Sunday, June 22, 2008

News of interest

Throughout the week I've seen news articles and thought "Oh I must blog about that!" but of course I haven't!

How about death to grey squirrels? Over 17,000 culled and more could be for the chop in order to increase the chances of the red squirrel. Could be a cheap alternative to the traditional roast served up on Sunday? (No really!)

Smokers in the poorest areas of Dundee are being offered £150 worth of groceries by the health service if they are able to give up cigarettes. Surely it will save the NHS much more than that if they take it up and quit?

Eating about half the days calorie intake at breakfast can assist in weight loss. Much more is lost and kept off in comparison to the control group who were using a low carb diet.

Nurse writes a book on out of body experiences for those at the brink of death.

I am taking a personal interest in the "national challenge" scheme whereby schools have to get 30% of their students getting 5 "good" A-C passes at GCSE. Any schools falling below this (there are 638 of them) are facing severe scrutiny and will be/are threatened with closure. This has led to the ridiculous situation that some schools can be graded both "good" and "bad" by the government. Some are Ofsted graded good or even outstanding but can still be in danger of closure because they fall short of the magic 30%.

It looks as though 17 girls who have all become pregnant at a US high school have made a "pregnancy pact".

The British Medical Journal discovered that 1 in 10 people have a piercing somewhere other than an earlobe.

That's all for now...


Saturday, June 07, 2008


It's been some time since Eurovision was on our screens but I have been thinking about it and wanted to do a blog about it. A couple of years ago I was organised and allocated countries to everyone in the family and we supported them and judged how well they would do. It was an entertaining evening complete with unhealthy snacks- Eurovision at it's tacky but compulsive best. I didn't do that this year, partly because it's just so long and waiting for the results is so tedious. But 2 of us did keep track of our top ten songs and looked the following morning to see how they had done. Neither of us had scored the winning song in our own top ten. What had happened? Well, the usual Eurovision craziness during voting, that's what.
The winners, Russia, had submitted their own equivalent of Robbie Williams (Dima Bilan) into the competition and his appeal stretches beyond Russia. It also doesn't escape notice that Russia's many neighbours gave him maximum points. And this is the current day bone of contention- political and partisan voting. For countries such as the UK who have no or few bordering countries, their days of Eurovision success are numbered.
And every year we grumble about it but it's not going to get any better. We're convinced that it's not about the music any more but how can songs realistically be judged one against another?
Also as the UK is one of four countries who pay the most towards the competition (which guarantees us a place in the final) is the time right for us to back away?
Or is that just a little conceited? Haven't we had our time in the sun?
I think we ought to relax a little more and focus on a song that we can be proud of, one that we wouldn't mind seeing in the chart. And then maybe, our chance will come again. Boom bang-a-bang!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Is culture becoming devalued?

I enjoyed this article about how artists are giving away their works free with newspapers and other promotional material and looking at how this is argued to "devalue" their work. I certainly think it challenges us to see how we place value on something. What do you think?


Tuesday, June 03, 2008


One of the joys of not studying has been the time and inclination to read for pleasure. I have read three books that I can remember:
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
I think this was the best of the three. I liked the characterisation and I learnt a lot about the oppression of the Ukrainian people during the reign of Stalin. However I thought the ending was a little weak and understated. If you build up your novel in a comic and bold way, subtle isn't the way to draw your conclusions. It made me think and was an entertaining tale however. 6.5/10
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
This was a brilliant premise and it didn't stray much further from that. It was funny and the characters were very well fleshed out but as that was all that held this book together, they needed to be. Again the end was lame. 6/10
Last Things by ?
I thought this looked interesting and looked an easy read. It was but again was a single premise book. I found the eccentric mother an interesting study. Particularly interesting was how this impacted her daughter. This should have been explored better. I liked the way we saw the impact of the behaviour of a bullying cousin in her behaviour. We should have had a more dramatic parallel with the mother. The ending again was confusing. 5/10