes are actually doing.

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Where have all the racing games gone?

A while back I got a Logitech G29 wheel and pedal set up for my PS4. I added a Wheel Stand Pro, and the good times commenced.

But there was a problem, and there still is. In the couple of years since I got my G29, the number of games that use it has shot up by a staggering 3- the new Gran Turismo, the new F1 game and the latest version of Farming Simulator(?!)

There are a grand total of 14 compatible games, which span 8 series:

  • Gran Turismo,
  • Assetto Corsa,
  • Farming Sim,
  • F1,
  • WRC,
  • Dirt,
  • Project Cars &
  • DriveClub

Sure, there are some games out there that don’t support the G29, most notably the Need for Speed franchise, Trackmania Turbo, Flatout 4, and Rocket League- the latter I can understand, the rest, less so- but there aren’t an enormous number of racing games, simulation or arcade based, out there full stop.

A quick look on Metacritic shows the PS4 has a grand total of 65 racing games. Once you remove futuristic stuff like Wipeout, bikes, motorbikes, boats, quadbikes and table top racing games you have a little over 30 games, three of which are the Crew and it’s expansion packs. Limiting games to one entry per franchise, you get 20 games at most (including Carmageddon and a few other sub 40% on Metacritic stinkers).

Things are no better on Xbox either, just a different set of system exclusives.

It’s all a bit depressing.

For comparison, the Playstation 1 exceeded 320 racing games in total,Xbox had over 100, Xbox 360 had twice that, PS2 had almost 400 and PS3 had 160.

Yes, there were plenty of shovelware titles in there back in the day (Dukes of Hazard?) and genuine classics were probably only a relatively small percentage but when you have a lot of games to start with, that percentage doesn’t have to be huge to give a large number of games. There are plenty of great games that don’t seem to have a proper equivalent today either:

  • Destruction Derby (closest is probably Danger Zone but that’s more like the crash junctions from Burnout to be honest)
  • Ridge Racer
  • Sega Rally
  • Daytona
  • Split/Second
  • Motostorm
  • Crazy Taxi
  • Burnout (well, Paradise is about to be remastered but it didn’t have the crash junctions- boo!)
  • Rally Championship II (the best rally game ever!)

Maybe racing games are going the same way as beat ’em ups, maybe we’re heading into a future where 90%+ of all the games we get will be annual sports franchise updates or first person shooters, but I hope not!

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Mucking about

I’ve been mucking about with a few bits of tech project recently but nothing too substantial. We’ve had new carpet in our bedroom and ditched the chest of drawers that hid a multitude of sins. Or to be more precise, it hid two holes in the wall, one for the satellite cable and the other for a ethernet cable that runs down the side of the house to the router, giving us a hard wired connection in our bedroom. The need for this in itself has diminished since we got our Orbi router set up but since I have an Xbox One X in our bedroom, I decided to keep it.

Rather than trunk two cables across the wall and make the wife all upset at the mess, I got my dirty great big drill bit out and put a hole though the house as close to the bottom corner of the room as I could. I had to snick the end of the ethernet cable and satellite cable to get both through the same hole but since I’ve got a pair of crimpers and some RJ45 terminators, it wasn’t much of an issue. Filling, smoothing and sanding the existing (now redundant) holes took a little while but I’m fairly please with the result now.

Since the Xbox One X, Fire TV, and the four port switch all sat on the chest of drawers, I purchased a wall mounting bracket for the Xbox One X, and put a tiny shelf up behind the telly to hold the rest of the gubbins. The end result now looks like this and I’m fairly pleased:

I do need to scrape the paint off the plug socket though.

And before:

When we moved in about 12 years ago I installed our own satellite dish and cabled in our bedroom (it was easier than taking another feed of the TV aerial). Rather than splash out on one of those devices to test the satellite signal strength, I cabled it up to the Freesat box in our bedroom, called my wife on my mobile and moved the dish around until we got a strong signal. However over the last year or so the signal strength had gradually degraded to the point where we just couldn’t watch anything. I checked the dish itself and found it was still tightly anchored, suggesting to me that it was an issue with either the cable or the LNB. I bought a new 4 port LNB for a tenner on Amazon, and installed that as well as re-terminating the cables over the weekend. Fortunately I had some slack in the cables! Now that’s all working too.

My final piece of tech twiddling involved following a rather handy tutorial for using Google search for Amazon Alexa/Echo. I like the music integration on the Echos but the search is a bit naff compared to what you get on Google Home, so this was good, if rather involved, fun to set up.

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Forgotten tech- the Archos 405

This year will mark the tenth anniversary of my first Archos media player purchase. The 405 wasn’t the first media player that Archos made by any stretch of the imagination. It was billed as the fifth generation player, but it was more affordable than anything Archos had made before. My father in law had the AV420 that pre-dated it by a couple of years but it was a whole lot more expensive. Continue reading

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Jeremy Corbyn via Monty Python and the Holy Grail

When Ed Milliband lost the election for being unable to eat a bacon sandwich in a photogenic manner, much hand-wringing occurred. I rang my hands along with the rest of the nation.

Much like the Brexit vote, there was a general air of disbelief (although to a lesser degree) that the omnishambolic Tories had actually won a majority. Since then, Clegg has been reinvented as some sort of wise sage who can tell it like it is, rather than as the enabler of a lot of Tory policy. Such is the fickle nature of politics I suppose.

I had joined the Labour party shortly after the coalition declared war on decency and was fairly convinced that an Ed lead administration would start to put things, if not right, than a bit more “righter”. It was not to happen and we were left with some sort of vacuum into which various factions sprung.

The two biggest factions were those who wanted the status quo in the Labour Party and those who wanted a radical change. I think of the first as the “Swamp Castle” lot, after the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that went something like this:

Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. And that one sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up.

Basically, the Blairites wanted to beat the Tories by doing more of what had lost them the last two elections. This seemed a bit silly to me. Lets be tough on immigration but not as tough as the Tories, because we’re nice. Let’s be tough on benefit fraud, even though an analysis of the data shows it’s not an issue because that’s what works for the Tories. I wasn’t entirely convinced we could wait for the fourth (metaphorical) castle to be built before the policy actually worked.

Those in favour of a radical change, I mentally noted as Dennis and the Peasants from… Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Can you see a theme here? Their whole way of doing things is anti-establishment and focused on gaining representation from the common man:

Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how’d you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society….Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Corbyn was never meant to win of course, and the fact that he did, twice, with a larger mandate the second time round, suggests to me that the first bunch, the Swamp Castlers, were not that popular with the party members because they’d lost a second election, despite the Tories generally making almost everyone poorer.

The problem is the Swamp Castlers remain the more popular internal faction of the Labour party to those not in the party because they represent the status quo that might not be everything you want but at least it’s a known entity and how we’ve always done things.

That’s perhaps a little unfair as the Swamp Castlers are also de facto more popular than the Dennisers for reasons to do with the Dennisers conduct.

I’ll put my hands up and say I was a Denniser in both of the leadership elections since the general election. I don’t know what I am at the moment though and that’s the problem. I think some Dennis is probably what the Labour party needs but I’m not sure Corbyn is necessarily the right Dennis.

It’s difficult to cut through the perpetual spin from all sides to know what is exactly going on though:

  • The BBC seem more obsessed with getting Farage on than the leader of the opposition. He’s literally everywhere, from Marr to Question Time. I’ve read stories of McDonald being dropped on the day from Marr as well.
  • Momentum and a few well meaning and loud individuals like Marcus Chown constantly repeating their “It’s a conspiracy against Corbyn, we told you so from day one” mantra doesn’t help. Who knows what is a genuine cock up when someone is loudhailing you to say it’s not a cock up, it’s a conspiracy.
  • Constant attempts to get a man in a brown suit (well, I suppose he has a new one now) to engage in personal attack rather than the policy he has said he’ll focus on makes for boring telly, which leads to less of him on the telly.
  • What little Jezza actually says often time seems contradictory.

I had a vague theory for a while that Corbyn had read the same obscure secondary world fantasy series as me in the mid 1980’s. It involved a kingdom on the edge of ruin, run by a senile geriatric King called Joyse. (Stephen Donaldson’s duology Mordants Need if you must know). In the final reckoning it turned out the King wasn’t senile after all. When the kingdom was at the height of it’s powers he foresaw a time when it’s neighbours would be strong enough to overcome him on their terms. So he spent twenty years pretending to be mad, drawing them out to fight him prematurely, exposing all their agents embedded in his court and so on and allowing him to crush them.

I would have liked to have thought the current chief Denniser was basically giving the Tories enough rope to hang themselves with for a very long time. What’s better that saying with complete conviction that your opponents will destroy the health service, or wreck education? Letting them actually wreck the health service and education and then get voted out for power for generations. Yes, it may take forever and a day to restore the things that have been wrecked but who better to do it than someone with a mandate from the masses?

But it’s not working, even if it is the plan, which I’m not convinced it is. As the Red Cross prepare to do everything short of setting up field hospitals, as big serious charities like the Joseph Roundtree Foundation talk about record numbers living in working poverty, as foodbank use sees levels never seen before, May can give a speech saying she wants to be seen as someone promoting social justice, without being laughed out of the country.

The latest YouGov poll puts the Tories 13 points above Labour in the polls.

It begs the question of what the Tories would have to do to have some sort of slump. People dying on the streets, dying slowly of starvation, sitting on a trolley at the back of A&E for 3 days (as the son of a friend did after suffering convulsions while on chemotherapy recently), doesn’t seem to have dented the enthusiasm for their rule.

It’s a bit of a head scratcher.

It’s also a head scratcher with what we should do with our head Denniser now. Is it right that we should have a Dennis? Has the last year proved that we need what we have but slightly watered down because it’s what people want, or has it shown that we need a Dennis but the right Dennis. Maybe someone could have a word with the moistened bint who goes around lobbing scimitars, she might know better than us after all…

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