Posts Tagged ‘Azhar’

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TTXGP on The Rules and SWIGZ

November 11, 2010

I recently asked Azhar Hussain, CEO of TTXGP about a recent dust-up involving the 2011 rules (which should be out any day now) and a claim by one of the teams which had planned to participate in 2011, that it would be excluded from the races because of a new weight limit.  (More on the specifics of the weights, the rules, and the claims, later).

TTXGP responded with this message:

TTXGP are very surprised and disappointed to learn via twitter that Swigz are choosing not to join TTXGP in 2011.

TTXGP 2011 will consist of two classes: Formula GP (maximum weight: 250kg) and Formula 75 (maximum weight: 200kg + 7.5kWh limit). The race length is 20miles. wiki.egrandprix.com was a key channel for rule deliberation. The rule book is open sourced, Harry Mallin of eMotoRules was involved in pulling together the suggested changes for rules of TTXGP 2011. They were then peer reviewed by the independent technical committee from the IET.

TTXGP is not a one man, one company show. Be Part of it is more than a tagline.

It was apparent over the 2010 season that a single class could not meet the best interests of the teams, fans or sponsors. The field was too wide. In this case TTXGP consulted widely, acted responsibly, in the best interest of the sport, community and majority of teams.

The economics of running a racing series means that classes have to be connected to number of entries. Our concern was to create classes that will have the highest number of entries and give the participants a level playing field. We are by nature committed to removing limits where possible.

TTXGP launched the Electric Motorcycle Motorsports in the world stage in 2009. In that time we, as an industry, have learnt a great deal that could move forward the progress and innovation. A key motivating factor for us and the current teams is to build vehicles that have real world applicability. Driving down mass for higher speed leads to higher efficiency and better design and fits in with the goals of the teams and the series.

To date, the rule changes have had a positive response and the teams are encouraged that we have created some sensible classes that will grow the field. Racing needs to both push and constrain to create real world innovation and a thrilling spectacle, in this case we are satisfied that we have struck the right balance for the greater good.

Using the conflict of interest with respect to Mavizen is a moot point. Mavizen exists purely to provide technical support, spare parts, expertise and on occasion, complete platforms to those that need it. No team is required to use Mavizen, though over the year, it has proved crucial to many.

In addition to the class changes, 2011 will also see solutions for logistics and a focused effort to promote the TTXGP teams across the world.

We wish Swigz well in whatever they decide to do.

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Snapshot

July 28, 2010

On January 11, 2010, the TTXGP Technical Rules Wiki went live, opening a portal into the future of rulemaking for motorsports.  We invited all interested parties to come and help shape the rules for electric motorcycle racing and announced that the guiding principle would be to “include on merit by default, and then to look for reasons to exclude.”  In other words, when the Wiki “closed,” the hope would be to include all changes unless there were good reason (e.g. safety-related) to forgo the change.

While that still remains the guiding principle, a slight change has been made to the idea of “closing” the Wiki.  If you recall, the Wiki was going to be closed sometime in August, 2010, at which point the Technical Advisory Panel would begin sifting through the contributions for the final draft of the 2011 Technical Rules.  The original announcement said little about the fate of the Wiki after August 2010.

The success of the Wiki (over 19,000 visits to the main page alone in the past six months) has led the TTXGP to decide to encourage the continuation of fan and team interest in the rules by leaving the Wiki open indefinitely.  It will continue to remain a vital, growing, and changing document.  In the interest of drafting the rules for the 2011 TTXGP racing series, however, a “snapshot” of the Wiki will be taken on August 15, 2010, the day of the final race of the North American TTXGP racing championship, at VIR in Southern Virginia, USA.

If you have any ideas that you think should be considered by the TTXGP Technical Advisory Panel when it meets to determine the 2011 Rules, you have a limited amount of time to get those ideas submitted.  There are two ways to do so:

Find the rule you think needs to be “tweaked” (or submit a new rule) on the Technical Rules Wiki at wiki.egrandprix.com

Submit your idea on the TTXGP Webstorm at ttxgp.brightidea.com/webstorm. If you’re familiar with internet forums, you’ll recognize the layout of the webstorm.  If “wiki” editing doesn’t intimidate you, perhaps the Wiki is your tool of choice.  Either way, you have approximately 2 weeks left before the Wiki Snapshot is taken.  Be the change.  Be part of it.

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Azhar talks about the Wiki

June 1, 2010

TTXGP CEO, Azhar Hussain, recently gave an interview to the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Assoaciations (FEMA) and, among other subjects, had some comments to make about the Technical Rules Wiki:

Azhar Hussain: Because the space for innovations is so incredibly huge, we also decided to rely on a Wiki to come up with the rules for the TTXGP 2011.

FEMA: Who makes the rules for the TTXGP races?

A.H.: Usually within a racing organization there is a committee setting the rules. In popular racing series, like MotoGP and Formula 1 the rules serve to keep the races exciting but also to tap development costs. The more sophisticated the rules, the smaller the space for innovation. A small space for innovation in turn leads to a reduced risk of spending money for research and development as well as reducing the goals for wider applicability.

High recognition within the racing community is usually an important condition to become part of the rule setting committing. The result is insiders making the rules for insiders, output from outside is not captured and new ideas can hardly take form and the series becomes remote from wider social, commercial and technical objectives. In order to avoid such phenomena we came up with the idea to create a Wiki to decide on the rules for the TTXGP in 2011. We invite contributions atwiki.egrandprix.com.

FEMA: A Wiki is an online platform that allows people to post and to edit and to comment texts or ideas on certain topics, just like Wikipedia. Does that mean that the rules for the TTXGP next year will be decided upon by whoever gives his or her input?

A.H.: In our sector, development and innovation takes place incredibly fast. In order to not miss anything, we invite everybody to participate setting the rules for the TTXGP 2011. Everybody who is interested in motorcycles, battery technology, electronics and mechanics is invited to join. We think this is the best way to keep track with recent developments. Finally a committee of experts will evaluate all the suggestions made and tailor manageable rules and standards. That’s how we try to keep our room for innovation as open as possible.

The rest of the article is filled with great information and insights on the world of electric motorcycles and electric motorcycle racing, as well.

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Werkstatt Blogs the TTXGP

May 3, 2010

Werkstatt Racing just began blogging: My TTXGP Adventure.  A must-read for TTXGP fans, and it already has some background about the time that the first considered racing in the TTXGP — not going to spoil that here — go to the blog!

Also, Jennifer Bromme has reopened the opportunity for folks to help sponsor the team.  Her announcement, below:

“Hi everybody,

Thanks again for your help! In light of the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico I think it is getting more and more important to show that we need to move to alternative vehicles. We need to show that electric vehicles are a viable means for transport and that they are not a niche anymore but competitive and mainstream!

Please let everybody know about the TTXGP Electric Race Series which will show that it is possible to wean off oil without compromising fun!

We opened another fundraiser on indiegogo: http://bit.ly/cwL2sS.
Please take a minute and pass this on to others that would be interested in being part of making this amazing race a success, and be part of history. Get Jennifer Bromme to race a state of the art electric motorcycle at the TTXGP. We still need grassroots funding, every little bit helps! I have also attached a video stating the mission of Mavizen, which I think sums it up pretty good. Thanks!

Jennifer”

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“Let’s Get to Werk”

April 16, 2010

More information on the Werkstatt Team’s effort to raise sponsorship for their participation in the TTXGPNorth American Series.  First, an appeal by Azhar Hussain, the CEO of eGrandPrix.com and TTXGP, followed by a request by Jennifer Werkstatt, the leader of their team:

Dear Friends,

You will find below an email from Jennifer Werkstatt, a talented and accomplished female motorcycle racer and mechanic from San Francisco and leading an all American team into TTXGP North America 2010.

They are looking to raise money by reaching out to the wider community. Be wonderful if you can contribute and spread the word. This allows us as individuals to make a difference and push innovation not just on the track but also around it.

This team is a grass root effort and we have made a special effort to get them to the grid. But we can’t do it alone.  For a modest investment, this is a chance to be part of a larger, historic, moment not just in motorsport but also in the evolution of transportation. TTXGP is the first motorsport championship in US history not to use gasoline. This is your chance to claim a part of it.

All the details are below. I hope you will consider contributing and sharing it with your friends and colleagues. The race day is less than 4 weeks away so they need your support now.

In any event, I hope to see you all at Infineon on May 15 as we kick off the great adventure.

Kind regards,

Azhar…

_ _ _ _ _ _

Hi all,

Here is an exciting project I’m involved in, and I need your help! You might have heard about the TTXGP (http://www.egrandprix.com/ ), first ever electric motorcycle race series. It premiered at the Isle of Man TT last year, and now it’s coming to our home track, Infineon raceway, on May 16th, to run with the AMA Nationals!

We are entered, but now need to get the funds together to rent a Mavizen (http://www.mavizen.com ) and race it in this inaugural event. The team consists of me, Carolyn Coquilette at http://www.lusciousgarage.com , hybrid specialist in SF, Anton Bertaux, Jeremy LaTrasse, Ivan Thelin and a bunch of other great people.

We are really passionate about furthering alternative energies, and electric bikes are the future.  It would be great to put another local team on the grid and showcase that electric bikes are viable!

We need to raise about $20k for this first race, and about $95k to do the whole series and go to Spain to race against the UK and European teams. And we need to be able to come up with about $20k by Tuesday. I think we can do it, but we need your help!

If you want to be part of this grassroots effort and make history, please consider making a contribution here:http://www.indiegogo.com/Electric-Motorcycles-are-the-Future , we would super appreciate it!

And you can also read more about it here: https://emotorules.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/werkstatt-racing-needs-your-help

[Thanks for link love, Jennifer!]

Thanks for your time, please distribute this to anybody that might have an interest, keep you fingers crossed, deadline is next Tuesday, make a donation and hopefully see you on May 16th at Infineon on the grid!

Cheers, Jennifer

Jennifer Bromme

Werkstatt Racing and Repair

3248 17th St

San Francisco, CA 94110

Phone 415-552-8115

Fax 415-552-8182

www.werkstattsf.com

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Fi Fo Fo FIM, Is the Beanstalk swaying?

March 26, 2010

The sport of motorcycle racing has a rich history that winds its way through 20th century United Kingdom like the narrow roads on the Isle of Man.  Recently, this history has included a new avenue of opportunity: electric motorcycle racing.  But controversy, no stranger to motorsports, has already touched this new sport, and recent events indicate that a shockwave of change may be in store for the sanctioning bodies that currently organize the upcoming racing series.

According to an email recently published on, of all places, the personal blog of Ivar Kvadsheim, a Norwegian journalist who writes primarily on the subject of electric motorcycle racing, a UK government agency is likely to bring charges of anti-competitive behavior and monopoly practices against the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (International Motorcycling Federation, or the FIM).  The FIM is “the world governing body for motorcycle sport and is an independent association formed by 101 National Federations throughout the world. It is recognised as the sole competent authority in motorcycle sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Among its 49 FIM World Championships the main events are MotoGP, Superbike, Endurance, Motocross, Supercross, Trial, Enduro and Speedway.”  Source: www.fim-live.com. To understand the context of the email about the anti-competitive behavior, a review of the story behind the relationship between FIM and TTXGP is necessary.

TTXGP, an organization unrelated to the FIM, was founded in 2008 by Azhar Hussain, an entrepreneur in the electronics industry. It ran the world’s first zero carbon, clean emission motorcycle race on the Isle of Man TT in June 2009 which was the first sanctioned zero-carbon race in history.  It pioneered many of the safety and technical standards used in electric motorsports today. Following the successful race on the Isle of Man, TTXGP worked closely with the FIM, sharing technical expertise and unique experience. TTXGP was invited to sit on the FIM zero carbon committee to help form the rules for 2010. Essentially, the TTXGP was courted by the FIM in hopes of building a partnership that would become the sole governing body for electric motorcycle racing.

That all ended in November 2009, when the FIM announced that it was going to run its own international e-motorcycle racing series called the ePower.  Notably absent from the press release was any mention of TTXGP or Hussain.  Rumors and conjecture about the reasons behind the split followed, but regardless of all of that, it was clearly not an amicable parting of the ways.  Since then, the news has come fast and furious – TTXGP announced its world series of races including four North American, four UK, four Italian, and a final race in Spain.  FIM initially announced four races in the e-Power series (two in France, one in Spain, and one in Qatar).  Later, it dropped the Qatar race, substituting a race in Imola, Italy, and it added a race for July 24, 2010,at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, USA.  Meanwhile, the Isle of Man government split from TTXGP and decided to have its own electric motorcycle race, without TTXGP, which it would call TT Zero.   The TT Zero announced that it would follow the technical rules for electric motorcycles that had been published by FIM.

The FIM ePower rules, however, are almost identical to the technical rules created by TTXGP for this nascent sport.  TTXGP shared these rules with FIM when the two organizations were moving forward, building a partnership which would not come to fruition.  No legal action has been filed by TTXGP for the infringement, but a side-by-side reading of the nearly identical rules would certainly support such an action.

With this background, a closer examination of the email mentioned in the opening paragraph is called for.  The email, dated March 23, 2010, is addressed to Azhar Hussain and the author is Simon Carter, Business Relationship Manager, Automotive Unit, Department for Business Innovation & Skills.  The email states in relevant part:

I can confirm that it is our view that the FIM based in Switzerland have a case to answer in anti competitive behaviour and in monoply [sic] practices. I am in contact with the Office of Fair Trading who are looking into bringing charges against the FIM in Europe.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is a Ministerial Department of the government of the UK.  The key role of the BIS is “to build Britain’s capabilities to compete in the global economy.”  The Department has many duties, but relevant to this matter, the following duties arguably apply:

  • Advocate the needs of business across government, especially of UK small businesses;
  • Promote an enterprise environment that is good for business and good for consumers;
  • Design tailored policies for sectors of the UK economy that represent key future strengths and where government policy can add to the dynamics of the market;
  • Encourage innovation in the UK;
  • Defend a sound regulatory environment that encourages enterprise and skills;
  • Collaborate with the RDAs in building economic growth in the English regions;
  • Work with the EU in shaping European regulation and European policies that affect the openness of the single market and the competitiveness of European and British companies.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is a non-ministerial government department that enforces European Community and UK competition laws including Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty and the Competition Act 1998.  The Competition Act 1998 focuses on competition policy within the UK, but, given that the email mentions that FIM is “based in Switzerland” it is more likely that the OFT will turn to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty which deal with free competition and monopolies, respectively, within the wider European Community.

If OFT brings charges against FIM under Article 81 and/or Article 82, the effects could be substantial on the self-proclaimed “sole competent authority in motorcycle sport” and on the sponsors and teams that do business with it.  Article 81 provides that a violation of the Article not only raises the specter of fines levied against the violator, “[a]ny agreements or decisions prohibited pursuant to this article shall be automatically void.”  In other words, if the OFT brings charges against the FIM, entities signing contracts with the FIM run the risk of those contracts being declared void.  Based on my admittedly sparse knowledge of OFT procedures, it looks to me that if the OFT decided that FIM was engaging in anti-competitive practices, it would then refer the case to the Competition Commission of the European Commission.  (Based on this recent referral of a case involving Procter and Gamble by the OFT to the EC).

Why would the UK want to get involved in the motorsports industry at all?  The answer to that question can be found in a recently released report (Note: link opens a .pdf document) by the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (BISC is a committee of the UK legislative body, rather than an executive department, which the BIS is).  “Full speed ahead: maintaining UK excellence in motorsport and aerospace.”  22 March, 2010.  That report stated:

The motorsport and aerospace industries represent two jewels in the crown of UK manufacturing. The United Kingdom is a world leader in the motorsport industry, and boasts the world’s second largest aerospace sector after the USA.

(Report, p. 5).

Additionally, and relevant to the dispute between FIM and TTXGP, the report provides:

In addition to financial support for “green” research, the Government is considering the potential for using motorsport to challenge people’s perception of environmental issues. We welcome the fact the Government is considering this as an area of action and agree that motorsport has the potential to shift the debate about carbon emissions away from a dry conversation about carbon budgets, towards a more valuable debate on the role that technology and innovation can play in addressing climate change and other environmental issues.

(Report, p. 3).

Given the UK Government’s interest in preserving its image of leadership in the motorsports industry and its interest in green technology, what other current conflict could contain such ripe, low hanging fruit?  The appearance of the dominant FIM using its influence and power to crush the TTXGP (not to mention the appropriation of its Technical Rules) would seem to be a ready vehicle on which to put the UK Government’s dual interests to the test.

But would a conflict involving motorsports ever be worthy of the attention of the European Commission?

It certainly would.  In fact, precedent for the EC’s involvement in this case exists in competition proceedings it commenced in 1999 against the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the body in charge of international motor racing.  (The EC later expanded the proceedings to include the Formula One Administration and International Sportsworld Communications).  The EC’s proceedings, initially prompted by complaints by broadcasters over the way the FIA organized the sport, identified several areas in which the FIA appeared to be abusing its dominant position in the industry.  Relevant to the current dispute, the EC found that the FIA used its power to block series which competed with its own events.  As the “sole regulatory body” of international motor racing, any track owner, vehicle manufacturer, organizer of events, and drivers had to come to it to obtain an FIA license.  License holders were tied to FIA and were only permitted to enter or organize events authorized by the FIA.  Any license holder found to ignore this prohibition could have its license stripped and would thus be prevented from participating in most of the notable motorsports events held in Europe.

This case ended up with the FIA entering into a settlement agreement with the EC in which the FIA agreed to several measures which resulted in FIA’s division of its commercial and regulatory authorities, a freeing up of its stranglehold on its licensees, and arguably, an opening up of the motorsports marketplace in Europe.  Admittedly, this is an over-simplification of the FIA matter, but I include it here merely to illustrate that the EC is not unwilling to enforce the laws of fair trade and competition as they apply to the motorsports industry.

What’s next?

Next, we wait to see if the BIS and the OFT follow through with commencing a case against the FIM and whether the OFT will bring the matter before the EC.  Sponsors, teams, manufacturers, media partners, riders, and fans should follow this story as it has the potential of being a big game-changer in the growing world of electric motorcycle racing.  With three series vying for “world champion” status, it seems a foregone conclusion that each one will have to include an asterisk (*) after the name.  The deeper question, however, remains to be answered: what will the record books say beside that asterisk?

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TTXGP Newsletter

February 26, 2010

I was the guest editor of the TTXGP newsletter this week and wanted to make sure that, in addition to the copy on the eGrandPrix.com website and the one that might have come in your email, one copy of it got posted here on my blog.  I enjoyed writing it and I had a great time working with the folks at TTXGP.  They continue to solicit guest editors, so if you’re interested, let them know.

Slogans and mission statements are often such meaningless tripe. When I first heard TTXGP’s slogan “New Day. New Rules. New Game. Be part of it,” I winced. Aside from its ungainly length, I thought, as a slogan, it suffered from delusions of grandeur. What is “New” about the day, rules, and games that could draw enough people to want to be a part of it?

The enthusiasm of TTXGP’s founder, Azhar Hussain, convinced me that my stubborn skepticism was off the mark. He believes in that slogan, and after collaborating with him on the revolutionary idea that became the TTXGP Technical Rules Wiki, I believe in it, too. And, as I found out, I’m not alone.

Azhar told me that his idea for “putting the rules on a wiki” came while he was at home, sick with a cold. (I imagine him ranting deliriously from his sickbed.) As we fleshed out the idea, it became clear to me that the idea of using the power of the crowd to shape the rules that govern the sport of electric motorcycle racing was as innovative and groundbreaking as the nascent sport itself.

Yet, as I was often to be reminded, there is nothing new under the sun.

Electric motorcycles have existed since the late 1800s and have shown up from time to time since then in various iterations. Tracing the history of electric motorcycle racing is more elusive, but it isn’t difficult to imagine two of more of these vehicles coming off of an assembly floor, ridden by workers anxious to test the finished product and their own skills against each other.

Until June 2009 at the Isle of Man, however, a meaningful race involving electric motorcycles had not occurred. The success of the first TTXGP was evident in the worldwide attention the race received, and the interest that this year’s racing series has garnered. In this respect, the “New Day” is upon us.

Along with this “New Day” came a requirement for “New Rules” to be put in place. Specifically, the TTXGP Technical Rules had to be created to address the types of concerns present in electric bike racing that do not exist in internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycle racing. For example, if a race course steward is rushing toward a wrecked motorcycle in order to clear it from the course, he knows that if it’s sputtering, then the engine needs to be shut off before it can be safely moved. No similar audible cue exists with electric bikes. A steward’s inadvertent twist of a throttle on a silent, downed bike could potentially send it rocketing across the course . . . or toward a crowd. This particular hazard was addressed in the TTXGP Technical Rule mandating an “Emergency Stop” device – a large, clearly-marked button that, when pressed, breaks the circuit between the battery and the motor.

The TTXGP Technical Advisory Panel was created to give order, consistency and balance to the rules. Staffed by members certified by the Institute of Engineering and Technology as experts in technology, electronics, electrical engineering, and product safety, the Panel’s job includes reviewing the rules for safety concerns, internal consistency, and to assure that the rules remain neutral and independent when applied to bikes, riders, and teams.

TTXGP did not stop after it had addressed the unique safety and performance issues of electric bikes. It broke new ground, encouraging streamlining and feet forward (FF) design. Yet, just like the historical aspect of the “New Day,” this “New Rule” has a history. Streamlining had been allowed in motorcycle racing until 1957 when it was banned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM, International Motorcycling Federation) following complaints by manufacturers that racing motorcycles covered with extreme full body fairings (“dustbins”) bore no resemblance to production motorcycles.

The TTXGP did not have to answer to big motorcycle manufacturers, however, and Azhar Hussain saw the value of streamlining as it applied to electrics. The ability to slip easily through the air with decreased drag not only meant greater speeds for the motorcycles that took advantage of this technology, it meant a longer range—something that could mean the difference between finishing and not finishing a race. Azhar looked to two individuals to help him draft the streamlining rules: Craig Vetter, the inventor of the iconic Windjammer fairing; and longtime FF proponent Royce Creasey. Creasey even had a prototype in the works for the 2009 TTXGP, but the sponsor got cold feet. FF design looks so unusual that it would take a sponsor/supporter with creative vision to buy into the project. So far, no team has come forward in this year’s series with a FF machine. The rules, however, exist to support such an entry.

Which brings me, finally, to the TTXGP Technical Rules Wiki. Azhar placed me in charge of this effort to harness the energy of the crowd to shape the rules for the 2011 season. Although I serve as the moderator on the project, the users of the Wiki will do most of the work. So far, Vetter and Creasey are on board. Creasey has already dug in with both hands, changing the word “motorcycle” in the “classification” rule to a term which will be more inclusive of the traditional designs and FF machines: “Powered Two Wheeler” or PTW will be inserted into the rules wherever “motorcycle” appears now. He has also rewritten the “streamlining” rule from the version which appeared when the wiki went live.

Racing enthusiast Jim Race (MotoGPod) created a new rule about “Qualifying.” I have suggested a new rule about separate prizes for “energy efficiency.” Meanwhile, members or representatives of at least three of the teams which will be racing have joined the Wiki to monitor and to, hopefully, contribute to the rules for next season.

Given the novelty of this sport, it is expected that issues will arise in its inaugural season which will need to be addressed before the rules are published for the second season. The Wiki is the tool that we hope to use to manage those changes quickly and efficiently. Race fans, teams, engineers, mechanics . . . anyone can register. Will a few crackpots slip in? It is certainly possible. That, however, is where my duties as moderator, and the self-policing qualities of a wiki will come into play. The vandals will be banned, the vandalism flushed out, and, if it all works as we hope: the cream will rise to the top.

We hope that you will join us in this experiment of inclusion. Will your insights into aerodynamics or electricity or occupational safety come into play for the 2011 rules? You will never know until you take the time to be a part of this game-changing project. That is where the “New Game” phrase comes into play for me: This experiment will work if you come and join the new game that has begun.

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