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Mon 3 Jun 2013

Cometh The Time, Cometh The Canadian?

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James Burt

On July 1, Mark Carney, the former head of the Canadian central bank, will take over as Governor of the Bank of England. He replaces Sir Mervyn King, who has served as Governor for ten years, and is widely seen as the elder statesman of Threadneedle Street. Carney arrives fresh from staving off the worst of the global financial crisis in Canada and as the first foreign-born Governor of the BofE. Sir Mervyn's departure is seen by many as an opportunity for Carney to take the Bank in an entirely new direction, but the incoming Governor is unlikely to live up to much of the billing ascribed to him. Since the BofE was made fully independent of the Government by Gordon Brown in 1997, it has been required by statute to make keeping inflation, as measured by an index of goods and services, within a target band its primary responsibility. That target band is currently 2 per cent plus-or-minus one per cent, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation. The Bank's obs ...

Mon 3 Jun 2013

The Cull Won't Work

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Ollie Moody

1am. Baldwin can sense the moon reaching its zenith. Time you were gone . Behind him, he can hear Brunhilde convulsed in another fit of string-theory coughing. She can hardly eat. He wrinkles his nose and shambles into the entrance tunnel. The night is the colour and texture of mercury; a sickly brightness hangs over the bank. Baldwin sniffs the air. Faint echoes of a vixen; a harem of deer somewhere up the barely perceptible breeze; frogs; and there – the crunch of freshly turned earth. And something else. Something he can’t place. He shrugs. The forest is full of strangeness. He doesn’t hear the bullet that kills him. Fired from 100 yards away across the water with a sinuous pfft , it runs straight through his left temple and out of his neck, tearing his spinal cord from his spine. If you're reading this clumsy piece of prose, the chances are you've already made up your mind one way or another. For those who care - and there are plenty who don't - the battle lines in t ...

The Alligator Superblog: latest posts

Jane Eyre at the Rosemary Branch

| Fri 3 May 2013

Why bother? Why would you even try to adapt Jane Eyre into a dramatic production? The novel is an almost perfect period piece preserving the archit ...

It's a Bloody Drum

| Tue 16 Apr 2013

The hang is not a drum. It is a hang. Do not call it a drum. This misnomer creates "a ripple effect of misinformation that leads to damaged inst ...

The DRC Elections: Raising more questions than answers?

| Sat 11 Feb 2012

The DRC made the headlines at the end of last year for electoral malpractice and violence and was treated with weary cynicism by the majority of news ...

Sat 13 Apr 2013

Italy's New Master of Puppets

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Jonathan King

It's been over a month and a half. Italy is still a solitary lost boot floating in the Mediterranean, with no clear premier, ruling party, or future, for the first time in the Republic's history. When a similar stall happened in the UK, it was very Shakespearean: there was an unlikely love story between irreconcilably warring factions, a lot of the juicy action happened offstage, and it all ended tragically in a tryst in a rose garden. Fittingly, Italy's intermezzo has been more operatic. Courtesans and foreign influence caused the fall of the previous leader, and now the good and noble people of Italy, long repressed by his rule, await the outcome of the final, set-piece battle between the old Duke, his cigar-chomping supposed successor, and the loveable court jester who suddenly appeared from behind an armoire in Act 3. This harlequin is Beppe Grillo, the now-infamous comedian and leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S), a political party which he began, but to which his own rule ...

Sun 16 Dec 2012

A world where theatre has died

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Ollie Moody

- “Do you not realise that you too could create all these things in a sense?" - “And what sense is that?” he said. - “It’s not difficult,” I said. “You could do it anywhere you like and as quickly as you like – quickest, I suppose, if you took a looking-glass and held it up all around you. You could make the sun in an instant, and everything in the sky; the earth in an instant, yourself in an instant, and all the other animals and tools and plants and all the other things we were just talking about.” - “Oh, sure,” he said, “as they appear – but not as they really are.” Plato, Republic X 596d-e The best insults come back as banners. “Tory” originally meant outlaw or rebel – coined from the Irish word for “pursue” – until it became a badge of honour for the Royalist faction in Parliament under Charles II. The “Impressionist” movement took its name from a sneer by the art critic and satirist Louis Leroy, who lambasted Monet’s Impre ...

Sat 11 Feb 2012

It's Not the Time

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Ross Jones-morris

"It is no secret that Tories in the south want to leave Scotland in darkness, but fixing the clocks to British summertime would mean that dawn wouldn't break until nearly 9am." With all of the sardonic candour that only an opposition politician could muster, SNP MP Angus MacNeil public denounces David Cameron's support for moving the clocks forward by an hour in order to align with Central European Time. And many, many people agree with him.The announcement that the government has backed a bid for the UK to move its clocks forward for a three year trial period has been met with dissenting voices, especially from the devolved powers. With these doubts ringing in Parliament's ears, Cameron has backed the plan with Business Secretary Edward Davey stating that, "as the prime minister has made clear, we would need consensus from the devolved administrations if any change were to take place". So what's all the fuss about? The pro-time change lobby tell of the practica ...

Sun 5 Feb 2012

#SH!T

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Charlotte King

One year after the popular Egyptian uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, Twitter has announced that it will permit country-specific censorship of content that violates regional laws. Censored tweets would be greyed out and replaced with the words ‘This tweet from @username has been withheld in: Country’. As protests spread from Egypt in 2011, Twitter’s micro-blogging service became an important platform for protesters to air views, coordinate action plans and celebrate victory in a quick and globally accessible way. So powerful was the impact that when the London riots began, many cited Twitter for fuelling the fire, and called for the network to shut. Twitter was not just an agent of these uprisings. In its famous blog post a year ago, ‘The Tweets Must Flow’, Twitter officials appeared convinced that their service served an important global function: Our goal is to instantly connect people everywhere to what is most meaningful to them. For this to happen, freedom of ...

Thu 15 Dec 2011

“The fancies of beautiful words”

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Patrick Kennedy

“When all the world is mad,” the great G. H. Hardy once opined, “a mathematician may find in mathematics an incomparable anodyne.” If he’s right – and he usually was – now is probably one of those rare moments when you should envy the college mathematicians. The latest round of climate talks has collapsed into what can only be described as paroxysms of indecision, a messy, convulsive end to a Kafkaesque farce of lacklustre delegates and bizarre intergovernmental pranks. Cabals issuing cynical fake documents, intimate ministerial “huddles to save the world”, and high-profile threats to walk out left the conference in Durban looking more like a hideous soap-opera than a measured, progressive discussion. As one impassioned commentator chillingly remarked, “it’s a disastrous, profoundly distressing outcome” . Citizens of Earth, tremble in your socks. In a strange way, the one constructive element of Durban 2011 is also its most appalling. Oddly, we do now have a ...

Mon 7 Nov 2011

Port and Idiocy

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Nakul Krishna

One reads the headline in the morning’s Telegraph with that familiar crushing feeling: ‘Oxford Tories’ nights of port and Nazi songs’. A gruesome illustrated litany follows, listing the less wholesome doings of members of the Oxford University Conservative Association. The Telegraph , whose known editorial politics make the article unlikely to be motivated by party political considerations, indicts OUCA on the counts of "anti-Semitism, debauchery and snobbery". The Telegraph ’s online edition confirms that it is not déjà vu one is feeling. We are invited to click on ‘Related Links’ to articles headlined ‘Oxford student Tories in racism row’ (June 2009), and, with comic predictability, ‘Oxford student Tories in sexism row’ (June 2010). Perhaps one is being too charitable, but it is difficult to believe that OUCA is an unequivocally or even predominantly racist (sexist, elitist, anti-Semitic...) institution. That its officers have been sufficiently ...

Sun 6 Nov 2011

Old-Boy Network

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Tom Gardner

To outsiders the world of the English boarding school can occasionally seem incomprehensibly foreign: the esoteric slang, the strangely archaic routines and the flamboyantly Edwardian dress codes tending to elicit amusement and derision in equal measure. These things can be, and generally are, seen as essentially harmless. They are throwbacks to bygone eras, of interest only to the eccentric antiquarian seduced by these pockets of Victorian idiosyncrasy which Britain has managed to preserve over the years with little but an occasional swipe from an embittered Guardian columnist. The cream of English boarding schools live on in their quirky outdated grandeur across the country, keeping themselves to themselves and their peculiar rituals intact. Scattered across the English countryside, self-sufficient and withdrawn into themselves like monasteries, each one is an island. Even exceptions like Harrow, which has now been swallowed by the relentless march of London’s urban sprawl, stil ...

Fri 4 Nov 2011

Mephedrone and Murakami - An Interview with Ben Brooks

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David Mcleod

I’m meeting 19 year old author Ben Brooks to talk about his most recent novel Grow Up . He’s pretty camera- and interview-shy it seems, preferring to promote himself through interviews with publications like web-based lit-journal HTMLGIANT. All I know of Brooks in the flesh is that he’s ‘a heartthrob’ ( Dazed and Confused ) and ‘has a killer fringe’ ( Don’t Panic ). I’m also told he’s “fucking righteous” ( HTMLG ) When he arrives he’s quiet. He has an intricate tattoo of a rose on his right bicep, half obscured by a the sleeve of a denim jacket. His fringe is confirmed as totally killer. For the last week I’ve been reading and re-reading Grow Up in prep. I can’t help but compliment him on various lines that have gotten stuck in my head. The new best description of a hangover ever: “I have built a train-wreck in my head from cheap wine and horrible sex”.The book that Brooks says started him writing came out of the American scene; The Human W ...

Sun 16 Oct 2011

Printing your own money

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Chris Lambert

On the 1st of June, an article appeared on the website Gawker with the intriguing headline ‘The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable’. It is an interesting article, and yes, you still can buy a whole host of illegal products from the site . However, the article’s significance to the world lay not in its exposition of this shady eBay knockoff, but in its explanation of one of the underlying anonymising technologies being employed: Bitcoins. What are Bitcoins? An explanation is offered in this video by its proponents: In other words, Bitcoins are a digital currency, virtual tokens. They were dreamt up in December 2009 by a cryptographer under the probable pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ who has now vanished from the scene. Put simply, their value – like the U.S Dollar following its exit from the gold standard – is not ‘backed up’ by any tangible assets, but is instead derived from ‘faith’. By faith, I mean a collective belief that Bitcoins ...

Sat 8 Oct 2011

Independent penalty?

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Leah Broad

AQA recently announced a scheme to rank all A-level students according to which school they attend, aimed at exposing potential in students from underachieving schools. Or, to put it another way, AQA have today announced a scheme to penalise students from independent schools. Under the system, students from low-performing comprehensives in disadvantaged areas would be entitled to A-level ‘bonus points’ for their school’s ranking, whereas a student from a top performing independent with no students on free school meals would be penalised for the average success of their school. In theory, the scheme sounds promising; a leveling of potential regardless of achievement. In practice attributing bonus points for underperforming schools and penalty points for top ones is fraught with danger. As Professor Alan Smithers from the University of Buckingham has stated, “There must be concerns about the ranking the candidates are awarded. The possibility for errors are enormous.” The ...

Wed 5 Oct 2011

Indifference and dirty hearts

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Anoosh Chakelian

“Nobody knows all the wounds of our national tragedy... This trouble will drive us mad” These words of Gomidas in his final moments of lucidity are chillingly prophetic. Perhaps the original tortured artist, his pithy and disarmingly titled songs, such as I Cannot Dance and Oh, What a Delight echo the wry melancholy of The Smiths more than a peasant folk tradition of almost a century earlier. Yet both irony and incongruity were so poignant in the life and works of this Armenian priest and musician - or, to give him his lofty official title, ‘doctor of musicology’.He wrenched the remnants of Armenian peasant culture into the 20th century, painstakingly putting rural folk songs he came across to manuscript paper. His aim was to resurrect the cultural heritage of his homeland. Yet this was not a self-promoting scheme reminiscent of patronising narodniks attempting to incite passion in indifferent Russian serfs. It was an entirely selfless, and ultimately masochistic, task, ...