Wednesday, 22 December 2010

End of Year

- 1 says 0.  1 knows 0. - grant morrison - from we3 -

This blog's represented some of my thoughts on the field into which I'm entering, and reflected on the recent events in Higher Education policy which threaten to upend the sector I want to be a part of.  But I don't want to do an end of year round up, I'll leave that for other blogs, too many wars, leaks, oil spills, and iPad launches for me to do justice to (it's not only holiday season, but marking season too...).

At the end of term when I was at school we used to play games in class, maybe watch a video.  The teachers always tried to keep it on topic, English staff attempting to talk us into awful Shakespeare adaptations for instance, until they'd eventually give in and let us watch Star Wars (in hindsight a missed opportunity to teach us the heroes journey...).  With that in mind this post is this blog's end of term alternate class (supply your own party rings).

I've done my best to keep up with music a bit more this year (I've been a bit neglectful since undergrad).  This isn't a 'best of' list, just the stuff that's been on my headphones most this year, things I got a kick out of, and things I wish I'd listened to more (the joy of any retrospective trawl).  Mostly punky guitar bands and glitchy electronic bits and pieces, but hopefully there'll be something of interest somewhere down the list.  I've posted youtube video examples, but most of it can be tracked down on Spotify, or, better yet, buy some albums you missed!

Have a good Christmas and I'll see you in the new year.


Favourite Albums 2010

1) Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

2) Cloud Nothings - Turning On

3) James Blake - Klavierwerke (EP)

4) How to Dress Well - Love Remains

5) Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me

6) Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma

7) Four Tet - There is Love in You

8) Screaming Females - Castle Talk

9) Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner

10) Love is All - Two Thousand and Ten Injuries

Great Single Tracks (not on those albums)

1) Japandroids - Younger Us

2) The Knife - Colouring of Pigeons

3) The National - Terrible Love

4) No Age - Glitter

5) Shabazz Palaces - Blastit at the homie rayzer’s charm lake plateau bbq july at outpalace pk.

6) Salem - King Night

7) James Blake - CMYK

8) Moonface - Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit Drums

9) Broken Social Scene - World Sick

10) Sun Airway - Put the Days Away

11) Glasser - Home

12) Sharon van Etten - Love More

13) Fang Island - Daisy

14) Sam Amidon - How Come That Blood

15) Delorean - Stay Close

16) Robyn - Indestructible

17) Florence and the Machine - Hurricane Drunk (Horrors Remix)

18) The Tallest Man on Earth - King of Spain

19) No Joy - Hawaii

20) Lissie - Pursuit of Happiness (Kid Cudi Cover)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Solidarity From Exeter

So...the University of Exeter is in occupation.  Here's an image from the moments after we took the largest lecture hall on campus:

Before I nipped off to take this picture I announced that we'd be quiet (somehow I ended up with a megaphone), and after a couple of minutes chanting we settled in for the end of a math's lecture:

(This is the closest I've been to a lecturer in the midst of lecturing.  She never missed a beat, and we tried to learn about infinity).

For banners my house brought Thoreau (never make English geeks take to the streets):

And some more maths:

And then we marched:

And now we're here:

In the already established traditions of this year's activities it's been nothing but peaceful and no damage has occurred (in fact we've sorted recycling bins, have a no alcohol policy because we've got under 18s from the college (who've been amazing as ever), and arranged to hoover up when we're done...).

Follow us on Twitter - @ExeterOccupied - and our blog's here -

Monday, 6 December 2010

A Request

On Thursday the 9th of December 2010 the UK government will be voting on whether they ruin higher education in this country. This is a painful simple truth. The swathe of cuts that are proposed to university teaching budgets, to research budgets, and also to the support of 6th forms and further education colleges, is a terrifyingly direct attack on social mobility, on the belief in a well educated citizenry, and on the importance of thought beyond profit motives. The language of markets is not the language of education, and to confuse the two is to attempt to screw people before they even have a chance to learn how to resist (though, no matter how obfuscating the attempt, people will always learn, always question and react, inside or outside of formal education - the activism of the last few weeks demonstrates the danger of taking any generation's apathy for granted).

This has all been ably documented over the last few weeks:

The inefficiency of the proposals (the clearest indicator of ideological motives).

Even if you sympathise with the cuts in general, it is surely easy to agree that the current proposals have been poorly considered, rushed through debate, and now rushed into voting. The strength of opposition that we've seen in the protest marches, not just in London, but all around the country (here's my gallery from Exeter), as well as the inspirational UCL sit-in, and dozens of other actions (this link is far from comprehensive, but gives a good selection), all indicate that something is very wrong. Hundreds of thousands of people have been compelled to make their protest heard, and many are starting to realise the importance of these discussions beyond the media's continual reduction of events to discontent in the face of the (admittedly ludicrous) fees hike “which won't even affect those protesting” (the idea that attacks on the institutions which shape our teachers, politicians, journalists, doctors, artists, philosophers, scientists, etc., etc., somehow 'won't affect' everyone is beyond me...).

The best way to fight these cuts, this week, is to support whatever protests go on in your area (Exeter University will be rallying and marching on December 8th from 11am), and, perhaps most importantly, contact your MP and ask for a NO vote. Not an abstention, not the decision not to make a decision, but a loud NO, that these cuts are not right, and that they should not go ahead.

I know that people are busy, and I know that sometimes finding the time to even write an email can be something continually put off until it's too late. In the past form letters have been the thing which finally got me to take this basic action, so I've linked to the NUS letter below which quickly and easily allows you to contact your MP. I'd encourage you to please, please do one of the following (the further down the list the better):
  • Put your name and your MP's name into the email and send a copy to your MP.
  • Put your name and your MP's name into the email, add your own paragraph or otherwise edit it, and send it to your MP.
  • Write your own email expressing your particular views and send it to your MP.
  • Do any of the above and ask others to do the same (please pass the NUS page or this page around, or retweet them, or email them to anyone you think might be encouraged by them).

Oh yes, and cross your fingers, the vote this Thursday is important and its outcome will set the tone for how this government believes it is allowed to treat its citizens. There are a great many MPs wavering on this issue, and everyone's voice really can make a difference.

If you can take the time to do this, thank you.