Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What the Frack?

Again with the break! It's probably time I accept that I'll never keep this blog up to date. Ah well. 

Anyway, quick question... When the fuck did we turn into a country that detains people for 9 hours on a whim? 2000 apparently, but a second quick question: How the fuck did that happen? 

Even if you accept that known terrorists would be stupid enough to waltz into Heathrow or Gatwick, do we think they'll be there with a USB drive titled 'ALL THE TERRORIST PLOTS EVAR'? While I accept that terrorism is a thing (a massively over-hyped thing these days, as well as a two-way street, but still a thing), these precautions seem to be facile. Not strong enough to stop a determined terrorist (there are more ways into this country, and several of them are easier to slip past than airport security), and much too heavy-handed for use on the average citizen. This appears to be yet another case where the appearance of something is considered more important than the actuality. The people who this will impact aren't terrorists, but it will make readers of the Daily Mail feel better.

Given the number of foreign 'terrorists' with the means to travel internationally (not a large number) and the guts to go to a hostile foreign territory with the aim of committing an attack (probably an even smaller number), is 9 hours of aggression from the authorities going to matter? Do we assume these 'terrorists' are so cartoonishly foolish that they will not have planned a cover story and materials? Or do we believe that, like in CSI, the villain will crack when confronted?

Anyway, lets be hypothetical: lets say that someone is coming through an airport and we have reason to believe they may be a 'terrorist' (Incidentally the slippage of that term from its meaning pre-9/11 is also a scary thing). Do we think that an appropriate response to this scenario is to shut them in a room with police for 9 hours where they are denied representation, and are denied the right to silence? Seriously? These are two fundamental tenets of law and justice. Everyone is entitled to a defense and everyone is entitled not to self-incriminate (which I believe is the basis for the right to silence). As there are no outside parties in the room, I can only assume that we are shutting people up so we can apply undue pressure to force a 'confession' from them that we can then use against them in a court of law. Where have I heard of that technique before????

All this without mentioning that the target of this wasn't a terrorist, or even someone related to terrorism. Hell, Miranda wasn't even a journalist! He was the partner of a journalist whom GCHQ and the USA have reason not to like very much. Where else does this leave you but to assume that this was to instill fear in all journalists? Luckily, I don't think it'll work, but I always was an optimist.

In conclusion, I am disgusted by what this act allows the authorities to do. I'm more disgusted by the use of this act in targeting a patently unconnected person in the hopes of scaring his loved ones into compliance. But I am totally outraged by the response from the Home Office.

From my Facebook: 
We "need to think about what we're condoning"? What the actual frack? We're not the ones condoning intimidation and destruction of private property on a false pretext.

I mean Seriously? We need to think about what we're condoning? We're condoning the right of all people to fair judicial procedures. We're condoning innocent until proven guilty. We're explicitly not condoning the right of authority to bully people based on it's own embarrassment after the public find out just how much it's been snooping on them for years.

To finish: This act needs serious modification or repeal. If we sink to these levels we are simply using fear to accomplish our ends. The ends justify the means, no matter how many people are hurt in the process. We have a word for that.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Break's over?

Wow! That's what you call a long, unintentional break.

I guess the best thing is to carry on like it was intentional...
For any who read this who are interested, in the time since the last substantive post, I’ve worked 2 different jobs, gone back to uni and trained as a Secondary Science teacher, and then failed to get a regular teaching job. So I’m now back at the stage of looking for a job, and trying to find something interesting to do in the meantime. Some things never change!

Anyway, this will now chart the progress of me trying to set up a company offering subject enhancement courses, as well as any random stuff that happens to catch my eye. I’m easily distracted by sniny things....

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Smeagol is free!

It's been a long old time since I've written one of these. To tell the truth I've been largely concentrating on getting my thesis done. Some may not believe it, but I think worked darned hard at this, even if it has taken me 12 months longer than expected. I started writing this as my printer was throwing hate filled vibes at me for making it print 187 pages of concentrated waffle, comprising 29,937 words, a full 9.937 more than you're meant to write. Ah well, what the hell say I.

Even though it was a bit anti-climactic to be sat here typing up my first blog post for ages while my printer was throwing varying amounts of ink at a page, killing time until it finished and I went to throw the sum total of three years work at some poor so-and so who then had to bind it. I did, however have iTunes blaring out music at a volume that they could probably hear at the end of the street (Mark isn't the only one with a taste for loud music!), and I developed an 'I'm finished' dance that I unleashed this weekend at Claire's blessing reception. It's why my knee is currently hurting a lot.

While I was printing I was thinking about the amount of sweat and late nights I've had to throw at my thesis. It's possible that I could have finished it earlier, but it wasn't to be. I don't regret having taken this long; I've had a good time working on this thing. I must confess a certain level of boredom crept in around the 5th re-read, but there you go. The thing on my mind now is what's next?

The answer to that is that I'm not sure. I'm planning on working for a while to fund some travel, and to fund exploration of possibilities. Long term I'd like to remain in academia. I enjoy the learning environment, and I think I could teach reasonably well (at least I could talk lots, I'm good at that). However where I go next is still clouded. I have a dream involving Vancouver and the Rockies, and I'm going to look into making that happen. But for the immediate future, there are several things that need to happen (including finding a job) and these will probably become my focus for the next few weeks.

I do have to admit that this isn't the end for this thesis. I've still got to defend it (Viva) and I haven't got a clue when that'll happen. I'll then have to re-write (again!) some elements before I can (hopefully!) add more letters to my name. I'll take orders for bound copies of my thesis starting at £100, and for an extra £50 I'll even sign it! (That's not serious by the way...). There are a couple of papers in the works, which I'm hoping to finish in the near future, so I'll be more than busy for the next few weeks.

I suppose the only thing left is to say thanks to all those involved. I initially only put those with direct relevance to my project into my acknowledgements, but I mentioned it to Mark and he made a good point. Even though the people I work with rarely saw me, they all had a hand in helping me not go (more) insane over the last three years. So thanks to all of you from Portsmouth Uni, and Bowlplex. You all know who you are.

To finish, two bits of good news!

  1. It seems that Becky has both a blog, and has been lined up for an important transplant. Huzzah to both, but primarily the latter!
  2. Congratulations to Claire and James whose blessing we attended. They got married in Grenada (mutter, mutter) but threw a lavish party for the rest of us who couldn't make it. Much fun was had by all, and hopefully it's an omen for their future.


Anyway, back to relaxing, and waiting for a job offer!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Stop and think!

I just got one of those Facebook chain letter things. They seem to be present in plague proportions on sites like facebook, but that’s to be expected... Out of nothing more than dull curiosity I decided to have a look at the relevant section:

GEMINI - The Twin
Nice. Love is one of a kind. Great listeners. Very Good at confusing people... Lover not a fighter, but will still knock you out. Gemini's will not take any crap from anyone. Gemini's like to tell people what they should do and get offended easily. They are great at losing things and are forgetful. Gemini's can be very sarcastic and childish at times, and are very nosey.
Trustworthy. Always happy. VERY Loud. Talkative. Outgoing VERY FORGIVING. Loves to make out. Has a beautiful smile. Generous. Strong. THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE.

Now that’s not a bad description of me (the first section anyway...). I like to think that the second part applies to me. I know the loud and talkative parts do. So this makes me wonder if there’s any truth to these things. Not due to some stellar related tat, but more because peoples’ time of birth (in my case late may) may influence the early and formative parts of their life. Those born at one time tend to be one way, while those born later tend to be another. It’s possible that it’s purely a case of wishing to have those qualities (and faults) in order to define oneself, but I do know that I’m a good listener, I’m very good at confusing people, I’ll walk away first but I’ll smack people if they annoy me enough or if they threaten my friends. I also order people about and can be easily offended (though that’s not normally the case), I could lose things for England, and if things don’t get written down they get forgotten. And I’m never sarcastic. Ever...

This requires testing. The best way of testing is to see how well this correlates with other people. I know a few people who believe in this sort of prediction, and some who don’t, so I’m going to ask that anyone who reads this (all 3 or 4 of you...) look at the list and tell me how well you correlate... I’m going to ask lots of people in the hope of building up a large data set...

The Chain Letter

ARIES - The Aggressive
Outgoing. Lovable. Spontaneous. Not one to mess with. Funny. Excellent kisser EXTREMELY adorable. Loves relationships, and family is very important to an aries. Aries are known for being generous and giving. Addictive. Loud. Always has the need to be 'Right'. Aries will argue to prove their point for hours and hours. Aries are some of the most wonderful people in the world.

TAURUS - The Tramp
Aggressive. Loves being in long relationships. Likes to give a good fight. fight for what they want. Can be annoying at times, but for the love of attention. Extremely outgoing. Loves to help people in times of need. Good kisser. Good personality. Stubborn. A caring person. They can be self centered and if they want something they will do anything to get it. They love to sleep and can be lazy. One of a kind. Not one to mess with. Are the most attractive people on earth!

GEMINI - The Twin
Nice. Love is one of a kind. Great listeners Very Good at confusing people... Lover not a fighter, but will still knock you out. Gemini's will not take any crap from anyone. Gemini's like to tell people what they should do and get offended easily. They are great at losing things and are forgetful. Gemini's can be very sarcastic and childish at times, and are very nosey. Trustworthy. Always happy. VERY Loud. Talkative. Outgoing VERY FORGIVING. Loves to make out. Has a beautiful smile. Generous. Strong. THE MOST IRRESISTIBLE.

CANCER - The Beauty
MOST AMAZING KISSER. Very high appeal. A Cancer's Love is one of a kind. Very romantic. Most caring person you will ever meet in your life. Entirely creative Person, most's are artists and insane respectfully speaking. They perfected sex and do it often. Extremely random. An Ultimate Freak. Extremely funny and is usually the life of the party. Most cancers will take you under their wing and into their hearts where you will remain forever. Cancers make love with a passion beyond compare. Spontaneous. Not a Fighter, But will kick your ass good if it comes down to it. Someone you should hold on to!

LEO - The Lion
Great talker. Attractive and passionate. Laid back. Usually happy, but when unhappy tend to be grouchy and childish. A leo's problem becomes everyone's problem. Most Leos are very predictable and tend to be monotonous. Knows how to have fun. Is really good at almost anything. Great kisser. Very predictable. Outgoing. Down to earth. Addictive. Attractive. Loud. Loves being in long relationships. Talkative. Not one to mess with. Rare to find. Good when found.

VIRGO - The One that Waits
Dominant in relationships. Someone loves them right now. Always wants the last word. Caring. Smart. Loud. Loyal. Easy to talk to. Everything you ever wanted. Easy to please. A pushover. Loves to gamble and take chances. Needs to have the last say in everything. They think they know everything and usually do. Respectful to others but you will quickly lose their respect if you do something untrustworthy towards them and never regain respect. The do not forgive and never forget. The one and only.

LIBRA - The Lame One
Nice to everyone they meet. Their Love is one of a kind. Silly, fun and sweet. Have own unique appeal. Most caring person you will ever meet! However, not the kind of person you want to mess with... you might end up crying... Libras can cause as much havoc as they can prevent. faithful friends to the end. Can hold a grudge for years. Libras are someone you want on your side. Usually great at sports and are extreme sports fanatics. Kinda dumb at times.

SCORPIO - The Addict
EXTREMELY adorable. Loves to joke. Very Good sense of humor. Will try almost anything once. Loves to be pampered. Energetic. Predictable. GREAT kisser. Always get what they want. Attractive. Loves being in long relationships. Talkative. Loves to party but at times to the extreme. Loves the smell and feel of money and is good at making it but just as good at spending it! Very protective over loved ones. HARD workers. Can be a good friend but if is disrespected by a friend, the friendship will end. Romantic. Caring.

SAGITTARIUS - The Promiscuous One
Spontaneous. High appeal. Rare to find. Great when found. Loves being in long relationships. So much love to give. A loner most of the time. Loses patience easily and will not take crap. If in a bad mood stay FAR away. Gets offended easily and remembers the offense forever. Loves deeply but at times will not show it feels it is a sign of weakness. Has many fears but will not show it. VERY private person. Defends loved ones with all their abilities. Can be childish often. Not one to mess with. Very pretty. Very romantic. Nice to everyone they meet. Their Love is one of a kind. Silly, fun and sweet. Have own unique appeal. Most caring person you will ever meet! Amazing in bed..!!! Not the kind of person you want to mess with- you might end up crying.

CAPRICORN - The Passionate Lover
Love to bust. Nice. Sassy. Intelligent. Sexy. Grouchy at times and annoying to some. Lazy and love to take it easy. But when they find a job or something they like to do they put their all into it. Proud, understanding and sweet. Irresistible. Loves being in long relationships. Great talker. Always gets what he or she wants. Cool. Loves to win against other signs especially Gemini's in sports. Likes to cook but would rather go out to eat at good restaurants. Extremely fun. Loves to joke. Smart.

AQUARIUS - Does It In The Water
Trustworthy. Attractive. Great kisser. One of a kind, loves being inlong-term relationships. Can be clumbsy at times but tries hard. Will take on any project. Proud of themselves in whatever they do. Messy, and unorganized. Procrastinators. Great lovers, when their not sleeping. Extreme thinkers. Loves their pets usually more then their familiy. Can be VERY irritating to others when they try to explain or tell a story. Unpredictable. Will exceed your expectations. Not a Fighter, But will Knock your lights out.

PISCES - The Partner for Life
Caring and kind. Smart. Center of attention. Messy at times and irresponsible! Smart but lazy. High appeal. Has the last word. Good to find, hard to keep. Passionate, wonderful lovers. Fun to be around. Too trusting at times and gets hurt easily. Lover of animals. VERY caring, make wonderful nurses or doctors. They always try to do the right thing sometimes get the short end of the stick. They sometimes et used by others and hurt because of their trusting. Extremely weird but in a good way. Good Sense of Humor!!! Thoughtful. Always gets what he or she wants. Loves to joke. Very popular. Silly, fun and sweet. Good friend to other but need to be choosy on who they allow their friends to be.

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Drawing Conclusions

It’s a simple thing to do, drawing. You sit down with a piece of paper before you, attack it with a pen/pencil/paint/blood (Sorry, been watching X-files again…) and produce an image. This image may or may not have some specific significance or it may simply be a brain belch (see R. Hing, Artwork of). Frequently that depends on the viewer. That sounds odd, yet it has struck me that art only finds its expression in its audience (or in the case of post-modern art, its victims). We will never know exactly what Michaelangelo was thinking during the painting of the Cistine Chapel, but you can find out what it means today by asking people who’ve seen it what they think, and what they think Michaelangelo was thinking. Of course these observations are tinted by the expectations and pre-conceptions of the people making them, thus rendering the art a reflection of that person’s life or cultural experiences. Of course, an interesting scenario is when people come across something to which they have no point of reference. Personally I find this confusing, or sometimes down-right annoying as my brain struggles (and fails) to interpret what I’m seeing. Some people find it liberating, and I confess the odd flash of envy towards these people. To avoid straying too far from the point,, it can be said that it in our own interpretation of art, we are all interpreting a part of ourselves, and for that let us be glad. Of course, recognising and acknowledging this is not always easy. Seeing a picture that seems to be dark and nasty with little or no redeeming features (and then realising that you are face to face with the darker side of your own nature) could provide a shock, if not outright disgust. I don’t argue that this is always the case. There are some images where the room for interpretation is minimal (such as portraits), but in other cases we must acknowledge the power of the artist. It may be that the true gift of an artist is not so much their powers of creation, but their ability to choose which parts of ourselves we are forced to confront, whether the divine and inspiring like Michaelangelo, or the dark and demonic like Blake (or some of Mark’s recent creations!). Perhaps, in these dim mirrors reflecting the depths and heights of our souls, we can catch a glimpse of who we are, and by the work of someone we have never met (or sometimes never even heard of), we can discover a little more of the way we fit into the world around us…

Monday, 10 December 2007

As some of you will no doubt be aware, I actually got round to doing something artistic in the last couple of days. Mark decided that he was fed up of being the only one in the house who drew things, so he (with food and promises of snacks) bribed us (Richard and I) into sitting down and spending an evening drawing things. The result is posted above. I have to confess to being reasonably pleased with how it came out, and to being surprised that it actually looks recognisable. You can find Mark’s commentary here, but I thought I’d take 5 and give my two cents. I currently have U2 on in the background so the language may become florid. I’ve noticed that happens while editing my thesis.

What do I think of this picture? Well, as I said I’m reasonably pleased. As I haven’t drawn anything for a very long time and I never was an artist, it seems to have come out well. I like the fact I managed to get perspective on it, and that (as one person commented) it has a sense of movement. The colour came out nice and ominous in Mark’s scan, though the original is much brighter. I think it’s generally recognisable for what it is, and I personally like that in a picture.

What does this picture say about me? Well I never was one to try to read the artist by his art (other than looking at it and deciding the artist was a nutter). I’m sure someone trained in looking at this would be able to extract all sorts of symbols from it, and would probably be able to condemn me to a looney-bin on the strength of this picture, but it really started out with the tree on the left and the road. That was drawn on the basis that I remembered a similar scene from driving home one day. The rest of it was introduced to add dramatic effect. That said, I’ve always had a thing for storms and lightning and the idea of travelling a long road under a brooding and stormy sky appeals to me.

Would I do it again? Probably. I’ve spent worse evenings, but I have to confess it’s not what I do as a form of relaxation. I suppose it’s just not the way I’m wired. That said, a little creativity never hurt anyone (apart from van Gogh usw)….