If you can’t solve it, tax it.

This week, Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, wrote a damning report (The Stern Review) on how the world would face an economic collapse, similar to that of a World War or world-wide depression if climate change was not averted; affecting people, resources and the whole world as a whole.

Naturally, no everyone is happy. Not just because it means a drastic change in behavior, but because it means that we’re gonna get taxed. Taxed a lot more than we are now, and much more in the future. Is it just another tax dressed up as “environmentalism” as many proponents claim? And will the new taxes really change behavior? And will any changes we make as a country make any jot of difference?

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The Metro sucks

If you’ve ever gone on public transit, regardless of where you are in the UK, you’re more than likely to have picked up a Metro; either by habit, or just to get yourself away from the mediocrity that is life.

But lately, I’ve come to realise something.

The Metro newspaper sucks.

Why?

Well, there isn’t any *real* content in the newspaper. There are articles mostly ripped off other newspaper’s, sometimes rewritten slightly, othertimes replaced by local newspaper articles; however the majority of the time you’re reading adverts. Tons of them.

The newspaper lacks from any real opinion too. Some might think that the lack of an editor, or a team of left-wing/right-wing contributors on the team is a good thing and that you can make a judgement about topical subjects yourself. But the thing is, it’s also a thinly guided way to give you stories without any social commentary, without any question; so it becomes a mouthpiece for the editor.

The stories are also very inconsequential, and are made for easy, quick reading that will bare no meaning once you’ve discarded the newspaper and gone on your merry way.

Another problem with it is that it creates a lot of rubbish. Now I’m guilty as the next person when it comes to stuffing metro newspapers down the sides of the Tyne and Wear Metro train carriages (as they’ve decided to remove all bins), but that just means they are printing way too many copies of the paper. How many metro newspaper’s are recycled? How many are just put on the junk pile along with the moutain’s of discarded fridges and washer dryers?

I’ve stopped picking them up from the “collect your metro here” collection points and instead rely on a discarded newspaper, usually one from the seat as not to pick up whatever crap was on the floor at the time. Every day the stories are almost always the same, in the same position, in the same boring layout without any real meaning.

The only good thing about the Metro is their website. Unlike the newspaper, it’s much more socially interactive, has a good fantasy football game which I play and allows commentary against the articles.

Indeed, in America, some news reporters are even saying that newspaper’s are a dying breed because so much is on the web, in the form of blogs, youtube videos, and the like; although I believe that newspapers will always have their place, I think that disserfication is the only true way that they can go.

Scarface: The world is yours review

scarface

For the past week I’ve been playing “Scarface: The World is Yours” on the PS2, avoiding the heavily buggy PC version, and I’ve been incredibly impressed and have thoroughly enjoyed the game.

You control Tony Montana from the final scene’s of the Brian De Palma movie, and asks the question “What if… Tony had survived?”. After surviving the attack by Sosa’s hit squad you have to rebuild your entire Miami-based empire from the ground up. From doing small drug deals, to buying up Fronts to increase your turf there are plenty of GTA-like missions where you will have to deal with vicious gangs to attack helicopters, and even the police.

For those wanting a GTA-like clone, where you can fly, ride motorbikes or do all the stuff that you expect from GTA: San Andreas – you will be disappointed. Sure, you can’t jump, ride a bike, play basketball or fly a plane — but since when did Tony Montana do any of these?

Many detractors from the game claim it’s yet another GTA clone, at in parts it is, but I find it to be much more rewarding than San Andreas. Why? Well for starters there isn’t a pleathora of easter eggs to collect, or inane basketball games or BMX tricks to pull, I mean in San Andreas none of those things were even necessary or relevant to the plot; whereas in Scarface nearly everything is.

Building an empire in Scarface is pretty straight-forward. By taking over fronts (businesses) and grabbing the local storehouse you can start distributing lots of drugs from big-time suppliers. A big flaw in the game is that your fronts will be attacked from time-to-time, sometimes on the other side of the island where you know you can’t reach it in time.

Some of the missions and sub-missions are quite repetitive and I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t do long-term deals with big-time suppliers (ie: Move x to y over the next few days and I’ll rep you more), and in order to increase your reputation amongst big-time suppliers is to buy very expensive pieces of art, property and cars, some of which are just plain tat, but I guess it is supposed to represent Tony’s lack of taste, and just wants it because it is expensive.

The AI is pretty tough, the missions can be frustrating and although there is a bit of repetitiveness in the missions, I really enjoyed Scarface — if they had put a little more work on the missions, added a little variety, perhaps added a bit of negotiation and perhaps made the Sandman turn on Scarface at the end, rather than being his buddy it would be a much better and longer game.

Overall, a really enjoyable game.

8.5/10.

Youtube’s sale to Google: Pros and Cons

Youtube

As widely reported across the Internet, Youtube has been bought by Google for around $1.65bn.

But what are the pros and cons of this deal?

Pros;

  • Increased online streaming of movies/tv programmes — Google’s move towards providing Online streaming movies is increased. Youtube will probably be used as Google’s venture into that field and will cater towards TV programs and music videos. I believe Google will try to empthasise a more commerical outlaying to increase profits.
  • Increased content — Not only from Google’s own video system, but from their contacts too.
  • It made the co-creators very rich — And well done to them!

Cons;

  • Copyright Issues — A vast majority of the content on Youtube is either illegal or breaching some form of copyright. There have been many times that I’ve seen whole movies on there (I think it was Jackie Chan’s Police Story V), and whilst there haven’t been many suits against Youtube (mainly because they had no money), Google will try and ensure that Youtube is on the right side of the law.
  • Advertising Revenue — Google has bought Youtube’s stock, they haven’t actually given the creators of Youtube real money. The reported $1.65bn is on paper. Youtube’s advertising revenue hasn’t reached the figures projected by many. Many analysts believe that Google will try to encourage advertising or broker commercial deals with major film and music studios to increase revenue. Google will push Youtube to increase advertising, and the co-creators won’t get their money until they can demonstrate that they can get a profit from Youtube. This may mean reducing the number of social movies that made Youtube the site it is today.
  • Monopoly and privacy — Google’s increasing monopolisation of technology systems such as the Youtube’s of this world is worrying many web users. And it has been compared to that of Microsoft’s globalisation of technology systems, instead of innovation, it has bought the latest technology system. What does Google’s intend for the future of Youtube? How does it impact on it’s own video.google.com website? Will Google’s hunger for personal information be a factor in the revenue streams that they hope to generated from Youtube?
  • Copycat websites — there are tons of Youtube-like websites out there. If fans of Youtube leave for a rival, that isn’t owned by Google then how will it affect Youtube? Will fans really leave a product they’ve liked for so long?

In the end, Youtube’s sale is great business for the co-owners and I personally wish them all the luck in the world. They deserve it. Youtube has succeeded because of its fans, not despite of them. Whether Google’s acquisition of Youtube is a good thing or not has yet to be answered, it will be interesting over the next few months to find out whether Google will step its authority on copyright issues, and whether fans will desert the system for a similar site?

Links:

Scarface the Game out next week

One of the more anticipated games of this month will be the Scarface game. Based upon the hit movie starring Al Pacino, this is a GTA-like action game where you will star as Tony Montana, trying to rebuild his drug empire and taking out other rival gangs as highlighted in the movie.

At last they will be able to explain how Tony Scarface Montana survived the point-blank-range shotgun blast to the back, the high fall to his swimming pool as well as the various gunshot wounds affilicated upon him by Sosa’s hired hitmen. I believe the story goes is that this game is more of a “what if?” IE: What if Scarface survived Sosa’s death squad? What if he never felled to his death, and what if he lost everything in the process and had to start again?

I have to admit, I am intreged by this game. Is it just another GTA rip-off, will it’s younger PSP brother, “Scarface: Money Power Respect”, be better than the crappy PSP game “Gangs of London”? Will they actually use Al Pacino’s voice, or have they hired a voice artist?

All these questions will hopefully be answered next week, when Scarface is finally launched in the UK for PC, XBOX, PS2 and other formats;

Link:
Scarface: the world is yours