All entries for June 2006

June 25, 2006

Reid's Great new Plan

In a speech tonight Dr. John Reid is expected to announce the Government will be reintroducing trial by Ordeal. The move comes after a recent headline in the News of The World attacked what they describe as 'A culture of Witchcraft'.

Human rights group Amnesty attacked the move, a spokesman saying, "This is yet another slap dash response to tabloid pressure by those wankers at No. 10".

Wannabe Leader of the Opposition, Menzies Campbell backed this stance at an OAP Rally this morning. "There are a growing number of instances where incidents which used to be regarded as high–jinks or normal adolescent behaviour 15–20 years ago are being seen as witchcraft now," he said.

Under the new system the accused would be bound and thrown into water. If they sink they are found innocent and if they float they are found guilty. The innocent person would then be rescued, though the rescue may not be successful.

Criminologist and author of 'How to kill Witches in the 21st Century' Professor McDougal explained, "In the middle ages Witches were imagined to float supernaturally above water because they had renounced baptism when entering the Devil's service. Now science has proved this to be true".

Robin Wendallson, of campaign group Victims' Voice, whose own son was once tricked into talking to a plant by a witch said that the new laws were long overdue, "Since the introduction of the Human Rights Act it has become impossible to treat Witches with the cruelty and ridiculousness that has been a British Tradition since Salem." Salem was in the USA.

Another perspective on the situation is offered by Barry Scott, member of The Daily Mail Stereotypes League, who described the move as 'Common Sense'. "It is about time that this country recognised that only a rose tinted view of the middle ages can save it from the persistent threat of terrorism, paedophiles, foreigners, Young People, human rights lawyers and Witches", he said.


June 22, 2006

Degree

Class: 1st
Letters: Meng
Mood: Awesome
Final Ave: 75.29%

Roll on the PhD ….


June 19, 2006

I've given up on the wrestling phrases

Writing about Threatening patriotism? from Musings of a blonde

"Why on earth should an English person feel so threatened by a flag representing his own country displayed in his own country?" was an interesting question raised on another blog entry

raising some even more interesting claims, such as "Our nationalist spirit never returned after this initial attack because the attack was so complete that a new anti–British orthodoxy had developed."

I was originally going to post a response, but then I realised that no one had actually tried to answer the question on the previous page. So here's a couple of thoughts.

Firstly we are talking about the St. Georges Cross here, since the original reference was to footballers. This flag was originally picked up during the Crusades – as an army uniform, by a certain namesake of mine. I am not saying that waving St. Georges Cross about is a problem – in fact I was doing so last week. But you can understand why people might get offended.

I am pretty sure that no one these days really associates SGC with a 'lets kill the muslims' attitude so one could rule the above reason out. I suppose in that case it is yet another case of the football association combined with a common dislike of football in this country.

Whats really more disturbing is that people seem to have concluded this is one of those 'if you don't love your country you must hate it, get out' – or conversely 'if you love your country you must be a racist'. Why can't I just be 'meh' to the whole subject? Its not as though my apathy is going to cause directly negative consequences. (yes I am begging the question) No one will die because of a mass apathy towards their country.

Furthermore the question is really here why should I not be apathetic? It doesn't stop me choosing to support England at the World Cup. I would rather not get into one of these situations where there is a weighing up of the British Empire is a good or a bad thing. Ethical judgements on such massive scale are inevitably prone to error, and judging what people chose to do hundreds of years ago by todays standard is an horrific mistake. Its questionable for me to even tut–tut at the invention of the concentration camp during the boar war due to it being > 100 years ago.

Bottom line how can I feel proud for the achievements or shameful at the mistakes of other people simply because they lived on the same, apparently sceptered, isle as me?


June 11, 2006

Woooooooooooooo!

Congratulations to members of the england team, good first half, second will need to improve against better teams in the tournament.

Unfortunately onto more pressing matters – the Iranian nuclear crisis. I have so far tried to refrain from blogging on the subject, since I haven't had much to offer. Recently however, I have read a little more about the technology behind nuclear reactors and had a worthy thought.

There are a variety of different nuclear reactors, those in America, Britain and most nuclear reactors are water moderated. There are many different types – but they all require that the uranium material that is used be enriched from natural levels of uranium in order to operate, these are known as light water reactors. This is the type of reactor that has primarily been discussed with regards the Iranian situation.

There are other types of reactors however, for example the Canadians use a type of reactor called a CANDU that uses Heavy Water as a moderator. This type of reactor does not need enriched uranium in order to operate. Why not simply sell the technology behind this reactor to the Iranian government?

If the US are concerned about weapons manufacture then this removes the need to enrich uranium. The Iranians can have a safe, clean nuclear power source. There is a lot of speculation that either side wants more out of the dispute than their official claims, however, this really can only be tested by putting forward an offer that keeps everyone happy.

The only issue that I can see with CANDU reactors is that, like all nuclear reactors, they can be operated in a manner that is conducive to producing weapons grade plutonium. But to do this actually requires that the reactor use energy not produce it! This is the actual reason why the IAEA inspects all registered nuclear facilities. I would expect that a solution to this issue would require IAEA cooperation, on any account – because any nuclear reactor can be operated in this manner. And I think offering a technical solution to the Iranian government is probably a good way of getting such cooperation. Better than bunker busters for sure.

The key problem in this issue has become that its becoming a matter of national pride and politics all round. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad needs to get nuclear power in order to continue boosting his internal popularity, and Bush has a complete fear of looking weak. Putting heavy water technology on the table offers a get out of jail free card for all. Ahmadinejad can go to his people and claim victory. Bush can go to his people and claim victory.


June 07, 2006

Finally…

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/5052730.stm

Well the strike is officially over. Looks like the AUT settled for 13.1%. Congratulations to Boris Johnson for stating the obvious, but entirely correct point that all the work must now be marked.

The pay offer makes the debate a rather moot point – refuse to settle for 12.6, but go for 13.1. I suspect that this was due in part to the realisation that universities couldn't really afford a satisfactory pay increase. I wonder in three years time whether the situation will change. I suspect not for the following reasons:

1. As far as the AUT is concerned the dispute isn't entirely over: "we are acutely aware that this will still not make up the ground lost over the past decades"

2. Now we have gone down the route of fees and already increased them, there will inevitably be increased fees in future. Accordingly there will be more money in the system to pay increased salaries when this happens.

3. In a system where there are two unions, both representing diametrically opposed views on pay it is hard to see how agreement can easily be reached.


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