Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Music vs the music industry

With X-Factor winner Leona bound to be Christmas number one this year (not that she's not good enough. She's supremely, incredibly talented. She will be an international star), it just highlighted the fact that you can take someone and plonk them to the top of the music tree. It points so obviously to that falseness of the music industry nowadays, and was just about enough for me regarding music for 2006.

This year has seen record companies, record stores, markets and customers embrace music downloading, rather than oppose it, to the point where it now makes up most of the sales in deciding the music charts. How quickly those record companies stopped moaning about illegal downloading once they bothered to venture into the almost limitless audience. Online music has now moved away from the self-promotion, underground fan based, word of mouth phenomenon that gave rise to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and sites such as myspace, and has become big business. Hugely big business, in no time at all. So that side to the music industry, a DIY ethic only getting to its feet in 2005, has already gone the way of the mainstream and commercial.

Is it all about money? Were illegal downloading sites really cutting physical sales so much so that they had to get the money available from downloading? It's clearly been worth it, as CD prices have barely moved. It still costs £10-12 to buy an album in the record stores. It doesn't cost much less to order CDs online. It does to download albums. But then, I still can't see the fascination of paying £7 to only 'virtually' own the songs of an album by a band. You don't own their album, you have digital copies of songs.

For me, why I refuse point blank to download unofficial leaks and will continue to buy new CDs of my favoured artists, paying to hold a CD in your hands, even though it probably costs less than 50p to make that CD, is a hell of a lot more valuable than paying simply to legally download music. 79p on iTunes, to do no more than connect to their server and get a certain song. If it costs almost nothing to make a CD, it costs nothing at all to let people download some data.
The posterity, too, of owning an album is valuable to me too, though I grew up with tapes, then CDs and mini-discs, and this generation will grow up needing nothing but an mp3 player to hear every song they can ever want. That sort of listening, though, devalues the music. Like re-reading your favourite book, putting on your favourite CD and listening to it is an experience. You're not going to think "I'll sit down and have a read of Catch-22" (for example) and go and read it at your computer.

So, the big businesses have done very well out of online this year. And the trouble is, all the sources who try desperately to provide a genuine alternative to commercialism in music now have to constantly come up with something new. These days, regardless of where you stand as an artist, you get chewed up and spat out. MySpace profiles a new band every day on its homepage. NME's "2006 cool list" feature 3 people in the top 10 (including no's 1 and 2) whose bands haven't even released albums yet. It reads simply like a "what's hot this month". New acts get a week's worth of fame and are gone again. And this is in the places where they're supposed to be supported.

The thing is, I don't have a problem with commercial music. Girls Aloud, yes, are vastly image conscious, but they release perfect pop songs, as do Sugababes. Getting into the charts should not be snubbed by underground bands, or bands of certain genres. If you want to be successful, the charts, especially albums, are the only thing that matters. Artists like the above are successful because they do well in them. For some reason, being popular as a band is a bad thing now? But if you want you music to be heard, and you want to be loved for your music, then the popular music album charts (the clue is in the name) are the place to be. Do you think the Fratellis, Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen or The Kooks care that their CDs sit alongside Take That, George Michael and Scissor Sisters? Of course they fucking don't. And it doesn't make these bands instantly void from being credible. Well, it shouldn't but the "real" bands who play to 57 people in their home town once a month and sell albums through MySpace to friends in other "real" bands while having a day job to fund being in a "real" band think so. I sure hope that superiority complex keeps you warm at night.

So like I say, music isn't suddenly bad because it becomes commercial. (Everyone loved the Arctic Monkeys before their album found its way into 93% of the homes in Britain - now it's trendy to hate them. Turner is a prat though, but still). It's the perception and actuality of the commercial music industry, which uses artists to make money, devalues the one thing that matters - the music - as a commodity, that turns people against it. It makes bands who really need to and deserve to be a part of that industry, think 'I don't want to get into that'. There are hundreds of great bands who should be part of it. But the music industry is cutting itself from the music, relying on the unit shifting, image based acts instead of taking risks and breaking down the barriers between the audience who buys it because it's in the charts, and the audience who buys it because they like it.

By definition, the popular music chart should reflect popular music. But the industry keeps shooting itself in the foot. It caught on to the online bandwagon in the nick of time - and now downloading no longer favours the underground/new music scene. It's alienated the very people it should be trying to reign in by promoting the mainstream above the underground. It's made the charts a (musically) unfashionable place to be - yet if you want to be a truly successful music artist, it's the only place you can be. In today's society, The Beatles really would be ridiculed by one half of the music press, because they'd sell millions of records and be as mainstream as possible. Yet they're the best band in history.

Who took the music out of music industry?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Suffering from P.T.D

Or Public Transport Depression.

Is it just me - (an aside; I hate people starting articles and comment with 'Is it just me', because it's either A) blatantly not and an easy way to persuade people to side with you, or B) blatantly IS becuase you're trying to say something oh so individual and outrageous and pretending to be funny: I fear I'm doing the latter) - but does public transport depress people?

It's more when you travel on your own: the whole being surrounded by people you don't know, and never will, people you don't care about and vice versa. In fact, public transport encourages this sort of thing, that sort of introspective space to go into your own little world. You think things about people you're trapped with for a journey, and probably judge them. I know I do: one of the reasons I don't like using buses is because of the people you're likely to find on them. Idiot kids, who can't drive, in huge groups, called Dave B and Dave H, Darren, Chezza, Nikkeh, Danielle, Luce, etc. Who shout and scream and act like twats. I swear I was never like that, ever. Then you get women with massive prams and Argos bags on the back of them that roll into your shin while you're standing and give you looks as if you KICKED the pram. Then there's the old dears,...And there's always one really weird, deranged looking guy that spots you as you get on and won't stop looking at you til you get off - often, conveniently, at the same stop as deranged guy.

The worst thing about buses is how they look, too. Messy inside, steamed up windows with hearts and text speak written on them, and they just seem like boxes of artificial light. It's a strange qualm, but that sight just depresses me: at night, a box of people bathed in artificial light. It makes me think that there is no meaning to life.

Trains - slightly different. Still that sense of your own little world (yet it's 'public' transport - ). Bit more classy (richer people?), nicer setting and easier journeys and so on, but their main problem is alcohol. Alcohol on trains is, in my opinion, stupidly dangerous, and it's advertised and encouraged! It's almost as bad as Air Rage where people drunk on planes get violent and aggressive. Like being on a plane, when you're on a train and there's some idiot who's drunk and starting to eye you up for an argument, where the hell can you go except another part of the train? Trains basically trap you in an awkward space for a suitable enough length of time for anything to happen. A guy got stabbed on the underground recently, and they stop somewhere every minute.

And taxis, what the hell are they about. You can't even throw up in one nowadays!

I realise this is a weird thing to opine (again, is it just me?), and as I am wont to do I've taken it to some extremes to make my point clear. But basically, public transport's paradox of being a lonely experience, often a sorry excuse for a method of 'transport', usually late, never clean or pleasant, and in a country supposedly the most advanced in the world (of course, the actual infrastructure is usually at meltdown), I'm suffering from a case of PTD.

"When you're sad and feeling blue, with nothing better to do, don't just sit there feeling stressed, take a trip on the National Express!"
The Divine Comedy

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Too much time.

This week I will spend 9 hours in University, as required by my timetable. Next week I will spend 7. How, then, can I not find the time to comfortably do all my work? Somehow, I think that having so much free time during the week (Monday and Wednesdays off, for example) lulls me into the sense that I will always have time to do everything, because I really do. I have enough time to do it all. The trouble is I'm not distinguishing my time beforehand to do things, and the last minute. Still. And I've been doing this Uni lark for almost three years. Fuck.

Similarly, how can so much free time go so fast? (When you're spending too much money, I suspect). What have I filled it with? It's now the eighth week of term, I can barely remember two weeks worth of it that actually stand out. Weekends blur into the week, nights out seem like one ungodly 24 hour mess, I've lost count of the amount of games I've had on Pro Evo. By the end of the year it will match my dissertation's 10,000. Do people ever learn? I'm worried I haven't, still. I've learnt a lot at Uni, and I've changed for the better because of it. But now I'm concerned that I've got a final lesson to learn, one last big hurdle to jump, which I've not seen coming and really should have.

Nevermind. I know that I have the aptitude to do this, and do it well eventually. I think I need something to stun me into action now, rather than thinking this time next year "Shit, I wish I hadn't slacked my way to a 2:2 after all." This week I've had some really disappointing feedback on some of my work, and I know I'm better than that. I think I needed it, though. Not everything is going to fall into place for me at this stage. These last two and a half weeks of term one, year three, I'm really going to throw myself into it all and get back on my highway to success.

That said, I'm still going out friday and having a house party saturday. Ole!

Monday, October 16, 2006

So shoot me.

I saw this and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

Comic has been removed because it is Breast Cancer Awareness day today (27/10/2006)!

Because as they once said in Blackadder; "if you can't laugh, what can you do?"

And the answer was; "Take up politics perhaps."

And I'm not about to embark on that career just to cut short my tendency to see the funny side of just about anything. I realise that this joke is distasteful, in fact tasteless, but the BEP reference in the 3rd picture literally had me in stitches. I guess I'll remove it if I get enough "My aunt this" type responses, but for now, since you can't shoot the messenger, it stays. I had planned to put it on my MySpace, now THAT'S risque. But I haven't, I'm too scared.

To be honest, jokes with realistic endings are the in thing for Uni students. When you're this intelligent, when you're the cultural hub of society, when the future is ours and we are the future, what we say goes and at the moment, not funny is funny. Check out, also, for more brilliant observational jokes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Back to Uni! Yay.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day it's a new life, for me -

and I'm feeling good. Yep, it's back in Bournemouth for me, for my third (and final! Christ!) year at the University, and I cannot wait. The lucky but now a lot poorer fresher's Fortnight's been and gone, my birthday was dreadfully drunken, and I get Mondays and Wednesdays off til Christmas. Result!

Unfortunately, this continues my frankly shocking summer post ratio of about one a month, but with less time to party this year and more days off, I hope to be back blogging regularly. After all, it's good to talk.

Already slipping quickly back into the Bournemouth routine (checks clock - 1:06am - yep), this year promises to be a work hard/play hard split. It's really, now more than ever, time to knuckle down. But I think the year's work also promises to be interesting and stimulating, if a little frustrating from time to time. The new iMacs are awesome though.

Anyway I'm bored of talking about Bournemouth Uni. I want to talk about the Bournemouth-based insurance brokers Alan and Thomas Ltd, who have BANNED the signing of birthday cards by people in the office as comments made in the cards could be offensive under the new Employment Equality laws. New measures hot on age discrimination means that somehow, jokes made in birthday cards about a person's age could be considered harrasment. The brokers' solution is to send every member of staff a generic birthday card on their special day, signed by the directors.

Great. Typical old people in Bournemouth kicking up a fuss about being old. How cliched. Now we can't even sign birthday cards without offending people. And I had such plans for my black, gay, neo-nazi, patriotic uncle's 90th card. And what's even more pathetic is that a generic birthday card is about the worst solution possible! Who wants that? No imagination, nothing personal about it, no meaning behind it: it certianly won't be the thought that counts when you get "from the board at Alan and Thomas Ltd Ma PhD BSC" in your one office card with a picture of a greenhouse in autumn on it.

It's PC gone mad. Except you can't say mad. It's PC gone mentally unstable.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Far be it from me, as a mere Media student, just starting out on the ladder to media and literary wisdom, to attempt to genuinely critique a successful stage play; a piece 20 years old, rejuvanated this year for its slant on the fickle industry of newspaper journalism. But, since I have no such qualms about doing it towards music, I'm going to give it a shot anyway.

'Pravda', by David Hare and Howard Brenton, takes the shape of a South African entrepanuer, who basically is protrayed throughout as a tyrant, coming into the English media with a view to making money at the expense of the trade. His arrogant Australian accountant might be just more than a subtle nod toward contemporary media mogul Rupert Murdoch, though the play's actual press baron character Lambert Le Roux is far, far more outlandishly written than any real life media owner, despite apprently being based on a 1980s Murdoch. Le Roux aquires a regional paper, and a scene or two later acquires a national, respected paper through his money-based persuasion of a Government member, and his smooth-talking manner. Setting about creating a media monopoly, he assures everyone he won't interfere with editorial freedom - before in the next scene firing about 6 people without reason, and declaring that he wants news; at the expense of truth (Pravda).

The rest of it plays out in a rather predictabe modern tragedy manner; Andrew, the hero (ish), as Editor of the Victory, tries to publish a big story about Government cover ups, in the interest of a free press. Le Roux disagrees and fires Andrew, who vows revenge. Conveniently, the editors, journalists and MP that Le Roux has made enemies of during the play meet, and conspire to out bid Le Roux for the The Daily Usurper, yet another paper he is supposed to be buying out - on secret information from his apparently disillusioned accountant.

The information is false, however, and was a ploy to get Andrew, now Editor of the Usurper, to make the claims Le Roux's accountant gave him, in order to be in a legal position to sue him. This takes place in a frankly bizarre scene set on the Yorkshire Moors, where Le Roux has engineered 'bumping into' Andrew, alone, and immediately crushes his spirit of revenge, issuing him with a legal writ and making him beg for forgiveness. Andrew does, and the final scene sees him editor of some dross nationalistic tabloid, trying to find the best pair of tits for that paper's competition. Andrew has become everything he was against at the beginning of the play, a tabloid editor, and another pawn of Le Roux's.

So that's the play. Is it really relevant to today? For a start, that strange scene on the Moors might well imply Le Roux's overpowering, irrepressable influence over a man's life, but to watch it it seemed absurd, outlandishly written to make a less outlandish point. Then there's the way in which Le Roux acquires 4 papers on stage, and we're led to believe more during the play's span. The fact is, it just doesn't happen like that anymore. There's more taking over football clubs than there is taking over papers nowadays. The satire behind the play aimed at a fickle industry where money rules all is still applicable, but now, 'Pravda' is outdated in the way it conveys it. Yes, stockholders and shareowners can have a large amount of influence in their media projects, but modern day media is influenced as much by advertiser pressure and audiences as it is their owners. And, since it was written 20 years ago, that isn't catered for in Pravda.
In fact, Pravda simply presents us with the usual suspects. It was Murdoch then, and it's Murdoch again now. Tabloids are portrayed in a shabby, sordid light, but then, tabloids are still, so no change there then. Pravda hits the right note with its portrayal of the shady minister, corrupted by fame and small fortunes. Indeed, politics and the media are more intrinsically linked these days - both rely on each other for success, and the 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' relationship seemed the most approriate part of Pravda. Sadly, it was not the point of the play, proclaiming as it does to be a satire on the media industry.

Rather ironic, really, as it is the media industry which has heralded the return of this play.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When in Rome, do as the Romans do (and not what the terrorists want)

Never one to miss out on the thick of the action, last week I coincided flying out on my one holiday of the year with the day terrorist cells attempted to blow up 10 transatlantic flights. Somewhat remarkably, in my opinion, none of the planes went down, as the entire plan was foiled before it could at all get underway. Somehow, the press and public seem to have mistaken the operation preventing the biggest united terrorist action in history for a deliberate attempt to ruin holidays and bring airports into disorder. Usually the first to lay into the Labour running of the country, even I can recognise how 10 plane loads of living people and chaos at airports is better than 10 plane loads of people in pieces and hysteria at airports.

But I suppose, I was one of the luckier ones. (Not as lucky as those who would have been on the targetted planes, but close). My flight to Rome being at 6:40am, and with the news only flitering through at the time I and my friend Jon were checking in (4:45am), we were one of the very few planes, as it turned out, that were even allowed to consider leaving. Gatwick, as I later heard, grounded most flights for the rest of the day, while Easyjet valiantly tried (and I hope succeeded) in getting all the flights they had scheduled to leave before 8:15am away. Eventually, 4 and a half hours later, EZY5253 was up up and away, with its passengers carrying nothing but wallets and keys.

Again, my annoyance at losing most of my Thursday in Rome should be considered in the context of actually getting out of the country on the right day at least. Rome, in any case, was fantastic. The whole reason I went out was to meet three friends who are travelling Europe, as a surprise: unfortunately the plane situation meant having to give it away in order to meet them. Still. The city was constantly buzzing, a lively air about the place, yet most of the Italians were completely relaxed about life. I managed to see most of the sights: the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, Vatican City - St Pietro. While we were there, the Pope (the actual POPE) gave his Sunday speech thing, just around the corner from the live feed I watched in St Peter's Square. He spoke 7 languages as well. Impressive, Pope.

Much beer was had, though only at regular intervals and only once mass consumed for getting very, very drunk. Ice cream, pizza and pasta was basically our diet, with a bit of apple tobacco for good measure. Numerous in-jokes and you-had-to-be-there stories arose from the 4 days I was out there, which I won't bore you with. It also took a lot more out of my bank account than I'd hoped to, but you can't put a price on good times. Except when you have an overdraft and no regular income, like me, in which case you need a Good Times Budget and quite possibly a Good Times Accountant.

It was nice to get out of the country for a while, desperately needed as well. I've not enjoyed living at home as much as I used to, I really want to get back to my Bournemouth way of life. Also, the summer's been shit in general due to the work experience, it has actually, in this many words, ruined my summer. The only brighter points have been the World Cup, the Rome holiday, cricket on hot July sundays, and next week, when sixteenpointeight go into the studio to record our fantabulous EP! Watch this space for more narcissistic plugging.

My lovely band

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

God is in the TV

Also, a quick plug.

The online zine I write for has had a spectacular revamp and now, as well as looking pretty, offers high quality and comprehensive reviews on the best of new unsigned music and current commercial arists. Register on the site, comment and get involved in the hottest re-newed music review site around.

Now you can search by my name, and see all the lovely stuff I've written, and avoid all the bands I've slated.

Lazing on a sunny afternoon...

Quite so, Ray Davies of The Kinks. That's all I seem to be doing. And why?

Because of stupid, goddamn pointless work experience. This is going to be one major, unedited, non-sensival (likely) rant. One of the things the Uni prides itself on is its employement rate after the course. Therefore, you'd think it would take some responsibility for its students' work experience. But has it? I can't help thinking, from a personal point of view, what a waste of time this whole placement idea is.

1. We received CV writing and interview advice in late January, during the busiest term of the year. Which meant:
2. Most people didn't start thinking about placements until the Easter break. Which was when people simultaneously started thinking about exams.
3. The Uni FORCES - that is, you must have it in order to pass onto year 3 - the 6 week minimum placement. A lot of places see that as a questionable length of time: what can you bring to a company, a major company where your experience will be worthwhile, in just 6 weeks? There aren't many places that see 6 weeks as a good time period: most offer 1-2 weeks, or several months to a year.
4. Because of THAT, nearly all companies are reluctant to pay for just 6 weeks, though most cover travel expenses. Which is still, not a wage.
5. And that means you have to spend 6 or more weeks of your summer not earning much needed money to cover the debt we've accumulated over the last year.
6. That's also assuming you have your placement sorted, 6 weeks, no more no less, no gaps, in one place: if you don't, you can't get paid work over the summer until you guarantee your work experience because that must come first otherwise you won't pass the year. Personally, I now won't have had ANY paid work over this summer, due to the 'neccessity' of organising a placement. Brilliant.
7. All the good places go very quickly. Most decent magazines, for example, fill their placement spots about a year in advance. Why weren't we warned that? Why is our placement guidance held back til January, when in retrospect you realise that it should have been the time for finalising a placement, not starting to think about it.

Of course, this doesn't apply if you signed up to a STEP placement, where although the placements aren't always quite suitable, everything else is sorted for you. The Uni, for some reason, didn't see fit to advertise how useful that scheme is however, instead presenting it as an unglamorous alternative.

To sum up those interweaving, mish mashed points: Your often non-paid, not-particularly suitable placement is enforced otherwise you fail your course. It's a key part of the degree, and one students are interested to have, yet the Uni is inclined to sit back and let it add to students' pressing problems. If it's such a valuable element of the course for your students, why isn't it addressed so? It seems, at the moment, and I have no doubt come October it will seem the same: a complete waste of time.

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm sorry Cromitor

Crime Monitor! Find me some crime to fight!

Alas, I don't have a crime monitor (Cromitor). So there's another excuse for it being a month since I last blogged gone. The last two weeks, I've been completing work experience at a PR company in Havant called HarvestPR. It's been very valuable, but ultimately quite time consuming work and for no wage. I might get a nominal sum for my work (which was, I hasten to add, valuable to the company as well as me) but not actually paid. I did get my own e-mail address though!

So this week, in light of hopefully starting a 3-week placement in London either next monday or the following, I've generously allowed myself some well-earned time off this week in order to see people, play football and guitar, and get up late. Especially since I passed year 2 of Uni last week, 62 overall for the year, which I'm obviously pleased about.

Anyway, in my last post I realised I mentioned getting addicted to Big Brother which is of course, a lie. In the same way as people can't help but stare at a horrendous car crash, in wonder at other humans' mortality and death, Big Brother is the same on tv. Train wreck TV (I think it's an actual term - I'll ask Bronwen). There's something, not addictive, maybe it's human nature, to look at other people so more unfortunate than yourself. It was only good, as in interesting, to watch while Grace was in there manipulating everyone to her own ends, which is the point as it's a game show, and generally being ace. Now, in desperation to save a dying programme, the producers chuck in 5 or 6 new people (most even more train wreck tv victims than the original lot) in a SECOND HOUSE, OMG LIEK NEIGHBOURS, in the hope that something interesting might happen. Which hasn't. Just more outrageous stupidity, people crying, playground level relationships. Thank god Nikki, with her 5 year old face and 4 year old intellect, has gone now, and that utter mess of a woman (she's a mother!!) Lea has gone back to her beloved children who she supports by making porn and leaves for 2 months to go on tv.

That's all for now. It's 30 degrees outside, I should be out sunning myself like a lizard on a Majorcan rock.

Friday, June 16, 2006

So long since blogging :(

It's getting on for 3 weeks since my last blog, and a lot has happened in those three weeks. I convinced myself I'd posted about exams, but I obviously haven't. Mainly, I guess, I've just been too busy to blog! But shall quickly wind up the events in the time since my last post.

Exams: The most recent post was probably the last ounce of time I had before I had to do nothing but revise, eat and sleep a bit before the Media exam 27/5/06. About 9:20am that day, the nerves hit me like a lorry. But I took my time at the beginning of the exam, and I thought it was a pretty kind paper all in all. Questions were specific but allowed for a lot of discussion. (If you didn't bother doing enough revision, then this won't apply to you. Unlucky.) Getting Media done was the biggie. Hard to revise for, hard to understand, hard to write about. So glad it was the first exam.

Then that left plenty of time to revise for Literature, and I managed to revise three texts, and thankfully none of the questions were dire. In fact, after doing the fairly gentle Heart of Darkness question first, I spent 10 minutes planning both Slaughterhouse-5 and Waiting for Godot answers. Eventually went for Godot as it was more specific and easier to make an argument from.

After Lit, though, there was no time to slack with Narrative just 48 hours away. But I slacked anyway, and went for a meal in the evening. The thursdsy was manic, dreadful. I'd already revised some about 2 weeks earlier before media, but that didn't really help when it came to going over them. Ended up spending the thursday revising Feminism, and glancing at Sitcoms, and went to bed not looking forward to the exam at all. The main reason was that I'd felt the first 2 exams to have been decent papers, and there was bound to be one bitch. And it was Bronwen.

Not exactly. Well, not exactly her. The paper wasn't "stick two pens up your nose and slam your head on the exam desk and puncture your brain" terrible. The questions were just worded in Bronwen's telling 'You better know what you're talking about' way, which meant the Feminist Q was out of bounds. The sitcom question was OK, but when did we ever do any work on Reality TV? It didn't matter though, as it simply gave me an excuse to tear into Big Brother for half an hour before I remembered the question. Oops.

But it was all forgotten 15 minutes later as everyone piled into Dylan's, then we went home and drunk, went out and drunk, and so on. Since then it's been a hazy mix of sunshine, sun burn, beer and football. Fantastic. If only I didn't have this stupid stupid work placement to waste half my summer (sorry, gain invaluable experience). I'd love to just spend my entire summer living how it is now, waking up mid morning, hitting the beach all afternoon, then seeing friends or going out in the evening. Alas, 'those were the best days of my life'.

Summer Ball: How awesome was THAT? Just the perfect day altogether. Watching England win in the World Cup at Bar Fruit which we had to ourselves, basically. Indeed, we were even stopped from going in originally because of a 'private function'.That private function was us!
Then getting ready and drinking and photos in the glorious sunshine was brilliant, and the Summer Ball really was the party to end the year. If you were there it doesn't need explaining. If you weren't, you don't deserve it explained. :)

That's it for now, posts on my Big Brother addiction and England's brilliant start to the world cup (2 games, 2 wins, no goals conceded, through into round 2 already?) to come.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Knives away

It's now a week since the knife amnesty began across the UK, and over 2 months since the West Midlands began their initial amnesty. In the last 3 weeks, there have been SEVEN high profile stabbings.

A police officer was killed in Wembley just over two weeks ago. In the next few days, a pupil was stabbed to death outside his school one afternoon, in front of pupils and parents alike. The DAY after, a health worker was stabbed to death by a patient. In the last week, two students were stabbed on a University campus, a man was stabbed and died on a train, another student was stabbed outside a school in Birmingham and yesterday, a man died after being stabbed, also in Birmingham. And this is in a period where knives are meant to be thrown anonymously into bins at police stations, this knife amnesty.

I may be wrong, but never can I remember so many highly covered stabbings in such a short space of time. Has the knife attention suddenly glamourised the crime? Are young people with knives vying for their 'slice' of the media limelight? (Sorry about the pun).

If things get any worse, people will be carrying knives around for protection, out of the sheer fear of being stabbed. The irony. And, some groups are even advocating girls carry knives for their protection at night. While in the opposite corner, groups are pressing for up to 5-year jail sentences for those caught in posession. Can't be both I'm afraid. And people using knives in 'self-defence' are always going to be in big, big trouble....

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Exams: one down, hardest one out the way. Went fairly well, I hope, and I mistakenly felt like the pressure was off when the reality is I have 2 in three days this week. Literature is a pain to revise, re-reading texts I'm not hugely fond of. But it being such a subjective exam makes for much less stress.

The stress isn't helped though by having one and a half days (and that's assuming you get up at a reasonable time - which I won't) to revise for Narrative. Even if you've already revised the topics, going back over them is going to feel stressful knowing the exam's the next day. But maybe it's the presure I've needed. I just couldn't get motivated to revise much before a week prior to my first exam. I had to revise backwards, in a way, what with no time to revise Narrative directly before it, and the pressure just wasn't there.

And the weather's getting better! Revision is going to be so hard with everyone else at the beach. But come friday, and it is so going to be worth it. The word celebration will be forever illustrated by the photos that come from friday night's messy, messy affairs.

Interestingly, and quite worryingly, I can distinctly rememeber blogging about exams this time last year. Where have the last 365 days gone?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Hard rock? Hallelujah...

Monsters. Five sisters from Denmark in skimpy outfits. An abundance of cheesey ballads. Short skirts. Politics. Being anti-france. It could only be one globally televised event: The Eurovision Song Contest 2006.

As usual the standard of song was atrocious. Weak lyrical efforts about the heart, disco beats bashed out in minutes, songs based on football terrace anthems: it seems that there is an entire style of song that is only suited to the Eurovision. The UK's entry, jesus christ. 'Teenage Life', it was called, and it was about as out of touch with British teenagers as you could get. The 'rapper' Daz Sampson, looked a) about 35 and b) as if he'd just left the kebab shop where he worked. So PAINFUL. Surprisingly, it picked up a few points and we didn't do as badly as 2 years ago when we finished 2nd last (though that might have had something to do with the Iraq war). Finland's entry, Lordi, bucked the love balled/cheesy disco trend with an all out mock heavy metal song, dressing up like extras from the Lord Of The Rings. And won. Oh.

But the Eurovision isn't, and probably never has been, about music. The tactical voting was out again in ever-so-obvious force: particularly the Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, who clustered around each other all night, exchanging maximum points with each other. The countries with enough clout to go it alone globally (in the real world, you might say, outside of Finnish Orcs and Danish meat) such as France and UK suffered. France in fact came perilously close to not getting a point at all. That would have been the creme de la creme of a night of purely comical entertainment.

It's lucky that the Eurovision is so out of touch with music, because the British votes were diabolical. Surprisingly, in my view, voting in the Irish song (a below average Westlife affair) as third best, we still saved our ludicrous votes for the top 2 spots. Voting in Lithuania's entry as second was a joke. The entry itself was a joke: 6 men all about 40, singing "We are the winners of Eurovision! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!" almost endlessly, in the style of football hooligans. Yet we deemed that to be the second best song. Naturally though, the British and their eye for the ironic followed suit with most other countries and awarded the Finnish monsters maximum points for their Iron Maiden pastiche. Full marks for the dressing up. The British appreciate effort.

Sadly though, it only seemed to further confirmed the trend seen in the other programme where public voting features so much, Big Brother: that the British tv-watching voting public will always vote for the circus freaks, the spectacle and the ridiculous.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Christ, Big Brother 7 starts today.

I am aware of the irony that blogging about a show I hate and think should be taken off air gives it more exposure and means I'm getting involved with it. But at least this involvement is me airing a damning opinion on the bastard programme.

Another three (maybe four?) months of watching nobodies become somebodies because they're a bunch of twats who, if you put them in a house together for several months, are fairly obviously going to have flings, or have fights. Brilliant.

"I know! Let's put a good looking girl in there, and some guys!"
"Yeah, yeah, and we can have a gay guy too!"
"What about someone who isn't English? You know, just to mix it up?"
"Yeah! Lads, we've got a programme and a half on our hands!!!"

The tv feeds the tabloids who feed the tabloid reading masses who care about this sort of bile who feed the programme again. It's a vicious, pointless cycle. I don't know which is sadder: people getting incredibly involved in other normal everyday people's lives, or people watching life play out on the TV, as if it's somehow different to what goes on in real life because it's on TV. It's fucking sad.

Putting a guy in who has Tourettes? Well, that will make funny TV viewing for about 7 seconds, seeing someone who can't help but swear randomly every so often. In the end, he'll probably be one of the cleaner-mouthed people on there, seeing as the housemates this series seem the likely bunch of tarts and idiots that always get on, with the token lesbian, Muslim, vegan or whatever thrown in just so everyone can't get along. Poor old George Orwell. He must be turning in his grave to think that his revolutionary novel is never going to be the first thing to spring to people's minds when someone says Big Brother, and worse, what an entirely circus spectacle it has shockingly become.

I might still watch a bit of this, because sadly otherwise I'll be out of the loop for most conversation that'll take place over the summer. Until June 9th, that is, when the World Cup starts. Ha ha! Have that girls, Channel 4 and Big Brother! Men will be talking about football on BBC and ITV for months, and you'll be stuck with your pointless little people being twats for the cameras. Yeah.

FUCK off, BB7.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tim 1, Blogger 0

A quick post: and I thought I wasn't learning much at Uni...

So I was deleting a comment from my last post because it was an ugly spam comment of no use at all, when I suddenly realised that my links to other websites and other blogs were missing from my sidebar. Upon checking my template, I found that they'd just disappeared. For no apparent reason; Blogger had taken away the carefully organised section of my blog that I'd put in for networking the small group of us that carry on blogging.

However, Blogger, you hadn't reckoned on me being something of an amatuer in Dreamweaver, had you? No longer is the 'edit template' section of Blogger an overwhelming abundance of meaningless numbers, words, and phrases. Thanks to dreamboat Dreamweaver Will, I know a thing or two about code now, and in 15 minutes they were all restored back to normal. It even gave me the confidence to try a fancy link in a comment on Kate R's site. Which worked!

So Blogger, until next time. And to everyone else out there, code isn't insurmountable. Together, we can beat it! And THEN, we can join it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

TV comes the worst possible time

With exams looming and yet more pieces of work still due in, I can't remember a time for ages, certainly not since I began Uni, where TV has been so watchable. Just taking today (Sunday) for example, I got up, watched the Grand Prix, watched Sky Sports News for the last day of football of the season, then had a break til Top Gear at 8, England World Cup Heroes at 9, The Office at 10, and Match of the Day at 10:45- 12:15am! I spent around 4 consecutive hours watching this evening, and around 3 hours during the day. Not how I should be spending my time.

But, more generally, there are more programmes on that I watch regularly now than in a long long time. The fantastic awesomeness of improbability that is Lost series 2 has finally begun, while the brilliant unique laugh out loud comedy of Green Wing is carrying on on fridays (repeated saturday nights). Added to that is the new series of Top Gear, every sunday. And, new student favourite replacing Countdown, Deal or No Deal, is every weekday! Now I won't admit to watching DOND every day, but it certainly hasn't lost its charm. I think the charm relies on the ease of relation to the contestants, in that there is absolutely no skill involved, you just spend 45 minutes seeing how lucky you are on national television. Anyone could be a winner.

That isn't to mention the feast of football that has been on in the evenings recently, and still two more finals to come between now and exams. Thank god the exams are out the way before the world cup starts, or I'd have actually failed them.

I've never been a big fan of TV, especially when it's so hard, among the thousands of programmes on hundreds of channels, to find something good on. For example, ITV is basically The Sun in tv channel format, while Channel 4 is being very hit and miss, not least with the sensationalist style of its news programmes recently. The BBC continues to fuck me off by commissioning some real crap, including Titty Titty Bang Bang, countless bargain hunting/auctioning/holiday home programmes, and the drivel that is Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps. It has done even better by giving us a new show by the same writers. Brilliant oversight. So, it has come as some surprise to me to find that at the moment, I'm actually spending quite some time in front of the idiot box.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Vote BNP (well, don't, but lots of people are)


Like tempers in the middle of a riot, there has been a sudden flare up of interest in the far-right/fascist policies that the BNP offers as an 'alternative' to the politics of other parties. Coinciding with the upcoming local elections, the pressure seems to be on the favourites to address issues of immigration more seriously in order to avoid embarrassment by losing local seats to parties such as the BNP, Respect and UkIP.

Quite why this has escalated so quickly recently I'm not sure. Maybe it has something to do with a similar US situation just now, where Bush is pushing for tougher laws on immigration. This has, incidentally, resulted in mass protests this week advocating the value of the 'immigrant workforce' and citizenship.

It also ironically coincides with the three linked firebombings recently in London, all Asian-owned business. There's nothing like a racist attack to put things into perspective. Yes, the BNP proposes stronger actions on the immigration issue than other parties. Perfectly aceptable. The trouble is, that's all some people need to be convinced. Dig a little deeper (indeed, just LOOK at the surface, nevermind scratch it) and the racist undertones to the BNP are clear to see. Log on to their homepage, and the first sentence you're hit with is this: Can you just sit there and watch as our country is being ripped apart by the forces of multiculturalism?

For a country supposedly one of the most economically, technologically and socially developed in the world, there's a lot of backwards thinking still rife in certain areas. We can do without more and more people subscribing to such views.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

When the going gets tough/yay English football!

the tough watch a video of a cat falling asleep. Nevermind dreamweaver8, exams, revision, not being motivated to do any of them, just imagine you own this cat. If only we all had one.

Kudos tonight to Middlesborough, who for the second time in 3 weeks, had to score 4 goals in a European match to win, and did. English teams to make a clean sweep of the footballing trophies?

Arsenal to win the Champions League? Hmmm. Unlikely since they're playing Barca, by far and away the best team in Europe this last year, though it's just the sort of arrogant thing the bastards would do:
Lehman: "Oh look we won the Champions League, how the hell did we do that?" Henry: "Nevermind, we're clearly amazing, but I'm off to Barca anyway".

'Boro to win the UEFA Cup? Well it's an easier task than Arsenal's. Sevilla are no mugs though, and are easily the best side Boro will have had to play since Roma. Can't see them pulling three unlikely wins off in a row.

England to win the World Cup? The 'best chance since 1966' brigade are so right. England have a world class squad through the whole team. On our day, we could beat Brazil, Argentina, Germany. On an off day, we could lose to Paraguay. If we avoid Germany in the first knock-out round, I think we could overcome anyone else at any stage until the final, and who knows then.

And post-world cup, a new foreign coach era! Luiz Felipe Scolari is all but appointed into the role of England Manager fron August 1st. It seems to have divided opinion however, but it's a clueless divide to me. Scolari is clearly qualified for an international job - he's been in the final of the most recent World Cups and European Championships - and compared to the English candidates (today I even heard bloody Steve Bruce as an option) he's a different class. Out of the three main English contenders, only one (Sam Allardyce) is managing a club in the top half of the English premier league. (If you include Pearce, that's 1/4). None of the English contenders have had overwhelming club success: Curbishley has enjoyed another below average season with Charlton for about the 8th season running, McLaren's Middlesborough have been slumming it in the lower mid table, and have reached a clup competition final for just the second time in 9 years, and this season, Bolton's wheels are drastically falling off at the crucial time. There isn't an English manager with the track record to say 'I can win England trophies'. So to Scolari, welcome.

Overall though, it's been a superb season for English football. Chelsea have won the league, Man U have won the (mickey mouse) Carling Cup, Liverpool or West Ham are going to win the FA Cup, and some new faces will be in Europe next year (from Tottenham, Blackburn, Bolton, Newcastle, West Ham). If both our teams could take the European cups to have 5 different English teams with trophies, I'd take that.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Too long...

Ridiculously, this is my first post for three weeks. Now, obviously, back at Uni, internet access is constant, I have finally got round to setting aside an hour or so to post a blog, as usual by running into the early hours of the morning with a 9am start to get up for.

The main reason I haven't blogged for a while is two words which, incidentally, have been the reason I haven't done a lot of things: "Bloody Marketing". Literally spent the last 2 weeks fof Easter holidays doing it during the day time, and was still finishing it a day before. As a result, professional writing suffered. Badly.

Anyway, blogging as citizen journalism, or a hobby, or a nerdy thing, whatever, has come up within Uni a couple of times, especially about the content and use of blogs. Are they democratic? Is everyone writing and no one reading? What should they be for?

The reason why I attempt not to fill my blog up with drivel is because I would feel hard done by if I made the effort to read someone's blog and was faced with such a sorry excuse for writing. It isn't personal content I'm against, it's irrelevant personal content. Posts like "he looked my way today. we had a moment. yes i cant believe it seth noticed me today at last!" that are just, I don't know, ngngngngngng. There's no other way to describe it. I suppose if I could summarise it into one sentence, it would be 'blogs shouldn't be a platform for glorifying idle chit chat". Anything I put in about myself, I at least try to make it relevant to the people who I think are reading this. Failing that, at least humorous. At least, if you're going to talk only about yourself, make it INTERESTING for other people, that's all I ask! If you write blogs for yourself, why make it public? Expecting people to care what you've got to say is self-indulgent enough without expecting them to care about your pointless 'dirty laundry'.

However, I do think that blogging is very important because the internet is going to be at the forefront or a central mode of technological communication for the forseeable future. Why wouldn't it be? The internet provides the link between people to absolutely anything and everything. So in my opinion, blogging, the local journalism of the internet public sphere, shouldn't be remarkable for its collective lack of interest to anyone outside of the author, nor for a complete lack of grammar and spelling. Ha ha ha!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Easter break...

It speaks volumes that in this Easter break so far, this is only the second time I've had time to update the blog. A nice three week break from University, after a demanding term has been almost as busy so far.

First week I spent writing and re-writing my CV and numerous covering letters, getting addresses and posting them off. Am now thinking that failing to gain 6 weeks work experience equals failing the course is a little harsh. And then this week, I've spent about 4 hours a day so far doing reading for Marketing. 4 hours....a day....reading. There's no way I'm even going to be able to start writing it this week! Partly because I'm going to Norwich this weekend for a wedding. I might just use a few of Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson's tips though while I'm there....

Also, while I'm having a moan, I have no money, no paid work, and I want to go out approximately three times next week. People to see, people to...see.

But I got a new phone yesterday, a lovely Sony Ericsson W800i. It's so pretty! And does loads of things apparently, but the important thing is I got it free. Getting new stuff to play with is GREAT, no matter how old you are.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

EU police to shoot Brits

Well, kind of. Here's one for the nationalists, and the 'life means life' brigade.

Under discussion in *this* country by *this* Goverment (not Brussels) are possible new agreements on EU laws: the relaxing of certain rules under which continental polices forces must operate when in this country. It is in the hope that this will allow British police to work under similarly relaxed conditions when they go onto the Continent in pursuit of criminals.

At the moment, the agreement clause as it stands says that foreign police in this country are allowed to carry weapons (even though they should only be used in self-defence, according to the treaty) - which is why, until now, the British Government have not agreed to it. Britsh rules mean foreign officers must leave their arms at their 'port of entry', and can only spend 5 hours hunting their suspects independently before they have to notify british police forces.

So here we have a juxtaposition of issues for all those who frown upon the EU. We don't want goddamn Frenchies catching our crooks do we? Why, it undermines our boys! They're taking the Mickey out of our Bobbies, our own police force...on our own soil!
That's all very well until a criminal being persued by EU police kills someone or commits a crime in this country, and the EU police in question were held back by red tape preventing them from apprehending the criminal.

At the other extreme, passing this legislation could instantly mean many more armed officers in Britain, which is a good thing for those concerned with how well criminals in Britain are treated these days - but the last time the country was caught up in catching international criminal hysteria, an innocent Brazilian was shot dead and the Met. Police spun a cover story out in the media about it.

So there we go. On one hand, tougher times for criminals are in the offing. On the other, yet another of our country's institutions is now adhering to EU laws. Whichever way the Government goes, you can bet the Mail, Express, Sun and Mirror will be screaming about it.

Thought for tonight, adapted from Slaughterhouse 5.

- "Boy, they sure picked the wrong guy to pick on!"
That idea has a brother. If there are wrong people to pick on, then there must be right people to pick on. -

Doesn't that seem to apply to the world at the moment.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Blogs, essay ownership and copyright

I think it is safe to say that, for me, the feature article due in earlier today was the most enjoyable deadline I've had to meet all year, with the possible exception of the radio script. It led me to wonder, though, what issues arise were I to post the feature on my blog tonight?

For starters, it's all my own work. I've not referenced any other authors, used any other work from anywhere else. Now, however, that I've handed it in to be assessed by the University, who does the copyright belong to?

Are there issues with making work available on the internet before it is assessed? Does the University own the copyright while it's in their hands for the moment? How can they, when I have proof on my laptop that it is my own work? I mean, if I was to post an essay of mine up, complete with references, what's wrong with that? Nothing as far as I can see. And, as long as I put 'Copyright Tim Miller 2005/2006' at the end of the post, then hopefully the person reading it would reference me as well, instead of stealing it the dirty cheating bastards.

It's mainly that question of whether a piece of work that carries marks towards a degree can be published before it's marked. If I'd put it up online on monday (except I hadn't finished it by then) then I could have gained feedback from people and adjusted my work. I could have got top journalists to give it a glance if I was really organised. So what happens if I put a piece of work in my blog, and, say, it gets published for a website, before I get the mark back? Does anyone bother? Or is it no problem at all? It's not that I'm bothered about how good the piece is, it's whether I can use te piece for my own reasons even though it's been written specifically for my degree, before it's been assessed.

I wouldn't have any qualms about putting my work I've had back online, except that I'd much rather set up a site which you have to pay a small sum a month to access, and stick all my work on there. There's no such thing as a free degree, after all, first years.

(p.s: any new students: My media essay in Year 1 got an 80. I'll sell the rights to it for £25 o.n.o)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Being hungover isn't really a passable excuse for missing 4 hours worth of University today. I mean it IS an excuse, in that it's the truth, but it's not an acceptable one. Especially when Wednesday and Thursday are off, and there's only 3 hours on Friday.

But, having seen 10 out of the 11 deadlines met this term, in what has been the hardest 2 and a half months of my life, this final week has become strictly business: get the last deadline met, and party hard. This week will be the first time since January that I've had 2 nights out in one week. And boy was last night heavy. But cheap! I went to the Firestation with a tenner, woke up this morning with a fiver...and that included gate-crashing the night shift at ASDA for a sandwich.

What's bad is that once I realised I was in control of my spinning head (at 1pm or so), I started looking forward to going through the exact same routine on friday. That IS bad: usually when you wake up with a hangover, you promise yourself never to touch an alcholic drink again. You don't think, 'hmmm I can't wait til the next time I get to drink as many whiskey/cokes as I can see to hold". Or you shouldn't. But I did! Uh oh. Surely people don't become immune to alcohol...

Anyway, my gift to you all for reading this self-musing drivel today is Take 20 minutes to wacth the episodes one by one and laugh until you cry. And then watch the awesome movie trailer.

"I'm Paperwork Dan, the paperwork man! (Extends arm). Rah ha ha ha."
"And in what way are you an evil supervillain?"
"I do EVIL paperwork! Rah ha ha ha."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Winding down for the term...or not

It's friday: my dissertation proposal is in, the two deadlines due this week are in, there's only one out of 11 set this term left, it's Easter break in a week, I haven't gone out tonight so I could have a week off. So why did I have dinner at 1am and am still up at 2:13am tonight?

I went to see Southampton vs Liverpool Youth FA Cup semi final second leg (in Southampton) instead of hitting the town, as a less eventful way to end the week, a week which concludes the hardest period of time at University I've had yet. As it happened, by going to see the football I've not saved any more money than by going out, I've come home angry and freezing cold, and the time I post this will actually be about the time I would be getting in from theoldfirestation anyway, only it will be harder to get to sleep because I'm not semi-passing out with alcohol.

And, although work pressures this term are more or less off, superhero Jill Quest (POW!) has put the fear of God into everyone by detailing just how hard our assignment due in after Easter is going to be. On top of that, exams are looming and I need to work close to full time over the break if I'm to escape into credit with HSBC (and only when the loan comes in!).

Naturally, the final week of a long hard term promises to be a release. They don't call the last friday night at TOFS 'Bedlam' for nothing. It is going to be, needs to be, must be, will be, manic.

When I think of something more interesting to write, I will. In the meantime, if you're reading this, please please read some of my more opinionated posts and disagree, or agree with them, and COMMENT on them. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Who rests on a Sunday anymore?

"On the seventh day, God rested".

Surely if God himself can rest, then why doesn't anyone else? This struck me as I struggled into Uni at 2:30pm on a Sunday afternoon, bleary eyed (from getting up, not hungover). University students doing work on Sundays. Lecturers presumably preparing for the week ahead.
Kids play football matches all day long on Sundays. I should know, it used to be me. Professional footballers play as well. The sunday games are some of the biggest games on offer over a season.
And as for commercialism, well. It never sleeps. Shops open at least 10-4 on a sunday now, and customers bemoan the legal ties preventing them from purchasing anything after 4:30pm.

This either shows a general move further into a secular society, which is pretty obviously going on anyway. Or, does it mean that demands on people in a contemporary world force people to be on the go 7 days a week, every week? There is nothing anymore that can be put off until the day after, it's all about now, today.

Students are right after all. All this getting up at 2pm in the afternoon is simply making the most of it before the rest of our lives are lived around 7am weekeday alarms and lie ins at weekend allowing us until 8:30 (or 8 if the kids have football at 9).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"People that are weaker than you and I..."

"...they take what they want from life."

Here is my very simple philosophy on life. It's narcissistic, individualistic and quite possibly, hideously arrogant.

You only have one life. Regardless of whether you believe in reincarnation, even if you do come back, you don't know you've come back do you? You DO know that at any moment you could die. You don't want to die unhappy. You want to die poor, but only after living richly. (What's the point in having money when you're dead?) You want to die knowing you've lived a full, or fulfilling life.

So, there's no other way of looking at it as far as I can see. Basically, in life: always look out for number one.

Be nice to people, be polite, have friends, have amazing friends, love. Be a good person, as good as you can. But don't do anything, ever, that means you suffer at your own personal expense. Because it's your life alone, and it's not for ANYONE to make it bad for you. If they do, get ahead, get away, get out. Don't let people who are weaker than you push you around. Lend a hend, but don't get taken for a ride. Have compassion, but there's no need to feel too bad: if there's suffering in the world, it's not your fault. Don't feel guilty. Be thankful it's not you, and be determined to take your chance.

Whatever religion you are, or not, you are living your life for you alone. You have to think that you're better than everyone else. Why? Because if you don't value YOURSELF about anyone else, then you're undermining the value of your life. And your life is all you have. That's a pretty terrible state to be in. Why else? Because otherwise, anyone can walk all over you and tread you into the ground, along with all the other of Life's "also-rans".

Again; be a great person. Be the best person people who know you know. Be loyal, loving, caring, friendly. Make others happy (as long as they deserve it).

But always, always, always, look out for number one.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Work, work, work.

19th January - Literature essay - 1,250 words
2nd February - Professional Writing script opening - 1,000 words
3rd February - Visual Communications project - 32 page portfolio.
13th February - Media essay - 2,500 words
23rd February - News Story - 400 words
2nd March - 16 page Research Project - 2,250 words
9th March - Narrative essay - 1,250 words

Yeah so it's been a fun last 8 weeks. The next three?

16th March - Literature essay - 1,250 words
17th March - Internet critique - 700 words
23rd March - Feature article - 800 words
23rd March - Academic essay - 900 words. (by petition, this has now been moved to after Easter).

It's been all laughs this term, I can assure you.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Strike while PowerPoint's still hot

Firstly, the 9 days between this post and last have just flown by so quickly. After my last post, I guess, there was the small matter of the news writing excercise, though that really took an hour's writing and a few hours of editing. Wasn't hard at all, which probably isn't good news for my marks. Then after that, there remained exactly a week to complete my research project: a 2,250 project based on an interview you conducted yourself, then relate your findings to previous research. So, in the last 7 days, I have completed my research project; that is, started it, do the reading read for the lit. review, written the lit. reivew, prepared and recorded the interview, written up the interview, written the methodology, work out what my findings were, write that up, and evaluate it all. So start and finish in 7 days. And that's being generous, I've basically done everything bar the background reading in the last 72 hours. Will it show? Time will tell.

Or will it? Leading me on to the point of this post; the up-coming lecturers' strike on Tuesday March 7th. The main point is; if their demands are not met, lecturers will work on a contract-only basis; which means, not working outside of timetabled hours. Which means not marking any work. Which means students don't get their marks. Which means we can't pass our units, our year, or if you're unlucky this year, your degree.

It's some threat to make, certainly. And it hits where it's likely to hurt; us, the students, who aren't the problem, who can't do anything about the problem, and who are the real losers in this battle. We pay our £1150 a year to be in higher education, (and thank god that's all until the unlucky sods starting University in 2007 get hit with top-up fees). Anyway, it is not possible to say "the students pay the lecturers' wages" and actually prove it. But essentially, the students' fees go to the University budgets, and the lecturers' wages come out of the University budgets. So...

It would be different if the professors and doctors and the Mrs Jones PhD, MA, PI etc decided to stop teaching instead, until their demands are satisfied. The students could still independently do the work, though this is in theory and would probably not actually happen. But still, the student is getting the rewards for the amount of work they put in, not putting in the work and then having to wait for TU action to decide when the rewards are given. On a side note, if lecturers refuse to mark work for the time-being, then why should students bother meeting deadlines?

This is by-the-by, of course, because it's all still yet to happen. But if it does happen, from where I'm standing, the students are the losers in the battle between the Government and NATFHE.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Going Cold Turkey - why bother?

Channel 4's grim new experiment in the name of - who knows what? Science? Education? Entertainment? - well, whatever, sees 3 heroin addicts go from being regular drug users, as they have been, for the last x years of their life (in all cases, more than 10), to cold turkey straight away: no comedown, no rehab, just straight into a clinic and no drugs. It's barely educational. It's too grim for entertainment. How might science benefit? At best, it might be reality TV - the problem is certainly real enough, dealing as it does with the reality of the destroyed bodies of heroin which, if the project is successful, may raise the self-esteem of those trying to kick drugs and maybe raise the awareness of the drug problem in many cities nationwide.

The show pits a bizarre mix of Big Brother-esque live footage from creative camera angles and serious comment together, fronted by Channel 4 News' respectable Krishnan Guru-Murthy. The background 'story' footage contained needles being inserted into legs, heroin being smoked and captured the eyes of one user who's dull eyes before her fix seemed ready to pop out afterwards. 'Live' footage sees 26 year old Darren throwing up the contents of his stomach over his bed, his face and his clothes before trying to go back to sleep (I think they had all been heavily sedated going into the Big Brother house, I mean clinic).

While the images may be hard-hitting, it is hard to feel too much sympathy for the addicts as, after their last 'fix' before the detox, they talk confidently and easily about getting off the drug that they have been dependent on every fucking day for more than 10 years. For instance, the arrogance of Alison, "my last fix before I'm clean" she laughs, as though she's about to go on a diet to lose a few pounds.

What's worse is that clearly these people and their families have been through the turmoil for many years, without any sign of breaking the problem as the users carry on injecitng. Yet, confront the addicts with a Channel 4 camera and suddenly on cue "there's tears coming out from everywhere" (1) as the mum of two sits in her bathroom waiting for the heroin fumes to disperse so her daughter can use the toilet, and the parents talk to the interviewer about how they are/aren't coping with an addicted child. Then there's the sudden revelation to the mother that her duaghter's been popping about 30 pills a day, and Channel 4 is there to capture the moment when she receives this news which her daughter had kept secret for 6 years until blurting it out on live television. You can almost imagine:

Dr: How many pills do you take?
Patient: About 30 a days.
Dr: Jesus Christ. Hey Krishnan, get the parents in here and film me asking these questions again. This is astonishing.

So call me a heartless bastard, but on tonight's first episode, you'd have to ask, first, why bother making this programme? It's implied that heroin is overpowering for all those addicted to it, yet there are just three people here being helped. None of the patients endear themselves to the viewer, none of the stories are heart-breaking, or if they are, it's only because ANY heroin addict's story would be heart-breaking. He wanted to be an RAF pilot but heroin has blown his chances of any decent career? How sad. I hope he gets cleaned up in this special clinic funded by advertisers' money. But where, then, is the television piece on the homeless heroin addict who's dying from AIDS contracted from sharing a needle?

Secondly, you'd ask: why bother helping these people at all? Clearly, they've never bothered to help themselves before now, and only one of the three contestansts/patients has expressed what appeared to be a genuine desire to get off the drugs before they were picked for this programme.

Whatever Going Cold Turkey is supposedly in the name of, it seems that all the programme will do is highlight the reality of being addicted to heroin, bringing it into the public eye for a week or so like Comic Relief does with Africa, before the real reality; the scope of the problem, crushes belief and interest and people return to their normal lives, glad it isn't them. Channel 4's hopeless mix of emotive documentary and reality tv serves only to blur the problem further still.

(1) The Libertines; What A Waster. (Up the Bracket, 2002)

What a waster, what a fucking waster
you've pissed it all up the wall, round the corner where they chased her
there's tears coming out from everywhere, the city's hard, the city's fair,
get back inside, you've got nothing on, no
you mind your bleedin' own, you two bob cunt.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cynical on Valentine's Day

No it's not because I didn't get any cards. What can I expect after being too hungover in the morning when I was meant to get cards to send to others? In all seriousness though, it was something about Hollyoakes on tuesday which inspired this post.

A lot of people, nowadays, view V Day with huge skepticism because it has, in the age of consumerism, become a big commerical event now. Millions of cards, countless 'love' compilation CDs, overblown flower bouquets, DVD releases of films just at the right time: advertisers now have yet another date for the diary for exploiting the average sap in the name of love. My cynicism, though, isn't about the commericalised nature of Valentine's Day. The point is, the advertising must work because every year it grows and the campaigns start even earlier. So what does that say for love in a 21st century global village?

Has Valentine's day become the one day a year where, to quote Hollyoakes, "we can say how we feel about each other?" If so, then is the only way to do this through material goods, i.e, the more you love someone these days = the amount you spend on them? Is that what love is in today's world of speed-dating, 1-in-3 divorce rates, online relationships and "i luv u" text messages? Love is supposed to be something you can't pin down, something immaterial, something unmeasurable, something you can have but can't hold, the one thing above all things...

Isn't it?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Don't have a cow, man

I wonder if this post title will offend certain religions who see cows as sacred creatures: cartoon Bart Simpson's infamous retort about not getting overly stressed out over something. Which is a rather ingenius segue into the content of this post: the Islamic demonstrations after the publication in European print mediums of 'offensive' cartoons; damaging the holy image of Mohammed, their God.

Since the publications, the Islamic protesters haven't helped their image in this country by marching through the capital carrying placards proclaiming: "Behead those who insult Islam". Lord knows that's all the Sun readership need to be persuaded to sign petitions about taking away Asylum Seeker rights and whatnot. I think these Islamic radicals wandering through London have overestimated the effect, certainly the intent, of the pubished cartoons. Would they have really been published as anything other than cartoons, when this is the reaction they get? Quite dryly, a leading Irag newspaper announced today that it is setting up a competetion for anyone to enter; drawing cartoons about the Holocaust. Quite what this tit-for-tat game will achieve is not clear. When it comes from the Holocaust though, it seems that Kate Winslet's (Extras) opinion on it would be appropriate: "We get it, it was grim, let's move on."

However, those who are hysterically outraged at the extremity of the Islamic protests would do well to take a balanced viewpoint. Sure, no one can go around freely announcing all Europe's impending decapitation. But simply saying 'That's too extreme, they can't do that' is too biased. From an Islamic point of view, publishing cartoons caricaturing their God is something that wouldn't even be dreamed up in Islamic countries. There's always another side. Incitement to terorrism, as an effect of the protests, is something more major than a 'jokey' cartoon, surely? But a cartoon to you or me is someone else's call to arms. Reluctance on both sides to negotiate, apologise or stand down from the conflict isn't helping. But each side is in the wrong to the other, so diffusing the situation before it comes to a head is the crucial next step needed, quickly.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Google Video - democratic or dangerous?

Google's march towards taking over the internet, and nowadays, the world, continued recently with the launch of their latest service, Google Video. The idea behind it is to allow everyone to be a movie producer, director and publisher all at once. Actual tv companies can put out trailers, episodes and snippets; while amatuer videos where anything goes are now going to be available under one mass library run by the esteemed search engine creators Google.

The problem that comes with this is like anything that happens regarding the internet and censorship. Critics have already attacked Google's new tool for, as the charge goes, allowing content which isn't suitable for all ages and natures, and with such easy availability. Google's argument is that it is, and always has been, about allowing users democratic access to information. By doing so they have become the number one search engine online, and are now a giant of a company within the internet industry.

Obviously, Google isn't allowing vidoes of child porn, hardcore porn, violence or anything of such extreme nature, and its content is monitored and censored when it gets put online. These sort of areas are the ones that always come up when it comes to the regulating the internet so it would be ridiculous for them to attempt it. However, one user's softcore is another user's hardcore, etc, so it becomes hard to draw the line. Google, naturally, want to attract as much attention and business as possible in order to compete with and outdo rivals, and that means innovating and constantly reinventing the boundaries. As I've said, there are obvious boundaries of acceptable content which Google has not crossed. But since Google is the first major company to offer such a service, they also want to be able to capture as much of the market as possible: to do otherwise would be stupid because someone (Murdoch) comes along, and raises the stakes that little bit more to offer something extra for users, and takes away the business. At the end of the day, Google's worth hundreds of millions, and you don't get like that in the media by playing nice.

Google have been scrutinised so because of their familiarity: I mean, if you really do want to see a busty blonde girl getting ruined by a big black cock, there are millions of websites just waiting for your credit card. In fact, you'd probably go to to search for the websites. Google has always been a tool; for finding sites, images and more, and now they're offering a service that allows anyone to put out videos, and anyone to watch them for free. With their censorship they enforce, Google are still being as democratic as they can be. While the internet era is well and truly today, and the world will never (barring a meteor) return to pre-internet days, the glory of its emergence has now fizzled out. Like just about anywhere in the world; the internet is a beautiful city, but there are some streets you really don't want to go down. The internet isn't a nice place, in truth, but the sweeping arguments that go with regulating it have missed the point rather: that Google is a business in an industry where innovation rules, and user hits are power.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The back at Uni view

Keen followers of my blog (ahahahaha) might notice the ability to write during term time is something that's been missing from this blog since I started year 2 of Uni. That's right; I'm online. Last thursday, the 19th (a day to remember), BT, god bless 'em, connected our line at their end and lo, the internet arrived at Bournemouth!
It's not, actually, that great a thing: with all this work I have due, and my committment to not going out more than once a week in order to maximise my time to do it, the evenings coming home at 3am being off my face have been replaced, so far, by staying up til 3am being tired and on the internet. So like a poisened chalice, the internet has been....erm, a chalice....with poison...

I don't know whether I'm under contract with Nerve* magazine, the Bournemouth Uni magazine that I write sports comment for (I do really: I've not signed anything), but just in case, I will refrain from putting the article I've written for the next issue in this post otherwise it would smack of not being able to think of anything else to write. Suffice to say, the underhanded News of the World paper deserves its up and coming sueing by Sven-Goran Eriksson after its needless and disgusting actions recently with the England manager. A tabloid rag indeed it is.

It's 1:40am, and since this was only a post to catch up, I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A new dawn, a New Year

So 2006 is upon, indeed already washing over us as it is now the 3rd of January. This is probably going to be a grumpy post, but then my grumpiness breeds criticism, and there wouldn't be much point in a blog if it just said "this and that are good and ok".
Mainly I'm annoyed because I spent 9 hours at Sainsbury's today, working on a bank holiday after also working on New Year's day. Sainsbury's, it became evident, was the only place in Rustington open, when the entire village and its dog started queuing up at one of the 20 tills open at 3pm. I've only been working there for two weeks over Christmas and I've had enough - thank God I only have one more shift to do on wednesday. I just lost my will to be cheery and overly polite when, at 5:55pm, 5 minutes before closing, the announcement came over for people to come and buy because there was no time left to shop, and I looked down the end of my checkout and saw 5 or 6 people with not just a few bits of shopping queuing up. When the second or third customer came through, and said to me "You're closing early tonight", it took all my strength not to retort 'You should be thankful we're open at all at 6pm on a Bank Holiday, you stupid, old, ungrateful bint'.

Anyway, it's because I'm tired - staying up til this hour (1am ish) and having to get up at 9:30 and 8:30 respectively. Tomorrow I've got no such commitment, except for having to write a literature essay...oh.
Still, the initial part of 2006 was great - at a pub for New Year's Eve with friends from college and - bizarrely - my parents who happened to be there with their friends. I don't remember 3 and a half hour worth of drinking, nor why it took me two hours to walk home. Still, I enjoyed New Year's celebrations as I predicted I would in my previous post; much more than Christmas Day.
I ranted then about consumerism, and today we were selling chocolate eggs. Christmas Day, with 3 months of expectation behind it, was only 8 DAYS ago and now it's all about Easter eggs! Admittedly, the big ones are not on sale yet, but all the mini-eggs and truffle eggs and extra eggs that rake in the money for Cadbury's and Nestle etc are out in force already. You can see how very easily, and very quickly, two religious based holidays have become distorted and twisted into universal celebrations of material goods and chocolate, with preceeding sagas, months long, of advertising putting out the message of nothing at all, except to make people not think about what the adverts are asking them to do, and just doing it. Certainly, no one is thinking of the reasons why these dates in December and April are noteworthy in the first place - indeed, I put April as a month because even now, as I criticise, I don't know the exact dates that are important when it comes to Easter.

That said, I LOVE Creme Eggs and I will be buying them from time to time in the next 4 months or so while they're on sale.