January 30, 2005

Apathy On The Rise: No–One Cares

It's only the third day of officially permitted election campaigning, and already there are complaints.

"Student politics is boring. All the candidates say the same things. All the candidates have silly slogans. Nothing the Union does really makes any difference." And so on.

It's evident that people feel disconnected from Union politics. On the surface it's easy to see why – like all poitical entities, the Union is beaureaucratic and burdened by regulations, and often seems to be utterly ineffectual.

But here's the thing – if you don't get out and vote, you're not going to get any more conected to Union politics. Letting elections become inquorate isn't going to help the Union be effective.

Here at Warwick the students have a platfrorm for their views. It could scarcely be easier to have your voice be heard – voting can be performed online, general meetings encourage atttendance from the whole student body. If the Union isn't working for you, then you have the chance to change that. All you have to do is care.

Your vote won't change anything? Maybe, maybe not. But you can be sure that apathy won't change anything.

Political entities are shaped by their supporters. If the Union seems ineffectual and irrelevant to you, perhaps thats because you've never tried to make it work, to make it relevant.

So vote. Vote awesome. Or vote differently. Just make your view heard.


January 25, 2005

The Internet Is Gone

So I'm up this morning and I can't get to any non-Warwick sites via my computer in my room here on campus.

Arse.

Anyone else out there getting this?


January 23, 2005

I Lost At Blogging

Ok, so I admit it. I couldn't keep up with the Big Leagues.

In all seriousness, Icouldn't handle the pressure. It was cracking me upon the inside. So I took a week and a bit off.

And now I'm back, and things are a little better than they were. My work is less neglected, I sorted a couple of things out, my room is moderately tidy… things are back on an even keel.

Which means, of course, the lure of blog-addicton was just too great…

Oh Blogosphere, am I once again to be entranced by your siren song, only to dashed upon your Rocks of Procrastination and left adrift in the Seas of Oh-My-God-It's-3am-And-I-Haven't-Done-Any-Work-Again?

Yes.


January 12, 2005

Procrastination

I'm blogging when I should be working.

Why?

Because I'm a fool, that's why.

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss it when teachers used to pressure you in school. You'd be constantly harried to ensure you got your work done. By comparison, the freedomhere is intoxicating. Lectures are optional! Work at my own pace! Manage my own time!

Blech. Well, I'm fed sick of leaving my work to the last minute all the time. Action is required.

Startig next week, I'm introducing a two-hour slot of work/study into every weekday, irrespective of what my actual deadlines are. I'll do whatever bit of work seems most pressing at the time, or alternatively just some reading/revision. I post this here in the hope that apublic announcement will make me feel guilty if I don't do it.

In fact, each day I'll blog briefly about what I di with my two hours. Hopefully that'll set me straight.


January 11, 2005

I swear, sometimes they just make the particles up…

I study Physics here at Warwick, and I'm going to talk about it. I will now pause for five seconds to allow most of you to run away.

Someone stayed? Wow, I feel so… oh no, wait, he's gone.

Screw it, I'm gonna talk about physics anyway.

This term I'm taking the Introduction to Particle Physics module. It's great, because like all the best physics it's foaming at-the-mouth-insane.

Particle physicists are like your kid brother – they keep trying to take everything apart, claiming that they wanted to "see how it works". Only instead of your watch, your stereo or your pets, particle physics like to rip apart the fabric of reality.

Also like your kid brother, you get the distinct feeling that they actually like tearing stuff to pieces for the sheer hell of it.

It all started innocently enough, with the wonderful discovery that things are made of "atoms". The word atom comes from a Greek word meaning "indivisible". Physicists being a contrary lot, they immediately set about dividing the atom up into chunks.

Soon we had an atom consisting of protons (the positive ones), neutrons (the neutral ones) and electrons (disappointingly not called negatrons, perhaps on the basis that it sounded too much like a reject from the Transformers cartoon). And for a while, that was it. We had it all figured out – everything was made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Plus this kinda weird thing called the neutrino, which seemed to be massless and essentially pointless, but helped us explain where all the energy was going in certain decays, so it was tolerated. Wonderful.

Then out of basically nowhere came the muon. This entirely superfulous particle is only ever witnessed in showers from cosmic rays, and in physics laboratories. No-one knows why the universe bothers with it. It's unstable enough that you can't really make stuff out of it, and it's basically just an electron anyway, only heavier. Like it's unfit older brother or something.

Then it all went nuts. Particle physicists couldn't stop finding particles. There were pions. There were kaons. As if the muon wasn't bad enough, it turned out to have an immensely heavier cousin called the tau, which NEVER shows up except in labs. There were more neutrinos, for the muon and tau.

Then it turned out that protons, neutrons, kaons and the like were all made out of really stupidly tiny things called quarks. At this point, the physicists had clearly run out of Greek or gone crazy or something, so they started naming the different "flavours" of quarks: up, down, charm, strange, beauty and truth. Beauty and truth were then renamed to "bottom" and "top" respectively, on the frankly absurd basis that the old names were too silly. Personally I think the silliness threshold had been crossed a while ago.

So here we are, with a forest of particles and silly names for all of them. And now particle physicists spend their time taking these particles, making them go really really fast, and then smashing them into each other. Again, like your kid brother. If you never want to grow up, have I got the career for you.

All these high energy particle pile-ups are performed in an effort to find, you guessed it, yet more particles. Possibly, there may be a whole new variety of particles, called (and I'm seriously not joking) sparticles, out there, if we can just make a really BIG crash. There are many theories as to what the sparticles might belike, if they exist – no word on whether they will lead their fellow particles on a revolution against their oppressive Roman masters, I'm afraid.

Oookay, I just made an extremely poor Spartacus joke. This entry needs to die.

But it does make you think about the wonder of humanity's achievements. Here we are, so vulnerable as creatures, with no natural defences,
gangly limbs and soft, yielding flesh, and yet – our dominance of this planet is so total we can afford to have people sit around all day and do nothing but devise ways to smash incredibly tiny things into one another very fast and watch the results. But Robot Wars isn't on any more, so we can all enjoy particle physics instead. No really, it's fun! Please come back!

Oh, wait, there was no-one here anyway.


January 10, 2005

The Video Game Design Society – Innocent Nerds, or Sinister Geeks?

Your wish, dear Natalie, is my command.

I was set the task of infiltrating the much rumoured, nay legendary Video Game Design Society . A weighty task for a normal man, but I, your Fly On The Wall, am a Master Of Disguise.

Some brief reconnaisance was necessary to complete the illusion. Nerds are like evil: they never sleep, and so I carefully avoided slumber beforehand in order to better observe (and imitate) their behaviour. Unfortunately my plan worked perhaps a little too well, and I nearly missed the meeting itself due to sleeping during the day. Still, my daysleeping, nocturnal experience put me into the ideal frame of mind for my task.

Roused by a phone call, I made my way to the Graduate. This was the appointed meeting place, posessing as it does many of the crucal ingredients to the continued existence of a game designer: dim lighting, comfortable chairs and convenient access to alcohol.

Having arisen to the rank of Secretary within their organisation, it was my duty to organise and run the agenda for the meeting, and this I did with customary aplomb. The meeting kicked off, as usual, with a brief recounting of our achievements since the last meeting – each member stood in turn to proudly announce the dread works they had perpetrated in the name of their dark lord, whatever that may be.

Several new members were present around the table, and were initiated with the normal rites. They should recover within the week.

Once the deeds had been recounted and the new blood supped upon, animated discussion was held on how best to next serve their foul, unspeakable goals. As I sat there, surrounded by such nightmarish, shadowy figures, I began to realise the truth – this was no ordinary cult. They spoke darkly of their "projects", whch seemed to be making worrying progress. The conclusion was inevitable; this infernal cabal seek nothing less than world domination.

At least, I think it was world domination. My notes became rather confused at this point, undoubtedly due to some foul malediction that they had inflicted upon me simply by their presence. It's possible the words could be interpreted as "make video games" – but such a shallow interpretation is unworthy of the true malign intelligence of this horrible gathering.

One thing is clear – whatever their aims; armageddon or Worms Armageddon, Duke Nukem or nuclear holocaust, we must all be very, very afraid.

This has been – The True* Story.

*for a given value of true


January 09, 2005

"...some far–flung corner of the Internet shall be forever – something….

Ok, so I've staked out my territory. With sturdy electronic stakes, no less. Now, to imbue this naescent demense with strange and eldritch power. And, more to the point, a Purpose.

What shall be the purpose of my blog?

I could make it into my personal diary – one of those distressingly common species that devotes itself to trielessly tracking every daily mundane event which happened to the writer. I view such blogs in the same way I view Morris dancing: I don't. Or, to take the analogy further – undoubtedly fascinating for the person involved, an utter mystery to everyone else, and yet we've all done it at least once. Sweet Merciful Bob, the horror.

I could attempt to be funny every day, in the manner of the Sam Boulby's of this world. Worth goal thogh this is, I feel I lak the tenacity to come up with something funny every day. Or at least, I lack the keenly developed sense of shamelessness that would allow me not to care that I wasn't actually all that funny every day.

I could discuss weighty topics of importance, discoursing knowledgably on everything from the politcal situation in Kashmir to the existence of God. I could overwhelm my readers with torrents of nightmarish angst, exposing my raw, naked, hideous blubbering soul for all to consider.

I could discuss my subject, Physics, in attempt at self-improvement or PDP or sucking up to the establishment (delete as desired).

To be honest, dear readers, I'm not sure what to do – but whatever it is I will end up doing, I am resolved to do it.

So. I need direction. Hence my request tonight – to start me off, I request that each of my readers come up with a topic for me to blog about, and I will duly do so over the next week. If I get more than seven possible topics I suppose I shall have to pick the best, but I think it's unlikely.

Mould me, for I am clay in your hands.


January 08, 2005

With a flash and an ostentatious puff of smoke…

I appear.

They say nature abhorrs a vacuum, and judging by how often the damn things break down, they're probably right. But nature abhorrs open spaces with nothing in them too. Everything rushes to fill the space, like when someone vacates the dancefloor during Top Banana.

Humans abhorr vacuums too; unsuprisingly, as they're noisy unpleasant things which break down all the time.

Ok, so I took that joke too far.

Back to the point: it is human nature to loathe and detest spaces which are unfilled. They suck at the eyeball. It causes us physical pain. Anyone whose ever opened a word processor to start their latest essay has experienced the horror of this void. One is forced either to turn away; run scared into safety.

Or one is forced to face the horror, wrestle it head on, and fill that yawning chasm with random crap.

That, my fair audience, is my intention here today: to conquer the demon of the empty text box, and leave my mark on the world for all to see, and laugh at.

Each word is a further victory against the teeming hordes of nothingness. Join me, in my crusade against entropy.


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