Sunday, 30 September 2012

Is Conscience Innate or Learned?

by Oliver Price


(source: adorotedevote.blogspot.com)

Developmental pyschologist Jean Piaget put forward the theory that conscience is learned as we grow up. Concerned with the psychology of children as they matured, he deduced that children only gain a full sense of morality by age 10; he called this stage of moral development heteronomous morality, whereby you follow the rules due to fear of punishment but not from a higher sense of moral duty.

Another psychologist, Sigmund Freud, saw the mind as a machine-like entity. Freud theorised that the human personality consisted of three parts: the id (the unconscious self devoid of morality and only concerned with its own wants and desires), the ego (the conscious self and personality society sees) and the super ego (the set of moral controls given to us by outside influences which may conflict with the id). Freud theorised that there was no absolute moral law that humanity abides by and, instead, as children we learn our moral behaviour from our parents and other older role models. Erich Fromm also shared this view that humans are influenced by external authorities and that disobedience therefore produces guilt.

Piaget and Freud’s theories would be consistent with the case of James Bulger’s murder as both the killers were 10 years of age at the time of the killing, so would not be viewed by Piaget to possess a fully developed moral conscience. Also, one of the murderers, Robert Thompson, was born into a family of 7 children whose parents had separated. He is described as having been an illiterate child raised in an impoverished family. His mother is portrayed as having been an alcoholic and as having neglected her parental responsibilities. On the basis of this evidence, Freud would argue that a cause for Thompson’s warped sense of morality could be his lack of an authoritative role model on whom to base his morality. Piaget would argue that Thompson was still at the stage of heteronomous morality because the lack of an authoritative figure in his life meant there were no rules to follow. It also leads us to pose the question: if conscience comes from God why did these atrocities take place?

Joseph Butler attempted to answer this question by stating that immoral actions only take place when a person blinds themselves from their conscience to make way for a wrong action; he went on to say how corrupting one's conscience is worse than whatever the evil action is that comes from it. Butler stood by his assertion that conscience comes from God, seeing conscience as what stands humanity apart from animals, so that being human involves being moral; for Butler, the principle of man is conscience. Within human nature, Butler believed there was a hierarchy with conscience at its top and self-love and benevolence at its base, and above the last two the principle of reflection, which is part of the conscience; Butler argues that God gives us the principle of reflection. However, Mark Twain offered a criticism of Butler’s theory by suggesting that the conscience is not discovered through the principle of reflection and God’s guidance: “I have noticed my conscience for many years, and I know it is more trouble and bother to me than anything else I started with.” Both Butler and Twain, in different ways, suggests that the conscience is innate and with us from birth throughout life.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Why (Maths Says) I Will Never Get a Girlfriend

by Charlie Albuery


This is a question that practically every male has asked himself at one point or another in his life. Unfortunately, there is rarely a hard and fast answer to the query. In reality, it’s probably due to a number of physical and psychological factors that we could never measure.
But that’s boring.
So I’m doing this my way.

Let's take a look at the figures:
 Number of people on Earth: 7,000,000,000
We start with the largest demographic in which I am interested—namely, the population of this planet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the idea of interstellar romance, I just don’t see it as a reasonable assumption to make.
 …who are female: 3,500,000,000
I assume that, given the title of this article, this kinda goes without saying. Also, (I may get a little side-tracked here, sorry in advance) the population is half and half, deal with it. If you’re one of those people who INSISTS that it’s a 49%/51% split, nobody likes you, I’m serious (you probably also complain about how Big Ben isn’t called Big Ben and you liked Owl City before Fireflies, you’re wrong on all three). You need to pipe down and just have a serious think about where your life is going, seriously. Anyway, it’s a 50%/50% split; accordingly, roughly half of the Earth's population must be discounted. Sorry, guys.
 in Europe and USA: 685,601,000
I restrict the geographical area of interest to countries I am likely to live and/or work in and therefore meet my potential partner. 
…currently aged 13 to 18: 45,399,083
I would like to restrict my search for love to those whose age is approximately equal to my own (although I fully understand that when we’re 90 years old, a 5-year age gap would feel like nothing). To make things still worse, roughly 1% of these girls will have died since the census I’m using was taken; thus, the true number of so-far eligible bachelorettes is 44,945,092
 …who are beautiful (to me): 1,487,838
Personal attraction, both physically and personality-wise, is the most important factor (maybe other than the living-on-Earth thing) in any relationship. Of course, beauty is a largely subjective trait which varies from person to person.
I’m not going to argue about what makes you beautiful (you don’t know you’re beautiful (God, I’m going to get crucified for that one)) but what I hope we can all agree on is that it will probably be normally distributed amongst the population.
Without going into the specifics of precisely which traits I admire, I will say that for a girl to be considered really beautiful to me, she should fall at least two standard deviations above the standard. From basic statistics theory, the area to the left of the normal curve at z = 2 (for those of you who haven’t done basic calculus, they have to be like an 8 out of 10).

Friday, 28 September 2012

Doctor Who Series 7: Massive Disappointment

by Melissa Smith


Nice fez
(image source: doctorwhotv.co.uk)
I’d like to start off with a disclaimer: I have been an avid fan of Doctor Who since its revival in 2005. I’ve watched Christopher Eccleston prance about in a leather jacket, David Tennant repeat the words ‘Oh yes!’ in almost every episode he could, and finally Matt Smith – the boy wonder with an affinity for a nice fez. I have watched countless Daleks fail yet again to exterminate the Doctor, Cybermen looking ominous in large numbers, and Oods doing whatever it is that Oods do (seriously, does anyone know?). I have seen the show at its best and at its most terrible. Unfortunately, the new series so far has fallen dangerously on the latter side.

It started off with yet another round of the Daleks. I mean, I understand that they’re a recurring theme throughout Doctor Who, but who doesn’t get, by now, that they’re just a few men-turned-robots inside tin cans getting a bit angry and blasting everything in their sight? I’ll admit, having them asking the Doctor for help was an interesting plot twist, however not interesting enough to save this episode from being inexcusably dire.

The next episode, though a novel idea, failed to live up to expectations. ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ sounds like the writer has run out of ideas and turned to his five-year-old son for inspiration, however I was willing to give it a chance. I can’t say I’m glad I did. Apart from the cast of Harry Potter turning up (Filch and Arthur Weasley), there was little to say in favour of the whole debacle. The characters were two-dimensional and awkward, and the plot seemed throughout like it was desperately trying to grab hold of anything that might give a small child a sugar high.


‘A Town called Mercy’ was a slight, (only slight), improvement on the last week, offering the Doctor a chance to wear a new hat and a shiny yellow badge. The scenery was beautiful, the period was original for the show, yet something was still lacking. The exploration of the Doctor’s darker side was an interesting character development, however there’s character development and there’s outright contradiction of all that the character stands for. The Doctor has always been the voice of reason (concerning morality if nothing else), so for him to turn around and advocate the murder of a fellow being, whatever bad deeds they have committed, seems bizarre.  

September's Big Music Releases

by George Neame

September has always been a common time for the release of big albums by big artists. Having spent the summer showcasing their new songs at festivals across the world, it is finally time to cash-in on the tours as people search for some musical relief as they return to the often-mundane life of work. Consequently, this is the month for the men to flex their muscles, with almost all big releases coming from all-male alternative/rock bands.

There come few musical releases bigger than a new album by Las Vegas rockers The Killers, who, having been on hiatus for four years, made a return with Battle Born on 17th September 2012, their last release being 2008’s Day & Age. Their appearance at V Festival in August sparked a frenzy across the country and hugely impacted the anticipation of the new album. Unfortunately, it seems even The Killers themselves recognise that they are relying on their previous successes to make Battle Born popular. Only playing two new songs in a 16-song set suggests there is not actually that much to sing and dance about. A band whose genre can only be described as ‘stadium rock’ seem to be running out of ideas, and their 12 new songs just don’t seem stadium-worthy. ‘Arena rock’ may be a more fitting term. The album is not without its triumphs. Single Runaways and surprise gem Deadlines and Commitments provide the toe-tapping, sing-along verses that made the band popular, but when compared with albums such as Hot Fuss, there is a clear lack of hard-hitting potential singles. Halfway through, Miss Atomic Bomb seems to confirm The Killers’ nostalgia and aim to capitalise on past fame, with an emerging sequence of notes identical to that of fan favourite Mr Brightside. Whether intentional or not, the message is clear; either they are resorting to re-using popular tunes to increase album sales, or they truly are stuck for new ideas. It is this that makes Battle Born, frankly, dull. Not to mention the ghastly album cover. The other large release from across the Atlantic was Green Day’s ¡Uno!, the first part of their triple album, the other two parts (imaginatively named ¡Dos! and, you guessed it, ¡Tré!) are arriving in November and January.

The first week of September saw a tough showdown between two of the biggest emerging alternative bands. Both releasing that challenging follow-up album, Two Door Cinema Club and The Vaccines battled for the top spot in the charts (both, thankfully, knocking the excruciating Rita Ora down a few pegs). It was Two Door Cinema Club’s Beacon that had to settle for runner-up, despite gathering a huge following after their first album spawned songs such as What You Know, I Can Talk and Something Good Can Work whose catchy rhythms have been blaring from television screens in countless adverts for the past year or two. The album opens with the lyrically personal Next Year in which lead singer Alex Trimble’s warbling vocals (now world-famous after his appearance at the Olympics Opening Ceremony) sounds uncannily similar to The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers. The next few songs are nothing special and sound more or less the same, but Sun is what kicks the album into life, beginning as a piano-led ballad but quickly transforming into a jagged, stuttering guitar riff that forms the basis of a stomping, pulsating anthem. This continues all the way until The World Is Watching which will undoubtedly prove to be a hit-and-miss track, either providing some relaxing, calm, soulful relief from the mayhem, or being a boring, limp party-killer. Overall, Beacon is not one to be missed, with a little something to be found for every listener.

The Vaccines’ Come of Age successfully builds on their first album and, true to their word, signifies an increasing maturity within the band and their music. Single Teenage Icon is classic British alternative rock at its best with a relentless drum beat and lyrics signifying their humility after their newfound success, ‘I’m not magnetic or mythical, I’m suburban and typical’. Their famous repetitive choruses are catchy and upbeat, songs like Ghost Town making no sense lyrically with a tune that sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to a horror film, but being enjoyable and giving the sense. The songs seem much more structured and although the album isn’t perfect, it is definitely what we would expect from The Vaccines. And it is the imperfections (partly due to its being recorded entirely live) that make Come of Age what it is, sounding gritty and realistic, not artificial and unnatural.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Genius of Leonardo Da Vinci

by Katherine Tobin

After a visit to the National Portrait Gallery to see the much anticipated Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition, I was inspired to look into his most famous artworks and also at those which, although less well-known, were, I felt, equally significant.

Arriving at the gallery, I had a good idea, being an art student myself, of many of his paintings. Although I knew that the famous 'Mona Lisa' would not be at the gallery, I was aware that Da Vinci was very well known for his incredibly accurate paintings, such as the two almost identical 'Virgin on the Rocks', which were being exhibited together for the first time.

These paintings did not disappoint – the shading, colours and attention to detail were frankly unbelievable.  But coming away from the exhibition, it was not these impressive paintings that held in my mind.  It was, instead, the hundreds of small but very detailed sketches that Leonardo had made over the course of his time as an artist.  Although these did not have the grandeur of the paintings, nor the polished finish, these sketches were, for me, the most inspiring.

Having spent a good three hours in the gallery, I was surprised to discover that the sketches, which beforehand I was unaware of, covered around two thirds of the content there.  Some are well known, such as his “Proportions of the Human Figure” and his detailed areas of “The Last Supper” which were later encompassed in the painting.  But, even now, I struggle to find many well known sketches of his that are as famous and as widely recognised as his paintings.

This is a little bit of a shame for me – I find that the sketches often have a character where the paintings do not, and show a remarkable level of skill considering they were not to become a grand piece, like many of his paintings. I wonder, especially in the sketches where he was practising for a painting, whether he simply became bored of the painting itself from his incessant sketching of it.  Or maybe he simply preferred casual sketching rather than working for years on a single piece, such as 'St Jerome', which remains unfinished.

In any case, his sketches were skilled and accurate, and covered a surprisingly large range of topics: from plants to the anatomy of the human body.  He seemed to take a particular interest in the latter, where his sketches of the nervous system, skull and brain, embryo in the uterus and many more, show an inquisitorial side of Da Vinci which branches out from art showing also a keen interest in science.  The non-existence of photographic technology meant that drawing was the main source of information at that time, and Da Vinci was one of the key artists to really influence the medical world.  He used new methods such as dissection to accurately document how the human body worked.  These are some of his more well-known sketches and he was applauded for his contribution to modern science.

Leonardo also took an interest in animals, especially horses, where he made a great number of sketches outlining the muscles and proportions of their bodies.  I know the difficulty of drawing horses from personal experience, and was amazed to see how well he had captured the horse’s characteristics and movement.  Many of these sketches accompanied others on the same page, showing a brilliant but perhaps wandering mind.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Will The Presidential Debates Affect The Election Outcome?

by Philippa Abernethy


John McCain and Barack Obama
2008 Presidential Debate
(source: chicago.about.com)
The presidential debates for this upcoming presidential election are looming. There are four debates taking place from October 3rd to October 22nd 2012, three of which involve the presidential candidates, President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, with one involving their running mates, Vice President Joe Biden for the Democrats and Representative Paul Ryan for the Republicans. These Presidential debates have been, in recent years, viewed as increasingly important; during Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign, it is said, he only did eight hours of practice debating; Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has done nearer fifty hours. However, how much impact can these debates really have?

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry
Republican Primary Debate, 2012
(source: forbes.com)
It is often said that the election debates have very little effect on the outcome of the presidential election. Firstly, it is not always the case that the winner of the debate wins the election. In fact, in the last seven debates only four of the declared winners have gone on to win. John Kerry is the most obvious example of this when he lost the leadership battle in 2004, despite having won the debates. However, more than this, it is argued that the American electorate does not just base who it votes for on image, they vote based on policy, on the economy and the success of the incumbent, as well as the success of the TV ads the nominees put out. President Bush Sr, for example, in 1992 lost the presidential election to Bill Clinton after high unemployment and economic difficulty plagued the country. Therefore, it may be sensible for Romney and Obama not to focus too heavily on the debates, but instead to focus more time and money on advertising.
  
However, it seems that in some cases debates do have an enormous impact on a campaign. Rick Perry was considered to be one of the front runners in the Republican primaries for presidential nominee. He, like Romney, seemed a cut above other candidates, based on body language, presentation and confidence; where Perry seemed calm, collected and sharp, other candidates such as Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul seemed flustered. However Perry’s presidential campaign was effectively crippled by one poor debate in which he forgot which governmental departments he planned to shut down, leading people to believe he was completely incompetent. This shows the potentially enormous impact of the debates. Clearly a large factor in the success of a candidate is image: how they deal with pressure and whether they would be a competent person not just to act as a political force in America, but also to portray a good public face of America to other countries. Perhaps this is the same argument for not letting Boris Johnson into Downing Street!



Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last of a Dyin’ Breed


reviewed by Tim Bustin
If the name Lynyrd Skynyrd doesn’t ring any bells, then you may have the misfortune of never having listened to Southern Rock’s greatest band. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, named after a cruel P.E. teacher who didn’t like kids to have long hair and creator of such famous songs as “Sweet Home Alabama” and the epic “Freebird”, the band, in its heyday, was successful far beyond the normal reaches of Deep South musicians; with 3 double platinum albums, one single platinum and one gold, Skynyrd were opening for the likes of rock greats The Who after the release of their debut in 1973. That first album,” Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd”is currently listed as no. 403 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest albums of all time; the above singles are no. 193 and no. 398 respectively on Rolling Stone’s list of Greatest Songs of all time. This extraordinary septet, made from a mix of Ronnie Van Zant’s powerful vocals, Billy Powell’s classical pianist skills, Leon Wilkinson’s cool bass, Artimus Pyle’s funky drumming and topped off with the group’s signature lead guitar trio (Allen Collins, Gary Rossington and Ed King/Steve Gaines), popularised Southern Rock, showing it was plausible that not all Southern people were just tone-deaf rednecks. The group seemed determined to emphasise this in their lyrics, with songs for anti-racism, for love and for love of family and God. Tuneful ballads, such as “Tuesday’s Gone”, succeeded in showing off Ronnie’s soulful whine, along with the Rossington-Collins combination of saddening guitar solos and the perfect blends of all three lead guitars. Other hits, like the raw “Saturday Night Special”, were designed for their home crowd, whilst get-up-and-dance-along song “Whisky Rock-A-Roller” helped prove that these were serious musicians, with “God-given” talent, who could write any kind of song, without the loss of spirit or sound. These were seven men who, whilst still having fun doing it, were intending to go to all the way to the top.
So, if Lynyrd Skynyrd were so successful, you may still be wondering why you might not have heard of them. Well, three days after the release of the band’s sixth album, “Street Survivors”, in 1977, all seven members (along with the three back-up singers”) boarded a Convair CV-300 aircraft to take them to yet another show on what at the time was their most successful tour yet. The plane ran out of fuel just eight miles before reaching its destination. It crashed in a wooded area of Amite County near Gillsburg. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and his sister, back-up singer Cassie, were killed, whilst the others barely survived with their lives and limbs. Hence, in just a single night, ended the greatest band ever to play hard rock from the South – destroyed, just months before they could have finally earned full international fame. The survivors went their separate ways, forming spin-offs, like the Rossington-Collins band and the Artimus Pyle band, though these only had limited success. Alas, fans and critics agreed that perhaps the peak of the Southern rock genre had passed. Although Skynyrd had bred new, inspired bands, which came along, like Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top, who also had many achievements, no-one and no song could challenge the legacy of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

However, the shock of the crash wouldn’t last forever. In 1987, five of the surviving members, along with Ronnie Van Zant’s brother, Johnny, re-joined to pay tribute to those who had perished in the crash (Allen Collins died of pneumonia in 1990). This eventually led to an album, entitled Lynyrd Skynyrd – 1991. From there, the band stuck together; existing for old fans to watch live and occasionally release new material. In 2009, with Gary Rossington as the only surviving member of the pre-crash line-up, Skynyrd released “God and Guns” - a moving and incredible album, which reached no. 18 in the charts. And this made the band realise something important – that although only one original member (and two of the back-up singers) remained in the group, who had survived its darkest hour, there were still countless fans who were lining up to listen to this classic band. 
To a Southerner, playing in Lynyrd Skynyrd is like playing in The Rolling Stones: it’s a privilege and you of course respect the legacy you’re breathing life to. But with playing in Skynyrd it is more than to simply claim the respect of someone else’s work: it is to become a member of a close family, who respects one another, along with those who’ve gone “up above”. So now, still going thirty-nine years later, these old rockers have concocted a brand new tribute to the fallen; one that they don’t intend to be their last –“Last Of A Dyin’ Breed”.

The Countdown Begins . . .

by Jemima Carter


Only three months to wait . . .
(source: lifeasahuman.com)

Firstly, I would like to make it clear that I enjoy Christmas just as much as the next person. In fact I probably enjoy Christmas a whole lot more than the next person- I love walking onto the platform in the dark on frosty mornings with my mittens on, breathing out mist with air so cold it bites at your throat; I love hot water bottles, long pyjamas and thick socks; I love squishing into my sister’s bed at 6.30 in the morning with all my siblings to open stockings, and I actually quite like Brussels sprouts.

However, one thing I can’t abide is the endless commercialization of a celebration that is supposed to be all about charity and goodwill. We still have over two months until December even starts (yes- I’m not ashamed to say that my Christmas countdown has already been written in my planner for several weeks now) and yet we are already being bombarded with adverts for ‘great stocking-fillers’ (a term that I have an inexplicable, yet passionate, hatred for), being reminded in magazines that we should have started preparing months ago and being encouraged to get our turkey in early ‘to avoid disappointment’.

Now call me hypocritical, but it seems to me that all of the hype this early on just ends up degrading the actual day itself. By the time we get to the 25th (exactly a quarter of a year away), we are all so geared up that we find ourselves disappointed by the anticlimax. We keep on expecting the magic portrayed to us by the media; no matter how old we get, they still draw us in with their pink-cheeked children playing by the fire, wonderful family spirit around a table for a meal without even a hint of squabbling, and (most of all) long, hearty walks through metre-deep snow past charming cottages before returning home to melodious string music playing in the background.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Hackers: Writing


Writing


I once set out to write a rhyme:
Something to do to pass the time.
I tried to write, but at each verse
My words grew dull, the rhythm worse:
And so I stopped.

I wrote a story, short and sweet,
Then tried to force it, make it meet
The standards of a classic book.
I lengthened it to make it look
A masterpiece, with gripping plot
Great characters and themes: the lot!
But cracks appeared after a while
That revealed a laboured style:
And so I stopped.

I sat down at my desk one day –
I had in mind to write a play,
A quasi-tragicomedy –
A timeless great my play would be.
I wrote from three till half past four,
Then found that I could write no more:
For I learnt that, during Act Two,
My hero had nothing to do:
And so I stopped.

I started my biography –
I set it out as poetry.
Each poem on a different theme,
Like love, life, friendship, and writing.
But on myself, I have no thought:
So I must end this too, of course.


                                         Gregory Walton-Green

Sunday, 23 September 2012

White Man: A Murder Mystery





A murder-mystery filmed and performed by: Ned Davies, Harry Dutton, Henry Ling, Declan-Dali Murphy and Kelvin Shiu.

Antony and Cleopatra: A Review

Kim Cattrall as Cleopatra
(image source: Everyman Theatre)

by James Burkinshaw

Janet Suzman's performance as Shakespeare's Cleopatra nearly 40 years ago remains definitive, in the view of most critics. Thus, when it was announced that she would be directing Kim Cattrall in the role, in a new production of Antony and Cleopatra (currently at Chichester's Festival Theatre), there was much excitement. Cattrall’s career-defining character, Samantha, in Sex and the City, shares many characteristics with Cleopatra --- both are strong, intelligent, sensual women, conscious of age and armed with a protective, self-knowing irony; each is desirous of the attention of men while amusedly contemptuous of their inadequacies and hypocrisies.

Suzman handled the staging of this notoriously difficult play (with forty-two scene changes, taking place from Rome to the Parthian border and all points in between) fluently and economically. The soft glow of lanterns suggested Egyptian sensuality and luxury, while stark lighting on an unadorned brick wall conveyed the implacable power of Rome. Although the Romans were rather unoriginally dressed in Ruritanian costumes straight out of Duck Soup, the rebellious Pompey was cleverly presented as a charismatic but unstable militia leader complete with keffiyeh and ammunition belt strapped across his chest. The opening of the play was memorable, with Cleopatra rising up on a pedestal, like a combination of Greek goddess and pop diva, in a mask of gold. In contrast, her nemesis, Octavius, was the only character dressed in a dark, sober business suit, emphasising his isolated self possession.

Martin Hutson as Octavius Caesar
(image: Chichester Festival Theatre)
Martin Hutson was superb as Octavius, Julius Caesar’s adopted son and Antony’s rival for power, brilliantly capturing his puritanical austerity, social awkwardness and politician’s cunning (like a Roman Richard Nixon), while also suggesting a touching vulnerability in his protective tenderness towards his sister Octavia. The first half of the play ended with Octavius and Octavia clinging to each other for comfort (following her betrayal by Antony), looking for all the world like two abandoned children. For me, it was the most powerful moment in the play.

Which it really shouldn’t be. The disqualifying weakness of this production (as many critics have observed) was the lack of chemistry between the two actors (Michael Pennington and Kim Cattrall) portraying Antony and Cleopatra. Cattrall herself was effective in the scenes when Cleopatra is unburdening herself to her handmaidens, Charmian and Iras, in the privacy of her chamber; there was a subtlety, intimacy, humour and authenticity to these moments that was convincing and moving. There was also a nice touch when, signing official documents, Cleopatra hesitantly and self-consciously put on a pair of reading glasses, suggesting the diminution of powers that accompanies encroaching age.

Poem: Slavery

by Lucy Cole


This is a poem I wrote in Year Eight whilst studying the trans-atlantic slave trade, arguably one of the largest atrocities against humanity in history. The industry began in the 16th century, transporting Africans from West and Central Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, where they were used as free labour on huge plantations. The trans-Atlantic slave trade continued until it was finally abolished in the early nineteenth century. However, slavery itself was not ended in the United States until Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1865.  


Slaves being thrown overboard (c. 1781)
(sick or dying people who would not fetch a high price as slaves were
brutally disposed of in this way by slave traders. The incident illustrated
(aboard the slave ship Zong) became particularly infamous and helped
turn public opinion against the Atlantic slave trade
(image source: hullwebs.co.uk)

My heart ripped, torn to shreds,
At watching my family forced from their beds,
Strong hands that grasp me,
From the behind,
Strong men that pull me,
All but kind.
Children are screaming,
Brothers lie dead,
The loss of an arm,
The slash of a head.

Wheels roll beneath me,
Chains bind my feet,
The floor of a cart,
Under my seat,
My freedom is gone,
Taken away,
No longer the dancing,
No joys as I lay.

Sea waves come into view,
Foreboding and dark,
Threatening and fascinating,
Striking their mark,
Wood plank to step on,
Over the waves,
Terror that fills me,
Nothing can save,
A ship I arrive on,
A land on the sea,
Down dark decks I go to,
Beckoning me.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Have the Olympics Inspired A Generation?

by Peter Jordan


London 2012 Volunteers, with Mayor Boris Johnson
(source: Daily Mail)

During the Summer I was a spectator at three Olympic events. The cycle time trials (road), men’s triathlon and the final night of the athletics (yes, I saw the Mobot win his second gold medal). However, one thing that struck me was how different the spectators were to the ones I normally rub shoulders with at major sporting events.  No drunkenness or swearing and many more well-behaved spectators.

In the afterglow of a truly fantastic two weeks, the BBC has been focusing on how well the Olympics reflected our country and how it will inspire a generation. While I agree that the London Olympics was a showcase of great behaviour, I would also suggest that this is not a true reflection of the Britain I live in. I am also not convinced that it will inspire a generation.

The inflexibility and uncertainty of the ticket lottery and the need for volunteers to sign up for two weeks and to fund their own travel and/or accommodation expenses guaranteed that the London Olympics would be dominated by affluent and well-behaved volunteers and spectators.  In general, the people I know who got “lucky” in the lottery or volunteered, were typically individuals who could afford to take the financial risk of applying for multiple tickets or take two weeks off work.

So, if it was a middle class Olympics, what legacy benefits can we expect to obtain?

Best Intentions

an original song by George Chapman,




Read on for George's musical and lyrical overview of the song,

Friday, 21 September 2012

Premier League Prospects For Newly Promoted Teams

by Thomas Penlington

 
Barclays Premier League Trophy
(image:cedrickdelest.com)
Founded on the 20th of February 1992, the Premier League is the pinnacle and ultimate aim of every football team in Britain. The standard and financial input splits the top teams like Manchester United from lower league teams like Aldershot. Regarded as the greatest league in the world and holding the greatest teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea the Premier League is the most physically demanding and popular league in the world.  Being watched on average by 643 million viewers and with BskyB and BT paying within excess of £3 billion to secure the broadcast of 116 and 38 games respectively, it is clearly popular. Each season, three teams earn the right through the Championship to make the transition to the premier league and achieve promotion.
 
The step up is no easy feat and they must adapt both physically and tactically if they are to survive. The three new teams aiming to battle through the season are Reading, Southampton and West Ham United. Reading and West Ham have already experienced the taste of the Premier League before being defeated but they are back with vengeance, aiming to once again take their place among Britain’s finest teams and the world’s finest players. Southampton are newcomers and will experience the Premier League for the first time. In this article, I evaluate the team’s chances and predict their finishing position.

Reading crowned Championship winners 2011-2012
(image: Daily Mail)
Reading finished the Championship 1st and 1 point clear of second place Southampton. Over the summer transfer window, Reading made a total of 9 signings, a large number for a club with nowhere near the financial opportunities at the manager's fingertips as larger clubs in the Premier League, most notably Manchester City. In my view, the most promising and most inspired signing for reading was Pavel Progrebnyak from Fulham for a free transfer. The most important attribute a team must have is the ability to score goals in order to accumulate enough points to survive, so in that case a team needs a goal scorer. Progrebnyak produced a flurry of goals for Fulham last season and decided to sign for Reading instead, showing he wants to play for them. He also has the technical and physical ability to battle with Europe’s finest players. Overall, I believe Reading will have a successful campaign and remain in the Premier League. I predict a 15 place finish for Reading.

‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui': A Review

by Mary Mitchell
 

Henry Goodman as Arturo Ui
Minerva Theatre, Chichester
(image: pjproductions)
For those of you who are not Brecht fans, and those of you who did not see this amazingly colourful and energetic production, I send my greatest sympathies. Whilst being a high-energy, frenetic, humorous and satirical allegory of the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, its main success arises from the chilling accusations levelled at the audience: the horrors of Nazism could happen again.

 
The play, originally written in 1941, chronicles the rise of the Chaplinesque Arturo Ui who is a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster --- albeit modelled entirely on Hitler. Ui gains a stranglehold over the cauliflower trade in both Chicago and Cicero which, in turn, enables him to secure power over and dominate all other mobsters in the region. This lily-livered upstart, who is afraid of his own shadow, is slowly transformed into a megalomaniac, indestructible force for evil.

'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui'
Minerva Theatre, Chichester
(images: manuelharlan)

His rise to power, unchallenged by the vicious gangsters he manipulates, is beautifully and skilfully played by Henry Goodman. Within the course of the play Goodman produces an Ui who is both gauche, childish and pathetically inadequate and yet has the cunning and calculating characteristics of a maniacal and demonic despot. Before our very eyes, Ui metamorphoses, with barely the arch of an eyebrow, into a sinister and brutal dictator. A delicious moment of pure directing genius has Ui learning choreographed movements, from a washed-up Shakespearean actor, which transform him into a goose-stepping caricature of Hitler. This hilarious moment chills the audience to the bone as the central message of the play finally strikes home.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Hackers: The Quill


The Quill

Here lies the profit:

trapped

in his legacy of erasers and tipex.

Forsaken. Forgotten

by the Master for whom he built empires

of love and loss. Each night his blood

was spilt in oceans of bold passion

with wings he’d soar through sparkling skies

and please his Lord, so was the fashion

of his kingdom, which was admired

by fans and critics far and wide.

But soon his feathers

crumpled and his

blood boiled

under the artificial shadow

that left his nation

a wasteland.

A castaway remains:

a preacher

abandoned

by a God.

                   Tom Harper

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012: An Insider’s Account

by Emma Ralph


Improvoganza: an improvised fight
(all images: courtesy of Emma Ralph)

 Since the few performances in 1947, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has grown to more than 2,000 shows a day. It is not surprising to note, therefore, that the competition to have a well-known show on the circuit is rife. I was in three shows at the Fringe and one event; my cast of 5 actors took to the Royal Mile, as did almost every other company. We sang and handed out flyers for hours and in that time everyone gets a bit creative.  Comedy-improvising companies took to busking improvised plays; some people took a bed to the Mile and lay in it handing out flyers. There was one case of a giant sperm being lifted through the Mile, the three witches from Macbeth on stilts being raised from the crowd and a bathtub full of actors just wearing towels.

It was late Tuesday morning, in scorching heat (unusual for Edinburgh) and the battle was about to begin; as I stepped round the corner from South Bridge, the ‘Newland’ cast had already set up, A Scholl of yellow T-shirts flooded the Mile. The ‘Clockwork Orange’ boys had started stretching for their demonstration of a physical theatre gang battle – something to behold – the giant sperm was swimming and the bed sheets were made. The crowd of people was immense. Geared with flyers, we began our barbershop number from the musical, then the opening number; if we moved too far away from one another the harmonies would disappear, so moving together to catch people and give them flyers was a climb in itself. ‘Lights! Camera! Improvise!’ were starting to steal our punters so we had to move quickly. One company were lying still on the ground with their eyes closed just holding out flyers – rookie mistake! We littered our flyers around them in a lovely pattern and people started to take ours from the floor instead. Poster on poster was continually pasted on to the stands of the Mile, relentless, unrecognised effort just for people to remember your poster and the ‘look’ of your show; well, I had three and for each a different demographic.

Emma Ralph (right) performing at the Fringe
Reviews are the biggest part of selling a show, there was not a single company that half way through the fringe didn’t experience the late night cutting and stapling to flyers of reviews and star ratings. But there were the most spectacular shows on in Edinburgh. To name only a couple (that are showing in London so you might be able to catch them): “A Clockwork Orange” by Action To The Word is a fantastic physical theatre approach to the Burgess novel. However, “The Loves I Haven’t Known” was a highlight for me. The theatre could only sit roughly 50 people; it was hot and only two men were on stage playing a lot of different instruments as well as singing and acting (mostly exposition) --- all of it was hilarious. These men were clearly extremely talented and yet they were hidden away in the smallest venue.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Cricket: World Twenty 20 in Sri Lanka --- A Preview

by Sampad Sengupta



After a long summer of sports, the ICC World T20 is knocking at the door once again, this time being played in Sri Lanka. Cricketing nations from all over the globe are gearing up for what promises to be an enticing affair, with many teams with their eyes on the trophy.
The International Cricket Committee, the ICC, first launched T20 cricket on the world stage at the T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007. Since then the tournament has been played in England in 2009 and West Indies in 2010, with India, Pakistan and England emerging as winners in these editions.
Let’s take a look at the teams and their chances of victory, starting with hosts, Sri Lanka.
SRI LANKA: Hosts Sri Lanka will be one of the major contenders for the title in front of their home crowds with the likes of experienced campaigners, Mahela Jawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and TM Dilshan about, but are plagued by the inconsistence of their young guns. The bowling, apart from Lasith Malinga, also lacks some serious fire power. Let’s see if the hosts can turn things around with some spirited performances.
AUSTRALIA: Cricketing giants for quite some time, Australian cricket had suffered during a transition period after the retirement of some of the cricketing greats. However, Australia do pack a punch with the likes of David Warner, Shane Watson, David and Michael Hussey. Their bowling unit boasts of a nice blend of youth and experience and if it clicks, the Aussies might be on track for their first T20 trophy.
BANGLADESH: Bangladesh have been inconsistent and not performed to their potential. Led by young wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh have the best all-rounder in world cricket in Shakib Al Hasan. Their bowling has depth and if their batting can click, they could well provide the surprise element in the tournament.
ENGLAND: England are grouped with India and Afghanistan and are expected to ease through this group along with India. Boosted by firing young talents like Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales, England look a settled unit under T20 captain Stuart Broad. Their batting will however revolve a lot around middle-order batsman Eoin Morgan and bowlers Broad and Graeme Swann will hold the key in sub continental conditions.
INDIA: India are as usual a force to reckon with, with MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and the in form Virat Kohli in their ranks. However, all eyes will be on Yuvraj Singh who makes his comeback to cricket after recovering from a rare germ cell cancer. India do boast of a strong batting line up but their woes of bowling in the death continue and may just hamper their shot at the title.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Kanye West and G.O.O.D Music Present: Cruel Summer

reviewed by Neil Chhabda

“Cruel Summer” was undoubtedly one of the most anticipated albums of 2012. Saying that expectations were high would be an understatement. Kanye West has enjoyed plenty of success with collaborations in the past; last year his collaboration album with Jay-Z, “Watch the Throne” was a critical and commercial success. Singles such as “Otis” and “Paris” spent several weeks in the Top 10 in the USA and the UK. Even before then, on what is his best album to date, “Graduation”, the finest tracks always featured other artists, not ones that were necessarily well known, but those who brought something fresh to the song and made Graduation incredible. It should have been a similar story with Cruel Summer; the same arrogant albeit unquestionably talented Kanye West bringing his unique and clever lyrics, delivered to perfection, and some unknown artists with great potential, looking to show the world that they have what it takes to be the best, by adding some of their charisma and lyrical genius to this album.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 – A Review

by Louisa Stark



 
Having seen a BBC programme chronicling the collaborative efforts of the National Gallery and Royal Opera House, which resulted in three new ballets and an exhibition, I was excited to see the work on display at ‘Metamorphosis: Titian 2012’.  Alongside three paintings by Titian, which inspired the whole event, were the responses of three contemporary artists commissioned to bring a story from Ovid’s Metamorphosis into the twenty-first century, through set and costume design as well as their own artwork. Although I only saw excerpts from the ballet on the television, my real interest was the art.

Everything centred on the work of one great master: Titian.  Displayed almost in the entrance of the exhibit, his three paintings ‘Diana and Castillo’, ‘Diana and Actaeon’ and the newly acquired ‘The Death of Actaeon’ were interposed by glimpses into the other responses; a mechanical arm waved mesmerizingly in the distance, vivid tropical colour flashed through a doorway.  Yet, it was the three paintings I couldn’t help but be drawn to.  In response to a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Titian's work depicted the transformation of Actaeon in a stag after witnessing the goddess Diana, bathing. Extraordinarily detailed and highly illustrative in their narrative power, they were anything but traditional. 

The bravest work was by Chris Ofili, who chose to paint.  Naturally, exhibiting paintings alongside Titian would draw a direct comparison and most probably come out second best.  Inspired by his native Trinidad, he looked right back to Titian’s own source material: Ovid’s writing.  The bright colour, applied in fluid, luscious strokes evoked the sensual setting of Titian’s nymphs.  But rather than telling a coherent story, looking at his paintings only evoked an emotion, a splash of exotic paint with no real substance.
I stepped out of this blaze of colour into the darkness.  For Mark Wallinger had created an installation, consisting of a black box inside a darkened room.  In order to view what lay inside, you had to peer through the letter box, venetian blinds and carefully drilled spy-holes; in other words you had to become the voyeur.  Within, Wallinger had constructed a modern day bathroom, in which a modern day Diana was bathing.  I felt guilty as I circled the room, but I did not feel like Actaeon.  Returning to Titian at the end, I looked at the second painting again and saw that Actaeon’s poise was not that of a predator watching its prey; with his hands held up in surrender, he looked as if he had accidently stumbled across the scene, and was aware of the terrible punishment he would have to suffer for it.  But perhaps his biggest mistake of all was casting the vengeful Diana as a victim, trapped and vulnerable within the confines of the box, subject to the watchful eyes of visitors.  He made the whole thing an uncomfortably creepy experience for both the viewer and, I suspect, the poor woman playing Diana.