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Here’s something for you to ponder; what do the first Apollo moon landing, 9/11 and the death of Princess Diana all have in common? Now take yourself back to your GCSE History lessons and recall why the USA entered WW2. You were probably taught that the attack at Pearl Harbour was the catalyst for their involvement. But you almost certainly were not told that Theodore Roosevelt knew about the Japanese attack in advance but allowed it to happen so that a whole load of Jewish Bankers and weapon manufacturers could get rich off the war. Sounds slightly farfetched to say the least? Indeed nearly every significant event or occurrence of the last two centuries has an alternative explanation, which if proven true for many of them would rock the very foundation of our social order. Every war, every assassination, every natural disaster is believed by some to be part of a systematic orchestration of world events; this alone should not really concern the majority of us, the only problem is that with the aid of the Internet, ‘some’ is an ever increasing number. What is different now compared to let’s say 15 years ago is that conspiracy has fully entered the mainstream, and it is now socially acceptable for otherwise

rational people to unconsciously spout hearsay claptrap. To the point that the next time I hear ‘CCTV’ and ‘Big Brother’ in the same sentence, I will have to resist the urge to pummel the person with a hardback copy of 1984 while simultaneously vomiting in their mouth. An ex of mine casually remarked at my naivety in assuming the first moon landing was not faked, “everyone knows it was, that’s why the flag is waving,’ ‘everyone’ seeming to be the default defence of the un-intellectuals this epoch. 9/11 is by far the daddy of all conspiracies, and the claims are wide and far reaching. There are essentially two main theories as to what actually happened that day: the US Government was complicit in allowing the attacks to take place, or the US Government carried out the attacks. The remarkable thing is that in a poll of New Yorkers taken in 2004, 36% and 49.3% agreed with the former and latter statements respectively. Extremely surprising considering the implications. Nevertheless, this probably has much to do with the countless university drop-out conspiracists on the internet posting films with spooky music on Youtube, giving them an unprecedented platform to reach the masses. One of the more professional looking films is Loose Change, which remarkably claims that the towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives that would have to have been installed when the buildings were first built in the 60s so that no one would notice. Despite the blatant absurdity of such an assertion, 12% of people in the same poll agreed with it. Evidence for this

claim includes the fact that it ‘looks’ like a demolition and that there are witnesses who say they heard ‘explosions’. Needless to say, 12% of New Yorkers are idiots. What connects every single ‘theory’, and what separates them from fact, is that none of them have one piece of solid proof to back them up. Of course I know that many people reading this may not share my scepticism of these lunatics, so perhaps you too should get your head examined. I’m not going to debunk every theory point by point, but just consider for a minute how many people would have to be in on it for them to be executed. And astonishingly not one of them has outed the conspirators and selfishly made a fortune for themselves selling the story. Unless there was some way the media was being controlled by shape-shifting reptilian humanoids...



he Ginger Nut Biscuit. You either love it or you hate it. For me, the crunchy texture and sweet, tangy taste is perfectly palatable – a true modest British ‘biccy’. Yet the product is disappearing from supermarket shelves at an alarming rate, replaced by Almond Thins or something pretentious like that. This humble, unassuming biscuit may not be luxurious but it is packed with a powerful fiery taste – The Ginger Nut is Britain. I’ve often been called a ‘Ginger Nut’, for as you can see I have hair of the vivid orange variety. Walking home, minding my own business, I’ll be serenaded by gangs of brown-mopped yobs screaming their war cry: “Get back in your biscuit tin; ginger, ginger!” The Chaucerian beauty of it is truly magical. This Christmas York’s very own Tesco stores indulged in a spot of ‘carrot-top bashing’ and were forced to remove a card that sneered: “Santa loves all kids. Even ginger ones.” This was after a mother complained that the card was offensive to herself and her three redhead daughters. The country chuckled this story off lightly but surely it is an example of discrimination which encourages bullying. Imagine the uproar if the manufacturer designed a similar work entitled: “Santa loves all kids. Even homosexual, four-eyed fatties in wheelchairs, from a racial minority.”

It would cause disgusted uproar and quite rightly so. Tesco have apologised for the affair, “It is never our intention to offend any customer and we are sorry if this card caused any upset," they said. However this is a tame occurrence compared to other instances of ‘gingerist’ bullying. In California, the Huffington Post reported that seven students were attacked at school on a so called ‘Kick a Ginger Day’. YouTube has marvelously revolting videos such as ‘Exterminate all Gingers’ while Facebook has a number of classy groups subtly entitled ‘WE HATE GINGER PEOPLE’. It appears that gingers have always had a hard time. While browsing the chronicles written by a Frankish chap called Notker the Stammerer in 884, I sympathetically noted one “poor red-headed fellow”. So self-conscious was he in church, that he balanced, “one of his boots on top of his head, for he had no cap”. The Bishop, incensed by this novel use of footwear, had the man dragged forward and declared to the audience, “Lo and behold, all of you people! This fool is red-headed!” The man was chained and sent swiftly back to his biscuit tin wondering why he’d

bothered getting up that morning. But if you delve into our past many of our greatest national heroes carried a carrot-topped crown – King Arthur, Queen Elizabeth I, Cromwell, Darwin and Churchill. And now we can add one more illustrious character to this prestigious list. The ever-sober and respectable prince of politeness... Harry Windsor. Red hair is central to British history and identity; the foundation stone as this country burns with the flecks of the most vivid orange. Yet we are derided. However in 2004, Jonathan Rees suggested that red hair’s increasing rarity could lead it to becoming desirable in a partner! (Unfortunately, I can provide no personal proof on the subject; but in India, men even colour their hair with saffron to allure the ladies.) Thus, the pigment pheomalin (which gives the colour) will become more common! The idea that red heads will be extinct by 2060 is utter twaddle. Red hair is a recessive gene but that still means that bar the destruction of the human race, extinction is impossible. Yes, the number of gingers may decrease with increased multicultural breeding but the gene can’t be destroyed, it will just remain ‘hidden’ and thus will resurface. Ginger is a hair colour not a species of people! So, when we pause for a moment; perhaps ‘Ginger Nuts’ aren’t doing as bad as you or I thought. Certainly they get a bad press, are mocked and abused by their rivals. But maybe; just maybe they’re due some true recognition. Perhaps someday they may even experience a glorious comeback. All that remains is the core debate. Should we dunk them in tea or not?

Tuesday January 19th, 2010



he Department of Health recently announced plans to attack the socalled 'binge-drinking culture' of Britain, suggesting the implementation of a minimum alcohol charge in order to discourage the kind of heavy drinking sessions which so often end in a trip to the police station or to casualty. I have a problem with this idea for two reasons. Firstly, because I’m a student and such a large part of our lives does revolve around alcohol. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be sad to see 99p glasses of wine at the Charles reduced to nothing more than distant memory and fond nostalgia. My second problem is this; the idea is utterly and unbelievably stupid. It. Will. Not. Work. The plan to add a minimum charge of up to 50p per unit of alcohol to the cost of alcoholic drinks is foolish for many reasons. Not only will it have a negative impact on sensible and moderate drinkers, who do make up the majority, it also operates on the sole assumption that only people with a low income binge drink, targeting as it does those who would be forced to curb drinking habits for purely financial reasons if prices were to rise. While binge drinking is mainly associated with young people in the media (who naturally often have a lower income), it is by no way restricted to them in the real world: many adults often drink way above the recommended 15-20 units a week, and to restrict the drinking habits only of those earning less in an attempt to tackle this is not only ludicrous, it’s also morally wrong. More than this however, the proposed changes ignore entirely the reasons behind binge drinking; namely to get drunk. Higher alcohol prices wouldn’t put people looking to have a big drunken night out, they would only force drinkers into such money-saving techniques as buying booze in bulk and drinking it at home to avoid paying for club entrance and taxis and the like (which is damaging to pubs, clubs and bars, all positive and sociable aspects of our drinking culture), or saving up their money for one big night out rather than drinking during the week, which results in an even bigger health risk. Clearly, the government can never make alcohol unaffordable, and nor should they. Going out drinking is an integral part of our culture; it provides a backdrop to socialising, economic stimulation for the country and sometimes the motivation needed to finish an essay that’s due in the next day! The UK already charges some of the highest alcohol-tax rates in Europe, and so if we do as a nation have an alcohol problem then its roots are not economical but social. They lie in the lack of education about continually excessive drinking when people are still young, in the extensive glamourisation of alcohol through TV advertising and in the lack of power held by police and club security to deal with the kind of dangerous drunkenness that leads to tragedy. Ultimately, they lie in the individual’s sense of responsibility towards their own safety and that of others, and it is this sense of selfish, stupid recklessness that so many of us seem to pick up alongside our bottles that needs to be tackled first.

Best Comment Contributer Megan Graham (A Rum Deal)