Friday, 28 April 2017

Photography: Puddles

by members of Year 9 Photography Club.

by Sophie Hamer

by Keir Jones

Photography: Out and About in Old Portsmouth

by Tony Hicks

No fish left in Portsmouth - because he ate all of them and then felt sick. 

Thinking Outside the Box.

by Harry Leggett

It is said that at Oxford university some students were taking their final exam for a philosophy degree. There last 3 years of hard work, late nights and book reading had come down to this. The nerves running through the students were very much present. The students sat down for their two-hour exam when the examiner declared “you may start” a rustle of papers sounded as all the students flicked the page to see what questions there were. However much to the amazement of the students, there was just one question followed by pages of line paper. The question read this “What is courage?”. Now I'm sure many of the students answered this with pages of deep philosophical analysis much like they had been taught in their lectures, however one young student wrote: “This is”. The student closed their paper and left the exam. The student went on to receive a first and an award for their ingenious thinking under extreme pressure. 

Why am I telling this story? I believe personally that thinking outside the box is not commended as well as it has been in the past. We in this modern day go so far to try and put people on the same page and not discriminate or leave out (often a very good thing) however occasionally I believe this is taken too far. For example, the reason for exams is to attempt to put all students on a level playing field so that when they come out with a result we can compare the students. However, there are still issues with this and it is very hard to actually put human life in a comparable way. 

Do not get me wrong I believe that the education that a child receives up until the age of 18 is vital and the subjects we learn, maths science English a language, an art, all are very important. However, it is proven that a human's brain is not fully developed until the age of 21. This means that I believe the young people of today's society should be targeted and filled with interesting ideas while they are still growing, because if they are to pursue and interest they may come to love it more and more however if they were not to they are still young and have time to change. 

If we are to look at all of the great innovators of late. Steve Jobs, Edison, Tesla, and Franklin are just some of the most incredible innovators of their time. Now many people have asked why is it that they were so special, study after study has been done to analyse every part of their lives, what school they went to, what kind of upbringing they had, how many hours a day they did of work. All of these things are interesting pieces of data however I feel there is something that cannot be recorded that all of these people had. The ability to have an open mind. If you've ever seen the film inception you will be familiar with the concept of planting a seed into someone's mind. This is used in the film to show that once you tell someone an idea, then they cannot remove it from their memory and often it can take over their lives. I believe all people have these creative ideas, sometimes they are just a seed which has been planted in their mind, sometimes these develop into a plant and they become successful ideas, however sometimes just sometimes these seeds develop into a fruitful and beautiful flower which benefits everyone. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Photography: Spring Colours

by Rohin Kachroo

What Belt Are You Wearing?

by Tom Fairman

Theresa May’s surprise announcement has set in motion the endless news cycle that only an election brings; new announcements and policies each hour, journalists trying to get a politician to contradict themselves or promise the impossible, another poll telling us who is winning or losing. The shorter lead up time caused by a snap general election will only heighten the continual stream of words from politicians, journalists and pollsters alike making it harder to hear, let alone think about, the issues.
Most of the column inches in the first few days have been devoted to the U-turn of Theresa May in calling the election itself. She had publicly declared she would not hold an election at least five times in the past year with many YouTube videos collating these statements. This comes hot on the heels of her campaigning to remain in the EU, but then wanting to be the leader who takes us out of the EU. This is unfortunately not a new phenomenon for our politicians.
Every manifesto is taken with a pinch of salt as experience has made us wary; scrapping tuition fees and not raising NI contributions are two examples from the recent past. Ed Miliband took the extreme step of putting his policies onto a large stone monument before the last election that turned into his epitaph. However taking someone’s word at face value seems to be turning into a weakness rather than a strength. You are called naive and told to be more streetwise when you trust in the strength of a word that is then taken back. A lot of the reporting around the election announcement centred on what Theresa May really meant, insinuating that the words she spoke should not be taken at face value.
The post-Easter story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ highlights this issue. Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene and she had told the disciples He is risen, but they were dubious and the disciples carried on hiding in a locked room out of fear. Then Jesus miraculously appeared in their midst, but Thomas was not there.
Thomas was now faced with at least two accounts of Jesus being risen from the dead. Two stories from two different sources; enough to be published in any newspaper today. Yet his response is to say I will never believe unless I see Him for myself. He does not take their word for it; he cannot hear the words they say, he cannot accept the message they bring. Maybe it is a human condition to continually question what we hear. Maybe we have been let down too much to trust in the integrity of those we meet or of those in power?

Monday, 24 April 2017

Photography: Skipping

by Imogen Ashby

Understanding Real World Economics by Understanding We Are Human

by Georgia McKirgan

Classical economics, from Adam Smith to David Riccardo to Alfred Marshall, is based on a couple of key assumptions. Economic actors (individuals and companies) seek to maximise their utility (satisfaction) by making perfectly rational decisions in possession of perfect information. When these people come together in a market, these motivations and preferences result in the type of market behaviour that we are forever charting in class, using traditional demand and supply curves. As I was thinking about applying this to real world situations, I kept coming across examples where people were not completely rational in their economic behaviour. This bothered me, but I kept assuming that while individuals may not follow these classical patterns of behaviour, a theoretical model based on these assumptions may still give valuable insights in to the real world. I thought no more about this problem until I came across the work of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky who published a paper in 1979 about Prospect Theory which challenged the classical Expected Utility Theory.

Prospect Theory can be understood with a few simple examples. A key assumption in Prospect Theory is 'Loss Aversion' which means that losses hurt more than gains feel good. This differs from expected utility theory in which a rational agent would have a symmetrical utility curve around zero. In a laboratory setting, Kahneman and Tversky conducted a number of experiments. Subjects were asked to choose between a pair of probability-weighted outcomes. First, they were asked to choose between a 100% chance of winning $500 and a 50% chance of winning $1,000. The majority of respondents chose the 100% chance of winning $500. As the two choices are equal on a probability-weighted basis, the classical theory would suggest people should be neutral between the two choices. On the loss side, subjects were asked to choose between a 100% chance of losing $500 or a 50% chance of losing $1,000. Rather than take a guaranteed loss of $500, most subjects took the option of a 50% chance of a $1,000 loss. Take another example. Subjects were asked to put a dollar value on two life insurance policies. One would cover the subject from death for a period of 10 years. The other would cover the subject from death in a terrorist attack for 10 years. On average, the subjects put a higher value on the second policy despite the fact that the first policy covered terrorism as well as any other kind of death in the same 10 year period. For the subjects, death in a terrorist attack sounds worse than other kinds of death so they ascribe a higher value to a policy that covers that event despite the fact that the other policy has more coverage. Basing economic theories on more accurate descriptions of how economic actors behave sounds like a much better approach. These are not random errors of judgement but predictable cognitive biases.

Kahneman and Tversky eventually won the Nobel Prize for Economics, despite the fact that they are both academic psychologists. Based on their work, Behavioural Exonomics has developed into one of the most fertile areas of Economics for new thinking. While most of Kahneman and Tversky's experiments were conducted in a laboratory setting, Prospect Theory can be used to better understand many real-life economic situations and one obvious example is financial transactions. The Loss Aversion component of Prospect Theory leads to something called the 'Disposition Effect', the empirical finding that owners of financial assets have a greater propensity  to sell an asset that has risen in value since purchase (locking in a profit) rather than sell assets that have fallen in value (locking in a loss). This is puzzling because many asset prices tend to exhibit 'momentum' where assets that have done well, continue to perform well and assets that have performed poorly, continue to lag. A rational approach to this scenario would be to sell the asset that has gone down and hold the asset that has gone down...contrary to what is observed.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Interview with Asifa Lahore

Introduction by Tanya Thekkekkara

We go to a school where difference is not simply tolerated, it is celebrated. A school where 69% of pupils believe it is easy to come out, a school where pupils, staff and parents can have pride in being who they truly are. By being here you are part of a movement of people who are making a statement that differences of gender, sexuality, faith, disability or anything else will not divide us. Two years ago I got in touch with Asifa after watching Channel 4's Muslim Drag Queens and here I was touched by Asifa’s bravery in intertwining her muslim faith whilst simultaneously being her authentic self. Being the UK’s first open muslim drag queen, Asifa is providing an avenue for representation to the Asian LGBTQ+ community. Once again, I would like to thank Mrs Morgan for facilitating this event today, and PGS Pride itself. PGS Pride has evolved over the years and I am excited to see what more our school can achieve. Thank you.

Shree Patel and Loren Dean interview Asifa Lahore following her presentation to PGS Pride on Friday. 

Last time we saw you you were living as man and performing as Asifa. We understand that you’ve now decided to transition and live as a woman. What sparked this change?
Before doing drag I thought my male identity was solid. However, over time I’ve been becoming more honest with myself. The tipping point came in October last year at a an LGBT conference in South Africa. I met inspirational trans* people from across the world who have shown bravery, even in hard circumstances and I realised that it was time to be more honest with myself.

What’s changes have you experienced since living as a woman?
My day to day life and performances are the same but medically the changes are really noticeable. The hormones are creating mood swings and changing my taste buds but I’m still the same person.

Would you still consider yourself to be a drag queen now you’re living as a woman?
Absolutely. Drag is always a performance and when I’m on stage my alter ego takes over. I’ll always be Britain’s first Muslim drag queen.

Has the Muslim community reacted differently to you since you’ve transitioned?
In a way, yes – in many Muslim countries it’s more acceptable to be trans than gay (In Iran the state will pay for gay men to transition). It’s really early days for me though. I’m still waiting to come out to my family and much of the Gaysian community so we’ll see. You’re getting an exclusive!

Are you ready to fully come out as trans?
I don’t know, I guess I’m going to have to be. I am beginning to physically change more now with the hormones so people will probably start noticing.

How do you think people will respond?
I don’t think it will be a huge shock. I’ve been performing as Asifa for many years and sometimes people use female pronouns with me anyway. I do recognise though that it will be difficult for the people around me and they’re going to need some time to adjust.

What advice would you give to someone who thinks they might be trans*?
Talk about it. This is not a snap decision or taken in isolation. I’m 33 and have taken many years to make what is a massive decision. Have honest conversations with yourself and people you can trust. Don’t feel like you need to rush, allow yourself to evolve – every day is different. There’s no button you can push, things don’t happen overnight.

Do you think there should be an age limit for transitioning?
I don’t know, it’s difficult. There’s so much more visibility and information out there now. I think the current system has got it right. Giving a child hormones rather than medically transitioning seems more sensible to avoid the wrong decision being made. Waiting has the advantage physically and mentally and puberty blockers make this less traumatic.

How do you reconcile your faith with your sexuality and gender identity?
I believe in Islam and I follow the five pillars. I’ve performed the hajj, I give my zakat (charity), I pray, I believe in Allah and I observe Ramadan. Obviously there are other areas I don’t follow like living in a monogamous heterosexual marriage etc. The reality is that all I can do is be authentic and observe my faith. I believe that God created me in this way and that He wants me to be myself. I tried living a lie and it didn’t work. I will let God be my judge.

Photography: Wild Hilsea

by Tony Hicks

I took these photographs of Portsmouth wildlife while out and about in Hilsea yesterday. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Photography: Wild

by Tony Hicks

What Does a Feminist Look Like?

by Naeve Molho

The inspiration for such an article came as Lola Kirke made headlines for her ‘nicely grown armpit hair’ at the 2017 Golden Globes, instantly brandishing her as brave and a raging feminist ‘breaking the stereotypes’ for women.  The fact that this made numerous headlines is insulting to Feminism.  It’s showing the ignorance and lack of understanding of Feminism and its true meaning.  In the article published by ‘Yahoo style UK’ any information surrounding Lolas actual career or achievements was completely ignored, instead they chose to focus on the peaking wisps of body hair beneath her arms. 

The fact that the media is endorsing the stereotypes of what Feminist should look like is insulting.
Google tells us the top three attributes of all Feminists are angry, men-hating, lesbians.   This could not be further from the truth. In actual fact a Feminist can be anyone, of any ethnicity and of any sex who believes in gender equality.  Having an excess of body hair does not make you a feminist.  It’s important we stop connecting feminism with a certain type of person or style because it’s a degrading stereotype that has no truth.  The fact that the Huffington post felt it was necessary to write an article on ‘23 was to make your clothes radiate feminism’  shows the true definition and justification for being a feminist have been forgotten.  In fact the slogan on one shirt ‘The future is female’ does not promote feminism at all because feminism is not saying that women deserve better than men but that they deserve the same as men.  If the roles were reversed and that top read ‘The future is male’ there would be severe backlash and criticism. 

Poem: Coming Home

by Libby Rhodes 

Did you shoot anyone, you know like they do in the movies?
Did you see any animals?
Did you make any new friends?
Did you arrest anyone, you know put them in handcuffs?
Was it amazing , did you take any photos?
Did you bring anything back for me?
Did you?
Did you?

Did you?
Yes. I did.

I had to shoot hundreds of men, women too if they had guns,
It was them or me, that's war, you wouldn't understand.
They were all fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, who deserved their lives just as much as our family does.
Animals? They were were animals. Everyone one of them.
The friends I made were shot. Dead. Lifeless. Still.
No, I didn't need to arrest anyone. Who needs to handcuff someone when they're already gone?
When you're older, as for me, they're permanently carved into my mind.  
There were no souvenirs, I only brought back myself.

I was blessed with my life. As I saw many a man fall to the ground wounded or dead. Crying. Screaming for their mothers. And in the dark nights I was screaming for mine.

Maybe before any more questions, I can come inside and put my kit down.

As I finally get through the door.
Too many questions, making me tick,

I thought coming home would be easier than this. 

A Week in The Vascular Department, at QA Hospital

by Monideep Ghosh

After fortunately securing a one-week work experience programme at the vascular department, I set out to for a brief consultation followed by my first observatory operation- an EVAR (Endovascular Aortic Repair). This was required due to a 5.6cm intrarenal aortic aneurysm and was treated with the placement of an endovascular stent graft. Admittedly, it was a slightly mundane spectacle, however it allowed me to clearly understand the intricacy and sheer precision required at this level of professional healthcare and was executed perfectly by the experienced consultant. The afternoon held in store a huge contrast and was much more graphic and vivid than the previous procedure. As a result of frequent drug abuse, the patient required a ‘Bilateral Transmet Amputation’ which is essentially both feet being chopped off after being blackened and as the anaesthetist said too much of the team’s amusement, ‘It’s good old, fundamental surgery- if it’s dead, it’s gotta go!’. After applying the spinal anaesthetic to cancel any nerves to the lower side of the body, the surgeons, fairly brusquely, picked up a scalpel and just began sawing the feet of much to my horror and gradual excitement. The wound was left open and was swiftly dressed with the anticipation that the granulated skin exposed on the side of the leg would eventually reappear in the operated area. The patient was awoken and was troublesome with her psychological issues seen as she questioned the entire surgery. The consultant gently explained the extreme necessity of the procedure and offered her painkillers for back relief which was met with gratitude and understanding by the patient.

Day 2 began with a ward around which was useful, in particular for me, as it gave me a chance to speak to a couple of junior doctors. They did state that they feel ‘like a bit of a spare part’ but the enjoyment of working in a team sometimes does overshadow that. Administrative tasks such a taking clinical notes is a key part of the work they do but the variety of patients they see allows them to develop adequate knowledge in a variety of medical situations which will obviously aid them in the future when they begin to choose specialities etc. A flurry of hernia related operations followed and further reinforced this idea of accuracy and precision that all surgeons must have when performing such operations. The afternoon entailed a ‘de clotting of the left PTFE graft’ which partly had to be undertaken due to the patient’s lifelong type 1 diabetes. The patient, aged 65, has had regular treatment in the department with some of them related to general age.

The next day involved a different side to the department- the assessment unit (lab). This is the area in which suspected patients receive scans in order to investigate certain conditions such as one patient required one for DVT (deep vein thrombosis) which is blood clot that has developed in the lower leg of the body. The symptoms include deep swelling, reddening and warmth in the area in question. The scan was taken by the clinical scientist and the waveforms were analysed to check for irregular patterns in the blood flow and hence check if there was a clot. The Doppler effect is used for this and I gained a brief insight into how technology is an integral part for the detection of disease as well as the fact it isn’t just doctors who are responsible for the curation of infection in the hospital.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Review: 1984

by Layla Link

Having read George Orwell’s 1984 previously at the age of around thirteen, I decided it was worth a re-read, especially considering that I am now studying the Russian Revolution. 

It being one of the most famous dystopian satires in the English language, I expected great things. And great things I got! 

The book tells the story of Winston Smith, a government worker, and his lover, Julia as they explore the themes of freedom, doom and control in a world of the all-powerful, all-watching Big Brother. To me, the book has a slow start, and I felt tempted to give up after finding a somewhat dull, descriptive and barely-there plot in the first few chapters. 

However by the middle, I was captivated by the stories of Winston and Julia and I too was trapped in a world of Big Brother, being unable to put the book down. I was intrigued the most however, by the book inside the book: while most young readers (including myself at age thirteen) yearn to skip at least some of the treatise by Emmanuel Goldstein, the Trotsky-esque dissident and public enemy whose forbidden work comes into Winston's hands, I longed for it. 

Easter: Everything has Changed

Tom Fairman shares a four-part consideration of the meaning of Easter, originally published on his blog, 

1. Questions of Identity

The season of Lent is brought to an end with the beginning of Holy Week which starts with Palm Sunday; the joyful procession of Jesus into Jerusalem. When an important person visits a town or city, there is a lot of organisation to be done before hand; the route needs to be prepared and security checked, venues have to be cleared, itineraries and photo opportunities are planned to the second. The more important the person, the more disruption to the locals. EU summits, G8 conferences and state visits are prime examples. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was to be no exception.
Three years of ministry had gained Him a large following and a large amount of critics and He was unable to go to the towns without attracting huge crowds. It was a massive inconvenience for the apostles who spent time trying to organise food, maintain orderly queues and provide transport for Him. When Jesus was to enter Jerusalem for the last time, it was to celebrate the Passover and the city would have been full; this was going to be a difficult one to pull off.
Imagine Aladdin entering Agrabah as Prince Ali for the first time for the pomp and ceremony that would have been going through the Apostles heads because for them this was the victory parade. Jesus had made clear this would be the start of the end and the beginning of His kingdom on earth. The Apostles understood this as claiming the kingship and setting them free from Roman rule. The people were expecting this, palms at the ready and coats taken off to lay before Him in the manner of a king. Jesus was finally going to reveal who He truly was!
The question of Jesus identity is at the very core of His ministry and of the problem Christianity poses us. During His temptations, the devil twice prefixes the temptations with”If you are the Son of God”. Jesus had to truly believe He was the Son of God; an identity crisis leading to a difficult decision is one we can all relate to. He faced those questions that cut to the core of who He was and after overcoming them, the angels came and ministered to Him, reinforcing this truth.
The disciples and those Jesus met continually questioned His identity, giving Him many names, some pleasant, others not so; Son of David, Master, Joseph’s son, Son of Man, Elijah, Holy One of God and Beelzebub to name a few. No one knew what to make of Him, He did not fit into any box they had in their minds. The Messiah was supposed to come to bring freedom and justice, but He preached mercy and forgiveness. The Son of David broke the laws of the Jews and yet maintained He did not come to change one dot of them. He performed miracles only God could do and yet associated with those outcast from society. He was a complete set of contradictions and paradoxes that logic could not explain!
So when Jesus speaks of the hour being near, his disciples are understandably excited. This was to be it; the big reveal, the moment they will finally know who this man they had given their lives to truly was! The word would have spread and the crowds were gathered, the talking would be over and the truth would be revealed. When Jesus tells them to go and get a donkey to ride in on, it may raise a few eyebrows, but He has been unconventional all this time so why change now? A King riding a donkey is not going to send the majestic image the marketing team required, but this was it.
His kingdom, His ways, His thoughts are not our ways or our thoughts. They are the completion of the plan that was started at the beginning. They are the truth and beyond our logical mindset. If we could work it out, then where would the mystery and the excitement be? The people came out to welcome as king someone who rode on a donkey, an enemy of the religious elite who was coming to celebrate the main religious feast of the year, someone who was about to turn the world upside down!
2. On A Different Level
Last year, Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 asylum seekers outside of Rome on Maundy Thursday. They were Muslim, Hindus and Christians, men and women and did not need to have their feet washed, but the act was a symbolic remembrance of Jesus’ actions during His celebration of Passover. It is a strange act to understand in a culture where wearing shoes is the norm, but was also difficult for the Apostles to comprehend.
At a time when sandals were worn, feet were regularly in need of cleaning and so the act was one of a necessary, if unpleasant physical service. Peter’s understanding belonged at this level and after overcoming his uncomfortable feeling of Jesus washing his feet, asked to have his head and hands washed as well! It was a sacrificial act more appropriate for a servant than a rabbi. It involved getting down on your knees and overcoming any physical inhibitions that may occur when dealing with other people’s feet.
Yet Jesus makes light of Peter’s request, saying one who is clean already does not need a bath and draws light to a deeper understanding of this simple act. Pope Francis says we are all children of the same God and share the same brotherhood. By washing the feet of his Apostles, Jesus has put Himself on the same level as us to share in our brotherhood. St Paul says Jesus did not cling to His equality with God, but emptied Himself to be as a servant. He came down from His throne to share in our humanity. He was showing us the nature of God.
By washing His disciples feet, Jesus revealed that God wants to join with us where we are. He wants to share the joys and sufferings, the hopes and fears, the love that is present in being human. He lowered himself to our level, to set himself alongside us, rather than above us, to lead as a brother rather than as a dictator. When He wrapped the towel around His waist, He shows us that God wants to have an intimate relationship with us.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Protesting Racism

by Caleb Barron

Last Saturday, 33,000 people gathered in London to march from the BBC offices to Parliament Square to protest against racism. 

Racism does not seem like the institutionalised monster it once was but there are still problems to be addressed. The recent policy to not accept anymore Syrian refugee children, to me, is a racist policy fuelled by the anti-immigrant, Islamophobic rhetoric.

The day itself was very peaceful and there was a lot of love present between the many people all from various different backgrounds. I was lucky enough to attend with Floss Willcocks as well as two buses full of local people from Portsmouth. We met a young activist named Shabbir involved in the Stand Up to Trump campaign as well as the several other organisations. We carried his banner stating 'No to Trump's Muslim Ban' and were even photographed in front of Parliament holding it. 

It was a particularly energetic and connected protest and tackled a universal issue that many can get behind. 

Below are some more photos from the day:

Poem: All in the Mind

by Alex Porter

Trampled by guilt,
Like being trampled underfoot,
By gunning down the innocent,
Covering them with red paint,
Piling on top of each other like rubbish

Over the dunes we went,
Not knowing what awaited,
Except for death,
Screaming and crying,
As we shot our weapons,
Clouds of smoke,
As my friends looked at me,
I smiled and said,
‘It's alright’,
Cool and calm
But in my head,
I was frightened,
And overcome with terror,

As the ship arrived,
Full of soldiers,
Smiling and waving,
I looked to my mother,
In pure delight,
Oh dear Mummy what a wonderful sight,
She smiles at me,
As I did at her,
That’s the army,
She said with a grin,

I can’t hold still,
I'm messed up real bad,
If I could just blank it out,
Just for one day,
No one can comprehend,
What we have been through,

If someone would look at me,
In a funny way,
I would attack,
Out of rage,
Show them how I feel,
As I could've said a thousand words,
But I just punch them right in the mouth,

We go in together,
We go out alone.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Comparing the Exploration of Artifice in Borge's 'Ficciones' and Nabokov's 'Pale Fire'

by Hattie Hammans

Jorge Luis Borges
Artifice is teasingly apparent throughout the work of Jorge Luis Borges, frequently leading the narrative and twisting itself to imitate other voices or stories. Supposed borders between reality and imagination are persistently blurred, contorted, and elegantly confused. It is unsurprising that Borges, the Argentine author of ‘Ficciones’ and ‘Artificios’, was meticulous as a writer, composing draft after draft for each paragraph; his sparse yet erudite prose, even in translation, as John Stark describes, “makes his work seem eerie and unreal”[1], highlighting his playful awareness of his fiction’s absurdity and indeed, unreality. Vladimir Nabokov, a contemporary of Borges, similarly exploited the idea of ‘artifice’ in his work. However, in comparison, Nabokov’s style is elaborate, at times richly ornate, concocting an artificiality through allusion, a linguistic playfulness, typified through recurring devices such as puns. The closest parallels between the authors indeed lie in what Patricia Merivale described as their “flaunting of artifice”[2]; the broadest stylistic trait that ties their work together in their ‘irrealidad’ (as Borges would call it) is the trope of the imaginary book, or the ‘inner manuscript’. The unreal literature in the works of both Borges and Nabokov draws attention to the parallels between the ‘imagined’ and the ‘real’. This trope pulls the reader into further fictive realms; ultimately working as a metafictional device that reminds the reader of the entire works nature as an artefact itself. The writers play with these ‘meta-conventions’ of their literature through their narrators and parodies, and even by constructing the stories to function on multiples levels of interpretation. This delight in metafictional devices becomes, in both author’s work, a theme in itself.

Vladimir Nabokov

 ‘Suave’ Dr John Ray, Jr. ‘pens’[3] the foreword to Nabokov’s novel Lolita. Written by a fictional editor, the 3 page long, erudite introduction frames Humbert Humbert’s ‘remarkable memoir’[4]. This fictional scaffolding alerts the reader to the fact that Humbert Humbert himself wrote the manuscript that forms the weight of the novel. Furthermore, the prologue acknowledges that the book was written in his weeks of ‘legal captivity’ before his death from coronary thrombosis. This transforms the novel into Humbert’s ‘Confession of a White Widowed Male’, which stimulates the reader’s justified questioning of the reliability of Humbert Humbert’s self-conscious narration. The ‘found manuscript’ of Lolita is Nabokov’s opportunity to bring into focus the nature of storytelling, and the inevitable ‘unreality’ of such narratives. Attention is brought to the ‘writing’ of the tale, by Nabokov providing a frame for its narrative existence. Of course, through Humbert’s consistent return to the theme of writing itself (For example, page 40, ‘I jotted down each entry in pencil (with many erasures and corrections)’), the fiction is self aware: Nabokov never lets the borders between reality and imagination become too well defined.

Le « Brexit » et la Montée de l'Extrême-Droite - Combinaison Toxique pour l'Union Européenne ?

by Sam Kent

Aujourd’hui l’Union est morte. Ou peut-être avant le référendum, je ne sais pas. De toutes façons, l’utopie Européenne de l’après guerre n’existe plus. Des gendarmes recouvrent les frontières de l’Europe et une nouvelle époque de nationalisme, d’idéalisme naïf, et une Europe qui est un classement plutôt qu’une grande équipe. Bien sûr, à l’heure de mettre sous presse, cet avenir n’est qu’une pensée, mais une pensée qui peut se transformer en réalité. Mais premièrement, voici une histoire à propos de comment cette pensée a vu le jour.

Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders
Jeudi 23 juin. La Grande Bretagne retende son souffle. L’Europe retende son souffle. Les Britanniques se précipitent aux bureaux de vote pour décider l’avenir de leur pays. Quelques se dirigent rempli de la fierté nationale, fervent de récupérer leur pays, autres avaient hâte de faire une décision politique raisonnable pendant une année dans laquelle le nationalisme de l’extrême droite irrationnel a été donné un nouvel élan face au terrorisme et les niveaux de l’immigration sans précédent au plan international. Pour ce dernier, c’était couru d’avance : les Britanniques ne feraient pas confiance en les mots des gens comme Boris Johnson et Nigel Farage, les électeurs modérés se dégonfleraient dans l’isoloir – et, après tout, les Britanniques n’aiment pas le changement. Certainement, ceux-ci étaient mes réflexions quand en endormant ce nuit, mais après être me lever le matin suivant, je me suis retrouvé jeté à un avenir différent. Nous avons voté de sortir de l’Union Européenne. Il n’y avait que 3,8% des votes qui l’a décidé, mais ça c’est la nature d’un référendum. J’étais témoin de l’histoire, mais cette partie de l’histoire était construit avec des matières que nous allions utiliser pour construire notre futur prévu, alors notre nouveau futur existe encore, mais ne personne sais plus ce qu’il ressemblera. Ce qui était ironique, c’était que à l’origine, le référendum ne faisait que l’affaire de dissiper la menace de l’extrême droite en Grande Bretagne – David Cameron, qui était alors le Prime Ministre de Grande Bretagne, a promis le référendum de ce sujet en 2015 pendant sa campagne électorale pour les élections législatives en mai. Il l’a promis pour essayer de attirer des électeurs du parti de droite eurosceptique, The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), qui offraient le même référendum. Cette tactique a marché, selon la plupart des commentateurs politiques, et le parti centre-droit de Cameron, The Conservative Party a gagné l’élection. Après avoir gardé sa position de Prime Ministre, il a prévu le référendum pour juin 2016. Alors, on peut dire que le référendum n’était jamais censé d’être plus que insignifiant, une promesse tenue, mais le parti qui était sans importance, et poussé sur le côté, UKIP, qui a commencé tout, a fini avec leurs objectifs terminés, et le parti dominant et en fait titulaire, The Conservatives, sans un leader.

The Secrets Behind Cicret

by Kendall Field-Pellow

Fake news… We’ve all heard about this in some form or another in recent months. Although, things which have particularly piqued my interest but haven’t been talked about are ‘technological breakthroughs’ that propagate social media. What I mean by this is not things like the invention of the latest iPhone or Apple Watch or the highest speed Intel Core processor, I mean unusual things which currently are unheard of and solve a particular solution. I am talking about videos and articles posted on social media platforms by pages such as ‘Business Insider - Tech’ and ‘Wired’ which show intriguing devices or concepts. These ideas often solve a particular problem or apparently will ‘help people greatly’ in some way or another in the future.

If you know the type I mean, you may be familiar with titles such as:

     Super-hydrophobic coatings” – which demonstrates materials coated in the newly developed substance are almost impossible to soil since all moisture containing messy substances are repelled, the action of this in the video is quite mesmerising. See video:

     Futuristic Floating 'UFO' Home” – which explains a new type of floating yacht-house hybrid with a UFO design is completely ‘off-grid’ and 100% sustainable -  I think this is an interesting concept which may prove vital in the future due to the rising sea levels…

      “Scientists have created the darkest material ever seen” – although by definition Vantablack reflects so little light (0.035%) that you simply cannot actually ‘see’ any colour.

These articles and videos which circulate Facebook and YouTube intrigue people like me because they allow us to keep up to date with the level of technology being currently developed and they provide expectations of what our lives may involve in the future. What is most enticing about such posts are that the feature of the post is often currently in the stages of being tested or is just a hypothesised idea for the future - and it is clear to determine which products are on the horizon and which are perhaps just a nice concept.

This is why it was very surprising to me that when I decided to research about a new type of watch, I found out rather quickly that something fishy was at play…

Now I introduce to you ‘The Cicret Bracelet’ *round of applause*

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Buster Keaton 100 Years On

by James Burkinshaw

A hundred years ago today (March 21, 1917), Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton made his first, brief film appearance in the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle production, The Butcher Boy. 

As America's most popular comic film actor at that time, Arbuckle was doing the little-known vaudeville actor Keaton a big favour by offering him the modest role of a shop customer who gets involved in a flour fight. However, as film historian Tom Dardis notes, "from the very first second of Buster's appearance in the film it is quite apparent that his way of doing things, the very tempo of his movements, is absolutely different from all the other characters'. In contrast to their frenzy, Buster displays a commanding, austere dignity."

This is one thing that sets him apart from his great contemporary and rival, Charlie Chaplin, who was far readier to appeal to sentiment by shamelessly mugging for the camera. In contrast, Keaton’s soulful eyes and impassive expression suggested an almost primordial sadness - a tragic sensibility amidst the farcical chaos of slapstick. He prided himself on doing all of his own stunts - and sustained a spectacular range of injuries over his career, including a broken neck that went undiagnosed for several years.

Keaton was not just an innovator on screen but behind the camera. While working with Arbuckle, "One of the first things I did was tear a motion picture camera practically to pieces and found out the lenses and the splicing of film and how to get it on the projector . .  then get in the cutting room . . . and find out how I get trick photography and things I could do with a camera that I couldn't do on the stage." 

The first Keaton film I ever saw was Sherlock Jr, about a film projectionist who, in one celebrated dream sequence, dives into the screen and becomes comically caught up in the action of the film he is showing (see 17-minute mark, below). The impact is as magical today as it must have been when audiences first saw the movie in 1924 - a celebration of cinema's capacity to absorb us in a world of illusion.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Please Don’t Read This Blog

by Tom Fairman

I recently read an interesting article in which the writer was drawing the parallels between Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn. Among other things, one similarity was that they both appeared to be most comfortable and therefore most charismatic in front of large, supportive crowds, whether they are large rallies or small town hall style meetings. Trump has taken the unorthodox decision to keep holding campaign style rallies long after having won the election and Corbyn regularly talks of the mandate he gained from his own election win. Both men seem keen to reconnect with the adulation and worship they received rather than face the challenges that their respective positions pose.
St Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises describes this process in three stages; riches to honours to pride. Success, however gained, can be an addictive event. We naturally begin to feel good about ourselves when something goes well and like to hear people praise us. When people say good things about us, we feel good about ourselves and our self worth increases along with our ego. We begin to believe the titles people give us and long to hear the applause of an adoring crowd. We begin to believe that we have earned this, deserve it and therefore seek more of it. We become proud.
Pride can be a positive feeling. We should be proud of an accomplishment which has taken a lot of effort and dedication to achieve. We should be proud when a loved one achieves recognition for their work. However we have to be aware that there is a fine line between accepting praise and seeking praise to fulfil our ego. If our ego drives us to seek success at all costs so we can be proud of who we are, then we are in danger of destroying ourselves in pursuit of success. When are self worth is attached to the riches and honour that others bestow on us then St Ignatius warns we can be pushed onto all the other vices.
Jesus faced a similar scenario in his final temptation. The devil takes him to the top of a very high mountain and shows Him the magnificence of all the kingdoms of the world; the awareness that there is good in all of us which needs to be celebrated. However the devil offers Jesus all of this as riches if Jesus worships him. In today’s society, worshipping the devil is a statement which can be hard to relate to. However it is more to do with who or what holds power over you rather than than prostrating yourself before a statue. Jesus is challenged to give up on who he is and let his ego dictate his decisions to achieve power rather than rely on listening to God and letting Him have control.


by Michaela Clancy

I will begin this article with saying that I do not know if I am a feminist…. I find myself searching for a simple answer and only find myself becoming more and more conflicted. As with any campaign there are always going to be factors that you favour more than others, but with feminism and certain feminist ideas I find myself becoming very opposed.

After years of listening to debates about women’s rights and deliberating with others as well as myself, I have still not concluded whether I support feminism. The typical definition is that feminism is the support of equality between genders, which I agree with. I very much support the right for women to vote and to have equal pay. I also support the fact the women can obtain the same level within the work place as men.  This in itself could class me as a feminist. I revel in the fact that education is open to all genders and that I myself am part of receiving an excellent education. I have also taken up opportunities such as the CCF and have had the privilege of considering a military career. All of these things were not as easily obtainable a hundred years ago or in some cases, a few decades ago.

However, I find myself reading articles and watching videos where I begin to question whether feminism has gone too far. I find myself wanting to scream when statistic start popping out at me, as often they are biased and have not taken into account the full picture. Recently,  I watched a video saying that in books there are next to no females who take charge of their destiny without the aid of a male or animal (in cases such as Disney). I understand what the producers were trying to portray but I found it unrealistic. Historically, women were suppressed and many modern stories are based on historical background. Also, they did not mention which books that the study was based upon, for all I know they could have purposely picked certain genres or selected specific books to support their study. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Should Men Be Entitled to Paternity Leave?

by Sienna Bentley

Forty years ago, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce paid paternity leave, giving both the mother and father time off to care and bond with their child. In the UK, new fathers will receive £139.58 a week for two weeks (the average earning per week was £538 in 2015), but can take longer, unpaid leave. However, while it is common for men to take a couple of days paternity leave right after birth, only the most committed and bravest use their right to longer parental leave in places that allow it: In the UK, 40% of dads choose not to take the parental leave offered.

I’ve read some pretty scathing arguments against the idea of paid paternity leave, some of which make my jaw drop and, controversial as it may be, I do find it a tad shocking that some people could be as ignorant as some of the things I have read. Of course, I think it is only the minority that are against paternal leave: says 82% yes and 18% no. So I’m trying to reach out to that 18%.

Yes, I agree with the fact that of course, women are the ones who have to push an entire human being out of their bodies after carrying it around for 9 months, but the notion that the father’s only role, other than helping to conceive the child in the first place, is to make money in order to provide for the family is, in my opinion, somewhat flawed.

Every argument I see usually stems from the same thing: Men don’t have to recover from giving birth. Obviously this is true, but it is also true that they still face a lot of the same issues that women do after having a newborn child. Yes, the woman is going to probably be twice as tired as her partner and naturally therefore should be given a longer amount of time off than the father, but realistically, both parents are usually living under the same roof, which in turn means that both parents are looking after the baby. Due to this, it is not just the mother, but both parents who will be kept awake at night by a crying, hungry baby. Just because the partner didn’t push the child out, doesn’t mean the baby doesn’t affect them. Both parents will see the effects of fatigue and as a result, the father’s work will suffer should he still have to go into work every day.

Othello: An Outsider’s Perspective

by Rhiannon Jenkins

A few Sundays ago, I attended Ellen McDougall’s production of Othello at the Sam Wanamaker playhouse. Situated next to and as part of the internationally known Shakespeare’s Globe, the playhouse is immediately far more intimate and claustrophobic than any open aired theatre. With seats practically on top of each other and feet knocking backs and heads, it is possibly an accurate representation of what a busy theatre might have been like back in Shakespeare’s day, before armrests were considered necessary and people took what space they could to see the playwright's work.

Cameras flash from the audience, capturing the Elizabethan facade at the back of the stage and the mattress, covered in blood, which rests in the centre of the stage, foreshadowing the tragedy we are about to witness. As musicians file on above the stage the phones disappear and the stage is lit only by candlelight. The six candelabras lower to the stage where the dozen or so candles on each are extinguished by actors dressed in plain white dress shirts, familiar to many thanks to Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. As the stage and audience are plunged into darkness, the singers begin a haunting acappella rendition of Lana Del Rey’s 2011 song, Video Games. It is surreal. To be surrounded by Elizabethan dress and facades, Renaissance drawings of little cherubs, candlelight and hear Lana Del Rey’s lyrics performed.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Photography: Farewell Fly-Past

by Nicola Watson

The Lynx farewell fly-past at lunchtime today.

Will ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Have a Harmful Effect on Children?

by Millie Braund

Emma Watson, playing the protagonist role, ‘Belle’, in the live action movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to be released in early March, has recently dismissed the widely acknowledged beliefs that her character suffers from Stockholm syndrome, and is not, in fact, in love with the Beast at all.

Stockholm syndrome is a mental condition whereby a victim of abduction establishes feelings of fondness towards their custodian. However, in an interview with ‘Entertainment Weekly’, Watson stated that “she (Belle) has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought.”

In the original Disney movie, Belle is made captive by the Beast in return for her imprisoned father to be set free. At this time befriending the Beast, who is aggressive and ill-mannered, is clearly the last thing that she plans to do, “I can't stay here another minute!”. In fact, throughout the whole first half of the movie, Belle is completely adamant with her feelings of loathing for the character, and refuses to be manipulated by him, portrayed when she denies the Beast’s rude offer to eat dinner with him. Sufferers of Stockholm syndrome, however, act completely opposite to this, developing characteristics such as dependency on their captor and a lack of initiative.

Whilst Belle may not suffer from Stockholm syndrome, however, she certainly appears to show symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. This is a disorder which is characterised by disinterest or avoidance of social relationships. A person who suffers from this disorder may also favour an isolated or ‘sheltered’ lifestyle, and endure emotional detachment and apathy; there is no doubt that Belle possesses these attributes in the original movie.

Throughout Beauty and the Beast, Belle epitomises the consummate responses of someone who has no interest of attentiveness to social relationships at all, much less those which include sexual intimacy. This is evident as Gaston, the sexist and narcissistic antagonist of the movie, strives to attain Belle’s hand in marriage. Whilst her resolute refusal of his offer appears to be because he believes a woman’s place should be caring solely for her husband, she also portrays these mannerisms that characterise schizoid personality disorder. In addition to this, someone with this disorder may also favour and achieve relations with animals far easier than those with humans, and so it is no revelation that Belle and the Beast’s relationship flourishes far more quickly and naturally than any that may have existed between Belle and Gaston.