Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rock and roll, "borrowed" traffic cones and broken glasses...

Last night I went to see The Rakes at the Lemmy with support from Switches, Duels, and White Rose Movement. It was a very good gig, especially WRM, they rock, i'm looking forward to their album (it's out in March). I met their bassist in the bar afterwards, he was cool, talking with fans and everything. The crowd went absolutely mental when the Rakes came on, it was a real mosh pit in there, god knows how many times my feet must have been trodden on in the chaos (my trainers are a lot muddier now than they were before the show).
On the way to the gig, I met 5 of the boys from my corridor coming back towards our hall, carrying traffic cones, roadsigns, etc. On the way back, I was a bit drunk and i spotted two traffic cones stacked on top of each other, by the side of the road, not doing anything (not doing their job warning us to not go somewhere etc.) so i took one (i wouldn't have borrowed it if i thought it was there for an important reason) . I left it in the corridor outside my room, and i took a couple of souvenir photos (more over here), but - surprise surprise - some other student has nicked it now. Still, it was good while it lasted, it brightened up the corridor a bit with its luminosity. Oh, and the thing on top of the cone is a rolled-up flyer (we get loads of them pushed under our doors) stuck in the top.
My glasses have been annoying me lately, they were a bit wonky and one arm was damaged, plus they were a bit old anyway, so i was thinking of getting some new ones anyway. Mum went to our local optician at home and ordered a new pair for me, they'll be ready in about a week. Today, after dinner, the frame around one of the lenses broke and the lens fell out. Just my luck: my glasses don't break during the day when the shops are open and i can get a new pair, they don't wait til Monday to break, they don't break once i've got my new glasses - no, they decide to break on a Saturday evening when all the opticians have closed. I didn't bring any spare glasses, i don't think i have any, just my prescription sunglasses (which i'm wearing now. I like them but i'm not going to go out in public in them much, people might think it's a bit strange to wear sunglasses in January). As soon as the opticians open on Monday, i'm going to go and get an emergency pair of glasses made - just stick the old lenses in a new frame and hope for the best - i'll have to pay for the frames but i don't want to get stared at for a week! Actually i might just get new glasses altogether, i might need new lenses anyway, i haven't had an eye test for quite a while.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Gimme! gimme! gimme!

...a man after midnight, as ABBA once sang. I don't even like them, but i'll admit to liking that song. There's been a revival in it lately because Madonna sampled it in one of her songs.
If you can't have romantic lovelies like Ville and Moz in your life, i suppose there's always these substitutes (see pix)... click here for more.
Today (so far) has been a case of "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! A ticket after they've sold out."
eBay has today proved its worth as i managed to get a ticket to see Morrissey at the Manchester Apollo (cost a lot of money tho) - i'd been trying ticketmaster since 9am but they seemed to have sold out already. I think the reason i didn't get a ticket was that there were too many people on ticketmaster at the same time, so even though i was online the moment the tickets went on sale, my request didn't get through on time because the sheer number of people was slowing the site down. Most tickets for the tour went on sale at the same time, plus loads of others (Chicago, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Billy Elliot - The Musical, the Monsters of Rock festival... all big names, so thousands, if not millions, of people would be going on ticket sites at the same time). Seetickets was just inaccessible because its server was too busy. I did manage to get a ticket for the Truro show on ticketmaster though (it sold out minutes later).
I've also been selling stuff on eBay to try and balance my huge music expenditures - i spent £111 in a CD sale a week or two ago! but music is an essential thing. With a lot of the CDs i got, i'm copying them onto blank CDs, then selling the original CDs. (Although if i really really like a record, or there's some other reason for keeping it, then i don't do that.)
Talking of sold-out gigs, I got the last ticket for tonight's concert on campus - the Rakes with support from White Rose Movement and Duels. I'm not much a fan of the Rakes but I love WRM and i've heard Duels are good too. I guess loads of people are going to go to celebrate the end of their January exams - I had mine yesterday, it went a bit wrong, but at least it was only a mock!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

storms in tabloid teacups

There's something i've been wondering about lately: should the mainstream, tabloid media report on complicated scientific and legal issues?
A while ago there were proposals to change Britain's murder laws, so that there was one offence of homicide with different "degrees" of seriousness depending on severity and other factors such as provokation, instead of the current system with two main categories of homicide (murder and manslaughter). there have been cases of killing which were borderline between murder and manslaughter, so there could be a new category (2nd degree homicide) inbetween the two categories. I don't see what would be wrong with this.
When you learn Law you'll find cases where you agree with the judgement and cases where you don't agree, and in Criminal law there have been cases of murder which a lot of people felt should have been manslaughter, and cases of manslaughter which a lot felt should have been murder. Outside the classroom there are cases like this every day - e.g. the "happy-slapper" girl and her gang who beat up 3 men, 1 of whom died (see the headlines "STAMPED TO DEATH FOR FUN" and "THE SAVAGES"... also note irony on the front page of the Mail, having "GOOD HEALTH" and crime show DVDs on the same page as this!). The gang were convicted of manslaughter, but not murder. I think that this case was more serious than manslaughter, but the judge or jury must have had some reason for not convicting them of the more serious offence of murder (shame the media hasn't really said what these reasons were, although they have talked about the girl's rubbish childhood (her heroin addict mother walked out on her and left her to roam the streets at the age of 3, then she was put in care homes, and they're hardly a nice environmnt to grow up in) so i'm guessing that that may have been a factor). if there was a higher offence than manslaughter, they could have been convicted of that instead.
another proposed change was that the mandatory "life" sentence would be abolished. that does not mean that the life sentence will be abolished, it just means that it won't be mandatory any more. With a lot of crimes, judges take a lot of factors into account before deciding on your sentence. Supposing a woman is being beaten by her abusive husband every day and feels she cannot escape, then one day she fights back and kills him. the fact that he was abusing her could be taken into account when the judge decides her sentence, and she may get a shorter jail term than the standard "life". That's ok with me, as that kind of killing is less serious and has more reason behind it than a thug senselessly killing a stranger for fun (no real reason whatsoever). if either murder deserves a life sentence, it should be the latter, not the former.
When the news was reported on the proposed changes to our homicide laws, ITV news and gutter press like the Daily Mail were screaming and whipping up mass hysteria (as they do over EVERYTHING that happens), making people (including my poor mum) who didn't know the full facts run around like headless chickens panicking that murder was going to be legalised (see the headline "GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER").
WTF? did they seriously think that 21st-century Britain was REALLY going to legalise murder? anyway, these were only PROPOSALS, they're not actually coming into effect yet.
I think that these kinds of news sources should not report on legal issues that their audience are unable to understand. the same could go for scientific issues too. ITV News and tabloid newspapers are always trying to scare and panic people with shocking, attention-grabbing headlines, even when the actual truth behind the headline is more mundane. The kind of people who watch/read these are the kind of people who would be misled by the shock headlines and wouldn't actually understand the issues in the news story. These stories could be reported in broadsheet newspapers, legal/scientific journals, and on the BBC and Channel 4 (because their news shows are less tabloid-y), so they'd only reach an audience that understand them. That, or the dumbed-down tabloid news sources start reporting in an honest, unbiased and non-scaremongering way, but of course that will never happen.
Thanks to the daily mail letters blog, the BBC's have your say website, and discarded newspapers i found and read on long train journeys, i've noticed that there is an audience out there that only reads shock headlines and panics. They also seem to be the sort of people who are quick to spout buzzwords and cliches like: "nanny state," "playing with nature/playing God," "bring back the birch/cane/National Service," and that old favourite "It's political correctness gone mad!" A lot of the time the news story in question has nothing to do with these things. For example there was a mother who went to court demanding that she has the right to know if her daughter has an abortion, the judge said that she doesnt have an automatic right to know because her daughter, like everyone else, has a right to privacy. No laws were changed; the judge merely reiterated what the law has always said in this country. A few people commenting on this story in have your say complained that this judgement was the "nanny state" interfering - for god's sake, they don't know what they're talking about, this is the opposite of the nanny state! If it WAS a nanny state, then the law would force her daughter to tell her. I can't see what this case has to do with a "nanny state."
Another time people complained needlessly of a "nanny state" was when the government decided to have rules on nurseries by extending the National Curriculum to include them, e.g. they must provide an environment where kids can learn through play, and staff should talk to the kids to encourage them to learn to talk. Nothing wrong with that i say. But the Mail, for some reason, thought that this was an evil plot and ran the screaming headline "TODDLERS TAUGHT TO SPEAK BY STATE DIKTAT." (I cannot see how learning through play and teaching kids to speak has anything to do with a dictatorship!)
I hate New Labour too (although for different reasons), but i think everyone should have a level playing field, and it's unfair how they can never win with the Mail et al. The recent headline about vaccinations is a perfect example: if they introduce new vaccinations that could save kids' lives, the Mail complains about it (and probably uses it as yet another opportunity to whinge about the "nanny state"); if they don't introduce these vaccinations, the Mail will probably run shock headlines like "BLAIR LETS BABIES DIE" and complain that "Labour is not doing enough to protect us from the deadly threat of bird flu from abroad." *

* Note typical tabloid disdain for anything coming to Britain (well, England really, i mean the Mail hardly speaks for anyone outside of the home counties/ south-east England) from abroad.