David Coulthard a true gentleman

By Ijeoma Igbokwe (email me on: ijeoma.igbokwe@my.westminster.ac.uk)

David Coulthard is set to retire after the final race of the 2008 season in Brazil, hanging up his helmet after 14 years in Formula 1.

DC has competed in 246 races, collected 535 championship points, achieved 13 wins, set 12 pole positions, 18 fastest laps and finished on the podium 62 times, according to wikipedia.

The only thing most people will remember about him is the fact that he has never won a championship, despite driving for some a-class teams.

Only a few would know, though, that he is ranking fifth in the all time scorrss list and that he is the British number one.

Coulthard, who currently resides in Monaco with his fiancée- like many other drivers due to the tax laws in the country, had announced his retirement earlier in the season.

The End
 
David has been the centre of retirement rumours for a few seasons now and no one really expected him to return to the circuit this year, but he did.

He started his Formula 1 career at Williams in 1994 and moved to McLaren Mecedes just two years.

McLaren proved to be his most successful team with whom he won a constructors championship.

His efforts, though, where always overshadowed by the one of Mika Häkkinen, his long serving team mate at McLaren.

Mika Häkkinen became a two time, two consecutive years, worlds champion and Coulthard was left in the supporting role.

The life after
 
It all changed when he was hired to support the rather inexperienced Red Bull Racing ( now Scuderia Toro Rosso) team in 2005.

Red Bull wanted Coulthard for his experience and to push the young team in the right direction.

For the first time in his career was he the dominant driver with the number one status, until now.

DC, who at age 37 is one of the more ‘experienced’ active drivers in the field, is making room for the freshers to take their turn.

But who thought that David could stray away from Formula 1 has thought wrong, Coulthard is rumoured to be swapping his car for the commentator box.

Formula 1’s live coverage moves from ITV to the BBC, for a minimum of fives years, and David is said to deliver the audio commentary.

Read on: Lewis Hamilton crowned F1 world champion

November 4, 2008 at 10:46 pm Leave a comment

Lewis Hamiton crowned F1 world champion

By Ijeoma Igbokwe (email me on: ijeoma.igbokwe@my.westminster.ac.uk)

Lewis Hamilton was crowned the youngest ever Formula1 world champion last night at approximately 18:45 pm.

To most people it didn’t come as a surprise that Hamilton, who lead the championship by seven points before going into the final race of the season, pocketed the title.

All he needed to do was finish fifth and that is exactly what he did.

Hamilton,23, who took the crown as youngest champion off his arch enemy Fernando Alonso was visibly thrilled that his hard work has finally paid off.

Anthony Hamilton, Lewis’s father, told the BBC: “This is the culmination of 16 years of hard work… when we started we had nothing, no money.”

He continued: “But I believed in God… and after a lot of hard work we are top of the world.”

A title for the nation

Lewis’s well wishers included Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the opposition leader David Cameron, both expressed their delight and happiness at his win.

Cameron even referred to Hamilton as “British sporting legend”.

Felipe Massa his closest rival missed out on the championship by a single point, despite winning the race in front of his home crowed.

A little confusion at the end of the race let Massa to believe that he won the title, but it was soon established that he is this season’s runner up.

During the last lap of the race it looked like Hamilton would finish in sixth place, which would have given Massa the advantage, but Lewis over took Glock just in time.

The only comfort to the Brazilian was that his Ferrari team won the constructors title, yet again.

Saying good bye

But it wasn’t all fun and laughter Brazil marked the final race of David Coulthard’s long stretching career.

DC, who never managed to win a championship, despite driving for McLaren at one stage announced his retirement back at the Monza (Italian) GP.

This year’s F1 season has come to an end leaving room for speculations as to who might drive for whom next year and who won’t be driving at all.

Read on: David Coulthard a true gentleman

November 3, 2008 at 12:39 am 1 comment

American stars dominate MTV music awards

US stars have dominated the MTV Europe Music Awards which were held in Liverpool tonight. 

 

The only UK winners were former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who was awarded ultimate legend.

 

 

 

 

 

1980s star Rick Astley was named best act ever after an online campaign.

 

MTV staged a visually stunning show, with stand-out performances from The Killers and Pink who kept the audience entertained.

 

The winners

 

Britney Spears proved that she is back on track by scooping up two awards for Best Act 2008 and Best Album for Blackout.

 

Hip-hop star Kanye West won best urban award and Pink took best song for ‘So What.’

 

Katy Perry hosted the show in front of thousands of fans at Liverpoool’s Echo Arena.  She was also awarded best newcomer.

 

The losers

 

British acts Duffy, Leona Lewis and Coldplay failed to win any wards despite their prominent chart success.

 

Leona Lewis was named UK’s favourite act which meant she was a contender for Europe’s favourite act award.  But Turkey’s Emre Aydin won instead.

 

There is only one Paul McCartney

 

Sir Paul McCartney’s home crowd praised him with enormous cheer and a standing ovation. He was presented with the one-off lifetime achievement award by U2 frontman Bono.

 

“I think we all suspect someday when all of us are gone and this great hall is no longer here, we sense, we fear our names will be forgotten.”

 

“There is one person in this hall tonight whose songs we know will be here now and forever.

 

“There is one person in this hall tonight whose work is immortal. There is only one Paul McCartney.”

 

Sir Paul’s acceptance speech

 

After receiving the award, Sir Paul said modestly: “I don’t know what to do after an introduction like that.”

 

The star settled for thanking friends, family and “my mates Ringo, George and John.  Many years ago, four little boys were born here in Liverpool and we went on to do quite well,” he said.

 

“So thanks, as I say, to all my family, to all of you for coming along, everyone in Liverpool, everyone in Britain, everyone in America – for voting in Mr Obama. I love you!”

 

A Political MTV

 

The show smacked with politics this year, with many artists expressing their support for Barack Obama.  Kanye West and Estelle finished their hit American Boy with his face projected on a giant screen.

 

Host Katy Perry had 12 costume changes.  She wore a yellow dress adorned with a sequinned image of Barack Obama’s face which had, “Maybe Europe will love us again now” on it.

 

By Rukshana Choudhury

Email me at: r.choudhury@my.westminster.ac.uk

For more information on the history of MTV, click here.

November 7, 2008 at 10:21 pm 1 comment

15 years of memorable MTV Europe Music Awards

The first MTV EMA was hosted by Robbie Williams in 1994.  Executive producer, Richard Goffrey who was has been charge of the show since 1996 said it was “universally regarded as one of the worst award shows of all time.

 

 

 

 What is MTV EMA?

 

MTV EMA began as an alternative to American MTV Music Awards. 

The majority of the awards are voted by MTV viewers.  The host city changes every year.  The UK has now held the awards twice.

The awards have progressed rapidly from its initial 1994 disaster.  This year was MTV’s 15th anniversary, opened by Beyonce’s ballad, ‘If I was a boy.’

Who took part this year?

There was an eclectic range of music this year.  The Killers provided the rock, The Ting Tings provided some classic pop and Kanye West and Estelle provided the hip hop.

In 1996, the show was held in London’s Alexandra Palace.  And was Goffrey’s first opportunity to prove that he could bring MTV EMA back to the top. 

During the nineties, MTV were the only music channel that was easily accessible around the world.  The awards gave pop stars the opportunity to promote their music and brands.

The shambles of the 1994 show prompted Godfrey to drastically change MTV EMA.  The next event was in Rotterdam and hosted by pop legends, U2.

Pop group U2’s contribution

“It was U2 that really took it to another level for us. They flew back from their US tour to perform and it has established itself as a great show ever since.”

U2 have remained a favorite of MTV, due to the longevity of their career and their loyal fans.  The lead singer, Bono, presented a special award to Sir Paul McCartney in his home town, Liverpool.

The cheeky host

Every year, MTV picks hosts that are the cream of the crop.  This year the awards were hosted by Katy Perry.  Her presentation style was cheeky and fun. But her constant contrived and risqué remarks was grating at times.

 

She sat on a nig inflatable banana saying, “Girls, its not how big the banana is, it’s how you sit on it.”

Scandals

Scandalous events and pop stars rebelling at MTV have always been gladly accepted.  This always causes headlines and sparks excitement to an ever increasing MTV audience.

In 2006, Kanye West displayed his anger when he did not win Best Video Award. He jumped on stage when the others were being awarded and shouted, ‘But I had Pamela Anderson in my video!’”

Next year’s awards will be bigger and better

Goffrey has been working on the Liverpool award ceremony for two years, and has started to make plans for an exciting 2009 show. Many of his fellow MTV colleagues say the EMA is in “his DNA”.
By Rukshana Choudhury
Email me on:r.choudhury@hotmail.co.uk
For more information on 2008’s MTV EMA, click here 

November 7, 2008 at 9:35 pm 1 comment

A Short Guide to the Enlightenment

By Brigitte Istim

 

What?

The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that rebelled against established traditions and authorities, most notably the Church and aristocracy.  It placed humans rather than God at the centre of the universe. Enlightenment thinkers asked ‘What do we know?’ Knowledge was to be tested and explored, rather than inherited and preserved unchanged.

 

When?

Because it is a process not an event it is difficult to draw boundaries around the Enlightenment. It reached its peak in the eighteenth century but its roots have been traced back to a variety of times and places including the Italian Renaissance and Britain’s Glorious Revolution of 1688.

 

Where?

The two countries most strongly associated with the Enlightenment are France and Scotland but Enlightenment attitudes spread across Europe and over the Atlantic to the American colonies.

 

Who?

The list of Enlightenment thinkers is huge and covers the fields of science, politics, philosophy and history. Three central thinkers are Rene Descartes, Immanuel Kant and Thomas Hobbes.

 

Descartes – ‘I think therefore I am’ wrote ‘Mediations on First Philosophy’ which is amongst many things a meticulous examination of how we perceive and interpret the material world.

 

Kant, author of ‘Critique of Pure Reason’, argued reason cannot function without freedom and explained the need for a universal moral law.

 

Hobbes most famous book ‘Leviathan’ advocates strong central government as a defence against the ‘war of all against all’.

 

Thomas Paine was a one man Enlightenment. Journalist, revolutionary and inventor he wrote the ‘Rights of Man’ and was elected to the French National Convention in 1792 where he was somewhat handicapped by his inability to speak French.

 

Results

Colossal. Responsible for the modern world – given that Marxism as well as liberalism is an Enlightenment ideology most of the world’s surface area in the twentieth century had inherited some version of the project. Feminism owes its existence to the Enlightenment as does legislation like the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

Critics

The German Romantic movement, lead by Johann Hamann, reacted against the Enlightenment’s emphasis on reason, which had become associated with French power and territorial ambitions.

 

Today thinkers like Professor John Gray criticise ‘one size fits all’ universalism and the idea that progress will and must occur.

 

Fans

Christopher Hitchens, biographer of Thomas Paine, scourge of ‘Islamo-fascism’ and Bill Clinton.

 

Kenan Malik, neurobiologist and broadcaster, author of ‘Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate’.

 

Key words

Logic, reason, equality, humanism.

 

For main article see: Head Cases

 

November 6, 2008 at 10:51 pm 1 comment

Recent Alzheimer’s studies

Many people with Alzheimer’s lead happy lives

New research has found that many people with Alzheimer’s lead happy lives despite being diagnosed with the progressive disease.

Until now, few studies have asked Alzheimer’s patients directly about their feelings in an attempt to weigh up their quality of life, reported the Times newspaper this weekend.

New research by psychiatrists at University College London suggests that environment and social setting can have a massive impact on the quality of life of those with the disease.

“If you work clinically with people with dementia, you aren’t usually struck by how distressed and miserable they are,” Professor Cornelius Katona said in the Times.

“People with dementia generally rate their quality of life highly. That was a starting point for our research. We also suspected that the traditional ideas of what it meant to age ‘successfully’ – avoiding ill-health, poverty and other adversity – were flawed.”

The psychiatrists asked 224 people with mild to sever Alzheimer’s questions about their general health, cognitive impairment and quality of life.

The same volunteers were asked the same questions 18 months later.

No decline in wellbeing

The results showed that in the main those affected by the disease did not experience a decline in their sense of wellbeing over the 18 months, even though others might have observed one.

And those with strong social relationships were the most happy, and stayed happy longer.

The results also showed that the happiest people were those who did not suffer from mental health problems like depression at the onset of Alzheimer’s.

So despite their decline in cognitive function, people with Alzheimer’s perceive themselves to be ageing “successfully”.


Link found between progression of Alzheimer’s and ethnic background

Ethnic background and the presence of other illnesses affects the life span of elderly people with Alzheimer’s, new research from New York has found.

The study, which followed 323 patients for an average of four years, found that the average length of survival after diagnosis with Alzheimer’s varied substantially among racial groups. Hispanics survived on average for 8 years post diagnosis while Whites survived for just 4 years and African Americans for 5 years.

The average age at diagnosis, 83 years, did not differ by racial group.

The study from Columbia University Medical Center also found that a history of diabetes and high blood pressure both independently shortened survival.

Patients with high blood pressure were 2.6 times more at risk of a shortened life span and those with diabetes 2 times more at risk.


Grape seed could slow Alzheimer’s

Grape seed could slow the spread of Alzheimer’s, a study from Australia has found.

The build-up of proteins in the brain, which causes Alzheimer’s, could be prevented with an extract of grape seed, ABC news reported today.

Researchers at Flinders University in Adelaide found that mice with Alzheimer’s behaved better and had better cognitive function after being fed the extract over six months.

Mice given the extract exhibited a substantial 50 per cent reduction in damage to their brain cells.

“The implications of these findings is that phenolic compounds from the grape seed could contribute significantly to diminishing the level of DNA damage in people and therefore reduce their risk,” Dr Fenech from CSIRO said.

In light of these exciting findings, researchers hope to trial grape extract in patients at risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia generally.

In the mean while, they suggest that there is no harm in eating grape seeds instead of spitting them out.


To read the study suggesting that vitamin B3 slows Alzheimer’s, click here.

Email Marianne Halavage at m.halavage@my.westminster.ac.uk

November 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm 1 comment

Jurassic Park Author Dies

By Faye Lyons-White

Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton has died aged 66 in Los Angeles after losing his fight against cancer.

His family said Crichton said he had a ‘courageous and private battle against cancer’.

Crichton wrote novel Jurassic Park and co-wrote the screenplay of the multi-award winning winning film with David Koepp.

He also wrote the sequel, The Lost World.

The family of Michael Crichton said that he had a

‘courageous and private battle against cancer’.

In a statement posted on the author’s website, Crichton is described

‘a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes.’

Michael Crichton created the long-running successful American drama, ER, which starred actor George Clooney.

Tributes

In a tribute to Crichton, director of Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg said

‘Michael’s talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of Jurassic Park’. (BBC)

Spielberg added:

‘Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.’ (The Times)

Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal President, paid tribute to Crichton, claiming that he was a

‘modern-day Renaissance man’.

Executive producer of ER, John Wells, described Crichton as

‘an extraordinary man – brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful’ according to the BBC.

Success and Controversy

Crichton’s television series ER has won numerous Emmy’s. Crichton also won a Peabody and a Writers Guild of America Award for the programme, according to The Times.

Crichton, who has sold over 150 million novels, has had thirteen of his books turned into films, including Congo and Disclosure.

Jurassic Park was a blockbuster hit and made more than $900 million worldwide

Crichton’s latest novel, State of Fear, published in 2004, sparked controversy amongst scientists and journalists alike, on the subject of global warming. It claimed fears that global warming is created by pollution generated by mankind are unfounded.

State of Fear is an environmental thriller, which depicts global warming as a a scientific hoax used to justify acts of eco-terrorism, according to The Guardian.

However, the controversial novel resulted in an invitation from George W. Bush requesting Crichton’s presence for a discussion at The White House.

The publication of Crichton’s next novel, due to be released in the US next month has been postponed indefinitely by publishers HarperCollins, according to the BBC.

A private funeral service is planned. Crichton is survived by his wife, Sherri, and daughter, Taylor.

To read an obituary of Michael Crichton, click here.

To contact Faye Lyons-White, e-mail faye.lyons-white@my.westminster.ac.uk

November 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm 1 comment

Top-up fees get a big thumbs down.

Thousands of students across the country staged demostrations against top-up fees, claiming that they are “completely unfair”.

The demonstrations were part of a ‘Day of Action’ organised by The National Union of Students (NUS) in relation to their “Students in the Red” campaign.

It is hoped that the action will increase pressure on the government to change the current tuition fee system, in time for the impending government review.

The President of the NUS, Wes Streeting said that the government should “stop tinkering” with grants and fees and decide on a fair and long-term system.

Talking to the BBC he said: “All students have to pay £3,145 a year in top-up fees, but they face a postcode lottery when it comes to financial support.”

“Richer universities in the Russell Group can offer poorer students an average annual bursary of £1,791, but those from the Million+ group can only offer £680.”

“We want a national bursary scheme, so that poorer students get financial support based on how much they need it, not on where they study.”

Wall of debt

Student protests came in all shapes and sizes, from rallies to using balloons and buses to create metaphorical walls and mountains of debt.

Students in Lincoln created a ‘wall of debt’ in which students held up placards showing how much debt they owed due to higher education.

Bishop Grosseteste University College Student Union vice president Davina Robinson said: “If the fees are uncapped then universities can, in theory, charge what they want.”

“It will create a class divide and prestige in universities.”

The NUS claims current fees system is leaving the average student with debts of £20,000 after finishing university.

‘no effect’

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) said that top-up fees were having no effect on number of students applying for higher education.

It also stated that students were not expected to pay back tuition fees until they finished had graduated and were in employment which paid them over £15,000 per year. A DIUS spokesperson told the BBC:

“We are committed to ensuring finance is no barrier to going to university which is why last year we committed to provide two thirds of students with a full or partial grant – a commitment which we will continue to deliver.”

Last week Universities Secretary John Denham announced that the DIUS would cut partial grants to students from middle-income families after underestimating the number of poorer students claiming full grants.

Media reports are estimating that 10 per cent, or 40,000 prospective students will be affected by the move.

The ideal solution…

Speaking on behalf of the student community in England, Streeting said:

“Students and parents also deserve a full, frank and public debate about the current fees system ahead of a general election before families are saddled with even more debt by those who want to see the cap on fees lifted.”

For more information on Top-up fees, please see our guide here.

Helen Varley

h.varley@my.westminster.ac.uk

November 6, 2008 at 2:36 pm 1 comment

Tory Blues

By Brigitte Istim

 

“Ten seconds to read and ten years to forget” was the definition of a great cartoon given by George Butterworth who drew the events and personalities of the Second World War for the now defunct Daily Dispatch.

 

From Disraeli clinging to the top of politics’ greasy pole to a bikini clad Margaret Thatcher pursued by Edward Heath in the form of a great white shark Tory Blues, the current exhibition at the Political Cartoon Gallery, abounds in images that fulfil the Butterworth criteria.

 

Billed as a cartoon history of the Conservative Party from the 1830s to the present day Tory Blues serves up hope and hubris, triumph and disaster.

 

The exhibition covers a period when the use and availability of images changed radically. Before photography – and later TV – became widespread often the only way people visually ‘met’ politicians was through cartoons and sketches. Now we live in an picture driven age where it is sometimes hard to detect whether the creation of a distinctive image is of more importance to the cartoonist or the politicians themselves.

 

From statesmen to gangsters

 

The main protagonists of Tory Blues are, of course, the Prime Ministers from Robert Peel to David Cameron. Lining up the suspects chronologically provides a vivid illustration of how cartooning has changed since Victorian times.

 

By and large Victorian cartoons are restrained; John Tenniel, Punch’s chief cartoonist until his retirement in 1901, drew Disraeli and Gladstone not only as men but statesmen, always in control of their bodies and emotions, if not the country’s destiny.

 

Tenniel’s portraits are a stark contrast to the scabrous crew of mutants and misfits created (or detected?) by today’s cartoonists. Here is Babyface Hague transformed by Dave Brown into one of the Kray twins, sleeves rolled up for business to reveal a tattoo of Margaret Thatcher entitled ‘Mum’.

 

Thatcher herself takes many guises apart from her well known Iron Lady alter ego. Gerald Scarfe has her as Matron, an extraordinary creature with a nose like a bird of prey and bouffant, Barbie-blonde hair. For Andy Davey she becomes a bat, handbag in wing, haunting a deathly pale Michael Howard.

 

Unintended consequences

 

The capacity of such vivid images to escape their creator’s control and take on a life of their own is illustrated by the destinies of the two Supermen featured in Tory Blues. Back in the 1950s Evening Standard cartoonist Victor Weisz – ‘Vicky’ – decided to portray Harold Macmillan as a spoof version of the comic book super hero.

 

The ‘Supermac’ persona caught on but, rather than making Macmillan look ridiculous, it gave him a new lease of life, updating his Edwardian gentleman image.

 

Sadly for John Major his time as Superman, courtesy of Steve Bell, did not have a similar uplifting effect. The trademark baggy Y-fronts, worn over his suit, seemed to confirm Major as hapless and harassed, weighed down by Thatcher’s legacy.

 

The power of Major’s Y-fronts to define him is made more remarkable when set alongside Ralph Steadman’s decision, taken in 1989, only to draw politicians from the waist down. Steadman felt cartoonists were becoming complicit with politicians, pandering to their egos. Yet once Bell had launched the Y-fronts he could have drawn Major from the waist down for the rest of his career and still had an instantly identifiable character.

 

The party endures

 

Beyond Superman and the Iron Lady Tory Blues does give the viewer a powerful sense of the Conservative party as a distinct entity which outlasts, perhaps even devours, its chief actors. This is most poignantly expressed in John Jensen’s portrait of a very elderly Churchill, his neck collapsed into his collar, eyes scarcely open yet seeming perhaps to scan the horizon for the sign of one last election victory.

 

The personalities change but many of the issues remain the same – this is especially true for Europe where it is possible to see within a few steps Macmillan torn between the Commonwealth and the European Economic Community (1962) and Hague trying to scare voters with the Euro bogey man (2001).

 

Part history lesson, part stand-up comedy this exhibition helps mere civilians to understand why some people fall for politics and even end up as Prime Minister.

 

Tory Blues runs until 17th January 2009 at the Political Cartoon Gallery, 32 Store Street, London WC1E 7BS

 

For background article see: Times cartoonist Morten Morland talks about Boris, Brown et al.

November 6, 2008 at 2:10 pm 1 comment

Top-up fees: A Guide

A poster against top-up fees, by Mathewmayer

A poster against top-up fees, by Mathewmayer

Controversial ‘Top-up’ fees have been at the centre of a government/student dispute since they were introduced to students in the 2006 academic year.

 

 

Top-up fees mean that universities can charge students between £0 – £3000 in tuition fees per year, which do not need to be paid until the student graduates.

In addition to student loans, this means students are leaving university with higher amounts of debt than the former system, in which tuition fees were paid upfront at the beginning of the academic year.

Arguments for…

The government claims that top-up fees make education more accessible for students from all social backgrounds.

It also claims that it will take the pressure off universities with over-subscribed courses. These universities can charge higher fees, while institutions that are struggling and have places to fill can charge less, attracting more potential students.

Counter to this argument, the credit crunch has meant that it is unlikely universities will be able to charge any less than the £3000 per year.

The government also offers extra financial support to you if you:

  • Have special needs or a disability;
  • Have children;
  • Are from a low income family

The argument against…

Opposition to the fees believe that they will deter students from going to university, over fears of the debts they will obtain for going.

Students have also argued that the debts have put poorer applicants off applying for long-term courses such as medicine, or courses that require expensive equipment, like many of the science courses.

UCAS reported a decline of 12,000 applicants in the year 2006 – 2007, accredited to the top-up fee introduction.

This was only a temporary decline, as figures for 2008-2009 show an increase of 20.000 applicants from the previous year.

Who opposes top-up fees?

Introduced in the Higher Education Act 2004, members and supporters of Labour were outraged because the Labour Manifesto 2001 promised: “We have no plans to introduce University top-up fees, and have legislated to prevent their introduction.”

A legislation loophole allowed the Labour Party to defend the change in law by stating that the manifesto only applied 2001 – 2005 and that the top-up fees would not be put in place by government until 2006.

Student protest

 

The National Union of Students (NUJ) has actively campaigned against top up since before their introduction.

As well as various campaigns, they have introduced their own critique of the current tuition fee system called ‘Broke and Broken’. On the NUS website the group outline the conclusion their concerns about the current system:

“Thousands of students will continue to struggle with rising debts and living costs if the system remains unchanged – it’s time to make that change.”

Current students have made their campaign against top-up fees very public, using symbolic protests to demonstrate their position.

In 2002, students descended on London in a rally to prevent this exact situation. Former National Union of Students (NUS) President Mandy Telford told the Guardian newspaper:

“Education should be based on your ability not your ability to pay.”

In 2003, Durham University staged a protest in which students “removed the shirts from our backs” to symbolically demonstrate the government’s attitude to student finance.

Most recently, thousands of students demonstrated on 5th November 2008 to put pressure on the government about their upcoming review of the tuition fee system.

The protests were part of the NUS ‘Students in the Red’ campaign, November 5th being the named ‘Day of Action’.

To read a report on the November 5th Protests, Click here.

Helen Varley

November 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm 1 comment

Interview with Morten Morland

Times cartoonist Morten Morland on school desk graffiti and Gordon Brown’s ‘boiling jowls’. 

 

Q: Were you always interested in drawing and art?

 

Always interested in drawing, not art – I grew up in a small town in Norway and I knew no-one who knew anything about art. But I drew all the time at school and at home.

 

One day I forgot my drawing pad at school so I started drawing on my desk. The whole desk ended up as a great big circus with acrobats all over it. 

 

The cleaning crew left my drawings until the holidays when all the desks were given a very good clean.  When I returned from holiday there was a note attached to my desk saying ‘We’re very sorry we had to remove your drawings but we were told to polish all the desks’.

 

 How did you get into political cartooning?

 

I was studying journalism and took up a work placement on a business paper – like a Norwegian version of the Financial Times. Then their cartoonist went off on holiday and I ended up spending my whole work experience drawing, rather than writing. 

 

Now you live in Britain and draw for The Times. Do you think that sometimes as an outsider you notice things that others take for granted, a revealing detail?

 

Well I have no pre-conceptions or historical ties to any political party in Britain.  My father wasn’t bankrupted during the Thatcher era or anything like that.  That’s a good thing and a bad thing because if you have that kind of background it can sometimes give you an edge.

 

 Are some politicians easier to draw than others?  Do you have a favourite?

 

I’m really enjoying Gordon Brown at the moment. There’s a line going from his temple down to his cheek which links to nothing, but it frames his jowls so beautifully. 

 

Earlier on a lot of artists drew Brown with a big chin but actually he hasn’t got a big chin, that’s not quite right.  I think most people have now realised it’s the jowl area that’s crucial.  When he talks there is this separate movement of the jowls, they churn and boil.  And there’s the chin drop.

 

The chin drop?

 

Watch Brown on TV and you’ll see that at the end of each sentence or phrase his chin, his lower jaw just drops away, rather as though he is literally, mechanically releasing the last words from his mouth. 

 

And you said Cameron has ‘chin and cheeks and poshness’?

 

Yes, Cameron’s great because he has this pointy chin and then these huge balls of cheeks.  But he hasn’t got the upper class big lips like Boris has, Boris is lovely to do. I never really enjoyed doing Blair, perhaps because by the time I started working in Britain he was already an established cartoon figure.  

 

Do you have any favourite cartoonists whose work you like or admire?

 

Well the first cartooning book I saw was by Kevin Kallagher, the American cartoonist who draws as KAL in The Economist.  Norwegian cartooning has more links to American cartooning than British.  I looked at that book and thought ‘oh yes, I see, this is how you do a cartoon.’ 

My first cartoons for The Times had many stylistic links to KAL – big heads and small bodies.  But I realised very quickly that wasn’t a popular thing to do here.

 

Big heads and small bodies don’t go down well in the British cartooning world?

 

Definitely not.  I was never told directly, just somehow lead to understand this was not the done thing.  The approach was ‘you’re not really a cartoonist, you’re just a guy who draws big heads and thinks that’s funny.’  It’s just not the British tradition, I mean going back to Gillray, it wasn’t done then either. 

 

Morten Morland’s cartoons appear in The Times every Monday.

For main article see: Tory Blues

 

November 6, 2008 at 1:28 pm 1 comment

Michael Crichton: An Obituary

By Faye Lyons-White

Those who loved his books and films, those who worked with him and those who were able to appreciate the literary marvel and screenwriting success of Michael Crichton will be mourning his death this week and celebrating his life and numerous achievements.

Michael Crichton was an award-winning author, director and producer. Crichton died this week ‘after a courageous and private battle against cancer’.

Born in Chicago on 23rd October 1943, John Michael Crichton, author and screenwriter, intended to embark on a medical career. However, writing was his forte.

Early Career

Crichton began his writing career at school, producing assignments for his classmates. He studied at Harvard University in Boston. Switching from English to Anthropology, he graduated with honours in 1964.

In his first few years of being a published author, Crichton wrote two different pen names: John Lange and Jeffrey Hudson. He wrote seven thrillers under the pen name John Lange.

However, he was ‘outted’ when his novel, A Case of Need (under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson) won the Edgar award for best novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

Crichton’s first novel under his own name, The Andromeda Strain was published in 1969.

This novel was very well received and as The Times agree, propelled him into the ‘public consciousness’. It was adapted into a film, directed by Robert Wise in 1971.

The 1990s

In 1990 Crichton wrote the novel, Jurassic Park. It was turned into an award-winning blockbuster, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film cost $95 million to make and made close to $1 billion.

In 1994, Crichton’s television series ER debuted. It is currently in its 15th and final series and won Crichton an Emmy Award.

The 1990s were arguably the greatest period for Crichton. He had a number one movie in America – Jurassic Park. He had a number one bestselling novel – Disclosure. And he was the brains behind America’s top television series – ER.

However, with the release of his novel, State of Fear in 2004, Crichton received criticism over his outspoken views on climate change.

Through this novel, Crichton argued that global warming was a myth created by environmental activists and scientists.

His Success and a Final Tribute

Crichton’s one-man empire grew with the success of his television show ER, which he created, wrote and produced; the sale of over 150 million copies of his novels worldwide; and Crichton games and software, earning him over $100 million a year.

Crichton was married five times. He is survived by his fifth wife, Sherri Alexander and his daughter from his fourth marriage, Taylor.

A tribute, paid to Michael Crichton on his website, said:

he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world’

With thanks to The Times, The Guardian, The Michael Crichton Official Website and the BBC.

To see the main article, Jurassic Park author dies, click here.

To contact Faye Lyons-White, e-mail faye.lyons-white@my.westminster.ac.uk

November 6, 2008 at 10:15 am 1 comment

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