Bowling And Metalwork

Wednesday 24th January § Leave a comment

What I sat down intending to write last night was a breif account of how nice an evening I’d had. 7 of us went bowling (which I haven’t done since I was 10), followed by a pizza, too celebrate one of the fellow-coursemates birthday. Only one of us acted adult. And then it snowed! At 11 o’clock at night and it was beautiful.

Today contained much source of intrest. Metalworking is now integral to my model making tool-kit. The workshops here are seriously good (in my entirely inexperienced opinion). Thumbs are not for hammering! I have the blood-blister to remind me.

And there was this lecture about TEQ’s (Trading Emissions Quota’s) by an old guy called David Fleming. It really was very simple. There is cause for hope. The inevitable recession from the combination of Climate Change and Peak Oil can be dampened. Our society might just survive. There will have to be a process of total overhaul (or Lean Thinking as he would term it) of our entire lives, but something that is vaguely recognisable as our society could still exist. New Orleans was a demonstration of how little time it took for laws to fail and for the people to resort to mob rule. If only we could get it implemented we might stand a chance. It seems so obvious.


A Windy Day

Friday 19th January § 2 Comments

After having done almost nothing for the last two weeks, I’ve
tried to compensate by two weeks worth of activities in the space of two days.

Yesterday was really spent on borrowed time, after having not slept that evening. About 5:30 in the morning I decided that I was going to write(code) a fullscreen image viewer, which is really useful for previewing images.

There was a fantastic open-lecture by the sudo-client (who’s name I promptly forgot) for the Performing Arts centre designed by Raphael Vinioli. It’s a really interesting project: two theatres, setup in such a way that either can make use of an extended central stage, or even to open up the whole space to include both spaces, the idea was that the workings of the stages would be revealed to the public. What was really interesting was hearing from a clients eye view on such a huge project. This guy was so pashionate about the project and the possibilities, this is Stage 1 of an idea he’s been pushing for 8 years now. Really crappy on the eco front, and 3 times over it’s initial budget, it’s still quite brilliant architecture. (Apparently, being environmentally friendly costs approximately 5% extra)

Today was a bit slow to start. Missed the last of the moisture ingress laboratories because I slept in. Spent 2 hours messing about in Sketchup. For our first model we’ll be copying Mies Van De Rohe’s iconic Barcelona Pavilion, originally designed in 1929 (The current pavilion is a 1970’s replica, because the original got carefully dismantled, but then they lost. They lost a whole building in the post!). The roof of the CAD-lab was groaning ominously in the storm-force winds. The courtyard of our building was roped off because but’s of the Fletcher building where falling off.

Then Rose, Chris and I went house shopping ‘round lunchtime but discounted that property because it didn’t have a double bed. But later saw a house at 5 and came out and within half an hour we’d each withdrawn a £250 deposit so hopefully that will go through in the morning – in my absence. It couldn’t be closer to the campus.

In between the house hunting I sketched a small doodle that I instantly saw in 3D. No inspirations, no process. Miraculous conception.

It’s more like walk through sculpture than true ‘architecture’. Blurry lines I know. General themes that I was pondering at the time: wind 🙂 waves, texture and puzzling about what makes an idea worthy of scaling up into an all out concept. How do you chose what to develop? Why? How should that choice be made? But in the end this idea turned up out of nowhere, complete, and perfectly formed and so I’m just going to go along with it. It’s not as if I can forget this idea, so I’m stuck with it, no matter how hard its going to be to draw/model/construct. Anyway, next Wednesday shoud see inductions into the Metal Working workshops which will be brill.

Then there was climbing (glowing tinglyness throughout), followed by a brief spell in another pub, but I left before the pub quiz got started because my head aches.

Apparently the ‘place to be’ for live music in Leicester is a tiny pub called The Twisted Toucan, with open mic sessions with talented people and live Reggae and cool stuff like that.

Right now I’m enjoying flipping between ‘The Trial Of Tony Blair’ and the realities of Newsnight. Fiction and reality merging. There are moments when it’s . Switch from a fake Gordon Brown patronising likqwl kiddies in a classroom to the real Gordon, being even more patronising to a group of kids on the starting block of a school race, cut to him chewing the cud (in reality). Meaningful TV.

Oh, and tomorrow I’m going to gawp at the glossy glass losenge starchitecture of Manchester as part of the Uni. 10 buildings within the course of the day.

And for those in the loop, I think I’ve lost my mobile phone.

One huge plus-side, in my rather manic search for my mobile, I happened to look behind my bedside cupboard where I discovered my tiny Fuji digital camera that I thought I’d lost about 2 months ago. In the mean time, believing that the Fuji was well and truly vanished I treated myself to a fantastic Pentax digital SLR. Techno-gluton that I am, I’m tempted to keep them both. Photos will be forthcoming.
If I mention that Irn-Bru is a godly drink which would be ideal accompanied by a shot(glass) of lemon(juice) then I’ve manged to tick off all of those pesky category thingies down the side in the one post.

Love to all & noswaith da.

After The Blockade

Tuesday 19th December § 2 Comments

The blockade of Faslane went superbly. We (the Leicester group) blockaded the for a total of 2 hours. When I say ‘we’, really I mean all the other people who were brave enough to go and get themselves arrested. Seeing how easy it was, makes me feel stupid for not having been a part of the locking on. According to a Glasweegian Policeman we were the most effective block he’d seen.

It was a shame that ‘Chain Gang’ decided to swap to the North Gate, rather than the South Gate, because of course the first thing that the police did was to redirect traffic around that way. But such is hindsight. Next time we’ll do things differently. There probrably will be a next time.

Faslane 365 (check out the website) promotes an air of ‘direct action, lite’ (getting arrested, but without the repercussions). Quite possibly a stepping stone to bigger things. If there ever was a safe way to get arrested this would be it. Worth it just for the experience and the warm glow of knowing that you’re doing something that may actually make a difference.

Note to self: protesting is tiring stuff. Went to sleep at 2 last night and was still in bed at
half 5 this afternoon. Thats 15.5 hours worth of slumber (so much for Christmas shopping). Still got a lovely glowing feel-good feeling.

There’s a far more complete account of the weekend on the faslane website, from Liz, on of the GOATS (Golden Oldies Against Trident) who were utterly marvelous. Infact, without exception, all of the people (and police) we met along the way were great. Highly recommended. Go, do it now.

The Black List

Thursday 2nd November § Leave a comment

A group of charities would submit petitions to a government all-party quango who would determine a list of companies to have companies blacklisted for their records of breaking human rights legislation’s or of serious environmental crimes both here and in the rest of the world.

Banks and buildings societies as well as other corporations such as supermarkets would sign up voluntarily to boycott any company on this list. The only sanction for breaking this embargo would be the adverse publicity that this would cause.

A company on the black list could appeal to the government quango.

Six monthly reports by the quango would publicise the worst offenders with the aim of using public bargaining power to force the companies to ‘do the right thing’ in order to protect their brand image and by association, their profits.

Government run. Open to bribery? Not enforced strongly enough?

Amnesty International project? Global list.


Thursday 2nd November § 2 Comments

If you haven’t heard of Faslane then it’s a Trident (nuclear submarine) base not too far from Glasgow. The aim of this base is to provide Britain with first-strike nuclear abilities. Basically Britain feels the need to be able to call a nuclear strike against any country in the world. An eloquent discussion of the issues behind Trident which questions the MoD’s desire to replace the Trident system by 2014 was recently published by the Britich American Security Information Council.

If the government are to follow the MoD’s time-scale and their stated belief that the Trident program cannot be extended but rather needs a total replacement (and all indications are that the cabinet will) then that would require a new bill of parliament to be passed. Bearing in mind that it takes approximately 7 years to build a program equivalent to Trident’s from scratch (including brand new missiles and submarines) that limits the decision making timeframe to within the next 12 months. Tony Blair has promised a vote on the subject, but he has no constitutional obligation to heed the results.

Given that such a momentous decission might well be made . It comes down to the cliched “If not us then who else?”

If your interested in saving the world then heres some further reading:

The WMD Commission (headed up by Hans Blix) have recently published a report titled “WEAPONS OF TERROR: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms” which you can grab off their site. Here are just a few of the juciest sections from the synopsis. (I have yet to read the 227 pages of the full report).

“It is high time to revitalise global cooperation on disarmament and the Commission presents a list of 60 recommendations. At the top are the recommendations that all governments must accept the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that was agreed ten years ago, that states currently possessing nuclear weapons must reduce their arsenals and that they must stop producing plutonium and highly enriched uranium for more nuclear weapons. It is high time to revitalise global cooperation on disarmament”

“All states – even the great powers – must prepare to live without nuclear weapons and other weapons of terror.”

What I like about this group is that their such a reliable source. These guy’s report to the UN and if 15 of the top governments in the world believe them, then why shouldn’t you?

(Don’t take any of my figures as facts, just follow the links. The truth is almost certainly more scary than I make it out to be)

For a comics view of issues around nuclear/the arms industry check out Mark Thomas. He’s a genius. He really is. Thank’s to Emily for the audio. (Why I didn’t hear about his gig in Leicester until the day afterwards? Grrrr) For a preview you should definitely have a listen to this reading entitled ‘The Penis Of Peace’ from his book ‘As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela’.

Escalation Towards War?

Thursday 20th July § Leave a comment

Recently I’ve been questioning my impartiality over the Israel, Palestine and now Lebanon conflict. I suppose I always have a tendency to support the underdogs (It’s part of the Welsh psyche, like automatically supporting anyone who plays against England). I’ll try and be as impartial as I can.

I’d be the first to admit that my knowledge of history is patchy and what I’ve written here is just my opinion and any facts here may not be actual facts at all. When I talk about Israel or Israelis I’m referring to the political and military establishments rather than the Israeli people.

First a bit of background to make sense of the current situation. This latest escalation was incited by the kidnap of three Israeli soldiers. About three weeks ago Corporal Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian militants who’d tunnelled under the Israeli-Palestinian border. Which would seem to set the blame directly at the feet of Hamas and Hezbollah and indirectly Syria and Iran. Of course it’s more complicated than that.

What really worries me is that I’m not sure either side really want to find a peaceful solution.

In a twisted way Hezbollah benefit directly from Israel’s bombing, which brings them greater support and in a horrible way, legitimacy: ‘you see how evil the Israelis are, they just want an excuse to bomb us, we must fight back just as hard’.

On the Israeli side I fear that the well oiled military machine already has its orders to use this as an opportunity to crush Hezbollah, despite how obvious it should be that Hezbollah can never be eradicated by brute firepower. Their first action of the hostilities shows their intent with their bombing of Beirut airport. This action doesn’t punish Hezbollah or provide any defensive role to Israel. Instead this crippling of infrastructure is aimed directly at the Lebanese government. What we are witnessing is the collective punishment of the whole country which goes far beyond the confines of measured retaliation.

Neither position is morally tenable. Both are equally wrong. How’s that for balance. The real losers are the innocent civilians on both sides. (Although its not a matter of bias to expect the Lebanese civilians to suffer imensly more). I only hope that the UN can find agreement to deploy a peacekeeping force. As it stands I can see no other possibility for a de-escelation.

Almost Half Way

Wednesday 26th April § Leave a comment

Today was exhausting. As expected, it didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped. But then I compensated by staying in school an extra hour, which brought me back on target. I've built the seat and the wind-shield-like structure so hopefully I'll have some extra time to build another section. Already I'm taking up a quater of the art room, so extending .

It's a little difficult to tell how much longer I'll need. Basically I'm making it up as I go along, but I'm quite certain that I'll need every extra minute I can get. It's not cheating, honest. I'm allowed an extra 25% of time (the advantages of having M.E.), which equates to a handy three hours).

One problem that I have yet solved is how I'm going to disassemble this piece so that I can store it, before reassembling it for the external moderation. It's horrible to think of all my hard work being cut to shreds just to fit it into a cupboard (I'll have nightmares).

I finally managed to send of my reply's to the Uni's, after Nottingham Trent withdrew their course for some reason (I really couldn't care less, they didn't even have RIBA accreditation). So my choices have been sent irreversibly:

  • Firm Choice: De Montfort, Leicester
  • Insurance Choice: University Of Creative Design, Canterbury

I'm happy.

Anyone interested in the state of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict should read a report written by my friend Emily of her experience of a fact-finding mission >>

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