Friday, 30 September 2016

Bloggers Blog Party - August 2016

August 2016 provided a fair selection for the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party:

Thursday 4th August: There is a company in Northamptonshire that features these hot pink dumpsters/skips as part of their services. Hot pink isn't a colour usually associated with garbage so this one and others stand out.

Friday 5th August: Speaking of objects that stand out, in all my years in Northamptonshire, I never noticed this yellow donation box near the fire station, mostly because it is positioned on a side street I've rarely walked down, on the side of the street I've rarely walked along.

Sunday 7th August: This was a sunny evening in the town of Rothwell. I walked to this town on most days as a part of catching up on exercise I'd missed out on over the preceding few months.

Wednesday 10th August: Ah...a resting horse and a hungry horse! The one on the right was the first horse I'd stroked since 2009; however, the ones I stroked in 2009 were happy for my company whereas this one was only interested in food - to the point where they were trying to get into my bag.

Tuesday 16th August: During my sole visit back to Nottingham over the summer, I was sure to ride past my old college on the bus. So far, the place hasn't changed much as a result of the ongoing merger between it and New College Nottingham, although the student lanyards have emblazoned on them "student" now rather than "Central College Nottingham".

Wednesday 17th August: These cows were also interested in food but alas, I had nothing for them.

Saturday 20th August: It the centre of this image is a semingly faint rainbow; however, in person it was significantly more bright. It's unfortunate that my phone's camera is often unable to capture the fullness of a rainbow.

Saturday 27th August: By contrast, my phone's camera was able to pick up the blanket-like quality of these clouds with ease.

Tuesday 30th August: This truck spent nearly ten minutes entering the narrow gate to a factory situated out of the photo. Even though it was blatantly obvious to onlookers what was going on, that still didn't stop some people from hooting as though doing so would magically make the truck hasten its entrance.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Final inductions and Ruddington

My inductions at university are now complete. All but two of them were general information talks about the library, the online workspace, travel opportunities, etc.; the remaining two were about English and Media. I have the rest of the week free for the most part before I begin lectures and seminars for my course next week.

As this afternoon was mostly sunny, I used my free time to catch up on some exercise by walking to Ruddington, with the Rushcliffe Country Park being my intended destination. My first visit to the park was in September of last year and until today, I had not returned for a second visit, despite visiting Ruddington since. Yes, a venture to the Rushcliffe Country Park was indeed appropriate.

This is one of the many paths in the park; this particular path is located near to the wooded area along the northwestern boundary.

In this wooded area was this animal sculpture, made from wood and tyres. I think it's a hedgehog? Either that or another rodent coming out of its lair.

Near the centre of the park is this lake, where ducks, fish and swans all reside. The area contains signs that note a ban on feeding bread to the ducks, citing that doing so is of no nutritional value to them and that uneaten bread pollutes the lake.

In addition, I also briefly wandered into the Rushcliffe Fields Business Park, which is home to the Ruddington campus of Central College Nottingham. The business park is within the boundaries of the country park, even though it contains private property.

Once I'd seen the Ruddington campus I walked back to and around the lake and began my trek back up to Clifton. I would estimate, depending on weather and traffic, that it takes about 45 minutes to reach the Rushcliffe Country Park from my accommodation by foot, so it's an excellent walk.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

More familiar faces

Yesterday afternoon, I went into the city with the primary purpose being to meet up with a close college friend whom I hadn't seen for over two months. She and I met up, went to the pub and spent a few hours catching up. We then started to make our ways back to our respective homes afterwards.

On my way back to my bus, however, I encountered a classmate from Access whom I hadn't seen since February, as unfortunate circumstances had forced him to drop out. He and I had arranged to meet up next week, anyway, but seeing him a week early by chance was a delight in itself. We walked for an hour talking before before I caught a bus back to the city centre rather than spend another hour walking back.

When walking through the market square, I spoke for a couple of minutes to a friend I had made when I went to see Eddie Izzard back in June; she was with another friend, hence the brief encounter, but it was nevertheless a happy occasion to see her, too.

I saw a few other familiar faces: I saw at least two regulars from Rushcliffe Villager 1, someone I saw around Central during both my years, a member of Central's marketing team and someone I'm fairly certain was a classmate from Pre-Access and is now at university herself. Even today, here on NTU's Clifton campus, I encountered a science student who occasionally chatted to me while I was on Access.

Thanks to all those encounters yesterday, the day truly felt as though I were back at Central.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Nexus sky

This evening, when returning to my campus after spending the afternoon in Nottingham's city centre (which itself occurred after my induction sessions) I observed this spectacular sky:

It reminded me of the Nexus of Joy in the film Star Trek Generations. On my bus back to Clifton I was sat on the upper deck and two women next two me were also marvelling at this awesome sky.

Monday, 26 September 2016

A face from the last year

During my first induction this morning, which consisted of a general information lecture by course leader, I was sat next to a classmate from my Access from the past year. Like me, he is undertaking a joint honours course and half of both our courses is English, we should be present together in that aspect of our courses.

I wasn't expecting to see anyone from my course at Central to be on my course at NTU but I am delighted that at least one of them is. It's a mutually beneficial development, as it means we'll both see a familiar face as we integrate into university life and beyond.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Second full day

My second full day here at university has mostly been a quiet one. I had a headache in the early afternoon and so I spent a couple of hours sleeping to ward it off. Afterwards, I went for an hour's walk or so around Clifton, both to exercise a little and to purchase a few items that I needed.

Tomorrow, inductions begin. I have a couple of things to complete tonight, which are related to my course, before I head off to bed.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Full university enrolment

Today, I completed my enrolment at Nottingham Trent University. I was photographed for my new student card, signed up to be covered by the university doctors and picked up a wristband for new students, which allows me to join certain welcome events next week.

As of now, I am a university student! I will hold this status until my student card expires in the summer of 2019.

Friday, 23 September 2016

At university

It is done. After both a year at college completing Pre-Access and another year completing Access, I am now at university - Nottingham Trent University. The hard work paid off and I made it to here. Yes!

My aunt and uncle from the East of England kindly helped me to move in to my new accommodation. I spent the afternoon with them and some of the evening with them and my grandparents before I returned to my accommodation less than an hour ago.

I have more hard work ahead of me but for tonight, I can rest a little.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Northamptonshire departure

It's nearly 10:00 at night and here I am waiting for my relatives from the East of England to pick me up and take me and my belongings back to Nottinghamshire.

The summer holidays are over. Tomorrow, I check in to my accommodation at Nottingham Trent University. As of tomorrow, I will, for the first time ever, be living away from family.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The friend zone redux (again)

Years ago, I wrote a few posts about the "friend zone" (here, here and here). To summarise my thoughts about the friend zone: I don't believe it exists - it's simply a case of feelings/attraction not being returned and not one person randomly or vindictively putting someone in a "zone" of sorts. I also mostly regarded the friend zone as a term that men rather than women use.

Interestingly enough, today I came across an article that was written before I wrote the first of my aforementioned links:

The writer, Chelsea Fagan, wrote about her experience of being "friend zoned" and said that the concept is not something that only happens to men (in one of my posts, I did mention that men do reject women). I thought it was interesting - albeit saddening, of course - how Fagan discussed how she became attracted to a friend but the friend rejected her. While she said that those being rejected should not turn into jerks, I also found the following passage from her article fascinating:

"We should never take advantage (as can sometimes happen) of the person who is clearly devoted to us, using them as an ego-boost or exploiting them being at our beck and call. We shouldn’t go out of our way to tell them all about our dating follies when we know that they have feelings for us and are doing their best to be respectful and a friend."

Fagan documented how her friend talked about his romantic life with her, in the full knowledge about how she felt towards him. Long story short, the friendship ultimately ended.

I haven't changed my thoughts about the friend zone: I think it doesn't exist, as I've explained before. Romantic rejection is a sad fact of life but it's not the end of the world. Someone else will come along and in the meantime, it is possible for a friendship to survive - even become a better, stronger friendship - when one person has rejected another. It is upsetting it couldn't happen in Fagan's case.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

"This Girl" - Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners

As I have been listening to Heart Radio over the summer, this has been one of my favourite songs I've heard this summer:

It's "This Girl" by Kungs and Cookin' on 3 Burners, featuring vocals from Kylie Auldist, an Australian singer. While I only heard the song recently, "This Girl" was originally released back in February. This particular track is a remix of Cookin' on 3 Burners' original track for "This Girl".

Monday, 19 September 2016

Is this what we want?

As has been in the news recently, there was an explosion in New York City. When such an event occurs, you think people would unite and hope that those injured are okay, correct?

Not if you're a die-hard Trump supporter. Apparently, the appropriate response is to celebrate and declare the explosion a victory for him, as it shows he's correct about wanting to ban Muslims (this was said even before anyone was arrested in connection with the explosion), why refugees should be banned and that it's evidence that President Barack Obama's and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's policies in the Middle East have "failed". (I'm not sure what policy they want in the Middle East - expanding drone strikes or sending in the army? Great way to create more refugees and more enemies.)

Is this what we want? People who openly cheer others being hurt (in this case, Americans celebrating violence against other Americans) because it will lead to their political "side" winning? How is this positive?

Sunday, 18 September 2016

"Million Dollar Bill" - Whitney Houston

Here is "Million Dollar Bill" by Whitney Houston:

From 2009, the song comes from I Look to You, Houston's seventh studio album, and is both the last single from one of her studio albums and the last released while she was still alive. I only know the song because it is occasionally played on Heart Radio, along with "It's Not Right but It's Okay" - another one of her later singles (1999) - and her older tracks from the 1980s.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Explanation of "tolerant left"

In online political discussions, I often see the term "tolerant left" (or "tolerant liberal") being thrown about in a derogatory manner. It usually occurs when someone - regardless of political viewpoint - calls out prejudice. The thinking behind the argument - or rather, insult - is that while liberals regard themselves as tolerant and accepting, left-leaning people can't really be tolerant if they don't respect all other perspectives, even if said perspective involves racism, sexism and/or other hatred.

Being a tolerant person is not something that only people on the Left are capable of; being tolerant means that someone accepts people regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc.; most common ideologies aren't opposed to different demographic groups. Under no circumstances does tolerant mean that someone should accept and respect bigoted viewpoints; no one should be "tolerant of intolerance".

The "tolerant left" meme is also counter-productive to those who use it as an insult because it assumes that acceptance/tolerance are solely a feature of the Left, which in turn would then assume that bigotry is the default state for anyone on the Right. Therefore, those who identify as conservative but mock "tolerant liberals" are foolishly arguing that their own side is bigoted.

In short, being tolerant - whether you're liberal or not - does not mean that you have to be a sucker and respect bigotry. "Tolerant left" is just a made up term that racists, sexists, etc. all use to deflect from their being obnoxious.

(And yes, I have seen cases of when someone who identifies as conservative calls out racism and/or sexism and has the "tolerant liberal" meme thrown at them.)

Friday, 16 September 2016

Now only a week to go

As of today, it is only a week to go before I move into my accommodation at Nottingham Trent University. The university's welcome week begins the follow Monday, when course inductions and events for new students start, and then my classes themselves begin the week after that.

This new move will mark the first time I've ever lived away from family and the first time I've spent a significant amount of time away from any relative. When I went to Poland, that in itself was the first time I spent a night or more away from family and the first time I went a day without any sort of communication to or from them. At the very least, this experience at university will be interesting.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Liveland History: 15th September 2013

For this segment of Liveland History, here is my post from three years ago, "Potentially Bad Timing":

It was a clarification post after I had written two pieces, one positive and one negative, about Robin Thicke in a short space of time. However, I reckoned I wrote the clarification more for my own benefit than anyone else's.

Three years ago, Thicke was highly prominent in the news. Nowadays, after his divorce and controversies...not so much. In the aforementioned article, I noted that Thicke was once known "for a decent song rather than bizarre stunts and controversy.".At the moment, he and Pharrell are appealing a copyright infringement case against "Blurred Lines".

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Relevant tweet

I saw this image of the following tweet posted to Facebook earlier:

I would say that "medical degrees from Infowars University" are what these people who are diagnosing Hillary Clinton via the Internet all possess. Infowars is a far-right fringe site and an Alt-Right troll den; it is not a reliable source by any means and should not be trusted.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

"Better love story than Twilight" meme

Since 5/5/14 (according to Blogger), I've had the header "'Better love story than Twilight' meme" as a draft post; however, until now it's always been empty, as it was something I intended to write but never came around to doing so. Now, I am.

Over two years, I was frustrated by seeing Internet comments where people would say "still a better love story than Twilight" to any sort of romance or "romance" (for example, an incest case or something in a music video). I came up with the idea to do a blog post and go on a rant. However, I'm no longer interested in ranting about this particular troll meme when there are far more important issues to worry about.

No, the only reasons why I've written this post are to clear a draft in my posts folder and to come up with something to write tonight. In other words, it's kind of a post to say I'm not writing a post (about a certain topic)! Nah - I've changed since May 2014.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Hillary Clinton and her health

I wrote this on Facebook earlier as my response to the reaction about Hillary Clinton's recent bout of pneumonia:

"Yesterday, my post to remember 9/11 was to say that the best way to honor the victims is to be more understanding and less hateful - to foster cooperation. I'm appalled that in the 24+ hours since Hillary Clinton felt ill at a 9/11 memorial service, I have witnessed online the opposite of what I had hoped for: Massive, massive amounts of vitriol - expressions of glee at her being ill and seemingly countless people wishing for her demise. Even on websites politically favorable to her, comments sections are littered with those celebrating her being sick.

While I am not surprised by this sort of behavior, I am disappointed. Actually, the fact I'm not surprised is a disappointment in itself, as it shows the level of decorum within political arenas is currently atrocious. It's one thing to not support a candidate but another to cheer any harm towards them."

What I didn't say is that Clinton being ill does not, by any means, excuse the long history of bigotry committed by her main opponent in this election. It is ridiculous to suggest that being sick - and easily treatable in this case, I should add - suddenly makes Clinton "unfit" for the presidency when none of her opponent's comments, so matter how gruesome, have done the same for him. Clinton has been campaigning hard and attended a 9/11 memorial in high heat and humidity even though she should have been in bed; this shows strength on her part.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Fifteen years

In light of it being fifteen years since the events of September 11th, 2001, I wrote this on Facebook earlier today:

"Fifteen years since 9/11...I think the best way to remember and honor those who died that day is to not use them as an excuse to hate others but to instead use them to encourage understanding and cooperation. Why? Because the 9/11 casualties were themselves victims of hatred; spreading more hatred is not only disrespectful to them but also leads to further deaths and resentment. Does the world not have enough anger already?"

Sadly, 2016 appears to have been an excellent year for hatemongers. I've seen quite a lot of horrible comments online before, of course, but this year has been especially vitriolic. The hate needs to retreat.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Gary Johnson's error

Recently, For New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who is the Libertarian Party's candidate for President of the United States this election cycle, erred by asking "What is Aleppo?" when asked in an interview with regards to how he would address the crisis going on in that Syrian city. As a result, he was mocked on social media and the news went wild with his error.

Now, I am not a libertarian by any means and I oppose the Libertarian Party but honestly, Johnson's error really is not a big deal. For one thing, he was at least willing to ask what Aleppo is rather than give a nonsense answer to cover up not knowing. Granted, the Syrian crisis is something that he, as a candidate for president, should be familiarized with but Johnson isn't a fool - he is the type who would educate himself on the matter.

At any rate, Johnson's flub pales in comparison to all the racist and misogynistic garbage that the Republican nominee for president has spouted for well over a year now. It seems deeply unfair that a one-off error for a small-party candidate earns them ridicule in the media but long-term bigotry from another candidate continues unabated and relatively unconfronted.

On the bright side for Johnson, it likely brought publicity to his campaign. He has been polling between 10% and 12% and is arguing to be included in the presidential debates.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Like "Bliss"

This morning, while my mother and I were out walking on the local fields, I photographed this view:

The field, with its hill and cloudy blue sky, I think resembles the iconic "Bliss" desktop background picture from Microsoft Windows XP.

I used the HDR filter of the app SnapSeed to enhance the image.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Phone maker joke

In light of the new iPhone, I posted this joke to Facebook today:

"So, Apple has replaced wired headphones with wireless. In the long-running game of smartphone maker one-upmanship, our favourite South Korean company announced the upcoming "Samsung Galaxy Blank" - a phone without a screen; makes an excellent paperweight. Meanwhile, Google suggested that its next Nexus might not even have corporeal form - users instead rely on imagination for functionality. Unfortunately, patent trolls claim ownership of both ideas. Stay tuned for more Onion-like news!"

 It should be noted that my phone is a Galaxy Note!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Argument tactics of the Alt-Right

To follow up on my post from last month about the Alt-Right, this post will focus on the troll tactics used by the Alt-Right during online discussions. While I wrote a significant amount this aspect of the Alt-Right in that piece, I wish to cover it some more. In addition, this post will be the first "work in progress", in that while I will submit it now, I will expand it later; I feel there is more to research about this but I want some content here now.

I should also note that the tactics used by the Alt-Right also overlap those used by the "anti-SJW" crowd; however, as the Alt-Right is by its nature "anti-SJW", for the purposes of this post they are treated as the same entity.


Frequent words used by the Alt-Right to silence opposition are:

"Hurt your feelings"
"Safe space"
"White Knight"
"How dare you assume..."
"My soggy knee"

Their uses of "trigger(ed)" and "safe space" are always in a mocking manner, in that whenever an Alt-Right individual is the subject of criticism, they will declare that their opponents have been triggered and in need of a safe space. "Snowflake" is a derisive term for anyone who disagrees with them and they often ridicule others for being "(over)sensitive".

"Cuck" usually refers to conservative-leaning people whom the Alt-Right considers to be sell outs or weak. An example of this is a Republican in the United States who is Christian and, as a part of their Christianity, adopts children from other countries. As the Alt-Right is centered around white supremacy, this sort of person might as well be on the Left, as they are bringing foreigners into the country. "White Knight" usually refers to a man who speaks up for women but it is also used to dismiss a white person who stands up for non-whites.

"How dare you assume..." is a mockery against people who identify as a demographic group they were not born as; this is usually an attack on the transgender and genderqueer communities, such as people who were born male but change sex and identify as female or those who don't identify as any gender. This form of attack usually descends into absurdity: for example, if you suggest to an Alt-Right individual that they as a white non-transgendered man from a high-income background might not understand the perspective of minority groups from poor backgrounds, such an individual often replies with "How dare you assume my identity! I identify as a black, lesbian, disabled, vegan and Muslim transwoman* who is a Disney Princess and was born on Neptune! YOU NEPTUNE-HATING, DISNEYPHOBIC RACIST!"- even though the person obviously does not at all identify with such a demographic and is using them as a shield.

(*Transwomen who are black, Muslim, disabled, vegan and lesbian are not an absurdity in themselves as they do exist and they should not be used as a punching bag for trolls. By "absurd", I was referring to the behaviour of the Alt-Right individual(s).)

As for "my soggy knee", that's a dismissive play on the word "misogyny". Alt-Right individuals sometimes deride users of the word by talking about "my soggy knee(s)".


This is a placeholder; I will expand later.

Feigned ignorance:

See previous section. 


That's it for now, so the conclusion is currently limited. Again, I will be expanding the post at a later time and will note any major changes to it.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

"Babylon" - David Gray

Here is "Babylon":

It's by David Gray, a British musician. "Babylon" was released in July 1999 and comes from White Ladder, Gray's fourth studio album. In addition "Babylon" being his most successful single, White Ladder itself charted for over three years.

While I think I might have heard the song at least once while I lived in America, I associate it most with Heart radio, as it is often played on the Heart radio network.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Jacob Wetterling

The remains of Jacob Wetterling have been found:

Wetterling was a boy in Minnesota who went missing in 1989. The bright side to this recent development is that his parents now have closure about what happened to their son; the sad part, of course, is that their son was never found alive, as they had long hoped for. I can only imagine what pain they've experienced over the years and how they're feeling now. What has happened to them is beyond horrible, as is, of course, what happened to Jacob himself.

I know about the Wetterling case because I read about it in a Reader's Digest about fifteen or so years ago. Over the years I've checked if there has ever been any news but until now, there hadn't been anything.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Steve Irwin - ten years later

Nearly a decade ago, I wrote this small tribute to Steve Irwin:

"Steve Irwin invested millions in lands. He did this to protect the environments that wildlife lived in. He should be remembered for that, and the other great achievements he did."

I cannot believe that it has been ten years since Irwin's death. I remember the day as though it were yesterday - I read the news in the morning and by the time the afternoon came around (on the US West coast, where I was located at the time), the Internet was almost impossible to navigate with all the people who were logged on at once reading up about Irwin.

When Irwin became famous, he often received criticism for emphasising entertainment over conservation but he used the former to aid with the latter while remaining true to his principles; Australia Zoo is part of that legacy as is the awareness he raised/people he inspired to become involved. He was most certainly a positive force in the world and he went too soon.

All these years later, thank you, Steve Irwin, for your conservation work and thank you to Terri Irwin for continuing it.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

College e-mail redux

On the 22nd of last month, I predicted that I would soon lose access to my college e-mail. As of today, that has now happened; whereas yesterday I could still log in, when I tried this morning and afternoon my password and account name were rejected.

This was to be expected; accounts were reset last year, after all, and I am no longer a student at Central. I'm surprised I could log in as late as yesterday.

Friday, 2 September 2016

The receptionists' commendation

My last action at Central was to fill in a form to recommend a commendation for the receptionists. I spent somewhere around ten and fifteen minutes writing up a lengthy piece about why the receptionists should be commended for their work.

Unfortunately, I learned in the past few weeks after e-mailing reception that they had not received any commendation; they helpfully directed me to the Quality team if I wanted to follow up on it, which I did. The Quality department informed me that they had never received my form, hence why they never issued any commendations; however, they asked if I would be willing to submit a new piece for them.

As a result, I rewrote my list of reasons in an e-mail and sent it off to the Quality department. Last week, I received a letter informing me that the receptionists would receive a commendation and today, the receptionists e-mailed me to say that they had indeed received it and thanked me.

Naturally, I am delighted. The receptionists at my campus were wonderful for my entire time there and I really feel as though they deserve recognition for their work. Receptionists are often overlooked yet they are the face of an organisation when someone walks into the building. Besides, my interactions with the receptionists were more than positive; they've done much for me and it was nice to do something for them for a change.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

An atrociously undesirable source of praise

In the highly unlikely event that I were to receive praise from white supremacists, I would say "Whoa!", take a step back and then wonder what terrible thing I had said to attract acclaim from such an awful source. What I wouldn't do is ignore it or make any sort of overtures to them; this is not a group with which I want any sort of association. In fact, taking a step back, re-evaluating yourself and then rejecting such praise should be the default position for any reasonable person. Anything other reaction will be viewed by the giver as an endorsement or a promotion of their ideology. That's how they think.