This is what was wrong with Talladega 
I had been looking forward to Sunday's race at Talladega for weeks. I love plate racing. I love the strategy and I love the skill and, maybe this makes me a bad fan, but I love the crashes and the excitement of having my driver either make it through or not make it through.

So what did NASCAR do on Sunday that was so bad? Well, according to most of the commentary coming out over the past day or so, nothing. The official line seems to be that the racing was great, logging single-file laps through the middle of the race is normal, and all was well.

Well I'll tell you what I missed, and Michael Waltrip alluded to it on TWIN last night. I missed seeing two skilled drivers hook up and drive to the front. I missed having two other skilled drivers hook up and try to beat them.

As I understand it, taking away bump drafting in the corners was supposed to prevent crashes and keep the cars on the ground. By all accounts, this strategy failed. I'm sure Ryan Newman and Mark Martin will attest to that. So what did it accomplish? They still had crashes. They still had the Big One.

I get that you don't want some yahoo coming up behind you and slamming you in the corner like Hot Carl did to Greg Biffle last year. But when you have a drafting partner you can work with, and you can lock together and sail past a pack of cars, what's the problem with that? I just don't see it.

I think NASCAR has done a lot of really great things over the past few years to make these races safer. I commend them for the fact that while Ryan Newman flew through the air and landed on Kevin Harvick, I wasn't terribly worried. Maybe I've been lulled into a false sense of security, but I have enough faith in the safety of these cars, to now automatically assume that the drivers are going to walk away from these sorts of things. Michael McDowell's spectacular crash in qualifying last year, and Hot Carl's wild ride during the last Talladega race have shown me that no matter how wild the crash, the drivers are walking away from these cars.

I am assuming that the new Nationwide cars are going to be just as safe, and that makes me feel better about those as well. So with the cars as safe as they are, what's wrong with a few wrecks here and there?

As a fan, I never want to see a driver hurt, but wrecks are part of the racing. I'm not watching to see the wrecks. I'm watching to see my favourite drivers NOT wrecking. Michael Waltrip avoiding the Big One was one of the highlights of the race. Jimmy Johnson escaping the carnage was one of the biggest stories. Brad Keselowski pulling a bonehead move to cause the wreck was another big story. You can bet people will be reluctant to help him in future plate races, and that's going to affect the racing. That's exciting stuff.

Watching Denny Hamlin over the past few plate races has been exciting. Seeing him hook up with someone and push them around the track is great racing. That's skill.

When you can only do it along the straightaway and then have to let go before the corner, you've lost that element of the racing. You just can't get far enough ahead like that, and therefore are taking something away from the drivers they could have used to RACE better.

That's my thoughts on the whole thing. NASCAR didn't prevent wrecks. They simply took away one of the most exciting elements of the racing.

I understand that they're trying to keep everyone safe, but plate racing is what it is. They've made people safer with all the new safety features, and I assume they will continue to do so. Just don't take away from the racing. If you do, then you might as well just stop plate racing altogether.

I mean... if you lower the banking or add a chicane to the straightways... then you won't need restrictor plates anymore, bump drafting won't be worth it, and you'll have ruined the whole spectacle that is plate racing. Why bother?


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Interesting Update on the TV Tax 
I just took a look at the two websites promoting the competing sides of this whole TV Tax issue. One is run by the broadcasters, the other by the signal carriers.

Broadcasters: http://localtvmatters.ca/

Carriers: http://www.stopthetvtax.ca/

I think the most interesting thing to note is that the carrier site is allowing open debate with public commentary on their site. You can go there, log in, and post your views. I don't know how heavily moderated it is, but browsing through the comments I am seeing opposing views posted so it appears to be at least somewhat open.

The broadcasters site has no such thing. It has a listing of comments picked out to support their agenda and no way to post opposing views or pose questions to be debated.

One thing I didn't know previously is that it is apparently the law that carriers carry local signals on their systems. If they have to pay for them in the future, I sure hope they also get the option of carrying only the ones they choose to.

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Broadcasters Have Some Nerve! 
The cable and satellite TV providers have been running a PR campaign for a while now to garner opposition to the new bill that would require them to charge a monthly fee to be paid to local broadcasters for carrying their content.

It all makes perfect sense, and people are right to oppose the bill. Right now, they're carrying signals on their services that are free over the air as a convenience to their customers.

The broadcasters want to be paid for this, which up until now they haven't been.

Basically, they want to be paid for something they are already providing for free over the air, and you'd think that the increased audience that the cable and satellite providers are giving them would be payment enough. I suppose you can make an argument either way, but the fact is that for all these years this has been standard practice and to suddenly hit us up with a fee for it would basically amount to robbery.

Now the reason for this post is that I've just seen the rebuttle ad by the broadcasters, trying to curry favour for the bill. They made me laugh.

The format is essentially the same. They're "interviewing" some people on the street to make it look like it's only common sense that we should all start paying $10 a month into their coffers. They make note that the providers are paying huge amounts of money to US broadcasters to carry their channels, and implies that it's a travesty that they're not paying the same to our poor, abused, local broadcasters.

The problem here is that if I unplug my cable and use a set of bunny ears on my TV, I won't have access to any of those channels that the cable companies are paying to carry. By doing so, they're providing me with a service that I otherwise wouldn't have.

This isn't the case with the local broadcasters. If I switch to the antenna, I can get those for free, and probably with a better signal (uncompressed) than I'm getting over the cable. The whole business model for local broadcasting has to do with people watching them. If nobody watches, they don't make money, so having providers carry their signals is a benefit.

Now, if they think people will pay for their content, why aren't they selling their service to providers in the US, or in markets across Canada where they're not broadcasting? Will nobody pay them for it? They should ask themselves why!

I can only hope that if this stupid bill gets passed, the cable companies will start carrying all the local broadcasters as a specialty package that I can opt out of if I want. I'm sure that will impress their advertisers to know that they've thrown out a huge portion of their audience.

Sure, I'll still be able to pick them up over the antenna... but let's be honest. For the most part, I probably just won't bother.


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Too bad about Kyle 
While he made a great last stand, I guess it just wasn't to be for Kyle Busch this year, as he just barely missed the Chase by a handful of points. After their recent feud though, I'll bet Brian Vickers is tickled pink that he got to be the one to edge Kyle out!

So now that the race for the chase is over, the Chase is on! Of the 12 drivers, there's 3 that I would love to see win the championship, and I'm not even sure I care too much which one of them it is. That gives me 25% of the field to root for, so odds are pretty good I'm going to enjoy this.

My favourites are Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, and Jimmie Johnson, each for different reasons. Tony because I think he's awesome, and winning the championship in his first year of team ownership would just be a phenomenal accomplishment. Mark because the guy has certainly paid his dues, deserves to be a champion, and probably doesn't have much time left to accomplish it. He's certainly proven that he's still the cream of the crop and winning the title would certainly be the feel-good story of the year. Finally Jimmie... because when are we ever going to get another opportunity to have someone win 4 championships in a row? This is only the second time anyone has ever won 3 in a row, so it may well be now or never and I'd love to see Jimmie pull it off. He and Chad are clearly one of the best combos ever in the sport, so it would be nice to see them do something nobody has ever done.

Now.. on a completely unrelated note... I've been doing a fair bit of biking lately and yesterday I learned something. A 710 mL bottle of Gatorade lasts about 50km. Yesterday I rode over 62. Ouch.


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How Could Miller Screw This Up?? 
Our wonderful mayor of Toronto, David Miller, had a slam dunk with the strike of locals 79 and 416. The entire populace seemed to be behind him in eliminating ridiculously generous benefits that nobody should be entitled to and taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for.

The city has been faring quite well with people managing their own garbage and everyone doing their parts to make do and leave the workers on strike until they gave in and accepted what were clearly reasonable offers by the city.

Even the strikers I've spoken with wanted to accept the deals being offered and get back to work. While anyone would like to be over-compensated for their work as much as possible, it seemed that only the union leaders felt that it was worth striking over and somehow deserved.

With all that in mind, you'd have expected the city to hold fast on their offers or perhaps even begin to reduce them over time. All indications were that if it came to a vote by the union members, they would overwhelmingly support it and all would be well.

And then the Mayor rolled over and gave in, for reasons I don't suppose we'll ever really know.

Regular readers here already know that Miller hasn't done anything good for the residents of Toronto and has only hurt and cost us more and more as each month goes by. This seemed like his shining opportunity to show some backbone and do something good for the city, and there didn't appear to be any way for him to screw it up. And now he has.

Good for you, David Miller. It would have been a shame if your time as mayor couldn't be defined as a complete calamity. Why mess that up with something successful near the end of your term?

There's still a slim chance that enough city councellors may have enough sense to turn down this agreement, but that generally isn't the sort of thing that happens around here. The mayor will get his way, the city will lose, and life will go on.

Too bad. This one seemed like a no-brainer. Of course, it would take a no-brainer mayor to miss that.


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