Friday, 16 March 2018

Is It Ethical To Keep Animals in Zoos?

by Alex Lemieux

As an aspiring vet, a strong interest of mine is the health and wellbeing of animals, no matter how big or small. Currently I am particularly interested in wild animals and during my research into zoo veterinary the question as to whether zoos are ethical pondered in my mind. If I want to go into the field, surely I should agree with the idea of a zoo, right? But unfortunately I found rather large elements of zoos, such as keeping the wild animals in a confined space, hard to justify. Counteracting this were many reasons as to why zoos are ethical such as how they increase the population of many endangered species through internal breeding so my internal debate carried on.

One obvious reason against zoos would be the cages most animals are forced to live in. From the animal’s point of view, removing them from their habitat and locking them up in a cage is against their rights and completely unjust and we, as humans, would never want that for ourselves; so why do we do it to animals? Animals have rights too, and we shouldn’t violate them by using them for our own entertainment. Domestic animals such as dogs are a common household pet and no dog owner would condone keeping a dog in a cage 24/7 so therefore we shouldn’t do it to any other animal, especially animals that belong in the wild. These animals are meant for the wild not cages and so we should let them live where they are most comfortable rather than force them to live where it is most convenient for us as there is no rule saying we are superior to all animals and have control over them.
However we should be caring for animals and if they are severely injured, it would make sense to give them the help they need that wouldn’t be available to them in the wild. There are many vets that specialise in zoo animals and it would be right to use their knowledge to aid the animals but this would need to be done in a place like a zoo where the animal is away from any further harm. If the animal was given the help in their natural habitat it would be harder for the animal to recover due to factors such as being preyed on or disease affecting them more due to their now weak immune system. Zoos are very good at rehabilitating unwell or injured animals that would otherwise not have made it in the wild and therefore keeping a species from becoming extinct. This demonstrates a positive aspect of the zoo and shows how ethical they can be in particular cases.

In cages many animals will become stressed as they are born to live in the wild and therefore in open spaces so the enclosed space will negatively impact them. In the case of humans, help is provided by the NHS to overcome anxiety in the form of mental health workers but there is little done to provide any such service in animals. Of course zoo keepers will attempt to help an animal that is clearly very distressed but any help is limited since they can’t let the animal out of their cage due to the risk it poses to the public and themselves. This means that there is no feasible way to minimize the stress to an acceptable level. If we believe so strongly in the importance of mental health zoos should not be allowed as I’d like to think animals are included as they have the right to being mentally healthy. I understand that at some zoos certain animals such as giraffes and zebras are in an open area where visitors go on a safari tour to see them, so anxiety would be reduced, but this certainly not the case for all animals or all zoos.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Join the Portsmouth Point editorial team

Portsmouth Point editors explain why you, too, should join the Portsmouth Point editorial team (video directed by Douglas James):

Photographs of the current Portsmouth Point editorial team (images by Jason Baker):

Year 13 editors (Leavers' photograph):

Photograph: Happiness

Today's Senior School Assembly was based on the theme of Success and Happiness. With this in mind, the senior prefect team requested photographs of what makes our teachers happy. The winning entry was this photograph of Mrs Riches and her family.

Stephen Hawking: A Tribute

by Katie O'Flaherty

Aged 22, he was given just a few years to live by doctors after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. 54 years later he is one of the most renowned scientists of this century, who has loved and married twice, and is a father to three children. The knowledge and discoveries he has passed on to the rest of the world is second to none, with his discoveries in the fields of general relativity and quantum mechanics, alongside his infamous theoretical prediction of Hawking Radiation: that black holes emit radiation, thus leading to potential black hole evaporation, yet this prediction from the 1970s was so advanced for its time that it is yet to be conclusively proven. All this from a wheelchair, Stephen Hawking was a man not defined by his disability, but rather by his exceptional intellect and forward-thinking.

Many of his discoveries have been groundbreaking in their fields, with his first major breakthrough being in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose showed that a singularity (a location in spacetime in which the gravitational field of a celestial body (e.g. a planet) becomes infinite) lay in the universe’s distant past, using black holes. This heavily implies, if not arguably proves, the Big Bang Theory, a major contender in the theories of the beginning of the universe. His work has triggered many passionate debates in the science world, with his proposal that black holes radiate heat stirring up one of the most heated debates in modern cosmology, for the fact that is contradicted one of the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics, him arguing the information stored in a black hole will be lost upon its evaporation. Later, Hawking came to support a more commonly accepted view on information being stored in a black hole’s event horizon (the boundary around a black hole beyond which no light or other radiation can escape), and is encoded back into the radiation that the black hole radiates. Yet this serves to further prove his ability to listen, and see from the perspective of others, as well as his unique way of seeing and understanding the world which led to so many of his extraordinary predictions and discoveries. It also is an example of many times he proved his humanity, in his lifetime frequently courting controversy, with a seeming lack of fear to speak his mind, and question anything he didn't agree with.

He has written several exceptionally popular science books, most notably ‘A Brief History of a Time’, in which he writes in non-technical terms about everything from the origin and development of the universe as we know it, to predictions of the eventual fate of the universe, which became a bestseller, selling more than 10 million copies in 20 years, and is often regarded as the book that ‘rocketed Hawking to stardom’. His immense knowledge of cosmology, general relativity, and quantum mechanics led to an ability that many can only dream of to link and explain ideas, leading to him paving a new path in explaining cosmology using a combination of the general theory of relativity, first proposed by Einstein, and quantum mechanics, both exceptionally nuanced and complex fields in their own rights.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Poem: Our Colour

by Holly White

Is you skin darker than midnight or is it
Kissed with yellow and cream?
Do your freckles of brown
Make shapes and pathways up those arms
To shoulders where your auburn hair skims;
And blonde locks curl;
Chocolate sways or liquorice hangs
And sweet honey shines.
Are your eyes the coldest shade of blue or
The warmest gold to the trees?
Can I see green leaves floating on that cinnamon lake?
And trace the hazel streaks of hope singing in the breeze.
Scars of childhood memories lay bare chested in innocence,
White lines of bravery,
Purple pain of hurt
Your memories are painted differently in notes of sweet dessert.
I wonder what shade you turn in these falling beams,
Do you become richer in delight or red in its hold?
Does pearl become amber
And treacle turn deeper?
Yet are you blind to these words for sight does not grace you with difference
Never to know man made crimes against nature and its offence.
But one song can bind us in this oil slick of beauty:
A sky of rainbow weeping for this cruelty.
A sunset in its simplest form dancing in front of
each and the other.
Because when it sets, when it falls,
Together we stand as one beautiful colour.

Mock NFL Draft 2018

by Jake Austin

The NFL Draft happens every year in April, and it is where the teams pick in order of worst to best for the best college players in America. This event is crucial in building a championship roster and so every year analysts give their views of how the draft will go. With this, I tried to give my own prediction of how the draft will go.

  1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The browns FINALLY solve their Quarterback problem and made the smartest pick by getting Darnold who will make an immediate impact for a team who couldn’t win a game last year and can s develop if he needs to behind Tyrod Taylor.

2.            NY Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Even though the giants have needs on the O-line, they need to utilise their unusually high draft position by getting their eventual successor for Eli Manning in Josh Rosen, who can backup and develop his game before taking over the team.

3.            Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC state
The Colts choose a player to give them much needed pass rush to help their struggling defense who finished second to last in the league last year in sacks.

4.            Cleveland Browns
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn state
The Browns pick the best player available whose talent and ability is exceptionally rare to give them a three down back who, with Sam Darnold and free agency acquisition Jarvis Landry, will transform the browns on offense.

5.            Denver Broncos
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
John Elway picks a younger version of himself who can develop with a still stout defense and reliable running game (if they fail to pick up Kirk cousins in free agency).

6.            NY Jets
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The Jets get a QB who fits the NY market with his unapologetic attitude and solve their QB problem (if they fail to pick up Kirk Cousins in free agency).

7.            Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Buccaneers pick the best player available and help the worst component of their team to help an offense that significantly underperformed last year.

8.            Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bears pick a young star to help 2nd year Quarterback Mitch Trubisky by giving him a true number one receiver to throw to.

9.            San Francisco 49ers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
San Fran pick up the best player available in order to help a weak defense with this tenacious leader and versatile playmaker to pair with Richard Sherman.

10.          Oakland Raiders
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Raiders pick up Alexander to pair with former first rounder Gareon Conley to help a poor pass defense and help take pressure off of Khalil Mack as the one man show for their defense.

A Eulogy of Sorts

by Lottie Allen

We have been friends longer than I can remember.

When we were little, we would sit in her room playing with Harry Potter figurines - I always used to have a ridiculous American accent that no one could quite work out and she would always laugh at me. Or we would pretend to be spies in the cul de sac… Was the lady going into the flats down the road really carrying shopping? And what if the train behind the hedge was carrying a stowaway? We even had a logbook with everyone’s suspicious movements. In the case that it was raining and we had become bored of the figurines, we would act out our own scenarios: the stairs led to a bubbling volcano, her room was the darkest forest, the landing was the porch of a house we were sneaking into… You name it, we had done it. We went to the city to hide from villains, we had fought pirates on the east coast and solved the most incredible mysteries - all from her room, in our vivid imaginations.

As we got a little older, she stopped wanting to be a spy and wanted to be a writer or an artist. This was around the time I wanted to be a vet, I think. She loved to paint and drew little sketches of animals or characters she had created. She wrote stories about the characters she drew and made them solve the darkest of mysteries - like we had, all those years ago. We started making these goofy sketches that we would film - we even had a YouTube channel at one point.  We planned to move to London: buy an apartment, a cat, a dog and thrive in the busy life of the city! We had bizarre nicknames: hers was Jenny, mine was Boris and our friend was Safari. We were the three musketeers. We would stay up until the early hours of the morning chatting and doing all sorts: truth or dare, the photo booth challenge, would you rather or doing each other’s make up blindfolded!

Sometime after this, I wanted to become a writer and she wanted to be an actress - her favourite film was Jurassic World and she used to tell me all about the sequel - complaining about the fact that every article seemed to be about high heels no longer being a feature! I had not seen any of the films and was desperately in need of being brought up to speed.

We started seeing each other less as we grew up but we still used to text one another often. When we next saw each other I was worried it would be awkward as we had not seen each other for a while but the minute we got together it felt as though we hadn’t been apart.  We laughed so much - I don’t remember ever having laughed that much with anyone else as we did goofy Disney reenactments and caught up on the last few months. I remember her messaging me excitedly about the school play she was auditioning for - Oliver - and telling me she was worried because she couldn’t sing but had a solo. I told her it didn’t matter, that she would be fantastic anyway, and wished her luck. She was there when I was being bullied in school and I was there when she acquired this complete oddball stalker.

Months went by and we both moved to different schools. Suddenly, it had been over a year since we had actually seen each other. I heard she was struggling and messaged her; we arranged to meet up. It was Sunday when I saw her. We went to a sweet coffee shop, sat in the far corner and talked for an hour or so about everything and nothing. It had been a tough few months for her; we didn’t really broach the subject, but we had a sort of mutual understanding. We made grand plans for the summer - she had six months until she went back to school and we decided to do something productive in that time: we would redecorate her room, we were going to write a script that she would act in and make a bucket list of all the things we wanted to do in that time. We made resolutions: hers were to talk to more people and procrastinate less, mine were to eat healthier and sleep more. I had three months until exams after which I was entirely free and we had the whole of summer. I didn’t think it mattered that I only went to see her for an hour because we had planned to meet up the next weekend. But it wasn’t to be.

'Jesus’ Son' and the Short Story Revival

by Fenella Johnson

Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, a collection of short stories centring around an addict (or several, the stories never stretch to anything as mundane as a name for their narrators) but truly about what happens when a man retreats from the ceremonies of public life to live in a fictional,disjointed  America of their own making, is personal and wise and generous. Any form of cohesive connection between the collection’s stories festers in the corners ; an indication of Johnson’s surreal approach is the collection taking its name from a Lou Reed song.In short - it veers a bit surreal, and a bit druggy. But the insular scavenging nature of the addict is treated with kindness as Johnson never condemns his characters, but presents them fully formed, with their weaknesses and flaws visible and uncommented on. The first story (‘Car Crash while Hitch Hiking’) for example, begins with the ‘midwestern clouds like great gray brains’ and ends with the narrator giving a statement that occurred during the car crash that is interrupted by an officer telling him to ‘ put your cigarette out’. Few writers can flip from the scope of the Midwestern sky to the utter mundane and yet utterly telling with Johnson’s grace or style. Later, he describes ships ‘like paper silhouettes being sucked up by the sun’ ; his gift is centering the minute telling details within these larger surreal images , which leads to a prose perfect for the short story. Because you have to have that specific visual detail, and be able to choose what you want to hint at, and you have to do it in about 3000 words.

Johnson died in 2017, a year where almost 50% more short stories were sold than the previous year,which led naturally to claims that there is a revival in the buying (and writing, I suppose) of the short story collection. Case in point : Cat Person, the New Yorker published short story that went viral for it’s description of modern dating, and also because it was very well written.I thought then, as I read it and used up the last of my six free New Yorker articles for the month, that short stories are actually perfect for the modern age. It has often been remarked that we are busier than ever, more connected than ever - short stories are fiction for the modern age, a tiny fully formed nugget of a literary work, a condensed quick bedtime read. A recent piece by the Guardian entitled ‘ Complete fiction ; why the short story renaissance is a myth’ disregarded the discussion of a revival of short stories, nothing as it did so that the same discussion had occurred in the pages of the New York Times in 2013, and the Telegraph in 2015 and 2016. ( Perhaps the paper neglected to mention they too had run a similar story in 2016?)It made a relevant point that we are always experiencing the rise of some kind of ‘moment… that short stories are prevented from being short stories in the way novels are, generally speaking, allowed to be simply novels’. It is true that there is something almost performative about the short story, a noticeable awkwardness to the writing and reading of them in modern literary discussions. There is a sense that they are often perceived as a stepping stone to the novel - as a form, like poetry collections, they cannot rival the popularity of their bigger sibling. Johnson’s most famous work is probably Train Dreams, a 111 page novella initially published in the Paris Review - what is that, if simply not a elongated short story ?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Aeneid: Political Propaganda or Subversive Criticism?

by Isabella Ingram

It is difficult to read The Aeneid without suspicion. A Latin poem intended to emulate the Homeric epics of the Greeks, Virgil’s work describes the foundation of Rome by Aeneas, son of a goddess, and (supposed) ancestor of Augustus – the emperor of Rome at the time when Virgil was writing. As if this were not propagandistic enough, the narrative of The Aeneid is frequently interspersed with prophecies which predict and praise the future rule of Augustus. Notably, one of these visions of the future is given by the king of the gods himself, Jupiter, in which Augustus is prophesied to “bound his empire…at the limits of the world, and his fame by the stars”, establishing “an empire without end”. Evidently Jupiter’s vision did not extend beyond 476 CE, when the Roman Empire finally fell apart.

It is easy, therefore, to dismiss Virgil’s work as political propaganda, intended to gain favour with the emperor. Among those who have done so is W. H. Auden, who, in his poem “Secondary Epic”, suggested that Virgil had prostituted his muse by using his artistic talent to serve a political purpose:

Behind your verse so masterfully made
We hear the weeping of a muse betrayed.

There is an alternative argument, however. It is possible to suggest, as Emma Lezberg does in her article, “Politics and the Pen: A Subversive Reading of The Aeneid”, that Virgil’s poem is actually secretly critical of the regime it pretends to praise. For criticism to masquerade as propaganda is certainly, in Lezberg’s words, “a masterpiece”, but for many the theory is a suspect attempt to wash The Aeneid clean of its political sycophancy.

Nevertheless, there is interesting evidence. In book six, for example, Aeneas descends into the underworld to meet his deceased father, Anchises. Whilst there, Anchises identifies the future Romans – spirits waiting to be born – among whom are Romulus, twin brother of Remus, and Julius Caesar. Eventually, of course, Anchises comes to Augustus: “the man who will bring back the golden years…and extend Rome’s empire…beyond the stars”. On the surface, therefore, this appears to be yet another of Virgil’s propagandistic prophesies. Interestingly, however, when Aeneas prepares to leave the underworld and return to the land of the living, Virgil writes that he exits “through the Gate of Ivory”. As Virgil himself points out, the Gate of Horn – which Aeneas does not take – is for “true shades”, whilst the Gate of Ivory is the gate of “false dreams”: “…through it the powers of the underworld send false dreams up towards the heavens”.

It is a strange part of the story – unnecessary to the narrative – which Virgil does not elaborate on any further. The conclusion that some have come to is that the Gate of Ivory serves, effectively, to undo all the praise that Virgil has just lavished on the ‘unborn’ Roman heroes. It suggests that their successes, and those of the Roman Empire, are illusionary, or “false dreams”.

John Donne's Conflicting Voice in his Holy Sonnets

by PoppyGoad

In Donne’s Holy Sonnets he covers multiple conceits, exploring both his relationship with God and his eventual journey to the afterlife. However, as in many of Donne’s poems, in the Holy Sonnets a conflicted voice appears. Either of confident assertion of his journey to heaven, as in ‘Death be not proud’ Sonnet 10, or a voice of torment and desperation, as in ‘Batter my heart’ Sonnet 14. In which Donne seeks punishment from God for his past sins, by pleading God to physically assault him, in order to form a spiritual connection that will redeem him of his wrongdoings.This conflicted voice, correlates with the emotional torment that is speculated to have been going on whilst he wrote the sonnets. As the death of his beloved wife Ann More in 1617 and his conversion to the Anglican Church from Catholicism could have thrown him into a frenzied seeking of redemption, following the blatant confidence that an afterlife exists where all live on in heaven through God’s love.

Holy Sonnet 10

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be.
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death thou shalt die.

In 'Holy Sonnet 10' Donne addresses Death in a tone of superiority, thus, from the start of the sonnet, through the imperative ‘be’ used as a command, Death is established as inferior to the speaker. This is further emphasised through the dental alliteration of ‘Die not, poor Death’, which reinforces the aggressive and superior tone of the speaker. This assertive tone draws upon the metaphor that Death is as much a ‘slave’ to life as life is a slave to Death, as ‘thou art slave to, fate, chance, kings and desperate men’. This asyndetic list of earthly things reinforces the conceit of Death’s inferiority and strips Death of its omnipotent facade through metonyms that infer the unglamorous slavery of Death. The speaker goes on to argue how ‘dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell’, belittling Death through this triadic structure of disease. This metaphor establishes the idea that Death is a squatter in illness, implying that his power that all mankind fear, is non-existent.

To emphasise Death’s lack of power, Donne concludes by drawing reference to the Christian belief of resurrection, arguing how ‘we wake eternally and death shall be no more’. This suggests that humans can not die as the very nature of heaven precludes this idea. The use of the harsh dental and dissonant alliteration in the final line creates a finality in the argument of the speaker. Thus, through the paradoxical and metaphysical image of death’s own death, as ‘Death, thou shalt die’, a final triumph over Death is concluded.

Holy Sonnet 14

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly’ I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Donne uses the form of a Petrarchan sonnet in Holy Sonnet 14, which further reflects his fervent desire; a desire for God to ‘break, blow, and make me new’. This lexical field of onomatopoeic metalwork, creates the metaphor of God as a blacksmith. The repetition of the monosyllabic verbs to reflect the bashing of metal through the harsh plosive alliteration, is used to further inflate the speaker’s desire to be cleansed by God through brutality. As a blacksmith is used as an analogy for God, so is a woman used as an analogy for Donne’s soul, who, ‘like an usurp’d town, to’another due, Labour to’admit you’. This creates the image of his soul as a helpless victim. The word ‘Labour’ conflates the idea of childbirth and strenuous physical work, to imply the heightened desire of the speaker ‘to admit you’, and also to suggest that the subject of the conceit is feminine.