Photo Credit: marco gomes
Written by: Hugo Verity
Catherine Zeta-Jones does it. So does Kate Winslet. You might have dabbled now and then or hate everything to do with it. You might hate me in 500 words’ time. The question is: who are the haters to tell the smokers they can’t do it?
I’m not a die-hard tobacco lover or cancer sceptic; I would never encourage it or deny its risks. But I’m not an anti-smoker either. It seems a habit (ironically) of ours to divide the world into love or hate, black or white, good or bad. You either smoke and are stupid, or you don’t and are a saint. The powers that be, to generalise, tend to claim the latter. It doesn’t seem to strike them (not publically anyway) that it is all of these things - that it can be good and bad. And there’s a problem to all this; a problem that leads me to sit as I do, not impartial or critical but a defender of the underdog, even a promoter of freedom (depending how self-righteous I get). I’m an anti-anti-smoker.
The problem with the ram-the-message-home mentality - one that dwarves all opponents - is that it is both patronising and stigmatising. It would be safe to say that many smokers realise the problem. It’s a killer, a baby-deformer, an “expensive way to die”. Message received and understood. It’s horrible. But it’s also at least one other thing: their tool for coping with the hell of life. It makes me wonder: what happens to the prisoner and the homeless guy, the labourer and the burdened single parent? We seem unable to remember that if we take away a pleasure, we’ll not only teeter on prohibition (and history teaches us where that leads) but ban something that people use to split life into manageable chunks. Stress is a killer, you know.
Educate people, and the choice is theirs. We all believe in the right to live, within reason, as we wish - the impossible utopia that we all seek. The point is (my little gym-goers and fruit-eaters) that to know the risks and to do it anyway says something more than ‘that person’s an idiot, a stupid and selfish fool’. It says instead ‘it’s worth it and it’s up to me’.
Restrict it by all means, but hate people for it? Totally ban it? I’d sooner not. So, before you slate people for their little ounce of pleasure remember this: smoking never drove anyone to punch a bystander, and few smokers hate the moment that a cigarette relieves boredom, anger or grief. First and foremost, no good comes from stigmatising smokers. Why? Because they are not just smokers, they are people. They are mothers, hard-workers, royalty and labourers. Seems a funny way to go about creating a fairer world, telling people what they can’t do. Bring on the counter-attack.
Four years ago Tourism Australia ran a competition for “The Best Job in the World”, looking for the perfect candidate to look after Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef. They ran the competition again this year, expanding to six positions, and one of Bath’s very own students is through to the final 25 for the job of Wildlife Caretaker on Kangaroo Island. bathimapct got chance to talk to Tom and ask him a few questions.
What made you apply for the job?
I love travel, adventure and wildlife, and I’m just finishing a degree in Applied Biology at Bath University, and what better first job to apply for than 6 months in Australia? My brother Jon took a gap year before college and travelled to Australia; 12 months later he’s living in New Zealand and has had the time of his life in both places. My mum and dad visited him for a month in Australia in January and they had such an awesome time that I decided I needed to go – it looked amazing.
I saw back in March that Tourism Australia were advertising for, not one, but 6 “Best Jobs in the World”. I remembered when this was done a few years ago and it was won by a Brit called Ben Southall, so I investigated how to apply. The whole job description was so appealing, and the idea of being paid A$100,000 as a six month salary sounded pretty good too!
The Job Description: “As Wildlife Caretaker you’ll swim with sea lions, come face to face with great white sharks and assist with conservation projects. Your duties will allow you to explore our amazing environment by foot, kayak, bicycle, and boat, taking only photographs and leaving only footprints. On Kangaroo Island you’ll talk to wallabies and cuddle koalas, sunbake with seals on pristine beaches at Seal Bay, feed echidnas in untouched bushland, and play with dolphins in crystal waters…”.
What has the process been like so far?
The application started with just a homemade 30 second video uploaded to Youtube. Me and my friend Matt went down to Dinton Pastures, our local park at home, and shot the whole thing in a day. There’s a bit in the video where I run to jump in the lake, but it was way too cold a day for me to actually go through with it!
When I heard that they had 600,000 enquiries and 45,000 video applications from all over the world I thought I stood no chance at all. But, against all odds, I checked their web site on the 11th of April and 6 video applications were shown as “best examples” including mine! I started a blog so from then on I posted updates on my progress. The 23rd April was a nervous day before the official short listing decision but ended with an email at 3 minutes to midnight saying:
“Congratulations on making the shortlist…from over 600,000 entries submitted across the globe for six jobs, you are one of only 25 candidates in the running for the role of Wildlife Caretaker based in South Australia.”
I was still in with a chance of winning! Since then I’ve been all over social media campaigning, as well as doing some stunts like covering twice the width of the island in a day and performing a flashmob dance down in town. It’s all been pretty tough to manage while trying to revise for final year exams at the same time.
You covered twice the width of the island?
Yeah, I’m part of the Triathlon Team here at uni and we did a half Iron Man a few months ago. The island is 55km across so I figured by doing it twice, as well as stopping off at Bristol Zoo to check out all the animals, it would be a good way of showing that I’m more than capable for the job. It was tough doing it all, but I had friends with me for all the swimming, running and cycling, and hopefully it all will have been worth it.
So, what comes next?
Now the 25 candidates will be shortlisted to 3 for each job, and they’ll take those 3 out to Australia. I’ve just handed in all the final versions of my CV, references and all the social media and press stuff for them to look over, but I’ll keep posting online in the mean time. I find out in a week’s time whether or not I’m through so it’s going to be a pretty tense week.
What would it mean to you to get the job?
It’s simply the best start I could have to my working life, an absolute dream job. If I get it I know I will be the luckiest guy in the world, and if I don’t I know I’ll at least have given it my best shot! So please wish me luck, and if you get chance then go check out my blog and see my progress, as the more support I can get the better!
Photo Credit: CalebWheelerRobinson
Written by: Dylan Baker
A former University of Bath student has been jailed for 12 months after admitting to charges of bribery and possession of an imitation weapon.
Yang Li, a 26 year old Masters student in innovation and technology management attempted to bribe Professor Andrew Graves to give him a passing mark of 40% in his dissertation, after it was awarded 37%.
At a meeting on 23rd November, Li offered Graves £5,000 in return for a 40% mark but Graves declined and asked Li to leave. Upon putting the money away, a replica gun which was loaded with six pellets fell from Li’s pocket. Professor Graves said he felt ‘fear’ and ‘alarm’ upon seeing the gun.
Blake James, speaking in Li’s defense, argued that Li was in no way a “sham” student. He explained to Bristol Crown Court that it was not unusual for Li to carry large amounts of cash and that he was in possession of the 0.177 air pistol for shooting practice and didn’t want to leave it in his car. Mr Li’s defense also said that his client was worried about the future of his studies, due his fears about being able to move from his current student visa – which is due to expire – to a Tier 1 visa.
The judge, Michael Longman, said: “Your bid to achieve a pass mark by offering what was a bribe to your professor was ill-conceived to the point of being a spectacular mistake and one which was doomed to fail from the start.”
Li was ordered to pay £4,880 in prosecution costs and spend twelve months in jail as he sobbed in the Bristol Court with his parents, wife and parents-in-law. He will return to China after he has served his jail sentence.
Photo Credit: prebano66
Written by: Daphne Karnezis
In March 2013, BBC journalist John Sweeney convinced not only the North Korean authorities, but also a group of unwitting students that he was in fact Professor Sweeney, History professor at LSE. This façade was adopted in order for Sweeney to accompany the LSE students on a trip to North Korea, thereby gaining entry as a tourist into a country that forbids journalists and has become known as “the last Stalinist state”.
Mr Sweeney, a graduate of LSE himself, has earned a reputation as a journalist whose risk-taking has involved hiding in a car boot in Zimbabwe in order to meet with the leader of the opposition during the Robert Mugabe regime. His investigations have played a critical part in the acquittal of three women wrongly convicted of killing their children. In this case however, the stakes were higher. Although the full group was fortunate enough to depart from the country before North Korean authorities realised Mr Sweeney was in the country, critics are claiming he took investigative journalism too far, in that he knowingly jeopardized the safety of the students. Had Mr Sweeney and his cameraman’s identities been discovered whilst still in North Korea, it could have meant detention of the entire party in a country whose current environment is already uneasy due to renewed nuclear tensions.
The educational trip itself is thought to have been organised in the name of the prestigious Grimshaw Society (of the LSE International Relations Department), which is claimed to have circulated details of the trip to its members. This goes against claims from the LSE itself that the students were totally unaware of the trip. An LSE International Relations postgraduate student who prefers to remain anonymous told me that she “joined Grimshaw because it’s a prestigious club and I was interested in attending their various discussions on current affairs. I wouldn’t necessarily steer clear of the trips now but to me it reflects negatively on the club because they clearly don’t know what their members are getting into”.
The credibility of the BBC’s recent mission is further brought into question when considering the novelty and quality of the information ultimately presented in the BBC’s Panorama programme on April 15th. The majority of existing documentaries are filmed at the North Korean-Chinese border, and feature stories from North Koreans fleeing their country, with very few exceptions. The most notable exception to this is perhaps the documentary Children of the Secret State (2000), which captured the lives of homeless North Korean orphans, shot in the country using ‘underground’ cameramen. Although Sweeney’s footage was of the few filmed within the country itself, his Twitter account has been bombarded with comments degrading the quality of his work. Whether Sweeney’s insight added value or not, it is such ‘episodes’ that threaten to cast a shadow on the validity and credibility of investigative journalism.
This is not the first time questions have been raised about how far journalists and the press should go in terms of what they are allowed to publish; findings from the 2011-2012 Leveson Inquiry revealed that, even in journalism courses, ethics are not singled out as being important. It remains to be seen whether Sweeney’s insight is genuinely valuable, given that North Korea is becoming increasingly isolationist and the mounting tension between North Korea and their ‘enemies’, the US. and South Korea.
This latest and rather upsettingly last entrance into my sporting sentiments is going to look at a subject very close to my old ticker. For those of you that are regular readers of my ramblings over the last year, or if indeed you know me, will more than likely know that I am one of those lunatics that decide to stand between the sticks week in week out all in the name of fun.
The reason I am telling you this, is that I need to get one of my biggest pet hates off of my chest before I disappear onto distant shores for my placement years. This hate is that of the idiocy of the fans who decide to say stupid things about the performance of the heroes that put their bodies on the line for their team. The species that I hear is known as the goalkeeper.
These fans who clearly have never stood in a training session whilst the whole team pelt balls or pucks towards the goal. Take a hockey keeper for example, the poor fool stands there in the D, with so much padding he looks like Mr Blobby. It is well documented that being a keeper is a lonely career, where you put your reputation in the air every week ready for it to be smashed to pieces.
If a striker misses a chance, big deal, if a keeper makes a mistake, 99 times in 100 it results in a goal, cue the verbal assassination of said individual. Granted we know what we are signing up for when we take on the role of being ‘a cat’. But when fans continue to sit in the stands eating their pie, whilst criticising goalkeepers, I will not be able to sleep at night.
I was recently stood in the terraces of a football establishment, surrounded by ignorant pigs, sorry football fans. In goal was a young goalkeeper who had recently turned professional. I am sure he would be the first to admit that he didn’t have his greatest match, however the incompetence of the fools playing in front of him just left him entirely exposed and helpless between the sticks. Having read the comments of these ignoranuses on fora on the Berners-Lee network, I felt sick, the young keeper who was singled out from the rest of his incompetent teammates. No wonder we rarely produce quality keepers in this country nowadays, because who on earth would put themselves through this criticism when they know they are going to earn less money than every single player in the club. Rants 2012-13 over.
Photo Credit: Ammar Abd Rabbo
Written by Rebecca Muir
The naked female body is used by feminists to subvert institutional sexism and reclaim ownership of the female form. However, is this actually an effective method to get feminism to be taken seriously, or does it just mean that people seriously miss the point?
How a woman reveals her body uproots so many assumptions deeply engrained in society. Last month in Steubenville, Ohio, a young girl was raped and assaulted by two footballers. While she was completely unconscious and bystanders watched, the two young men posted explicit details on Twitter. Despite this, victim-blaming comments on social media appeared, describing her as ‘a loose drunk slut’. This yielded sympathy for the rapists, as ‘they did what most people in their situation would have done’. As this girl was attractive and dared to expose her legs while at a party, she lost ownership of her body. This sends out a clear message to women; you cannot dress or look how you want to. Feminists using their body to expose this inequality, to reply to this oppression using a clever tactic that angers and disturbs men most of all – my body is mine and I can do what I like with it.
The media focusing on the narrow category of a nineteen year old with a banging body has a cascade of ramifications for everyone’s body image and self-worth. As we are being constantly bombarded with images of pert tits and tiny waists, toilet papers such as The Sun are defining female attractiveness with airbrushed and unrealistic images. Women are reduced to hyper-sexualised caricatures, packaged for male gratification. The high turn-over of these models reinforces female inferiority in society, as women are treated like disposable objects only useful for entertaining the male gaze. Femen, a Ukrainian topless protest group, are quite rightfully angry about the way women are devalued and have staged many topless demonstrations in response to the inequality. A nineteen year old Femen protester recently received threats of stoning after displaying the words ‘my body belongs to me’ on her chest. These women are putting themselves in real danger in order to reclaim their bodies and rights, and it is definitely effective at highlighting how society treats women.
However, this method could be seen to be a cheap gimmick in order to get press attention – attention which probably won’t convey the desired political message. Unfortunately feminists are in a power struggle, where ironically their most potent weapon is their bodies (and its objectification). Femen have been covered by the press internationally, appearing in news features and articles on CNN, BBC and Euronews. But you can’t help but think one of the reasons they have this much media impact is because they are often slim, blonde and attractive – a narrow desirable category of appearance that normally decorates the pages of newspapers anyway. People probably aren’t looking at their chests to read the Ukrainian protest slogans. Sex sells, but it’s effectiveness at challenging patriarchy is questionable.
Women are disproportionately underrepresented in the most influential public spheres of UK society, with men making up nearly 80% of MPs and 74% of news journalists. No wonder women try and use any power they can grasp to try and change the oppressive barriers in place. It’s uncertain whether this is the best tactic to actually change the way society thinks about women, or if it just reinforces the idea that women are only worthy if they are pretty. Feminists are fighting for sexual liberation, freedom and overall equality. It’s quite a shame that while using their assets to promote change, the message gets lost in translation, and they can simply be seen as fit birds.
Written by Ben Hooper
What does the acronym NHL (National Hockey League) mean to you? I’m guessing it doesn’t mean a whole lot and just looks like I’ve spelled NHS wrongly.
Well you can un-hold your breath; this isn’t going to be an article about sport in the health service, or a team of nurses in tight spandex fighting their way through the underbelly of the seedy custard wrestling championships. No - this is an article about Ice Hockey.
I’ve mentioned the NHL because it’s what most people have heard of when it comes to the top flight of professional leagues; the British Elite league amongst others goes unnoticed to those in an area without a local ice rink, and ice hockey is an alien sport to most Brits and continental Europeans.
The first thing people mention (in my experience) about the sport is violence, people with no teeth and more violence. Although it is a fairly violent sport, the violence is almost completely a tactical necessity of the game - so don’t let it put you off.
Nowadays, the sport’s stereotyped brutality is far outweighed by the intricate skill and fitness of the players - however, this is only true of the top flight of professional ice hockey; there are some leagues in which as a spectator, you are guaranteed a certain number of fights.
The Team: Five out-skaters on the ice at a time, and one net minder (goalie.) The out-skaters are made up of two defence-men, (left and right) and three forwards (left wing, centre and right wing)
The Hockey Rink: There are three zones on an ice hockey rink, one team’s defensive zone, the neutral zone and the same team’s offensive zone. The ice is separated into three sections by two rather large blue lines along the ice; the neutral zone sits between these blue lines. The offside rule in hockey is pretty straightforward; it states that the puck must enter the attacking zone before any of the attacking players.
The BUIHA (British University Ice Hockey Association) run the national Ice Hockey league. Unfortunately, there aren’t many teams, especially in the local area, and British ice hockey suffers on occasion from lack of support. For example, just last year, Bristol’s ice rink was closed after 46 years- which meant the end of many hockey teams, and that the rinks nearest to Bristol are now in Cardiff and Swindon.
Temporary Christmas rinks pop up at Christmas- However, for anyone who really wants to experience the freedom of skating, this is hardly an alternative. Many teams have a large cohort, and play at a semi-professional standard, usually benefitting from foreign players from some of the world’s leading hockey nations.
The league winners fluctuate somewhat year to year, but the teams with a high number of foreign students prosper - which makes the league unfair but adds competitiveness, and allows able British players to develop amongst higher skilled players.
British professional ice hockey has a devout fan base and is thoroughly entertaining, but despite this, there are only ten teams in the league. This wasn’t always the case - in fact ice hockey was a massively popular sport in Britain until before WWII, with crowds numbering in the ten thousands for the world’s first ever ice hockey Varsity game, between Oxford and Cambridge (This is played yearly to this day).
Now, just a few thousand turn up to professional games. Even though British Ice Hockey is on the decline, if you get a chance to catch Cardiff, Coventry, Sheffield or Nottingham play I strongly recommend it.
Otherwise, the NHL play-offs in the US is just about to start, the most exciting period of the season, where after 82 games, the top eight teams from the Eastern and Western conferences battle it out in best of seven round-robins until there’s just two teams left.
After years of drought the Toronto Maple leafs are looking good going into the play-offs, for the first time in six years but whether they can beat the steaming HOT Hawks or Penguins remains to be seen.
Photo Credit: vl8189
Written by: Tom Ash
If you put a gun to my head and told me to answer, in one word, the question “where are you from?” then the answer would have to be “Europe”. Naturally, it is not the answer I would give in more amiable circumstances. I like to explain that I was born in Britain, but currently live in Spain and my immediate family are based in France; clarity saves on future misunderstandings, after all. But the only word which can hope to encompass all of those places is ‘Europe’. Surely that makes me (as well as others), whose national situation is a good deal more polygamous and interesting than my own, first and foremost European? What an odd proposition that is.
At the risk of sounding sensationalist, ‘European’ has always been something of a dirty word in the British tabloid press (particularly, dare I say, when preceded by ‘Eastern’). The barrage of euro-pessimism emanating from The Sun and chums equates positive endorsement of a cultural European demos, to overt subversion by the evil federalists towards a United States of Europe, or so it would seem. Even most non-xenophobes are hesitant to accept a continental identity, buying the line that to do so would be treachery to dear old Blighty. Being British must come before all else (unless you are Welsh, Scottish or Irish, that is).
But it is ironic that this patriotism – or, to give it the less fashionable name, nationalism - should be a response to an apparently constructed identity thrust upon us by self-interested politicians and beardy intellectuals. For it is from precisely this source that our sense of Britishness derives.
Consider: The United Kingdom of Great Britain was formed just over three hundred years ago (Ireland didn’t get added for another century) when the English monarchy formalised its annexation of Wales and Scotland into a single union. None of the parties concerned, even the English (who did rather well out of the arrangement) were thrilled by the idea of sharing a country with the smelly foreigners who lived miles away. To pacify this incipient grumbling, English politicians and pro-unionists harnessed the power of nationalism, encouraging the divergent populaces to unite behind a convergent cultural identity; Britain.
Britishness then, is just as much a construct as Europeanism. Indeed, other countries recognise this when, in their native idiom, they continue to identify us as English and England (much to the other Home Countries’ chagrin) and scarcely use the words ‘British’ or ‘United Kingdom). If there is no shame in feeling British, then nor is there any in feeling European; less, even, given that the British Empire, warts and all, was popularised and justified by means of British nationalism.
The two identities are not mutually exclusive of course – one can be both British and European (check your passport if you don’t believe me) – but British people seem to think they are. There is a prevalent ‘us and them’ sentiment which seems to stem from the idea that mainland Europe has always been united against us. In reality, however, this is another red-top myth; Britain and its components have been allied with one European state against another throughout history just as much as they have been allied against us. Of course, the great irony is that the one time Europe was (officially) against us was when it was controlled by a totalitarian, nationalist regime during the Second World War.
If that is where nationalism is proven to lead, then I would rather be a European than a patriot.
Photo Credit: 3:Thirty Club
Written by Jordan Kenny
Wednesday 17th April saw the University of Bath hold its second annual recreational sport day, the ‘Inter Halls Championships,’ building on the success of a year’s worth of student competition as a part of the 3:Thirty Club, funded by Sport England.
Whilst not all of the 3:Thirty Club activities were hosted on the day, a number of Students’ Union clubs put on either competitive or drop in sessions for both First and later year students.
Every single one of the University’s large range of sport facilities were used on the day- from Lacrosse being played on the Medical Pitches, through to games of Basketball in the Founders Hall.
The day began with the University’s Inter-Departmental Football clubs holding a tournament on the St. Johns Pitches, where a last minute decision that was made by the players themselves saw the format change from the traditional 11 to 7 aside football, to ensure that the pitches were able to last the day. This late change led to a much greater competition and hence a greater show, and overall, in excess of 150 boys took part. The games were played in a league style format, ending with Economics eventually taking the crown.
In the Sports Training Village, Netball and Volleyball took place court side, with a huge amount of students who don’t normally take part donning their trainers and hitting the courts. Alongside this, badminton courts were available as part of a few ‘No Strings Sessions,’ where a number of people took the opportunity to rock up and play, without making any commitment to any clubs.
Further into the Sports Training Village, the Swimming and Water Polo club had organised a ‘Duel in the Pool,’ pitting two great sets of athletes against one another!
Back outside, both Astros hosted the Inter-Halls Hockey, where two full games were played amongst mainly Freshers, battling to represent the halls that they live in. Over in the Founders Hall, the Basketball Club hosted their normal recreational session, with four hoops free for anyone to turn up and show off their skills.
Finally at the Medical Pitches, Lacrosse looked to finish their recreational programme on a high for the year, embracing the existing four teams to battle it out all afternoon.
Over the final few weeks of term, further competitions will be taking place, plus a number of ‘Get fit for summer’ activities. For further information on these, check out bathstudent.com/sport, teambath.com/3thirty or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Morten Watkins
Written by Tom Ash
Amidst the green and pleasant pastures of rural Sussex, a storm has been brewing of late. Anyone paying much attention to the news will know that the student protesters have been uprooted from their makeshift camp by a court injunction issued last month, ably assisted by over a hundred security and police officers who laid siege to Bramber House, dashingly scaling the walls and battering down its doors with pneumatic drills.
The siege of Leningrad this was not, but even now, with the dust settled and the thunderous boots of the law silent once again, there are lingering issues to consider. Not least among them is that insidious little injunction, granted by Mrs Justice Proudman, which not only gave the university the right to evict the protesters, but also the power to prevent any protest which it does not sanction from taking place on its premises between now and September.
There are two tangible problems with the way University of Sussex management have acted. The first is an abject, even wilful failure to engage with the concerns of staff and students alike over the outsourcing of university jobs. But let us leave that aside. Let us push through the growing enjeu of a university sector where management overrules the academic body. Let us ignore the rights of students, as paying clients, to have a say in the running of their institution. Let us pay no heed to the abdication of responsibility for redundancies and reduced pay that will result from the outsourcing.
Because there is a fundamental rottenness that sits at the heart of this, which seeps out from the injunction that Justice Proudman saw fit to issue. In her infinite wisdom, she has chosen to place the right of property over the right to freedom of expression. In and of itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; we wouldn’t want the unwashed masses to be able to invade our homes and turn them into bastions of protest.
But there is a distinction to be made in the case of a university like Sussex; unlike my house, Sussex is a public institution with a royal charter and the students protesting within its walls were members of its academia. Even if they weren’t, if Sussex is a public body then even if its estates are privately-owned, they are held in trust by the university on behalf of the country. In reality of course, the increasing privatisation of universities means that they are coming to be seen as private bodies in more than just the economic sense, as the High Court ruling proves.
The injunction is to be challenged in the European Court of Human Rights. Of course, by the time European judges come to a conclusion it will be too little, too late for the Sussex protesters. At least, however, if a ruling is reached that the injunction was unlawful then British judges in the future may think twice before issuing similar writs. For at the moment the mere mention of the ‘I’ word seems enough to make the arbitrators shiver with delight like an addict getting their fix. We need to wean our judiciary junkies off their injunctive opiate, and do it quickly; because all too often they are siding with the private and not with the public.