MGS has a proud tradition of encouraging liberal-mindedness amongst its student body. This publication is designed to encourage free thinking and openminded, mature discussion on matters including politics, religion and current affairs. It is not the intention of any writer involved in its production to cause offence. Accordingly, the views and opinions contained herein are those of individual writers and are not official school policy.
There are few more strenuous tasks than editing this paper. In a school that boasts some of the finest young minds in the country, it is almost impossible to please everyone. From Stalin-esque censorship to pedantic academics, the MGS journalism scene has it all. But after three issues, and three lukewarm receptions, this current editorial team and our soon-to-be replacements have had one last stab at it all. Revolting exists for politicians, The Shoardian for historians, and so forth, but the New Mancunian exists for the students. It is to provide a space for passionate students to share their interests on a more public stage. It is a place to showcase an eclectic mixture of creative talent, academic interest and plain old fun. We will consistently miss the mark, we will diligently delay deadlines and we will undoubtedly offend the sensibilities of at least one uptight grammarian. But what we refuse to do is turn away students with passion and commitment. And do forgive us for our previously misplaced semicolons, allow us some absolution for the ghost of 'however'swithout-commas past. We seek to provide the highest standards, and apologise for any failure to do so. But if there's one thing we've learned in our thoroughly rewarding careers at the Manchester Grammar School, it's that second chances are always welcome. For now, it should suffice to say that this is our second, presented by and given to ourselves. It is not a chance to improve our articles, as that would do disservice to our many distinguished contributors. No, this is a chance to make the NM more relevant, to bring to the table those issues relevant to our school. And should we stray off topic, well, we are after all, New Mancunians. As Editor-in-Chiefs we wish to leave a legacy. Let this be our last mark on the school, let the New Mancunian be that most wonderful of all clichés, a paper of the students, by the students, for the students. In hopes this won't be censored, Yusuf Tayara and Omar ‘Mary’ Hameed
All good things must sadly come to an end, and so it was with the previous editorial team. Not a nasty end, but the end of a great era. The Sir Alex Ferguson of MGS journalism has departed, and I am the Chosen One, although I hope to do my job more successfully than Mr. Moyes did his. This issue represents my first small steps into the world of the New Mancunian. One could say that I have been held by the hand for support at times so far, so I must thank Omar Hameed and Yusuf Tayara for said support, their invaluable assistance with the editing and the more-thanoccasional touch of sarcasm. Pravar Petkar
Editorial Team – Mark Barclay Aran Nerwan Ben Sciama Robert Paver Daniel Jacobson Alan Truman Charlie Harris Greg Alexander Andrew Osikoya Page|2
Overview Opening the edition is our feature interview with resident-lad Dr Boulton; all your questions shall be answered through the Paxman-esque interrogation skills of Aran Nerwan. Our current affairs section continues its regular analysis of some of the most urgent and controversial issues of the day. First we have a poignant piece by Ali Derregia on how the Libyan war is far from over and the problems which still remain with no end in sight. From one crisis to another, Ben Sciama discusses the harsh reality of the upcoming Scotland referendum and how it’d be to our benefit to keep ‘deep-fried Mars bars’ a British food. The exposition of current topics is continued by Eddie Spence’s discussion of sustainability and whether nuclear is the future. Deep political issues are highlighted once more in Ian Piczenik’s [frankly mad] decision to join Russell Brand’s revolution and challenge the statusquo. Moving onto another loon, Max Lever suggests reasons for the rise of UKIP and how Dave will regret labelling them ‘fruitcakes’. Another miracle is reported on by Daniel Jacobson in Science and Technology, the ‘Walk again project’ is already utilising advanced biotechnology and how paralysed footballers are only a step away. Miracles are two a penny this issue; Jamie Mackillop explores the reintroduction of hydrogen cars and how mass adoption is already afoot. From trend mapping to sonar mapping now, Robert Paver figuratively maps the SONAR’s history and its many achievements. The section concludes with Tanmay Sukthankar’s passionate piece about the latest equipment used to train doctors, I managed to make it to the third paragraph (a record). Satire, that offensive page usually rendered blank by censorship – not this time. Future Editor-in-chief Pravar Petkar presents a ballad on MGS’s own music block and its desperate need for modernisation. Our secret-ninja returns next following a brief sabbatical, old Anonymous him/herself explores several more
societies and comes to an obvious conclusion. It is in the face of mounting pressure that Alan Petri attempts to understand corridor etiquette, a particular focus is placed on the streamlined transformation of students as they progress through the school. Barging in the corridor will be nothing once you have read Richard Parker’s anecdotal account of MGS Rugby trips; fancy playing with an odd-shaped ball anyone? Last but technically not least, we have Tom Foley’s recounts his observations of Owl Cliques and their inherent superiority. Art and Entertainment remains as inaccessible as ever. Mark Barclay begins with an extract from his upcoming autobiography – ‘Mark Barclay: need I say more?’ – Here we learn about the perils of directing a school play. In typical New Mancunian fashion Charlie Harris attempts to predict the Oscar winners, a most difficult task now they’ve just occurred. Enough of the pretentious squabble, we move onto a serious piece about misogyny in music, Richard Birch successfully conveys its historical base in the industry. Henry Weekes gives us all hope in his article on Bedroom producers, no longer do you need expensive technology to create huge hits. This section concludes on an orgasmic appraisal of Donnie Darko, a film that everyone must see before they turn twenty. Sport, sport and more sport; gone are the days of just football, now we have football and something else. Greg Alexander opens by investigating the upcoming roller skating scene in the U.K., thanks must go to Miss Roberts, our resident expert. Nick Kelly taps into that unsung sport of football and asks the almost unthinkable question that Moyes might not be correct for Manchester United… I’m truly shocked. If football was not manly man enough for you, then fret not: now we have Daniel Lea’s gripping piece of Chess and how it is a real sport (stop laughing please). This smorgasbord of an issue is concluded by youknow-who, that’s right, Pravar Petkar discusses F1 and how it’s not simply real-life Mario Kart.
An Interview with the HM
Why MGS? HM: Well, I suppose as you know, I was a pupil here. I came here on the assisted places scheme, and I only came to the sixth form so I was in the state sector until then, and I found MGS to be a transformational school. Of all the schools that I would have wanted to leave, this is the one. Has MGS changed much since you studied here? HM: It is always different coming back as a teacher to a school and it was odd, that first day walking down the drive, because I felt like a pupil again; however the school is still remarkably similar; it is still populated with immensely bright students, and a very talented Common Room. The space is pretty much the same; obviously the sports hall (whatâ€™s left of it anyway)
and the junior section were new to me, however everything else is very recognisable. Can you tell us of your time in the MGS Sixth Form?kkkk kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk HM: I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry, but in those times you didnâ€™t have a lot of choice; choice is something that has come about quite recently. As a scientist, could take double maths and physics or maths with physics, chemistry and biology, so I was very tied down, there was however a big enrichment program, so that was where all of the extra time was filled. What clubs and societies did you attend while studying at MGS, and which is the best you have attended as HM? HM: When I was at MGS, I did a lot of rockclimbing and treks, so I went on a lot of Page|4
trips. I was also a member of the photography society- we developed photos in the dark-room downstairs in the school basement since this was all before the age of digital photography- there were no mobile phones or recording devices (!) while I was at school. Since I have been here I have been on one of the MAD days with Mr Cittanova. We went up Tryfan (a mountain in North Wales). The fact that those trips are completely free means everyone has the chance to go out and do some pretty exciting mountaineering. So far they have run one every Saturday this year and last weekend they had a rather epic one on Scafell Pike. For me, because that was one of my passions while I was at MGS, to see that that is still going on and is as strong as ever was really special to me. So, what did you do after MGS, both university and onwards? HM: I went to read engineering at Nottingham, and I stayed on there to do my PHD which involved producing corporate valuation work for British Coals privatisation, at the time this was quite exciting. Following that, I went into the City where I had a brief stint with a company called Arthur Andersen, who are best known for a little job they did with a company called Enron; this became a big news story which finished the firm off. I didn’t really like the work I did there, so I thought I would go back into academia, originally I planned to go back to University to teach, but I thought I would give schools a go. From there I did a PGCE at Manchester University, and then I got my first job at a boarding school in Dorset called Sherborne. There I coached their first XV rugby team and taught Physics. After spending four years there, I moved to Westminster, and after that I came here.
You previously alluded to that fact that you got into MGS on the “Assisted Places Scheme,” which has now been replaced by our own Bursary fund. How important is the Bursary fund to you and what are your plans for the future with it? HM: Yes, I think the beautiful thing about the nature of this school is that we aim to be a very diverse community and that we hope that financial background isn’t a bar to coming to the school. That is very much what MGS is all about. In order to keep that running as well as it has been, we are going to need to continue to raise money. I will be working very hard to try to increase the size of the Bursary Fund so more pupils who are bright enough to get in, but don’t have the financial means, can win a place at MGS. What would be your advice for the MGS boys currently in the run-up to IGCSE and A-level exams? HM: I think the main thing is that you just work hard in the run up to them. I think ensuring that your revision time is productive it the key thing, because it is really easy to sit in your bedroom turning pages, thinking you are revising, as I did. You really need to figure out how you personally need to spend that time in order to maximise the effectiveness of your studying. Whether that is in a classroom with teachers or making notes and reading and highlighting them, it isn’t the time spent working, but the time spent working productively that matters. Could you let us in on any secrets or gossip about plans for the schools 500th anniversary? HM: We are currently in the process of sitting down and talking about all of that, Page|5
so some of the first meetings we are having will take place next week. Obviously, we are trying to secure a Royal Visit if we can, and we are looking at co-ordinating various events but nothing is set in stone yet. (Chuckles) How’s that for an evasive answer? Have you had any funny encounters with either students or colleague’s whilst you have been at MGS? HM: Every Monday lunch time when I go around school with the Proctors it is a really amusing time for me. I remember being shouted at as a boy so I find that role reversal quite funny at times! What is the best MGS sports fixture you have seen so far? HM: Oh gosh, I suppose I’m going to get in trouble if I say this… But I suppose the semi-final for ISFA was particularly exciting when they won with a magnificent header after playing like Manchester City all game. So are you a big Manchester City fan then? HM: Well after that last answer, I’m sure you can tell that I have very blue blood flowing through my veins. hhhhhhhhhhhh
lot, but my record collection includes jazz, folk and pop- no heavy metal though! Where is your favourite place in Manchester to relax?hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh HM: Obviously it is the Etihad Stadium. Hopefully I should be there this evening (03.02.14) watching Manchester City annihilate Chelsea. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (Later that evening MCFC lost 1-0 to Chelsea after a goal from Branislav Ivanovic in the 32nd minute)hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh What is the toughest interview question you have ever been asked?hhhhhhhhhhh HM: One of the toughest interview questions I have been asked is “What are your weaknesses,” a question I find really irritating because everyone seems to ask it! So, what are your weaknesses?hhhhhhhh HM: Everybody has numerous weaknesses, but I think the key thing is that you do something about them. If I were able to tell you in an interview about them, but I wasn’t able to address them, then that would be a serious weakness.hhhhhhhhhh Do you have any book recommendations?
What do you do in your spare time? HM: Yesterday I was flying gliders because I am a flying instructor, so I spend a lot of time doing that. I also spend a fair amount of time watching football; however I spend most of my time in the mountains. I love to ski, cycle, climb and generally pursue those kinds of exciting outdoor activities. AN: What kinds of music do you listen to? HM: It is quite varied really; I am quite into late 20th Century classical music. I enjoy György Ligeti and Morton Feldman quite a
HM: Gosh- I have hundreds! Right now I am reading a Ford Maddox-Ford book called “The Good Soldier,” which is one of my favourite books, but I’ll give you a list of some I am going to read in the future: Doppler by Erlend Loe The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman A Place in the Country by W. G. Sebald
Interview by ARAN NERWAN Page|6
The war in Libya still hasn’t ended
In just over two months Libya will celebrate its third anniversary since the revolution which cost the lives of 30,000 Libyans. The scars of this conflict still mark every house in every city. The young war veterans who don their makeshift uniforms can be eerily compared to the American veterans of Vietnam: unemployed, liberated and aggressive. These Three traits spell a recipe for disaster. Libya continues to suffer from a perennial absence of security and law and order, with almost daily assassinations, bombings and kidnappings, in addition to a plethora of common crimes. At the root of the crisis is the existence of a number of armed groups that emerged from the aftermath of the Libyan civil war. Since then, many of these groups have melted away as their members re-entered civilian life. However some still survive as both official and non-official military units. These groups are seen by Libyans as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, without an effective army, they provide security across much of the country and protect the borders. On the other hand, they have been accused of human rights abuses, unlawful detention and of taking the law into their own hands.
One of the most high-profile incidents involving militias was the kidnap of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in October 2013 by a group which was set up to provide security in the capital. Last November, clashes in the capital between militias from the town of Misrata and local protesters left more than 50 people dead and hundreds more wounded, sparking a backlash against the armed groups in Tripoli. Several militias have already left the capital as a result, including ones from Misrata and Zintan that had been there ever since the war. “It’s a complicated situation,” said Bassem Almansuri, who served as a rebel spokesman during the push to remove Gaddafi from power. “All of them were there for the revolution of Libya. Some of them still have good intentions, to save the country and protect the elected government. Others are there to push their own agenda.” The 26-year-old, who now lives in Libya’s capital Tripoli where he works as a computer engineer, added that people “want an army and police, not armed militias that don’t listen to the government.” The problems facing Libya today can be traced back to Gaddafi’s 42 years in power, according to Dr. Ibrahim Sharqieh, a conflict resolution expert at the Brookings Doha Center think tank. As a result, the government has turned to militias like the Zentan and Misrata Brigades or the Tripoli Military Council to fill roles that would conventionally be carried out by an army or police force, paying many of them with state money, he added. Page|7
“This has led to two states running in parallel,” he said. “You have the official state in the elected parliament that has no power on the ground and then you have the militias who have the real power and everything is dictated by them." As militias are often paid by the government, Sharqieh added, “Their interest in the status quo is much greater than being part of the formal state because they have their own power structures and their own finances.” But that didn't stop protesters gathering near militia strongholds in recent weeks. The government had put a December 2013 deadline on groups to join state security forces or face losing their government paycheques -- but it has not followed through on similar threats in the past. Frustrated by a lack of action, thousands marched on militia strongholds in Tripoli waving white flags and chanting, “We want an army! We want police!” They were met with a hail of heavy machine-gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire from militiamen, who killed at least 31 and wounded more than 200. “What happened was the government waited for the people to take action against the militias,” Almansuri said. “They are afraid of them. So it got to the point where people are sacrificing themselves to reject them and push them out.” However, Shaqueb Abara, a 32-year-old businessman from Tripoli, said it had been a turning point for many ordinary citizens and the shootings had mobilised citizens to stand up. “People are starting to help the government,” he said. “The country is the government and the people. The
government was a bit weak, but now with the support of the people they are a bit more confident and they are doing better – but the people have got to help them.” “Gaddafi was in Libya for over 42 years and during that time he worked hard to subjugate people and remove their Libyan identity and people found themselves confused,” he added. “But after the revolution it took time to understand and people are finding themselves again.” Assia Amry, who moved to Tripoli last year after being raised by Libyan parents in Kentucky, agreed that people were used to the state taking care of everything and said they had to get used to working in a democracy. “I did not realise how early they taught us in the U.S. how to be citizens – until I came to Libya,” she said. “(In America) you display your flag, you have to vote, you take part in society. Libyan’s aren’t like that.” To move forward, Carlo Binda, the senior director at the Libyan office of the National Democratic Institute, an NGO that promotes democracy around the world, said there should be “serious efforts at reconciliation” like the kind seen in South Africa. “There are communities that have a very deep animosity and they need to air their grievances in a peaceful way,” he said. “Libyans don't want anyone to do it for them, but they do want to learn about the experiences of others.” Although politically and economically things appear to be moving slowly, it seems that the country is in a much better place than it had been under Gaddafi’s rule. “Things have changed dramatically: The community, the behaviour, the Page|8
thinking, the mentality, the values,” said Almansuri. “People aren’t scared, everything has changed. It has been huge transition.” “Now we have hope," Abara added. "For the first time I think things will improve and we will go in the right direction.” ALI DERREGIA
Scotland: Please don’t go!
With the referendum on Scottish independence looming, many a Briton remains unaware of the negative impacts it could have on the rest of the UK. In 1707, following the passing of the Acts of Union, an unlikely union was made between Scotland and England. Today, 300 years on and this union is under threat with an upcoming in/out referendum on Scottish independence taking place in September this year. If the Scottish public were to vote for an independent Scotland it would be arguably the most significant piece of legislation to be passed with regards to the United Kingdom since the 1707 Acts of Union. Whilst the potential implications for Scotland that independence would bring about have been extensively discussed, there has been little discussion about the impacts on the rest of the UK and the negative impact Scotland’s secession would surely have.
First of all, what would Scottish independence mean for Team GB in Rio? The answer to that is, unfortunately, that Scotland would not be part of it. This would be a major blow to UK Sport’s aim to beat the record medal tally of 65 set in the London Olympics considering that Scottish athletes won a huge 13 of GB’s 65 medals. Bearing in mind that the population of Scotland is only 5.2 million this is no mean feat. Chris Hoy, who has won 6 career Olympic gold medals, is one those medal-winning Scottish athletes, as is Andy Murray who is seemingly British in victory but Scottish in defeat. Murray is one of the most remarkable British sporting success stories of recent times. After it seemed he would never be able to cross the finishing line, he finally broke his duck, winning Wimbledon in July 2013, becoming the first Briton to win Wimbledon or any grand slam for 77 years. Although it seems trivial, the English public has gleaned great pride in the past from British victories carried out by Scots. However, if Scotland were to gain independence, Team GB would be noticeably weaker and Andy Murray would be a foreigner, no longer one of our own. The rest of the UK would also lose out on a significant proportion of the British North Sea oilfields. The UK Treasury has profited greatly from these oilfields over the past 40 years with tax revenues of £300bn pouring in from 40 billion barrels. Without even considering potential new discoveries, it is estimated that between 15 and 24 billion barrels remain. As a result, losing the oilfields would hit the Exchequer hard. If Scotland were to breakaway there would be great debate as to the carving up of the oilfields. The SNP are certainly in little doubt about who should control the oilfields. The party’s famous slogan of the 1970s was “It’s Scotland’s oil!” and it is still of vital importance today. Moreover, if a “median line” was used to mark out a strip of ocean around the Scottish coast, some 90% of the oil falls in Scottish waters. This is the most realistic prospective option to divide the oilfields as it is in line with most international agreements. So, a vote in favour of independence would potentially lead to the UK’s loss of a great source of revenue.
Another consideration is the stationing of the UK’s nuclear weapons. At the moment four Vanguard Class submarines carrying Trident nuclear warheads operate out of the Faslane naval base on the Clyde. Although, this has been the UK’s designated nuclear weapons site since the 1960s the SNP have said that they want nuclear weapons removed from an independent Scotland at the earliest opportunity. Although other sites with access to deep water are possibilities there is controversy with each one. For example a warhead storage facility would be a controversial addition to the idyllic popular tourist destination of Falmouth. A further concern is that any site changes would throw up difficulties with conforming to NATO obligations. All in all Scottish independence would trigger a lengthy and awkward series of negotiations. For the Labourites out there, there has been a concern about what effect Scotland leaving the UK would have on UK politics. Many psephologists foresee a future of Conservative domination in a bagpipe-less UK considering that Scotland is a Labour fortress at present. In the 2010 General Elections Labour won 41 out of the 59 seats it contested in Scotland whereas the Conservatives won only 1. Had Scotland’s votes not have been counted, David Cameron would have won an overall majority and we would currently have a wholly Conservative government. Furthermore Labour would not have won the elections of 1964 and 1974 if Scotland had not have been part of the UK. The monumental loss of Scottish MPs coupled with constituency boundary changes that would surely come with a Conservative government (although they would need to wait until 2018 for the changes) would make it extremely difficult for Labour to win a majority in Parliament. Perhaps the most worrying outcome that could come as a result of Scottish succession is further disintegration of the United Kingdom. It has been suggested that if Scotland votes for independence it may change the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland’s historic ties are more to
Scotland rather than England or Wales, leading to fears that if Scotland left, the union would be deeply weakened. Although Scottish nationalists have not yet shown any interest in inheriting Northern Ireland from the UK, many are of the view that a weakened union would make a united Ireland more attractive. Northern Ireland’s constitutional status may become a sensitive subject once again. Wales may also be moved by an independent Scotland. At present Welsh independence is not considered a serious option with support for an independent Wales at only around 10%. However, the leader of Plaid Cymru (the Welsh equivalent of the SNP), Leanne Wood, said that the referendum could be a turning point and should Scotland leave the union, Wales would eventually follow. In order to help further her party’s cause, Wood has even hired the same political psychologist used by Alex Salmond. Despite independence always seeming like a pipe dream for Plaid Cymru, such a scenario may not be as inconceivable as first thought. If Scotland were to become independent and then be perceived as a success, it would certainly change the nature of the debate in Wales and independence may become a more realistic option.
When you look at the significant negative effect Scottish secession would have on the rest of the UK, clearly the Better Together campaign, headed by Alistair Darling, has a duty to the British public to go up a gear in their campaign and ensure that Scotland remains part of the UK. As well as sporting losses, there are many other serious consequences of losing Scotland including the big economic loss that could come as a result of losing the majority of the North Sea oilfields and the potential disintegration of the UK. There are other issues including Alex Salmond’s threat to walk away from the national debt and there is uncertainty over British access to Scottish medical care and the need for passports at the Scottish border. Furthermore, what would the union of P a g e | 10
England, Wales and Northern Ireland even be called? Surely it couldn’t continue to be called the United Kingdom as that refers to the two great Kingdoms of England and Scotland that were brought together in 1707. All things considered, a Scottish ‘Yes’ vote would be very bad news for the whole of the UK. BEN SCIAMA
Sustainability: the reality
Sustainability is a word that seems to invariably invoke images of fields, of rotating turbines, and of solar panels lining the rooftops of suburban housing. Meanwhile, the sea levels stay put, the show goes on at Brighton pier and energy bills can be paid for by trading in Sainsbury’s vouchers. If only the evil oil giants, frackers and French energy companies would step aside and let the beautiful green dream coalesce, then polar bears would be safe at last. This I’m afraid, in one form or another, is the genuine belief of many so-called ‘green liberals’. Although put rather sardonically, a brief examination of the facts can quickly dispel such idealism. The energy output of panels is too low, turbines are far too unreliable and hydroelectric power rarely fails to wipe out an endangered species or
two. In the meantime, the costs associated with such energy sends bills through the roof, which you’d assume, was covered in solar panels. It would be unfair to only pick on the left though as the right can be equally short sighted and naive. After all, it’s no coincidence that 75% of Tea Party members claim global warming isn’t taking place at all, while most of Republicans dispute that humans are the cause. With the vast amount of scientific evidence available to show that climate change is happening and humans are the cause, such a belief is laughable among a minority of the electorate, but among the majority of America’s major political party, it’s frightening. So the view is extremely bleak in terms of progress: one side is willing to simply keep burning coal, gas and oil till the water rises above their waists, the other is simply too lost in the picturesque green dream to be realistic. You would think that there was no real solution to the problem, yet there is. If it wasn’t for the misguided assumptions on both sides, we might by now have made considerable progress. I’m talking of course, about nuclear power. Truly, it is confusing that neither side will back nuclear power. After all, if you take the time to inform yourself, nuclear does seem to have everything going for it: negligible carbon emissions, enough raw materials to last several thousand years, vast quantities of energy. Why won’t either party come to accept such a resource? The answer is variable, although for both an ignorant, irrational fear of the technology is present. The cause of this is unknown but there are several good answers. Nuclear weapons seem the obvious choice. P a g e | 11
The media assertion that radio waves are harmful radioactivity shows just how powerful word association can be. One can see footage of the Hiroshima explosion, or learn of the sheer magnitude of casualties, and the seed of fear is sown. Clumsy weapons testing and a few unfortunate deaths have only exacerbated this, giving the anti-nuclear movement increased purchase. Notice immediately it is not the ‘antinuclear weapons movement’, or the ‘antiproliferation movement’ that I write of. Such words would be far too specific for a scaremonger to harness. There was in fact a notable group of scientists, who justifiably objected to solely nuclear weapons, Einstein being among them. I’m sure few would disagree with them. I certainly wouldn’t, but that is not the issue in question. Several incidents followed, such as The Three Mile Island Incident, the Jaslovské accident and of course Chernobyl. Of these, only Chernobyl is of any real significance, caused by a poorly-built reactor with atrocious safety standards, yet for each the mass hysteria created was enough to fully establish the organizations and parties that we are still familiar with. Fukushima went on to revive such organizations, which despite the total lack of deaths was turned into a myth. Falsified maps have appeared showing fall out spreading as far as the eastern coast of America. These have, without exception, been debunked. Despite this, the ignorance lives on. You only have to read Greenpeace’s webpage on nuclear power to witness this. But of course, mere ignorance on a subject is one thing, but choosing to ignore the potentially disastrous results of climate
change is another. The right is almost solely guilty of this, yet the consequences will affect us all. The fact of the matter is that fossil fuel use has to end at some point, whether this is due to the world finally acting on carbon reduction promises (which, on the whole, they have failed to do) or whether it is due to the resources finally exhausting themselves. By this measure, particularly with the advent of fracking, we could see hydrocarbon use continue for decades. While a disastrous outcome environmentally, this seems a very realistic one. The reason for this is simple. As discussed, many on the right deny global warming or humanity’s involvement in it. Far worse, even more acknowledge climate change yet either deny any kind of real solution exists or fail to confront the eventuality entirely. Recently the Ineos boss, Jim Ratcliffe, claimed that power from the new Hinkley generator would be too expensive for use in industry. Meanwhile the Grangemouth plant he operates will begin importing US shale gas. This is the sad reality of the matter. Nuclear certainly does have a future in the world; in fact, at present it seems the only viable long-term energy source. Moreover, with the eventual development of even better sources of nuclear energy in the future, such as fusion and thorium power, nuclear is the realistic choice. However, the technology is restrained by those who want a low carbon environment and low cost energy. While those on the left and right continue to hold back on a solution, everyone will suffer the consequences. EDDIE SPENCE
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Why I’m Joining Russell Brand’s Revolution
In an interview for BBC2's flagship news broadcast Newsnight last October, Jeremy Paxman spoke to comedian and actor Russell Brand. By any standards this was to be a classic showdown. In the words of Simon Cowell, it to be like “mixing chocolate ice cream and an onion.” However, after ten minutes of debate viewers were shocked by the realisation that these two figures, on polar opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum, share the same real desire for the political world; for it to be not only changed, but transformed, to a system that far greater represents and supports the hopes, aims, and desires of the average person. Brand’s argument was that our current democratic system no longer addresses the issues of a significant proportion of the public, and that a current fixed political model has been created. At the start of the interview, Brand admitted he “didn’t know much about politics.” Having been previously mocked
in an interview with US channel MSNBC, this was not a bold move to make. In fact, if one was to judge Brand, it could be said that he would be best off sticking to the world of acting and comedy. However, there is more to a man’s knowledge than what his profession consigns him to, and for this reason we should listen to the comedian’s point of view, if even on a topic which he admitted not to know a great deal about. In my view, Brand is an appropriate representative of the general public. Brand was raised by a single parent. Latest statistics estimate that 42% of marriages end in divorce and 49% of these have a child involved. He described his childhood as “isolated and lonely.” Furthermore he was sexually abused by a tutor at the age of seven. Brand went on to leave home at 16 and veered into the world of drugs, all the while seeking an escape through his acting skills. Through a series of fortunate events, Brand thrust himself into the spotlight, finally gaining international acclaim with his role in the film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” in 2008. This fame was a far cry from his humble origins. Thus it can be said that Brand has valuable insight into the relationship between wealth and society – a society today in which one in six children live below the poverty line. Brand can be seen as a strong figurehead for a significant proportion of the public’s views, both in a political and non-political sense. The truth lies with the facts. Just 22% of current MP’s and peers are women. 32% of current MP’s attended independent schools, which educate just 7% of the population. 27% of the MP’s in the House of Commons attended either Oxford or Cambridge University. When looked at like this, it seems simply bizarre that the principal role of an MP is to represent P a g e | 13
his/her local constituency and their views. Furthermore, those without the privilege of independent education, or the chance to attend the country’s leading universities, can become very easily disillusioned with the world of politics. This is an issue, as MP’s should surely be not only representing, but also representative of every corner of society, especially those most vulnerable. As Harper Lee famously wrote in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside his skin and walk around in it.” It is very hard, for a large amount of the population to see how a privately educated, top tier university graduate, could possibly climb inside the skin of someone on the edge of society, be it a child whose only form of escape is a world of drugs, the unemployed youth, or the struggling pensioner. If these people are not represented, then surely society is not being represented as a whole through the current political structure? During the interview, Brand set out to portray his three greatest concerns for the nation; “[we] shouldn’t destroy the planet, shouldn’t create massive economic disparity, [and] shouldn’t ignore the needs of the people.” Russell Brand himself, as well as many more people out there, has become despondent and frustrated with not only the current government, but the governmental structure. Many believe that this current structure cannot resolve these three main concerns. Many have reached the point where they would instead prefer complete disassociation from politics. Having said all this, one may ask, what is this revolution though? What could be done to improve upon the current system? Brand reveals his “revolution” would boil down to this:
“A socialist egalitarian system based on the massive redistribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations, and massive responsibility of any company exploiting the environment.” This is thought provoking, not only as its potential to be actually achieved is a very real one. Even if one doesn’t agree with socialism, it is surely a good thing to have a greater array of these political ideologies on the political spectrum. Today we live in a society where making profit is key to social advancement, however if we are to realise that (to quote Brand) “wherever there is profit there is also deficit”, we can realise the very real consequences this has upon the whole of society. As disparity has widened between the rich and the poor in the last thirty years, it is undeniable that these issues set out should be dealt with, and “with all deliberate speed.” Paxman therefore poses the question to Brand; “Why don’t you change it then; why don’t you change it by voting?”, and thus the whole basis of “politics for the people” comes crashing to its knees. For the truth is this: to bring about the real change that could resolve the disillusionment that was not only a leading factor in the extent of the 2011 summer riots, but also has left an unemployed generation to question their role within society, is enough cause to call for a revolution; A revolution in which the most pressing issues are all answered, for example that of climate change and its impending impacts, and moreover the disparity between the rich and poor that has fractured our society in recent times. Both these issues should be of the highest priority, but unfortunately we live in an era where political one-upmanship and squabbling to simply become the next party in power has become the more P a g e | 14
pressing concern, and corporations will go to any means to make profit, at the expense of others in society. What we have been left with is greater disillusionment between politics and its role within society than we have ever seen before. So let us not criticise Brand for his unconventional views, but instead stand with him and in doing so, with many others holding similar views. Let us strive for a future where the whole spectrum of society, from poor to rich shall not only have their issues dealt with, but also feel politically active with their views accurately represented. For when the day comes when enough people feel misrepresented and their views unheard, and they stand up for change, you can guarantee that I shall be there as well.
European Union has proven that Cameron was naive when calling this party ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ in an interview in 2006. UKIP, now recognised as the most eurosceptic mainstream party, has grown in support and now has 147 council seats. Putting this into perspective, UKIP has 6 more seats than the Green Party which has 1 MP (Caroline Lucas). Therefore, this beckons the question ‘when will UKIP finally have an MP?’ Many people argue the answer is 2015. Besides being euro-sceptic, UKIP has also caught the electorate’s eye with campaigns such as ‘no to HS2’ and ‘cut immigration,’ the latter being supported by 77% of the Britons in a recent survey conducted by the BBC.
‘Fruitcakes’ making Cameron eat his own words
Over the last year UKIP has gained many supporters which may affect David Cameron’s chances of winning a majority in 2015. UKIP’s popular campaigns, especially the removal of UK from the
David Cameron hopes to see net migration go down to the tens of thousands and he has capped economic migration and reformed the student visa system. UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, however, has called for a five–year ban on migrant benefits and has warned that Cameron has left it too late. Farage maintains that the Tories brand anybody that dares to talk about immigration as a bad person and a racist. In December 2013, four opinion polls funded by UKIP donor Alan Bown showed that in the current Conservative seat of Great Yarmouth, the Tories have slipped from 43% in 2010 to 28%. Whilst, in this seat where there has been controversy about immigration, UKIP has surged from 5% in 2010 to second place at 30%, behind Labour. Fourteen individual donors have switched support from the Conservatives to Nigel Farage's party in the three years since the P a g e | 15
2010 election, donating £488,000 to UKIP. An analysis of Electoral Commission figures also shows that the number of individual donors to the Tories overall has halved since the election, while the average Tory donation has decreased by £14,000. UKIP’s support nationally has also shot up in a recent poll to 17% share of the votes, 9% more than current government partner, the Liberal Democrats. Farage and UKIP supporters therefore believe that they should not be seen as an extremist pressure group. However, due to the Westminster electoral system, First-PastThe-Post, YovGov, have predicted that, once again, UKIP will win 0 seats with Labour winning 367 seats, an 84 seat majority. However, on balance, 2013 provided UKIP with a very happy twentieth birthday, ending the year with 32,500 members, 9 of the UK’s 73 seats in the European Parliament, 3 members in the House of Lords and one seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In his school days, Nigel Farage MEP was active in the Conservative party, but left the party in 1992 in protest at John Major’s government signing the Treaty of the European Union which led to the creation of the Euro.
excluded from such TV debates. Farage said: “If UKIP's share of the opinion polls were to continue as they are now, to exclude us from the debates when the Lib Dems were included last time would make British politics look as outdated as the closed shop and embarrassingly out of touch.” However, Farage cannot disagree that UKIP has received much TV coverage in the run up to the upcoming general and European elections, but may disagree as to why. Farage may believe that his party is now the polar opposite to modern British politics so subsequently, his support has increased, but many will argue that the UKIP increase in publicity has been helped due to the infamous Godfrey Bloom.
Being a founding member of UKIP in 1993, Farage was elected and re-elected to the European Parliament in 1999, 2004 and 2009, respectively. Farage became leader of the party in September 2006 and temporarily stepped down in 2009, but regained leadership the following year.
Bloom resigned his party whip from UKIP on 24 September 2013 and sits as an independent MEP after a string of events in 2013 which led to mass media coverage. In July 2013, Bloom made a speech about Britain's foreign aid in which he referred to countries as “Bongo Bongo Land,” and refused to apologise after being labelled a ‘racist.’ In August, Bloom also described Prime Minister David Cameron as “pigeonchested; the sort of chap I used to beat up.” However, at the party conference, Bloom excelled himself by becoming known as sexist as well as a racist. The event was designed to promote the advancement of women in politics. After two female UKIP members joked they did not clean behind the fridge, Mr Bloom joked that: "This place is full of sluts."
He has also been seen on Question Time fifteen times since 2009 and hopes to be involved in TV election debates in the run up to the 2015 Westminster elections. He proposes to take legal action if he is
He then set off down the street after the conference and encountered Old Mancunian Michael Crick. The ex-MGS boy held up UKIP's conference book, which proclaims the party is "changing the face of politics", and asked why it did not feature P a g e | 16
any ethnic minorities. Mr Bloom called the reporter a "racist" and rapped him over the head with the book before leaping into a taxi. So, after UKIP gaining all that support just for Godfrey Bloom to embarrass the party like that, you have to wonder who will slip up next? MAX LEVER
Kicking Off A Revolution
world’s most advanced mind-controlled exo-skeleton’. It will be worn by the disabled teenager, and will be designed to swing and deliver the first kick of the ball on the world’s greatest sporting stage. However, in order to understand not only how this invention works, but also how unbelievably revolutionary it could be, we must understand what it has been designed to combat. More to the point, what is paralysis? Our body is filled with cells called neurons, which form the overall nervous system. These ‘neurons’ are specialised cells that transfer electrical impulses between the brain, that controls movement, and the muscles, which actually create movement. These cells must be fully functional in order for movement to occur, for if they are not, these nerve impulses cannot reach the muscles.
The field of biology and biotechnology has experienced what is arguably the most drastic burst of development in the history of science. Yet unfortunately, this seems to be overshadowed all too often. But biotechnology is coming and will soon be introduced and have its results displayed to the world, and where better to start than the 2014 Football World Cup?
A dysfunctional nervous system is what causes paralysis. The teenager who delivers the first kick will be paralysed from the waist down, meaning that the nervous system in his legs has been rendered dysfunctional. The ‘Walk Again Project’ plans to repair the functionality of the legs. But this can’t be done inside the body. The nervous system is simply far too intricate. So the scientists have found a different way. They have designed a way of generating movement, simply by thinking.
In conjunction with the ‘Walk Again Project’, if all goes to plan, the first kick of the competition will come from a teenager who has been paralysed from the waist down. This extraordinary project, formed as a collective of neuroscientists, roboticists, engineers, physicists and biomedics, has developed what New Scientist magazine described as ‘the
The main body of the ‘suit’ consists of metal braces supporting both legs, which are controlled by electrodes implanted on the scalp or in the brain of the user. These electrodes will detect the activity in the brain from the neurones, and will generate signals. These signals will be sent wirelessly to a computer that will convert them into movement in the legs. Through this P a g e | 17
process, the teenager will be able to control the movement in the legs simply by thinking about kicking it. Therefore, the need for the nervous system in these parts is no longer required. While the idea of a mind-controlled body seems to come straight from Iron Man, this is exactly what a team of scientists from all around the world have developed. ‘We want to galvanise people’s imaginations’, said Miguel Nicolelis, the Brazilian neuroscientist spearheading the ‘Walk Again Project’, who is Professor of Biology at Duke University in North Carolina, USA. He continued, ‘With enough political will and investment, we could make wheelchairs obsolete’. How extraordinary would a society be where no one has to suffer from these restrictions be? But how far away is this dream? The issue is that it may be almost impossible for science and technology to recreate the action of walking, and make it seem totally natural. Nicolelis’ team hope to include sensors when developing the exo-skeleton for the teenager, which will gain information about touch and pressure. This will enable the sensations of touching the ground and feeling the football to be replicated. However, there are two main issues with defining this as ‘walking’. Firstly, these feelings are experienced once the electrical impulses have been understood by the brain. These sensations have to reach the brain via a computer, which is also worn by the user. This means that the feeling itself is delayed, meaning that whilst it is felt, it is not natural. However, with the development of these fields of science, scientists predict that sensations will soon be able to be transported straight to the brain, giving the
impression that the exo-skeleton is actually part of the user’s body. The second issue with labelling this as ‘natural walking’ is that there are still so many aspects of walking that must be incorporated into the design to make it more realistic. Whilst the sensors, which are placed only on the feet, will feel the pressure of the body on them and the ball being kicked, they will still be unable to detect changes such as the external environment, such as the wind or temperature. This means that the sensation developed by the exo-skeleton will still not be fully genuine. The robotic engineer Gordon Cheng, from the Technical University of Munich, in Germany, recently spoke about these concerns, describing the amount of detail as ‘phenomenal’, especially when new technology must be developed for all of these scenarios. Unfortunately, it can be inferred that biotechnological projects, such as the ‘Walk Again Project’, still have a long way to go. But what can we hope for from these phenomenal inventions in the near future? One of the big ideas in this field concerns a more intuitive design for the wearer themselves, which isn’t triggered through expensive neuroscientific techniques. This idea has been spearheaded by ‘Rewalk’, another exo-skeleton created by Dr Amit Goffer, an inventor at the Technion University in Israel, which uses sensors to sense a change in the balance of the user, which triggers the desired physical movement offered by the exo-skeleton. Whilst wearer’s still use crutches for extra balance, this invention, which is already available in Europe and the UK, has offered paraplegics a new found freedom, where they can easily partake in daily activities, P a g e | 18
an idea unheard of prior to the invention of ‘ReWalk’. As I have already stressed, biotechnology is developing at an incredible rate, and if these sorts of feats have already been achieved, just think about what is to come: the possibilities are truly infinite. And what’s more, projects, such as ‘ReWalk’ and the ‘Walk Again Project’, are at the forefront of what makes science not only truly mind-blowing, but also demonstrates both its necessity and its benefits for all of us. DANIEL JACOBSON
Hydrogen cars finally rolling?
Hydrogen is back. In December 2013, Hyundai announced that they would be releasing a new version of their Tucson SUV which will run on a hydrogen fuel cell instead of the internal combustion and electric battery models currently available. The first mass-market hydrogen vehicle will initially be available only in California, but Hyundai is hoping to quickly expand. At launch in Spring 2013, it can be leased for $499 (about ₤300) per month for 36 months which includes unlimited free fuel and maintenance. However, Hyundai is not the first to release a hydrogen car. In 2006, BMW introduced
the Hydrogen 7, which was leased solely to politicians and celebrities. The car worked by allowing hydrogen or petrol to be burned in the internal combustion engine. However, due to the V-12 engine and heavy body, the car only managed about 15 miles per gallon in petrol mode and had a maximum range of about 120 miles in hydrogen mode. The car was inefficient and has proved ultimately to be unsuccessful. Hyundai's new vehicle is instead powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. This works by carrying the hydrogen fuel on board and making the electricity as it goes, which gets around the problem of battery size and recharge speed which have plagued battery electric cars. The process by which electricity is generated from hydrogen is fairly simple. It is similar to a battery with two electrodes, but new chemicals are constantly flowing in so it does not need recharging or replacing. In the fuel cell, there are two electrodes separated by a membrane. The hydrogen reacts with a catalyst on the anode which converts the hydrogen into H+ ions and electrons, creating an electric current. The ions and electrons then combine with oxygen to form water, the final product. There are a multitude of benefits associated with hydrogen. Hydrogen powered engines have no moving parts, so are simpler and cheaper to maintain. Additionally, hydrogen cars tend to have faster acceleration times, due to better and instantly available torque. In the petrol-powered Tucson, torque is 197Nm whereas in the hydrogen-powered version, it is 300Nm. Another advantage is that like electric, there are no CO2 emissions at the point of use; all that comes out of the exhaust pipe is heat and water. However, there are “well-to-wheel” emissions due to P a g e | 19
the production of the hydrogen, but this is minimal compared to those of petrolfuelled cars. A typical petrol-powered car causes well-to-wheel emissions of 500g of CO2 per mile, a hybrid causes 300g per mile, and a battery electric vehicle using electricity from the grid causes 250g per mile. A fuel cell vehicle powered by hydrogen from natural gas causes a respectable, but not astonishing 150g per mile. However, new technology allows hydrogen to be sourced from waste-water, which can cut total emissions down to about 10g per mile. In order to go emission-free though, hydrogen can be made by electrolysis using electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. This means that hydrogen has the potential to be an emission- free alternative to petrol, although battery electric vehicles can have zero total emissions if using clean electricity. Where hydrogen fuel cells pull ahead of electric batteries is in ease of use. Hydrogen cars can refuel in 5-10 minutes compared to the hours it takes to recharge electric batteries. Also, new technology allows the hydrogen-fuelled Tucson to go for up to 500km, or about 300 miles, on a single tank. This compares favourably to the range of electric cars, which typically have a range of under 100 miles. For example, the popular Nissan Leaf has a range of about 70 miles and the Renault Kangoo has a range of about 80 miles. There are still some serious concerns about hydrogen's future though. People can be reluctant to use hydrogen cars because of the perception that it is a dangerous fuel due in part to the famous Hindenburg disaster. Today, though, it is completely safe. If the tank carrying the fuel ruptures, it immediately reacts with the comparatively warm air and vents off as
water vapour, far safer than petrol which would remain on the ground. Just to be sure, Hyundai set its entire car on fire without triggering a hydrogen explosion. Engineers from Toyota also tested this by shooting rifle bullets at a pressurised hydrogen fuel tank. It took .50 calibre armour piercing rounds to penetrate the tank, but even then all that happened was the hydrogen leaked out as water vapour. The largest problem facing the adoption of hydrogen cars is that there are very few hydrogen refuelling stations. In a chickenand-egg type problem, potential customers are unwilling to purchase the cars for lack of the stations, and companies and governments are unwilling to build the stations for lack of demand. California has taken the initiative and now has about a dozen hydrogen refuelling stations, and for that reason Hyundai is releasing their hydrogen car there. Now that Hyundai has broken the stalemate, other companies are quickly following suit. Both Toyota and Honda have revealed plans to release their own versions of hydrogen powered cars at the beginning of 2015. Both companies' cars will have a range of over 300 miles and be refuelled in under 3 minutes. Managers at Toyota say that hydrogen cars have the potential to be as big, if not bigger than the best-selling Prius. John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai, believes that â€œHydrogenpowered fuel cell electric vehicles represent the next-generation of zeroemission vehicle technology." Hydrogen is here to stay.
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Mapping the Deep Nearly 11,000 metres down the world becomes a completely different place. In the well-known Mariana Trench sits Challenger Deep, 304 kilometres North East of Guam. It is the deepest section of all the oceans and pressure at the bottom is about one thousand times greater than atmospheric pressure at sea level. Mapping this section of the earth has proved to be an immense challenge with the very high pressure and large depth making a prolonged submarine journey impractical. In the late 1990s multi-beam sonar allowed this hostile place to be mapped for the first time. SONAR stands for Sound Navigation and Ranging and is used extensively in modern ships throughout the world. This sends out sound energy and examines the echo bouncing off the sea bed or other objects, like shipwrecks. It is used to survey the seabed, i.e. it locates objects in the water and it calculates the water depth. The depth is discovered by converting half the time taken for the sound wave to hit an object and echo back, into a distance. This can be done if the speed of sound in the water under survey is known. The pulse of sound is often called a ‘ping’ and is generated using a sonar projector or, less frequently, by explosives and air guns. It can often be heard on old films showing submarine warfare during World War Two. The main type of SONAR used for surveying the sea bed is multi-beam echo sounders (MBES). These emit sound waves from underneath a ship to form a fan-based beam that spreads across the sea floor. Thus a large number of soundings (depths) are made at once so a large portion of the sea floor can be accurately surveyed quickly. Some MBES are even able to record acoustic back-scatter data which is intensity data that can be analysed in order to form an image of the sea floor.
Another form used is Side Scan SONAR. This can detect objects on the sea floor but a major disadvantage is that it cannot normally provide depth measurements. Thus it is often used on a survey vessel in conjunction with MBES SONAR. Unlike MBES, Side Scan Sonar makes use of an external unit like a small submarine, known as a towfish. A burst of sound energy from this forms a fan shape that sweeps the seafloor and any objects on it, from one side to the other. The beam then echoes back and the strength of this is constantly recorded, meaning an image of the sea floor can be built up. This happens when the signal has gone up the transmission cable and to the topside processing unit. The towfish can either be suspended in the water or attached to the hull (bottom) of the boat. Shadow zones are often formed where the beam is blocked by a large object resting on the bed. These are actually very useful and show an interpreter the shape of an object on the sea floor (this occurs because the speed of sound is often reasonably consistent and the sound waves are considered straight for this purpose so the shadow will essentially be the same as the object). SONAR has meant that sea floors can be quickly and efficiently mapped. This can greatly aid oceanographers who want to gain a picture of what lies below. It can also reduce the risk of a vessel hitting the seabed because more accurate charts can be made. Thus shipping and recreational sailing are much safer and many lives may have been saved due to this technology. However, for all its benefits, the widespread use of SONAR does have its problems. The high frequencies and large volume of the ‘ping’ has been named as a potential reason for why whales alter their dive patterns. It can disrupt whale feeding patterns and can cause many to panic and flee. Thus many dolphins cannot cope with the changes, especially the change in dive patterns, and this can lead to a severe case of the ‘bends’. Many whales may have died as a result of this. For instance, in 2000 four different species stranded themselves on the beaches of the
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Bahamas and it was thought that SONAR caused this. More and more technologies are becoming available which means that MBES SONAR and Side Scan SONAR do not have to be used – hopefully this will reduce the effects on whales. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) is a relatively new technology that has been employed by many organisations, including the US Office of Coast Survey. Bathymetric LIDAR (those used at sea) utilises pulses of lasers and measures the time taken for the pulse of light to leave and return to determine the depth of the water. This can be used for water depths of up to 50 metres but the main advantage with it is that the system can be mounted on aircraft so the shallowest areas can be surveyed and the disruption to marine wildlife (like whales) is much less. A much newer technology under test is Phase Differencing Bathymetric Sonar (PDBS) which can survey twice the area of seabed as conventional SONARs in the same given time. This is still in development but could dramatically decrease the cost of surveying as vessels would have to be at sea for half the time. This is an exciting new development that in the next few years could come to dominate the market. Ocean surveying has had a relatively long history compared to many technologies, like the mobile phone, but it still has a long way to go. Maybe one day it will become so advanced that you will be able to see even the smallest plankton ‘rolling in the deep’.
How to train a doctor There are many methods used to train medical students up to the high standards of the UK General Medical Council, the governing body of the NHS. Problem-based scenarios, clinical teaching, lectures and textbooks are some of
these methods. During the last decade, however, a new option has arisen which allows students to work in realistic scenarios without endangering a real patient. It’s called high fidelity simulation and it’s based on mannequin simulators currently being used to teach pilots and soldiers.
These mannequins come in a variety of sizes, from neonatal babies to 7-foot tall rugby players, and most importantly, they can talk and respond to the “doctor”. Of course, the speech is all done by a real person speaking through the mannequin but the situation is still incredibly realistic. The mannequin can display a variety of symptoms including temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. Technicians can control the patient remotely, allowing it to respond to anything the doctors do. “Plug and Play” limbs are able to be swapped and customised so that the scenario can achieve an incredible level of specificity. These mannequins can even bleed when cut, a problem which has hindered simulator engineers for years. High fidelity simulators are not only useful to doctors either. The mannequins have a complete internal organ system allowing surgeons to practice complex operations before carrying them out on an actual live patient. The technicians can change the condition of the patient during procedures, thus mimicking how a real patient would react. And all the time, the mannequin records everything so that the participants can be debriefed afterward and learn what they could do better. The advantages of high fidelity mannequin based simulators (HFMBS) are huge. They are
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invaluable to the teaching of medical students, allowing them to learn and improve skills without working under the fear of harming the patient and keeping the scenario realistic. Studies has shown that students who used HFMBS had much higher success rates than those who learned using traditional methods, scoring up to 20% higher in some cases. They can even be used to simulate crisis situations or even battlefield trauma. The simulator can mimic almost any condition, from the common cold to gunshot wounds, multiple severe fractures and cancer. Some hospitals hold multi-disciplinary emergency training drills. This can involve doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses all at the same time. HFMBS is even used to simulate mass trauma and casualties from terrorist attacks. In addition, HFMBS is used in the military. First, a battle scenario is simulated with soldiers enacting a computerised battle, similar to ‘Call of Duty’. This is essential as it allows a realistic simulation of battle injuries. Once people have been injured, the virtual patients are moved onto the doctors waiting to treat their realistic injuries.
really match the complexities that real life involves. There are a select few hospitals that do have one though, including our very own Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Unfortunately, although HFMBS is a massive step forward in medical education, medical exam boards are still hesitant to allow it to be used as a form of stand-alone teaching due to the “scarcity of evidence” that it results in a higher retention rate, insisting that it is best used in conjunction with traditional methods. The majority of medical students and doctors in the UK learn and practice without HFMBS and yet the UK still has one of the best healthcare systems in the world and will continue to do so, regardless of what the Daily Mail thinks.
The Sordid State of the Music Block
One of the greatest advantages is the fact that the patient is not actually alive in the first place. It is estimated that up to 4% of deaths in the US in 1999 were due to medical errors, either by doctors or medical students learning on the job. By removing the risk to a real patient, more lives are saved, an improvement which has no price. HFMBS can also be used for research in labs and in the diagnosis of patients presenting a variety of symptoms. Doctors can play around with the clinical data in the simulator and manipulate their conditions in order to find a match to the disease(s) that the real patient has. Simulation has so much value that the American government has invested trillions of dollars in it. It hasn’t quite got off the ground in the UK, however, due to traditionalist views and the fact that our government just doesn’t have that much money. Many doctors are sceptical about HFMBS and whether it can
Every day at lunchtime, I go to a place at the back of school. It’s a little dirty, quite dark, and smells in places. No, I’m not talking about Birchfields Park, the Mordor of MGS. Having made such a comparison, I am now forced to say ‘One does not simply go into Birchfields Park’ and that is in all P a g e | 23
seriousness. Where was I? Ah, yes. I am talking about the Music Block, MGS’ very own Osgiliath. Those who have watched the famous Lord of the Rings films or read the wonderful books by J. R. R. Tolkein will know that Osgiliath is a ruined city, with broken buildings, and as the Battle of the Pelennor Fields approaches, full of Orcs from Mordor; I can only express my disappointment with those who have not partaken in such forms of personal entertainment. This is not to say that the Music Block is filled with louts from Birchfields Park, although what might be one of their favourite musical genres, Dubstep, can often be heard emanating from the Music Library – the perpetrators of such sound know who they are. However, the general state of the Music Block is a problem, and one that needs to be sorted out quickly. Many students in the school may remember the heavy rains of 2012. During this monsoon-like period, the instrument storage area was flooded, and that is no exaggeration. Instruments were destroyed, and the entire storage area was blocked off for several weeks, leading to the creation of a rather absurd myth that there was an elderly lady floating downstairs amongst the sodden clarinets and water-filled violins. I remember cautiously venturing down there weeks later and seeing stained brick walls – the unmistakeable sign of flooding. This brings me onto another issue with the instrument storage area – it’s far too cold. While that may sound like a fairly minor problem to which one might reply, ‘Just turn on the radiator!’ the solution is not so simple. There is an old electric radiator there, but I remain to be convinced as to whether or not it actually works. As a result, I am filled with a great degree of consternation whenever I leave my instrument down
there: it is cold enough for the mechanisms of certain instruments to be altered to the point where they will not work properly (for the full reasons, please speak to a member of the Physics Department). I suppose this has something to do with the location – underground in the north of England is not really the place to be leaving expensive instruments. The Music Block is one of at least two places in the school where you can see the outline of the bricks by looking at the walls, the other being certain rooms in the Economics Department. The difference with the Music Block is that the bricks are visible because of the gradual peeling away of very old paint. In some areas, the walls were never painted in the first place, and one of my recent lessons there was halted by the discovery of a plant of unknown species growing through the walls of the building and into M1. Evidently the plant in question was lost and trying to find its way to the Rectory. Just to make matters worse, rumours spread like wildfire of the death of a rodent, pigeon, or similar small animal in the wall of the Music Block last year. For a large part of the year, an entire GCSE class was unwilling to enter M2 before the air had been inundated with the smell of strawberry air freshener, which only gave the room a sicklier feel. My next problem with this small building in which wonderful musicianship abounds is the decor, and this is a problem shared by other locations in the school. While the 20th century feel of wooden doors, wooden floors and a mingling of soft browns and dull greys has a certain character to it that would eventually be sorely missed, it is at complete odds with a number of buildings in the school, including the shiny, new Drama Centre and Theatre only opposite the Music Block. A more modern look would certainly brighten up the place, but P a g e | 24
sadly there is no construction fairy that can wave a wand and cause an instant transformation; any process of modernisation would be far more complicated. What must be done then? At the moment, I’m not entirely sure, but someone will come up with a solution at some point. Personally, I’ve had my eye on one of the wooden Junior School buildings for a while... PRAVAR PETKAR
MGS Societies review Earlier in the year we published a joke article about the school’s societies. Over the course of the year our anonymous critic has had the privilege of attending a variety of talks at these societies. His (or her) results have been used to compile a serious review of some of the more prominent academic societies at school. We hope this will provide the prospective society-going owl with a starting point. Geography Society: GeogSoc’s main strength is in its diversity. There is a large variety of topics to be discussed and the talks are usually wellresearched (to a certain degree). However if this writer is to be frank, the talks are, with the exception of the recent one on feminism (courtesy of our very own Mary nonetheless), very bland. The speakers are disinterested and seem to be filling in their UCAS quota. This society needs to do more to liven things up. 4/10 Debating Society: For those gearing themselves up for a future in politics, economics or any discipline that involves on-the-spot
thinking and critical analysis, this is a must. DebSoc brings together an interesting blend of students from all subject areas, and this contributes to interesting and lively debate. The focus is on parliamentary style debate, which can be notoriously formulaic. There are still many opportunities to expand your oratory skills however, and the essay-like speech style is crucial for debate. The topics are of a varying degree of interest to this writer. 8/10 Model United Nations: This society helps familiarise students with concepts in international relations and human rights, as well as increasing knowledge of some current affairs. The writer feels that MUN consists too much of talking and only brings serious research to the table for the major conferences. Overall the success that the MGS team has enjoyed so far will testify to just how well MUN functions, and they have to be commended on that. 7/10 Pi Shop: Ah now this is one to watch. Bringing in a large array of mathematical discussions (both theoretical and applied), this society should pick up much more attention from non-mathematicians than it currently does. The feel of it is one of familiarity which can seem a bit inaccessible at times, though the Pi Shop regulars are always welcoming of new visitors. 8/10 Politics Society: RodSoc is, as our joke article correctly pointed out, very obscure. Many people are unaware of its existence, and those who are will generally choose not to go. Last year’s talks generally afforded a more interesting mix of speakers, though it must P a g e | 25
be said they have had a few sizzlers. Gerould Kauffman’s appearance was a big one, and I think a couple more where that came from could certainly put RodSoc on the map. 6/10 History Society: A generally well-advertised and efficient society, there is not much against them. Mr Hern’s talks are legendary but he should perhaps be given a little bit more time to talk, or perhaps a library full of empty shelves to fill with his seemingly infinite knowledge of everything that has ever happened. The society is boring for nonhistorians, and becoming a die-hard regular is difficult unless you are committed to or very interested in a very wide-spanning knowledge of different historical eras. 7/10 Medics’ Society: DocSoc serves its function as a society for the medics, by the medics. It does not seek to branch out and attract non-medics and is very much a prep club for doctors of the future. Few talks are advertised and they do not meet as frequently as other societies, but they are consistent. 5/10 Classics Society: Members of this society can frequently be seen prowling around looking for speakers. They carry upon their shoulders the monumental task of promoting a dying discipline, and I am afraid the quality of their talks sometimes reflects this decadence. That said, Classics Society has been known to bring in a plethora of talented MGS scholars, and have risen to the challenge more often than not. The Classics Society is under very competent and energetic management, it just lacks that extra bit of flair.
7/10 Natural Philosophy Society: Not much need be said. PhilSoc is the colossus of all MGS societies. Distinguished academics from the UK’s best universities are often featured and the talks attract students from all walks of academic life. They strike the perfect balance between pop-science topics and scientific expertise to keep the talks deeply educational as well as interesting and accessible. What can I say? Well done! 10/10 Berkeley Society: It is always to be expected that in a society run by larger-than-life and somewhat pompous philosophers, planning does not always go perfectly. Mondays have been missed, and the speakers have been known to break down in the middle of talks in a crushing realisation of the absurdity of human existence and its insignificance. That aside, the talks are an eclectic mix of informative, passionate, depressing and brilliant. There have been some memorable talks and Berkeley have achieved some great landmarks; external speakers, the first female speaker and audience as well as much larger turnouts have made them by far and away the most improved of societies since their predecessors. Consistency is wanting, but quality is not. 9/10 ANONYMOUS
Corridor Etiquette (or not-so-etiquette) MGS is the world ‘where anything is possible’, as described on the website, and P a g e | 26
this is certainly true concerning its corridors. Around the corner you may bump into a high-minded Year 9, a nervous Year 7 or a particularly enthusiastic Gold Prefect. But it is the adherence of particular year groups to certain characteristics that is most striking. Let us take the example of the Junior School. They scuttle quickly through the main school, under the eagle-eyed protection of their teachers, on their way to an early lunch. Years 3-4, who are blissfully ignorant of the jealous stares of hungry Year 8s, or the worried glances on their teachers’ faces, are led through the perilous zone of the Drinks Corridor. Years 5-6 meanwhile have an understanding of the danger, and march solemnly through the main school, eager to get back to the safety of Plessyngton Lodge. Year 7s, quite understandably, arrive at MGS with the same nervousness as their Junior School counterparts, and this is also demonstrated through their swift pace in the corridors. What separates them from their counterparts in the year below is their bags. Vast JanSport rucksacks hide their heads, armouries of suitcases suggest Owl’s Nest is a weekly occurrence, and huge PE bags strewn with cricket bats, tennis rackets and football boots block the corridors. Year 7s, in taking every textbook in existence with them, rather clog up the corridors, but they do make up for it by being the politest year in the school, holding doors open not just for teachers, but (remarkably) for other pupils as well. Year 8s lose this kind-hearted behaviour over the summer, when they return with leaner bags and greater cheek, and with an uncanny ability to always walk on the right hand side of the corridor, or in this case the wrong side. However, their change is nothing compared with the
metamorphosis that converts Year 8s into Year 9s. Their shirts gain a magical ability to untuck themselves, and their top buttons are always disappearing ‘playing football’; the Year 9s seem to consider themselves masters of the (MGS Corridor) universe. Great debating skill is shown in their passionate arguments at lunch queues, and with their heads held high in the corridors they are remorseless in asserting over Lower School that they are the Year 9s. Years 10 and 11 carry on in much the same fashion, except with a growing trend towards Eastpak bags which results in more or less everyone having this type of bag in year 11.
Upon entering Year 12, this trend lessens somewhat; the suits seem to bestow gravity and authority, with a few exceptions. The top button now stays done up often, as the determination to look ‘fresh’ overrides the need to be told off by Dr Burch. In Year 12, people dress smartly and behave sensibly in the corridors, all the way to collecting as many UCAS points and things-to-put-on-one’sreference as possible. Year 13s carry on this trend, with a few chests emblazoned with gold badges and peculiar ties. All in all, at MGS we do evolve quite rapidly in the corridors, from cherubs in Junior School to a bumbling assortment of chimpanzees in Lower School, Neanderthals in Middle School and something approaching homines sapientes in Sixth Form. It is also possible to tell a teacher’s experience from their behaviour on the corridor. Fast walkers, carrying a P a g e | 27
neat folder of lesson plans and wearing a crisp suit, indicate a new teacher determined to start their career in an orderly fashion. As teachers become more experienced, their walking pace slows, their neat folder becomes a mound of sheets, their suits age and thus it is possible to identify a trainee just out of university from an MGS veteran. On the corridor though, both have a ruthless approach to uniform and behaviour, and thus teachers deserve commendation on their corridor etiquette. Indeed, teachers alongside Gold Prefects have made it quite difficult for ‘anything is possible’ to be a realistic possibility in the corridors, but as long as Middle School exists, undone top buttons and untucked shirts are here to stay; as long as Lower School survives, big bags and bigger suitcases will burden the bag racks. Hence, despite the best efforts of teachers and prefects, corridor etiquette is likely to remain closer to corridor not-so-etiquette. ALAN PETRI
Let’s Play Rugby Picture this. It’s a Saturday morning at 8 o’clock. You arrive at school to be greeted by an army of obscurely branded coaches. As you enter one of the coaches the musky aroma of cigarettes and your old granny’s sofa fills your cold nostrils. But, as you progress through the coach this changes to more of a sweat and warm beer infusion. This my dear friends, is your home for the next 3 and a half hours as you travel North through the lashings of rain to your destination. You arrive at St Scouser’s School for Future Convicts. Once you disembark the ‘banter bus’ (as it is commonly known) and become soaked from head to toe, it is then that it dawns on you that the morning’s
festivities have not even begun yet. After getting changed into your loose-fitting kit in the obscenely small changing rooms, you once again face Mother Nature and walk out onto the pitch. Greeting you are men, or at least men-sized boys, more than happy, possibly even ecstatic at the opportunity to tear you apart limb by limb. After 80 minutes of them succeeding in this endeavour and a scoreboard to match, you return home wet, broken, defeated. Now if this sounds like your idea of fun, then rugby is most definitely the sport for you. Either that or you need to seek immediate mental help. So what does it take to play the beautifully graceful game that is rugby? Well for starters a pot belly most definitely helps. Rugby is renowned globally as the one sport that accepts humanity in all its shapes and sizes. Yes even you, the person reading this right now, have a place somewhere on a rugby field. Not only does it help to include the slightly more rotund of us out there, but it even promotes those fellas of a larger variety. Rugby: getting larger kids picked first, since 1823. There are some of you out there that may be wondering how anyone could even consider this sport as a way of enjoying yourself, and in most cases you are right. However, rugby isn't a sport for unsportsmanlike behaviour, wannabe spice boys and gorgeously perfect locks (granted you exclude the Bloodgate incident, Danny Cipriani and well Danny Cipriani again). It is a game for men, manly men, who enjoy eating mud and spitting out teeth. Now, if by this point you haven't already signed up to your local club, then firstly what are you thinking and secondly there P a g e | 28
is not much more I can do to convince you to enter the wonderful world of Rugby. But I will leave you with this thought - when you’re bored from revising (highly unlikely) or your friends have all left you (far more likely), just remember that Rugby can offer you an odd shaped ball that you don’t have to feel guilty about playing with at the dinner table. RICHARD PARKER
Owl Clique The top five percent… sounds flashy doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would not give their iPhone to enter a parliament of elite young men; to gain access to that golden percentile, giving one the ability to silence the words of others? To spread your conventional wisdom with the bourgeoisie, whilst buying your pear and goat’s cheese panini. The prospect of acquisition of an invisible badge of honour, which once acquired must weave its way into every conversation possible. To firmly lodge in every poor panini-maker’s mind just how great you truly are. What could possibly be more fun than preying on serf’s ignorance? Perhaps heckling of those who reside below the intellectual stratosphere of you and your peers? Those wretched souls who simply can’t defeat the owls and will die trying. Those wretched souls who can merely sit and watch as you soak up all surrounding knowledge at break neck speed… because you can. Or is it the sheer comradeship felt by you and your fellow scholars as you walk down the street infiltrating those still waiting to be enlightened? Another attractive prospect may be that you will obtain populist bragging rights for life. How exhilarating! However, do not think you can simply walk straight into this splendid sect… oh no, hoops must be jumped through my friend.
The concept of modesty must be left on the shelf and replaced with a puffed up chest, and a cutting pair of claws with which you may shred the remarks of your closest fellows. One must prove one’s worth in this animalistic ritual in which you are pitted against an equal, and which results in blood, sweat, tears, spilt coffee and broken friendships. So prepare yourself for the most caffeinated voyage of swordplay and slander your tested teenage mind can endure. Just maybe you may tiptoe into the Owl Clique, and cement your place in our superior species. Note: may contain feathers and heavily perpetuated stereotypes. TOM FOLEY
Directing your own play On the occasions I have had the pleasure of writing for this illustrious publication it has typically been on the subject of my slightly unhealthy reverence for certain film directors. This being my final contribution to the prestigious lineage of New Manc journalism I thought I would spice it up a bit and share with you my recent experiences attempting to direct something myself. In late January 2014 the school production, "No Exit" by Jean Paul Sartre had its world premiere in the edifying auspices of Drama Studio 1. Sitting among the glittering A list of theatre cognoscenti was one very sweaty writhing specimen responsible for the mess that was about to ensue. In what was for him a nerve shattering moment the lights suddenly went down, the audience quietened and his brick production capacities reached prodigious new heights.
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As the first actor stepped on stage, his respiratory functions ceased... Self dramatisation aside, directing my first play was one the most exhilarating and possibly life changing things I have ever had the good fortune to endeavour. In this article I would like as far as possible to try and share with you readers something of that experience and also offer some advice to anybody with a view of directing their own production. The first challenge you face as a director is summoning the testicular requisites to commit yourself to directing something. One can lose oneself picking the right project and indulging the endless process of over conceptualising the production. The important thing is to stop thinking and buy the one way ticket to the performance night. Now you can start over thinking. Next you have to collect some charitable souls to go along with your scheme. Understandably your first thought may quite possibly be â€˜who the f*** would want to act in my play?' and indeed who would? This is why to me the role of the director and the used car salesman seem to uncannily intersect. Like a used car salesman you have to lie, cheat, beg, manipulate and generally prostrate yourself to get people to come and audition. Unlike a used car salesman however, you don't actually have anything to sell, except an opportunity. Key to success is telling anybody and everybody about the project. Eventually as the date of the audition will loom you'll be worried it'll only be you, so don't hesitate to broaden your horizons to blackmail, kidnapping and coercion. Then you must decide what you will do in the audition itself. In my own experience I
ended up asking a good friend to scrunch up some balls of paper, push them up his shirt and audition for the part of a lesbian sadist. The results were certainly, awesome. This is an excellent opportunity to start working out what sort of rehearsal atmosphere you are looking for. It is also good for finding your feet in discovering your directing technique. Will you be more didactic or passive? How do you give feedback? How do you decide what's good and what's bad? How far can you push your friends into abject humiliation?
This brings us nicely to the issue of how does one direct? The first rehearsal is usually a read through in which lines are run through in quick succession. As some of you may know, actors love pressure and expectation; so be sure to let them know that if they don't perform the run through with sublime perfection the first time, the production will inevitably be doomed. Some of these guys even have professional aspirations, so be extra certain to confer the pearls of your career advice and let them know if they're not living up to your expectations. To further nurture a relaxed and productive atmosphere, you may wish to share with your cast your total ignorance as to how to actually direct and your singular lack of vision for the production. It's good to set the right tone from the start. As rehearsals continue, you may find things are going quite well. Conversely you might find that things are going suicideinducingly badly. Again, the used car salesman analogy seems uncannily appropriate. Some second hand cars will last you a lifetime and emit that distinct sense of character and individuality which draws people into motoring. This may foster a beautiful relationship between P a g e | 30
seller and owner. Some second hand cars can just about drive out of the dealership for you only to find that the next day they break down into a useless scrap of metal. This may foster a homicidal relation between the owner and the seller. Be warned that second hand car buyer is your actor... Eventually after much trial and tribulation we come to the moment we opened with... As the play progressed and the lights finally came up I confess I was beset by the most intense feeling of joy. For that pleasure I must thank four truly stellar (and charitable) souls who made it possible; JJ Bute for his moral and spiritual support and his wonderful generosity and openness to ideas (that even extended to a psychotic wholesale destruction of the set put to the sounds of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing"). To Charlie Harris, who danced to Madonna's Material Girl before giving his all in a performance of such emotional and comic genius that by the end I believe the audience didn't know if they wanted to slap him, kill him or give him a hug. Becky Page who conjured a character of such psychological complexity that perhaps only her acting virtuosity could pull it off in balancing presence with vulnerability, dignity with obscenity and empathy with loathing. Nancy Salt to whom words can't really do justice in describing how frighteningly brilliantly she can make a character come alive, and the consummate professionalism, talent and intelligence she uses to achieve this. I feel exceptionally privileged to have been able to work with these guys and very fortunate to have received so much support and patience from MGS drama. So in concluding my advice to all you would be car salesmen I would say ultimately, sell to the right people and they'll go along for the ride. MARK BARCLAY
Predicting the Oscars Dearest Reader, In an ideal world, my planned article to cover the Oscars would have been published before the Oscars actually took place. However, since all of us here at the New Mancunian have had strict deadlines imposed upon us, I am forced to base my predictions upon the BAFTA nominations released recently and to write my article over a lunchtime in the school library flanked by two other Sixth Formers, both with textbooks tactically masking the fact that one of them is busy texting a girl whom I presume is far more attractive than he and the other is playing Candy Crush, his sweaty fingers flicking in desperation at the small screen. It is because of this, and the fact that I am predicting the results of the Oscars without knowing the nominations of the Oscars will explain the sheer lack of quality present in the article that I presume you are about to read, though I would strongly advise against it. Anyhow, on with the article. Best Actor This year seems likely to maintain that well-kept Oscar tradition of not giving Leonardo DiCaprio an award, though he has exceeded himself with yet another Oscar-worthy performance in Martin Scorsese's new film, The Wolf of Wall Street. This year the Best Actor category is an overcrowded mass of talent. Bruce Wayne, nominated for American Hustle, is also certain to be overlooked this year. The same can be said for Bruce Dern in Nebraska. I haven't seen it, but I'm sure he was quite good, albeit not quite good enough to win this year. As I see it, the P a g e | 31
award will either go to Chiwetel Ejiofor for his captivating and harrowing performance in Steve McQueen's slavery epic, or Tom Hanks will go on to win his third Oscar for Captain Philips. My personal favourite, though, would be Ejiofor, not because his performance was better, but just because I'm still bitter at Tom Hanks for beating Morgan Freeman for the Best Actor Oscar in 1995. I still refuse to watch Forrest Gump on humanitarian grounds. Daniel DayLewis has been rather charitable to the Oscar hopefuls of 2014 and not made a film in the last year. Conclusion: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
one in particular, "That was Oscar-worthy." None of them really surpassed "quite good," for me. If I had to pick one actress who I think will win the Oscar it would probably be Emma Thompson for Saving Mr. Banks, because not only was she quite good, but she also used to be married to Kenneth Branagh. Yes. That's the criteria that I'm judging this category by. For all I care they could give it to Tyler Perry for Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas. I really don't care enough about this category this year to give an honest conclusion. Conclusion: Tyler Perry (Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas) or, if you're serious, Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) Best Director
Best Actress This one is a tough one to pick, but not for the same reasons as the Best Actor Oscar, quite the opposite in fact. Though I recognise all these women are very talented actresses in their own right, I don't feel like I particularly care who wins. No one performance has really jumped out at me as Oscar-worthy. It could be any of them. Sandra Bullock was upstaged in Gravity by some floating debris (this isn't an insult to Sandra Bullock, the piece of debris was just beautifully shot). Judi Dench was quite good in Philomena, as was Amy Adams in American Hustle and so was Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, but none of them were so good that I would watch them, applaud in the cinema and say to no
This is always a tricky one to try to judge. Steve McQueen, through 12 Years a Slave, expertly captured the terrifying and heartbreaking conditions of a man wrongly sold into slavery and is more than deserving of the Best Director Oscar. On the other hand, Alfonso Cuaron made a film that made me reconsider my great hatred for 3D films, albeit only for five minutes, for the first time since Ang Lee's Life of Pi. Martin Scorsese did an excellent job with Wolf of Wall Street, but his film is caught, this year, between two cinematic powerhouses. Gravity managed to simulate the experience of a chaotic space accident with such dexterity that you genuinely believed in the characters' peril, but at the same time didn't make you feel sick or your eyes hurt. I have said before that Alfonso Cuaron is one of the best directors alive: one only needs to watch his massively underrated dystopian epic Children Of Men or the best, by a long stretch, of the series, Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban, to agree with me. Now finally he might have an Oscar to prove it. Steve McQueen did an excellent P a g e | 32
job and I think that 12 Years a Slave is actually a better film than Gravity, but Cuaron deserves credit for his artistic vision and skill. Conclusion: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
Best Film As mentioned previously, I do think that 12 Years a Slave was actually a better film than Gravity and, though I do not rate him quite as highly as Alfonso Cuaron, Steve McQueen is still an excellent director. He creates the unapologetically grim world of a man thrown into despair and sorrow, but refuses to lose hope. Not only that, but it does justice to the true story behind it in creating a realistic atmosphere in which you believe in every word said and every emotion shown. On top of this, it includes a cast of actors who treat us to captivating performances including those from the likes of the extremely talented Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti. While Gravity was an excellent film I found that the dialogue was more stilted and awkward than 12 Years a Slave and the performances, though good enough, do not match those in 12 Years a Slave. Gravity, as a whole, is reliant on the spectacle, which is no bad thing, except that 12 Years a Slave happens to have more going for it. Conclusion: 12 Years a Slave
Misogyny in pop music: it’s not a new problem Misogyny in pop music has recently become a much-discussed problem after Robin Thicke released the highly controversial single Blurred Lines. The title itself unsubtly suggests the borders between consent and rejection; and the narrator bemoans these blurred lines because, whether she says yes or no, he believes she “wants it”. With a highly provocative video, a catchy melody and the fury of a thousand feminists, it became the best-selling single of 2013. Many have since said that this is too much, that in short, sexism in pop music has gone too far. But this isn’t a new problem. In 1965, John Lennon wrote ‘Run For Your Life’, which was the final track of the Beatles’ number one hit album ‘Rubber Soul’. In the song, Lennon sings, “Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl / than to be with another man” (a similar lyric to this appears in Elvis Presley’s “Baby, Let’s Play House”). This hasn’t stopped the Beatles’ commercial or critical recognition; yet the suggestion of the murder of a girlfriend seems just as bad, if not worse than Robin Thicke’s controversial lyrics. In addition, in bluesman Muddy Waters’ song ‘I Can’t Be Satisfied’, he sings “I feel like snapping / pistol in your face / I’m gonna let some graveyard / Lord be your resting place.” Misogyny has been in art for time immemorial - Shakespeare also has been accused of sexism, in his play ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, amongst others.
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This historical precedent does not justify or absolve the attitude to women propounded in ‘Blurred Lines’. However, it shows that he should not be scapegoated, and also that perhaps misogyny in pop music doesn’t affect the mindset of those who listen. People didn’t buy the Beatles’ records, and they don’t buy Robin Thicke’s, to listen to the opinions of the artists. They buy them first and foremost because they like the music. People who were not sexist before won’t become so after listening to Thicke’s song, and those that were before won’t be worsened by it. Feminism has already brought about attitudinal changes to women in society so that the attitudes expounded by Thicke and other allegedly misogynistic artists such as ‘Tyler and The Creator’ are solidly minority viewpoints. Likewise, the misogyny that exists in the works of the Beatles and Shakespeare seems extremely dated now with modern egalitarian views of women. In time (and to many it seems so even now) the misogyny of modern musicians will seem ridiculous and primeval. Therefore it would seem that the often hysterical feminist reaction to ‘Blurred Lines’ is both scapegoating Thicke and also ignoring the clear downward trend in sexism in our society. If anything, it is worsening the issue by drawing attention to the song and so heightening its popularity. This is what is more disturbing, and revealing, about this song. The controversy surrounding it, as with Miley Cyrus’ recent hit ‘Wrecking Ball’, has helped its success. Thicke’s song is his commercial triumph, whereas with the Beatles and Muddy Waters, their sexist songs were not singles and so their albums sold on the basis of the songs rather than the controversy. If Thicke is guilty of anything, it is of manipulating controversy to sell more of his albums than would have sold
otherwise: Thus he has successfully sold misogyny to the masses. RICHARD BIRCH
The rise of the bedroom producer As music changes so do the musicians, and our particular epoch has allowed for a new type of musician to step forward: "The bedroom producer". 2013 was an interesting year for connoisseurs of electronic music. The resurgence of vinyl – buying, and releasing on – continued in the New York and Detroit of the 90s, making a strong comeback in the underground world of techno. Meanwhile, house music in general has had a memorably commercialized period with strong performances from Disclosure and Duke Dumont, seeing House music become the most popular genre of all. In the case of Disclosure, in particular, an argument could certainly be made for the young age of these brothers contributing largely to their popularity. Guy Lawrence is 22, while Howard is 19. In June 2013, they released their universally acclaimed album “Settle”, but – in reality- this was the culmination of knowledge of music production amassed over four or five years. When they first started releasing music in 2010, Guy was 18, and Howard was just 15. When asked by Trap magazine if the duo thought their age had anything to do with the hype surrounding them, older brother Guy replied that “most people are really quite impressed” at their age, and this is indicative of the fact that more and more people appreciate a vibrant dance music culture associated P a g e | 34
with youth. More importantly, is a point made by Howard in the same interview, when he said “It's easy to produce these days, just on your laptop, so it shouldn't be so much of a big deal really”. Perhaps he was being humble, but it inspires the question: How did such a young duo of producers rise to worldwide fame so quickly? One way in which such a rise is possible for producers is through social media. When wanting to release their debut EP in 2011, the duo found they did not have enough money to clear certain vocal samples, and so they turned to their Facebook fan page; one could download the EP if they “liked” the page – Guy calls this a “huge blessing in disguise”, because the social media avalanche effect led to 10,000 people subsequently liking the page. Support from such bass heavyweights as Skream quickly followed on the same site; through Facebook, and also Soundcloud, more and more people were exposed to the duo's music. Granted, it had to be good – but good technology is more than readily available in this day and age. It seems all one needs is a laptop, an Internet connection and some reasonably good headphones to get started - perhaps not even a laptop as the rise of music production apps for the iPad is well documented, with software companies seeing a huge market for such products after the inspiration following such acts as Disclosure. Software such as Ableton, Reason and Fruity Loops is all available to download; the illegal pirating of this software is perhaps not something that producers want to discuss, but is often a vital factor contributing to their popularity. The accessibility of ready-made loops and sounds from more experienced producers
online means that it is much easier to replicate and warp sounds than ever before. This leads to problems; there is a common opinion within the realm of electronic music that there is simply not enough originality going round, but young producers such as Martin Garrix (who released the hit “Animals” in 2013) and Cedric Gervais have had great success from replicating sounds remarkably similar to others, and this is part of the culture of much electronic music. James Blake, nominated for “Best new Artist” at the Grammy Awards in 2014, confesses to making all of his music out of his onebedroom flat, while Skrillex – who won three Grammys in 2013, talks of “making records on laptops and blown speakers” with some pride, and this supports the notion that people can produce music of exceptionally high quality music with the minimal but powerful resources afforded by modern technology. This article is not a complete appraisal of such bedroom producers, and it is hard to envisage such producers as Aphex Twin or Daft Punk being able to appreciate a style of production that, simply put, requires less talent and effort than ever before. Their use of live instruments and recording, bearing more in common with most other styles of music, is a world away from the examples of Martin Garrix and Skrillex. The latter two are often cited negatively when people complain about the lack of originality in music today; however, the resurgence in old music and the talents of such producers as Disclosure, James Blake and the increasingly popular Jon Hopkins ensures there is enough originality to go round. Perhaps, therefore, we should be happy about the accessibility of production material and the ability to easily use it; it provides a productive hobby for some, a viable career route for others, P a g e | 35
and – for those who hold a certain love of music – the potential to be able to chase a dream. HENRY WEEKES
Donnie Darko: The Greatest Story ever told (for teenage boys) Donnie Darko has achieved international fame and recognition since its release in 2001 and is in my opinion the greatest film for a teenage boy to watch (even greater than Fight Club). I have been told to warn you that I will probably be spouting a large number of spoilers, so if you haven't watched Donnie Darko yet and plan on doing so in the near future do not read this article. Seriously, don't be an idiot. The first thing I noticed and adored about this film was its confusing and mindblowing story line. It is almost a given that to fully understand the movie you have to watch it at least three times. The extremely (and I mean extremely) basic plot is that a teenage boy called Donnie Darko is forced to do the bidding of a Bunny rabbit called Frank, all the while counting down to some ultimate conclusion which isn't revealed until the final moments of the movie. Trust me it's much cooler and darker than I make it out to be. The entire movie could be characterised as a big ‘f**k you!’ to logic and common sense, yet despite its illogical character, it makes you think so hard that your brain hurts and you are left none less the wiser. But the storyline is just one ingredient in the excrement storm that is Donnie Darko.
The film, set in 1980s, America naturally has music from the period, this doesn't mean Duran Duran and Wham; this means good 80s bands of actual quality, which of course being an old music nerd, I love. Mad World originally written by Tears for Fears is the culminating song and in the extended edition the director just goes crazy, by adding Head over Heels by Tears for Fears once more, Love Will Tear Us Apart from the Manchester band Joy Division and Notorious by Duran Duran (I'll allow the director that one song). But why is the film so perfect for teenage boys? Well primarily because its main
character is a teenage boy who we all secretly want to be. He's cool, he's brooding, and he drunkenly rants about the sex lives of Smurfs! Plus he's essentially Superman: he can even see into the future! Which teenage boy wouldn't want to be him? His girlfriend (Jena Malone) is also pretty good-looking which helps. He may be insane but he is the coolest schizophrenic I have ever seen. I'm being super serious, if he didn't die at the end I would want to be Donnie in an instant. The acting in this film is just a tiny part of the whole experience but as in all great movies it’s flawless. Even Drew Barrymore seems to show talent in this film, (though it seems to be limited to this one instance). Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliant, especially as P a g e | 36
this was only his second lead role in a film. It's not easy to portray a paranoid schizophrenic superhuman with time travelling powers believably but somehow he manages to do just that. But let's not forget Patrick Swayze (of Dirty Dancing fame) who played the most convincing closet paedophile I have ever seen on screen. The only minor setback for this brilliant film, is the sequel. That's right, the sequel. “But Alex there was never a Donnie Darko sequel! Don't be so stupid” I hear you cry. Well children there was, and by god was it awful. It was directed by Chris Fisher in 2009 who had never even worked on the original Donnie Darko, and was based around Donnie's younger sister. It was named “S Darko” and the central theme of thefilm is so convoluted and superficial that I won't even give it the benefit of being described in this beautiful article. This film gained huge critical success with a resounding 0% from Rotten Tomatoes. Well, let us forget this small slip-up which even the director of the original Darko refused to watch and instead focus on the beautiful, gut-wrenching and truly mindblowing film that is Donnie Darko. ALEX BELL
Roll Britannia A high octane, all-action thriller combining skating, body contact and ten women - no, I’m not describing my dream last night (although it was astonishingly similar), but the fastest growing women’s sport in the UK: roller derby. As calm is restored in Britain after the action-packed Olympics, concern grows that the Games’ legacy has neglected women. The colossal rise, therefore, of
roller derby has been nothing short of a welcome reward for those making the case for its inclusion in the 2020 Olympics. The sport, mainly played by women, has recently gained an immense amount of momentum. In fact, it has made headway faster than teachers can stick on a DVD in the last week of term. Roller derby originated in Chicago in the 1930s, and attracted over five million followers over the next few decades. Its reputation, however, was severely damaged in the 1980s when it was branded ‘sports entertainment’ – a bracket that included (and still does include) the notorious WWE and other scripted sports. Despite this, a renaissance of roller derby occurred at the beginning of the 21st century – the term ‘renaissance’ only applies if, of course, grassroots programmes can be compared to the greatest cultural revolution the world has ever seen (excluding Mao’s dynasty). After its reputation as a ‘proper’ sport was boosted greatly, many felt that it would become a hugely popular and competitive activity for both men and women. This claim has been strongly supported by statistics, which are somewhat relevant, I might add. In the women’s game, there are over 30,000 registered skaters worldwide at the time of writing, with more than 100 clubs in the UK alone. Within these clubs, players are often known by their inventive pseudonyms – humorous at times – and include Wikibleedia, Wench Press and Tart of Darkness. Even that’s before you get to some of the slightly...ruder ones. “But how does roller derby actually work?” I hear you ask. I’m going to answer. Two teams of five compete by skating around a circuit track in order to win as many points as possible. Each team fields one point P a g e | 37
scorer – the Jammer – whose job it is to overlap as many of the opposing team’s skaters as possible, who scores points. The remaining four players from each team are known as Blockers, who form a pack to block (as the name conveniently suggests) the opposing Jammer, whilst clearing a path for their own Jammer to manoeuvre through.
Essentially, roller derby is very similar to football - except the pitch is replaced with a track; 22 players and a referee with 10 players and a few more referees. Get rid of the ball, nets, fourth official, groundsmen, red and yellow cards, diving, rolling around as if a sharpened knife has been plunged into you on multiple occasions in a variety of painful locations (yes, including that one too), fans chanting obscenities and incompetent stewards. So, not much like football at all then.
One criticism of roller derby is that it is a sport not for the faint-hearted. Skaters have to wear helmets, mouth guards, wrist and elbow supports, and kneepads: it is a full contact sport in which injuries are common, even though there are strict regulations on fouls, as shown below. It is at the referee’s discretion to determine whether the fouls are major or minor: one major penalty means the player responsible spends one minute in the ‘penalty box’, from where they cannot play, and the same happens if the player picks up four minors. The following is a list of fouls:
Blocking with forearms, hands, elbows, or a helmet Tripping, kicking, or blocking with feet or legs Blocking while 20 feet ahead of or behind the pack (”out of play”)
Intentionally destroying the pack, such as by taking a knee or leaving the track in a way which renders the remaining players ineligible to block Blocking a skater in their back or head Blocking while out of bounds, or blocking a skater who is out of bounds Skating out of bounds to get around other skaters (”cutting the track”) Illegal procedures: false starts, too many skaters on the track
Physically, roller derby is draining, and it demands a high level of athleticism: there are two 30 minute halves which make up a bout, and each two minute play is called a jam. Miss Roberts, the school’s resident roller derby expert and enthusiast, offers her thoughts on why she loves the sport so much, and why it has grown so quickly despite the great risk of injury: “I love roller derby because it is physically demanding, highly tactical and is all about teamwork,” she says. “I enjoy the buzz you get from being able to play a full contact sport whilst being on wheels. I like the travel too - in the last year alone I have been able to travel to Stockholm, Berlin, Stuttgart, Gent, and all over the UK to play games with my team. I love the crowds that come to watch us play too. They are crazy and so, so loud.” She went on, “In my opinion the answer to why the sport is growing so quickly is simple - there is no sport which is as much fun! It involves individual skill, endurance, speed, big hits, tactics, teamwork and to top it all off, the derby community is the most inclusive and exciting of all sporting communities that I have ever known. The P a g e | 38
ethos of the sport is that anyone can do it it doesn’t matter what your sporting background is, anyone can put on a pair of skates and have a go. Those who do tend to be hooked from the word go!”
that a team could bounce back from to claim a place in the prestigious Champions League. Nevertheless, there lies a fundamental problem in that United are not a team on the up.
Miss Roberts also recommended that regardless of your sporting background, you should take up roller derby now! “You become part of a massively supportive and welcoming community, you become fit and strong, you get to be part of a team, make new friends and your confidence will grow. Last year saw the first women’s roller derby World Cup and it has since been shortlisted for the 2020 Olympics. It is constantly growing and evolving and I love being a part of that. We are making history in the sport right now.”
After three games and three successive defeats only nine days into the New Year, the pressure on the new manager, David Moyes, is increasing, with many already calling for his managerial ‘head’. It can be argued that he was left with a weak and ageing squad, a sharp contrast to the many favouring United to win the title at the start of the season. They have since changed their tune, blaming Sir Alex Ferguson for the state in which he left the club. It is wrong to blame a team which won the Premier League by an overwhelming margin of eleven points in the previous season, rather than the amateurish way in which Moyes has conducted club affairs so far. In short, David Moyes is simply not the right man for the club, not only because of a poor run of results in the Premier League and FA Cup, but also the decisions made during the transfer market - the radical, unnecessary changes to backroom staff and an overall air of delusion, particularly with postmatch interviews.
GREG ALEXANDER Special Thanks to: Miss Roberts
Was the chosen one the wrong choice?
It’s the 9th of January and the Premier League season is in full swing. The word that has been most associated with Manchester United’s season so far is ‘shambolic’. Twenty games have been played and the Red Devils sit in seventh, 11 points behind the leaders Arsenal. On the face of it, it seems like the sort of position
When Moyes finally came into the role on July 1st – many felt his tenure should have begun earlier – he made two principal mistakes. In Ferguson’s later years, he was known to rely heavily on his assistant staff and coaches, such as Carlos Queiroz and Mike Phelan, who played a crucial role in advising him when many said his revered tactics were wearing thin. There were three crucial men behind the scenes when Ferguson left the club: Mike Phelan, second in command; René Meulensteen, first team coach; and Eric Steele, the goalkeeping coach who had a key role in P a g e | 39
David de Gea’s drastic improvement. All three, for reasons unknown, were removed. This resulted in a great deal of change, which was intended to be as smooth as possible, but proved to be detrimental for both the players and the club who were so used to their old surroundings. But the second move, in replacing them with new coaches, inexperienced at the highest level, was fatal. Manchester United’s coaching level dipped, with Jimmy Lumsden and Phil Neville - the latter having had no experience in professional coaching disrupting the transition, and any remaining links to the Ferguson era were severed. Many claim that this ‘cut off’ was Moyes’ plan, and if this was the case, the idea to create a new legacy for himself has well and truly backfired. The club’s incompetency in the transfer market should be the second nail in the exEverton coach’s coffin. The simultaneous departure of both David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson could be said to contribute to the negative effects, but it was an opportunity to mould a team of his own that he missed. United signed two players over the course of the window: a teenage right-back for £1.5 million, Guillermo Varela, who is yet to make a first team appearance and Marouane Fellaini, whom Moyes brought with him from Everton, in a mind-boggling £27.5 million deal, an inflated fee because of the last minute nature of the purchase. Fellaini was a fighter in the midfield who had shown real quality in an Everton shirt, but on first inspection seemed far too slow and clumsy for a club of United’s stature, and one associated with fast counter attacks and flair play. Although the transfer was perceived to be a flop, he hasn’t been given enough game time for a label such as ‘flop’ or ‘success’ to be placed on him. The finger, therefore, cannot be pointed at
Moyes. It was more the case of chasing completely unrealistic targets such as Cesc Fabregas and Sami Khedira, which made the window a disastrous affair. It made the club look petty and desperate, embarrassing the fans with solutions that everyone understood were out of reach. In theory, Moyes was a solid choice - a stable, grounded, astute manager who had done well on a relatively low budget at Everton. He was consistent – consistently average – but consistent nonetheless. In many fields of life, things just don’t work out or go quite as planned. This is one of those situations; in practice it just hasn’t happened for Moyes. His results in Europe and the Capital One Cup have demonstrated that Manchester United can be real contenders, but results in the Premier League have been unforgivably poor for a team which dominated the league in the previous campaign. He has shown naivety in his team selection by selecting players who have proven on many occasions that they are too poor to have an effect on the team, ahead of bright sparks such as Wilfred Zaha who has only made four appearances this season. The fact remains that United will more than likely not qualify for the Champions League this season, and with the form of the top six teams (Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Everton and to a lesser extent Tottenham), there simply isn’t room for a Manchester United team coached by David Moyes. Many will claim that failure to qualify for Europe shouldn’t result in a P45 for the Scot. However, this wouldn’t simply result in a year out of European football; it would signal the true downfall of the club. The amount the club receive simply for qualification is rumoured to be around £60 million, resulting in a substantial loss in revenue and subsequent restrictions on P a g e | 40
spending. This, when combined with a relatively unknown manager at the helm and the importance which the fans and hierarchy at the club place on European football, means that the Red Devils will no longer be able to attract the world-class players and thus, recovery from the fresh decline will be difficult. But the main problem will be the very few top players that United still possess in their ranks wanting to leave the club. Players such as Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney (who is currently refusing to sign a new deal) will be quick to leap from the sinking ship if United were not to make the Champions League. Ask yourself where Manchester United would be without the likes of Rooney, the cornerstone of the team? Perhaps my arguments will be flawed, or their pressing nature will increase – which of the two is the case remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the debate continues to drive on, with many thinking that time will be the ultimate solution, referring back to Ferguson’s first years in charge, which were riddled with inconsistency and poor results, with many forgetting that United finished second in only his second season in charge. This rapid deterioration of the club - a sign of which is its value dropping by £220 million in two months - can be stopped by two things: heavy investment in this January’s transfer window (which is looking less and less likely) or a change to a more experienced manager to bring confidence and revitalise a team that needs to turn their fortunes around fast. The real question is who that new manager would be in the current football world. People often forget that things change very quickly in football and if the blood isn’t stopped the club may just find itself bleeding to death in the very near future. NICK KELLY
In between a rook and a hard place: why chess is a real sport Chess is a mental battle played out between two players on a board, who attempt to outwit each other using their own set of sixteen pieces. It can be played by anybody, from those with a casual interest at home to professionals competing in international tournaments. To most people, however, chess is more often than not regarded as the former – a mere board game that, at most, can be taken up as a hobby. In reality, the debate over whether the game should be considered in the same light as football, rugby, cricket and numerous other sports is much more complicated than it first seems. In Britain, most noticeably in schools, the number of chess players who compete at tournaments is miniscule when compared to the number that play more mainstream sports, meaning that the general perception of chess is that it is barely played on a competitive level, and only by an eccentric few. Despite this, in several parts of the world, chess is followed by similar numbers of fans as larger sporting events. In November 2013, the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Viswanathan Anand of India was mentioned on Twitter as many times as the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar from the Indian cricket team. This has led some Indians to argue that Anand has made chess as much a national sport of India as cricket. National leagues P a g e | 41
take place around the world, from the Four Nations Chess League in the United Kingdom to the Bundesliga in Germany, and in the recent World Youth Championships in the United Arab Emirates, over 1800 players from 120 different nations competed. All of these are followed by millions online, with crowds also gathering at venues to sit and watch chess matches play out.
A common misconception with chess is that it is purely a mental battle, and that no physical fitness or ability is required. Whilst to a certain extent this is true, a degree of fitness is vital to become one of the world’s best players, although it is obviously dissimilar to other sports because players don’t need to be as fit as an athlete who has to run quickly, or a boxer who needs to be able to punch hard. Often, even at a high junior level, chess matches can last for in excess of five hours, and will often go well beyond that. The mental concentration that is needed for that length of time has to come with a level of physicality - a lot higher than that of the average human - with those who do not have this often suffering as a result. For long periods of time, new players see their results worsen as a long tournament reaches its conclusion, primarily because of fatigue. Even just one long game of top level chess can take a lot out of a player, so much so that in long tournaments that last for up to a fortnight, there are rest days on
which no games are played, allowing players to recuperate. In the summer before the aforementioned World Championship match, Anand, the defending champion, swam one kilometre and ran ten kilometres a day, and as a result he lost approximately ten kilograms by the time of the final. Thus, in most sports, age becomes a factor, because a decline in physical condition leads to a decline in ability: for example, in football, most top-level professionals retire by the age of forty. The same goes for chess world champions: whilst they are not necessarily young, they are very rarely elderly and still playing at their best. The game itself contains a lot of similarities to a ‘normal sport’. Strategy, both in a game and beforehand, is used, with players often preparing sequences of moves to play against their opponent, known as opening theory. Games of chess can be very much like a game of football or cricket in that the momentum can change dramatically on several occasions, and single moves can decide the outcome of the match. Indeed, competitive players often play out hypothetical positions during a training session or with a coach, in order to understand the nature of the move better, so that when it next comes up during a match, said player has more of a chance of obtaining a positive result. Repeated, regular practice therefore leads to an improvement in skill. Added to this, tactics play a large role, with ideas of attacking the enemy king whilst protecting your own at the same time existing in every single game. Players constantly need to be aware of tricks and traps, whilst trying to implement their own moves and a constant high level of concentration is paramount. Different forms of chess give the board an added level of complexity, with Blitz (games where both players have P a g e | 42
only a few minutes to play out all their moves) requiring a heightened level of intuition and speed, and longer games needing a player to be able to imagine a position many moves ahead of the one that he or she is currently at. Chess is certainly more than just looking at a board and playing a random move. A level of skill, as in all sports, is most definitely a must. To the casual onlooker, the chess ‘circuit’ is very comparable to other sports competitions. Teams can be promoted or relegated and qualify for international competitions. Individuals can compete in competitions across the globe, attempting to win cash prizes, trophies, medals, or simply to gain a higher chess rating. National sides compete in the chess Olympiad every two years - effectively a World Cup - and elite grandmasters faceoff against each other in annual tournaments around the world. Both national and international chess organisations exist, with the English Chess Federation funding chess development across the country. As with most sports, the very best are able to earn a living just by playing. When it comes to whether chess is actually defined as a sport, any sort of conclusion becomes more unclear. Despite most definitions stating that a sport must include some sort of physical activity greater than sitting at a table staring at a board, there is a global perception that chess is, in fact, a sport. Indeed, the increase in the playing of chess in recent decades has led to the International Olympic Committee regarding it as a sport since 1999. The media, whilst giving chess much less exposure than the likes of football or rugby, consider it to be a sport, albeit a rather unusual one. The results of world championships are reported in
sports newspapers across the world, from the Hindustan Times in India, to major sports papers in Italy and Spain. Indeed the profile of chess as a sport in Britain itself is slowly increasing, having had recent appearances on the BBC sport website, as well as on BT’s new sports channels. Chess certainly shares plenty of characteristics with other sports, and hopefully its increasing popularity will lead to a general change of perception: that it is no mere board game, but most definitely a sport which should be treated with as much enthusiasm as anything else. DANIEL LEA
Formula 1: a trip under the bonnet It’s Sunday afternoon: you’ve got no work to do, so you’re flicking through the television channels, hoping to find something worth watching. Sky Sports ‘Super’ Sunday is Stoke vs. Hull. You keep going, and eventually arrive at Sky Sports F1, or BBC One, depending on which channels you subscribe to and in what order you’ve been channel-hopping. This too fails to satisfy you, as you say to yourself, ‘What could be more boring than cars just driving around a track?’ and you switch off the television and return to your social life (if such a thing exists). This is what happens to the majority of people, and I really think they’re missing out on a sport which has so much to offer. I’ve heard many times over the years, usually on afternoons on which we’ve been allowed out of lessons to watch cup matches, that rugby is a much more tactical sport than football, and this becomes evident when you watch it. The P a g e | 43
same applies to F1. The outcome of a race can be decided on many more factors than simply who drives around the circuit in the shortest time. Pit-stops are a great example of this. The point during the race when each driver stops, and the number of stops a driver makes can hugely affect his time and standing. In your average grand prix, a pitstop will take around 20 seconds: 3-4 of these seconds are taken up by the change of tyres and occasionally front wings, and the rest by driving into and out of the pit lane. In contrast, it takes only around 1213 seconds for the drivers who are not making a pit-stop to reach the pit exit, but this depends on the layout of the race track. For a driver who is at least 8 seconds ahead of the driver behind him, pit-stops are usually unproblematic as the driver who stopped will emerge from the pit lane ahead of the car originally behind him. It gets more complicated if there is only a small gap: while the driver who wants to make a pit-stop takes extra time going through the pits, the cars immediately behind him will overtake him as their route is shorter, and the driver will usually lose a few places. Mistakes by the pit crew during pit-stops can affect a driver’s race position too. In the 2013 season-ending Grand Prix at Interlagos in Brazil, the Red Bull team wasn’t fully prepared for championshipwinner Sebastian Vettel’s stop, which took around 3 seconds longer than usual. Although this appears to be a relatively miniscule amount of time, it could have cost Vettel his position, but fortunately didn’t as the driver behind him in second place - his team-mate Mark Webber - also came into the pits, as did the third-placed driver Fernando Alonso because of a crash between two other cars, so all three frontrunners here lost time.
The number of pit-stops a driver takes is tied up with the complicated phenomenon that is tyre degradation. The 2013 F1 season was hit by controversy because of the quality of the tyres that manufacturer Pirelli was supplying. Throughout the first half of the season, drivers noticed that their tyres were losing rubber much more quickly than in the 2012 season, for which Pirelli also made the tyres. In the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, six drivers suffered tyre problems, including Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, and McLaren’s Mexican youngster Sergio Perez, who sustained a puncture mid-race whilst travelling at 300km/h. Not only does this cost a driver valuable time, because he is not able to reach the same top speed as with the intact tyre, but it is incredibly dangerous, both to the driver whose tyre is punctured and to those around him. The situation became so severe that race director Charlie Whiting even considered stopping the race. Naturally, there was an outcry from the drivers, and Pirelli was forced to revert to its 2012 tyre design, which was believed to be safer as the ‘carcass’, which the rubber is bonded to, was made of Kevlar. Pirelli had changed the design in 2013 to steel carcasses, which increased the risk of the carcass breaking when the cars were driven close to the sharp edges of a kerb. But how did these issues affect pit-stops? Faster tyre degradation meant that drivers had to stop more frequently to change their tyres, thus costing them valuable time. This significantly interfered with each driver’s individual pit-stop strategy. In each race, Pirelli selects two different types of tyres based on the abrasiveness of the circuit, both of which the drivers must use at some point in the race. Typically there is one softer tyre (in terms of durability), P a g e | 44
which allows the driver to reach greater speeds but degrades more quickly, and a harder tyre which lasts longer but cannot reach the same top speed. All of this means that each driver must stop at least once during a race in order to use both sets of tyres. In some races, the vast majority of drivers will stop twice to change tyres, but there will be some who stop only once so that they do not lose as much time. The disadvantage of this is that they have to manage their tyres more carefully and would be slower than the drivers around them who are on a two-stop strategy, as these drivers will have newer, faster tyres. Over the last couple of years, each frontrunning team in Formula 1 has had a ‘number one’ driver whose job it is to win races and ultimately the drivers’ championship. The second driver on each team is required to support them, and help them to win these races by finishing as close to the front of the pack as possible. Sometimes the ‘number two’ driver will be ahead of their partner, as happened with Red Bull in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix when Mark Webber led the field ahead of the then three-time world championship winner Sebastian Vettel. Often, a team will ask the ‘number two’ to move aside so that their main driver can win the race, but Red Bull did the opposite here, giving orders to Vettel that he was not to overtake Webber. What did Vettel do? He overtook Webber, in a serious breach of team orders. Not only did this annoy his team, but it also further antagonised Webber, whose relationship with Vettel hasn’t been particularly cordial over the years because of a number of incidents in past Grands Prix, such as in 2010 in Turkey, when they both crashed as Vettel attempted to pass Webber to gain the lead. It’s not surprising that because of the incident this year, F1 fans and pundits have looked on Vettel
much less favourably for his greed and selfishness. For the football fans amongst you, imagine if Neymar had opportunities to pass to Lionel Messi when the latter was through on goal, but decided to take on the shot himself with a limited level of success. You’d probably sympathise much more with the Argentinean. The 2014 F1 season promises a lot because of the vast changes in regulations. First and foremost is the change in engine type, as the sport moves away from fuel-guzzling 2.4-litre V8 engines to smaller 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged ones, with extensive energy recovery systems in order to maximise efficiency. The new engine design may be unreliable at the start of the season, and the engine supplier that finds the right combination could determine who wins the drivers’ championship at the end of the year. If Ferrari gets this right, Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso could challenge for the title again; German Adrian Sutil and the Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez could be strong in the middle of the field, as their Sauber cars will also use Ferrari engines, and young team Marussia could win the basement battle ahead of rivals Caterham, as they too will use the Ferrari configuration. Though the new engines are much less powerful, the turbo will increase the power of the engine, as will the energy recovery system (ERS) which is the updated form of the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), which has been in place since 2011. The effect of exhaust-influenced aerodynamics, which has been one of the most important pieces of technology in recent years, will be removed because of a change in the position of the exhaust on each car. This is good news for the majority of teams, as it removes Red Bull’s major advantages over their rivals and the reason P a g e | 45
why the team has won the constructors’ championship four years in a row. When you add all of this up, it is clear that there is an opportunity for the sport to be drastically reworked, and for Ferrari or Mercedes, two of the other front-running teams, to end Red Bull’s dominance.
exciting Sergio Perez of Mexico, who had a torrid time at McLaren. In hindsight, he appeared to make the step up to a frontrunning team too early after two strong seasons at Swiss team Sauber. This will, hopefully, not affect his F1 career, as he is but one of a number of promising young drivers on the F1 circuit. Whilst the Premier League title race may be gripping, there’s always time to watch other sports, and F1 should be top of your list. After all, it’s much more than ‘cars driving around a track’, isn’t it?! PRAVAR PETKAR
There has been a flurry of drivers transferring between teams ahead of the 2014 season. Of the eleven teams, only Mercedes has retained its 2013 line-up of the British Lewis Hamilton, former world championship winner, and Nico Rosberg of Germany. The retirement of Red Bull driver Mark Webber at the end of the 2013 season has opened the door for a young driver to take his place. His fellow Australian, Daniel Ricciardo, will step up to the full Red Bull team from Red Bull’s junior team, Toro Rosso, which has replaced Ricciardo with 19-year old Russian Daniil Kvyat. Ferrari’s new combination should be competitive, comprising of the 2013 world championship runner-up Fernando Alonso with former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland. Ferrari now has the most experienced line-up on the circuit and will be hoping to make it count. Force India, owned by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, has a completely different line-up, re-signing the exciting young German Nico Hülkenberg after he spent a year at Sauber, and partnering him with the similarly P a g e | 46