I just sent off my application to run for the subcommittee of The Griffin, the Downing College magazine. Unfortunately JCR rules prohibit any form of written statement from candidates for any position, aside from a 250-word submitted campaign manifesto. So you will have to wait until the voting is over on Wednesday for more information.
Meanwhile to celebrate we cracked open the Skittles Vodka (TM) that had been brewing for a few days now. Tasting like alcoholic liquid skittle, it’s a fantastic concoction that combines in one drink vast amounts of alcohol, sugar and E numbers. The full procedure is outlined below.
Vodka (1 litre)
Skittles (4-6 bags)
First, separate out the Skittles, removing the green ones. If they are included it will ruin both the colour and taste of the final product.
Remove/drink approx. 4 or 5 shots worth of vodka, enough to ensure the vodka will not overflow when displaced by the Skittles.
Deposit Skittles in vodka. A colour change will begin almost instantly.
Set aside for 2-3 days to allow the Skittles to fully dissolve, leaving a rich dark red liquid.
Remove the scum that forms on the top. This can be achieved best by pouring into a jug, skimming the scum off the top, then pouring the rest back.
Refridgerate and serve chilled.
It started off innocently enough. A few lawyers hanging out in Irish Chris’ room, discussing those things that lawyers discuss behind closed doors. Then the Jaffa Cake Game began, which essentially consisted of – well – throwing Jaffa cakes at Charlotte. And then the chocolate started to melt…
It was downhill from there really, until eventually Chris and Roger grabbed the chocolate cake (leftover from Chris’ birthday) and the rest, as they say, is history.
Don’t feel too sorry for her though, because Charlotte more than got her own back when she brought up the topic of epilating. For those who don’t know, an epilator is an electric hair removing device that basically consists of a series of tweezers on a rotating belt. Unlike a shaver, rather than slicing the hairs, it simply plucks them right out. Allegedly it takes around four weeks to grow back. Having listened to her complain about how painful the process was, Chris decided it would be a good idea for us to try it out ourselves. You know, just to see what the fuss was about. He and I took it fairly well, whilst Roger doubled over and jumped back and Ed let out the most girlish squeal I’ve heard for some time the moment the device touched his leg!
Suffice to say there’s a new lawyerly trend of having a missing “racing stripe” of hair on one’s leg…
On Friday I attended an introductory meeting to the Liberty Letter Clinic, a project I’ve decided to help with. Liberty are a UK-based human rights organisation who raise legal issues regarding protection of civil liberties. The clinic is designed so that Liberty, who receive thousands of letters each year, can send some of their correspondance to us and we would draft responses and send them back to be verified and posted. These letters largely consist of educating the public as to whether a problem they are suffering is, legally speaking, a human rights violation, and advising them on their best course of action (Liberty themselves can only afford to take on a few key cases).
While it sounds like both interesting and valuable work, I was intrigued by how many people had decided it was good and right purely because it was volunteer-based. Even after the seminar, it took me some time to decide whether or not this was right for me to be involved with based upon their policies. For example, they are opposed to retention of information (specifically DNA profiles) by the police where a suspect is not charged. Now, whilst I understand their position because information with restricted access can be a dangerous thing, my personal goal is for there to be more information but freely available to all. I firmly believe that complete freedom of information is fundamental to a future peaceful society, and will no doubt write more on the subject soon.
So by supporting liberty, I am essentially working against my ultimate goal, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, in this instance I have decided the work I would be doing is beneficial enough to others to be worthwhile, and will also offer a practical side to the Constitutional Law that I’ve been learning so far. And it’s that practical side to the law that I’ve missed since working with Steve in the States last year.
I feel sorry for those people who still blindly follow Apple like some religious saviour, I really do. Yes they are a big company that produce decent products, but what makes the so special? Is it more than just the name? Not really, no…
In years past, Apple were perceived as a blessed haven away from the Microsoft-infected world of the PC. And everyone hates Microsoft, right? Well, me too, so why don’t I worship at the temple of Steve Jobs’s Mecca that is the mighty Apple? Well, because now Apple are just as bad as their rival. Apple sue fansites (Think Secret) who promote their products. Apple produce products that require you to use their proprietary software that locks other products out (specifically iTunes which provides decidedly mediocre jukebox functionality and doesn’t support non-Apple devices: it’s good, but not great). Why on earth would people want to invest money in such a company? By supporting it, customer’s are forcing themselves to buy Apple products in the future too, losing the ability to choose differently. If people stop, Apple will be forced to open up and play nicely with others.
The iPod was a phenomenal success, there’s no question there. But why? It wasn’t actually a terribly innovative product, aside from the superb scrollwheel (not actually an Apple invention, incidentally: it was outsourced to a company that design touchpads for laptops). Indeed, Creative have been producing comparable harddisk jukebox players for years, but the less techno-savvy probably don’t recognise their name outside of PC audio and video cards. Apple’s iPod is good, but not great. The cleverest thing they did was create those horrendously tacky white earphones that turned it into a status symbol, since an iPod owner became instantly recognisable. It’s the name that sells, and the name that inflates the pricetag disproportionately too. The same goes for the “groundbreaking” iPod Shuffle. Flash players were where the whole thing started and Apple will muscle in based on name, not innovation. JetAudio (Cowon in the UK) have released their phenomenally good U2 1GB flash player which is a similar size with a full screen, more features (including radio and voice recording). I’ll be picking one up as soon as I have the cash. If I’m splashing out, I want something more than a white box for my money.
Apple are pretty. Just look at OS X. Oh, but wait, I’ve got a dock here too…and see these icons that look more real than “aqua” and then there’s the clock, picture slideshow, calendar and weather all integrated into my desktop along with a CPU meter and email checker? This is called a PC. Now that people can take the visual style of their machine into their own hands, Apple’s painful failure to support vast swathes of software and especially games that consumers want becomes more and more apparent.
There’s no denying Apple are good. They’re just not that great.
I am interrupting the profiles because something fairly major has occurred in the States. Dave Marley, one of the boys in the family I was living with, while working out there during my gap year, has ended up in hospital. While playing with friends in the woods near his house where he and I used to go paintballing, a tree fell on him, fracturing his skull and leaving him in a coma. The doctors suspect brain damage although the severity is hard to assess. I have been informed that he is now being kept in a medically induced coma to prevent him from struggling (he appears to be in a great deal of pain when he surfaces) until they are able to operate. Details are scarce and usually third hand with him so far away, which makes it much harder to cope with, but I can only hope he does make a full recovery swiftly. More information when I have something concrete.
Phantom Third Year inhabits a haunted room on the first floor of K. Whilst his (we are fairly confident of Phantom Third Year’s gender despite the infrequent sightings, and less reliable rumours even cite his name as “Henry”) presence is felt regularly, he is rarely seen or heard directly. It is not uncommon for one to be mid-conversation and suddenly feel a fluttering breeze, generally accompanied by a sharp, slight but detectable drop in temperature. Such an occurrance is usually the result of close proximity to Phantom Third Year. Whilst sightings are few and far between, Phantom Third Year’s existence is irrefutable. Rumour has it that an eccentric philanthropist (usually meaning a bored old guy with a dodgy beard, slightly senile with too much money) has offered a substantial prize for the best photographic evidence produced. Various accademic theories abound, respectively describing Phantom Third Year as a student from the 1930s who was shot after discovering evidence of a Trinity emu smuggling ring, a pupil who was dematriculated in 1872 (for reasons unknown) and subsequently hung himself, and the illegitimate son of a Fellow in the late 1960s come to seek out his father who, in order to avoid a scandal, locked him away in that room for seven years until the boy developed a fatal illness and died.
The man of every Charlotte’s dreams, Matt is the proud father of K Kitchen’s George (or, George Foreman’s Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine to use his full name, but “George” is marginally easier to pronounce). When he’s not listening to the sweet sound of sizzling seared flesh or tending to George’s other needs, Matt is also known to frequent R&B nights at local clubs in a dedicated social experiment to see how long he can remain before inevitably being thrown out at around 3am. Thumps and crashes from his room are commonplace and generally ignored as either Matt lifting weights or finetuning his break dance routines. As an additional diversion this term, Matt came armed with a deep fat fryer which now sits proudly in the kitchen next to George.
Most likely to be grilling: Steak Club of choice: Coco’s Current ambition: To deep fat fry his own Mars bar
A girl of no discernable hair colour, whom people therefore erroneously refer to as a redhead despite the fact she’s really not. Like her college brother Dave, Lydia is a Kenny girl who has migrated to K. As a Surrey girl during the holidays, she has threatened to arrive on my doorstep when I least expect it. As such, it is something of a relief to be back in at Cambridge where at least I expect to hear her dulcet tones as she turns up unannounced. Despite suggestions, she has been unkeen to hold introductory stalking seminars. Her claims that she has been grossly corrupted by Dave (and me) are as yet unfounded. An alternative hypothesis runs along the lines that “she’s always been exactly like that and is just making excuses”. Lydia drinks vodka like most fish drink water. Although a serious chorister, she can far more commonly be heard singing to herself Weird Al Yankovic’s “Livin’ La Vida Yoda”. Readers are left free to draw their own conclusions.
Is unable to read the word: Lemon Hair colour: unascertainable Favourite Star Wars character: Yoda
Whilst officially living in Kenny, Dave became somewhat enamoured with the first letter of his residence and unofficially moved into K staircase (spending so much time here that K resident Charlotte had not realised he doesn’t live here), eventually acquiring his own room after discovering the existence of a bathroom about which none of the actual residents had known. It seemed only fair that it be donated to him. His girlfriend Cara in St. Andrews is currently our most regular outside visitor (albeit with a grand total of 2 visits). Meanwhile, in college terms, Dave is engaged to Angela (whom you have yet to meet due to her reluctance to pose for photos). A co-writer of last term’s Pantomime, Dave also played the wonderful character of Mr. Whippy (complete with whip). Dave was a co-founder of the secretive and as yet un-unveiled Condomino’s Delivery Service project which may (or may not) surface in the near future.
The only living person I respect for having bought a Mac, Tom is a self-confessed gaming addict and therefore realised that the only failsafe way to ensure he stood a chance of getting a degree was to buy a Mac so that he could not possibly play games on it even if he so wanted. Which naturally resulted in many hours in my room drooling at Half-Life 2‘s physics engine or grinning inanely at Halo 2 previews. He is nevertheless arguably the member of the K klan who makes sense most frequently. Tom apologises for always looking as though he’s taken a not insignificant amount of cocaine in every existing photograph of him. Although he does not drink, Tom’s inexplicably vast knowledge of all manner of alcoholic beverages has led to rumours of a youth filled with drugs and booze until he eventually washed up in The Priory. Tom has ardently refuted such accusations, albeit unconvincingly at best. An alternative suggestion is that he was simply born at the age of thirty-five. Which would explain his sense of humour. As a boatie chorister medic, Tom’s free time can be summed up in a simple equation; t=0.
Is most likely to be drinking: Lapsang Souchong Tea Console of preference: Xbox Date of birth: undisclosed. ever.