Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Amsterdam Craze: Smart Car Tipping

Amsterdam Craze: Smart Car Tipping

If you’ve ever been to a rural area you’ve probably heard of cow tipping. Now the latest craze in Amsterdam is tipping those tiny Smart cars into the canals.

Smart cars are small enough to be parked perpendicularly, which means that either its head or tail is often pointing to the water. What’s a young vandal to do? Throw that sucker into the drink, of course!

The so-called ‘Smart tossing’ usually
takes place on the weekends when young folks are roaming the streets at night. Most canals have a low guard rail that prevents cars from falling into the water, but the Smart car is light enough to be lifted and tossed over.

Once a Smart car hits the water, it’s usually a total loss for the unlucky owner.

Police in Amsterdam have not wanted to publicize Smart car tipping for fear of encouraging copy-cats. However, officers are now paying close attention to the city’s canals.

photo credit: tinou bao

Tipping over tiny Smart cars is a dumb idea, pranksters told


EDMONTON — The Canadian Press Last updated on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 02:58AM EDT

Owners of pint-sized Smart cars aren't laughing about reports that vandals may be targeting the tiny vehicles in a 21st-century take on tipping over cows.

The Internet and blogosphere are abuzz with media reports that pranksters may have pushed several of the tiny vehicles into canals in Amsterdam.

And now a man in his 40s is charged with mischief for allegedly tipping a Smart car onto its side along Edmonton's Whyte Avenue, a trendy bar-and-boutique strip that sometimes attracts rowdy drinkers.

The car's windows, exterior mirrors and panelling were damaged, and despite the outrage of owner Kevin Spaans, amused bystanders posed with the flipped car and snapped photos with their cellphone cameras.

Police are seeking other suspects, but one official said it appears to have been an isolated occurrence.

Ken Lust, sales manager at David Morris Fine Cars, which sells the popular car, said goofing around with it isn't a harmless prank but rather a brazen act of property damage.

Mr. Lust has himself been a victim. Three years ago, he went outside one morning on a property he owns northeast of Edmonton to find that somebody had tipped his Smart car over during the night.

"The first reaction is shock and disbelief. The second reaction is anger because your car has been vandalized. It's the same feeling, I guess, if you walked out and saw your paint all scratched up or your windows smashed in," he said.

No one was ever arrested. Mr. Lust believes it was the work of several fellows who probably had too much to drink that night.

The sales manager spent several hundred dollars repairing smashed windows and a bent gas cap.

"It's an act of vandalism, pure and simple, and I think if caught, [the perpetrators] should be punished severely."

Smart cars, which have become popular with commuters for superior gas mileage and cute looks, weigh about 725 kilograms.

The average cow tips the scales at about 600 kg. Some zoologists suggest stories of hooligans butting over bovines are "udder" nonsense because the animals would resist, making it next to impossible. But cyberspace is filled with such reports.

Some Smart car customers shell out up to $20,000 for a loaded model and use the vehicle's unique look to gain attention for their business.

"We sell a lot of Smart cars [to businesses] that want to use it as an advertising vehicle so they put their company name on it because it attracts attention," Mr. Lust said.

All that attention could also make the vehicle a target for vandals, he suggested.

Photos and grainy videos have popped up on the Internet and YouTube of people using brute strength and long poles to tip small cars and outraged owners have vented their anger on blogs.

The Alberta owner of a so-called "Smartie," who found it tipped on its side, was so furious he posted photos on the Internet and offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Another man whose three-year-old Smart car was reportedly flipped outside a home in west Seattle in June, causing thousands of dollars in damage, attracted digs from SUV owners and sympathy from others when he wrote about it on a blog.

"I'm sorry, too, but it's funny. They'll be able to laugh about it in a day or so. SUV hybrids are looking better all the time, ya think?" wrote someone using the name Looniebomber.

"To all that found humour in this story/picture, I can't help but to hope that karma comes a knockin' when you're three shades of furious, because someone else damages your property and you have to foot the bill," wrote Bruce W.

Some may think tipping over cars is harmless fun, but under the Criminal Code of Canada, mischief is a potentially serious offence, said Sanjeev Anand, a law professor at the University of Alberta.

"I think it's important for the public to understand that when you interfere with someone's property and you damage someone's property, it's not a simple prank. It is a criminal offence."

A conviction carries a variety of potential punishments, including a maximum sentence of between two and 10 years in jail, although such sentences are rare, Prof. Anand said.

Michael Vick And Brett Favre Return To Madden

Michael Vick is coming home! Arguably the most fun Madden player in game history is coming back to his roots. After a two year hiatus, Michael Vick will be available in Madden 2010 today with an update. Brett Favre also returns to the game after a brief retirement. Let the crazy Madden Online Franchise Mode trades for Vick and Favre begin!

Brett Favre also returns to Madden today after a much shorter absence. Last year’s cover boy is giving headaches to the EA crew once again. Last year, Favre joined the Jets just days after Madden 09 was released with him on the cover in a Packers jersey. The time table is ironically similar to last year’s announcement for Favre.

As a lifelong Madden player and an ant-Vick guy, I will say this about Michael Vick. He was a hell of a lot of fun to play in Madden. I will happily admit that he was a top draft pick for me when I would play a fantasy draft in the franchise mode. I will hate the player but I won’t hate his Madden game. I for one am excited about Vick’s return.

Vick was a lot of fun for one reason and that was his speed. I also liked to through fades to Alge Crumpler with Vick, but running was his game. The game has changed a lot in two years and is more Vick friendly than ever. Michael Vick couldn’t have come back at a better time for Madden gamers like me.

Some things will change for Michael Vick in Madden 10. For one, he isn’t an elite quarterback anymore and won’t be treated like one. Vick’s player rating will be a 74. This is a 17-point drop from Vick’s last appearance in Madden. You can’t expect Vick to walk back in at a 91. The great thing about Madden is that they constantly update throughout the season and chances are that Vick’s rating will increase with each update.

Vick’s re-emergence comes right in the middle of the Wildcat frenzy. Madden 2010 includes the Wildcat formation. This is where most players will be plugging Vick into right off of the bat. The current Eagles Wildcat has DeSean Jackson taking the snap with Donovan McNabb at wide receiver. Players can change the depth chart around and plug Vick into the formation and have a blast.

I will say this about the Wildcat in Madden 10. It is really a hit and miss play. I have played and practiced it about two dozen times. In games (and practice), it works about 40% of the time. When it works, it is a thing of absolute beauty and receivers definitely get open. The problem is that thrower has such a poor qb accuracy rating that I miss open receivers most of the time. Vick can solve this if you can get him back there.

Madden 10 also boasts a robust Online Franchise Mode. In this mode, you can make all kinds of crazy trades with guys in your league. Obviously anyone with the Eagles has a huge bargaining chip here. The mode also offers a fantasy draft where every player is available and you can start from scratch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go high in each and every fantasy draft.

Brett Favre’s return isn’t as exciting as Vick’s return to the game. Favre was in last year’s game, but retired in the franchise mode. Favre will get a little more respect than Vick with an overall 82 rating. Madden Online Franchise owners can have a little fun and trade Favre back to the Packers if they so desire. The gunslinger has always been a fun player, yet I would expect a much slower version of Favre this year.

Michael Vick fans can also put their money where their mouths are. Players can start Vick over McNabb at their leisure. Franchise owners could probably get a nice trade for McNabb if they wish to go that way in either the online or the cpu franchise mode. The Eagles do have a few plays which allow McNabb to scramble if the player desires. The Eagles offense is probably the perfect playbook to run with Vick.

How do you get the update? I don’t have a PS3, so I can only speak on getting the update for the Xbox 360. For Xbox users, go to the Xbox Live option and choose play a game. Once you choose that option, Xbox will notify you that your roster is out of date and offer you the newest one with Vick and Favre. Make sure you save it to your hard drive and you are good to go. Double check once you sign out of Xbox Live and go to the roster option. Look around and make sure Favre and Vick are in there. If not, repeat the Xbox Live steps and you will be ready to play with Vick or Favre.

I may be a hypocrite today because as disappointed as I am to see Michael Vick on the Eagles, I am happy to see him back in Madden. Nobody will ever deny the fun they have had if they ever played Madden using Vick. Favre and Vick are available today for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 users. The same update will be available shortly to other consoles.