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 Here, Here, year, year. Things are different since you came last.


1) Was 2010 a good year for you?
I wouldn’t want to consider it as a whole since the two sides of the year have been completely different. Being at Uni in Leeds was terrible and depressing, being at Lancaster has been excellent! Though there were obviously highlights to Leeds and poor parts to Lancaster, but I’m hoping the next questions will ask me to elaborate on that. OH! And Summer. Some inspiring and awesome things happened throughout, but at other times it felt like time had stopped. 2010 has been a bit of a messy year, really.

2) What were your favourite moments of the year?
Good results for everything at Leeds, getting in to Lancaster, Bulgaria, every time I went to London, hiking, being made culture editor-elect, living with Chloe and the Lancastrians, Green Man, Muse, seeing friends after long absences (that’s you lot and also Danndanny), YRS2010.

3) What was your least favourite moment of the year?
Being all depressed and that in Leeds, knowing I’ve not done too hot in my essays this semester. Also, proving that I almost certainly will never, ever, ever get over this (until I go, obviously), wanting to explode yesterday in work when I found out one of my colleagues goes to Oxford.

4) Where were you when 2010 began?
Jennie’s front room, a bit too drunk, bracing.

5) Who were you with?
Ye folk!

6) Where will you be when 2010 ends?
Trying to organise some sort of ditty at mine if any one's up for that.

7) Who will you be with when 2010 ends?
Ye folk? Although it seems like some folk won’t be here this year?! Diaspora?

8) Did you keep your new years resolution of 2010?
I didn’t have any.

9) Do you have a new years resolution for 2011?
I won’t have any.

10) Did you fall in love in 2010?
Too many times to count. I frequently fall over small steps, my own feet, kerbs, small stones, children and particularly hard bits of air. I don’t know if being in love is the main reason for this annoyingly quotidian occurrence, but Chloe would almost certainly say that I tend to fall over more when I’m with her.

11) If yes, with who?
Vide supra

12) If 2010 was a fruit, what fruit would it be?
Avocado. Or a pomegranate.

13) Why did researchers find it so hard to prove the existence of a Social Problem Group?

14) How thoroughly conquered was 14th Century Wales?

15) Did you breakup with anyone in 2010?
I don’t think so.

16) Did you make any new friends in 2010?
I’d say Danndanny made the transition to “awesome buddies” in 2010. Also, all the new folk at Lancaster. Got to know Mat, Jon, Vicky and Shane better. Made histo-chums with Phil, Megan, Katie and Helen. Wow, that is a huge improvement over last year!

17) Who are your favourite new friends?
I’ll exclude Danndanny, because they would have made this list last year if I had done it. So I’ll go with Phil, mainly because I’ve played darts with him. That’s a bond right there, right?

18) What was your favourite month of 2010?
November. Fully settled into Lancs and enjoying myself before the essay shit-monsoon turned up.

19) Did you travel outside of your country of residence in 2010?
Chloe and I went to Bulgaria, which was great! The food is gorgeous, the beer is 40p a pint and they have a really interesting language and culture.

20) How many different states/provinces did you travel to in 2010?
I went to London thrice, for John Green, ORGCON and YRS2010. South Wales for Green Man, Chester, Lancaster, Manchester, Leeds...

21) Did you lose anybody close to you in 2010?

Not in the death sense.

22) Did you miss anybody in the past year?
‘obvs’.

23) What was your favourite movie that you saw in 2010?
Either Scott Pilgrim of Toy Story. I could watch both of them forever.

24) What was your favourite song from 2010?
Not too hot on songs of the year. Would probably take the pick of my top album, so I’d say ‘I just signed. I just sighed, just so you know’

25) What was your favourite record from 2010?
New LC! ‘Romance is Boring’. What a record. Special mentions to Crystal Castles and Owen Pallett too.

26) How many concerts did you see in 2010?
A fair few... caught plenty in Leeds at the start of the year - Honour Before Glory, Esben and the Witch, Paul Thomas Saunders, Sketches, Downdime, Blue Roses and Grammatics. Oh, Grammatics. What a show too! Muse was mindblowing, properly amazing. Regina was great, perhaps not as good as last year because a) we had to stand and b) everything smelt funny. Also, Greenman! My first festival and it was absolutely brilliant. We saw Flaming Lips, Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, Wild Beasts, Efterklang, Billy Bragg, Fuck Buttons and loads of other small bands. We’re going again next year. News on the street is that Cat Power could be headlining! You should all come.

27) Did you have a favourite concert in 2010?
Muse, and also Flaming Lips at Greenman. Me and Danny lied about touching Wayne Coyne’s ball and Dan still believes us. tee hee!

28) Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2010?

Not too much... more beer next year. Need to try this drinking beer/student thing at least once.

29) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2010?

Caffeineeineineienei.

30) How did the Russia Revolution musical come along?

Not great shakes. Not really made any progress on it since summer. Scupper.

31) Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
I can’t remember any, so I’ll say no.

32) Where did question 32 go?

A mystery worth of Sherlock himself.

33) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2010?

Telling Dan that we touched the ball, as above.

34) Did you treat somebody badly in 2010?
I sure hope not!

35) Did somebody treat you badly in 2010?
I sure hope not!

36) How much money did you spend in 2010?
This question makes me very upset.

37) What was your proudest moment of 2010?
Cracking marks towards the end of last year, especially my French mark for speaking. That was such a massive surprise too! Otherwise, almost certainly being part of YRS again. Presenting our projects and working with such a creative bunch of people. And someone who works for the home office told me I was ‘funny’. Finally, getting Culture Editor and picked for University Challenge!

38) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2010?

Can’t remember any especially bad ones this year. Improvement!

39) If you could go back in time to any moment of 2010 and change something, what would it be?
Read more during the summer!

40) What are your plans for 2011?
There’s plenty in the pipeline, I’d rather not disclose them though. I really, really think I’ll get driving done next year though.

41) Favourite word of 2010?

It has to be ‘opprobrium’, simply because it became absolutely ubiquitous in literature and newspapers as soon as I’d found out what it meant. What a great word. Look at all this opprobrium I’ve heaped on 2010. A steaming pile of soggy opprobrium. It can’t have been such a bad year if I enhanced my vocabulary with that great word =D

On Symposia

I've been pretty quiet on here lately. After coming to the soul-destroying conclusion that no-one but me actually cares about copyright law (WHYYYY!??), I'll totally just write about what I'm doing in real life from now on, not about Digital Economies and copyright reform. Alas, I've been back at University for 5 weeks now - and it's not Leeds, but rather than most splendid of places that was ever burnt by Robert de Brus - Lancaster!

Last year, from a not entirely purely objective standpoint, was a bit of a disaster. It felt like a bit of a write off really, especially from an academic front. Nothing really happened, did it? It was a year that sapped my brains more than it fed them, and my brain is quite a big fan of food and knowledge but mostly food. Alas, with hindsight, it was probably just my brain being a spoilt lump of tissue, as usual. It felt like a write-off because I wasn't exploding out of glass ceilings like usual; probably because I seemed to have forgotten that hard-work was a necessity in getting places. Floating by was all well and good in college when I could ace tests without thinking, but that sort of approach spluttered around Oxford time and then continued to falter all through last year.

NEVERTHELESS! I feel like I'm improving. Lancaster makes me plenty happier for plenty of reasons, and although I've left friends back in Leeds I won't stop seeing them {do miss Dan and Danny a bit like. Chloe takes great pleasure in calling them my girlfriends, since I am in such frequent contact with them. And I miss Jenny and Serena too, but I see you guys in the holidays so it's not too bad (wow, really long brackets! Probably interrupting the flow a bit here [best get back to my original sentence now])}, so it's all wonderful. Being happier makes me much more productive, and being productive feeds into my happiness meters. Lovely cycle of self-perpetuating loveliness.

Lancaster just feels much more suited to my tastes - it's smaller and more community-oriented, which is always fun, because I suck at making friends in big environments... for example, only thrice this year have I made an entirely un-cordinated series of vowel sounds in place of words when trying to communicate with someone, whereas previously that was all I was capable of! Fortune has also sided with me in terms of living folk; Chloe's house is far from perfect and much closer to "I might cry if the mould concentration in the kitchen continues to increase" but most of the people here are great, and I know them all from last year anyway. Chancellor's Wharf, my official home, is cracking too - the guys I live with are incredibly fun. Sometimes they go out, but mostly they sit around the kitchen table and play a variation on Scrabble where arguments and projectiles are launched over any sort of lexical discrepancy. I like them. The town is much smaller, which is perfect, since it means the amount of nightclubs is lower. The ppi (pubs per inch) ratio has to be one of the highest in the country, though, which is equally spiffy!

As a result, the work is flowing in; and it's never the minimum standard like it was last year. I'm spending ridiculous amounts of time in the library because I want BIG FIRSTS this year. Firsts were reasonably common last year but they were never much more than 70, so I want to be pushing on for the high-seventies (and hopefully low eighties) this year. Doubtless this'll be hard to do, but my courses are really interesting and if I could get firsts from midnight-noon essays last year, surely I can improve on it this time round? Throwing myself into extra stuff has been great too. I've already done more for the paper than I did last year; hopefully I'll be EDITOR FOR CULTURE next year, mainly because it'll give me a valid reason to grow fashionable facial hair, even just as an experiment. Milo and I should be on the radio soon when we can figure out a slot, and the hike we went on the other week was properly stunning. Also tiring. Mainly stunning. For some reason I've not managed to LUGS yet, though hopefully I rectify that this week...

There's not really anything else my tired brain wants to let you know about right now, though I should probably mention that maybe in the future perhaps I would like to do History as a full time thing... That's why I'm aiming for such high grades this year, because if I want to get on any sort of post-graduate course then I better start putting the work in now. I love the academic part of Lancaster - some of the lecturers are right mavericks, which is how I imagined University to be (though there are notable exceptions). Sandy Grant, who teaches late Medieval British Politcs, is a proper Scottish, maverick, swashbuckling, screw-the-system academic, and it's awesome. Incredibly awesome. Consequently, I'm going to this killer event next Thursday:
 
LIBERTY AND ITS HISTORIES: A SYMPOSIUM WITH QUENTIN SKINNER!

A symposium is basically where historians do lectures about all the research they've been doing, then get incredibly drunk and fuck up some University property. Presumably. It's probably just the first part, actually, though if I can get them down to the Sugarhouse I'm sure everyone will be in for a treat. And I'll leave you all with one of the album reviews I wrote for SCAN. It's not been published yet, so you should all totally check it for spelling and grammar and fun. Also, sorry I couldn't come to Bangor, money was horrible to me, but it looks like you all had a swell time =D

WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN IS HERE ALSO CUT DOESN'T WANT TO WORK FOR ME SO I'LL WRITE IN RED CAPITALS


ALBUM REVIEW #1 - MAXIMUM BALLOON - MAXIMUM BALLOON

The concept of “cool” is a very odd thing indeed. Wikipedia describes it as “an aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of theZeitgeist”. It’s a pretty tricky definition to grasp but you can almost certainly apply it to David Sitek, the guitarist and song writer of the frequently lauded TV on the Radio. Maximum Balloon is Sitek’s first attempt at a solo album, and it’s complete with cool minimalist artwork, cool beats and rhythms, cool synths and horns, and a bunch of collaborators that you’re almost certainly not cool enough to have heard of. Cool. Very cool. Chilly. Freezing. Listen to it more than once and you’ll almost certainly have a severe case of hypothermia. It’s very cool, is what I’m trying to say here.

Now there’s clearly a lot of people who’ll find this kind of thing attractive, and to be fair to them, it’s easy to understand why. Maximum Balloon manages to successfully fuse slick, urban-esque rhythms with funk-inspired guitar and keyboards that will undoubtedly be the soundtrack to New York club nights for months to come. The aforementioned collaborators include the esteemed likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O and even David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame - every one of them brings something new to the record. Nevertheless, Sitek does seem to let the album coast on this infinite supply of “coolness” - at no point does it even try to exceed the sum of its parts. It’s a bit too cool for its own good really - dazzlingly sparkly on top but when you try and find any sort of substance, it is severely lacking.

Alas, it’s not all bad news, far from it. The album soars into life with what is definitely the best song - current single Groove Me - which combines layers of effervescent keyboards and blasts of funky horn and guitar with the downright beautiful vocals of a rapper you’ve never heard of (Theophilus London - he’s just cooler than you’ll ever be, right?). It’s got everything going for it in terms of production, too - Sitek does a great job bringing the whole thing to life and spinning on to the dance floor. It takes a while to reach the single’s peaks again, but when it does it’s a pretty great one - Karen O puts in a great vocal performance on what is one of the few tracks you could go back to more than once, Communion. It’s the logical extension of the material from It’s Blitz, and it probably succeeds here simply because it does sound like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs' song. This is followed immediately by Tiger, a fast dance number which is certainly exhilarating but highlights the flaws of the album perfectly - wonderful at the time but it leaves no lasting impression whatsoever. After a few more fillers, David Byrne picks up the pace again with Apartment Wrestling, but the album grinds to a surprisingly dull conclusion with Pink Bricks.

Maximum Balloon is probably best summed up with a fitting balloon-based metaphor. It is big. It is bright. It is very shiny. But it’s easy to puncture this illusion. The whole thing is inflated with a seemingly endless supply of cool but after a few listens there’s only a smattering of tracks you’ll want to revisit. So this is an album best enjoyed in a short burst - it’s better to let it explode in a dazzling burst of noise than see it deflate and wither into a tired old mess as time goes by... 6.5/10

 

Look I do stuff in summer right?

The Holidays In a Nit-picking, Gluttonous Speech. It's How A Vexacious, Erudite Disciple Of the Nation Experiences The High Intensity Summer. So Understand My Machinations and Experiences, Right!

Or, THINGS I HAVE DONE THIS SUMMER, PART ONE - JOE DOES THE GEEK THING


I really honestly seriously planned to update all the time this summer. Of course that kind of furious activity hasn't been seen upon these hallowed pages since way back in the annals of blogging, those halcyon days of yore when I wrote in riddles and metaphors and whines. Alas, I've got lots of things to tell you about! I've seen some films; listened to a lot of music; went to my first festival; visited the glorious capital on three occasions; been to an epic book signing; played Ikaruga a lot; refused to go to clubs; reprogrammed the government and transferred University. Doubtless I'll come across other things as pick through the shattered fragments of my summer-y memories. Please enjoy my memory splurge. I'll put pictures in too. I promise they'll be no pictures of Ben Webb or anything. Honest!

I'm going to cut this. It's going to be fucking huge, you see. Actually, no, wait. I'm not. Sorry.

ORGCON (LONDON VISIT 1)

This is really the first thing I remember doing this Summer, which is quite worrying, because it means either a) I have completely forgotten what happened in the first month and a half of the holidays or the equally distasteful b) I didn't really do anything note-worthy for the first month and a half of my holidays. This means wither a) I have amnesia or b) I am very lazy. Both are very true. Anyhow, I digress.

ORGCON was a conference organised by the Open Rights Group, which is sort of like Amnesty International for computers. They deal with all sorts of stuff that you're probably not interested in (although you really should be!), like Online Privacy, Censorship, Copyright Reform and all that kind of stuff. This probably sounds incredibly dry to all of you but it was a really interesting and insightful day with some excellent speakers.

James Boyle, a world renowned Pro(fessor) at Law, gave an awesome keynote on the "Incredible Shrinking Public Domain", about how the current copyright system has meant our culture has been shut off from accessing its own works, creating an immense cultural vacuum. Thanks to ridiculous copyright law decisions, we have little access to works created within our own lifetime - they are not open for us to remix or redistribute, even though we have the technology to do so.

The Digital Economy Act and ACTA were also high on the agenda. These are two horrible, nasty things that have been put into action by the previous UK Government and the EU, respectively. The DEA was smushed in by Labour before the Election (Does anyone remember Labour? Those red guys. They weren't very good). It basically means mass internet censorship if the government finds anything they don't like - QUITE SHIFTY - and cutting people off completely from the internet if you are suspected of copyright infringement. Suspected. Someone could use your wi-fi. Households being cut off for one persons misdemeanor. No more public wi-fi as a result. Guilty until proven innocent. Totally wrong guys.

Anyway, if you are even slightly interested in this, then I suggest you join ORG over at this site  www.openrightsgroup.org/join , watch some of the videos from the day, vimeo.com/openrightsgroup , or read a write up which is much more astute than anything I could drivel out here. 


YOUNG REWIRED STATE 2010 (LONDON VISIT 2)


I'm continuing on the geeky end of the spectrum for now. The really super geeky end that even Raymond doesn't really get involved in. Alas, this is the thing I did a hell of a lot of tweeting about with the #yrs2010 tag that none of you knew about and none of you expressed interest in as soon as a I mentioned that Ben was involved. ANYHOW!

I did YRS last year and it was a really interesting experience. I got to learn from (and network with) a lot of great people, as well as visit the Google headquarters in London, were they gave out free Toffee Crisps on demand, something which has endeared them to me greatly. Oh! And also crisps, lots of free crisps. Last year was a traditional 2-day mega-intense hack day where we had to put something together in a really short space of time, and we made this little thing - http://libreapps.com/blogotics/ - which is a bit dead now, but was a lovely idea.

This year things were done differently, so instead of having a mega html-clusterfuck down in the Capital, we had a bit of time to put things together in Manchester (a week) before heading down to Larrrndon to present things. This meant the team could get a lot more done, and as such we produced LOTS OF THE GOODS - http://dev.dfey.org/ - which you really should check out, because a lot of them are very interesting. My friend Tim made a rap video about the event, which I won't show you, because it is a rap video sung by a white man who works in telecommunications. It was really ghetto.

All in all it was an awesome week, with the Manchester team winning plenty of prizes. You might have stumbled across Ben in the paper several times (or furiously and without-mercy clawed out your eyeballs the moment you saw his name in print, because I know you all do that, you cheeky sausages!) because he and Josh made a funky little app for iPhones which pulls up bus timetables. It's a really obvious idea, which has been executed very well, and they've completely pwned the GMPTE's entire techie output, in a week, with no money! All in all, I had a good week.


JOHN GREEN DOESN'T FORGET TO BE AWESOME (LONDON VISIT 3)

For Chloe's birthday we had the book-gasmically brilliant coincidence of having

JOHN GREEN, THE MICHAEL L. PRINTZ WINNING AUTHOR OF YOUNG ADULT FICTION AND PROMINENT YOUTUBE VLOGGER AND ALL ROUND SMASHING FELLOW DESPITE NOT BEING ABLE TO PRONOUNCE LEICESTER PROPERLY

pop round to our country for a bit, because that's what famous authors do and all! There are plenty of pictures of this day, unlike the other two things on this page, simply because I went there with Chloe and Sarah, two species which are well-known for the prolific amount of photographs they take on important occasions. We met real nerdfigthers! John read from Paper Towns! I solved the tension in my belief system involving John's hatred of the French football team (Top country = France, Top writer = John Green, John Green hates France = ACK!? Anyway, he'll forgive the French nation he said, just not the soccer team)!

He talked plenty in his dulcet American tones about a couple of things. Before the Paper Towns reading (which we all have signed copies of), he talked very passionately about the importance of reading and of books, and the way in which they are the most challenging, meaningful and moving of all media. I mean, he would say this, being an author and all, but he made some really good points. When we watch films or play video games we only really ingest entertainment. Of course there will be meaning there for us to interpret, but the information there is usually presented for us in a spangly-pants, ready to eat package and our brains do not really have to work to enjoy them.

Books are a different thing altogether! They're just a series of weird, abstract black marks on a piece of paper! Yet we can make those shapes into letters and sounds and words, give them meaning, string them together in pretty orders, lots of them, even more of them, to make these story things... And they profoundly affect us as individuals and us a culture! Just marks on a page. I liked what he said about once he had finished the book it no longer belonged to him, it belonged to the reader, to interpret it as they would and imagine it in their own way. It's a really interesting and potent thought, and it makes me wonder if all authors think this. He also talked, most strikingly, about imagining other people complexly. This is a really major a theme in Paper Towns (which you should all go out and buy with much alacrity!), about how it's pretty much impossible to truly see through the eyes of another person. When you interact with someone, they're a mirror rather than a window - you witness their reaction to you. You can't possibly imagine what they're really like. I really can't put it as profoundly or eloquently as John does, so you should probably read Paper Towns and see what I mean.

 

WE'RE IN THERE! HELLO HANK.

Sorry I'm updating my whole Summer in a couple of end-of-summer posts by the way. I'll end this one here!I 

The - Hot Politics II

It's almost been a week since that fateful night in Leeds. It's quite hard to remember it now - there was certainly some David Dimbleby at some point; Ian Hislop turned up a few times; Paxman tried in vain to say something biting, but just ended up being like a particularly nasty wasp-sting; David Mitchell couldn't be less like Mark Corrigan if he tried, and the Lib Dems sucked at being voted in. The last point, apparently, is the most important, and thusly I'll make some comment about the nature of the deal they've made with the Conservative Party. Did you know I wanted to make this a wholly political blog once? Incisive social commentary, cutting political analysis... and then University happened and then it finished and currently there are people outside firing paintballs at each other and and and and theykeepshootingeachother!!!!whatthehellaretheydoinggoawayshesjustlaughingthatgoddamnihopetheyblindeachothertheincosideratebastards. So I'll write what I damn well please.

Sometimes I feel like I'm allergic to people. Again, I blame University for that.

Regardless, politics! The Lib Dems ended up on 57 seats, no where as near as many as they felt they'd win, and down on last time. So they had to make a choice between siding with the Conservatives or Labour. Both, in my mind, equally terrible options. Let me explain. I hate both of them. Probably equally. Certain aspects of both of them I like but generally they're power hungry and destructive, and the constant swing between the two of them means that nothing is ever as stable as it should be. Labour change is generally removed whenever the Conservatives get in, and vice versa. As a result, we've kind of drunkenly stumbled along the path of history over the past 60 years, occaisonally stumbling and blurting out apologies to innocent passers by (Macmillan, Major, Eden), periodically falling off the curb and vomitting in the gutter (Thatcher, Blair) and every now and then deciding that we really do just want to jump in the fountain and splash around for a bit (Boris).

My distaste for Labour might come as a surprise but it's not entirely irrational (unlike, the some extent, my Tory hatred). I can certainly remember John Major being PM, but most of my life has has been spent under a Labour government. Most of that time was spent being beaten up in High School and writing songs about farmyard animals, so I didn't really care. Nevertheless, when Sixth Form started heating up and I got on the whole civil-liberties wagon I realised that Labour have actually done a really awful job. This is the stuff I care most about and they've spent pretty much the last 13 years demolishing personal freedoms and pandering to moral relativist-to-the-max whingers. The ID cards, the Terrorism acts (being held in custody for 90 days without trial? Did I miss something?), the retention of e-mails and text messages under the Regulation of Investigotary Powers Act, the Daily Mail drugs policy, the needless wars.... I'm still certain that the DNA database was put in place so the DNA of the young could be harvested and used to rejeuvenate Tony Blair on a regular basis. In fact, he's probably up there in his Sky Fortress right now, reading this as I'm typing it. I'll be lucky if I'm here tomorrow...

On top of that is the travesty of the Digital Economy Act, which should now hopefully be repealed. In the most fantastic two-fingers to democracy since Stalin (perhaps this is taking it too far, but I guess this really is the point of hyperbole), such a draconian measure was passed that it still makes me cry bitter, bloody tears everytime I think about it... Spearheaded by an unelected, overpowered Lord Mandelson, the Act was pushed through Parliament in the "wash-up" (where the Bills which got left behind are kind of snuck through without anyone noticing before an election). However, this was a Bill which over 20,000 people had written letters to their MPs about (myself included) and about which an unparalled online campaign had been orchestrated. Nevertheless, Mandelson didn't care, and instead bowed to the whims of the massive companies who had lobbied for this Bill to be passed. Alas, now we're going to have our internet stolen if we ever infringe dare fight the power and download music via filesharing/Megadownload, or even look at some of Labour's copyright infringing campaign posters...

I was going to write about how the Tories suck too but that's enough vitriol for one post. Politics gets tiring when you think about it too much.

Hot Politics - Part I

So the other night (I'm not quite sure how many nights ago it was now, having slept once in about three days) it was politics and we all stayed and up and watched David Dimbleby talk himself into a coma for 17 hours, after which we all promptly fell into a deep sleep in which we all dreamt vividly about the future of our nation and George Osbourne being pelted with snooker balls. As Sarah pointed out in her earlier blog, pretty much all of us, one way or another, are politics geeks. And so a politics blog is something that should excite you even more than election night did (mainly because I'll be doing a fair bit of tory-bashing, I imagine).

Firstly, the results. I'm dissapointed, almost hideously so. For several reasons. The anticipated Liberal Demorat surge that never materialised is the most ostensibly disheartening one; polls from literally everywhere - even the Mail - were saying that O-Holy-Lord-Saint Nick's party would come somewhere close to 80 seats, and there were even some optimistically misguided folk (me included) who felt that it wasn't unreasonable to think about securing 100 seats. There was even talk of them beating Labour! Nevertheless, when the exit polls started appearing and telling us that the Lib Dems were probably going to do worse than last time, I felt a little bit sick. At the time I'd gone along with the lovely Vince Cable, who told us that 'as 1992 showed us, exit polls are woefully inaccurate' but I really did feel like something hadn't quite worked like it should have done, that the general public had decided to hedge their bets again and plump for the vacuous, pandering, couldn't-hate-him-anymore-if-I-tried Cameron.


And so the Lib Dems came out of the thing with 57 seats, which is marginally fewer than last time. It wasn't all bad news: the Green's victory at Brighton Pavillion is fantastic and I really hope it is the shape of things to come - more Green MPs is something that this country sorely needs, particularly because not even the Lib Dems really care about it in the way that they should. I'm extremely liberal, so liberal that I often describe myself as a libertarian (RON PAUL!), but I think the environment is the main area where government should use its power to sort things out. The thousands of multi-nationals that purport to have green values have plenty of reasons not to hold Green technologies firm to their massive, global bosoms and this is something where I feel government intervention could and should take place. People are generally too selfish to think about the long-term, and so it's the governents job to TELL THEM WHAT TO DO.


That last paragraph turned into a very green rant without me really realisisng it, but I feel I should make it clear now that apart from the environment there really aren't that many areas that I feel the government should be sticking its nose in. This is why I have such an issue with the more lefty labour party members, and why I'm occasionally given to the more libetarian tory ones.


RIGHT, BACK TO THE POINT. Now we're in a situation where Gordon Brown is still PM, which I don't really have a problem with for the time being. The Conservative's talk about their 'moral right to govern' but this really is them being extremely hypocritical, as usual. The party is founded on Edmund Burke's Reflections, which argues:

Tthat there can't really be a moral right to anything, because that would involve basing things on abstract principles. As such, tradition and a posteriori knowledge are the only way to decide things. Which really is the EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT THEY ARE DOING NOW, by insisting they have moral 'rights' (when they don't believe in them) and telling Gordon Brown to step down, which is against 300 years of tradition.

As such: THEY ARE A BEING PATHETIC. THEY CAN'T EVEN BE TORY PROPERLY! WHY DID ANYONE VOTE FOR THEM!? WHY?!!? Principles are a very important thing and if they can't stick by them 5 hours after the elction has finished I don't see why they should be trusted at all to run the country.
 

Part two coming soon!

There is a light that never turns on

Admittedly it's been a while since I sat down to type something with any substance on here, and as such it's pretty certain that this is going to turn into something as coherent a Twilight novel with half the pages torn out and replaced by drawings of potatoes, but I feel like it's something that really needs doing nonetheless. Something that needs doing a bit less than a years worth of revision, job applications for the summer, reading Kane and Abel, playing Pokemon and eating, but something that needs to be done nonetheless! So without further ado, I'll get cracking.

By now you presumably all know about my imminent move to Lancaster. The whole business of telling Leeds that 'I was sorry, and it's totally not your fault, but I'm just not looking for anything serious right now'  was surprisingly easy, almost too easy, which leaves me with a peculiar sense of dread - something's got to go wrong somewhere, right? Although by saying this I'm probably writing some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy so I'll just refrain from this look I'm already going off into meandering nonsense I'msorry i'm sorry i'llstoprightnowassoonasi'vefinishedthissentence.

Last time I splurged a load of nonsense onto these pages I was complaining and contemplating about not being able to make up my mind, with 'everything in place in Leeds' and all that silly stuff. I took quite a big risk with that, turning down a house with some impeccably fantastic people (I did this twice, come to think of it), turning down everything that was good about Leeds (including living next door to the bassist from Grammatics), and switching over to Lancaster. I was briefly left in a weird sort of homeless, forlorn wilderness with only Nik the Russian for company, and to a certain extent one of my feet is still hanging around there, Nik holding on to it, screaming my name like the wild Russian barbarian he was, is, and has yet to become. But the rest of me is floating around in an intellectual limbo, where I'm required to get 60% for the year to be spat out into the heaven of Lancaster.

So as it is, I've got accomodation (half) sorted, a UCAS application approved and ready to go, Chloe, Smiley, Milo and a bunch of other spiffing folk up here to catch me with open arms when I land and a half-arsed response from the School of history ensuring me that I'll probably be able to do precisely none of the modules I actually want to do next year. I should take this opportunity to cordially thank Leeds for all it has given me this year. Leeds, mind, not the University, which I really do have to condemn in the strongest of words. it's a sort of lovely place and I guess I'm giving up on the potential to live this crazy-sexy-bohemian-street-cafe-avant-garde-lots-of-hyphens lifestyle I kind of think I might have wanted, at somepoint, possibly. The music scene is the best in the country and Serena and Jenny, you would just be plain silly not to take advantage of the aural magistery that surrounds you over the next few years, so you should certainly go out and do JUST THAT. Speaking of Serena and Jenny, you two have been constant bastions of awesome for the past year. Thanks for not hating me for dissapearing on the house in the manner that I did, and thanks for being in Leeds, because I probably would have just gone home sobbing if it wasn't for friends like you (awwwwwwwww!). Danny and Dan have also been loving compatriots and I do feel hideously guilty for leaving them, particularly as Leeds has picked up recently with the plethora of tasty games/debate-night action that's gone on. With any luck they'll be reading this and to them I say CHEERS GUYS!

After skimming through some pre-University journals yesterday I've come to the conclusion that I never really wanted to come to Leeds in the first place - I was obsessed, obsessed to the point of mania with going to Oxford. Although I've certainly not given up on that dream, it's something I've since come to terms with (honestly, it has taken me this long to not think about it every day). 'I really don't want to go to Leeds or Birmingham' I droned, 'I really should take a year out' - yes, Joe, you should have, you silly, silly boy! Don't ever think about disregarding your intuition again, do you udnerstand me! Yes! Yes! I understand!

Lancaster, on the other hand, is plenty of awesome. I'm probably biased on this topic and it's impossible to look at it objectively, but whenever I'm up there I'm much happier, much friendlier, much more 'Joe-esque' and gosh-darn-it I'm just more PRODUCTIVE, which is something that has been fairly alien to me since the start of the year. If I'm going to ever get back to Oxford it's going to be via a channel of hideous hard-work, and I'm willing to put up with inhuman amounts of historical-suffering to throw off these shackles of apathy that Leeds has put around my wrists. I never saw a reason to care about University when it didn't care about me, I never saw a reason to try when they handed back essays after 5 weeks with only two lines of feedback.

At Leeds I felt like I'd stopped developing as a person, rather, I'd taken a retrograde step back into the mires of mediocrity in which I wallowed during Year 12. I stopped having fun, I stopped being me. It is with the future in my sights that I return with utmost vigour to SS Ambition. No longer shall I sit in my room at night and stare at an emotionless screen (right now I'm staring at a screen full of emotion, of course), no longer shall I steep myself in the self-pity that became a hallmark of my first 6 months at University.

I'm going to Lancaster and it's going to be BEAUTIFUL!

Reflections

I've taken the advice of all of you who commented on my last post and opted for a somewhat risky "get-the-fuck-out-of-here" approach. I've been in contact with everyone who needs to be contacted, yet I'm still unable to reach any sort of coherent decision. I'll decide on something but there are so many doubts and potential repercussions, endless what-ifs, too many why-nots,  and a plethora of former and future "I wish I had....". It's all quite a lot to handle being the rational idiot I am.

Now, simply:
 

I've had it with this place and I want to move to Lancaster.

 This certainly won't be easy, and therein lies the first "I-wish-I-had", that being "I wished they'd got back to me sooner". I only found out yesterday that a transfer is possible, and also fairly common, but this coincided with a bit of other news that I should be happy about. Jenny and Serena and Mike and the House and possibly me but I need to sort it all out now and not shilly-shally anymore. 

MUDDLEDPROSANDCONSLISTS

First option - I go to Leeds - wouldn't be horrible with aforementioned people, in fact, it would be quite enjoyable. I'd probably still go to Lancaster a lot, if not more. I'd still be at a University I didn't like, although the course would improve in flexibility. Remain in contact with Lancaster and Leeds people. Far from Chloe, still. I prefer being at Lancaster. House is miles away from University, which would not help my attitude to study and may cost a lot in bus.

Second option - I (try) and go to Lancaster - A lot cheaper - no train fares. Chloe lives in Lancaster. Get on much better with people there than I do here. I can't disguise the fact that I've made about 3 friends here and about 10 in Lancaster, several of whom would be living with me. Better University (OFFICIAL FACT), better lecturers, better atmosphere. Right near the town, people to drive us in to University. Several bad repercussions if it doesn't come off.

Generally, despite Leeds' prospects improving next year, I'd still rather be in Lancaster. However, it is only a possibility that I'll get to go there. I have to send off my UCAS form, do a personal statement, get a reference from university (which is not something I think anyone can do, seen as I've had 4 teachers in 12 weeks), deal with finances (possibility that my Leeds bursary will be revoked and taken back if I leave).

If I fail to get a place at Lancaster, I will have turned down a place with good house mates (and a house). I will have nowhere to live, and no one to live with. I may not be able to secure a place in Chloe's house, although I could potentially rent with another house.

It's nice to write things down but it's still very confusing. I don't know what to do, really. And because Jenny and chums have the house already, I need to decide what do within a very small time-frame. Today, ideally.

It's just that when I've looked back I've made an awful lot of decisions that I really regret. Why did I do Physics? Why did I do Maths? Why didn't I go for Lancaster? Why did I apply for Leeds? Why did I go to Leeds? Why did I choose this horrible place to live? I just don't want to make another one.

In other words:


NAGAHGHAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.


I never really talk much about University, which is odd, because I'm having the "time of my life" and meeting the people and friends who I want to spend the rest of my life with. Obviously.

Now that may have been the brutally honest sarcastic truth but I'm not down. I have to get it straight first, I'm not really enjoying University. I've had some very nice times which of course, I haven't updated about and which I feel I should chronicle now. The Subculture Club was a good one and the first and only time I've really enjoyed clubbing (mainly because I talked about games most of the night, beer was dirt cheap (£1 a pint!) and they played brilliant music). The last time we went out before Christmas was great too - hunting for a bar that turned out to be plain crap when we got there, followed by excursions to the previously mentioned club, a beautifully rustic Spanish Bar that also played damn sexy music and a pizza in a flat of someone that I didn't know who turned out to be A VERY NICE PERSON. This was followed by a sleepless night in the Common Room that included Tea Cocktails, Japanese Techno Pop and Mother 3, with 2 of the best people I've met here, Danny and Dan.

All of this fulfills my hypothesis that i can only make friends when I listen to Yellow Magic Orchestra and talk about interrobangs.

Nevertheless, University has often left me feeling listeless, bored and plain tired. From an academic standpoint I feel I've learnt nothing - 3 months about Medieval Europe and I could still only answer one of a possible twenty choices on the end of unit test which I have serious doubts about passing. The lecturers are useless oafs who refuse to make their lectures available online (apparently because if they use a computer they cease being stuffy enough to teach History). The Seminars are yawn/snore/nightmare-worthy and not at all interesting. The people in them are tits. I think I've already talked about Adam Gallacher V2, who insists who knows the right answer to everything even though he uses a 200 year old historiographical texts as his main source for friggin' everything. In French, I feel like I can speak at the same standard as a could in Year 11 - my grammar is terrible and the lectures even worse. My other French culture elective revolves a load of pseudo-academia bullshit, although bullshitting being the nature of the course means I can write exactly that in essays and still come out with a brilliant mark. What were we paying £3000 a year for again?

The whole idea of "Student Life" I'm already finding tedious. Take a listen to this (purely hypothetical) conversation I had with a (purely imagined) clubgoer.

"Hey Joe, fancy coming to a club?"
"Sure! Will there be awful music? You know a club's not a club unless they play terrible music that no one really likes! Dubstep maybe? A bit of acid house? Stuff I can foxtrot to?"
"Of course! We'll even throw in a couple of dodgy "classics" from the Spice Girls and Boyzone, remnants from a decade that you can't even claim as your own!"
"Well, I'm won over on the music side. Now, tell me if I'll have to pay a ridiculous price to get in?"
"Money doesn't matter when you can't remember spending it, does it now! It'll only be about £6 to get in. Drinks are dead cheap inside - obviously you've paid enough on the door to make lower drinks prices completely futile, but no one minds. You're going to have to drink more of those cheap drinks anyway, since they're watered down with the sweat of the clubbers that collects on the ceilings."
"Ahhh, alcohol, my old friend. Presumably I'll have to spend plenty on that in order to enjoy my evening?"
"Of course, you know what they say - it's not been a good night unless you can't remember it!"
"Personally, my favourite part is ending up comatose in the morning, unable to move, glued to the floor with the guilt I feel for kicking the shit out of my liver, vomitting up my dignity."
"Oh yes."
"Yes."
"Yes."
"Do you like Interrobangs?"
"Fuck off."


Again, that is completely hypothetical. Important to note that this conversation never really happened. EVER. And that is completely cynical. But still, I don't understand the whole club scene. It really doesn't appeal to me. I guess I can be a bit of a musical snob sometimes but I guess you could just say I'm a fan of culture more than anything.

Something I am enjoying is leisurely strolls down to the pub with my homies, where we can drink pints, where we can order a drink without having to scream and spit in the barman's face (only to be served the wrong drink anyway), where we can chat, laugh, and genuinely have a good time. There's also a jukebox that has Frussia on it, which is a big selling point. And it's not to say I don't get drunk - but this way it's a beautiful blur that makes me think at higher levels and see things clearly (whilst simultaneously rendering my sight totally useless). I don't get sick in the morning, I just get memories. It's nice.

Most of all I enjoy lazing around, cooking, reading, relaxing, playing guitar, writing, talking and dreaming. None of which I can do in clubs, incidentally. I'm thoroughly enjoying the prospect of getting stuck into the massive pile of new books I have here, and was interestingly enough one of the reasons that I was excited to get back.

Over the next few days I'll be going back to Lancaster, which is just plain better than Leeds, I'm afraid. After that, I'll be going to watch Rolo Tomassi live, along with Honour Before Glory, Esben and the Witch, Sam Airey and BBC Sound of 2010 runners-up, DELPHIC. Who are from Manchester and a bit OK. Music is one of the best things about Leeds. I'll update about these things, I'll update about the new teas I have to try, I'll update with the serialisations of my Pirate Novel and Russian Revolution Musical, I'll update with more whining, I'll update with more nonsense.

HOPE YOU'RE ALL GOOD KIDS. SEE YOU ALL SOON.

Love, Joe.

xxxxx






Sleeping Statistics

Plenty of things have happened to me since I arrived here at my University of choice over 2 months ago. And you know, I've not updated in an awfully long time, which seems unreasonable on my part. You would think I'd have time to update, what with all this SPARE TIME I have on me! SPARE TIME! I'm not making use of that time efficiently and I guess you could hardly call LiveJournal productive (especially when three assignments are due in tomorrow) but it beats sitting around eating lots and lots and lots of soup. Yum!


RECENT SLEEPING RECORD

SUBJECT NAME: JOE HENTHORN
  • Average Bed Time before University: 30 minutes in the AM
  • Average Bed Time now: 0430 hours.
  • Average Sleeping Previously: A snug 8 hours per night. Healthy!
  • Average Sleeping Time Now: A mind-numbing 3 hours per night.
  • Waking Time Pre-University: Around 7 or 8, even in the holidays!
  • Waking Time Post-Living-at-Home: tdferutwferuybewlbunibeeelvvveeeennnn??how is itt eleevene alreayddyyddd???
  • Nights sleep this week: Four out of 7.
Am I BROKEN? Probably. I went into my history seminar half an hour late this week, and I didn't even mean too! My brain had convinced me that it started at 10:30 even though I've been going to that Seminar at 10am SHARP! for the past 10 weeks. Really though, my brain did me a great favour in getting me out of a debate I had in no way prepared for. There are plenty of Adam Gallacher's here to take care of the debate for me though. I'm sure my Seminar class just assumes I'm just the absent-minded but god-damn-charming class retard who stumbled into University with no clue about what that would entail.

In other news, I'm frequently on the Radio! RADIO! I think some of you have listened to me before, and I'm sure that you can all concur that when the show doesn't suck, it's somewhat spiffing! We play all sorts of music. I intended it to be a rock/indie show, but the y'know, the good stuff, hand picked by me, but it's almost gone a bit electronic recently... which is something I'm embracing with open arms but I'm not sure if this is what the people who asked me to do the show were expecting.

Speaking of on the Radio, me and Chloe are going to see Regina Spektor on Thursday. HA! WOOPAH! You might not know how good she is, in which case you should just-click-and-rid-yourself-of-your-ignorance-or-alternatively-just-enjoy-her-CHOONS.



I was planning on including some pictures on what I've been up to but I reckon if you want to check those out you already have on Facebook. I've been clubbing... 3 times maybe? Less than I was expecting, but I mean I don't even know what counts as clubbing anymore. There are just "nights-out" and being drunk, which to be frank, I've not done much of unless I've been with friendly faces (Revs with Chloe and flat, Vengaboys with my housemates of the future, Bangor). In fact I've only been once on my own, at the Intro Party A WHOLE OF NINE WEEKS AGO and I bumped into Jenny and Serena then even. Although I have been on pub-crawls with Danny and Dan, my co-hosts on teh Radios, and they are quite a lot of fun I tell ye.

And now we're thinking about houses and I'm mildly excited! I'll be living with Jenny, Mike and Serena. I'm sure it will be BRILLIANT! FORMIDABLE! MERVEILLUEUX! I want to live in Hyde Park and I think we totally should guys. Mike doesn't even have Live Journal, the un-curly fool. Jenny, tell him we're living in Hyde Park.

Incidentally, the Hyde Park is near the Brudenell, Leeds' premiere indie night-spot. I've not actually been there yet. Oh dear.

I think this constitutes a real update. Wow... Oh well, time to sleep now, and fix those odd statistics you see up there. Otherwise I'll hibernate through the Christmas Holidays and well, that would just be silly.

Fifteen steps and then a sheer drop

It really just hit me that I'll be spending the next three years of my life here. At the moment it still feels like a wholly temporary thing. I sleep here, but I don't live here. I just happened to have moved cities to study for a tiny amount of time every week. I still don't quite understand what I'm doing here! I'm doing a bit of essay, going to the pub every now and again, eating take away even when I'm not drunk, drinking amazing, inhuman amounts of fruit juice, going on a lot of trains, missing French seminars because I've not done the homework, becoming heavily indebted, cashing cheques every now and then (and subsequently wondering how the hell it all disappeared so quickly), realising that I've spent of £30 pounds on fruit juice and the same amount on fresh pasta (no sauce, ever).

My flatmates are typically regular, nice people. We've had tiffs about washing up. There are occassionally mysterious smells in the morning when I open the kitchen door. Asides from that, I see them very occasionally and I often wonder where they've gone. Although to be quite fair, they must think the same about me.

I just want to feel like my brain is exploding with imagination and creativity again! Yet the books just clog it all up with facts and then tiredness smashes it all together with a hammer made of PURE LETHARGY. LLLEEETHHARGY.

I wonder why it's 6:15 when I've done nothing all day. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

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