Like so many things in any society that truly matter, the automobile stands astride a multitude of social divides. Progress. Freedom. Achievement. Wastefulness. Drudgery. Class division. Every car contains legions of angels and demons in turn, and which of each is dominant depends just as much on the perspective of person doing the observing as the car being observed. One’s sculpture of power and beauty in motion is another’s wasteful extravagance of wealth, overcompensation and status. An electric car can mean both the death of enjoyment and performance and the salvation of an industry and the environment – depending on your point of view. But what is important is that these contradictions are not rooted in cars, but in ourselves. A car is simply a big shiny lump of metal that can move under its own power across the ground; the meaning we see when we look at one has more to do with the reflection of ourselves staring back than any innate attribute of the mirror itself. And if one automobile can contain so many contradictory viewpoints, then a major car show, being a whole mess of them collected in one place, must be a Gerasene Rorschach funhouse maze – cars, owners, attendees and media, all of us reflections of whatever multitudes you’re predisposed to see.
Author - Kasey Kagawa
For those of you not aware of the goings-on in the video game industry, Microsoft has recently debuted the long-awaited successor to the Xbox 360, the Xbox One. With that has come the debut of Forza Motorsport 5, the latest edition of what is nearly inarguably the best racing game series out there. And like all previous editions, Forza 5 will be an exclusive to the Xbox gaming system, leaving those who prefer their games on the PC, like myself, out in the cold.
So, if you’re a PC-inclined gamer and want to get your racing fix taken care of, what are the options out there? At the extreme “simulation” end of the racing game spectrum are rFactor 2 and iRacing. Both are even further hardcore than the Forza and Gran Turismo series even pretend to be – and by trade feature decent but still rudimentary graphics, only a few tracks and a limited number of cars, all of the purebred race machines. On the “arcade” end of the spectrum are the Need for Speed games, the latest release being Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, an open-world street-based racing game with lots of expensive cars, lovingly modeled in an engaging environment, but also propelled around more by Hollywood physics than the real thing.
And then in the middle sits Codemasters, publishers of the beloved TOCA Race Driver and Colin McRae Rally series, and more recently the officially licensed F1 racing games, rally and off-road focused Dirt series, and the track-focused GRID series. GRID, while not as realistic as the TOCA Race series and possessing some infrequently idiotic AI problems, still required the player to know how to drive in order to win and had spectacular feel and driving dynamics that made for a more than worthy addition to a racing enthusiast’s game collection. Two subsequent Dirt games later, and GRID 2 is here.
As is the usual case when one of the major auto shows rolls around on the calendar, the news for the week was completely dominated by the releases, unveilings and debuts at the Geneva Auto Show. Geneva, in particular, carries a certain cache about it, as not only does it engender lazy references to 1970’s rock music, but the city’s reputation for European luxury and prestige – not to mention Switzerland’s lack of presence in the automotive game – means that it is the auto show of choice for all the ultra-high-end hardware from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, makers of less-famous but no less bespoke or impressive high-end European exotica like Koenigsegg and Spyker, and those that just wish to rub some of the magic sparkle that Geneva has on themselves.
It’s rare that automotive news breaks beyond the electrified razor-wire confines of niche interest, but this week we have been favored with an event of interest to the population at large. That event involves possible breaches of journalistic ethics, an oppressive and somewhat frightening level of privacy violation, and a CEO and a major national newspaper acting like spoiled children, so “favored” is perhaps not the most apt choice of words.
Greetings, loyal readers! My name is Kasey Kagawa – some of you might remember me from a few years ago when I hosted the Speed:Sport:Life Radio news podcast – and now I have returned to once again bring you warmed-over news and half-witted commentary, just in this new, textual form that we shall call Speed:Sport:Life News. The 2013 Chicago Auto Show started today, and like all auto shows, there’s announcements with a little “A”, and Announcements. And so, we’ll start this off with the bits of fluff and bother that warrant little more than a brief mention.
Yes, we’re back for another week of SSL Radio. Supposedly, the automakers are heading back to Congress this week to beg for their lives, but we’ll have to wait and see if anything actually comes out of it. Aside from that, there’s not that much going on, so we’ll have to see what we can dig up to send your way in glorious podcast format.
On 12/1, we start off by reviewing the stuff that we missed over the vacation (it wasn’t that much), and the news from Monday (which was even less).