Saturday, 31 December 2016

As 2016 finishes

Here in the United Kingdom, 2017 is less than six hours away while in other parts of the world, the new year is already here. I had intended to have my next blog party post up today but due to changes in plans, it'll have to wait a day or two.

I hope you had a good 2016 and are looking forward to an even more productive 2017.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Return of the blog parties

At present, my most recent blog party party is the one for September 2016, which was written back in October. I have not forgotten nor have I discontinued the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party - since I've been at university I've had other priorities besides long blog posts. That being said, I shan't be neglecting this place: I'll have a three-month blog party post up soon enough.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

"Rogue One:A Star Wars Story"

This afternoon, a friend and I went to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (usually shortened to Rogue One). Rebel One differs from the other seven Star Wars films in that it is a separate story but it nevertheless fits in with the overall canon; the current makers of the films wanted to focus on small stories within the Star Wars universe while still continuing to develop the main saga.

Back when I watched The Force Awakens, I noted that "The Star Wars universe is expansive enough without the need to reboot the saga." I still believe that is the case and as such, I think that one of Rogue One's strongest features is that expands the existing universe of Star Wars while keeping in line with the canon; the film completely fits in with the main saga; it doesn't create any significant plot holes.

The only downside to Rogue One is that by the film's end, all the major characters had died. As such, any chance of their stories developed in another movie is unlikely at best. It's understandable that they didn't survive, as none of them were in the originals from the 1970s/1980s and the makers want them separate from the upcoming main saga movies.

As with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which I saw back in January, and with Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which I first saw back in May 2005, I was satisfied with Rogue One. Thus, every Star Wars film I've seen at the cinema so far has been enjoyable.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

No, this isn't acceptable redux

Less than a week ago, I wrote about how Carl Paladino, the co-chair of the New York operation of Hillary Clinton's election opponent, made racist, sexist and transphobic comments about President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

So! In the days since that post, Paladino has addressed the criticisms that he has received in the wake of his vile comments. As he is, at heart, a decent human being and not at all a hateful individual, Paladino apologized, phoned the President and First Lady directly and vowed that he would work to combat such hateful rhetoric in the future. Now see the following article to confirm this:

Ignore most of the previous paragraph. While Paladino addressed the comments, he said he "meant to email his remarks to friends."; there was nothing to indicate that he believed his comments were wrong - just an "admission" that they had been emailed to the wrong recipient and that he would not fulfil any demands that he resign from his local school board.

Again, atrocious behavior like Paladino's must not be normalized. Bigots should be challenged at every turn, not allowed to function in society as though they are normal, non-bigoted human beings.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A familiar face from earlier

I travelled to the city centre this evening to do a small amount of shopping; while I could have purchased my groceries from any of the stores here in Clifton, I had been inside all day and felt like going into the city. As I was just outside a Tesco store on one of the main bus stop areas, I encountered a friend from my Access course, whom I last saw when we were all on Access.

He was pleased to see me and vice versa; it was nice to have a short catch up, even if said catch up occurred at night outside a Tesco store in the city centre. Granted, we can message each other any time we like but it's never the same as talking in person.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Tidying this room!

I've just spend a little more time tidying my room. Unfortunately, since the inspections the other week I haven't really advanced any of the cleaning I did back then and in some respects, the room has become messy again. Not to worry - I'm going to tidy up a little more before I head off to bed; it's not filthy in here, just untidy.

It will also be wise to follow a level of cleanliness in here not just because it's a good idea to but because the next term begins in less than two weeks now and I don't want to be navigating a mess when there's work to be done.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

The pocket mirror

Back at the Nottingham Post Student Awards earlier this month, my teacher casually mentioned to me that one of her adult daughters was to have a stand at a market that weekend inside the City campus of Nottingham Trent University. My teacher didn't do this to advertise her daughter's stand; rather, she mentioned it because it was an event that involved my university and a member of her family, and thought it might be of interest to me.

When the day of the market arrived, I visited the City campus and took a look at my teacher's daughter's stand there; my teacher's daughter was selling items that she had designed and one of these items was a pocket mirror with a painting of a frog. I bought the pocket mirror as a present for Mum and I gave it to her today; she was happy with the gift and was happier still when I informed her about who had been its designer.

My teacher's daughter was aware of my existence; when I mentioned to her who I was, she said that she had heard of me and hoped (likely jokingly) that I hadn't been pressured into coming. I assured her that I had come of my own accord and was genuinely curious about her work; buying from her was entirely my choice and it worked out, given that Mum liked the pocket mirror.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Justified in not going there

My family has a long-standing policy of not purchasing food from McDonald's on the basis that the food is of poor quality. Yesterday afternoon, I went with a friend to the cinema but first we went to a McDonald's in the city centre at her request; we only went there for her to eat, as I had made clear that I had no intention of ordering anything.

In my view, the long-standing policy was justified. I was unimpressed by the general filthiness of the venue as well as the cafeteria-like nature of the main eating area. While a cafeteria seems appropriate in an educational facility, I didn't think it worked in a restaurant - not even a fast food one. As if this all wasn't enough, my friend ended up finding some "gross" in her food, which not only put her off her meal but also from going to McDonald's again, at least for the short term.

To be fair to McDonald's, this is only one venue and it's more than possible that due to my long-term negative view of the company, I was looking for problems. That being said, the experience has not encouraged me to take up eating there anytime soon.

Friday, 23 December 2016

No, this isn't acceptable

The individual who co-chaired the New York campaign of Hillary Clinton's main election opponent is receiving heavy criticism for horrendous remarks he made about President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama:

No, this isn't acceptable. Again, thanks to the victory in the election by Clinton's opponent, bigots like this Carl Paladino loser (and he is a loser - he was obliterated in the 2010 New York gubernational election) now feel empowered to make all sorts of hateful comments. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to whom Paladino lost, condemned the comments as "racist" and "ugly" but Paladino has so far dismissed any criticism, stating "tough luck" to anyone who objects.

The comments from Paladino were racist, sexist and transphobic. This sort of behavior needs to be condemned swiftly whenever it occurs - it must not be normalized. Granted, the First Amendment protects individuals from being arrested when spouting such language but private citizens do not have to tolerate bigotry one iota - it is not censorship to shut down hatred.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

More nukes

The President-elect has come up with another bad idea: Increasing nuclear weapon capabilities:

Expanding the nuclear weapon capabilities of the United States, as well as allowing Japan and South Korea to develop them, is an extremely bad idea. Why is Hillary Clinton's main election opponent living in the 1960s? This isn't the Cold War era - he needs to stop living in the past. President such Barack Obama, George W. Bush and even Ronald Reagan reduced nukes, not increased them.

Then again, his tweet did come after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia should do the same. Since the two are buddies, perhaps they are trolling.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter 2016-2017

Winter of 2016-2017 has arrived. For now, it's not been so different from the mid-to-late fall: Cold but nothing serious like snow or thick ice. Evidently, that could change later in the month or next month but for now, it's just cold!

I visited my grandparents today. I was over at their's for a late birthday meal, to pick a few more items of mine and because I wanted to see them. My grandfather brought me back to Clifton before the day became dark; it's the shortest day of the year but from here until mid-June, the days will start to lengthen again.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Accommodation inspections redux

Back on the 10th of this month, I noted that my accommodation was to undergo a hygiene inspection. It actually wasn't so much for hygiene as it was to ensure that there was no damage done to the room. Evidently, the room is in the same condition it was in when I moved in and any damage that is present was there before my presence; I reported said damage on an inventory form that came with the room.

I expect the next inspection to be in a couple of months or during the next break.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Electoral College 2016

Unfortunately, it looks as though the Electoral College for this year's presidential election in the United States epically failed to do its job:

Not only did they failed to do properly perform their job but at current count, more of Hillary Clinton's electors voted against her than her opponent's voted against him. For a system that was supposedly designed to keep unsuitable people of the White House, they instead eagerly allowed one in. Note this from one of the aforementioned articles:

"Many Republican electors dismissed the pleas to 'vote their conscience,' pointing out that their consciences were perfectly fine with Trump." their collective consciences are "perfectly fine" with racism, misogyny, conspiracy-mongering, trolling, praising a foreign nation's efforts to sabotage an election...I hope all those electors are happy with themselves.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Hucknall 6

For the first time since the summer, I set foot in Hucknall; in addition, it was also the first time since then that I walked to there. Today's walk is my sixth walk to Hucknall; however, what made this walk different from the preceding five is that that I was travelling from Clifton rather than from the Rushcliffe constituency. In addition, I cheated somewhat today by taking the bus from Clifton to the city centre and then starting the main walk from there. As the days are short currently, I figured it wise to do so on this occasion.

On my way to Hucknall, I encountered my Psychology teacher from when I was at Central. She was on the opposite side of the road to me and I only noticed her when I heard her call my name. I'm glad she called me! It was a delight to see her, even if only for a minute.

Once in Hucknall, I walked on an outer road for a while before walking in the town centre and then returning to Bulwell, where I ended up catching a bus to Arnold and then another to the city centre.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

When will they realize...?

The main rival that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced in the 2016 United States presidential election is (once again...) making unconstructive comments on Twitter:

When are those who supported him going to realize that they were conned? This is no hero of the working class...this is a thin-skinned, corrupt "businessman" who has no business being President of the United States. With his appalling cabinet appointments, ties to foreign and domestic crooks, conflicts of interest and his frequent Twitter spats, it's clear his intentions for the presidency are not in good faith; if the Electoral College has any sense, it will reject him.

But then, to many of his supporters, it wasn't about the working was about "winning" no matter the cost.

Friday, 16 December 2016

"The Ten Worst Songs of 2016" - A Dose of Buckley

Every year for the past several years, Adam Buckley from A Dose of Buckley has created a list of what he has deemed to be the "worst" song of each year. 2016 is no exception:

What makes Buckley's video different this year for me is that I'm barely familiar with any of the song, owing the fact I've hardly listened to pop radio for the past 18 months.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

An end-of-term pub gathering

I've spent the last few hours at a pub gathering and am still there (or here). It's an end-of-term meal organised by a mature student for other mature students. The turnout was above 25 but is down to about 10 now, given that it's deep into the evening and now heading towards the night.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A really silly insult

Prior to 2016, a common epithet online used against left-leaning people (or those perceived to be left-leaning) was "libtard". The insult is still used, despite losing ground to other "debate" tactics, but I want to discuss why it's a completely silly term.

First off, the "-tard" part is clearly taken from the word "retarded", which is itself a slur. The implication is that people with left-leaning perspectives are mentally challenged. I don't think I need to explain why it's offensive.

Where the insult is silly lies in the phonetics and spelling. The attack also comes from the word "liberal". There's just one problem: There is no "T" in "liberal" - "libtard" makes zero sense as a result. If anything, the way it's spelled it's more of an attack against libertarians, as there is a T in that word. If anyone wants to confuse a person who cries "libtard", ask what libertarians have to do with the discussion.

In the past year, however, "libtard" has lost out to alt-right (white supremacist) phrases such as "Are you triggered?", "Do you need a safe space?" and "Stop being so sensitive", which are awful (and downright annoying) for other reasons. It's still being used, of course, and anyone who blurts it is often laughed at for being a fool.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

"No More 'I Love You's'" - Annie Lennox

While I've heard the following sounds countless times over the years, only recently did I watched its video:

It's "No More 'I Love You's'" by Annie Lennox, from Medusa, her second studio album. I've heard a significant amount of Lennox's work, both as a solo artist and as a part of Eurythmics, and this is my favourite song of hers.

Lennox was in Dad's music collection.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Arnold, Top Valley and Rise Park

Here in Clifton, there is a bus that travels to Arnold, a region of Nottingham located in the northwestern part of the city. For the first time ever, I decided to ride the route this afternoon; it starts off in a lengthy side street in the outer part of Clifton, stops off at Queen's Medical Centre and then travels all the way up to Arnold's high street before turning around.

The weather wasn't exactly brilliant today and so I soon caught a bus back out of Arnold: the Turquoise route 79A. This bus, while travelling through familiar parts of Nottingham such as Bulwell, ventured through Top Valley and Rise Park, which are two beautiful parts of the city. At least they looked beautiful from what I could tell; I sat at the front of the upper floor of the bus and the front winder was covered with rain while my side window was covered with fog.

Today also marked the first time I have stepped foot in Arnold; I've driven through it as a passenger of my grandfather and rode through several times on the Calverton Connection.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Rogue One and troll anger

The alt-right (white supremacists) and fans of the supposed winner of the recent president election in the United States have gone ballistic about the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story film:

In short, they think that the film is anti-white and believe that it received a small re-shoot to add scenes that were in opposition to the aforementioned supposed winner. The former is paranoid nonsense but if the latter were to be true, political messages are nothing new to Star Wars; after all, Star Wars: Episode VI: Revenge of the Sith was notable for its "So this is liberty freedom dies..." comment made by Padmé Amidala.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Accommodation inspections

Next week, the management for my student accommodation will be visiting to conduct a hygiene inspection of each house on the campus. While my room isn't unhygienic, I have let it become untidy and sometimes I have trouble finding some of my belongings or moving around. Not to matter - I will spend some time tomorrow sorting my room out so that it's all ready for inspections next week; beyond that, I will endeavour to keep my room tidy for my own benefits.

Friday, 9 December 2016

That's one term down...

My last seminar and lecture of the term (and the year) occurred this morning and afternoon, respectively. Both received very low turnout, most likely due to this being the last day of the term and because of the proximity this day has to the holiday season. This is unfortunate, as the last seminars and lectures of a term are no less important than any other.

I can now say that I have completed my first term at university! Counting my time at college, I have now finished seven terms in British education, all with a track record of 100% attendance; my intention is to maintain this streak.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Pre-winter break assignment (redux)

I'm still at work on this essay! It is coming along well and I should be able to write a significant amount more before I head off to bed. One element that has made writing it trickier is that today, my seminar tutor for my American Literature module said that footnotes (but not the bibliography) counts towards the word limit; that kind of cuts down somewhat on what I wanted to write but no matter!

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

"Can't Smile Without You"

Here are three versions of one beautiful song... Barry Manilow... The Carpenters...

...and from the film Unconditional Love, which is my first major encounter with the song, although I might have heard it other media or in store radios (Four Weddings and Funeral, for example, but I don't recall the song in that movie). Manilow's version, which is the most known, was released in 1978 from his album Even Now; however, The Carpenters' version came earlier, in 1977, from their album A Kind of Hush. Manilow appears in Unconditional Love.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Pre-winter break assignment

The winter break will begin after this week. From now until then, however, I have an assignment to work on. I was writing some of it today but nowhere near the amount I wanted to (and should have done). Fortunately, I have most of Wednesday, much of Thursday and - if necessary - Friday after my last lecture of the term to complete it.

Monday, 5 December 2016

"United State of Pop 2016 (Into Pieces)" - DJ Earworm

The annual DJ Earworm mashup is here:

I regret to say that out of all of DJ Earworm's end-of-year mashups, this one I find hard to identify with because I've barely listened to hit radio this year and I don't really know what the popular songs are. Since I have a more active social and educational life now than I did in the summer of 2014, when I last listened heavily, I've no longer felt the need to fill the void with radio.

Still, I enjoyed "United State of Pop 2016 (Into Pieces)", as it's a good song regardless of how much I can identify with it.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The recognition

Yesterday afternoon, a friend and I were standing on the steps of the Nottingham Council House, waiting for another friend, when a man near to us turned to me and congratulated me on my recent nomination. He then said that he was a lecturer from the University of Nottingham and had been present at the Nottingham Post Student Awards from the other night, as was his wife, who he said works at the Clifton Campus of NTU.

In addition, the lecturer was an American (from Wisconsin, in fact, and his wife from Ohio) and noted that I stood out among all the other finalists for him and his wife because it had been stated at the ceremony that I was homeschooled in the United States. While it was lovely to receive the recognition, I hope I will encounter the lecturer and his wife again, as they seemed like friendly people.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Cinema at night

A university friend and I went out tonight to see A United Kingdom. My friend had decided she wanted to watch the movie and I offered to accompany her, both to ensure she had some company and because she is a good friend and I genuinely wanted to spend a few hours out with her. Besides, I shall be busy tomorrow and what better way to relax today than to be with a friend?

Friday, 2 December 2016

Result of the night of the "Nottingham Post"

As it goes, last night I was not the winner of the "Nottingham Post" Further Education award. I am not disappointed by the loss - the nomination was an honour in itself and I still have the award that I won from Central, plus I received a runner-up prize. Also, I was the only finalist last night whose name received a large "whoop" from supporters in audience, which was commented on by the presenters. I have an enthusiastic fan base!

The big surprise of the night was when my History/Sociology teacher, who was my main teacher for both my years at Central, appeared almost out of nowhere behind me. I had attended the ceremony with two friends and did not at all expect my teacher to be there. Having her present was a lovely way to finally end the Access-era of my education, given that she was present at the beginning of my time at Central.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Night of the "Nottingham Post"

It's here - the night of the Nottingham Post award ceremony has arrived. For this ceremony, I have invited a friend from each of my two courses at Central; I only had a short space of time to invite people and a classmate from each course seemed most appropriate. Unless at Central's internal ceremony, at this one I won't find out if I've won until the announcements are made at the event itself!