Let’s Talk About the Weather (and Eurovision and some guy I read about on the news)

Before I forget, because I might, there’s a giveaway running on my shop at the moment. Everyone who buys my Eurovision game is automatically entered to a draw to win one of my mirrors (your choice which one, of course). Yay!

Right, important stuff: is it really windy where you are at the moment? Because a lot of supplies that are being used to fix my house’s roof have fallen down outside the front door so I may well be trapped inside by timber, which wouldn’t be annoying if Donnie didn’t freak out every single time a leaf rustles.

But he does.

So I hope we can both leave someday.

Speaking of business ventures – sort of – this bloke has made me feel highly inadequate. I have very little understanding of what his company actually does, but the fact he just sold it for £40 million, having started it aged 16, tells me all I need to know…

… and that’s that I should have misbehaved at school a lot more.

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Once More Unto the Rain and British News Channels

I’ve made it back to England in one piece – not even a in-suitcase breakage – and am remembering the art of removing Wellington boots. Should ‘Wellington’ be capitalised?

I’ve also been re-learning the TV news, which is different from BBC app news insofar as I can exit the app with a flick of my thumb but the scrolling news ribbon on TV keeps me captivated even if I’m so disgusted by the article I want to turn off.

Good move, PR people.

Apparently the big story here has been that David Cameron won’t pay the EU some money, which is interesting having just spent a month in a country which has possibly the best claim out of all of us to not give the EU any cash. It’s also been kind of a bummer coming back to ‘NO MORE IMMIGRANTS’ news stories. Mostly because every time an EU/immigration/foreign people story crops up in politics it gives the tabloid press half a leg to stand on… but also because it’s embarrassing that some British people moan and complain about immigration laws but quite happily a) enjoy EU travel benefits, b) don’t want the jobs that ‘the foreign people are taking when they come to the UK’ and c) love travelling to Europe, love the multiculturalism and fantasise about bringing cute locals home.

Maybe it’s old fashioned, but I feel awkward when people are hypocrites. Anyway, here’s a picture of Zakynthos to make everyone feel better about the rain. I accidentally published it as a post a minute ago… remind me to learn how to use a mobile phone.

Laganas Beach

It’s the post-tourist season beach at Laganas, which some of you may know from the popular BBC3 programme Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, due to its popularity with party-going students. I’ve never made it down in the summer (I do not go on holiday to experience England with sun; Laganas is a lot like my local high street including a McDonald’s) but in October it was almost eerily quiet.

The Ten O’Clock News: Send Us Your Consumer Habits for a Chance to Win $20! Or not…

Technology is not on my side this evening – don’t even get me started on my ability to lose remote controls – so I need you. Yep, you, hi. One of my morning pastimes is reading news headlines off my phone to my friends and occasionally reading aloud a story. Today I learnt I have a Lib Dem voice… Too bad the Lib Dems don’t, muahaha…

Anyway, my favourite stories are the ones that I can make a lot of noise about, like UKIP being stupid. I get to wave my hands about and everything, like I know what I’m taking about. So I’m wondering: what are your favourite news stories? The one that make you actually happy or the ones that make your blood boil or the ones about people being funny, like that Sainsbury’s cash machine?

I’m genuinely interested, and not just because I’m curious to see if it’s just me who loves getting angry at the TV… what are your news-y habits?

The Six O’Clock News: Opinion Poll-ish

The news I was planning on doing doesn’t exist, unless Google’s eaten it (someone wrote to JK Rowling saying she wasn’t letting authors get published by publishing so many books?) so this was going to be a cop out until I remembered that slow news days happen in actual newsrooms too!

Do you guys remember when Harry was eavesdropping on the news in The Order of the Phoenix and there was an article about a waterskiing budgie?

Well, I want to know the most absurd news broadcast you’ve ever heard, discounting an April’s Fool. My current favourite is the author-yelling-at-Rowling one, if it’s real…but I also endorse anything that makes Have I Got News for You; the other week there was a mention of a cash machine placed about fifteen inches from the ground. Perfect for Richard Osman jokes, but it begs two questions:

  • Is something like that actually worth reporting on when there are things like human rights abuses occurring daily with relatively little media attention on them?
  • What, if you had the power, would you consider and broadcast as news?

The Eleven O’Clock News: I Forgot to Title This But It’s Real Good for Learning Stuff.

I’m tapping this out on my iPad partially because I want to watch Sport Relief and partially because Sport Relief is basically what I always wanted PE to be as well as everything I’m studying in Politics at the moment… Minus the debates about the benefits of nuclear proliferation.

So far, anyway.

Everything on TV pertaining to non-UK issues has so far has some sort of relevance as a case study exemplifying the bullshit that is rich people wanting to get richer and exploiting everyone else. The UK-based issues are no less relevant since we face them everyday… which calls into question why they are still even issues that require fundraising. Ugh. I can’t even find an appropriate GIF to express the disgust everyone should feel when they remember the shit that happens. Trust me, I just saw things no non-fangirl should ever see when Googling Sherlock.

Since this is the news and not just me getting angry here is some evidence of the bullshit from broadcasters with a modicum of credibility. Mostly. Hopefully you will find it interesting and helpful for Geography/Politics/quizzes/sounding smarter than the tabloid-reading misogynist you’ve been seated next to at a dinner party:

  • CIA World Factbook. It’s a bit tricky to navigate at first but you can pick a country and read about it in a pleasantly organised fashion, or compare states’ places on a list of, say, literary rates.
  • BBC country profiles. They’re a bit more wordy than the Factbook, with straightforward explanations of states’ histories and things that are quite useful, like phone extensions and Internet domains.
  • Historically-Political blog. I only saw this today but it was recommended by a teacher which makes it legit. It has examples of Politics and History essay questions which are horrible good at giving you the lowdown on Important Subjects. There’s also informed discussion about politics-y stuff, like here but with better grades.
  • YouTube. Amongst the baby cats and Tim Minchin videos (someone buy me a CD so I get offline when I’m working) there are documentaries and clips originally from TV shows or films. Take with a bucketful of salt, especially if you’re bootlegging a Hollywood film where they decided to impose a hero figure onto a story with almost no fucking hope (hi Blood Diamond! S’okay Leo I forgive you have a wee Oscar) and do your own research. “Be a sponge not a filter, Charlie.” Blood Diamond is a good watch for the record… I have a pair of bling-y earrings that I really, really don’t want to check went through the Kimberly Process.

The iPad is doing my head in – I also missed the ten o’clock mark because I was laughing at Beckham in Peckham and eating chocolate, mentally calculating how many children I could save if I emptied my bank account for Sport Relief…

It’s not a lot, but I guess it doesn’t have to be?

The Six O’Clock News: a Quick Lesson Borrowed from an Actual Lesson

As I hauled myself out of bed this morning the newsreader bloke mentioned that some higher-up in the EU had spoken out against the British government for spreading “myths” about immigration. I thought a few swearwords that are usually too foul for that time of day except I was late and did not need to hear about it before I had found my slippers (remind me to write a post about slippers). I thought “I better do something on Indifferent Ignorance on the EU because no one knows what in the [swearword] is [swearwording] up with it hey I forgot to draft the Six O’Clock News EU time!” and went to find some Oatabix.

Or something.

Fast forward to fourth period and my Politics lesson was about the history of the EU! So since it’s fresh in my memory and I need to be academic for the betterment of my brain and career prospects, here is a lesson on the EU with some vague relevance to today’s news.

Fun Facts With Frank

  • This thing’s been around almost as long as the papers that ridicule it. First known as the European Coal and Steel Community, it was established in 1951 as a method of rebuilding Europe, which looked something like this when the war ended. It was generally agreed that a good way to prevent another war would be to get bickering neighbours to share wheelie bins, by which I mean that West Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands all signed over a bit of power (supranationalism, snowflakes) to the ECSC. With no political involvement, it was just a free market for coal and steel, so that war would be, to quote French foreign minister Mr Schumann, “materially impossible”. Basically if countries rely on one another for resources (interdependence), they are less likely to invade one another. Cool huh.
  • Like a decent band, the ECSC evolved over the next few years. NB: Britain hadn’t wanted to join because racism xenophobia miners didn’t want to relinquish control of their mines. In 1957 the organisation’s remit expanded, creating the European Economic Community and the Atomic Energy Community. Ten years later they did (made? Signed?) the Merger Treaty and called the whole lot the European Commission. Still with only six member states, there was growing reticence – word of the day, means ‘wary’ – about states giving up their power. Sound familiar? Good.
  • In 1973 Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined. Having not consulted the public about joining, a referendum was held in 1975 to see if people wanted the UK to remain in the EC. Sound familiar? Good.
  • 1979 saw the first elections for members of European Parliament, which had not previously occurred because who needs democracy an every governmental level. Interestingly, Spain and Portugal weren’t allowed in until the eighties because until then they had dictatorships…
  • Allowing more free and standardised trade, the Single European Act was passed in 1986, expanding the process of the easy peasy wheelie bin sharing with the neighbours. Germany unified in 1990 and in 1992 the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which further expanded the remit and lead to that shining example of excellent currency, the euro.  It also made the whole organisation more political and renamed it the European Union.
  • As of 2014 the EU is home to 500 million people (that’s more than in the entire USA, folks), 28 states and 24 official languages.

Here is a mildly inappropriate loop video of politicians dancing to help you digest that information.

Now, you will all hopefully be aware that lots and lots of people like to say “what in the name of Mr Johnson’s dancing does the EU do for us absolutely nothing those immigrants just want to take our jobs and cash and housing and they don’t even integrate let’s send them back where they came from who cares if they came here smuggled under a coach we don’t want them taking up our school places and giving the kiddies Eastern European ideas blah blah etc. etc.”

But ladies and gentlemen, Vivian Reding is totally right about political rhetoric! I’m not sure how right in terms of legal stuff because I’ve only done one lesson, but if you can’t see past the political hand-waving or tabloid crap pertaining to immigration then a) you need to learn how and b) you probably shouldn’t have read this far because I probably can’t change your mind. But have a wee look back at that list. The EU was formed in order to help Europeans prosper. Or at least not kill each other. The recent influx of Eastern European nations is due to the fact that for the majority of EU history they were part of the USSR, which wasn’t really pro-Western trade. In terms of GDP, EU is the richest area of the world, so the prosperity idea seems be if not succeeding then not failing. Plus the migration thing works both ways. Imagine you were to go on holiday to, say, Greece. You meet a nice guy and decide to stay and open a bar there. You could. Unless you were a convicted serial killer or something anyway. Remember those E111 cards you’d get on school trips to the trenches? They give you access to free or almost free healthcare in the EU, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. So if you get sick from a dodgy cocktail in Marbella, you don’t have to pay through your vomit-filled nose to get your stomach pumped.

Fun.

Okay, that’s enough politics stuff for one day. Just do me a favour: when you are next watching the news and some white dude in a suit says something about the EU, think about this: three Members of the European Parliament are Nigel Farage the UKIP guy, Geoffrey Bloom the other UKIP guy who called women sluts and got thoroughly ridiculed by Victoria Coren on Have I Got News for You and Nick Griffin the  bankrupt BNP guy who is possibly even more racist than the UKIP guys. They have been elected because the majority of voters (and there aren’t too many to start with) hear the rhetoric or read the papers, believe the words and vote in someone who will cause a ruckus in Brussels. Which doesn’t accomplish anything except embarrassment.

Happy first week back! If I never blog again it’s because Sherlock broke me.

The Ten O’Clock News: Some People At FOX Are Mad-Angry Not Mad-Irritated At Non-Republicans!

I think Paxman looked like he was asleep on Newsnight a couple of weeks ago, so here are some funny news-ish videos because my eyes itch and those six hours of sleep are catching up with me.

 

 

Genuinely think that one day Holly Whillouby will lose her temper and bash Katie Hopkins with her papers.

The Six O’Clock News: Dogs Are As Smart As Humans (but that’s not saying much)

Wag the dog

It’s been scientifically proven that dogs are smarter than they look. Again. According to The Economist, Italian scientists have discovered that not only do dogs “wag their tails to the right when they see something pleasant…and to the left when they see something unpleasant” but that a video or silhouette of dog with “a left-wagging tail… induced… an anxiety response” in subject dogs, while the right-wagging one didn’t. Basically, they can both tell humans how they feel and impact how other dogs feel – with their tails.

I want to take a video camera out with me when we go for a walk, and record everything, especially when Fred and Don meet their dog friends. We could analyse who likes whom and whatnot. (Video camera necessary for playback because those tails go fast, man).

Clerics rule besieged Damascus residents may eat dogs

The end of Eid is traditionally cause for c e l e b r a t i o n in Muslim cultures, but there are Syrians starving to death because humanitarian aid can’t reach their areas – so clerics have issues a fatwa, a ruling, that people are allowed to eat dogs, cats and donkeys. The BBC says that “similar religious edicts were announced in Homs and Aleppo when the fighting in those cities was at its fiercest”.

I’m not sure how I feel about military action in Syria (Iraq versus Rwanda, Iraq verses Rwanda) but for God’s sake, UN, find a way to get food and water to these people. Better still, get them out. Okay so the Mediterranean-refugee issue is suggesting that people who are leaving aren’t finding help, per se, but if you can’t end the war please try to make the whole fiasco as painless as possible for civilians. Ahh. Go here to give money if you’d like.

How do you safely match stray dogs to new owners?

It was simultaneously heartbreaking and anger-inducing hearing about Lexi Branson’s death this week. Her family’s bulldog Mulan mauled her to death and in a bid to help her daughter, Lexi’s mother stabbed the dog to death with a kitchen knife. They had owned Mulan for two months. It’s opened up another debate about whether we should be adding to the Dangerous Dogs List (don’t think it’s actually called that) or whether or not people should rehome strays.

My thinking is that instead of blaming the dogs when they bite a human, we should be blaming the humans. Not the little girl, of course, nor her family – but the thing is that Mulan had been a stray for an unknown time before being rescued. Very little was known about her history or the treatment she had in her previous home(s). You could blame the rehoming centre for giving a potentially dangerous animal to a family with a small child – but every single dog is a potentially dangerous animal.

They all have teeth, yes, and claws, and really strong jaws. Even Chihuahuas can do some damage if they really want to. I love Adonis with all my heart but I will never, ever, take his food away from him while he’s eating it because he would take my hand off. He’s lived on the streets and has had to fight for survival – manners don’t matter when you’re hungry, and despite the whole wagging-tail thing, dogs are far less able to think critically than humans. They see a person getting in their space, they growl. The person keeps provoking them and they’ll bite. If they’ve been mistreated, they could lose their temper and attack. Even your cutsey Labrador that you bought from a breeder off the Internet who’s real good with kiddies because all Labs are good with kiddies will bite your kiddies if they poke him in the eye, or hit him with a toy, or torment him by taking away his food. The breed of dog is almost irrelevant – yes, Mastiffs or pit bulls are “dangerous”. They are physically big and strong so are naturally able to do more damage than, say, a Boarder Collie. But that’s what they were bred for. Dobermanns were “invented” by a tax collector named Mr Dobermann who wanted a dog that was intimidating enough that people wouldn’t give him shit while he did his job. Go figure.

Humans are the ones in charge of the dogs, not the other way round. It’s up to us to make sure that our dogs are raised in a safe and stable environment so that they in turn are part of a safe and stable environment. The BBC is nicer about saying this than I am.

Do you have a dog? Have you had one? Let’s share pictures. (I will upload some of Fred and Don when I can get Fred to sit still.)