Wednesday, 30 September 2015

My Favourite Doctor Who Villain

by Loren Dean

 With the return of the Daleks in the new season of Doctor Who, I decided to look at all the previous "villains" in the doctor who past and decide which was/is the best. I have narrowed it down to a top three of the most terror inducing baddies of the modern era.

Firstly, the Daleks. Who have managed to create an aura of fear that has sent generations of children scurrying behind sofas, is for many reasons: for example their robotic cries of "exterminate" or their relentless attempts to conquer the world; however I feel what makes a Dalek truly terrifying is because we are worried we might become like them. They are creatures who have lost the ability to feel emotional pain Daleks had retreated into their metal shells after a devastating war and slowly lost their emotions, becoming more like machines than living and breathing creatures. According to their back story, once they were capable of genuine emotion and real moral good. Now they are sexless, heartless brains, shut up in machines incapable of intimacy, who have forgotten what it means to laugh and no longer think of themselves as individuals. We recognise the Daleks as evil because they have lost all that we hold most dear. The Daleks have made regular appearances in the long-running science fiction series, and before this new series with Peter Capaldi, the latest encounter was last year when they turned up in an episode set in Blitz-torn London in order to take over the world with a masterful plan of taking over the city's children's and using them for salve labour. They were voted the scariest villains in the history of Doctor Who in a poll of 21,000 fans in 2007. So on a scale of 1 to 10, I think the Daleks are a 7.5/10.

Secondly, One of the best parts of The Weeping Angels is that they are everywhere in real life where they naturally look creepy. Let’s face it, who wasn’t freaked out by decaying angel statues in graveyards before Steven Moffat ever penned the words “Don’t Blink”? Stone angels are kind of like the Mona Lisa, only in 3-D. Wherever you go their sightless eyes always seem to follow you. Those ominous and decaying due to acid rain, stone faces haunt you, even if you won’t admit it. The Weeping Angels, so far, have played a major role in 3 episodes over 3 seasons. The tenth and eleventh Doctors have faced them as have River, Martha, Amy, and Rory. Each time we learn more about them and we discover just how much they are survivors. Not only can they zap you back in time, “killing you” and feeding off your energy, but they can also seemingly do it in an endless loop. For example, if it weren’t for Amy and Rory creating a paradox, Rory’s life would have been nothing but an endless food chain for the Weeping Angels. It comes down to two words: Don’t Blink. Seriously, just try it. How long can you last before your eyes tear and your face feels like it will burst as your muscles spasm. To quote the tenth Doctor, “Blink and you’re dead.” It’s just that simple. No one can fight that urge, not even the Doctor. It’s not often that we see the Doctor helpless and reduced to tears, but that is exactly what he was when the Weeping Angels zapped Rory back in time again, and Amy chose to follow. Any being that can face the Doctor multiple times, and claim victory (even a small one) is a being to be feared. Ask any Doctor Who fan what is the scariest episode in the reboot era and chances are they are going to say Blink. It was the first proper scare in the reboot era that had kids cowering behind the sofa, and adults peeking out between their fingers. The Weeping Angels are on tee shirts, mugs, etc. Perhaps the only alien to appear on more merchandise is the Daleks. As a result of this I am going to award the Weeping Angels an 8/10.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Diary of a Gap-Year Mother III

by Miranda Worley

End September

My eldest daughter finished school this summer, and is on her gap year.

“Well what shall we do with her room?” I asked one Friday evening.  The concerns of the week were fading and the possibilities of the weekend loomed…

My middle daughter thought it might be time to trade-up on bedrooms; after all, this one is bigger and she is now the senior child in the household; surely this was now her birth-right?  My husband suggested that he really deserved a home-office with a decent view, as he has lots of studying to do this year, and having a comfortable office at home would encourage him to come home earlier from work. I thought it might suit a Syrian refugee family, my charitable side coming to the fore, but then I remembered my capitalist roots, and wondered how much we could charge a lodger, maximising our rent-a-room income.  My youngest daughter suggested we turn it into an aquarium or swimming pool!

It was decided that my husband would get his office.

A day of removing teenage junk, and deep cleaning ensued, her surviving possessions captured in plastic crates and consigned to storage.  Then we decided it needed paint; furniture was dismantled, taken away and stored in other rooms.  Different furniture was brought in and assembled; swiftly the room took on new purpose.  We had a grand re-opening of the room, and treated ourselves with a take-away.  My husband bought new stationery. It was as if all traces of my eldest daughter were systematically obliterated and we were celebrating.  It felt wrong, rather disloyal.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Why Are People Fleeing Syria -- And How Can You Help?

by Jo Morgan

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011. The government only controls 30-40% of the country’s territory. The government itself has been accused of gross human rights violations of its own people.

Different military insurgence groups have been trying to take control of the country. Some of these have been funded by Western countries. One group,  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),  jihadist militant group originating from Iraq, now controls a third of Syria's territory and most of its oil and gas production, thus establishing itself as the major opposition force.

The United Nations has described ISIL as a terrorist organisation responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, and Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a "historic scale". Over 4 years of unrest have created the worst humanitarian crisis in the modern history of the Middle East region. Over 12 million Syrians are in need for humanitarian aid, around 6 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 3 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries. 
Source: Islamic Aid

For many refugees, once they’ve made their way to a safer country, the danger is not over. Hungary now plans to extend a 175km razor wire border fence and to take children away from their parents as they arrive (source: The Independent). The charity Save the Children have so far helped 275,000 Syrian children and family members with food, safe water, medicine, and shelter. More than 5.6 million children still need humanitarian aid.

On Thursday, 1 October  we are going to ask for your cash donations towards this appeal. We also urge you to come to the Charity Showcase that evening at 19:30 in the DRT.  As a school community we hope to make the biggest impact that we can. Look out for collection buckets and  and please give generously. Thank you. 

Friday, 2nd October: Visit by India's Deputy High Commissioner

by Dodo Charles 

This Friday, the Deputy High Commissioner of India is coming to give a talk about India’s role on the world stage, from a unique perspective.  He is the senior diplomat who helps oversee relations between Britain and India - i.e. a very important and influential person able to offer a fascinating insight into international relations! This is a very rare opportunity that we have been presented with.

Not only will there be discussion of India’s role on the world stage, but also of India’s relations with the West at a critical time in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan and, of course, India's neighbour Pakistan. He will also be exploring ways in which India perceives its role in the twenty-first century, as it emerges as an economic superpower. You can get involved by emailing Mrs. Cross with any questions you might like to ask him.

This is especially important because October 2nd is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and a national holiday in India, so we are really grateful that he is taking the opportunity to talk to us on such an important day for his country.

This is a fantastic opportunity that will promise to be informative from a historical, political, economic and philosophical point of view (and will look great on your UCAS personal statement if you’re thinking of applying for History, Politics, PPE, International Relations or Economics*).

There will be questions. There will be debate. There will be cake. What more could you want?

*A Side Note For IBers- There will be one hour of CAS available if you come, Mrs. Cross will sign it off.

Cubism: The Forgotten Painter

by Hattie Hammans

Just over 100 years ago, Picasso painted his breakthrough work, ‘Les demoiselles d’avignon’ and went on to develop, in partnership with Georges Braque, the most influential movement in art of the 20th century: Cubism. Encompassing new concepts of geometry and fragmentation and Cézanne’s use of simultaneous perspective, this movement is known worldwide for its radical break from traditional form, its bizarre representations of mundane objects or figures in structured chaos. This challenge of convention was not initially received well in Paris. "Braque has just sent in a painting made of little cubes” announced Matisse, before rejecting ‘Houses at L’Estaque’ from the 1908 Salon d’Automne. However, it was not long before the movement gained momentum and became significant by the 1910s. But why, out these two collaborators, is Picasso so often favoured? Why, despite the close similarity in the work they produced, is Braque considered marginal? 

Picasso, Demoiselles d'Avignon

Georges Braque was a quintessential Frenchman, quiet and methodical. Born in a northerly suburb of Paris, his father was a house decorator who taught him the skills of his trade. Unlike Picasso, he was no child prodigy but studied Fine Art in Le Havre and later, in Paris. The first influence we notice in Braque’s work was that of the Fauvist Painters, a pre-war movement of bright colour and shapes, led by Matisse and Derain. Braque had a friendship with both Fauvists Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, who were also from Le Havre and greatly influenced his early work. However in 1907 Braque was deeply affected by a posthumous exhibition in Paris of Cezanne’s work and, upon seeing Picasso’s dynamic ‘Les demoiselles d’avignon’, he began to expand on Picasso's roughly-formed ideas through his own painting. Exploring Cezanne’s use of simultaneous perspective, his work caught the attention of Picasso, and the two painters increasingly began to visit each other's studio, inspiring and challenging the other. Picasso was a Spaniard, changeable and talented, of wildly contrasting temperament to reserved, poetical Braque. Despite this, the two men became creatively inseparable and by 1911, their work was almost indistinguishable. Painting in neutral palettes of grey and silver to give all emphasis to form, Braque and Picasso gave birth to analytical cubism. Yet the companionship was to be short-lived, with the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

Braque enlisted with the French army, leaving his studio and companion in Paris. During service, in 1915, he sustained a major head injury leaving him unable to paint until late the next year. When Braque finally returned to his easel, he found Picasso engaged to a new woman and adopting a new life. The Spaniard's work had changed dramatically to a seemingly conservative neoclassical style, miles from the disjointed canvasses of cubism. Braque, perhaps left behind, persevered with cubism privately. A slow and deliberate worker, it has been said his genius lies in what has been done, not what is seen. He had few rivals as a master of still life, and despite Picasso's progression, the cubist concept was by no means exhausted. The two men were never close again, paying infrequent, suspicious visits to each other's studio throughout the remainder of their lives.

Braque, Violin and Candlestick

Braque said of the time they spent together it was like ‘being roped together on a mountain’. There was certainly a contrast in their conception of greatness. Picasso was perplexing throughout his career, constantly chasing new fascinations with a consistent desire for relevance. This never seemed to worry Braque, who seemed to hold a disparate attitude towards modernity, focusing on the development of an already-formed idea. 

So why was Braque ignored? 

Photography: Supermoon Eclipse

by Tony Hicks

I had an early start today at 03.00 am to witness the super moon come into eclipse. This phenomenon was last observed in 1982 and will not be back before 2033.

The pictures numbered were taken at: 

20.33 (Sunday)

03.03 am (Monday)

03.25 am

04.05 am

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Emissions Scandal (or how computer programmers can fool the world)

by Nick Graham

There is little doubt that most of you will have heard about the car emissions testing scandal. This is currently centred around VW as this company is the only one confirmed to have manipulated the emissions test results for several of their diesel cars in the last few years. Volkswagen have publicly admitted doing so as well. However there are suggestions that several other major car manufacturers are in the same position. Hyundai and Renault are among these names. BMW has been forced to deny claims that they too had manipulated emissions test results for some of their cars.

So how did VW manage to manipulate the results?

The emissions tests are carried out in laboratories in order to prevent other factors from interfering with the validity of the results. However the way in which the engine is run during these laboratory tests is different to the way in which it would be run on roads as part of normal use. Engineers at VW used software that could detect when an emissions test was underway, and then run at a lower performance setting that also dramatically reduced emissions. So the car would have low emissions according to the laboratory test results, but when used on roads it would have much higher emissions.

We know that these emissions tests can be fooled. So how could they be redesigned to prevent this from happening again?

For a start it should be mandatory to have all components of the car present during the testing, including a ‘driver’. The fuel level along with that of other fluids should also be at normal levels for road use, and the same should go for tyre pressure. Critics of these tests over the last few years have claimed that car manufacturers are making lots of adjustments to the car before testing takes place by changing tyre pressure and lightening the load in every way possible, including removing wing mirrors, windscreen wipers and the person who would be driving the car.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Freelance Open Morning

by Sophie Parekh

Phew, okay only five minutes to type this thing due to some appalling planning on my part... I don't think I'm cut out for freelance journalism. 

After doing a super speedy tour route (G block, science dept. economics, psychology, careers and IB) I managed to cobble together some of the varying opinions that people have about how open morning is going so far. The English department pulled out all the plants, it's like a small rain forest in here... And are also serving excellent refreshments (biscuits and tea, an ultimate combo). There's some live blogging going on in here and you can also pick up a copy of the Portmuthian, box fresh!

CCF got scared by a cannon as I walked past, which was rather amusing I thought. Physics have a life-size cut-out of Sheldon Cooper which seems to be their pride and joy. They're also carrying out live demos of physicsy things.. I don't do physics so you're probably more knowledgeable than I am...

Chemistry was a blast. Quite literally. Lots of fire and a distinct smell of burning. I would definitely recommend it because the guys up there are really passionate about what they do, and if you're lucky, they might let you blow something up...

Biology was a crime scene. I wondered who they had killed, and I decided it was probably Dr Stevenson due to his notable absence... You can extract strawberry DNA and do all sort of messy things, the technicians are really friendly and will help you out with whatever foul scheme you happened to be planning... not that I'm encouraging this. 

I then headed to economics, who were surprised at the amount of younger pupils that had been through, and also have food of the sweet variety so go up there if you feel hungry. Finally, I popped into careers and the International Baccalaureate, who are happy to answer any questions you have about their respective departments. Overall, from what I've seen, open morning has been going great; lots of passionate people doing the things they love.

Friday, 25 September 2015

The Page 3 Problem

by Charlotte Phillips

Whenever someone makes a reference to 'page 3' we all know what they're talking about. Even children at primary school will giggle when asked to turn to page 3 of their books by the teacher. And with the ban, back in January, that lasted just a single day, the issue has experienced a renewed relevance and become a talking point for the modern feminism movement.

But should page 3 just be a problem for the feminist movement? Shouldn't it be a problem for everyone? The Sun's most controversial feature (and that is saying something) essentially should not cause controversy at all. Because it shouldn't exist.

Ah, I hear some people saying- aren't you going against feminist principles here? Some would argue that banning page 3 opposes a woman's right to show off or expose her body, and indeed perpetuates the idea that women should stay covered up for fear of being 'slut shamed'. But the page isn't an issue of inappropriateness, or having too much on show, as some people may say. It's an issue of the Sun newspaper being such an accessible medium. Women should be freely able to display their bodies if they wish to, without judgement or difficulty. But The Sun could be picked up by children- it is within grabbing reach on a newspaper shelf. A young girl, who is still forming her self esteem and self image, may look at these photoshopped, airbrushed models and assume that that is how all women are supposed to look. A young boy could pick up the paper, see a page 3 model, and assume that that is how all girls should look under their clothes. Clearly, this can have damaging effects on both the individuals and society as a whole.

There are plenty of opportunities and mediums through which, if they so wish, women can have their bodies photographed or shown off, especially with the development of the Internet. Banning page 3 would not stop women from exposing themselves, and indeed, it would not limit anybody's opportunity to see topless women. Those who cling on to page 3 are stuck in the past and their only argument seems to run along the lines of page 3 being a 'tradition'. These people generally tend to be the same high earning, heavily right wing males who object when a woman breastfeeds her baby in public.

What Is Fracking and Why Is It Controversial?

by Rory Gillies

Fracking is the name commonly given to hydraulic fracturing, an operation used to extract gas from the earth by pumping down water into cracks at high pressure. This releases the gas so that it can be extracted and brought to the surface.

Many people are against fracking, because it is a very new idea and is very likely to cause floods and unstable ground, due to the large amounts of water being pumped into the ground. Another problem about all the water is that transporting it all to the drilling site causes significant damage to the environment. People also worry that the chemicals used within the water will pollute the precious groundwater if it escapes. Fracking is also shown to cause earthquakes, as proved in Blackpool in 2011, when areas around a fracking station experienced earthquakes of magnitude 1.5 and 2.2 after a fracking operation had occurred. On the other hand some people believe that fracking is a good thing, because it allows drilling firms to access difficult to reach resources of gas and oil. It has been shown that in the US fracking has boosted domestic oil production and pushed down gas prices. It has also been estimated to give the US and Canada gas security for around 100 years. Fracking also presents an opportunity to generate electricity of half the CO2 emissions of coal.

In my opinion, fracking should not be allowed to take place, for it makes the ground unstable and pollutes groundwater, which would make the cost of tap water and drinking water get significantly larger. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Phantom Lover

by Abid Ali

(source: Wiki Commons)
My understanding of Sherlock Holmes’ analytic skills has advanced greatly. I see through his eyes like you see through glass; I understand his patterns like any medic would understand the symptoms of a simple fever. I work backwards from a scene rather than theorising what was to happen next and now observe the data rather than just see it. After my 700-or-so cases and watching of Holmes, I believe my deduction skills have come to the point where Sherlock Holmes has met his match. However, I still respect Holmes in his prodigious methods, but I have come to the conclusion that I shall for once go on my own path and have my own shot at the hand of the great Holmes. Nonetheless, I have bargained my way through to get Mr. Holmes to abide with my rules if a case happened to come by; he shall come as my acquaintance, rather than the contrariwise and he shall be mute, not giving a single clue to as where my case shall head. For this mystery would be mine, and it was Holmes’ turn to admire my work. And coincidence happened to provide a case walking down the street.
I was always a light sleeper, and was immediately awoken by the slight shudder of Holmes. “It’s your time,” Holmes grinned. “Will you accompany me to the door?”
I arose from my bed and slipped on a robe. I heard the knocking of the door increase and rushed to it, where Holmes was patiently waiting.

He opened the door to welcome a woman as pale and thin as an autumn moon. She could hardly have been less than five feet two inches in height, excluding her bonnet. She had minor scars scattered around her wrist and opisthenar. Her dress was rich with scarlet, chaste velvet and suave satin, her waist strapped with a luxurious cloth. A strand of buttons lashed beneath her cotton collared neck and a skirt frolicked behind her. She concealed her hair with a luxuriant, white bonnet of linen and felt, but with the front of her dark, brunette hair curled away into her bonnet. She would have appeared charming if it weren’t for the tatters and tears in her skirt.

“It’s all yours.” Holmes backed away and smiled.
“Well, hello then, madam. What brings you here?” I asked her.

“221B Baker Street. Correct?”
“Then you must be Sherlock Holmes?”
“Quite the contrary, madam. I am his acquaintance every other day, but today shall provide different. I will be your detective for today and perhaps for the days to come on your case, if need be. Please come in, take a seat.”
She staggered around and sat down. I recognised that she was squinting at our lamp.
“You are professional, are you not?” she asked.
“Of course! So, what brings you here, madam?”
“My name is Alexandra Saunders from the great Saunders family in Sussex, you may have heard. I have a mystery for you that must be solved. You see, I live only with my uncle as my parents have passed away. But only three nights ago, my uncle was murdered."        

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Diary of a Gap-Year Mother II

by Miranda Worley

Mid September

My eldest daughter finished school this summer, and is on her gap year.

So the Wednesday of her flight to Sydney arrived.  I was at work, my husband was on a business trip and she had forgotten to arrange with anyone for a lift to Heathrow! 

Luckily my elderly parents got her there, just about on time.  I received a frantic text at work 30 minutes before her take-off, asking for the contact details of my relatives in Sydney as she had somehow lost them.  Well she’d just have to wait till I got home for that, it was going to be a long flight anyway and this didn’t bode well for a year away.  I girded myself for the next 24 hours waiting for another text… would she text to say that she had lost her visa?  her money?  her passport?  would she make her connection in Dubai successfully?  Any number of horrors passed through my mind…

When she was 13 years old, I had sent her, alone, to Hamburg to stay with her German pen-pal family for three weeks.  I took her to Gatwick, helped her to check-in and then made sure she walked through passport control with the right gate number written on her hand.  She looked so small all on her own; this would be a big test of her independence… and mine.  I had driven home and was having a cup of tea in the garden when I got a text from her “No one here to meet meL”.  I still remember the grip in my stomach, the horrid sinking feeling, of not being able to reach her.  A quick call to the host mother however, had discovered that they were waiting at a different terminal exit, and I was still on the line as they ran for three minutes across the terminal, until, breathless, the lovely Frau said “I can see her – we have her! Everything is alright now.”
But this was going to be different.  She is 18; no one is running to meeting her.

Lost in Communication: Wittgenstein's Early Philosophy

by Isabelle Welch

Lost in communication- a brief summary of Wittgenstein’s early works

Ludwig Wittgentein
A lot of unhappiness in this world comes about because we can’t let other people know what we mean clearly enough. One of the philosophers who can help us is Ludwig Wittgenstein. He was a recluse, he had a stutter, he would pause in the middle of sentences, and had a habit of storming out if someone disagreed with him. Oddly perhaps, this was the ideal formula for someone intent on studying what causes communication fails.

Wittgenstein was born in Vienna in 1889, the youngest child of a wealthy, highly cultured, domineering businessman.  Three of Wittgenstein’s four brothers committed suicide, and w himself was frequently troubled by suicidal thoughts. When he was young his father encouraged him down a path to engineering, which he studied at Cambridge. Whilst he was at Cambridge his father passed away, and he inherited a large sum of money, which he lay off to other family members and a selection of young, ‘indie’, and often alcoholic, Austrian poets, before moving to Norway to live in a recluse mountain hut. It was here that he ‘Tractus Logico-Philosophicus.’

‘Tractus Logico-Philosophicus.’ was a short, beautiful and baffling work. The big question that he asked in was how humans communicate to one another. His answer, which felt revolutionary for the time, is that language works by triggering within us pictures of how things are in the world. He came to this conclusion through reading a newspaper clipping about a Paris court case in which, inn order to explain in greater efficacy the details of a road accident, the court had arranged for the accident to be reproduced visually: using model cars and pedestrians. It was a eureka moment.

For Wittgenstein, effective language is that, that enables us to ‘make pictures of facts.’ For example, to say ‘the bench is by the chip shop,’ paints a rapid sketch that, like the model, lets another person see the situation in their mind and understand. We are constantly swapping ‘pictures’ between us in this fashion, but the Paris court needed a physical model for a very important reason: on the whole we are poor at conveying accurate pictures in the minds of others. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Hollywood Lies

by Sian Latham

A most disappointing moment in life? When you realise this is it. I’m not getting any taller. Not getting any better looking (I mean, I’m gorgeous already but not Cara Delevingne gorgeous). It’s the moment that you look at yourself in the mirror and go: is this it? All those years waiting to be like those people in the movies, so tall and pretty. No acne, no slightly wonky eye, no split ends. Did I go wrong?

To my shame, and secret delight, I enjoy watching those meant-for-kids-but-teenage-girls-love-them kind of films. The good old Disney ones with awful story lines, catchy musical numbers and these perfect teenagers. In fact, I was watching an old favourite of mine the other day and it suddenly hit me. That girl, the one who is meant to be 16, is clearly mid twenties! So, I did what any person would do. I used this as an excuse to watch more of these films. Procrastinating as only a student knows how, only to realise that all these years, every movie, every character, every same old romantic-vomit storyline has lied to me! The actors haven’t seen puberty, or the like, for nearly half of their life. Okay, that math is a little off, but you get the idea. 

Take the image above for example. Starting from the left (and excluding the animated dog, of course) the actors ages are 27, 23, 24 and 27. Particularly the male actors, the age gap between the age of their characters and the age of the actors is more than 10 years: they are meant to be 16 in this franchise. The females, though a smaller gap, is still a wide margin from a mid puberty teenage girl.

Here’s another example. The cast of the recent release ‘ The Duff’ a teenage romance comedy, focused on the daily horrors of an American high school (it's actually quite funny). In this image we have the ages, starting from the left, 17, 27, 27, 21 and 25. Now Bella Thorne (the 17 year old) does buck the trend of lies in this movie, but the others once again have been adults for a long time. My issue isn’t that the movie industry is lying to me. If that was the case I’d have to be a cause for concern, I mean Batman clearly lives in Tokyo… not Gotham.

Monday, 21 September 2015

What’s right with Corbyn?!

by Simon Lemieux

The choice of two punctuation marks is deliberate – the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader just over a week ago was both a shock (well at least compared with what the pundits were saying at the start of the leadership race) and raises some interesting question. Numerous political journalists, politicians past and present and the great British public have already weighed in. So following the crowd, here for what it’s worth (£3 perhaps – the cost of affiliating to the Labour party and securing a vote in the leadership election) are my thoughts on the success and future of the Corbynistas.
In essence I think there is a lot right with Corbyn’s victory and his persona as a party leader, while some of his policies are plain wrong. So what’s there to like about the man?
Firstly it is a blow against the ‘cult of youth’. The tendency in recent times has been for our political parties to elect leaders in their early 40s, who are telegenic, sharp-suited and products of public schools (yay verily posher than PGS), and Oxbridge though admittedly Tim Farron the new Lib Dem leader does not at least fall into the public school/Oxbridge classification. Corbyn by contrast is 66 years old, the product of a state grammar school and briefly attended North London Polytechnic for a year. Lovers of British political history should recall that many of our most famous politicians first became Prime Minister or party leader in their sixties or late fifties:  Churchill, Disraeli and Gladstone all spring to mind.  Clement Atlee leader of the first ever majority Labour Government following the 1945 election was 62 on taking office. So Corbyn’s victory could be seen as one of experience (albeit entirely backbench) over youth.
Secondly, he is a serial rebel and that’s no bad thing in life or politics, at least in moderation and when undertaken with courtesy and a marked absence of tub thumping rhetoric. The most rebellious among Labour’s MPs in Parliament during the years of New Labour, he has consistently stood and voted for what he has believed in sincerely. No one could ever accuse him of being a political careerist or an opportunist. It is refreshing to see someone elected to a high office who is not part of the political establishment, the bookie’s favourite or selfishly ambitious. Whether that serial rebel can exercise leadership effectively is of course another matter entirely.
Part of the rebelliousness, indeed most of it, stems from his deeply held principles. Like Margaret Thatcher before him, Corbyn is a ‘conviction politician’. He has contrarian views on a wide range of issues: British involvement in foreign wars (he has only just resigned as chair of Stop the War Coalition), the monarchy, privatisation and nuclear weapons to name just a few. Whether you agree with him on these issues or not is beside the point. Full marks for someone who is prepared to defend often unpopular positions on issues that conceal a genuine debate. For my part, I think a proper rational debate about the logicality and affordability of the replacement of the Trident nuclear submarine is long overdue. I lament the apparent consensus among the political establishment for probably wasting vast sums on a weapon that will nothing to make our country safer against the likes of IS or al-Quaeda. But doubtless the political and defence establishment will scaremonger us otherwise…..  I also applaud him for not singing the national anthem. As a republican, why should he? As a moderate Christian and monarchist, the lyrics are not problematic for someone like me; for the likes of Corbyn I can see perfectly well why he stood in respectful silence. It wasn’t as if he was playing Candy Crush on his iphone! The lack of tie/matching jacket and trousers are hardly grounds for treason either. Yes, it’s doubtless an image, all clothing is to an extent, but again it is not affected. He is the stereotypical trade unionist/lefty uni lecturer/Trot type: why should he conform to the sartorial norms of others? So, as a man of principles (and as a keen commuter cyclist), he ticks that box too for this author.
Now all that I have written so far could be construed as a ringing endorsement of Corbyn and his policies. That is not the case. He is plain wrong on some of the things I do feel I have some knowledge about, not least his opposition to selective education; comprehensive education represents misguided socialist idealism and social engineering at its absolute worse. I’m also far from convinced that austerity in much of the welfare budget is such a bad thing either.  I’m no expert in economics, but I doubt ‘Corbynomics’ will create greater wealth or promote sustainable economic growth.  What really excites me though is that we might actually have clear divides and policy debates in the run up to the next election. A triumph of substance over style in political would be a refreshing tonic from political contests that often appear to have more in common with X-Factor or BGT.As a politics teacher, I warmly applaud the result; it makes my job easier and more enjoyable. But in truth I fear that Corbyn’s election will change little despite the opportunity his election has brought. Why?
Firstly, uniquely among modern political leaders he has the active support of only a fraction of his party’s MPs. I just don’t see him turning the PLP (Labour MPs) round to his way of thinking on many issues. New Labour will become the ‘New Rebels’.  True, many party leaders face considerable internal opposition which normally grows over time, but Corbyn starts from a uniquely poor starting point. Consider how much trouble he had even putting together his Shadow Cabinet. Secondly, the political establishment will inevitably make him conform more: what odds of a white poppy on parade at Remembrance? Finally, expect no mercy from the right wing media. He will be lampooned, vilified and misrepresented by the tax exiles and ex-pornographer who own the Mail, Telegraph and Express (the Rothermere family, Barclay brothers and Richard Desmond respectively) and only lukewarm support from the left. So will it end in tears? Personally for Corbyn probably yes, but equally I don’t think he’ll be surprised or upset. As a true believer, for him the truth is largely concrete and eternal; opposition and persecution merely proves how scared non-believers are……

Photography: Walking to the Beach

by Sally Filho

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Rugby's Pretty Cool: Ireland v Canada

by Filippa Furniss

This weekend I found myself sat in a very squeaky, blue plastic chair, with, as the booming overhead voice so kindly told me, 65,282 other people in the same room. With our seats being in the upper block of the Millennium stadium, I was perhaps a little higher up than to my liking. As the last few thousand or so spectators began to trickle into the enormous arena, I dared a lean forwards. Below me was a sea of green, with every type of clothing you can imagine present, in the colour green of course. What else would you expect when Ireland are playing so close to home.


As I adjusted my own very flattering Ireland cap, complete with a green rugby jersey, you could hear the hum of excitement begin to build. We were all waiting now for the stream of players to come running out of that tunnel in the great depth below. The very nice man on the loud speaker did not need to tell us, however, of their arrival. The deafening roar from at least four fifths of the stadium was the indicator to the Irish team’s arrival. Together they stood proud, comfortable in the knowledge that they had the crowd on their side. If the sight of a green stadium wasn’t enough, the boom of their national anthem being sung back at them may have confirmed the slightly biased support towards the Irish side.  Alongside them, dressed in red, stood their opposition, not looking quite so excited to be there. If I was the Canadians… well, I wouldn’t have been feeling great either.


A few minutes later, hands were shaken, refs at the ready, whistle blown and we were off. Hit after hit, pass after pass, and within minutes Ireland had fought through the wall of Canadians to score a try. With Jonny Sexton strolling with ease up the 25”, one of the most accurate kickers of current rugby leagues, Ireland’s score was comfortably raised to 7 points. For the next 36 minutes, Ireland were cheered on by the crowd in a way that I had never seen before, with supporters screaming encouragement to the players as if they were the ones playing out there. From all angles shouts of support and advice (none of which could be heard coherently by the players of course) were hurled at the pitch, with any Canadian support surely drowned out. The Irish fans were desperately calling out to their beloved team, and the Irish team answered. They answered by bringing themselves up to half time with an astounding score of 29-0 to Ireland. With seconds until half time, however, the Canadians made a break for it, with a lighting speed pass round the back of a player, letting the Canadians finally put down a try to their name. For a few seconds the Canadians were ecstatic, having finally broken down the stony barrier that was the Irish.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The Media's Ridiculous Beauty Standards

by Lizzy Greenfield

Don't buy into their rubbish
Self-obsession. Self-criticism. Self-consciousness. Despite these feelings being present in men and women of all ages, they are, in my opinion, far more abundant in adolescents. I personally believe that is our job, as well as the job of our society, to help them accept the love, from themselves and others, that they think they do not deserve. It is our job to pick them up when they fall. It is our job to help them grow strong and confident. It is our job to say "don't be so hard on yourself, no, don't be so hard on yourself."

However, unfortunately, our society, we as a society, instead strive to knock one another backwards. Backwards into the deep, dark depths of insecurity. I know what you're thinking "ah, you're talking about the media!" And yes I too place a significant portion of blame upon them, what with their increasingly ridiculous beauty standards and unrealistic body expectations. As if we don't have enough on our plates already as young adults without being expected to look 100% 24/7.

But - I didn't come here to talk to you about the media, not least because with all my quarrels it would take hours, possibly days. The media are clearly our enemies in this, however, as a wise old man once told us it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but it takes just as much to stand up to our friends.

Our friends. You and I.

We have a prominent part to play in this issue.

Our generation should be supporting one another through this arduous, aggravating and frankly alarming aspect of adolescence. Instead we provide fuel for the media's fire by buying into their rubbish, such as Heat magazine's 'Wheel of Shame'. I mean I agree it really is shameful to pop to the shops for a bottle of milk without a full face of make-up, designer clothing and killer heels.

And that's not all, not only do we subscribe to this cruelty, we now create our own! Cast your minds back just a couple of months and you may remember a craze that swept swiftly across the entire Internet by which people would draw various 'flaws' onto their faces such as spots, unibrows and missing teeth before wiping all of these off and inviting others to commend them on their incredible beauty. The irony of this challenge's title is unparalleled in my opinion.

And it's not just this challenge, we are always putting each other down. We are the ones who sing the songs shaming 'skinny bitches' who 'think they're fat'. We are the ones who read magazines shaming women for putting on a 'whopping 80 pounds' while pregnant. We are the ones who like posts boasting 'how to get a thigh gap'. We are the ones tweeting 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' whilst retweeting 'anorexia isn't attractive guys'.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Facing The Refugee Crisis

by Sarah Habib

10 million. 10 million on the run. 10 million not knowing where to go.10 million just trying to find a place like home. 10 million.  

It has become a global crisis. A problem that has been unmatched since World War II.


Refugees coming mainly from the Middle East and Africa. All trying to flee the present war and conflicts in their country.

Already more than 2,600 have drowned in the Mediterranean, who have been desperate traveling somewhere assuming they would be safe. Knowing on which horrifying dangerous journey they betake themselves. But hope is the only thing that is stronger than fear.

Walking by foot hundreds of kilometres crossing several borders, caring their entire life on the back. Not knowing what the next day holds for them.Only arriving at their destination, to get caged like animals. Every day being scared of getting deported. 

The world has to act.

Hundreds of thousands are suffering every day. Just as you think there has been in improvement in helping refugees, countries tighten borders with others to keep refugees crossing their territory.

This is not the way it should work.

Nothing New

by Robert Merriam

New Star Wars movies, new Jurassic Park movies, new Terminator movies, new Mad Max Movies, endless comic book and YA novel movie adaptations. It seems there’s nothing new anymore. I won’t pretend to be the first to notice the creative drought in Hollywood but I thought I’d weigh in on why it’s happening and what it might mean for the future.

You can find original cinema
if you look
For a start it is not as bad as it seems. When people bemoan the lack of originality in film it is usually in reference to the lack of originality in big film that is to say the movies that make the most at the box office and have the largest presence in terms of advertising and merchandise. Recent months have given us excellent indies like ‘Whiplash’, ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘The Babadook’,’ Birdaman’, ‘It Follows’, ’Ex Machina’ ,‘71’ and ‘The Voices’ to name a few of the finest, if you want cinema that’s original you can find it if you look.

The issue, it seems, is with mainstream film, the ‘popcorn flicks’ that rake in the most audience members and the most money. The fact is if you wanted to see a movie this summer you had to choose either a sequel (‘Age of Ultron’, ‘Jurassic World’, ’Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’ etc.) an adaptation (‘Man from UNCLE’, ‘SpongeBob’, ‘Kingsman’ ‘Insurgent’ etc.) a reboot (‘Mad Max’, ‘Terminator: Genysis’) or try something new and, judging by the figures, most of you didn’t. Of the top 20 highest-grossing films of the year five were original works: ‘Inside Out’ (a masterpiece truly deserving of its No.3 spot), ‘San Andreas’ (No. 14), ‘Spy’ (18), ‘Trainwreck’(19) and ‘Tommorowland’(20). The latter was by all accounts a genuinely ambitious and visually beautiful if flawed film directed by Brad Bird, the man behind ‘The Incredibles’ and the fourth ‘Mission Impossible’. Tommorowland made less than half its money back.

Plumbing the depths
And this is the thing: the studios want our money and they know they know they’re less likely to get it if they gamble on something new. But if they slap on a recognisable brand name, mediocre pabulum like ‘Jurassic World’ can gross $649,084,726.

Some of these movies are good and some are bad but it’s true to say that its getting harder and harder for these films stay fresh. ‘Fury Road’ was great but what else can you do with Mad Max in the inevitable sequel? The same goes for the world’s richest dinosaurs, other than ‘we should be careful when we meddle with nature’ what can any Jurassic Park movie have to say at this point? And the problem isn’t that we’re tired of seeing the same characters or titles, in the theatre audiences will see different productions of the same play over and over again to see what different directors and actors do with the material. The lack of quality of these re-dos comes from lack of artistic engagement with the material or from the meddling of studio execs who want to make their films branding exercises instead of films.

Many recall a time when it was not this way, namely the 70s, when desperate studios allowed risky auteur directors to go nuts in a desperate attempt to compete with television. These directors (Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Kubrick, Lucas to name but a few) made stunning challenging thrilling cinema that is still revered and popular today but it was never going to last. When ‘Star Wars’ was released 1977, the lightning was caught in a bottle and after that the studios were able to make hits simply by sticking to the ‘Star Wars’ formula, ending the need for auteur driven mainstream cinema. The excellence of ‘The Godfather Part II’ also opened Hollywood’s eyes to the value of sequels.

Film Review: ‘Amy’

by Rebecca Emerton

Directed by Asif Kapadia, the new documentary Amy has created quite an intriguing comeback for the world-renowned singer Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 27. The film uses footage and interviews/chat show appearances throughout Amy’s life, showing her bubbly, young personality in North London, right through to the very last moments of her life. The moving stories by friends and family reveal a part of her life that much of the general public never knew existed, constantly being spoken about in derogatory terms by the media at any and every opportunity. Kapadia portrays the singer in an emotionally engaging manner, delving deep into the moments of vulnerability and helplessness following her divorce and the death of her grandmother with whom she was extremely close. 

The film shows her as a naïve young girl with a passion for jazz and other music, keen to develop her own songs derived from her own experiences, particularly spurred by her father, Mitch, leaving the family, which deeply affected her. The private video footage shot by friends sees her landmark style of feline eyeliner develop, the kind of makeup with a slightly unprofessional and slapdash look.

Early on in the film, a talk show interview recorded the following quote which acts as a chilling sense of foreboding and has now become one of the most powerful quotation in the documentary, “I don’t think I’m gonna be at all famous. I don’t think I could handle it” she said “I would probably go mad”.

The beginning of the downward spiral was when she met her soon-to-be husband Blake Fielder-Civil, the man that introduced her to drugs as a coping mechanism as well as a kick. Following this there are many hard-hitting scenes that show Amy whilst being affected by these drugs and the viewer begins to see the impact of these on her life. The drugs combined with her eating disorder, bulimia, caused her many problems, including seizures and strong effects on her character. 

Kapidia portrays Amy’s father as somewhat of a bad guy, returning into her life to manage her career and decide what shows she did when she was incapable of making a decision. Following the release of the film, Mitch Winehouse complained the film portrayed an incorrect image of her life and himself; however, it is clear that from the footage (taken by friends – and clearly unedited) that this view of him is not without cause. He encouraged Amy not to go to rehab, despite her friends' protests due to her serious state of health, because he wanted her to continue making money in her career. Amy sings about this in her hit single ‘Rehab’ – “I ain’t got the time because my daddy thinks I’m fine”.

Diary of a Gap-Year Mother

by Miranda Worley

Early September

My eldest daughter finished school this summer.  From mid-June to mid-September she lived, almost nocturnally, working two jobs in a bar and in a restaurant, to earn enough money to fund her gap year plans.  I almost feel that I haven’t had any time with her since her A-level revision started in earnest earlier this year, and now I am losing her for a whole year.

Of course I’m not alone in sending my fledgling-adult-child off into the world, but, while most of my mates have spent the last few weeks buying toasters, trainers and duvet sets for their university-bound offspring, I am the reverse; my daughter has been reducing her possessions to the absolute minimum she needs for her travels.  Her strong medium-sized ruck sack, last used for her D of E expedition a few years ago now contains all her travel possessions.  We agreed that if she can’t run with it in her rucksack, she probably doesn’t need it. There have been several discussions about the packing list priorities, along the lines of her saying “I really want to take these wedge shoes for clubbing in Sydney…” and me saying “I think you haven’t got room for them, after you’ve packed all your waitressing work clothes and mosquito repellent.”

What are her plans?  

The Fight Against Hidden Sugar

by Hermione Barrick

Over-the-counter medicine, yogurt, and spaghetti sauce: they don't sound like much of a gang but they are three of some of the worst offenders in the fight against hidden sugar in food.

Sugar has been cast as the villain of Britain's obesity crisis. A quarter of the UK adult population is now said to be obese, with the proportion set to rise to a third by 2030. Rates of overweight and obese children in the UK are among the highest in Europe  and diabetes levels have doubled in the past two decades, additionally nearly 26,000 children, aged five to nine, were admitted to hospital in England in 2013-14, up 14% from 2011, with tooth decay. 

The BMA claims that poor diet costs the NHS around £6bn a year – greater than the impact of alcohol, smoking and physical inactivity.

Now if you take a look at the photo below, would you like to take a guess at what percentage of your daily intake of sugar is in that half a cup of ice cream?

Well The NHS's recommended daily guidelines for added sugar are currently 70g for men and 50g for women depending on a person's size, age and activity levels. This means that this one scoop of ice cream which is 17.3g of sugar is roughly 37% of a females daily intake of sugar, and thats before you add in another scoop for luck necessary after the effort that it took to scoop out the ice cream from the tub in the first place that makes it 75% of your daily intake.

Now I don't know about you but when I eat I don't eat blindfolded for a reason. I don't want it to say low fat on it yet have so much sugar in it that I can't get comfortable; I don't want it to say all natural on it and have so much sugar in it that I could rival a bungee for the amount of times I have highs and lows. I want to eat in the comfort that I know exactly how much I am contributing to my future dentistry bill.

Well, that is where Jamie Oliver and his sugar tax come in.