January 25, 2007

The 'biggest band in the world' to headline Glasto

Glastonbury FestivalMichael Eavis has started to reveal the acts that will headline this year’s Glastonbury festival. Unsurprisingly, the Arctic Monkeys will take to the Pyramid Stage over the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of June. The same goes for Bjork who’s already treated the Somerset countryside to her unique brand of Icelandic of alternative-pop-electronica several times.

Interestingly, Eavis has announced that ‘the biggest band in the world’ have been in contact and want to play. But, he has denied that this means U2 or Coldplay, which leaves me wondering…

Now, unless he’s talking about some aged rockers, eg the Rolling Stones, then I’m stuck as to who it could be. I suppose I’d be revealing the bias of my own musical taste by suggesting Radiohead or Muse. Oasis maybe? Unless I’ve forgotten someone really obvious, I can’t see who else he could be talking about. Anyone?


This post's for you Axl

Axl Rose

Last weekend’s Observer Music Monthly cited rumours that

[Axl Rose] sleeps all day and stays up all night, combing the internet for mentions of his name.

So here you go Axl…another new mention to get riled up by.

Nothing much to say about you if I’m honest…except no matter how good November Rain was…after 10 years spent writing this new album, it’d better be bluddy, bluddy amazing.

March 6th is the big day


January 22, 2007

A healthy football obsession

Thierry Henry heads winning goal!Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester United.
What a day!
17:44 Despair as it seems United have wrapped up the title by beating my beloved Gunners.
17:53 Total elation. Thierry Henry heads us to victory! Adrenalin surges through my body and 60,000 others.

It’s not always like today though. Last year I followed my team to Paris to watch the Champions League final. I swapped a good three days revision and time spent with my girlfriend, for three nights sharing a bed with my snoring father. I know another guy that forked out over £600 of his student loan after travelling there with no guarantee of a ticket. Reaching the front of the queue at half-time in the Gents, I found myself stood, flies open, in front a sink commandeered for the day by desperate fans. I did not wash my hands. What’s more, we lost 2-1. The journey home was hellish. It turned out not to be a good few days and all because my team didn’t manage to kick a ball in a net as many times as the opposition.

I vividly remember crying myself to sleep as a boy, after a former Spurs player struck the most unbelievably shot to beat us in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup. When the team loses it can put a dampener on my entire weekend. It’s sad, but the first thing I do when I wake up is check Arseblog.com, newsnow.co.uk, the BBC and Skysports for any updates, just in case the others have missed something.

But it’s all worth it; even just for one day like today. It may not be logical, but who cares? It’s pretty difficult to explain to somebody who’s never supported a team; not least my girlfriend who doesn’t get it, despite my attempted analogies to her watching her favourite ballet. Perhaps the closest someone who doesn’t understand can get to such ‘enlightenment’ is by watching or reading Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby’s masterpiece about a life inextricably tied to football.

I’m aware that I’m an incredibly lucky fan. The person that got me into football, my Dad, is an Arsenal fan and a season-ticket holder at that. I get days like today more often than most. A friend of mine travels up from Oxford to see Burnley, the team that his Dad happens to support. Heaven knows the last time they beat Manchester United with a goal in the last minute. That said, he, like me and millions of others across the world, has a highly-illogical, but healthy obsession with watching that ball go in the net.


January 18, 2007

Less–than–super–ASBOs

This morning the government will reveal its latest law and order crackdown. The target this time is what the Guardian calls ‘top criminals’. The solution is seemingly an extension of existing New Labour policy towards crime, to remove the right to a fair trial as it’s been defined for centuries. So-called ‘super-ASBOs’ will limit the individuals a person can see, where they can go and even whether they can own a mobile phone; all without the need for a case that proves their guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”.

I can’t admit to having been overly offended by ASBOs when they were first introduced. I could see the need to tackle anti-social behaviour in our communities, even if I’d have preferred the main thrust of policy to be one of education and opportunity for all. Limits to liberty didn’t seem to matter so much when it was a question of whether a gaggle of troubled teens could loiter where they chose. Yet with this expanded version and the growth of its non-super equivalent, it’s beginning to hit me how dangerous both these policies are. Never mind the fact that the original ASBOs seem to have failed, we should not tolerate this erosion of our liberty. It’s just too dangerous. Today sees the widening of a policy framework that indisputably points us in the direction of authoritarianism. Unless we have the evidence to charge people in a criminal court, we do not have the right to take their liberty from them in this way. The quotes on Channel 4 News from junior Home Office minister, Vernon Coaker, were genuinely frightening.

You could argue that I was blind not to see all this before and if I’m honest, I think you’d be right if you did.

http://www.asboconcern.org.uk/


January 11, 2007

Ban Private Schools

Writing about web page /crossdale/entry/kelly_sends_son/

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

In recent days, everyone from David Cameron to Chris Rossdale have weighed in with their view on Ruth Kelly sending her child to a private school. I’ll save you from mine, but I’d like to recommend a book for anyone interested in the debate: How not to be a hypocrite by Adam Swift. It’s recently been one of the most important references for an extended essay I’ve written for one of my politics modules, but I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested. It’s written for parents, rather than so-called poltiical scientists.

That essay argues for the outright banning of private education. I’d love to put the whole thing up here for anyone that’s interested, but probably shouldn’t, given it’s taken hours and is worth 15 CATS. Nevertheless, seeing as I can tell you’re dying to hear it, I can give you a quick run down of what I believe is the strongest argument for their banning.

Given that our social circumstances are a matter of pure luck, we cannot deserve anything that follows from them. We should therefore seek to remove their influence. In other words, we should strive towards equality of opportunity. Of course, this is never going to be perfect, it is right that we allow parents to read to their children, because of the importance of the family, even though this gives them an unfair advantage. Let’s assume that private schools do provide a better academic schooling. If we take, for example, two children of equal ability, who would otherwise be level on the ladder for jobs and university places etc and that only one attends a private school. His (assumed) superior education pushes the state school pupil down the queue. The resources of his parents allow him to ‘jump the queue’. It is often said that we have the liberty to do what we want provided it does not impinge on others’ lives. My argument is that in jumping the queue, the affect one has on the lives of others is too great and should therefore be outlawed, just as is physical interference with others.

That’s the essence of my 5000 word essay cut-down to 120. Let’s hear the criticisms!

UPDATE: Seeing as I appear to have a fairly high Google rating for ‘Ban Private Schools’, I thought somebody out there might want to read the whole thing, now the degree is long gone!

Ban Private Schools.doc


December 25, 2006

The X–Factor freak show…

Dennis X-Factor AuditioneeAlong with the victory of the frankly brilliant Leona Lewis, those of us that tuned in to last week’s X-Factor final were treated to a performance from ‘The Auditionees’. In other words, they brought back the very worst candidates from the auditions and combined them to make Michael Jackson’s Earth Song yet more ear-grating.

The contrast between the odd raw talents and some of the most laughable failures in the early stages of the show is the best bit about the series and I am a fan. But some of these people are seemingly sufferring from mental health problems that go further than a hugely misguided belief that they have what the judges are looking for. I’d be a hypocrite if I criticised the format itself, most of them, of course, are simply tone-deaf and deserve their moment in the limelight. My question is whether we can tell the difference between the two groups and if it is right to laugh at the former?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_JIfSo5tQM


December 16, 2006

A boring rant about water…

Before embarking on this post, I want to emphasise that I do realise I have unusually strong feelings about the subject of water provision!

Last week, I bought a sandwich for nearly a fiver from Subway in Oxford Street and casually asked for a cup of tap water to go with it. But I was shocked to be told that I couldn’t have it free. Until I went home and looked it up, I was under the impression that anywhere food was sold, water had to be offered for free alongside it. I was wrong. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/your_rights/food.shtml) That didn’t stop me demanding to speak to the manager who seemed to be under the same impression, but informed me that they charged for the cups!

Now, this may sound like the sad ranting of someone with way too much time and that may very well be the case. Nevertheless, the fact that most people don’t drink enough is well documented and I hardly need to explain the importance of water to proper human functioning. I will mention that according to water.org.uk: “The thirst mechanism is so weak in most people that they mistake thirst for hunger…One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs in almost 100% of dieters in a Washington study” because I’ve just tried it and it seems to have worked!

Yet despite all of this, on and off campus, it is not as easy as I believe it should be to access water without charge. Yes they’ve started putting jugs of water out in the Union, but every time I pour myself a cup, the girl who is always behind the bar in Cholo scowls at me as if I’m some cheap bastard who is just saving his money by having some water, rather than buying a Coke or a beer. In Café Library, I have to (and I do this) take a cup out to the water fountain out by the male toilets under the library stairs and fill up there to wash down my chilli and rice. It’s worse out in the wider world. It costs roughly £1 per 10,000 litres in the UK. I resent having to pay for something as vital to my existence as air.

This requires a change of mindset as well as policy. You need to stop laughing at the fact I take this so seriously and bar-staff should stop looking so hassled when I ask them for a tap water. It’s not as if they’re paid per drink they sell. Policy-wise, why can’t we bring back public water fountains in the streets? I’d happily stick my head under a well-maintained public tap, but for those of you that wouldn’t, you could always pop into the nearest Subway and buy a cup.


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