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Showing posts from March, 2016

31 songs: part 1

On Monday I posted about closing down the project/website I've worked on for years, Mentioned Reviews. For whatever reason I never posted any listicles or opinion pieces there, so I thought posting some here might be an approrpiate way to finish things off.

Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity, wrote a book called 31 Songs. I'm a big fan of his work and even I wouldn't say it's his best offering, but I wanted to post a selection of my desert island favourite songs and 31 seems a good amount - not as brief as 10, not as labourious as 50, and can be almost split into thirds, so I've a few low-maintenance posts to put out whilst I get back into the swing of uni.

Here are the first ten, alphabetically.
Gabrielle Aplin - November
This list has taken a lot of editing. I was going to start the list with Air Traffic's Shooting Star, but replaced it for 23. When Aplin released her first album I only listened to a couple of songs, but from last July when I started by trave…

A heartfelt goodbye

One night in the final days of August 2013, I had an idea that kept me up all night. Under 100 hours later, after a long time spent staring at a computer screen, sending emails, editing, writing opinion, writing HTML, setting up social media, and contacting people, the idea was launched. Here's my final post to say goodbye to it.

Whilst I was planning for my next blog post to be about vegetarianism, I realised last night that this was a move I'd been putting off for a long time and that it's time to properly shut off Mentioned Reviews.

A full blog post might seem a little excessive, but this outlet isn't solely designed for opinion pieces and social justice ranting, a blog might as well be about my life and after the impact Mentioned has had it only felt fair, right, and proper to give it a little more than a few dozen words on a Facebook status, especially for all the people who ask me for reviews or know me because of the site.

Thanks to Mentioned I've got to kno…

For World Poetry Day - one poem everyone should read

When I was in primary school, about 9 years old, my teacher showed my class a poem. I didn't get it. Two years ago on World Poetry Day, it popped into my head and I suddenly understood it.
Written by Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, If was written in 1895 and published in 1910.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em…

Understanding the problem with #AllLivesMatter

I understand that all lives matter, of course they do, but there's more wrong with the seemingly well-meaning "#AllLivesMatter" stance than may be apparent.
After the media, or at least social media, began to promote awareness of cases like Michael Brown's - the innocent black teenager from Ferguson who was shot and killed by American policeman Darren Wilson in August 2014 - there came a rise in the use of the hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter". In response to this, there was also a rise in the use of "#AllLivesMatter".
It may seem perfectly innocent - after all, we're aiming for equality, are we not? - but it's actually a problem.
There's a concept called being "colour blind", which essentially means to claim to not "see" race; there are also variants for not "seeing" gender, sexuality, religion etc., all meaning the same thing. It's a well-meaning term, saying that you refuse to discriminate or treat peopl…

How to get cheap train tickets

I have a lot to write about at the moment, from International Women's Day to film analysis, but trains are something I've had a problem with for a while now, and after a particularly frustrating moment whilst trying to figure out the cheapest method to get to Lincoln, I snapped.

Our railway system is ridiculous, so here are some tips I've discovered about how to get cheap tickets, along with some of the more ridiculous things I've stumbled across.
Buy a railcard. These are best if you're traveling a lot, but even if you're a student going home at the end of every semester the savings can turn out to be brilliant. With a Santander student bank account you get one for free - I was notoriously excited waiting for mine and took a gratuitous trip to Lincoln when it arrived - but over the course of weeks-months of trains journeys, they really pay off.
Book in advance. "Book in advance and save up to £EXTORTIONATE AMOUNT". This isn't a scam, booking in adv…

John McDonnell: "I will never stand to be the leader of the Labour Party"

Over the past few weeks there has been some media speculation about who will be the next leader of the Labour Party.

More specifcally, there has been some speculation about whether John McDonnell will be the next leader of the Labour Party.

At East Midlands' first Momentum conference last Saturday, I asked McDonnell for his response to this.

"Jeremy Corbyn is my closest friend, we've worked together for over thirty years, he's the leader of the party, he's going to be the next Prime Minister of this country.

"I'm pleased that he's chosen me to be the Shadow Chancellor and that's the role that I'll play.

"I will never stand to be the leader of the Labour Party.

"The recent poll in terms of Jeremy's support, the support among the Labour party in rank and file has gone up since he was elected.

"He was elected nearly 60% of the electorate last time around, and if there was another leadership election tomorrow or in the next coup…

Owen Jones: reforming the press

Two weeks ago Owen Jones, author of Chavs and The Establishment And How They Get Away With It, came to Staffordshire University for a two day residency to speak to hundreds of students and members of the public on all manner of topics including journalism careers and the "politics of hope".

Last week I discussed a topic Jones spoke about at length - how we can go beyond "preaching to the converted" and encourage people who are currently disinterested in politics to engage with it. Across the talks he gave there was another topic he touched on several times - how the press can be reformed to work better and more fairly for everyone.

When asked directly for his opinion on the topic, his main objection to the current structure of the press was the ownership of it. It's renowned that Rupert Murdoch owns more than his fair share of the press, especially in Australia, and Jones described Murdoch's open aim as to "shift the political agenda - and it works, pe…

YikYak: are anonymous views always bad news?

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Let's wind back to August 2013. Anonymous question site ask.fm is big. Just as big are the stories of teen suicides due to cyber bullying. One of the biggest stories is that of Hannah Smith, and whether or not there is truth in the inquest that said 98% of the hate messages she received came from her own IP address, the end game is the same - ask.fm was to blame.

Ask.fm wasn't the first nor the last website to offer a method of anonymous messaging; Tumblr's anonymous message setting has also been a culprit of causing suicides.

Now there is the rapid rise of YikYak, a localised anonymous messaging service that works primarily as a phone app - think Twitter, but only with people nearby, and, of course, without names. I first heard of the service several years ago in an article on Radio 1's Newsbeat, discussing how and why the app was to be banned on school campuses - to prevent bullying. At the time, YikYak wasn't that popular on this side of the pond but in the last…