Tag Archives: Imperial

For Once, Not Politics or Philosophical Essayism

Whenever I’m not feeling OK, I have a tendency to hit the philosophy. There’s something about contemplating the essential questions of existence that makes your everyday shit seem to be much less of a concern, and more like weird background noise. I’ve finished reading Nausea, my copy of Catcher in the Rye is back on the shelf, and hopefully things will go back to something approximating normal.

I hope I’ve learned something. It was probably something I’d hoped I’d learned before, and no doubt through my own infinite stupidity will need to learn again at some point in the future, but I hope that I’ve learned it for real this time.

Sometimes things end. It’s sad, and sometimes you just can’t understand why, or make sense of what happened, but you can’t howl into the wind and try to change the past with the power of your fury; you’ll just consume yourself in hatred and bitterness and nihilism. Some things just aren’t worth the time, effort or pain trying to fight.

Time to learn to let things end.

In other news, there’s a Fairtrade Cheese & Wine party on Friday night, which I will certainly be going to, and there two events on Thursday I would like to attend but they’re mutually exclusive and I may not have time anyway: Fairtrade tea party, and ICU Election Hustings.

Act accordingly.

Andy out.

Imperial College Union Votes to Rename Bars: #phase3

The Union is currently in the midst of a plan known as Phase 3 to modernise the Union’s bar and nightclub areas in place of the existing dBs and da Vinci’s to make them, y’know, actually decent places to have a night out. I will concede that da Vinci’s is alright, but dB’s is sorely in need of a refurbishment.

Anyways, the Union recently ran a competition to rename these new bars as part of the Phase 3 development, and they’ve just released the final shortlist of names, along with the opportunity to vote which names will be adopted for the new nightclub and bar.

Shortlist for the nightclub:

  • Iris
  • Lab
  • Metric
  • Neighbourhood
  • Theory

Shortlist for the bar:

  • Consort
  • Crown & Shield
  • Library
  • Quad

Now, I will be the first to admit that I did not submit any possible names; mostly this is because I’m ludicrously terrible at naming things. If I ever have children they’re probably going to be named by pasting pages from a baby name book onto a wall, then chucking darts until one strikes a name I like the sound of.

However, somebody at the Union seriously screwed up when they picked this shortlist. Some of the names are just plain terrible and others have the rather more significant problem that the collide with names of places already on campus; the most egregious example here is “Library”, which will have the rather unfortunate effect of making the sentences “Let’s meet at the Library” or “Let’s eat at the Library” ambiguous. I cannot possibly fathom how the brief enjoyment of a moment of irony derived from drinking in a bar called the Library could possibly outweigh the continuing irritation this could well generate for years and years.

“Quad” is broken for the same reason, although to a lesser extent. “Crown & Shield”, presumably drawn from the crown logo of the RCSU and the shield of the CGCU, is basically a massive fuck-you to the miners and the medics, the latter of which needs no further alienation from the rest of IC; it also makes it sound like a pub, which the new bar will not be, the pub niche is filled very well by the Union Bar.

The only half-decent name there is “Consort”, presumably drawn from the Prince Consort Road on which the Union sits, which possesses the fairly unique quality amongst the rest of actually sounding like a bar as well as being vaguely appropriate.

The names for the nightclub are mostly just plain awful. “Lab” is another unfortunate collision. The only decent one there is “Metric”, as you can tell by it being the runaway leader in the polling up to this point.

Speaking of the polling, it is rather severely flawed by the lack of an option to vote RON (re-open nominations) , something which is usually a central part of Union democracy. One wonders if President Ashley Brown‘s experience fighting the battle for election against RON left him with a grudge.

I jest, I jest. He’s been very good in engaging with the dialogue about this on Twitter, and that’s pretty damn admirable.

Anyway, I would suggest scrapping this poll altogether and starting a new one from scratch before this one is allowed to run on too long. Most people I’ve spoken to about these names share my opinion that they’re terrible. All I can say is, I don’t want to see this become a presidential election issue when the presidential candidates publish their election manifestos for next year. I can’t imagine anything quite as ignominious for the current president as to have his successor immediately strike down the voted-for Phase 3 names chosen under his stewardship.

Anyway, as the poll probably isn’t going to be called off, go here and vote for the least bad options. Thank you.

An Outlet for Possibly Misplaced Rage

The door in the library cafe this post is about.
See that little sign? MOST PEOPLE CAN'T.

Today, somebody nearly opened a door into me.

This was immensely irritating for two reasons:

  1. This door is made of glass. Not frosted glass, either, but honest to goodness clear window glass. You have to be a really extreme species of troglodyte to not see somebody on the other side of a goddamn glass door.
  2. This door has a sign next to it saying it’s not an exit. Furthermore, it has a sign on it saying that it shouldn’t be used as an exit. People go ahead and use it as an egress anyway. To express my rage at this I’m sadly going to have to break out of the confines of this numbered list.

Ah, that’s better. Anyway, if there’s something I absolutely fucking hate it’s when people decide that instructions like that are not for them;  people who commit such hubris, who believe that such instructions are for somebody else, not somebody wonderful and important like themselves.

Get the fuck over yourselves and spend the damned thirty seconds walking the long way around.

Oh, and what’s worse is when bottom-feeding scumbags use that door and then not close it after themselves, letting in a continual draft of glacial air. Pack of absolute selfish twats.

To  the transgressors I say this:

You are not special. You are not important. Your time is not more important or more special than mine. You do not have the right to decide that rules do not apply to you in order to satiate your own laziness.

Oh, and look where you’re fucking going! There’s a fucking pavement on the other side of that door!

The Library Café

Ah, what an establishment. Open late, on campus, easily competitive with anywhere to eat in the near vicinity…

All you need to get coffee (a must for any long-term revision session) and food is a short trip downstairs from the library proper, and all (well, most of) your bodily needs will be satisfied. The food’s also actually not bad – I’m quite impressed with the pepperoni pizza.

It’s also great in non-revision times, ’cause it’s pretty much the only place you’re allowed to eat and drink while sat  at a computer. There are also booths each with a big flatscreen on the wall, which I’m sure will be excellent for working on things like projects next year. Mostly so far I’ve only used one for playing the Wikipedia game; the aim of which is to challenge your opponent to navigate from one Wikipedia page to another e.g. Beef Wellington -> World War I by following links. That one is actually pretty easy. Answers on a postcard.

Anyways, I ought to hit more revision. I still don’t know enough about Nuclear and Particle physics, sadly.

Fairtrade Fortnight

The fortnight of Fairtrade is very much upon us, and if you happen to be at Imperial, well, you’ve already missed a bunch of events followed by free coffee and tea. Sucks to be you. Never fear though, there’s a Cheese and Wine evening from 7pm on Thursday the 5th, to be held in Huxley 344, and you can buy your ticket online.

I have to say I’ve personally started to get interested in the whole Fairtrade thing, because quite frankly, global capitalism has done a damned good job of screwing things up, and something needs to be done. As anybody who regularly reads my blog (all 5 of you!) will know, I’ve recently been reading Marx & Engel’s Communist Manifesto, and so my mind has been bent on these kind of thoughts for a while and the same patterns show through.

The exploitation of the Have-nots by the Haves continues as ever, on a greater scale than ever before.  It’s sick crap legitimised by a squalid ideology: the mythology of the invisible hand of the market, turning individual greed into collective benefit;  terrible wishful thinking which props up this corrupt system.

The theory is supply and demand – if the price drops too low to make something economical to produce, people will stop making that product, supply will drop, and the price will increase until a stable equilibrium is reached; notionally a fair price for everyone concerned.

The fault in this is pointed out by Marx in the Manifesto; this equilibrium, in our era of mass production and global movement of goods, in which another producer will always be desperate enough to sell for less, will be the absolute minimum price at which it is possible for the producer to continue to be alive.

Let me stress this; not healthy, not educated, not able to provide healthcare, nor support relatives – simply alive. How these people are expected to be able to lift themselves out of poverty and improve their lot is utterly beyond me.

This is neglecting the other distorting influences and things stacked against the producers in the third world – farming subsidies in the developed world, the conglomerate power of the multinationals, the fact that the very poorest are unable to switch their production easily from one thing to another because they don’t have the capital necessary to do so. Nor can they do what the oppressed have done for centuries, and simply burn their oppressors out. This isn’t 18th Century France we’re talking about here – the oppressor is the entire Western capitalist system. It’s an enemy, an oppressor, of incalculable power.

Fairtrade isn’t a complete solution to this problem, nor could it be. Social change on the sort of scale needed is… well, big. Huge. But even the longest journey begins with a single step, and paying farmers a bit more than the absolute minimum so they can start to afford to send their kids to school is a damned good start.

Exit Strategy: Imperial NUS Disaffiliation Referendum

http://live.cgcu.net/news/1769

After a unanimous decision by Union council, there will be a referendum on disaffiliation from the NUS this term.

The NUS conference in Blackpool was an unmitigated disaster, and there is no benefit to Imperial staying in this shambles any longer. Next year, the NUS will cost us £46,000 if this disaffiliation doesn’t go through. £46,000 that could be spent on Imperial students, rather than going to the utterly pointless NUS.

I know you have exams, but the vote will be online, and it’ll take only 10 minutes to do. I hope as many of you as possible (who are Imperial students, naturally) will remember to vote.

It looks like the poll will take place in the second-to-last week of term.

Concious of a vast, numbing stupidity

I was earlier reading about the NUS conference on the excellent Live! website, and it basically looks like a complete cluster-fuck. Once again, the conference has been hijacked by the far-left, more obsessed with idealism and political activism than with making the NUS an organisation which acts in the best interests of students.

I advise you to take a look at Live! to see the full disaster of the thing. but it more or less boils down to a defeat for reform, policies calling for a disastrous national bursary scheme, and the like.

For those of you who aren’t Imperial students, we only (re)joined the NUS last year after a narrowly fought referendum. It was sold by the “Yes” campaign on a promise that the dysfunctional NUS would reform, and would give Imperial a national voice. This rather emphatically hasn’t happened; the reform has failed, and most of the motions went against Imperial’s interest. It gets worse – the delegates to the conference were elected on the basis that they were mandated to represent the position of the Union, and by extension, the students. One of the Imperial delegates, Camilla Royle, broke mandate three times to vote with the Student Respect faction. Absolutely disgraceful behaviour.

The NUS is mess – even the most clear-cut benefit, that of discounts, is debatable. You have to buy their NUS extra card, and then the NUS lobbies for discounts to be restricted to only card holders, rather than being for all students; a despicable policy.

Anyways, if you’re an Imperial student, the campaign for disaffliation has already begun. Join this Facebook group and sign the petition, 500 signatures will trigger a referendum on leaving the NUS. If you’re not an Imperial student, I would suggest seeing if such a thing can be done with your Union.

On another tack of stupidity, I saw this on the Bad Science Blog:

Luckily, it also had the antidote, a Feynman chaser.