Friday, 28 February 2014

Why Weren't Women Allowed To Compete in Olympic Ski Jumps?

by Will Hall


Why women haven't been allowed to compete in the ski jump event at the Winter Olympics until Sochi 2014.
Women can currently compete in other ski jump tournaments and competitions, but they have been hitherto been denied the event at the Winter Olympics. They have signed petitions for the event since the Nagano Olympics in 1998, but all of them have been unsuccessful. In 1991, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) announced that all new events being added to the games in the future must be open to both men and women. However, this rule did not apply to any events that already took place at the games.

This seemed a little strange that the IOC wouldn’t allow women to ski jump as, in my opinion, there was no ‘valid’ reason for this. Some new sports were added to the games in 2010, two of which are called ski cross and snowboard cross. Fewer female athletes competed in ski and snowboard cross than in ski jump in 2010, so it would sound like a good idea to open up ski jump to women.
One of the reasons that women’s ski jump supposedly has been disallowed is that ‘there are only so many athletes that the locations can accommodate for’ at the Olympics. A member of the IOC said women shouldn’t be allowed to compete because the sport ‘seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view’.
These reasons put forward from the IOC were ludicrous and women’s ski jumping should have been added to the Olympics a long time ago. The IOC started to seriously think about adding the event in 2009, by which time it was too late to feature in the Vancouver Winter Olympics as the schedules had already been established.

As you will probably know, women’s ski jumping was finally brought in to the Sochi 2014 games and the gold medal was awarded to Germany with Austria gaining silver and France achieving bronze. Not before time.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Platinum on Credit

by Daniel Rollins

Platinum has become a by-word for premium; platinum credit cards, platinum experiences and platinum holiday packages all promise the best and highest service available. When an album sells 500,000 units it goes gold, when it sells a million it's platinum. In jewellery it has become the height of fashion and elegance, American socialite and later Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Spencer, declared, ‘Any fool would know that with tweed and other daytime clothes one wears gold; with evening clothes one wears platinum.’ This dense, silvery metal however has not always been as valued and esteemed as it is today; in fact, when the Spanish conquistadors began to mine gold in South America, some were abandoned due to the presence of platina, a mixture of Platinum and other precious metals or iron, making the mines unprofitable.

Pure malleable platinum was first presented to the Royal Society in 1750 by William Brownrigg but this was not in workable quantities. Even when pure platinum was first isolated from the native platina in large quantities, by French chemist Pierre- Francois Chabaneau working in Spain, very few uses were found for it. While for a short time it had some popularity within the nobility of Europe with Louis XVI of France having several pieces made and King Carlos III giving the Pope a platinum chalice in 1788, the invasion of Spain by Napoleon in 1808 and unrest in Spain’s colonial supply of platina brought this brief Spanish ‘Age of Platinum,’ to a premature end. Platinum’s useful properties of high density and resistance to corrosion were, however, recognised in the new French Republic, being used to cast the standard metre and kilogram.
New supplies in Russia and Canada and a lack of demand led to a drop in value of this once-precious metal; Russia even minted three rouble coins out of platinum for some time to use up its supply. How then did this metal become the symbol of wealth that it has become today? Supply is not the issue; while in similar quantities to gold in the crust platinum is actually more abundant in the soil - therefore simple economics suggests that demand must be responsible.

Part of the increase in demand was caused by new industrial uses being found for platinum as a catalyst and electrical conductor; however, the major increase was caused simply by an increase in perceived value. The famous jeweller and populariser of the wristwatch, Louis Cartier, resolved to use platinum instead of silver in his jewellery, especially in pieces with, ‘white stones,’ such as diamond, as not only did it have the colourless setting needed to emphasise the stones but it does not tarnish like silver. This brought platinum into fashion in high society, setting it up as the metal that most clearly signifies high status that it is today. This was demonstrated when Queen Elisabeth (later the Queen Mother) had the Koh-i-noor diamond, the largest in the world, set in her crown with platinum.

Album Review: Cult by Bayside

by Callum Cross

Revision aside, this half-term meant one thing to me: the release of the new Bayside album, 'Cult'. With their most recent studio recording (to my knowledge) coming from 2011, it’s taken them three years, but it was most certainly worth the wait.

Having only recently been introduced to them, due to the fact that they are supporting Alkaline Trio at the Southsea Pyramids on the 27th April, I felt it necessary to listen to a lot of their music as preparation for their appearance at this concert. Having bought three of Bayside’s other albums, I decided to purchase their latest one as I was intrigued by the unique vocals and dark and somewhat depressing lyrics, neatly wrapped up with heavy-going guitar parts and complicated solos.

I personally think it might be the best album they have made so far. Below is the track listing:


1.    Big Cheese

2.    Time Has Come

3.    Hate Me

4.    You’re No Match

5.    Pigsty [1]

6.    Transitive Property

7.    Stuttering

8.    Bear With Me

9.    Objectivist On Fire

10. Something’s Wrong

11. The Whitest Lie

Of these 11 songs, I would say that I have three favourites: 'Time Has Come', 'Hate Me' and 'Stuttering'. These three have a very similar sound to some of their older stuff, which, in my opinion, is better than a lot of the slightly more experimental new stuff. Some might say that making similar music can be a bad thing, but in this case I like what they have going and I think I’d be happy with another album in a similar vein.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Pride or Fall?

by William Amir

I want to ask the question; Do we have too much pride for our own good?

When a famous Russian general was asked why Hitler lost World War Two, he replied: “Hitler never listened to his generals, and he never learnt from his mistakes”. Hitler had too much pride to listen to others. So he fell far. Stalin was the same, but later decided to start listening to his wise generals.

Is this with all dictators, or a select few? And could it happen to us? Because many people have far too much pride, and sometimes don’t listen to others. So many people need to listen to advice, instead of giving it.

But does this pride make us human?

It was the thing that would have helped us through the Stone Age. When the Neanderthals wanted food, they probably would have attacked animals much bigger than themselves (like Mammoths).
It would have helped them be brave.

It could have also helped with society. If you had lots of pride, you would have regarded yourself as something special. Then the people who didn’t have so much pride would follow you, because they needed a role model.

Is pride good or bad? It is neither; when you need to lead a group, you need a lot of pride, so others can believe in you. But, when you are not the one leading the group, ignore your pride, and help out.
If you have pride too much, people will think you are full of yourself, stuck up or just plain rude.

You need pride to be brave and headstrong and successful. But don’t always be proud; you also need to listen, or you will never learn anything.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Does Relativism Provide the Most Compassionate Approach to Euthanasia?

by Zoe Dukoff-Gordon

When looking at the issue of euthanasia, to me it is clear that relativism provides the most compassionate response. Relativism allows you to look at each situation individually and conclude the best moral decision in looking at the consequences of each decision. This is much more compassionate as it allows you to have a subjective view and allows each person to develop their own moral view. It gives respect to the personality of the individual and gives tolerance and respect to moral diversity. Hence in relation to the approach in euthanasia, a relativist view would be able to see the difference between passive euthanasia (turning of the life support of a person in a vegetative state who has a >1% chance of survival) and someone going to Dignitas, in Switzerland, when only just having been diagnosed with cancer and having a higher chance of survival. The scholar Protagoras would also agree with the relativist view as he argues that moral statements are opinionated, therefore everyone is correct as it is your own truth.

However, some would argue an absolutist approach is more appropriate and compassionate as absolutism follows the declaration of human rights law which by many is believed to be a compassionate law as it is designed for our best interests and to protect people. Also relativism, in particular cultural relativism, encourages some dangerous cultures, i.e. Nazi Germany which wasn’t compassionate, yet absolutism is able to condemn these practises. Human rights law in absolutism is important to the issue of euthanasia in the way that human rights law states that no person has the right to take another’s life, therefore absolutism would condemn all forms of euthanasia and each person in the dilemma of a terminal illness must wait for death to come naturally and therefore not risk committing euthanasia when they could survive. Hence absolutism is argued by some as being a more compassionate approach. Scholar Immanuel Kant would agree that absolutism is a more compassionate approach to euthanasia as he believes we cannot predict the outcome (i.e. whether you will in fact survive the terminal illness or come out of a vegetative state) therefore we need absolute rules to be able to make moral decisions.

5 Unusual Ways To Relieve Stress

by Hattie Gould and Annie Materna

As exams are approaching and deadlines are becoming ever closer, it is likely that PGS pupils are going to come under stress… but how is this stress going to be relieved?
Personally, I have a subconscious way of alleviating stress which my friends and family find unusual and, unfortunately, leaves me looking rather unusual myself. I don’t why I do it or how to stop myself but I incessantly rub the corner of my eyebrow with the bottom bone of my thumb during periods of stress. This habit drives my parents mad and also leaves me with one rather bold eyebrow and a friction-like burn on my thumb. To my friends, my way of relieving stress seemed unusual, however after exploring the internet there are many even more obscure ways of relieving stress.

Top Five Obscure Ways of Relieving Stress:

1.       In Yunessun, a resort near Mount Fuji, you can pay to splash around in a bath full of RED WINE, to relieve stress (see above). However, it is strongly frowned upon if you drink the wine whilst in the bath, with multiple signs reading “DO NOT DRINK”!

2.       Geishas find it relaxing to have nightingale droppings (poo) massaged into their face, to help release toxins and keep the skin clear with a pungent facial.

3.       The Unani technique involves using leeches to clear poisons from the body. The treatment requires putting several blood-sucking leeches over your body.

4.       Drop oil into your third eye: a particular oil called Shirodhara is poured over the forehead and is meant to ‘open the third eye’, which will release all the tensions in your body (see below).


5.       In Japan, you can buy a disembodied foam hands, on which to lay your head; this technique will apparently relieve neck strain. These hands are supposed to act as a replacement for a missed loved one. 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Short Story: News From The Front

Inspired by her recent visit to Ypres, with other members of Year 9, Fenella Johnson has written the following short story:

In London, despite it being nearly nine, the moon still hangs in the sky like an abandoned balloon, half hidden by clusters of clouds. Mrs Brown ,who lives up to her name with brown hair and brown eyes and a brown skirt and brown shoes, is picking up the milk bottles from outside her brown front door.
In Plymouth it is foggy, and cloudy, just like yesterday’s paper said it would be. In a flat towards the edge of the city, Alfred Stevens, who has been up for nearly half the night staring at the cracks in his peeling wallpaper, is getting dressed quickly, throwing on his crumpled shirt and squeezing feet in to scuffed shoes.

In Edinburgh, it is raining as usual on Mr Green.
It is, to begin with at least, a normal day. They all buy a copy of a paper. Mrs Brown has The Times delivered; Alfred Stevens grabs his packet of cigarettes and Daily Mail from the dubious street kiosk on his way to work. Mr Green buys The Scottish Daily Express-the ink runs as usual. They all miss the postman by 10 minutes. Mr Green is late for a meeting, having been forced to dry off in the ladies' loos. Buying an umbrella wouldn’t be such a bad idea, he thinks, as he scrapes the mud from his new shoes.
Mrs Brown gets the news first, around lunchtime, catastrophe hidden among a bill and a late birthday card. She nearly trips over the letters on her doormat, and drops her shopping. The nondescript letter is from the War Office and she reads it four times, brown freckles standing out on her cheeks.
She’s thought about it often, how she would react if she got this news, but she’d always imagined crying and screams: not this incredulous horror. And she’d not felt it, her only child dying four days ago.
She’d gone to Church like she did every Sunday and prayed for her son like she did every Sunday and thought about what she was going to have for dinner during the hymns like she did every Sunday. Her brown-suited husband trips over her when he comes home from work, slumped against the door still clutching the letter.

Spring Watch: A Tortoise Wakes

by Laura Burden

Hampshire Youth Commission Reports Findings at Conference

by Eloise Peabody-Rolf

On Thursday, 20th February, I presented at the Hampshire Youth Commission’s (YC) Conference in Winchester. The YC reported on our findings and recommendations to about 50 guests, including representatives from youth organisations and charities, Probation and Social Services, Police officers including the Deputy Chief Constable, and our sponsor the Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Hayes.
After an introduction from Simon Hayes, and a short video about YC I’d helped make, another Youth Commission member and I began the conference with our findings. I spoke about the findings on Domestic Abuse, summarising responses on the issues we received from the 2,000 young people we engaged with, (including PGS Years 9 and 10) and the actions we proposed.


After presenting our findings on the five focus areas the YC had selected, we had round table discussions with our guests, allowing any questions or points they had to be discussed with members of the Youth Commission. I found it really interesting to hear their thoughts our ideas brought up. I sat on the table with people with a particular interest in Domestic Abuse,. They looked at our findings in more detail, including: what we believe are the root causes, experiences we have heard about, potential solutions we have been given by the youth we have engaged with and our recommendations.

Book Recommendation: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

by Tilly Bell

I have just read (and re-read!) Geek Girl by Holly Smale. It’s funny, intelligent and worth the read. It is one of those books that you won’t want to put down.

The plot is about a girl who is, basically, a geek. She tries to get out of the “geek definition” by becoming a model, which only leads to her falling out with her best friend, her step mother leaving her dad with no job, and worst of all, her whole school hating her.

I strongly recommend you read it!


Friday, 21 February 2014

Happy 450th Birthday, Christopher Marlowe

Dramatist, poet and spy, Christopher Marlowe, was born 450 years ago, one of the most prodigiously talented, controversial and yet enigmatic figures in English literary history. He is remembered today for his masterpiece, Doctor Faustus, and for the violent and mysterious manner of his death aged only 29 at the very peak of his success as a playwright.

Christopher Marlowe (Febr 21? 1564 - May 30 1593)
(Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)

In The Reckoning, writer Charles Nicholl explains the fascination Marlowe held for his contemporaries and continues to hold for us nearly five centuries later.

"In his brief heyday, Marlowe was probably the most popular dramatist in England. On one level his success was shrewdly commercial. He gave people what they wanted: spectacular action, exotic locations, patriotic sentiments, plenty of violence. He thrilled them with poetry and he fascinated them with a series of charismatic heroes who were usually more villain than hero. But for part of his audience there was always something more than this grand guignol. They heard other, more complex messages, that layer of doubt and debate which lies beneath the surface, which at a time of rigorous state censorship had to be beneath the surface. They admired Marlowe, as we do today, for those cool sub-texts of irony and disaffection.

He is remembered not just as a writer but as an atheist and blasphemer, a dissolute homosexual, an Elizabethan "roaring boy" who lived fast and died young. This side of Marlowe is to be found perhaps within his plays but more explicitly in the reports of snoops and spies, in Privy Council papers and criminal charge-sheets. It is known that Marlowe was mixed up in some sort of espionage, that he found employment in the shadier strata of "government service".

Marlowe was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer (known to be involved with the English secret service) at a house owned by a widow, Eleanor Bull, in Deptford, London, allegedly during an argument over the "reckoning" (the bill). A jury later accepted Frizer's claim that he had acted in self-defence. Nicholl argues that:

"(Marlowe) did not die by mischance and was not killed in self-defence. He had become an impediment to the political ambitions of the Earl of Essex, who had tried to frame him and get him imprisoned and tortured, to use him as their instrument against Walter Ralegh. They had failed. His mouth, if it could not be made to say what they wanted it to say, must be stopped. He died in the hands of political agents, a victim, though not an innocent victim, of the court intrigues that flourished in this "queasy time" of change and succession. The final truth about Marlowe's death lies hidden under these layers of reconstruction, much as the landscape where it happened lies hidden under the tower blocks and container-yards of modern Deptford.

Arthur Darvill as Mephistophilis and Paul Hilton as Faustus
(last year's production of Doctor Faustus, at the Globe Theatre)

In "Marlowe's Ghost", in The Genius of Shakespeare, critic Jonathan Bate argues that, born in the same year as Marlowe, the relatively late-developing William Shakespeare "only became Shakespeare because of the death of Marlowe":

"The first we hear by name of Shakespeare as an author is the dedication to his poem, Venus and Adonis - a work published at a time uncannily close to the day of the Deptford killing. It is not a coincidence that Shakespeare's career took off at exactly the moment when Marlowe's came to an untimely end. Shakespeare only became Shakespeare because of the death of Marlowe, which gave Shakespeare the opportunity to emerge from the shadow of Marlowe's mighty line; but for many years afterwards the Canterbury grammar school boy (born February 1564) continued to haunt the Stratford school boy (born April 1564). Some of Shakespeare's greatest works are antithetical readings of Marlovian precursors."

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

KS3 Access Day at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories

by Jeremy Thomas

A group of 9 Year 8 pupils were very lucky, recently, to gain access to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratories(RAL), near Didcot in Oxfordshire. RAL hosts some of the UK’s major scientific facilities including the Central Laser Facility; ISIS, a pulsed neutron and muon source; RAL Space, STFC's Space Science and Technology Department and the Diamond Light Source Ltd – the UK national synchrotron radiation facility. The pupils were all selected as keen members of PGS lunchtime Science Clubs, or through recommendation by their science teachers. During the visit they toured some of the facilities, such as the ISIS beam source laboratory, where negative hydrogen is manufactured using dangerous ingredients, such as caesium, and huge voltages of 90 000 V. Some of the pupils bravely stood on the high voltage testing platform, fortunately switched off at the time!


In the ISIS accelerator lab, Dr.Chris Frost, lead scientist on the Chipir instrument, was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the PGS pupils. He explained the purpose of his own project, which is to study the impact of solar flares on microchips in mobile phones and other communication technology. The pupils were also subjected to some shocking treatment with a Van der Graaf generator and an infra red camera which could see through plastic bin bags, revealing the person inside! 


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Remembrance: the Menin Gate, Ypres

by Laura Burden

An image from this month's PGS trip to Ypres - our parting view of the Menin Gate as we boarded the coach home after participating in the Act of Remembrance.

On Animal Rights

by Freya Derby

It recently occurred to me that eating animals might be morally wrong. Although in terms of nutrients, relying on plants is definitely less convenient, it is possible; and, when it comes down to it, we’re murdering for fun.
This realisation came as a bit of a blow to me, as, frankly, animal rights are very inconvenient to my lifestyle. I like to think of myself as a fairly ethical person, and so I was faced with a dilemma:  sacrifice my moral integrity or… vegetarianism. I subsequently discovered that my attachment to my integrity was not as strong as I had thought.

I do not like attempts to define humans as something completely different to animals. I think that concepts like ‘the soul’ are invented as an attempt to set us apart and to justify a world where we can treat unborn babies or the brain-dead as more valuable than, for example, a dolphin. There might be a ‘human condition’, but is it any more important than the ‘penguin condition’ or the ‘bee condition’? And why?
On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of an inconceivable number of human deaths from disease because, as we are unable to distinguish them from humans, we can’t test medicines on animals. In order to justify medical animal testing, we need to distinguish what can and cannot be tested on. Would it be okay to use a brain-dead but living human being? Rationally, it seems that it would, but I think that there would be many sentimental objections.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Sixth Form Centre: Ground Floor and Walkway

by Tony Hicks

Pictures from the site, showing the ground-floor rooms taking shape and one of the openings for the walkway to Cambridge House. 


Opera- Let's Debunk the Myths

by Julia Alsop

Portsmouth and other cities have live screenings of opera productions
My mum would never take us to the pub – she’d take us somewhere really boring like Sadler’s Wells or Glyndebourne.” A viewer of the TV comedy show Fresh Meat may have recognized this quotation as one uttered by Jack Whitehall’s character- the stereotypical posh boy, JP. As one fond with the operatic productions at Glyndebourne, this comment struck a chord- how has an art form with such comedy, yet also such dark drama become ‘boring’? Why is it that there are still so many massive misconceptions about opera and youth? Let me debunk the myths that popular culture throws at opera still.

1)    Opera is too expensive- it is just not accessible unless you can afford it.

Totally wrong. Opera is so much more accessible than most people think. Many opera houses and companies are going to great lengths to allow people to see opera for much cheaper.

* At Glyndebourne, there is a scheme for <30s, where if you are under 30 you can buy tickets to their summer festival operas for £30, a massive subsidy from their full cost, and other benefits. Tickets to the Glyndebourne tour performances in the Autumn can be bought for £10

* Grange Park Opera have a similar scheme called “Meteors” for £30 tickets to summer performances.

* The Welsh National Opera offers a select amount of £5 tickets to <30s, which really is an exceptional price.

* The Royal Opera House also has a student scheme offering £10 student standby tickets, along with dedicated student performances.

* The English National Opera have a student scheme called “Access All Arias” which offers many benefits again, including the opportunity to buy two tickets with free programmes for £26 overall.

* If you’re really strapped for cash, many opera houses such as Glyndebourne and ROH have live screenings of operas at local cinemas and even online.

So what was that about opera always being expensive? All of these opportunities are with some of the best singers/orchestra/conductors/directors/(insert other people involved here) in the world, so such reductions are simply a bargain.
2)    Opera is snobby and elitist.

Music for the masses
The ‘e-word’ was obviously going to come up. And, okay, you may be able to play a fairly active game of ‘spot-the-Tory-MP’ on occasion at certain opera venues, but we’ve already debunked the whole ‘opera-is-expensive’ myth, so there is no reason why we cannot see that it is becoming less elitist. Most people working in opera houses want to make it accessible for a reason – they want more people to have the experience to enjoy opera, regardless of background. I think the schemes shown in 1 just show how much more accessible and more inclusive opera is. What’s more, people choose to go into music and performance-related careers, not for the money (that’d be foolish) but for the love of their art, so you’ll find that often the performers are some of the most humble, intelligent and least elitist people.

 3)    Opera is simply too long, boring, and I probably won’t understand it anyway.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Right Kind of Splash?

Laura Burden applauds local MP Penny Mordaunt’s decision to appear on the celebrity diving programme

Penny Mordaunt, appearing on Splash
One of the news items on our school’s website at present details the visit the MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, who spoke to Politics Society in mid-January. The write-up relates: "There was a lively Q and A session with questions covering a wide spectrum of topics; the future of the naval dockyard, EU immigration, the UKIP challenge and why she was a Conservative. Given the recent revelation that she is to appear in the TV show Splash! with Tom Daley, it was perhaps surprising that none of the questions referred to her decision to appear. Possibly this is an indication that PGS students prefer to make waves with the meatier issues when it comes to current affairs!" All very laudable, but I would like to address the issue of Mordaunt’s decision to appear in a celebrity series that commentators have not been able to resist calling, “a bit of a belly flop.”
For the uninitiated, Splash! Is an ITV series in which public figures are taught by the Olympic diver Tom Daley to progress from tentative tumbles into a pool from the side to an advanced, twisting and turning performance from a high board. Viewers watch the celebrity hopefuls take the plunge (after a lengthy, crowd-pleasing pause) and be judged on their efforts. It’s pretty turgid viewing, but no more so than any other TV contest.
Inevitably, Mordaunt’s decision to appear on a television show invited the torrent of criticism reserved for most MPs who dare to spend time somewhere other than the House of Commons or their constituency office. The Daily Mail online message board is one example of this –
 – and Michael Hogan’s review of the episode for The Telegraph happily added to the discussion: “Typically for a modern day politician, though, she deployed too much spin and failed to find favour with the public. It remains to be seen if she’ll claim expenses for her leisure centre locker fee and packet of crisps afterwards.” Her local rival, Labour’s John Ferrett, was quick to call her decision to appear “truly astonishing.” So far, so predictable.

The criticism of Mordaunt that kindled my interest in the issue was not, however, from a political rival or TV pundit but from scholar, classicist and feminist icon Mary Beard. Speaking to The Sunday Times about the profile of women in the media at present, Beard made the rather muted comment that she found Mordaunt’s decision to appear on a popular programme in her swimsuit “surprising.” Cue the second predictable element of the debate – a woman is criticised by another woman for her actions; feminist solidarity is undermined by a schism within the sisterhood?
Beard has reason to be wary of how the media presents women. During 2013 she was the victim of some truly vitriolic online abuse, including a bomb threat and comments along the lines of her being “too ugly for television”. Her decision to brush such inanities aside and remain involved in public life is admirable. Anyone with common sense, both male and female, would agree with her pronouncements that her position as Professor of Classics at Cambridge is the only qualification she needs to appear in BBC programmes about the Romans, and that as long as she is dressed professionally her looks are an irrelevance. Yet is Beard’s sensitivity towards Mordaunt’s decision to show the nation her legs justified?
Certainly, both male and female celebrities have appeared on Splash! and the media has treated them very differently. A male MP has yet to feature on the show but I am fairly convinced that, were he to do so, he would not be referred to as a “Cameron Cutie” or have newspapers gleefully reveal his position in a poll of the “sexiest parliamentarians”, both of which appear on every online article about Mordaunt and her brief diving career. The Daily Mirror announced her decision with the headline that she would “strip to her swimsuit” followed by an excitable announcement that she would “be seen in her bathers”. A cursory search for the male “celebrities” that have appeared in the recent series (Dan Osbourne, Patrick Monohan and Paul Young) suggests that nobody has seen fit to report on the astonishing news that they would swim in – of all things – a swimming costume.
Yet was Mordaunt wrong to make the decision? Ignoring the whole issue of whether MPs should do any work, paid or unpaid outside of their usual role, was she wrong to expose her body to the nation’s scrutiny?
I would say not. The most recent polls, as reported by the BBC, suggest that only 31% of 14 year old girls exercise regularly, compared to 50% of boys the same age. Body image is frequently cited as one of the main causes of females disliking sport or exercising in public on reaching puberty. Indeed, the nation as a whole is grappling with the consequences of ever-rising obesity levels. If an MP takes the decision to train, in her own time, for a new sport and demonstrate to young people that there is merit in trying a new form of physical activity, or to the middle-aged that it is never too late to be active, is that not a positive thing?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Photography Club: Wicker II

by Caitlin Betteridge

The Power of Social Media

by Zoe Rundle

Over the years, we have seen the rise of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They are powerful tools which can unite the public from all over the world and this has been demonstrated in a number of cases. Whether it be through gaining ‘likes’ on Facebook or getting noticed through ‘retweets’ on Twitter, it can help individuals get seen by celebrities or accomplish what they didn’t think they could, all through the internet.
Facebook has been used as a useful tool and an effective method of persuasion. There are several ‘1 million likes’ campaigns going around with several being successful. For example, when Bradford unexpectedly reached the League Cup final last year, David Bowers, an Australian man, put out an appeal to Facebook; the picture he posted (see left) showed him holding up a message with a plea for people to like his post in order for his wife to allow him to fly over and watch his beloved Bradford City at Wembley. The deal was if he could gain 1 million likes on his photo from users around the world, then Mrs Bowers would agree to him travelling 10,000 miles (16,090 km) from his home in Melbourne, Australia, to see the Bantams in the League Cup final. Mr Bowers, originally from West Yorkshire, spoke publicly and said how he was surprised at how successful his appeal had been with him gaining the desired 1 million likes in a matter of days. His wife stuck to her promise and he found himself sat among 90,000 others at Wembley in February last year. He was interviewed live on Sky Sports News on the big day (see photo to the right).

Facebook has also been the centre of other family campaigns such as a recent one titled ‘TwoGirlsAndAPuppy’ (see photo below).  A father-of-five set up a Facebook page for the kids for his challenge. "We're two sisters who want a puppy!" read the account’s ‘About’ section. The two girls are two-fifths of the children in an adorable and clever photo posted by the kids. It all resulted from an east coast American family who had a conversation about getting a family dog and in the end, the father challenged two daughters (out of 5 kids!), to get 1 million likes on Facebook in order to get a puppy. In 7 hours, they reached their goal and ended up adopting a dog from a local rescue centre.
Finally, just this week, an incredible gesture by Everton Football Club all started as a result of Twitter, the difference here being that there was no real intention of a campaign. After Malaysian fan Ric Wee flew over for the mid-week clash with Crystal Palace, he was left disappointed after the game was called off – even more so due to the fact that it would have been his first time at Goodison Park following a thirty year wait. Following the decision to postpone the game, Ric tweeted ‘Sadly Everton v Palace match called off due to bad weather. Dream to watch EFC play will continue to be on hold’. After numerous ‘retweets’ and fans tweeting Everton’s official page calling for Ric to be recognised, he was and the club took him into the stadium where he was able to meet all the players, who had arrived at the ground before the game was called off, as well as manager Roberto Martinez. With the help of Christine Prior, Everton’s Supporter Liaison Manager, Ric had a night to remember and the following day was treated to a tour by former Everton Player Darren Griffiths (see photo below).

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Photography Club: Wicker

by Sam Richardson

Should Half Terms be Longer?

by Taylor Richardson

Whilst at school, the one glimmer of hope that all students hold onto is Half Term and End of Term. After weeks of monotonous routine, a break from early mornings at school and late nights working is much-needed. Having more time to relax, sleep and leisurely focus on work is something that every student dreams of – so why should these times away from school be longer?

As you get older, Half Term and End of Term holidays seem to be over before they have started. One minute you are emptying your locker and bouncing out of school – the next you are crying whilst packing your bag at 7:30am. The gigantic amounts of homework are enough to keep you awake at night and the exams edging closer in the distance make you forget you ever had time to yourself. Suddenly life becomes a struggle between schoolwork, sleeping and socialising. I appreciate that gaining qualifications and an education is principally the reason why we go to school but one more lie in couldn’t hurt!

I imagine that we all miss the days of school in which our greatest worries were what we were going to have for lunch or what game we were going to play when we get home. Having time to relax is important and, especially in Year 13, this is a rarity. The thoughts of exams, UCAS and results day looming closer are frightening but at least we all can find comfort in experiencing this together. Though I would love to have more time through extended Half Terms and End of Terms – as I am sure many others would – the thought of the extended summer holidays (minus results day!) is one that I am sure we are all holding onto in the meantime.
In all seriousness, time may seem scarce in the years of Sixth Form but I am sure a part of all of us will miss it – so let’s make the most of it!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Photography Club: Pine Cone

by Elizabeth Howe

Show Gove the Door!

by Will Wallace

Given the title of this article, you’re probably expecting the author to be a closet socialist with a burning hatred for the current government and all that the Department for Education is doing. Nope, it’s me: a self-proclaimed “ultra progressive” who, for some curious reason, is still a member of the Conservative Party. Well you shouldn’t be too shocked! I’ve written before about why I am coming close to defecting and why George Osborne's economic policy of austerity is wrong. Worse still, I’ve ditched The Economist for The New Statesman, torn the Conservative 'We’re All In This Together’ poster (see right) off my wall and I keep the Lib Dems’ 2010 manifesto and the Communist Manifesto at my bedside. And, to add to all that, I’m writing about why Michael Gove, our current Education Secretary, should be sacked.

Michael Gove
(source: Wiki Commons)
Recent news has revealed an endemic problem with the manner in which the Department for Education has treated leading figures in its affiliated agencies, with the deposing of Baroness Morgan, the Chair of Ofsted and a staunch Blairite that has supported Gove’s reforms, raising more than a few eyebrows. The decision could hold its own if there was a clear difference in opinion between Gove and Morgan – but there isn’t. Both support academies and both support greater autonomy for teachers – there is no fundamental conflict. Then why give her the boot? Increasingly we have seen other government departments appoint former Tory ministers and supporters to executive positions in these agencies: Sir Chris Patten, the mastermind behind John Major’s victory in 1992, now heads the BBC Trust and William Shawcross, widely considered to be sympathetic to the Conservatives given that his wife worked as an advisor to George Osborne and Boris Johnson, is currently chair of the Charity Commission. There has been some media speculation that Gove is eyeing up Theodore Agnew, a man that has donated well over £134,000 to the Conservatives, as Morgan’s successor. This might be a cynical analysis, but these appointments scream one word: cronyism! Agnew would not bring half of Morgan’s experience to the Department – but then you might suppose that his position would be a mere “thanks for the dosh!” from Gove. I suspect such a suggestion isn’t that far from the truth.

One simply cannot ignore what it is that Michael Gove is up to. The greatest concern lies with his treatment of teachers and his vision of a reformed curriculum and exams system. I recently asked my sister why she decided to leave the state sector in favour of the private. Her response undoubtedly reflects a considerable number of teachers: during teacher training, she planned to work in an inner-city comprehensive and inspire kids to better appreciate her subject. However, government policy has driven her away: low wages and reduced pensions have given rise to a damaging push factor to emerge in comprehensives across the country.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Photography Club: Volcano

by Monideep Ghosh

"What Supermarkets Don't Want You To Know"

Dominic Northey reviews Chapter 2 of 'The Undercover Economist' by Tim Harford.

Now that the UK appears to be coming out of recession and consumers may be planning to increase their spending, it is worth considering the ways that retailers maximise their revenue. In a discussion on price discrimination policies, we see that the difference between Marks and Spencer and Asda has very little to do with the cost of the goods and a lot to do with who the shoppers are. Tim Harford explores the dilemma a firm has with charging the correct price to the correct consumer. Price discrimination occurs when a business charges a different price to different groups of consumers for the same good or service, for reasons not associated with costs.
Tim Harford identifies that not everyone is willing to pay the same price for goods and so at any price the firm sets, they will be losing some customers. He explains that it is difficult for a firm to set an individual price for each consumer, due to the cost of collecting data on what each consumer is willing to pay, and the unwillingness of consumers to own up to their own ability or willingness to pay higher prices. This would be first degree price discrimination. Harford therefore goes on to highlight that a Costa Coffee bar on the South Bank in London offered fair trade coffee for anyone who was willing to pay 10p extra for a drink. He concludes that this extra 10p made no difference in terms of making the farmer better off but instead enabled Costa to identify the consumers willing to pay more for a cup of coffee. Thus Costa were able to charge a marginally higher price to those who were willing to pay more and a lower price to those who weren’t, instead of having to guess a price where trade off was minimal. In this way they were able to maximise their revenue from these customers.