Friday, 15 February 2019

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Veganism – Fake News!

by John Taylor

Before you read this article, I’m aware that meat-eating can be quite a controversial topic, with many people having one view and one view only. However, whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or a meat-eater, take a deep breath and chill out. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with what I write, everybody is entitled to their own beliefs and opinions, so be open minded, relax, stay calm and enjoy.

I write this article in light of so-called ‘Veganuary’, a month in which one can chose to become Vegan. Matthew Glover, the co-founder of the event, wanted to inspire people to try Veganism for January, and hopefully the rest of the year. This year, with over 250,000 people signing up and many more unofficially doing it at home, people have been labelling 2019 as the ‘Year of the Vegan’. From 2006 to 2016, the number of Vegans in the UK quadrupled, while in the US, the number of people choosing the new lifestyle has increased by 600%. So there is clearly a positive attitude towards veganism and it must surely be entirely positive, right? Well, not entirely!

The obvious argument for vegans is that they don’t want to kill or cause harm to any animals. Well, I’m afraid to say it, but they do. The beans, the rice, the tofu, the super fruits, the nuts, the avocados, the lentils, the list goes on. Many of the foods that are now being overproduced to allow vegans to get the nutrients that they need to survive, all harm or kill animals. Farmers have to kill every squirrel, every frog, every mouse, every rabbit, every fox, every bird, every chipmunk, every mole, in fact every animal that inhibits their planting, ploughing, or harvesting of crops will be killed. Yes, I fully agree that factory farming is wrong and don’t want any animals to suffer in that way. However, the vegans who claim to have some sort of ‘moral high ground’ over non-vegans are simply wrong. Let’s not forget the habitats that have to be destroyed to make way for their crops and the animals that are poisoned by fertilisers. Pesticides are designed to kill animals. If you eat lots of processed meat and regularly eat at fast food restaurants, yes, you are going to be eating meat produced from factory farms. However, if you buy responsibly from farms that have raised their produce in moral and humane ways, then there is nothing wrong with having to kill animals to feed mankind. We have evolved this way as omnivores, as evidenced by our canine teeth and digestive enzymes.

The second biggest argument for being Vegan is that it’s better for the environment. In many ways yes, being vegan is good for the environment, as the meat industry is renowned for having a large Carbon Footprint, but most of all, emitting huge amounts of methane. The meat industry as a whole is responsible for almost 20% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which is why I strongly encourage everyone reading this article to try and reduce their intake of meat. However, the ‘meat industry’ has such a wide range of produce, from cows, to pigs, to chickens, to rabbits, to turkeys, so it’s no wonder that it has such a high carbon footprint. Compare it to a single crop, such as rice, which alone produces almost 3% of all CO2 emissions. The arable farming industry is far from good for the environment. Arable farming accounts for 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions.  The flooding of rice fields not only produces methane, but also Nitrous Oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas. It is 300 times more harmful than CO2 and 5 times more than Methane. Rice is the second most used crop in the world, and used by many vegans on a daily basis. The flooding of the fields also destroys ecosystems and ground soil. The disturbance of ground soils leads to Greenhouse Gas emissions and means that more fertiliser must be used to regenerate the soil, which also produces Greenhouse Gases and poisons animals. So, maybe if you’re a vegan, just consider the hidden damage you may be causing when you buy that extra pack of rice.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Why I Chose to Make a Documentary

by Douglas James

I’ve always been fascinated with various aspects of filmmaking. As an avid actor, this has of course meant that I’ve always wanted to make my own fictional film. Nearly everything about it interests me, from the editing to the camerawork, the composition of the score, the directing, the writing and of course the acting itself. But it wasn’t just this type of film that interested me. While it does interest me the most, even the making of trailers, the news and documentaries caught my attention. So when I realised that I had the opportunity to expand the PGS Extend project further than the restrictions of a simple essay, I naturally went with something that utilised multiple skills, and allowed me to write something less formulaic.

The Battle of Agincourt had always been something that I wanted to learn more about. Not least because it’s a good story to tell in the midst of French person if they mention the American Revolution, but also because there seemed to be so much more to the English victory than just ‘the mud’. I had caught hints around that there was a deeper, political backstory, and I finally realised that I could combine my interests and skills into a massive project in a attempted to slap my love for science, english literature, politics and of course history into my (somewhat limited) skills of presenting, narrating, editing, music composition and even gaming and create something brilliant. So I decided to make a documentary, something that seemed natural even to my friends (notably Alex Gibson (gotta give him some sort of credit)) as it was suggested to me shortly afterwards.

I quickly decided that I needed a good way to show the Battle of Agincourt for the viewer so they could get a sense of what actually happened before I analysed the true reason for French failure. I realistically had three options: film a reenactment of the battle, animate the battle using army blocks similar to YouTube channels like Baz Battles, or I could use what I knew was a good Total War: Attila game mod for the medieval era and film that cinematically. Obviously the first one was out of the question I had a very small budget in comparison to the millions that would probably cost. I had no previous skill or experience with animating, so learning how to do that would use up valuable time. So the third option it was. I purchased the game while it was reduced and started my research.

Photography: Goldfinch on Museum Road

by Tony Hicks

The World Record Egg: a Good Message

by Claudia Bishop

I am sure that many of you have heard about the world record egg. It seemed like a passing trend I heard about non-stop for about 2 weeks. For those of you who don't know what this was, on the 4th of January an Instagram (@world_record_egg) was created with one photo posted of an egg. The creator of this Instagram told everyone to share and like this photo to get it to be the most liked photo of Instagram. Surprisingly this actually worked and the egg now has 52,678,756 which exceeds the mere 18,715,844 likes of the previous most liked photo of Kylie Jenner's baby announcement.
You may be asking what this means. This seems simply like another trending joke that would die out instantly much like the yodelling Walmart kid. Both of these viral posts have a short shelf life and can be shown when looking on google trends.
However, I believe that the world record egg is actually a lot more important than what meets the eye. After its infamous first post, the account kept on posting other photos of the egg that seemed to be cracking. Most people ignored this as the joke seemed to be dead by now. On the 4th of February the world record egg posting a video. This video was a way of showing that the pressures of social media can lead to people “cracking” and advised the viewer to seek help if they needed it. They have set up a website which is set up by country with websites to go to if you are suffering from mental health issues.

'Friends': The End?

by Sophie Mitchell

For years I have been absolutely obsessed with Friends – I have Friends slippers, Friends pyjamas, Friends keyrings – you name it, I probably have a Friends version of it. But recently, when watching one of the many episodes that spanned over 10 seasons, I noticed a different side to the sitcom I love.

Let me take your mind back to Season 9, in particular Episode 13 – the one where Monica sings. The usually jovial episode had a different meaning to me, possibly shaped by a feminist perspective that has recently become more prevalent in the era of #MeToo, certainly more so than in the 1990s when the series was first developed. 

After Chandler plucks Joey’s eyebrows, they claim that since they spent an hour doing ‘feminine’ activities, they need to do some ‘manly’ actions to counteract it. Normally, this comment would’ve glossed over me. Yet, in this recent era, the comment struck me: the idea that men could not do such feminine actions without some fear of retribution of judgement. 

It’s a bizarre concept and one foreign to my generation. It indicates how the pressures of society were even shown in TV sitcoms, and people were okay with it. Let me remind you this was set in 2002, a time not all that long ago. It acts to show just how quickly society has changed - actions are no longer labelled feminine or masculine and neither do people feel the need to assert their gender. It's a time where people, men and women, can do what they want, without fear of judgement.

Friday, 8 February 2019

VAR- Why Is It a Potential Problem in Football at the Moment?

by Alex Porter

What is VAR and why is it used in football? Video Assistant Referee is an assistant referee who reviews the decisions which are made by the referee using video footage and a headset for communication and verification. VAR was written into the rules of the game in 2018 after a number of trials in major competitions such as major league soccer, La Liga and the last Fifa World Cup in Russia last year. There are 4 specific decisions that can be reviewed by the VAR referee, most notably the ability to call whether there was any violation in the play to a goal such as offside or foul. Penalty decisions are reviewable also, as well as direct red card decisions and mistaken identity in awarding a ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ card. In order to overturn a referee's original decision there must be a ‘clear error’ but this can also be identified as a ‘clear and obvious error’.

The foul which lead to the controversial penalty
in the EFL cup semi final first leg this year
So why has VAR become a potential irritation and problem in football for players, managers and supporters? In the FA cup and EFL cup this season in English football, VAR is being tested to see whether it should be used in the Premier League, England’s primary division. During its use so far this season it has caused many problems and wrong decisions appear to have been made. The main problem with VAR at the moment is that the review of the original decision given, is taking far too long to be made. In the worse case scenario, taking up to 15 minutes of the 90 minute game. Even though the time for the decision to be made has been shortened, it has still caused unnecessary hassle, especially as a considerable amount of the game could have been played in the time it took the VAR decision to be made. This is considerably annoying for many fans and players as when time is added after the 90 minutes has finished, it hasn’t taken into consideration the extra time the VAR decision took out of the game. I believe that to avoid this problem it may be better to stop the game clock altogether which is currently the procedure in rugby. This would therefore result in fewer complaints from fans and others about questions surrounding the amount of added time given (it could also be that referees should just add on the correct amount of added time anyway!).

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Birds in the Winter Sun

by Tony Hicks

Goldfinch and bluetit enjoying the sun.

The Power of Music

by Miranda Gent

Music is powerful in so many different ways and has a profound effect in the lives of people of every age that I could only describe as positive.

For me, music evokes numerous memories as it has always been a large part of my life, having attended a prep school where you were weird if you didn't play an instrument or couldn't read music.

When I think of music in general, endless images of concerts and gigs spring to mind, making a collage of memories of the butterflies and excitement of stage nerves, whispering or dancing backstage with friends, seeing applauding audiences and the incredible sense of pride and achievement that comes with it.

However, there are many songs or pieces of music that hold particular individual memories for me, and it is the link between memory, music and emotion that I wish to explore in this article.

The main form of music that I spend my time on now is songwriting. I wrote my first fully-formed and competed song when I was 13, and I have been writing ever since.

For me, songwriting is so incredible as it is, in my opinion, the purest form of self-expression, as it combines the forces of music and language, both of which are able to encapsulate emotions beautifully. I think of songs as poems set to music, and since I am in love with both poetry and music, I am very much in love with songwriting. Having said this, I also fully appreciate the use of visual art as a form of self-expression and all the wondrous and inventive ways that emotions and meanings can be conveyed in this way.

Personally, I use songwriting as more of a stress reliever than anything else now, as I find that when I'm upset or angry about something I can't focus on anything else or move on from it until I've written a song. Then, I sing this song repeatedly until it's just a song like any other and it no longer feels personal to me, which helps me to move on from the negative feeling. So, songwriting has partly become a way in which I cope with difficult situations.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Sunset over the Hard

by Tony Hicks

Krispy Kreme Sale A Huge Success!

by Oscar Mellers

Last Thursday break time and lunch, The Pupil’s Uganda Group hosted a Krispy Kreme sale in aid of Kikaaya College School in Uganda.

Pupils and Miss Nicholson (head of the club) sold six-hundred original glazed doughnuts to pupils and staff, eagerly waiting for the wonderous, melt-in-the-mouth taste. Three-hundred pounds profit was made at selling them originally at one pound and then reducing them slowly. Five bins were filled with rubbish!

All that money will be going to fund good Internet provision for the school. Miss Nicholson said they are trying, “To support Kikaaya College School as an institution but also to enable academic work to be done between our schools.”

What We Are Doing to our Oceans

by Lily Eldrid

“No water, no life, No blue, no green." - Sylvia Earle

So, if you have read the title, you might be a bit confused on what issue I am talking about; poaching, pollution (plastic and fumes), overfishing, poisonous algae from our sewers… the list could go on forever. But unfortunately for me, because I would kind of like to do all of them, we are going to be talking about climate change and how it is affecting our precious oceans. What I am trying to say is, sit down, shut up and join me on this coffee infused rollercoaster I randomly decided to do about an hour ago. Excuse me if I get anything wrong, I am not a scientist nor close to being one. Hope you enjoy it. I will, I am listening to “wake me up before you go-go” as I write this.

One of the first effects on what climate change does to our oceans is called coral bleaching. Now if you don’t know what this is, it is when the coral is wiped of its colour and slowly dies. This coral is important for the ecosystem  because it almost harbours marine life. Many fish use it to hide from their larger predators and also as a food resource from all the algae that has grown there. The reason why it is dying is because it cannot handle the new, longer heat waves caused by climate change. Some scientists have suggested that we deploy large, floating shade cloths or maybe pump cold water into the places that could be affected by the waves of heat hitting them. Although some people think it is a bad idea to disrupt the animals and their territory.

Moving onto my second effect; mass fish migration. This one is really easy to explain. It is when the change in temperature is too much for the fish, and they know that if they stay in the place they have settled, they will die. So, they migrate to colder waters. It has made towns whose main business is fishing have to either move or close the business. And it is not only fish that are making these mass migrations, the famous “American Lobster” has moved from its also famous city, Long Island, to an astounding five hundred miles away off the coast of Maine. As we cannot control the fish, we will just have to live with the consequences that we made for ourselves. 

Moving onto my third effect; drowning wetlands. England is covered with muddy areas next to lakes and small rivers that could be affected by this certain point. What I mean is these areas could overflow and take up the land endangered birds and thriving plants inhabit. This could also happen to coral reefs and sea grass meadows and that is not good. So, to help we need to keep an eye on how healthy they are and how clean the water is.