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.
The New Mancunian has been riding the tiger since 1515, it is in honour of our approaching five-hundreth anniversary that the above ‘classy selfie’ was commissioned. Welcome to this year’s second edition. This was originally meant to be published in December, in keeping with tradition it is once again four months ‘on-time’. If
our own mantra if our own mantra of time breeding brilliance is to be believed then this issue shall be almost average (indeed, it has improved that much!). The usual thanks must go to ourselves, ourselves and ourselves. You’ve certainly got your claws into a very meaty paper this time.
Contents – After months of drafting, compiling, formatting, editing, negotiating, selling, and the other activities that constitute the everyday life of New Manc editing, we are proud to present our latest opus. What for us distinguishes this present edition of the New Manc is the sheer diversity and variety of subjects that our authors have decided to tackle. What however provides the cohesion for this wonderfully bewildering publication is the dedication, hard work and the utter brutality of the banter that makes this an unmistakably MGS publication... (God forbid) Opening the edition is our feature article by boisterous single-lady Omar ‘Mary’ Hameed; it is a gripping piece on how women are having their crayons stolen by us bad-boys. Our current affairs section continues its regular analysis of some of the most urgent and controversial issues of the day. Among these Abhay Kapoor confronts a difficult and shocking topic, in detailing the prevalence of misogynistic attitudes in India and questions why only recent incidents of extreme sexual violence have been sufficient to arouse a process of national soul searching. Crucially will anything change? Chris Broughton addresses the contentious topic of perceptions towards single parents in a compelling examination of how the politicisation of the situation has ultimately worked against any improvement in the quality of life of the children affected. In addition, Sam Heath discusses how environmental catastrophe may catalyse a turn towards renewable energy. This is followed by Alex Race’s unmistakable account of ‘Hug Culture in MGS’; a topic very close to our hearts indeed. Science and technology takes us once again to the cutting edge of contemporary innovation, this time exploring stem cells, pop science and the exciting possibility of artificial organ growth. Asad Malik illuminates the fascinating complexity and intricacy of stem cell research whilst tackling the thorny ethical issues
surrounding recent developments. Luke Thomas discusses how TV series "Breaking Bad" might be a good science revision alternative after all. Finally Daniel Farooq reflects on the relatively recent paradigm shift in mobile communications and considers how the recent revolution in personal computing informs the current state of affairs. We continue with our Arts and Entertainment section in which a mix of Asian cinema, bad coffee and philosophical paradoxes will leave you feeling thoroughly culturally edified. Adam Walters continues our series on Art-house cinema with an in depth look at the up-andcoming Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, offering a fascination comparison with the work of David Lynch and a helpful general introduction to an oeuvre of work he argues we should definitely start watching. Sam Kershaw's scathing critique of mass market coffee culture skilfully blends caffeine connoisseurship with Marxist critique to serve up one bitter cup of sarcasm. In spite of this we're not all good taste as we continue with an exclusive interview with the now legendary Josh Bluer of MGS's very own "Down and Bluer" who discusses his latest project acting and producing a film; boys take note of the staggering heights an MGS education can lead you to... Last but not least, we finish in an outburst of pure unmitigated football passion as our regular contributors Daniel Delew and Richard Mellor deify the beautiful game to new platonic heights. Richard Mellor grapples with the elusive and raw soul of Old Trafford in a catechism of his experiences with the chanting community of Man United fans. Then the spiritual overtones of this edition conclude with Daniel Delew's hagiographic review of the players in this season's transfer window; helpfully endowing his canonical redaction to the apocryphal chaos of this most holy of ceremonies.
Omar Hameed Mark Barclay Yusuf Tayara Page|3
Why can’t Women colour in?
Historically Geography has been the most male-dominated academic subject, with women fellows almost non-existent in the Royal Geographical Society until the 80s and later, while the research of women has been neglected and ignored in favour of male authors. From 1921 – 1971 women authors only made up 2.6% of papers published by the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, and although this has increased there are still accusations that women are forced to adopt a ‘masculine’ style of writing. This lack of women can be observed in all areas of Geography; from the number of female university staff to even the lower wages of female part-time workers. In 1978 only 7.3% of full time university teachers were women and this actually fell to 6.9% by 1988. Further evidence of this male dominance can be seen in the membership of the Institute of British Geographers, where only 25.1% are currently female. Linda McDowell, a fellow of Human geography at St John’s [Oxford] has attributed this to misogynistic attitudes of male geographers and how this affects appointments and promotions, in all
aspects of the field. This lack of attention to the female gender and Geography is highlighted by the fact there has only been one overview on Geography and gender ever published; I tried to order a copy and found it’s no longer in print. This lack of female involvement is argued by feminist geographers to have caused a bias in geography research about the relative roles of men and women. There is fear that this supposed bias will reduce the appeal of the subject to women and reaffirm male dominance in the long-term. This is not supported by the statistics at undergraduate level where women make up the majority of applicants in every case, although the numbers accepted at elite institutions such as Oxbridge are disproportionately low. At A-level too the demand for Geography is evenly split with females outperforming their male counterparts heavily; 8.1% of girls versus 4.7% of boys received A*’s, while 6% more gained A’s. The second fear is that male geographers are indoctrinated in a culture which appears to assert that males should not be interested in the work of female academics. Minor progress has been made though. ‘Feminist Geography’ sprung up in the late1970s as a result of the 60s liberal movements, although its creation also coincides with the passing of anti-sex discrimination legislation in the West and the fear of legal action. Thus the grumpy males required an ultimatum to even contemplate change. The demands of female geographers have shifted from then though: it is no longer enough to the just have equal access into the field. Instead ‘feminist geography’ has begun to critique what subjects are researched and how so-called ‘women’s topics’ are ignored. An exemplar example critique is the argument that women are associated Page|4
with reproductive labour, and that this ideological association is a fundamental aspect of the division of labour in workplaces and at home. It continues and says that this is as important a part of social and economic life as the sphere of production that geographers have traditionally explored; as such they are connected and central to a human geography that acknowledges women as subjects. Despite this new field, many feminists still feel that established men still remain resistant. Author Gillian Rose considers ‘encounters between feminism and geography not as a series of conversations but more a series of brush-offs’. I found this view was supported in my attempt to research this article. Besides four books and an incomplete Wikipedia page, there is no accessible information about ‘feminist geography’. This is despite feminisms importance in shaping our modern outlook on the world. Michele La Docuff believes this is because Geography is a ‘Masculinist’ subject which has ‘work which, while claiming to be exhaustive, forgets about women’s existence and only concerns itself with the position of man’. This is an argument that the inattention to feminist geography merely confirms. The theory is supported further by the [reportedly] limited scope of research opportunities that women are offered in comparison to their male colleagues. The theory is based on the idea that there is a master subject who is white, heterosexual and masculine; this ‘master subject’ is only able to perceive others in relation to himself. For example, he sees femininity in terms of its differences to masculinity. Thus because he has an inability to see others detached from his image, he can only truly see himself.
Feminists such as La Docuff argue that this is an embedded part of masculinity and more importantly the production of knowledge about the world. ‘masculinists’ attempt to become detached so their thoughts are objective and independent. In the same way feminists believe male Geographers are ‘detached explorers’ who desire all the world’s knowledge and create an exhaustive array of information. They have argued that the lack of specific details used has resulted in the subject’s unique style, which is un-extravagant, unembellished and unpretentious; while elaborate language has been criticised as hiding the inadequacies of the research and ideas. The denouncement of this language has blatantly targeted female geographers, however, because of the feminised terms used to criticise it; it is often ‘too elusive’, ‘too decorative’, ‘too emotional’ or ‘too superficial’. This has led the geographers Swindell and Jardine to argue that this is an attempt to have male speech patterns dominate the community. This theory that a ‘male gaze’ and voice is forced onto female Geographers has been effectively confirmed by the Royal Geographical Society who, it is believed, refused women’s travel reports (19th and Page|5
most of the 20th century) because apparently ‘only white men’ could write with appropriate scientific detail. I’m now going to digress slightly onto a – heavily summarised – theory about women, landscape and nature. It focuses on the concept of ‘male gaze’ and how geographers construe landscapes as females. The argument is essentially that male desire has made nature become woman and nice-versa, with historical/modern art supporting this. For example, the art of post-impressionist artist Gauguin chooses to convey a scientific moment with sexual elaboration. The women displayed represent an enticing land to be explored, mapped, penetrated and known. This patriarchal viewpoint implies that females are inanimate and inferior to the might of man; even today this feminine landscape is ravaged in the search for natural resources: she is literally drilled. Women have come to be analysed more in the modern day geographic studies, particularly the different lives of women between cultures and within them. Womankind.org has conducted such research on gender equality variations globally. Certain facts on their sub-page stick out though; one in three women have been beaten, raped or abused and women account for two thirds of the world’s 780 million people who cannot read. I believe this is primarily a result of religion, which has played a fundamental role in shaping communities and society, with it forming the root of gender inequality. Christianity’s androcentric nature is shown in Corinthians 11:7 where ‘man is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man’. These religious endorsements of sexism can be seen in Jainism where the leaders are primarily
male. Even the USA’s wondrous Bible-belt follows this trend with only 18.3% of congressional seats held by women. This woeful record led to the good ol’ U.S. of A. being ranked last in the Institute for Women’s policy research in the world’s top twenty industrialised nations. Saudi Arabia is the crown jewel though in the misogynist’s crown. Sunni Islam and tribal customs rule supreme and it was recently rewarded an historic ‘0’ score for the political empowerment of women. Despite making up 17% of the country’s workforce they are not allowed to drive as it would involve uncovering their faces, leaving the house and ‘overcrowding streets’ (source: Saudi Arabian government). Although they will be allowed to run for office from 2015. There is a flaw in this though as strict segregation laws operate (in McDonalds, Starbucks and even Pizza Hut), thus it would be difficult for a group of women to sit in parliament. Perhaps there will be an adjoining cupboard? The severity of committing this supposed crime was only reinforced by the recent sentencing of 75 year old woman Khamisa Mohammas Sawadi to forty lashes after a vindictive man brought bread to her back-door. Meanwhile, the man was just deported. Fear not though my fellow feminists. There has recently been a breakthrough… from this year women will be allowed to ride bicycles for the first time; if they’re in a public park…. supervised by a male the entire time… and wearing appropriate clothing…. Oh, and only in designated zones of that park – YOLO? Now for our lovely and female friendly UK. 20% of FTSE 100 companies have no female executives, only 5% are held altogether by females and only 23% of judges are female (the fourth worst in Europe); this is despite the fact 63% of legal trainees are female. But, at least they can Page|6
ride bicycles; that is a true feminist utopia after all. At least here women can reach the glass-ceiling and know their place; in Saudi Arabia there still remain wild dreams about equal rights and opportunities – maybe they need a new glass floor?
Omar ‘Mary’ Hameed
Single Mother Stigma
Society’s constant stress on the FatherChild relationship is a regressive reactionary guise for sexism. Couples break up. Couples with children break up. People get together for all the right reasons, something goes wrong, and they break up. Of course that’s a massive simplification of what is often a drawn-out, painful, difficult and arduous business. When children are concerned, events are often compounded by other difficulties and issues – over custody, financial arrangements and so on. Whatever you believe the reasons to be – whether you’re a sufferer of the characteristically right-wing persecution complex, believing that swarms of cultural Marxists are the cause; whether you
believe that victories of feminism and the empowerment of women are the cause, or somewhere between, the number of people with children breaking up or divorcing has risen and continues to rise. Parents break up – they may go on to find other partners or they may remain single. Naturally, the growing number of people breaking up with or divorcing from the other parent of their child/children has meant a growth in single or lone parents. It’s here that the most visceral and repugnant misogyny, both from capital ‘c’ and small ‘c’ conservatives, is found. An example of this anti-single parent, particularly anti-single-mother prejudice can be found in a report released in June 2013 by the Centre for Social Justice. The report reaches discriminatory, unjust and downright false conclusions. The report claimed it had unearthed evidence of a “tsunami” of family “breakdown” as well as so called “men deserts” – both of which, the melodramatic authors claim, represent a grave “public health issue”. Yet even the slightest analysis of the evidence it compiled shows that this nauseating report and its authors have deliberately misconstrued facts to feed growing prejudice and push a perverse agenda. From 1996 – 2012, the number of lone parent families grew by 3.7% - by no means a tsunami of family breakdown, especially when put against the backdrop of a rising population. Its concerns relating to “men deserts” were based on its finding that in 0.7% of the UK more than 50% of families are headed by a lone female parent. The report then goes further and makes lazy and ill-advised links between singleparenting and crime, anti-social behaviour, poor health, a poorer education – all the time stressing the lack of a present father. They are not alone in making lazy conclusions – Iain Duncan Smith has Page|7
himself remarked that “In Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool there are white gangs that share the same backgrounds – they come from broken homes, completely dysfunctional, mums for the most part unable to cope, the fathers of those kids completely not in the scene”. The reason I term these conclusions lazy and ill-advised is simple. The report identifies areas of high single-parenting as also being some of the most deprived areas, and Mr Duncan Smith alludes to this point in his words. Poverty is the key factor in these circumstances. The correlation between the “effects” of single-parenting found in this report, and the effects of poverty which are well documented are no coincidence. The pressure which poverty brings – the constant financial, mental and physical strain – exhausts and paralyses people. Poverty inflicts a reduced number of choices and means entire communities living in a world of “no” - poverty is the greater injustice which leads to these social issues identified by Mr Duncan Smith and the Centre for Social Justice, not single mothers. It’s narrow-minded and simply wrong to claim otherwise. Of course, replacing entrenched poverty and the economic system which delivers it to us, with fatherlessness as the route of many social issues is much easier. What would be difficult to say is that the psychological effects of poverty are equal to losing 13 IQ points or becoming a chronic alcoholic, as recent research in New Jersey has discovered, and that’s where these issues stem from. The facts are hidden from the views of people like Mr Duncan Smith by bigotry-tinted spectacles. Perhaps it makes political sense to come out with such garbage. If one were to voice
their thoughts regarding the position of women they would take this form – it’s their fault if fathers are absent, they can’t possibly be good parents on their own. But, as with much other rhetoric and policy of this government, it’s all based on myths. Have your political fights based on prejudice, but don’t formulate policy based on them. The fact that lone-parenting by mums in most cases has no negative impact on children is a tribute to single parents, and a slap in the face for rightwing traditionalists who struggle to picture the idea of independent women in their own heads. That’s what all the rubbish boils down to old fashioned chauvinism and sexism from an old fashioned party and cultural reactionaries. It’s about lowering and controlling the position of women and keeping on life support old ideas about marriage and the relative standing of women in society, from which most have moved on. This is made all too apparent by the almost complete absence of criticism directed towards to lone male parents and “absent” fathers – the suggestion being there is no cause for concern, even men can be lone parents and if a father is “absent”, well, it’s probably the woman’s fault. Men can do things better than women. Women who don’t fit neatly into male- defined gender roles and expectations must be punished, their behaviour controlled, to bring them back in line with family models which have, for centuries, worked for ruling classes and their exploitative agendas. If all these families had men in them, society’s ills would be solved. Only if a lone parent is a woman will a monster be born because women are “unable to cope”. These are the true messages behind this poisonous rhetoric.
It’s white, powerful, rich and ruling men refusing to blame other white, powerful, rich and ruling men for social issues, born of economic and social systems which they themselves head. That is, economic and social situations crafted by ruling class men, for the benefit of ruling class men. Privilege protecting privilege. Children ought to have access to quality health care, a good standard of education, enough food and enough clothing, a household which earns enough to live properly on and enjoys stable continual employment, opportunities to progress and resources to enjoy themselves and their lives – whatever family form that comes in. Selfinterest and laziness on the part of the ruling class is the reason these basic requirements are not met in all cases, and many regressive and reactionary reports and statements cannot conceal that any more. Chris Broughton
take the normal route. However, suspicions were aroused when the victim's male friend noticed the bus' deviation from its specified path. His attempts to intervene resulted in him being beaten, knocked unconscious and gagged by the perpetrators; they then proceeded to rape and severely beat the woman causing damage to her genitalia and intestines. Jyoti bravely tried to fight back, biting her attackers and was eventually thrown off the bus, along with her friend. Their ordeal did not end here. The driver of the bus attempted to run her over but she was fortunately saved by her friend, the attackers driving off in a panic. Jyoti and her friend were soon found by a passer-by who informed the police while the victims were rushed to hospital - she was now in a critical condition. Numerous operations had been required in the following days, with the Indian government assigning her a personal team of physicians. She required an organ transplant and was quickly rushed to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, but died nevertheless on the 29th December.
Social attitudes towards women in India On the 16th December 2012 the perception of women in India was irreversibly changed. This was a result of the now infamous Delhi Rape Case, where 23 year old Jyoti Singh Pandey was raped and consequently died. Jyoti and her male friend had earlier been to see the film ‘Life of Pi’, before boarding an off-duty chartered bus to return home; the busdriver having informed them it would still
India has a large and disturbing array of cases which involve violence against women. The primary causes are prevalent anachronistic and misogynistic attitudes among men, these are rooted in a fundamentally sexist culture where they believe women to be inferior and as such subject to inequality. This problem has Page|9
been described by the United Nations’ human-rights chief as a 'national problem'. Last year alone, over 24000 cases of rape had been filed with the police, which equates to a new case every 22 minutes. However, in 2012 only one in every 706 cases ended in a conviction. These numbers are even more poignant when you take into account the defence of marital rape, which currently still stands. The incident has created major shockwaves through not only India, but the world too. The brutality alone had left many dumbfounded. This led to numerous protests throughout Delhi and the rest of India, before and after Jyoti's death. Prior to her death there were a series of protests at India Gate, Jantar Mantar and at the houses of parliament in Delhi. Police were forced to close various roads and Metro stations to prevent more people joining in and resorted to tear gas in attempts to disperse protestors. There were also mass campaigns for support on Facebook and ‘Whatsapp’ as people set a picture of a black dot as their ‘profile picture’ to show support for her. However, even after her untimely demise there were a series of protests throughout India where many wore black dresses or black cloth. This spread throughout South Asia with her plight crossing national borders. The six perpetrators were arrested in India with the aid of CCTV footage and the male victim's witness statement. Only one perpetrator admitted his guilt. Another one of the men was found hanging from the ventilator in his cell, it is alleged that he was murdered by the other inmates. On the 3rd January 2013, the police filed charges against the adult men for rape, murder, kidnap, destruction of evidence, and the attempted murder of the woman's male friend. On the 10th of September 2013 the five adult men were found guilty
of the charges and were sentenced to death by hanging, whilst the unnamed juvenile (the most brutal of the six) was sentenced to a mere 3 years in a reform facility. This is the first time India had used capital punishment since two years ago. Tough changes were made to the law including the altering of the definition of rape and the decision that the minimum sentence for gang rape will be 20 years; however, death by hanging is still an option. Yet, despite these historic legal changes there remains an unsolved anomaly; the juvenile, who committed multiple offences, is currently serving his paltry sentence and has escaped any significant punishment for indirect murder. One might have thought that by now every man in India would understand the potential consequences of committing such a heinous crime. But, it appears that this has not registered with the country’s future criminals. In August this year another gang rape occurred and made national news. However, it is only as a result of this horrific incident that a growing number of these incidents are being reported, and it is definitely worrying that it takes such despicable crimes for the people and the police to wake up. The problem of rape is now becoming more and more prominent in the country, as since 1953 the number of rapes has increased by 900%. This is a growing problem and it must stop. Now. Abhay Kapoor
Energy in Japan The Fukushima disaster of March 2011 was a wake-up call to the nation: a warning about the dangers of nuclear power in one
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of the most geologically active countries in the world. In the wake of the events at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the Japanese government’s policy on nuclear power underwent a U-turn: all 50 NPPs in Japan, which had previously supplied 30% of the nation’s energy, were ordered to close, while widespread public opposition to the technology led activists to celebrate the prospect of a permanently nuclear-free Japan. Such hopes were premature, it now appears. The administration of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō, elected in December 2012, seems intent on restarting the nuclear reactors and even expanding Japan’s nuclear industry as part of its programme to reinvigorate the flagging economy.
It seems that, as collective memory of Fukushima fades, safety is now taking a back seat as more immediate concerns such as the economy occupy the minds of those in power. Those directly affected by the disaster, however, won’t be forgetting what happened three years ago anytime soon. Fukushima Daiichi, already damaged by a magnitude 9 earthquake, was designed to withstand a 6-metre tsunami, not the 15-metre wave which hit on the afternoon of March 11, 2011. Subsequent reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks destroyed fishing and farming industries and forced the evacuation of 160,000 local people. For most of them, their futures are still uncertain. Yet Fukushima was first and foremost a man-made disaster: the
decision to locate nuclear reactors so close to a geological fault line, and right on a tsunami-prone coast, should have been questioned; the people and their precautions were underprepared for the level of damage that would actually occurred; and the response of the authorities was slow and insufficient – even today, highly radioactive water is leaking into the Pacific Ocean from storage tanks in the plant. Public opinion since 2011 has been firmly against the country’s high level of dependence on nuclear power. In an opinion poll of 1005 adults by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 70% said that the use of nuclear power in Japan should be reduced – 25% said it should be maintained and only 4% that it should be increased. Other surveys have suggested that around 50% of the population want to remove nuclear power completely, including a number of prominent people, such as novelist Murakami Haruki and actor Yamamoto Tarō. This opposition to the technology is reflected by the scale of antinuclear protests in recent years: in June last year, 30,000 marched near the Diet building, where they presented to the government a petition, to abandon nuclear power, which contained 8 million signatures. This opposition demonstrates the unpopularity of the government’s decision to restart reactors and the high level of public awareness on this crucial national issue in one of the most ecoconscious nations in the world. There are still those, however, including many in the government and in the energy industry, who believe that the benefits of nuclear power to Japan outweigh any concerns about safety, particularly after the introduction of new safety standards by the NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority) P a g e | 11
in July last year. They argue that Japan, the world’s fifth largest energy consumer, would be incapable of fulfilling its energy needs without a nuclear contribution. In the summers of 2011 and 2012, rolling blackouts had to be implemented in Tōkyō to prevent a total loss of power in Japan’s largest metropolis. It has also been argued that nuclear energy is beneficial to the economy, providing thousands of jobs for Japanese workers and costing much less than the alternative - importing expensive fossil fuels. But are fossil fuels really the only alternative? According to Dr. Komiyama Hiroshi, scientist and former President of the University of Tōkyō, renewable energy is the best way for the country to progress in the future because it is far safer than nuclear, inexhaustible unlike fossil fuels, and, in the long term, more economical. For a possible model for beginning development into a renewable-powered economy, the Japanese need look no further than Germany, which abandoned nuclear power in the immediate aftermath of Fukushima and is now at the forefront of green technology in Europe. And if Germany can successfully begin the path towards renewables, then so can Japan, whose renewable production potential is estimated to be nine times that of Germany’s – the northern island of Hokkaidō alone could produce three times the energy needed for the whole of Tōkyō, says world-renowned US energy expert Amory Lovins.
Forty metres off the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture, around 100km east of Tōkyō, lies the Kamisu near shore wind farm, which opened in June 2010. In March 2011, it was hit by the same earthquake and tsunami that crippled Fukushima Daiichi – Kamisu remained unscathed by either and,
although grid complications temporarily closed down the farm’s power supply, resumed normal operations just three days later. Although wind power is still a relatively tiny industry, supplying less than 1% of the nation’s energy, it is nevertheless a rapidly developing one. Small-scale producers are springing up all across the country, encouraged by the government’s new feed-in tariff (FIT) system: utility companies are obliged to purchase renewable energy at fixed rates from producers, and then to use that energy to power houses and businesses throughout their networks. This growing industry will only become more and more popular in the future, creating thousands of jobs in engineering and construction in the process. The country would be foolish not to apply its renowned technological innovations to wind power: as an island nation with a long coastline, Japan is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of this natural resource, which is clean, inexhaustible, and safe for both the environment and humans. As if to symbolize the rise of wind power in Japan, Fukushima Prefecture recently began work on a new floating wind farm to replace its crippled NPP: the first turbine was installed this July, and by the time it is finished the farm is expected to be the largest in the world, with 143 turbines producing 1 GW of power, enough to supply 700,000 homes. The other major underexploited resource is solar power, which, like wind power, is a small but rapidly growing industry – Japan is already the world’s third largest producer of solar power, and is to install more photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2013 than California has done in the last 20 years. The government’s official target is for 10% of all of Japan’s domestic energy to P a g e | 12
be derived from solar power by 2050. As with wind, the FIT system has given a huge boost to the industry, with businesses across the country rushing to purchase PV panels in an attempt to increase efficiency and cut energy costs. Private households are also joining the so-called “green rush”: in 2008, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced its aim for 70% of new homes to be built with PV technology already installed, and solar panels are becoming an ever more common sight on houses, apartment blocks, offices and public buildings such as schools. Some families have even become net sellers of electrical power to the grid. It appears that the Land of the Rising Sun is finally starting to take advantage of one of its few natural resources. The reason for the renewable boom is simple economics: with the closure of the NPPs, the vast majority of electricity is generated by burning imported coal and gas, the price of which has increased dramatically in recent years. On the other hand, the cost of both solar and wind energy is constantly falling, aided by increasing competitiveness and innovative new technologies, making renewables even more attractive for a country in search of a clean, efficient energy source without the potential risks of nuclear. Fukushima has provided Japan with an opportunity to leave nuclear energy behind and lead the world in a new, green revolution. In the words of Amory Lovins (Chairman of the ‘Rocky Mountain Institute’), ‘you could run the country completely on efficiently used renewable energy, cheaper than what we’re doing now, more securely, much better for the environment and for health – and Japan could do this faster than any other country.’ Sam Heath
Is Britain aware of Britten? Music. We all listen to it, in one form or another, earphones plugged in on dreary morning bus journeys, or on the train, or tram, or at home, blaring our favourite sounds out through speakers of various shapes and sizes. Friday 22nd November was no different, as people all over the world removed themselves from conversations to listen to Jake Bugg, Mumford & Sons, Lady Gaga, or to whatever else they might be partial. I can say with a great degree of certainty that people will not have been listening to the music of Benjamin Britten. I can say with an even greater degree of certainty that they won’t have been thinking about Benjamin Britten. Many of them will not even know who Benjamin Britten was. Friday 22nd November 2013 was the centenary of his birth, and many people let it simply pass by without a thought for one of the greatest British composers to have ever lived. Born on 22nd November 1913, Britten composed 95 different works, with one of the most famous being his War Requiem, composed in 1961. In this 85-minute long piece of music, the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead (which many people have heard, although they may not actually know that they have) is interwoven with excerpts from the poems of Wilfred Owen, now recognised as one of the great war poets. This amazing piece of music captures many of the ideas of war, and will be performed in various locations across the UK in 2014, including one performance here, in Manchester, not only to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, but to P a g e | 13
commemorate Britten. Yet I fear that these performances will go unnoticed by many. In Britain, we have many celebrated historical figures: Sir Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, Queen Elizabeth I and John Lennon, to name but a few. Shakespeare’s plays and Newton’s theories are still studied today, but Britten’s music is largely forgotten. But why should it be? I feel his work is still equal in merit to that of other great British composers of the late 19th and 20th centuries, namely Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams, yet Britten is sometimes passed over, even by the most ardent of musicians. Aside from his amazing War Requiem, he has written many other remarkable pieces of music, including a particular favourite of mine: his Six Metamorphoses after Ovid. Ovid’s Metamorphoses are in their own right, an amazing collection of poetry, first published in around 8 AD, and depicting over 250 myths involving the Roman gods and various nymphs and humans who are quite often changed into trees or flowers. Britten brings out the nuances of each of his chosen myths in his music; from the liveliness of Phaeton’s journey in the chariot of the sun god, expressed with sharp accents and angular melodies, to the mournfulness of Niobe as she weeps for her fourteen children and is turned into a mountain. I think, perhaps, that it is the current unpopularity of classical music that has made many people oblivious to the brilliance of Benjamin Britten. Unfortunately, it’s just ‘not cool’ to listen to it and appreciate it. As popular as Mumford & Sons are at the moment, I doubt that they will ever feature on one of the UK’s commemorative coins, but Britten does (see above), on a recently unveiled
fifty-pence piece to mark his centenary, and so joins the company of Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Roger Bannister, Diana, Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge, amongst many others, in featuring on a commemorative coin. The coins are available to buy from the Royal Mint, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have been hugely eclipsed by the sales of The Royal Christening coins. So he’s on our coinage too, and while we probably (certainly) wouldn’t be using the Benjamin Britten coin to buy our lunch,
those of you who are avid stamp-collectors (probably not many, if any at all) will have seen his face in the Great Britons Stamp Set, issued by the Royal Mail in April this year. On this occasion, he appeared alongside the faces of Bill Shankly, the former Liverpool manager, and David Lloyd George, Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922 and the first and only Welshman ever to hold the office. As a musician myself, I think it’s great that Britten is being commemorated in this way, but it’s not really enough if only the Royal Mint and Royal Mail are leading the tributes. These stamps and commemorative coins are otherwise useless unless they are bought by the general public. It is not enough for two government-owned organisations (the Royal Mail was only privatised after creating the Britten stamp) to lead the tribute to Benjamin Britten, the public must join in as well, as it is their contribution which will be most greatly felt and recognised. P a g e | 14
While Classical music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no harm in listening to the music of Benjamin Britten on one of these miserable winter evenings instead of watching The X Factor, ‘I’m a Celebrity... Get Me out of Here’ or whatever else you would normally view. You might even enjoy it. I really do hope that Britten 100 (the official name for his centenary
celebrations) results in more people taking an interest in him and his wonderful music, as he is one more example of a Great Briton, people who we fondly remember for their great deeds and service to their country. There’s only really one thing left for me to say: Happy (belated) Birthday, Benjamin Britten. Pravar Petkar
Grow your own organs In this modern age, organ transplantation already has the potential to save or dramatically improve the lives of thousands of people each year. In the UK, more than 4,200 transplants took place over the last year thanks to the generosity of their donors. With more than 10,000 patients still on the waiting list, some who require multiple organ transplants, 1,000 of these people pass away each year before a suitable donor is found. That’s
nearly three people daily, and does not even include the hundreds of thousands who do not qualify for the waiting list. But it’s not all doom and gloom. In the coming years, new medical research may be able to make this a thing of the past. Finding living donors who are willing to donate their organs for this cause creates multiple issues that need to be addressed. Determining a patient’s position on the transplant list depends on the medical urgency, and also the length of time the patient has spent on the waiting list. Firstly, you would need to find a donor who suits all of the necessary criteria, such as: age, blood type, immune-system similarity, and organ size. Secondly, the patient would have to live with the long-term effects of the transplant, in which the patient may need a lifetime supply of immunosuppressant drugs. Thirdly, the patient would have to deal with a number of side effects that may result from the transplant, such as diabetes or weight gain. The main problem is the fact that the organ is not the recipient’s and therefore, the natural response of their immune system is to treat the organ as foreign and hence, it will be targeted and an attempt will be made to destroy it. Medical research can provide the answers to address these issues. Currently, there are many artificial techniques that can construct organs composed of the patient’s own cells. This means that there will be no risk of rejection, which would dramatically increase the success rate of organ transplants. One technique involves starting with an initial scaffold of the organ, which needs to be ‘grown’. The purpose of the scaffold is to act as a three-dimensional support structure for the cells to attach to, in order P a g e | 15
to construct a tissue that would be similar to those found in a living human being. The scaffold can be made synthetically using materials such as polylactic acid (PLA). Once in the body, the PLA can be absorbed, leaving the cells in place, and can be broken down into lactic acid, which can be easily disposed of by the body through various means. The next step is to obtain a sample of the patient’s cells from the organ that needs to be grown; this can be done through a biopsy. The required cells can be cultivated, proliferated and then placed onto the scaffold layer by layer. The overall structure is subjected to the same internal conditions as the human body and then it is ready to be implanted into the patient. Many new bladders have been grown and successfully implanted using this method. Another method would involve extracting the organ from a recently deceased person and using a detergent to break down the original cells present, leaving only the scaffold behind; this process is called decellularisation. The scaffold made using this technique primarily consists of proteins that give the organ its structure. As with the previous technique, the recipient’s cells would then be obtained and layered onto the scaffold; this process is called recellularisation. Many new windpipes have been made using this technique. If obtaining the patient’s cells for the organ needed is not possible, some of their other cells can be converted, using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) reprogramming factors, into cells which are in an embryonic-like state called iPS cells. These cells can be forced to differentiate into the specific type of cell required. This technique involves stem cells, yet the principle is similar to the previous ones.
The underlying principle behind the aforementioned techniques involves using a scaffold which is then seeded with the patient’s own cells. This technique can be used to construct a variety of different organs, including: flat structures (e.g. skin), tubes (e.g. blood vessels), and hollow organs (e.g. bladder). However, it is currently unable to make solid organs, such as the heart, due to its complexity. The scaffold is known as the extracellular matrix. Although, it was initially thought that its only purpose was to provide the structure of the organ, current research has discovered that it also may have a wide range of functional roles. Made mainly from structural proteins, such as collagen and elastin, it contains fibronectins and integrins that ‘hook’ on to specific cells and maintain their position. Depending on the tension that stem cells are subjected to by the matrix, they will differentiate accordingly. For example, high tension will cause stem cells to become muscle cells while a lower tension will cause them to become fat cells. Natural scaffolds found in humans are not antimicrobial and therefore can potentially be infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are difficult to treat, such as Methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Researchers are currently attempting to make synthetic matrices that have antimicrobial properties; this would reduce risks of infection during the growth procedure. Furthermore, researchers can currently grow ‘enhanced’ tissues, such as customised veins. These are stronger and can withstand the procedures involved in dialysis, which involve gaining access to the vein by puncturing it which can occasionally cause it to collapse. Using a similar technique, researchers have recently been able to create a miniature version of one of the most complicated P a g e | 16
structures ever discovered, the human brain. This research has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of neurological disorders and also, enables new drug treatments to be tested on living human brain tissues as oppose to using mice or rats instead. As a result, they have already made a breakthrough in investigating a condition called microcephaly, a disease that causes people to develop smaller brains.
One technique which has the potential to make a solid organ is called ‘electrospinning’. First of all, this involves using a 10 kV electric needle which is placed into a mixture of cells and a polymer. This is then drawn out as a fibrous strand of the polymer and cells, which is used to weave the organ required, similar to the way in which a spider is able to weave its web by pulling out a continuous fibre. Therefore, electrospinning can potentially overcome the need of a scaffold when ‘growing’ organs. Another promising technique of producing a solid organ is called ‘bioprinting’. This technique constructs living tissues by ‘printing’ cells layer by layer, utilising the invention of the 3D printer. It has been used to make a range of structures from ears to kidneys. Besides growing new organs, this technique can be used in situ,
where cells can be printed directly on to the patient; this would increase the rate that the body can heal from an injury. The field of regenerative medicine may appear to some to be a clash between science fiction and reality. Regenerative medicine is defined by the US National Institute of Health as ‘the process of creating living tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects’. In one famous example, Lee Spievack regrew his severed finger having lost it in an accident, through applying a substance called extracellular matrix, extracted from pig bladders. This substance stimulates cellular proliferation and encourages the tissue to regrow rather than to scar. Within a four-week period, nerves, tissues, blood vessels and skin grew to form a new finger. Also, scientists have been able to treat paralysed animals, such as rats and dogs, giving them the ability to walk once again through the injection of synthetic neurotransmitters and electrical stimulation. New innovations have sparked the imagination to explore the countless possibilities that research can bring. These discoveries are currently undergoing clinical trials before they become accessible to the public. Although this all sounds like great news, people have already criticised moral considerations behind how the research is conducted and where it should go. There is a lot of controversy about using stems cells in the process of making organs. The main reason is that human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst; the structure that forms after fertilisation. As a result of their extraction, the fertilised egg P a g e | 17
dies and this is the reason why many people who believe life starts with conception object to this. Unlike adult stem cells which are multipotent, hESCs are totipotent; meaning, that they possess the potential to differentiate into any type of cell and hence they are unique. Scientists believe that it is necessary to continue research with all types of stems cells, including hESCs, to realise the true potential of stem cell research. Some people object to using organs from dead animals as the starting material to produce the scaffold from which the organ is grown, known as xenotransplantation. Animal rights groups are opposed to the killing of killing animals in order to extract their organs for human use. In addition, the use of tissues from pigs and cows has sparked objections on religious grounds. However, researchers try and keep animal suffering to a minimal, and without using animals many of the aforementioned human benefits could not be achieved. With an ever-aging population and fears of overpopulation producing an unsustainable future, should we be investing in something that could potentially make matters worse? Personally I believe that doctors, and researchers, should use their knowledge to treat people and improve their lives. After all, this is the central ethos of being a doctor. The potential of regenerative medicine seems limitless and the invention of â€˜super-organsâ€™ appear inevitable to some. The idea of enhanced organs brings multiple ethical issues into the spotlight, such as who should be allowed to get them, would it provide an unfair disadvantage over those that do not have one, and hence, how would competitions such as the Olympics be organised?
Many people speculate about the many risks associated with future research into this field and therefore, they believe precautions must be considered if we, as a society, should support this. In my opinion, if we avoid taking risks, we will miss revolutionary opportunities. Many believe that although future technology may come with risks, it will also provide the ability to counter to them. Without research into regenerative medicine, many countries will have a future of sky-high healthcare costs and inefficient treatments.
It is believed that in the near future, long transplant waiting lists will eventually become non-existent, as these new techniques will bring the science-fictionlike speculation into reality and revolutionise medicine. Richard Wu
Reversal of the dying process The discoveries and applications that stem cells can facilitate range from re-growing organs to potentially solving diabetes, achievements that are by many considered medical breakthroughs. One particular area of stem cell research which caught my attention was the application of stem cells in the aging process and whether this process can be reversed or in some way
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slowed; this particular topic will be the area of focus in this article. So what exactly is a stem cell? The clue is partially in the name, but you could consider a stem cell to be a 'blank' cell, from which different, more specialised cells can occur. There are two major types of stem cell, namely pluripotent and multipotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells are the type that excite scientists. They are found in embryos and are capable of giving rise to all the specialised cells of the human body; cells as diverse as skin, brain and liver can all be produced via differentiation from pluripotent stem cells. Multipotent stem cells are more localised in their nature. They are found in the umbilical cords of babies. This type of stem cell can only differentiate into cell types of the organ which they originated from, for example stem cells from the bone marrow can only differentiate into red blood cells, platelets or white blood cells, they cannot develop into brain or skin cells; however, the pluripotent type can.
It is necessary to briefly look at the problematic ethical issues involved in using pluripotent stem cells. In order to acquire
pluripotent stem cells, we must destroy an artificially fertilised, 5-14 day old human embryo. This is a controversial practice and scientists are currently looking, and have partly succeeded, in finding viable alternative embryos in animals (such as mice). Despite the plethora of ethical issues one can delve into, this is not the focus of the article. I want to give you an insight into the exciting prospect of slowing the ageing process using stem cells; don't get too excited, we are not going to become immortal just yet! As a result of a vast improvement in healthcare and medicines, humans are living longer; however, living longer does not necessarily mean that the quality of life remains constant. In fact extending the life of many of us will possibly mean living with a neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, for much longer. These age-related diseases have become more apparent over the last one hundred years; this is not because they did not exist before, but simply for the reason that because we are living longer the disease becomes more prevalent within society. Everybody will experience an early stage of Alzheimer’s in their lives as neurons are lost and deposits of B – amyloid and lewy bodies accumulate. Those who go one to develop Alzheimer’s, however, experience these changes more dramatically than the average person. A primary condition of Alzheimer’s disease is the death of brain cells. This is where stem cells will hopefully come to the rescue to potentially reduce or perhaps eradicate the disease altogether. This research is of great significance to our generation, because the primary risk factor of developing any neurodegenerative disease is usually age - this is definitely the case with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, P a g e | 19
although our life is constantly extended further by ever-improving medicines this brings a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases. According to current predictions, someone born in the 21st Century has a one in three chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. This guarantees a ‘living death’ as described by Guy Brown for a third of the population post 2000. Predictions such as these are frightening and this has led to scientists desperately looking for solutions for agerelated conditions and the subsequent dementia that result from them.
that it led to the funding of research projects that were using such ideas. A group of researchers at the University of California have proved that brain and nerve cells can be regrown; this was shown by injecting human neural stem cells into the brains of mice, whose cognitive abilities had been damaged by radiation. The majority of the cognitive abilities returned and similar studies have demonstrated the same success.
The Greatest? Muhammad Ali is a famous sufferer of Parkinson’s disease Pluripotent stem cells, as mentioned earlier, are capable of differentiating into a wide variety of cell types, including brain and nerve cells. Due to neurodegenerative diseases primarily being caused by the death of brain or nerve cells, we can use stem cells to regrow these highly specialised cells, and the function that was lost could potentially be restored to the individual. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s are unlikely to benefit straight away from breakthroughs due to the widespread nature of the disease. But, other diseases such as Parkinson’s may be potentially cured from such advances. This particular application of stem cells was so exciting
Evolution of Phones
It has long been thought that due to the relatively little knowledge we have of many neurodegenerative diseases, we have no hope of finding a solution; as in order to configure a solution, we must understand the problem. However, stem cell therapy is rapidly proving that we may be able to succeed, earlier than first thought, at curing such diseases. Who knows! We may be able to completely eradicate them within our own generation – so it’s not that depressing after all! Asad Malik
It seems like yesterday when it was a common sight to see people comparing their high scores on Snake II or showing off their monophonic ringtones with their Nokia 3310’s; 13 years later after Nokia’s legendary phone launched in 2000, it’s rare to see a Nokia at all! So what’s changed over the last decade or so, and how small has the gap between mobile phones and computers truly become? Towards the end of the year 2000, Nokia, one of the biggest multinational communications and information technology corporations (at the time) launched their newest model mobile P a g e | 20
phone, the Nokia 3310. It had a bar form factor and an 84 X 48 pixel monochrome display. It was one of the first phones to have features such as a calculator, a stopwatch and games such as Space Impact, Bantumi and the hugely popular Snake II. It also introduced SMS chat where texts could be sent in a thread-like format to emulate an on-going conversation. With all this it became immensely popular, selling around 126 million units, making it one of the world’s most successful handsets. Nokia continued to dominate the mobile phone market over the next five to six years with Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG trailing behind. Soon things began to change as other companies brought in new innovations. Different form factors were introduced such as slide phones (made popular by Samsung) and flip phones (typically made by Motorola). Other manufacturers such as Blackberry and HTC entered the game. The first ever camera phone was made by Samsung with a 0.35 megapixel camera which proved they were ahead of the game as it was such an obvious yet technologically advanced feature. Other companies suddenly became so focussed on the cameras in phones, it was as though nothing else mattered: some called it the ‘Megapixel’ race. We soon saw 1.3mp camera phones followed by 2mp such as in the Nokia N90, each time improving, introducing abilities such as autofocus and
flash. Sony Ericsson stepped it up with a 3.2mp autofocus, image stabilising camera with a xenon flash but what really did it was the Nokia N95. This was the true birth or pre-birth of smartphones. The N95 had a beautiful 5mp camera with autofocus and a Carl Zeiss lens, it also had video recording at 30 frames per second. But it wasn’t just the camera which set it apart, it also had a 2.6” display (relatively large at the time), it had a music player, improved battery, 8gb of storage, integrated GPS ability and 3D graphics mobile gaming. It was Nokia’s comeback after they lost their spot as the market leader, however I believe it was their last success. On June 29th 2007 Apple released a device which would change the whole category of what we knew as mobile phones. The iPhone completely changed the way everyone approached smart phones. First of all it taught other manufacturers that the number of pixels in a camera wasn’t everything. The iPhone humbly presented a 2mp camera however as they focussed on aspects such as aperture, shutter speed, white balance and the size of sensors, their camera was still on par with other phones which boasted 5mp cameras. But the camera was just a small part of it; the iPhone was the first hugely successful touch-screen phone with a 3.5” display with a resolution of 480 X 320, again very impressive for the time. It had Wi-Fi connectivity, quad-band cellular connectivity, geo-tagging on photos, an accelerometer, a proximity sensor, up to P a g e | 21
16 GB storage and an intuitive operating system. When Steve Jobs announced the iPhone he introduced it as three categories, “a widescreen iPod with touch controls”; “a revolutionary mobile phone” and “a breakthrough Internet communicator” all merged into one device. It was mind-blowing and it created the bridge between mobile phones and computers which other companies soon began to cross. Apple continued to release an updated version of the iPhone every year and dominated the market as the leaders with the most units sold. By this time Nokia was in free-fall and Samsung was creeping up the ranks with their Tocco’s and their Galaxy series. Samsung’s Galaxy SIII finally overtook Apple beating the iPhone 4s and becoming the world’s bestselling phone of 2012. Each company has now diverged into their own speciality and beliefs. For example, Apple believes in delivering the most luxurious and pristine devices which are the easiest to use and the most stable, no matter what the cost. Samsung seems not to care as much about a premium phone design but rather the power inside it, with each of their phones being the most impressive on the spec sheet. A relatively new competitor into the smart phone world, Google, seems to be targeting affordability with their ‘Nexus’ series producing smartphones which still give Samsung and Apple a run for their money but delivering them at affordable prices. So where at we at now? Apple regained their title in 2013 with the iPhone 5, selling 9 million more units than Samsung’s flagship the Galaxy S4, making it the bestselling handset of 2013. We have also seen the introduction of a new category of devices known informally as ‘phablets’ which are crosses between phones and tablets. These devices such as
the popular ‘note’ series by Samsung boast large screens e.g. 5-6.4” screens and are extremely powerful with up to 3gb of RAM and quad core processors. ‘Phablets’ also occasionally incorporate a stylus into their operating system as the screen is large enough to take notes on, hence the name. In terms of technological advancements, today we see screens with incredible full HD displays with resolutions of 1920 X 1080. We see cameras which can shoot 4k resolution videos and others which are capable of 120 frames per second allowing slow motion, both of these being extremely impressive features for a phone; let’s not forget these devices are as thin as pencils and as light as notepads. Nokia appear to still be trying to make the best cameras in a phone, perhaps because it’s the only area they can try to thrive in; they recently released a smartphone with a 41 megapixel camera! Sony also managed to create the first waterproof smartphone (the Xperia Z) which led a few others to follow i.e. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active. As for the future, the rate at which technology is advancing nowadays makes it unpredictable, however we have seen glimpses such as Samsung testing flexible displays and there is still the possibility of 3D displays. No-one is quite sure how much longer Apple will stand up to the lethal blows Samsung keep dishing out with their latest tech; the question remains whether Google will become an affordable alternative available to a wider audience? I guess the only way to find out is to wait and see! Daniel Farooq
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The science behind ‘Breaking Bad’ This piece contains spoilers about the TV show Breaking Bad – But really you should have seen it by now… "The chemistry must be respected." Breaking Bad is an AMC TV show that is about as addictive as the drug produced in it. However, after the unbelievably shocking cliffhangers and the cursing frustration and anger in response, one is left pondering a universal mystery. "Just how realistic is the chemistry in Breaking Bad?”
"Body dissolved in bath of acid": Early in their adventures, Walt is forced to kill a man and dispose of the body. Jesse decides to put the man in a bath tub and fills it with hydrofluoric acid (HF), an acid so strong that it can dissolve anything (excluding certain plastics). But, he is unaware of this basic fact and when Walt finds out the procedure was done in a bath tub (not a plastic one unfortunately), he looks alarmedly at the ceiling in a panic. Conveniently it only takes ten seconds for the remnants of both a dissolved bath tub and a body (imagine a half processed lamb) to come crashing through the ceiling. Since we know the vast amount of hydrofluoric
acid the dynamic duo has access to, I confirm this as VERY REALISTIC. “Fulminated (i.e. made to explode) Mercury bomb”: Tuco, an "utter Psycho" gangster with an annoying face rather reminiscent of a Sontaran from Doctor Who [potato head guys], has just swindled and beaten up Jesse - predictably Walt is not very happy. He desires revenge and plans his retaliation in response. This takes the form of Walt confronting Tuco in his office and demanding $50,000 for stolen methamphetamine and Jesse's ‘suffering’. Tuco laughs until Walt, who holds up his apparent goods, reveals "(they) (are) not meth" and immediately throws them on the ground. A huge explosion is created and the rest is TV history. Mercury Fulminate, formula C2N2O2Hg is extremely explosive, it is both highly shock and friction sensitive and has an explosive velocity of 4250 m/s. When you consider the amount that Walt threw, the effects do seem to be realistic; but to be able to carry a lump the size of a pebble without itself detonating under its own weight is unlikely, so I class this in the same column as the likes of "Twilight". “Melting and breaking locks”: Methylamine, a key ingredient in the production of Crystal Meth, is running low. Consequently Walt and Jesse ‘have to’ break into a chemical plant to steal a barrel of it. In order to facilitate the break-in, Walt straps a metal oxide and a very reactive metal powder to the lock and then sets this alight, a reaction known as the Thermite Reaction. The reaction works well and bright lights and sparks are given off; this allowing them to successfully break into the plant. The reaction is realistic and causes extremely high temperatures -not far off 2500°C - once triggered. Thus the lock would realistically be destroyed, granting entry. The reaction P a g e | 23
with iron is displayed here: Fe2O3 + 2 Al → 2 Fe + Al2O3. There is a flaw however, as Walt takes the powdered metal from an Etch-A-Sketch he would have needed some other reactive metals as well to make the reaction fully work. I would therefore say that this future alternative to fingerprint scanning is only SEMI-REALISTIC. Luke Thomas
Hug Culture in MGS Ahh the hug. Arguably the most primitive form of showing affection to others, the hug has come to mean much more than that to our beloved Owls. Whether this intimate moment is shared by two, or multiple members of the MGS community, one cannot help but feel part of such a fantastical expression of mental stress through a physical action. At other schools, hugs may be reserved for special moments, such as a particularly cherished victory in the sporting arena, or perhaps success in examinations or the termination of a particular theatre production; feats which have required many hours of preparation, practice and performance, often with extremes of both bliss and sadness. But not at MGS. The hug transcends these rare and extreme occasions, and seems to have become something of a social norm amongst students. Often far from a socalled ‘one second squeeze’, hugs amongst our alumni often last several seconds, perhaps indicating the closeness of friendships and respect for the male soul and body within the MGS community;
everyone is worth the time and effort of a hug, as well as the deeply rooted satisfaction accompanied with it. As students find decreasing satisfaction from normal hugs, I believe that there will be a shift to a more liberal front, with students protesting over male rights within the school through ‘hug-art’ and ‘Humanhug-parades’. Whilst the phenomenon is yet to reach the even more extreme stage of cuddling, one cannot help but feel that this will be the inevitable progression of MGS society. As a new-born baby relies on its mother for survival, pupils are already beginning to crave the affection given to them through hugging, and will soon be unable to survive without it. One cannot help but wonder how soon will we see the introduction of cuddling areas into the communal areas of the school, particularly the Sixth Form Common Room, the section of the school that seems the most caught up in the hugging ‘phase’. Much like nicotine though, students are often unable to contain their tempestuous desires for a fix. In lessons, pupils can be seen to be at an emotional climax, unable to restrain themselves as they force themselves upon their neighbour, often moaning with sheer delight at the prospect as they wrap their arms around the unsuspecting victim. What a beautiful world we live in. Alex Race
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The Espresso Manifesto
Espresso so when making the building block for any coffee, we must make sure it’s good and there are a number of things to consider.
Coffee, you either love it, hate it, or in pathological cases you buy it from Starbucks. As far as the latter goes, the clientele of this wonderful American establishment fall under three categories; The thirteen year old girl, who just loves to be seen clinging on to a cup of weak brown water feeling all grown up, The Hipster who sits inside typing on an iPad mini awaiting a festival of cream, marshmallows and syrup imagining sitting at the bottom of a high rise in New York, yeah right. Finally the Middle Aged, the group of people lost in the land of “being cool” and “out looking for fun” completely missing the point. What I am trying to say is that if you say you like coffee and drink at Starbucks, you’re going to be laughed at.
Firstly we have temperature. As ground coffee can be burnt or the flavour can be left behind, the water must therefore be not too hot and not too cold. This ideal temperature happens to lie between 90 and 93 degrees, precisely 92.1 degrees. Most machines come as closely to this as possible, which is why it’s very important to wait for the machine to heat up and not be left too long or the temperature will stray from the ideal range. Secondly we have pressure and tamping. Tamping is compacting the ground coffee into the filter; a firm and even press will usually suffice. The pressure of extraction needs to be above 15Bar, the specification of most machines. In coffee shops however, the machines are usually rated between 20 and 30 bar, unless of course you've elected for vaguely coffee-flavoured water in which case a casual press into the filter and a cheaply made machine will provide you with a weak enough brew to check the bottom of your cup is okay as you sip. A good extraction at the correct temperature and pressure will produce a créma on the top of the coffee, that’s the light brown ‘foamy bit’, which brings me nicely onto the third and final point: time. A shot should be extracted until the coffee is done, which will quite possibly be different every time; you should stop the flow just before the créma turns from golden brown to light brown. The layer left on top should not be too dark, which would suggest the coffee is burnt, or too light, which means the coffee is over-extracted and the machine has been left running for too long. The bean itself also adds to the taste and style of the coffee, but that however is a whole different article. Despite my best
Every good cup of coffee starts with an Espresso, a single or double shot of coffee. From here you can take it in any direction you like, for example to make your standard black coffee the shot is added to 3/4 cup of near boiling water, or for a latte, the shot is topped with 1/2 a cup of warmed milk and topped with a dollop of textured milk, or, to the less educated among us, foam. But the trick to the taste and quality of the coffee lies in the
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attempts to educate the masses I suspect there will still be thirteen year old girls among you who will still carry themselves into the Capitalist Church of Starbucks hand in hand with McDonalds at the altar, waiting to be served a tasteless, watered down, overpriced cup of American drivel, at great expense to tastebuds, reason and self-respect. The only thought keeping you sane is the satisfaction you’ll get knowing someone has written your name on the cup, selling you a truly personal experience. Sam Kershaw
Cowboy BeBop Review
Cowboy Bebop follows the antics and misadventures of five characters aboard the space ship, The Bebop. Spike Spiegel, with the help of his friends – Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Radical Edward and Ein (the Welsh corgi) – go from planet to planet in search of criminals to hunt down; a pursuit that ends in both success and failure. It is not merely science-fiction though as it is interwoven with other genres, largely film-noir and western, and actually composes itself very well. Few anime fans have not at least heard of this fantastic show; for very good reason. After premiering in 1998, this Sunrise series has
become an iconic anime with particular acclaim in the West, winning multiple awards in the 15 years subsequent to its release. Set in the year 2071 the world of Cowboy Bebop is a colourful blend of futuristic tech (such as hyper-gates and cybernetics) and late 20th century tech (such as pistols, wheeled-cars and even VHS). This is a world where lawlessness is a common feature of everyday life as crime syndicates and corruption are prevalent throughout the solar system and bounty hunting is a legitimatised career. Cowboy Bebop has great episodes (“sessions”) which are stand-alone in story yet hold extremely well when it comes to the bigger picture. One of the reasons why it has such amazing character development is that there is no real overarching story, merely further development and backstory to each character; and boy are they fascinating! Furthermore the characters themselves are realistic and individual as they are shown to be human, with all of the faults a real human has: selfishness, imperfections and fallibility. None of them are stereotypically over-the-top, visually and personality-wise, nor is anything so ridiculously proportioned that it ruins the immersion. The animation and art easily stands up to most modern-day series and is rather gorgeous. The computer graphics does what very few do which is to make the characters and background seem consistent: nothing in the foreground looks horribly separated from the background. What’s more, from Spike’s elegant fighting style to the simplest of movements, the animation is elegantly fluid. P a g e | 26
The vast range of settings is beautifully done and gives every celestial colony an individual personality in its environment, its inhabitants and its culture; a notable and refreshing change from the conventional anime. For example Mars as the new central hub of humanity has bustling and distinct cities strewn across its rocky surface while the Jovian moon of Callisto is a solemn and frigid tundra, full of rather barren snow-filled cities. Furthermore despite the advanced technologies everything is largely rather weathered and somewhat dilapidated, adding to the realism and grittiness of the show. The show is often action-packed and full of crazy antics that will undoubtedly leave you with a great big smile. The fighting is very well-choreographed and pretty fantastic while the comedy and chemistry between the characters can be really fun and light-hearted – although there is never really a laugh-out-loud moment, you will still end up with a smile. The greatest purveyor of these antics – and my favourite character – is Radical Edward, a bizarre and happy-go-lucky child-hacker who never fails to lift my mood. Cowboy Bebop is not just fun and games however. Philosophical ideas such as personal identity and its relation to the past as well as loneliness and isolation lend a subtle existential undertone to the story. But there are sincere heart-felt moments that do impact you emotionally and even give you goosebumps. As a result I’ve always preferred to watch Cowboy Bebop in the evening because it almost always ends with a thoughtprovoking idea or concept which, backedup by the magnificent music, at times is
rather sobering and can even be saddening. The art again does a very good job of enforcing this when need be. The antagonists (I hesitate to call them villains because none are truly evil) always have some redeeming quality and their episodes are only there for comic relief and so from a story perspective they are somewhat irrelevant. In truth however these moments of comic relief provide a break from the more thought-provoking and solemn moments and prevent Cowboy Bebop from being too grim and serious. Finally, the music... the music is an utter masterpiece. Yoko Kanno wrote this phenomenal soundtrack and, man, did she do a fantastic job: Mostly full of funky and excellent jazz, there are a range of other songs, for example a few operatic pieces and even some Steve Conte songs. The music encapsulates and matches every scene beautifully, from thrilling fight scenes to heart-touching ones. It plays such an important role that some sessions have music genres in their names – “Asteroid Blues”, “Honky Tonk Women” and “Cowboy Funk” to name a few. The soundtrack is one of those that you can just lie down in bed, close your eyes and simply immerse yourself in. In conclusion Cowboy Bebop is a mustwatch Anime with fun and thrilling stories full of action, comedy and profound ideas. To back-it-up the art and animation is astonishing, the music is simply one of the best and the characters are very human. The show appeals to most audiences due to the fine balance of its aspects (the comedic and the serious) and is an excellent gateway series to newer watchers of anime. Cowboy Bebop is awesome in every sense of the word. 10/10. Jacques Bara P a g e | 27
Crumbling the foundations of Logic Humans have always taken what we absorb through our senses as gospel. Surely this is a reasonable proposition? How else are we supposed to comprehend the world around us if we cannot make use of our senses? This idea is known as ‘empiricism’, which is based on the premise that the main way in which we gain true knowledge is through what the senses tell us. However, does this not raise various issues? How many times have you forgotten a face? Or experienced déjà-vu? Or thought you had seen something but realised that you had not? Can we have total trust in our senses if they can deceive us in this way? This was expressed in the Falsification Principle, which was developed by an Austrian philosopher called Karl Popper. This suggested that we cannot totally prove anything through simple experimentation. For example, whilst we say that a metal expands when heated, how can we know that this will happen every time? This idea is a key player within another method of gaining true knowledge: rationalism. This states that the only way by which we can gain true knowledge is by reasoning (a.k.a. by a method where no other logical explanation can be offered, such as mathematical proofing). Here is where we can introduce the main character of this article. Zeno of Elea was a Greek philosopher who was born in about 490BCE. He was a member of the Eleatic School, an academy founded by another philosopher called Parmenides. Parmenides was a critic of
another philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus. He believed that everything in this world was constantly changing, famously saying ‘panta rhei’ (everything flows), and thus concluding that we ‘cannot step twice into the same river’ as it would have changed the second time. However, Parmenides said that nothing could become anything that it was not. Although he observed the leaves changing colour and the weather changing, he realised that in order for something to change, it has to become something that it is not. When given the choice between empiricism and rationalism, Parmenides chose rationalism, as though he experienced change, he could not comprehend change. This idea was revolutionised by Zeno when he managed to use rational reasoning to prove Parmenides right. He proved that motion itself was impossible. Zeno disproved motion in three different ways, the main way being his ‘Dichotomy Paradox’. Let’s say I wanted to travel from Manchester to Sydney. In order to do that I must travel half-way (Hong Kong). In order to do that I must travel half of that (Afghanistan) and half of that (Ukraine) and half of that (Germany) and half of that (Belgium) and this keeps going in a cruel pattern. These distances can be split into an infinite amount of tiny pieces. As it takes a miniscule amount of time to move through one of these distances, it must take an infinite amount of time to pass through all of them. Therefore, motion is impossible. This process is known as ‘reductio ad absurdum’, which involves the use of logical reasoning, with an impossible conclusion. We all know that motion is possible. Just walking across the room P a g e | 28
surely disproves Zeno’s ridiculous statement? But it doesn’t. If everything that Zeno said was totally reasonable, the conclusion of these statements must also be reasonable and correct. This had left both philosophers and mathematicians in a pickle for almost two thousand years.
but also represents the faults in the maths of the Greeks, which hindered mathematical proof for centuries.
But, through the use of modern mathematics, we can show that Zeno was, in fact, being slightly misguided.
The trick is the use of something known as an ‘infinite series’, which states that a finite distance can be divided an infinite number of times.
½ + ¼ + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/32 + … = 1 But how come this idea never occurred to Zeno? There is one main difference between modern mathematics and the maths used by the Ancient Greeks: the presence of zero. The idea of an integer that represented nothing never seemed to occur to anyone until almost the 10th century CE, but it is the key to unlocking the secret behind the Dichotomy Paradox. The Greeks believed that as these numbers got smaller and smaller, they would surpass the realm of numbers and the process would continue forever. However, in an infinite series, these numbers have a ‘destination’ in zero. This means that the sequence continues in this way until zero is part of it, meaning that nothing is added, indicating a finite result. This neat little trick not only disproves Zeno’s Paradox,
So to conclude, if you turn up late for class, Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox is now no longer an excuse. Sorry.
In 2010, the Cannes film festival awarded the prestigious Palme d'or (the equivalent of best film) to Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, the fifth film from a relatively unknown, in Europe at least, Thai director called Apichatpong Weerasethakul , beating more established filmmakers such as Mike Leigh, Abbas Kiarostami and Takeshi Kitano. This preempted a notable rise in his international profile. Two years later his third film, Tropical Malady, was listed as the 92nd greatest film of all time by Sight and Sound, while his fourth, Syndromes and a Century, was named as the best of the last decade by the Toronto film institute. Weerasethakul's directorial style is singular and immediately distinctive. In terms of influences he is hard to trace. He P a g e | 29
listed his ten favourite films as A Brighter Summer Day, The Conversation, La Captive, Andy Warhol's Empire, Full Metal Jacket, The General, Goodbye Dragon Inn, Joris Ivens' Rain, Satantango, and Valentin De Las Sierras, and the only recurring theme among them, except The General and Empire, seems to be a heavy use of ambient sound. He is sometimes compared to David Lynch, and while they do have a similar focus on dreams, memories and identity, he has none of Lynch's noirish aesthetics, nor Lynch's sense of vaguely defined menace. One prominent reoccurring feature is his tendency to split his films into two distinct halves. In Tropical Malady (his most Lynchian film), the film is divided into a love story between a soldier and a farmer, and the pursuit of a soldier by a shape-shifting jungle spirit, with the same actors playing the leads both times. In Syndromes and a Century, the same basic storylines are replayed with different settings, characters and outcomes in the second part, while in his second, Blissfully Yours, a mid-film credit sequence divides urban and rural halves. His elliptical, spontaneous approach to narrative can be best explained through his first film, Mysterious Object at Noon. A mix of documentary and fiction, it follows a film crew around as they ask people to add their own words to an evolving story. Entire scenes are often written by the actors, which he attributes to his mediocrity as a screenwriter (he says he approaches film more as an architect or sculptor than a writer). Syndromes and a Century was originally conceived as a straightforward film about his parents, both of whom were doctors, with the idea for the second part, and various subplots (including a monk befriending a dentist and a doctor who keeps whiskey in a prosthetic leg) being added only after the start of
filming. This gives his films a relaxed looseness and a sense of mystery, since there is no main narrative thrust to them. Roger Ebert, in his review of Uncle Boonmee, wrote that it was easy to understand, provided you don't expect it to be about anything. This loose narrative is especially true of Syndromes, in which the repeating narrative means the focus is on the subtleties, both of the direction and the characters' interactions, as we see how they differ between the halves. His films shouldn't be seen, though, as dryly intellectual exercises in style and structure. He claims the main thing he aims to capture in his work is a sense of delirium, with Syndromes opening on a playfully awkward interview scene between the two main characters, and closing on a scene of apparent collective euphoria. Both Syndromes and Tropical Malady are two of the most wondrous, unique and memorable films of the past decade, and, for me, Weerasethakul is both proof that contemporary cinema can be stylistically radical and exciting while being accessible. He is perhaps the most accomplished world filmmaker to emerge in the last twenty five years. Adam Walters
An interview with Josh Bluer The Reasonable Questions So tell me a little about your short film ‘The Flashing Blue’? Ok well it’s a comedy about a police division made up completely of teenagers P a g e | 30
which has come about due to some weird age reforms in the force. So they’re all basically completely stupid and inept and end up shooting a hostage, losing a dead body and blowing up a police dog. So it’s very farcical and slapstick but hopefully has a bit of heart to it as well. We worked a lot on the characters. It’s not too plotorientated though it just basically introduces a range of weird characters all working as detectives. Do you think your experiences at MGS have influenced your style of acting, writing and way of producing a film? I think they definitely influenced the writing of the show. Although the show is a parody of a whole mix of police and detective shows the other idea was for it to be like a Year 10 class. The characters all behave like Middle School kids – they’re obsessed with girls, buying alcohol, acquiring fake ID’s and don’t do much apart from drawings of c**ks and endless FIFA apology letters. (My childhood in a sentence). The ensemble characters are all pretty much based on people from MGS too- there’s the slightly camp one, the racial minority, the keeno, the idiot, the arrogant one etc. What inspired the concept behind the film?
perhaps a bit more harsh and vulgar in places. How much of The Flashing Blue was in the original script and how much was improv? Pretty much everything you see in the video is in the original script. There were some improvs done during the show, but we often cut them out for time purposes. My rule was that if the scene wasn’t perfect it wouldn’t make the cut. So now it’ll probably resemble about 15-20 mins of really funny stuff (hopefully). Who is your favorite character in the Flashing Blue and why? My favorite character is a midget called ‘Laptop’ so nicknamed on account of him being a small PC. He’s a bit of a strange/lonely individual and is the office b**ch – a bit like a moody Baldrick from Blackadder. Would you say he was the funniest character of the show? Maybe. But there are a lot of funny characters though. I also really like Rajesh who is this Asian detective who’s managed to convince his parents he’s a junior doctor. How did you decide on the casting?
It stems from an old joke me and my friend Jamie had about two police officers who just don’t really care about catching criminals. The main two in the film are much more concerned about their banter and joking around than they are about winning Detective of the Year. They’re both corrupt, steal booze from a crime scene and one even tries to seduce a victim of domestic abuse. So the film has a slight Johnny English/Pink Panther feel to it but is
They’re all old friends from stuff I’ve done inside and outside of MGS. For example Dan Dockery is in it who a lot of people might know as the little dude who directed Death on the Dial, Izzy Rubin (from the leaver’s play) also makes an appearance and then people like Charlie Harris and JJ Bute who seem to be in pretty much every play at MGS these days.
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Will you be making any more films soon? Possibly. It depends how this one goes – there’s a lot riding on getting the views we need. But if it goes well I definitely have an idea for a sequel which is really funny. Or I might do something new. Who knows? I’d really like to write a sketch show or something like that actually. I’ll keep you posted. Where can people find more of your work? Erm. Well I think I still have a poem on the English display board outside E3. Check it out. Interview by Mark Barclay
Singing Section at Old Trafford
I came up with the idea of writing this article at the start of the October halfterm. As a Manchester United season ticket holder, I had the prospect of seeing four games during this two-week break. The second of those games, a Wednesday night Champions League game against Real Sociedad of Spain, was the game during
which United had chosen to trial the much anticipated singing section. The singing section was an idea pushed by two fan groups, Reclaim United and Stretford End Flags. I have been part of the Reclaim United movement, which has an aim of improving the atmosphere at Old Trafford and I have taken part in activities such as pre-match marches, as well as making videos of the best atmospheres inside the stadium for them. The leading individual behind the idea of having a singing section was none other than one of the fans, Pete Boyle, who is well known amongst the fan base for making up many of the current chants. At half time in the game against West Brom towards the end of September, Pete made an announcement about the trial of the singing section. He explained that while the Stretford End, where I sit during home matches, was often singing, the sound tended not to travel around the whole stadium. Therefore he advocated a singing section in the south-east quadrant at the other end of the stadium where the harmonics are believed to be the best. The singing section was a great success: 1400 rowdy Reds sung throughout the whole game and generally there was more singing from the home fans throughout the stadium. There was a vast difference compared to the previous game, during which travelling Southampton fans had sung, “Is this a library?”, which suggests to me that putting the most vocal fans together in one section is a good idea. The atmosphere at the next match against Stoke City was also much improved, not only due to the impact of the singing section in the previous game, but also because United staged an exciting comeback on the pitch in the last 15 P a g e | 32
minutes to win 3-2 after falling 2-1 behind earlier on. Following the success of the trial, the next aim is to make the singing section a permanent feature and also increase its capacity to 3000. This relies on the club finding somewhere else in the stadium for the away fans to sit as they are currently housed in the south-east quadrant where the trial took place. Nevertheless, the signs are promising, and if the singing section is here to stay, then you’ll definitely be able to find me there. Richard Mellor
Summer Transfer Window For every football fan, that final hour leading up to the moment the transfer window slams shut on Deadline Day is one of the most anticipated times of the season. All around the country thousands of faces are glued to Sky Sports News, watching the legendary Jim White bring the window to a close. Who can pull off that last minute deal? Will a team get all the paperwork completed in time? Will there be any shock moves? The summer of 2013 was arguably one of the busiest and best windows ever, with the long-expected move of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid only being completed a few days before the window shut. This summer also raised the possibility of Wayne Rooney could leaving Old Trafford, after speculation of a transfer request, to Stamford Bridge or to The Emirates where he would possibly partner the
controversial Luis Suarez. A total of £630 million was shelled out by English top-flight clubs last summer which was a 29% increase from 2012. It could be argued also that clubs were able to spend so much only after selling huge assets: Spurs received £85.3 million after selling Bale to Real Madrid, allowing them to spend £107 million on new recruits. So my question is: which team has made the best signings with what they had, and have they worked? In this article, I will give a team-by-team guide to the Premier League and discuss whether the new players have made any impact, and how well the team is doing currently (as of 27th January 2014). Arsenal
It could easily be argued that Arsene Wenger pulled off one of the biggest shocks in British transfer history, when a last-minute deal was completed to sign Real Madrid’s Mesut Özil, this dominating headlines worldwide. The £42 million purchase was seen as a statement from Wenger to prove to Arsenal fans that he was not giving up his hopes of silverware. Given that he’s the second biggest signing in British transfer history, you’d think he has probably won the support of the Arsenal faithful. Özil has combined phenomenally with the recent brilliance of Aaron Ramsey, providing support to Olivier Giroud up front with the help of Santi Cazorla, and Arsenal have been fantastic. P a g e | 33
Even though they suffered defeat on the opening day to Aston Villa and a shock to Manchester United, they were unbeaten in the League until the defeat at Old Trafford. They continue to lead the Premier League and are surely strong contenders to lift the title come May. The only worrying thing for the rest of the teams is that Özil hasn’t even hit top form yet! Transfer Rating: 8/10; Season Rating: 8/10; Overall: Big winners Aston Villa Some would say that the biggest positive to come from Villa Park this summer was the retention of super striker Christian Benteke who had signalled his intention to leave Villa Park midsummer and was looking for a move to White Hart Lane. Villa used up the majority of their budget, spending £17.2 million bringing in Jores Okore, Leandro Bacuna, Nicklas Helenius, Jed Steer, Luna, Aleksandar Tonev and Libor Kozak. So far, the majority of the new faces have been average and Villa have had a stable start to the season, the highs of which were beating Arsenal on the opening day and a 3-2 win over Manchester City. Bacuna appears to be the best of the buys for Villa and has been very good form at full-back rather than in the midfield, his customary position, and also has a good free-kick in his locker. Tonev has been the biggest disappointment: he just doesn’t seem to be able to conjure anything at Villa Park and brings nothing to the game. Nevertheless, Villa fans can be pleased with the removal of players such as Stephen Ireland, Darren Bent, Richard Dunne and Barry Bannan. They sit 10th in the table, having won only 6 games. Transfer Rating: 5/10; Season Rating: 6/10; Overall: Winners
Cardiff City Premier League new boys Cardiff knew that this summer they would have to spend big on experienced players who could help with the pressure of surviving in the toughest league in the world. Malkay Mackay therefore did exactly that and spent big. Cardiff brought in the superb Gary Medel, not on the cheap, from Sevilla for £11 million, who has proven his worth for the Welsh team. Another good signing for them was the capture of Steven Caulker from Spurs who has brought in his experience and justified his price tag. Kevin Theophile-Catherine has shown himself to be a total bargain after producing good performances at right-back. However, the good signings have not produced results and Cardiff have only won four games, notably a 3-2 win against big boys Manchester City and a 1-0 victory against rivals Swansea. They need goals and this must be addressed in January by their new manager or they may find themselves in a dreaded battle in the final few months to save themselves from returning to the Championship. Frazier Campbell may be their glimmer of hope. Transfer Rating: 7/10; Season Rating: 4/10; Overall: Winners Chelsea It was a busy time at Stamford Bridge this summer with the return of ‘The Special One’. Jose signalled big intentions from the moment he walked back in and immediately set his sights on Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. The saga continued all summer with bids being constantly rejected for Rooney, which eventually resulting in Mourinho giving up, but arguably he had left it too late. Other targets were Colombian Radamel Falcao who eventually went off to big spenders Monaco, and Chelsea’s big name signing P a g e | 34
was veteran Samuel Eto’o, who came over from Russia on a free transfer and has been erratic so far. The other big signings at Chelsea included Andre Schürrle, who has only produced one performance against Steaua Bucharest but has otherwise shown good potential, and Willian, who was stolen from under the noses of rivals, Spurs, very late on but has struggled to adapt to the Chelsea way of playing. He has generally been disappointing and has not merited his £32 million price tag. Domestically however, Chelsea have been good, sitting high in the league but still lack class upfront, which could easily cost them. January looks to be another busy period and they have signed Matic and Salah, with Essien and De Bruyne departing Transfer Rating: 6/10; Season Rating: 8/10; Overall: Winners Crystal Palace The second of the new boys had an extremely busy window this summer, purchasing a whopping 15 new players! Surprisingly, not a single one of them has shown any star-quality to justify their purchases, they all came with big expectations but have produced nothing, which has unsurprisingly left them two points from relegation. It looks as though it will be a long season for Palace and it will likely end with a fierce battle at the bottom as they try to save themselves. The majority of their budget was spent in the summer, the most notable signing was Dwight Gale from Peterborough who has made little impact. They appear to have bought a mixed bag of hopefuls and cast offs but nothing appears to be working, which resulted in the sacking of manager Ian Holloway. It would not be surprising if Palace were back in the Championship next season unless their new manager, Tony
Pulis, produces some results and turns the season around.gggggggggggg Transfer Rating: 2/10; Season Rating: 2/10; Overall - Big losers Everton The Toffees had a new manager this summer after losing David Moyes to Manchester United, which resulted in the capture of former Wigan boss Roberto Martinez, who had been fantastic at Wigan and was ultimately a good appointment for the club. As predicted, Martinez went straight back to Wigan and raided a few of their players: Antolin Alcaraz, Arouna Kone and James McCarthy, as well as gaining Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, who has been fantastic, and also Gareth Barry from Manchester City on a season-long loan. Keeping left-back Leighton Baines from the grasp of Manchester United was another highlight at Goodison Park this summer. Losing Victor Anichebe and Marouane Fellaini will surely be a loss to Everton, who will be excited to get to use the £27.5 million from the Fellaini deal as it only went through at the last minute. Everton have been good in their first 22 games, sitting sixth with eleven wins and only losing two game, this demonstrating theirs solid defence. Martinez will be aiming to turn the draws to wins and hopes his new ‘gentle giant’ Lacina Traoré will achieve this goal. Everton can generally be pleased with their transfer business. Transfer Rating: 7/10; Season Rating: 7/10; Overall - Winners Fulham There were plenty of new faces at Craven Cottage this summer, including the likes of Scott Parker from Spurs, Maarten Stekelenburg from Roma, Adel Taarabt and Darren Bent, a move which was suspected P a g e | 35
from Martin Jol, who is a veteran in the transfer market. A fair amount was spent by Fulham this summer but unfortunately nothing has worked for them. They have only 6 wins from 22 games and so find themselves 17th. Bent was expected to hit the net with Dimitar Berbatov but Fulham have only scored 15 goals since August, which is extremely disappointing. Come January, Fulham need to buy that striker who will find the net, or a midfielder who can control games, like Scott Parker used to be able to do but no longer is able to! The new manager will have a tough job in gelling the team together so that Fulham can save themselves from a battle at the end of the season, and becoming one of the shock teams to be relegated. A spell in the Championship may be what’s needed to kick-start Fulham back into a team who can sit comfortably in the middle of the table. As things stand, they are in big trouble and it appears that Berbatov will be their main man this year in saving them. Transfer Rating: 5/10; Season Rating: 2/10; Overall: Losers Hull City
Hull are the last of the promoted teams from the Championship and have domestically done the best of the three. They appeared to do quite well in the transfer market this summer, most notably recruiting Tom Huddlestone from Spurs, who can potentially be very good for them if kept fit; he's been good in all of his games and has proved his £6 million tag. Hull
raided Spurs again for midfielder Jake Livermore who left White Hart Lane on loan, and has also shown to be a very good buy for Steve Bruce. Alan McGregor was another notable signing, arriving for £2 million from Besiktas and critics say he will be the difference between Hull staying up or going down this year. Conceding 28 goals in the first 22 games is not a bad start for McGregor, but he needs to stay fit too. One of Hull’s big problems is the lack of goals - they’ve only scored 22 so far - and this has been addressed in January through the purchase of Jelavic from Everton. Transfer Rating: 6/10; Season Rating: 4/10; Overall: Winners Liverpool The cheque-book really did open this summer on Merseyside with Liverpool buying only a few players who have shown to be the right ones. A huge part of the summer was the constant speculation about Luis Suarez heading away to the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal, but Suarez stayed and was missed in the first few games as he had to sit out because of the ban he received at the end of last season. When he came back, he did so with a bang, linking up with Daniel Sturridge extremely well and finding the net on multiple occasions. Regarding transfer activity, Kolo Toure was brought in from Manchester City on a free and has proven to be a good signing due to his commitment, but could deteriorate in the latter half of the season. With Reina leaving to Napoli, a replacement keeper was needed and Rodgers signed Simon Mignolet from Sunderland, who has proved to be a good replacement, especially on his debut, saving a penalty against Stoke. Iago Aspas has appeared encouraging but is nothing special and hasn’t made much of a difference, nor has Mamadou Sakho from P a g e | 36
PSG, who is still adapting to English football. It appears to be an exciting time at Anfield as Liverpool have strung together many wins, including a win against Manchester United early on, but were pulled apart by Arsenal and Chelsea. They sit 4th and could easily challenge for the title in May. Second-top on goals scored, Suarez and Sturridge appear to be a deadly force and could prove to be pivotal for the side this year as they look to regain at least a Champions League place. Transfer Rating: 7/10; Season Rating: 8/10; Overall: Winners Manchester City Following the sacking of Roberto Mancini, the shock loss to Wigan in the FA Cup final, and seeing Manchester United run away with the Premier League last season, it was highly expected that Manchester City would go out as per usual and buy big. Following speculation that Vincent Kompany was attracting interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the loss of Kolo Toure to Liverpool, a centreback was one of the main targets for Manuel Pellegrini following his appointment. However, he focused on other parts of the squad and purchased Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and Stevan Jovetic for over £100 million in total. Navas does not appear to be everything that was expected: providing pace down the wing is a common sight from the speedster but he is also weak on the ball, though his form has picked up recently. Negredo knew that he wouldn’t always waltz into the starting line-up when he arrived and had to challenge fellow new signing Jovetic, along with Edin Dzeko, to partner Aguero up front. Negredo was Pellegrini’s first choice and has had a very strong start, scoring many goals, and Jovetic has been very good as well when he
has played. Martin Demichelis, a centreback, was bought late on but was injured very quickly. He has now recovered but his defending has been poor at times. It was expected that City would do very well following a huge bolstering of their strike force and at home this has been the case as they have demolished Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham and Norwich, but away from home they’ve been dismal, losing to Cardiff, Villa, Chelsea and Sunderland which could cost them. This is an issue which needs to be addressed. Matija Nastasic looks extremely promising but there remains questions about whether he has the capability to last a whole season and make a difference. Transfer Rating: 8/10; Season Rating: 6/10; Overall: Winners Manchester United The reigning Premier League champions were dealt a heavy blow just prior to the end of the season with the retirements of long-serving manager Sir Alex Ferguson and midfielder Paul Scholes. David Moyes was brought into Old Trafford in July and was faced with the huge task of keeping Wayne Rooney in a red shirt come the end of the window. Speculation carried on all summer, with no signs coming from Rooney about his intention to leave, only an ‘apparent transfer request’. He remained a Manchester United player and has been fantastic since then, netting for United and making a difference. They have had an incredibly slow start to the season, dropping points against Liverpool, City, West Brom, Chelsea and Southampton. United have been very sloppy at the back and lack the spark they used to have. Following the loss of Paul Scholes, a central midfielder was required to fill the void. Names were thrown around all summer: Fabregas, Luka Modric, Thiago, Kevin P a g e | 37
Strootman, Cristiano Ronaldo and even Bale, but only a few feeble bids were made and all were rejected. The biggest embarrassment was on Deadline Day, when it was revealed that impostors not connected with the club had turned up to La Liga head offices and attempted to pay the buyout clause for Ander Herrera. This summed up the transfer window for United, and new Chief Executive Ed Woodward signed more sponsorships than players. The only first team player signed was Fellaini for £27.5 million from Everton. The deal embarrassingly only went through at the last minute and to date he hasn’t proved his worth, struggling to adapt to United’s style of play. The only glimmers of hope from this summer were the retention of Rooney and the development of Adnan Januzaj, who is almost like a new signing to the fans and shows massive potential. January will be a big window for Moyes as he seeks to find a few more midfielders and potentially a new striker and left-back; Juan Mata’s recent arrival shows he is attempting to solve the team’s problems.
Olivier Kemen was bought from Montpellier as one for the future. A considerable number of players left such as Danny Simpson to QPR on a free, and James Perch to Wigan for £700k, whilst many others left on loan. Inconsistency is a word that easily describes Newcastle’s season so far. Losing 2-1 to Sunderland is obviously a low but recently they have found some form and are gradually rising in the league standings, currently sitting in 8th. Remy is undoubtedly the star man on Tyneside at the moment and along with Yohan Cabaye must score goals on a regular basis if they want Newcastle to be competing in Europe next September. However, superstar Papiss Cisse has been relatively poor and needs to find some form, as last season he proved that he can compete on the big stage and he could really make a difference. Newcastle probably don’t need to invest this January but need to work together, pull some wins together and make the push for the top 6 which is not an unrealistic target.
Transfer Rating: 3/10; Season Rating: 5/10; Overall: Losers
Transfer Rating: 6/10; Season Rating: 6/10; Overall: more consistency!
Only two faces made their way to St. James’ Park this summer, with only £650k spent following huge spending in the previous January window. Loic Remy arrived on loan from QPR and 16 year-old
Norwich It was an incredibly busy window for a Norwich side who felt they had to invest in order to stay up this year and avoid a dreaded relegation battle. Ricky van Wolfswinkel came in for £8.6 million, and players such as Leroy Fer, Johan Elmander and Gary Hooper were recruited but unfortunately they have made no impact yet. Norwich are starting to turn their season around and need to still find some form. They need to buy some defenders as conceding plenty of goals is heavily contributing to their losses.
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Transfer Rating: 3/10; Season Rating: 2/10; Overall: losers Southampton Only 3 faces were brought into Southampton this summer and quite simply they have been fantastic so far. The arrivals of Victor Wanyama, Dani Osvaldo and Dejan Lovren set Mauricio Pochettino back £36 million and it’s highly unlikely that more will be spent in January unless funds come in. Players already at the club have been fantastic, with Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert all earning international caps as a reward, and Artur Boruc has been a rock in between the sticks. Gaston Ramirez has not been as good as expected and time may be running out unless he finds some form. One player who has been outstanding is 18 year-old Luke Shaw, who is attracting interest from Chelsea and Manchester United and should they choose to sell, Southampton may find £30 million to invest in other players. Transfer Rating: 8/10; Season Rating: 8/10; Overall: Massive winners Stoke Mark Hughes came to Stoke, replacing the long-lasting Tony Pulis and instantly made 5 signings. Erik Pieters was bought from PSV for £3million but has been somewhat average. Marko Arnautovic was bought for £4 million from Werder Bremen, and has shown signs to the Stoke fans that he can add things to their game, but has not made much of a difference so far and needs to step up. Marc Muniesa came in on a free from Barcelona, and Oussama Assaidi on loan from Liverpool has shown his true worth. Stoke’s last signing was Premier League veteran Stephen Ireland on a
season-long loan from Aston Villa, who has shown glimmers of his former self when he has been on form but he has not been consistent. The average signings made by Stoke have been shown in the way they have played this season. The Britannia Stadium, once a fortress and a hard place to go for the big teams now seems to be an easy 3 points, and Stoke have been relatively poor so far. Currently sitting 14th, their attack needs to be addressed in January; there are no goals and quite simply, if you can’t score you can't win. Big things need to happen in the next window and the thin squad has to be buffed up. Goal-scorers are a priority for me as Kenwyne Jones cannot hold Stoke up for much longer. Transfer Rating: 4/10; Season Rating: 3/10; Overall: Losers Sunderland It’s quite simply a mess for Sunderland at the moment. One win against rivals Newcastle is possibly the only positive thing to come out of the Stadium of Light this year. Unfortunately, you could say that Sunderland will be relegated unless they can pull some wins together, as they seem to have spent most of their kitty in the summer. Jozy Altidore came in for £6 million, Emanuele Giacherrini arrived from Juventus for £9 million, as did many other faces: Vito Mannone, Ondrej Celustka, Sung-Yeung Ki, Charis Mavrias, David Karlsson, Fabio Borini, Andrea Dossena, Cabral, Modibo Diakite, El-Hadji Ba and Valentin Roberge, which shows how much activity Paolo Di Canio got up to. Nothing has worked and he has unfortunately left Gus Poyet in a very difficult position. Sunderland need to gel; there will only be departures in January and they need as many points as possible to at least get off the bottom of the table. Not a single P a g e | 39
signing has shown to be of any value to the side. Poyet will be a lucky man if he can prevent his club from being relegated. Transfer Rating: 4/10; Season Rating: 1/10; Overall: Big losers Swansea City Surprise winners of the Capital One Cup in February, the Welsh side are now participating in this season’s Europa League. Unfortunately, this has taken its toll on the side and is affecting their league performances somewhat. Wilfried Bony was brought in for £12.5 million and has provided the much needed goals alongside super Spaniard Michu. Liverpool reject Jonjo Shelvey has earned his place in the side and has shown to be a solid signing: he too provides help up front but needs to sort out his sloppiness at times. Another young squad player, Pozuelo, was brought in for £425k and has been very good, scoring some great goals and is definitely one for the future. Currently sitting in 15th, you feel Swansea could probably be in a higher league position as they had the capability to win silverware last year. They may need to invest in a wide man too as cover on the wings to provide for the strikers. Transfer Rating: 5/10; Season Rating: 3/10; Overall: Average Tottenham Hotspur The sale of Welsh winger Gareth Bale was expected at White Hart Lane, and even though Spurs fans didn't want him to leave for Madrid, there was little they could do to stop him from moving to one of the world’s biggest clubs. This meant that Andre Villas-Boas had to work even harder to find his replacement, and knowing that they were going to get around £80 million
in addition to the £30 million they had already in the pot, they could go out and buy big names to replace the gap that would be left by Bale’s departure. And for sure, they did it! Over £100 million was spent by the North London side who bought La Liga star Roberto Soldado, highly rated duo Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen, along with Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Vlad Chiriches. However, in the league you feel that the class brought in has not been as good as it should have been, as Spurs are flitting around the top 6 and have recently climbed up the table to where they now sit in 5th place. Soldado has been the talisman up front and has got the goals, but his intensity has reduced and he needs to pick up the form he started the season with. Lamela and Eriksen also have not shown anything yet and need to prove to the Spurs fans that they are worth what has been paid for them. It’s very unlikely that Daniel Levy will splash anymore in January as they seem to have emptied the funds so the players need to work together and keep up the intensity to challenge for that top 4 place. Transfer Rating: 7/10; Season Rating: 6/10; Overall: Winners West Brom Steve Clarke had a very average summer at the Hawthorns, bringing in Diego Lugano, Scott Sinclair, Morgan Amalfitano, Stephane Sessegnon, Victor Anichebe, Matej Vydra and surprisingly, Nicholas Anelka. Undoubtedly the biggest loss will have been to let Romelu Lukaku return to Chelsea to then be loaned out to Everton, which has shown to be very costly for West Brom as he was fantastic for them last season. Sessegnon and Amalfitano have been the star signings this year for West Brom and have revitalized them, following P a g e | 40
a horrendous start which left them rock bottom, but an away win against United and a draw against Arsenal seemed to kickstart their season. Anichebe and Lugano have been average, showing occasional signs of quality. They are suffering the same disease with Stoke in that they donâ€™t seem to be scoring: there has been nothing from Anelka so far, which has been incredibly disappointing. This only shows West Ham It hasnâ€™t been a great year for fans of the East London side. A summer window that brought in Andy Carroll on a permanent deal seemed to show some potential for Sam Allardyce but after an early injury he hasn't had the chance to do anything for West Ham; time will only tell when he returns. Stewart Downing also arrived from Merseyside, again showing nothing, and lacks the quality to provide any class to the side. The average signing of Razvan Rat from Shakhtar on a free has summed up a disappointing window for West Ham, who
that they need a striker or two but with limited funds they are going to struggle. Letting Lukaku leave without re-loaning him has really let them down and may take its toll on West Brom. Sitting in 13th, they have been extremely average. Transfer Rating: 4/10; Season Rating: 5/10; Overall: Losers have found themselves in 18th place with only 4 wins. A 3-0 victory against rivals Tottenham and the rise in quality of Ravel Morrison may however have kick-started the season for West Ham. Again, by making the big signing of Andy Carroll, Allardyce has found he has limited funds to use in January and needs to focus on keeping Morrison fit, and getting Carroll to his best now heâ€™s returned. Transfer rating: 4/10; Season Rating: 4/10; Overall: Losers Daniel Delew
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