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People who drop litter should be tied to the stake, covered in stale bread crumbs and have ducks set on them. A slow death by the pecking of ducks might just deter other people from dropping litter! It is just such a pointless activity – most litter seems to be only a few metres from a bin, so why didn’t the person just walk those extra few feet! Grrrr! Some people blame fast food outlets for litter. I think that they may be responsible for an increase in the amount of litter, but really they are just providing more ammunition for the litterers. The key cause is the people themselves – the rubbish could be put in the bin – it is their action in throwing it on the ground that is the problem. We live in the same road as several schools, and our front garden has several crisp packets and drinks cans thrown in it every day. There are bins in the schools and further up the road, but the evil little kids cannot bear to hold onto their empty wrappers for just a minute more. I plan to hide behind our garden wall and throw the cans back at them, along with some rocks. That’ll teach them. Towns and cities are covered with rubbish, creating eyesores and demoralising people who live there. But litter is not just unsightly, it can be dangerous. It attracts pests such as rats that carry disease into towns and cities and animals can be trapped in packaging. People can be injured as well, cut on jagged cans or broken glass. Littering is horrible, and this should be forced into small children’s heads as soon as possible. Creating a culture of tidiness and cleanliness when young should stop people littering in the future as yobbish teenagers (I may be a teenager but I am not of the yobbish kind) or slovenly adults. If that fails then research should endeavour to find the “litter gene” and burn it from offender’s brains. It is just so antisocial to leave your rubbish to be cleared up b
y someone else. When I was at primary school our headmaster made us pick up litter every break time. We hated it but the playground was clean, and people didn’t drop litter because they would only have to pick it up later. People who drop litter should be made to pick up lots and lots of really disgusting rubbish, while naked or if not practical then while wearing brightly coloured overalls. An element of name and shame as well as making up for what they have done. Oh, and before I go an idea for a slogan: “Littering: It’s rubbish”.
Imagine your entire family and your small children had been tortured and then killed. The person responsible had been found and convicted of murder. They are not repentant - they are not sorry for what they did. What would you like to happen to this person? Life imprisonment - your children aren't alowed to live their lives, but the person responsible gets to live and they get a TV and socialising time. Maybe even visits out of prison. Is this right? Or what about exectution. The state enacting it's revenge on your behalf. It might take 10 or 15 years but the killer will have their life ended for their crimes. They can't come back. Or how about killing them yourself, with your bare hands? Is this what murderers should face? Who should decide - can any one person decide such a question, or even a society? My position on capital punishment varies, depending on the case, how rational I am feeling and the time of the month. Part of me agrees with pro-capital punishment groups. The murderer has taken a life, maybe more than one and often in horific circumstances. They deserve the ultimate punishment, and they have no rights left. It is lenient of society to end their lives in clean, controled circumstances and not to turn them over to the victims revenge-seeking relatives, who would I'm sure not be so concerned. For certain crimes where guilt is not in question, and the circumstances were horrific then people should be executed. However there is the ever-present worry of miscarriages of justice. Mistakes. People being "set-up" with forced confessions and forged evidence. Once capital punishment is carried out the person cannot be brought back with an apology if new evidence is found. An innocent person has lost their life - we return to murder. Also should any group of people have the say over someone's life? Who has given them the power to decide to end a person's existence? I do not think that people can make such dec
isions in a rational enough way to be sure that justice is being done. Capital punishment is a confusing area and I do not think that people can hold such a power over fellow human beings. But murderers - proper murderers where the killer went out with a intention to kill - should also not be allowed to serve a few years then be released. Where there is still a risk to the public they should be detained, and where they are not repentant they should be detained. Where there are mitigating circumstances such as provocation, diminished responsibility or mercy-killings then discretionary sentences should be passed, but for the worst life should be life. They should not be allowed to be free after what they have done. Capital punishment is too risky, and there are ethical issues over who has the right to hold such power. Life should be life for the worst murderers, and those who are still a risk or not repentant. Others should be treated as their individual case allows, making concesions where necessary. Where it is possible to forgive, society should so they should be given a chance to atone for their actions. After release maybe they should enter a process where they work to help scoiety, a kind of life sentence of community service. It cannot replace the victims but it would be a start.
Another break from revision – another review! This time it is music to revise to. “Enema of the State” is an imaginatively titled album from Blink-182. This is the first Blink-182 album I ever bought, and my favourite from them. It is quite short, but then all their songs are pretty fast but short. If people are not aware who Blink-182 are then they are a punk-rock kind of band, but more on the pop side. They consist of Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker. If you have heard only one of their tracks then it is probably “All the small things”, which is on this album. The band makes great music videos which often include them running around naked, or the midget Blink-182, or them blowing a load of money by doing crazy things like smashing expensive TVs. I must just point out the art on the lyric sheet inside the cd – as well as some porn star dressed as a nurse on the front there is a long line of guys dressed only in their boxer shorts inside. So something for everyone! 1. Dumpweed The names of Blink-182 songs are often quite odd, and I’m not sure even the band know what some of them mean or why they chose them. Anyway, names aside the opening song is very good. I like it, even if I don’t understand it. I am a nodder – you know the type, a person who can’t help nodding along to songs – and this is a good song to nod to. I think it is about a girl who is messing with their minds, and they want a girl they can train. Not likely! 2. Don’t leave me This is more of a sentimental song, about being dumped. “I’ll be fine, it’s not the first / Just like last time but a little worse”. Despite this it is another nodding-to song, with a sing along to chorus if you are feeling hard done by. 3. Aliens exist Off on a different topic now – aliens. This is a fun song, if a little bit odd. It has references to X-Files-type c
onspiracies with the CIA, abdctions and Majestic-12, and I think there is something about aliens living in his closet. Anyway it is still up there with other Blink-182 songs with it’s strong guitars and chords. 4. Going away to college Ah another sentimental song. Who says Blink-182 is obsessed with bodily functions and practical jokes? “Bouquet of clumsy word, a simple melody / This world’s an ugly place but you’re so beautiful to me.” I think that is really sweet! On of my favourite songs on the album, when your heart needs a little mending. 5. What’s my age again? This is the other song released as a single, so you may have heard this one but it wasn’t as big as “All the small things”. This is back to the childish side of the band – about a guy who is more interested in TV and practical jokes than his girlfriend, and his friends think he should act his age. So you could see it as the pressures of adulthood catching up to them, but it’s a good track and catchy. Side note – this is the one with the video of them running around town naked. 6. Dysentry gary Very odd names for songs. I have just re-read the lyrics, and I must say that I cannot explain what this song is about at all. But it sounds good, whatever it is. “Where’s my dog? Girls are such a drag”. I think it’s a girl-angst song but it is hard to be sure. 7. Adam’s song A sad song now, the only one on the album. I think it is named in memory of a fan who died. It is about general depression I think, but even if you don’t understand it fully you can get the sadness from “I never thought I’d die alone / I laughed the loudest who’d have known?”. Not a partying–to song. 8. All the small things The very popular single from this album, with a video mocking other music videos. It includes o
ne of the band dressing as Britney and, of course, them running around naked. I begin to see a pattern… The most catchy song on the album, very shouting along-to. I am nodding as I type. Altogether “na na na na na na…” 9. The party song This is a very fast song, they manage to get almost all of the lyrics into about 20 seconds it seems! About girls again – ones who try to hard and put them off. They are never happy! “Some girls try too hard to impress / With those things on their chest”. You could try and sing along but I think you would run out of breath! 10. Mutt Odd titles again. Another slightly odd song, about a strange pair who are very frisky. That was my impression anyway. I don’t think I should include any lyrics as a example. Use your imagination. 11. Wendy clear A girl-angst song again, about a girl who he can’t have. But I am nodding along again, so it has a good tune even if the lyrics follow a similar theme. When you are singing along you don’t mind so much what the words mean if they sound good. 12. Anthem This song is a parent-angst song – variety! “Mom and dad possess the key – instant slavery…I’ll pack my bags I swear I’ll run, wish my friends were 21”. This must have been in their earlier years but most of their fans can identify I’m sure. Parents preventing them from having any fun, a common scenario for rebellious songs. The fact that I think they must be getting onto 30 now is not relevant! All in all, as I have said, I think that this is the best Blink-182 album. Some may find it more poppy than they like, others may object to the odd swear-word and the subjects of the songs but I think it's great and the music is first class. And yes I can revise listening to this! Loud music helps me memorise legal cases.
During this, my brief break from A Level revision, I thought I would write a review on the excellent film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Seeing it yesterday brought back my (not so distant) childhood as this was probably the first "action film" I was allowed to watch. In the great Indiana Jones tradition there is more laughter than gore so they are widely acclaimed as family films. First the plot. The film begins with a flashback to 1912 where Indy (River Phoenix) is a young scout or something and he is searching for this bejewled cross. He finds it but it's new owners are not keen to place it in a museum like Indiana thinks it should be. Cue a chase through a circus train where he develops his fear of snakes seen in earlier films, and learns quickly how to handle a whip to save himself from a lion. In the end the villains get the cross then we cut back to the more usual time of 1938 where the adult Indy (Harrison Ford of course) is still trying to get it placed in a museum. After a battle on a boat somewhere in a raging storm he is successful in reclaiming the cross. Then we return to the university where Prof Jones is teaching a load of swooning female students. He's not there for long before he is dragged off into a new adventure. Prof Jones senior (Sean Connery), Indy's father, has been kidnapped by Nazis who are anxious to try and find the Holy Grail. He is the expert on the subject and was close to finding where it was hidden. Indy flies to meet Elsa Schneider, the scientist his father was last with. After a nasty incident with a tunnel full of rats they find the next clue to the location of the Grail. They are then almost killed by villains with fezes - sworn to protect the Holy Grail. The search to find Indy's father leads them to Austria, where Indy is captured by the same Nazis. But wait - Elsa is working with them! You would have thought the strong German accent would have tipped them off, but no. Father a
nd son ("Junior" as his father insists on calling him) escape and take a ride on an airship. They leave the airship abruptly starting off a chase in some vintage planes. Off course they escape and make off on camels. There is another fight complete with tanks and horses, where Indy is feared dead but he can't die as he seems to be invincible - and his name is in the title. The remaining Nazis and the Jones's reach the location of the Holy Grail at the same time. There Jones senior is shot - and the only way Indy can save him is to get through the three tests and find the Grail. He completes them with a leap of faith and reaches the chamber. There waits a knight from 700 years ago and a lot of cups. The Grail gives life but the others give death. The leading villainous Nazi guy picks a shiny cup and dies a very horrible death that gave me nightmares when I was little. Indy picks a simple wooden cup and saves his father. Evil Elsa who is still there tries to take the cup but makes the whole place collapse and the Grail is lost. The Jones's ride off happily into the sunset, having become much closer. The end. Until the next film. I don't think Harrison Ford will be doing all his stunts in the next one - he's starting to get on a bit! Baring the first bit of the first film, with the giant rolling boulder in the temple, this film is the best Indian Jones. I think it was the first one I saw, so that affects my view of it but it is still very good. It combines action with humour and a decent story as well. It is all helped by some brilliant acting from Harrison Ford and Sean Connery - you would think they were father and son. The fact that their ages are not that different doesn't affect it at all. And the fact that one is clearly very Scottish and the other all-American. For "action" films to have some great comic moments is a rareity as well. James Bond, particulaly with Sean Connery, comes close but Indian Jo
nes films are funny throughout. The moment with Adolf Hitler, where Indy thinks he is caught but then Hitler gives him an autograph is priceless. As it the bit where he throws the Nazi out of the airship, explaining to other passengers that he did not have a ticket and then they all franticaly show him their tickets. He he he. Ah it doesn't take that much to make me happy but it's rare. And when Jones senior reveals that Indy named himself after the family dog! That is just great humour. All in all Indiana Jones is a great series of films, and this the third installment, is the best. It has action, it has loads of great humour, it has a well thought out and interesting plot, it has great acting and the whole family can enjoy it. What more can you want in a film? (Well a bit of nudity doesn't go amiss, but this is a family film!)
I am aware the over 200 members have already written reviews on The Matrix, so most areas will have already been covered. Despite this, in honour of the release of the second film The Matrix Reloaded I am penning (actually typing, but that doesn’t sound as good) this review of one of the best films ever to grace the big screen. First a brief (as brief as possible in the circumstances, so quite long) synopsis for the lone few people who have not seen the film or who need reminding. Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) works for a reputable software company in a boring job, but in his spare time he is a computer hacker called Neo. He is searching for a cyber “terrorist” named Morpheus (Laurence Fishbourne) who he believes can tell him what The Matrix is. Neo meets Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), a black leather-clad member of his group who takes him to see Morpheus. He is offered a choice – the blue pill will end his search while the red pill will show him how far down the rabbit hole goes. It would be a short film if he picked the blue pill so you can guess what he does. Neo then “wakes up” in the real world. You see actually the world of the first part of the film is not reality. It is The Matrix – a computer generated dream world the human race is plugged into. Back in the real world the machines have taken over and are using humans as batteries, while we all dream on in The Matrix. There is one small city left, Zion, deep underground – everywhere else is wiped out. But then there was “The One” who discovered how to manipulate The Matrix and fight the machines, and he managed to release a few others to be his followers. When he died it was prophesised he would return, and his few free followers continued to hide from the machines while they searched for The One. Morpheus was actually searching for Neo, who he believes is The One. Morpheus’ group live on a ship out in the remains of t
he surface, but they can plug themselves back into the Matrix when they need to. The machines have weapons to fight them – sentient programmes called Agents who have superhuman strength and speed. They can take over any body inside The Matrix so are everywhere. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is the primary bad guy Agent who hates the human race and wants to destroy the free people. The free people can bend some rules in The Matrix i.e. they can move quickly and fight amazingly but everyone who tries to fight an Agent is killed. Morpheus believes that as The One, Neo can break the rules and can beat the Agents. Neo does not seem convinced to begin with. He is trained in martial arts style fighting and combat, then is taken to see the Oracle inside The Matrix, to see if he is The One. She tells him he is not, but that Morpheus believes he is so much that he will give his life to protect Neo. While this is going on Cypher, a member of the group, betrays them. Most of the group are killed and the Agents capture Morpheus to try and gain the codes to defeat Zion. Neo decides to try and rescue him, despite believing that he is not The One. Cue some truly great fight scenes and special effects, including the much copied “bullet time”. Neo shows some great skills including almost dodging bullets, and Trinity and him manage to free Morpheus, who tells him the Oracle just said what Neo needed to hear and that he is The One. Just as they try to escape Neo is cornered by Agent Smith. More great martial arts style fighting but Agent Smith can take over a new body when his gets killed – Neo cannot. In the end Neo is shot and killed. Back in the real world Trinity tells him he can’t be dead because she loves him, and the Oracle told her the man she loved would be the Oracle. Bingo, Neo pops back to life and discovers his true rule-breaking Matrix-altering skills and destroys Agent Smith. I just can’t wait to see the next movie follow on from
here! Phew it’s exhausting just describing the plot! Some say that the plot is impossible to figure out exactly, but everyone agrees that the special effects and fight sequences are amazing and ground breaking. Bullet time has been copied in everything from computer games to Center Parcs adverts, and the martial arts spawned a new craze. Even fashion was altered by the highly cool black leather, combats, long black coat and sunglasses combinations. I don’t expect the Agents suits affected the catwalks, but Neo’s boots certainly did. I just love this film. The plot makes you think, even if you have to work to get through some of the psycho-babble lines (“There is no spoon”) and the film is full of subtle subplots and symbolism such as Alice in Wonderland, the religious resurrection/saviour side of Neo and the meanings behind the names (Neo rearranges to One and means reborn/new in Greek). And the fights and special effects are great, even when they’ve be done to death in rubbish adverts. The Matrix went beyond a mere film, and now a computer game (Enter The Matrix) and one sequel are out (Reloaded), with the last film (Revolutions) to follow later this year all set to expand the horizons even further. Some preliminary reports suggest that the plot is quite weak, but everyone is raving about the fight scenes and car chase. I want to see it now but the cinema is booked like until forever. When I do see it I shall write a review – but I’m in no doubt it will be great. Two Matrix films and the LOTR final part? Is this year film heaven or what!
My top-10 characters are going to be limited, and many people may disagree with my choices but they can only be from tv programmes that I have actually seen. I mainly like comedy shows and American tv (i'm sorry but it's good) so my favourite characters are from these shows. I also seem to have missed shows that many people say are great such as The Office, The Fast Show any soap opera... So if your favourite character is not here then i'm sure they are great but it is due to my taste in tv! 1. Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) Oh come on, Homer is by far and away the best character on tv. Say "D'oh" or "mmm" to anyone and they will know you are talking about Homer Simpson. His obsession with beer, donuts and doing as little as possible makes us all identify with him. The clip shows where they show him going "D'oh" again and again from different episodes are some of the best tv ever. 2. Edmund Blackadder (Blackadder) Who would not want to be able to come up with those great put-downs that Blackadder has? He was a different character in the first series but from the second series on he has got to be the best British comedy character going. Just the way that Rowan Atkinson says certain words such as "Bob" is funnier than entire series of other comedy shows. I think that the Elizabethan Blackadder is the best, and the scene where he has been kidnapped and is trying to understand what the Spanish torturer is saying has got to be one of the best moments. Blackadder rules! 3. Alice (Vicar of Dibley) Another comedy character, but I think they are the best. Poor silly Alice is the best character in the village I think. Her wedding where she has Thomas the Tank Engine on her dress and children dressed as Telly Tubbies as page boys is just so funny. She takes everything literally - a staple for British comedy shows - and tries so hard to please. Once the romance with H
ugo got underway her character changed, and I think she was not as good but in the earlier shows she is great. 4. Mulder and Scully (X-Files) Some serious-ish characters at last! Yes I know that there are two people listed above, but this is my list of favourite characters and I say that you cannot seperate these people. The X-Files tried to and look what happened to them! I came to X-Files later than others but for a while I was an "X-Phile" - a serious fan. This was hampered by the UK's poor scheduling of the programme and general behindness but I loved this show. The two characters just compliment each other so well. The breaking up of the partnership ruined the last few seasons, but in my mind the two characters together are the X-Files, not the rest of the show. 5. Giles (Buffy) Another vaugely serious charcter! American tv you see. I was also quite a serious Buffy fan and Giles was always my favourite character. He is a very sterotypical English character on US tv, but still better handled than most others (ie he doesn't go to meet the Queen on holiday). He does like his tea, complain about pop-culture and is a librarian but he is English after all and we are all like that. He did seem to be underdeveloped as a character untill his girlfriend was killed and he had a slight breakdown type moment, and after that he was a much stronger character. The most well known librarian on tv certainly. 6. Josh and Donna (West Wing) Now you might think that these are serious charcters (yes another pair, hush - it's my list!) as they are on the West Wing, a political drama show. But you would be assuming too much my friends. The West Wing has it's share of humour and some of the best bits come from this pair of charcters. They have their serious times but togther they are the funniest and best bits of the show. In one scene Donna is trying to persuade Josh that the Government should give people
some money back as they took more in taxes than they needed; she mainly wants it so she can buy a DVD player with it. He says that the Government doesn't trust people to spend it wisely so they will keep the extra. Later Donna gets Josh a sandwich and refuses to give him the change as she says he gave her too much money but he wouldn't spend the change wisely. It's a great scene, I just explain funny things badly. 7. Rimmer (Red Dwarf) Back to comedy characters! Red Dwarf is a great programme and most of the humor comes from Rimmer trying to outwit Lister. It's a miracle that he doesn't manage to considering that Lister does not exactly have a huge IQ. Rimmer is just so hopeless in everything he tries to do. You wouldn't think that failure would make such funny tv but it does. He is an arrogant, usless, cowardly, back-stabbing hypocrite but he is very funny and a great nemesis for Lister. The episode where he is gone and they watch the performance he set up to celebrate himself is just so funny - little puppets of himself are singing "Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer - More reliable than a garden strimmer". You have to see it to believe it. 8. Ned Flanders (The Simpsons) "Oak-ily Doke-ily!" The eternally cheerful neighbour of the Simpsons. He runs the Leftorium, is an avid church-goer and is constantly harassed by Homer. Despite this in a few episodes he does lose his temper, Homer befriends him and in one he marries a floozy from Las Vegas. Also his wife dies after being hit with a t-shirt fired from a canon at a racetrack. All this is temporary and he reverts back to the friendly neighbour by the end of the show. Except for his wife - she doesn't come back. He is linked with a Christian rock singer in one show though. A great foil to Homer's madness. 9. Spock (Star Trek) I admit to having been a trekie at some point in my life. I won't go into details but I
have re-joined the real world now and am taking it one step at a time. No, I was never that bad but I did like Star Trek when I was younger. I never went for the Captain Kirk, rekless hero fan-worship. I always thought Spock was a lot cooler. After all he could read minds and do the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. That was way better than Kirk! So the green-blooded, pointy-eared one makes it into my list. 10. Manuel (Fawlty Towers) One last comedy character. Very few episodes of Fawlty Towers were made, but in all of them Manuel shines through. His wonderful broken English and deep-seated fear of Basil are just so funny, and when he is hit over the had with a frying pan you just feel so sorry for him. Poor Manuel. Que? The moose falling onto his head and him scaring the Colonel are some of the best bits of the show. A great character.
For the tea or coffee lover Whittards is paradise. Their 100 shops are a treasure trove of dozens of flavours of teas and coffees, along with handmade cups, saucers and teapots and specialist and home coffee machines. It's just a pain that my nearest one is an hours drive away! Some supermarkets do stock a limited range of their packet tea and coffee, but it is not the same as visiting one of the special shops. As a small compensation there is a website at www.whittards.co.uk where you can order some products over the internet. Whittards was founded in 1886 in Chelsea, London by Mr Walter Whittard, a man who obviously liked his tea. He had a policy of "buy the best" which continues to be the philosophy of the firm. Whittards has their tea and coffee "guru" Mr Giles, who travels around the world searching out the best sources for their products. The website has more information about what he does, but he is certainly dedicated to his tea, sometimes tasting more than 500 types a day. The tea and coffee is often bought from small local plantations, where it is shipped to London in its original chests. Certainly better than just shoving a PG Tips bag into your mug! I first came across Whittards in my search for lovely coffee. They do a range of flavoured coffees such as Irish Cream, Chocolate, French Vanilla and other interesting flavours. Not one to dwell on tea much, I just went for these flavoured coffees in my visit to their far-off store on a shopping trip. Then after Christmas I found a Whittards gift set in my local Boots. It was substaintially reduced from it's pre-Xmas price, and had some of their hand-painted crockery. There was a very nice blue paterned teapot and two mugs, along with a tea strainer and 4 small tins of tea leaves. I admit I bought it more for the teapot than anything else, but I was left with the tea leaves to experiement with. Having only experienced tea bags before it was somewhat daunt
ing to spoon a load of loose leaves into the teapot, and once or twice I did forget to use the strainer when pouring, leaving me with a mug full of floating tea leaves. Despite this I have been won over to loose leaves. Not for every mug of tea, but when I want to treat myself with a nice cup of tea I turn to the tea leaves and to Whittards. I have tried their Original blend, English Breakfast tea, Assam and even Earl Grey (an aquired taste!). Whittards might be a bit more expensive than your bog standard tea bags, or the more mainstream supermarket loose leaf teas but you can taste the quality. Their coffee is very nice too, although I have yet to try their loose whole coffee beans yet the flavoured is delicious. According to the website they have set up a new store in Carnaby Street, London called the Whittard T-zone which is an educational and specialist shop containing 100 varieties of tea and even a blend-your-own counter! That sounds very cool. I know it might be a bit odd hearing a student describing loose leaf teas as very cool, but I am generally an odd person and another one who is passionate about tea and coffee! The best news is that where I am planning to go to uni has a Whittard shop. Yay! Caffiene heaven here I come!
I love Dell. They are a wonderful company. If you haven't guessed yet then I'll tell you now that this is not a negative review about Dell. If you are a Dell-hating, build computers with your bare hands kind of person then look away now! I have just bought my very first own computer from this company and I have fallen in love with them, despite handing over £920 of my hard earned money. That shows how much they impressed me! My story begins with many hours of research in various computer magazines, shops, websites, on dooyoo, asking friends about their experiences. I finally came to the conclusion that if I wanted the specs for as little money as possible then I would either have to buy a computer that was on special offer or go to Dell. After inspecting PC World where my sister bought her computer, I thought that the deals were all a bit basic so I decided on Dell. I first spotted them in a newspaper where they were advertising one of their great deals - double your memory from 256MB to 512MB (this is on at present as well). The deals tend to cycle round and they only last for a week or two at a time. This caught my attention, but I was worried about buying online as a non-expert computer person. Then a friend at work told me about how he had got his new computer from Dell - it was really cheap but high spec and the service was great. This made me seriously think about them as a possibility, and it lead to me sitting at the computer test customising my computer. This is the great thing about Dell - you can specify what you want to have added onto a basic starting computer. You might start out with a 2GHZ processor but you can pay a bit more and have 2.4 for example. Equally if you don't want that much power you save money by keeping it basic. Dell's website, at, cunningly, www.dell.co.uk, gives you a page where you can try out the customising process and the price at the bottom of the screen is adjusted accordingly. Afte
r one try where I made my superpowered dream computer and would have bankrupted myself, I then started to see where I wanted more power and where I could save money. When I bought my computer the current offer was free delivery and double your hard drive from 60GB to 120GB. I went for the Dell Dimension 2350 which started out with a flat TFT screen, 2.4GHZ, the doubled 120GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM and a CDRW/DVD combo drive. I paid a bit more and went up to 512MB of RAM and got seperate CDRW and DVD drives, as well as paying for Paint Shop Pro and a multimedia keyboard. You can even specify whether you want a cordless mouse or a surge protector included! I bit the bullet and paid up. £920 - not bad for the computer I was getting at the end, exactly what I wanted. It also helps that Dell computers are streamlined and black, and I really hate beige boxy computers. Urgh. The online ordering process is secure and very easy to follow. The only odd bit was one section of questions included because Dell is an American company. It asked whether the computer would be used for military or government use, and then (this is great) asked if I was going to use it for anything to do with weapons of mass destruction! What would they have done if I said yes?! I if I was - would I have told the truth?! Anyway the order was whisked away into the elctronic ether and I was left contemplating my bank balance. The website has a facility for checking your order status, but I never got that to work as my customer number was not accepted for some reason. This was the only problem, but it is one small black mark against the company's otherwise untarnished name in my book. I recieved an email saying that the computer would take 7-10 working days to arrive and it was being "custom built" in their factory. Is it just me or is that so much better than just picking a machine off a self of a computer shop? Then later I got a phone call to say the exact day
it was arriving. Sure enough 11.45am some lovely boxes were delivered to my sister who is currently quarantined at home after having her tonsils out. From Bank Holiday Monday odering to the next Monday delivery - 6 working days. Everything was there and it was all in perfect condition. After getting it all out of the packaging (I now have a small cardboard mountain at home) it only took around 20 minutes to set everything up and connect all the wires together. The instructions were very easy to follow and wires colour coded. Then I switched on the power of my very own computer. Ah the wonderful sound of the Windows XP setup! Everything was loaded onto the computer and even the date and time had been correctly set! I am completely satisfied with it and there have been no problems so far. The website has a special section devoted to Dell owners with topics such as "Fix my Dell" and "Upgrade my Dell" and there are FAQ and hints and tips to help you on your way and get the most from your computer. I hope to investigate this further as time goes on. This all compares to my sister who bought her computer on the same Monday at PC World. She waited until Friday for them to get the computer but the monitor did not follow on until the Wednesday after, and there was very poor service in-between. All in all Dell have made themselves a life-long customer in me, and I certainly intend to buy my next computer from them in the future.
I don't really know where to start this op. I haven't written a "serious" opinion yet - i've concentrated on Muller corners, tv programmes and the odd rant about customers in shops making £10 notes all sweaty. So I thought to myself where shall I start. Life after death, dying, hmm. I know - The End of the World. That'll do. You might have gathered from the first few lines that this isn't going to turn into a serious op about life after death. There's no deep held Christian belief going to materialise, no actual near death experience. It's just me writing about what I think, with a fairly lighthearted view on things. Sorry if this offends any people with serious views on the subject, but this isn't an RE lesson. Do not take this too seriously! Anyway - back to The End of the World. I read in the paper today that there is this Japanese cult who go around dressed in white sheets (not the KKK, they are a different group) who claim to have been poisoned by these electromagnetic waves and things. All fine you say, just another loony cult. But the thing is their leader has prophesised The End of the World is going to happen tomorrow (15/05/03). Now if you are reading this a week next Sunday then you know that they are just loonies, but bear with me. It just got me thinking about what would happen if it was the end of the world tomorrow and I, along with everyone else, ceased to exist. Well I would be mightily annoyed. I have just spent £900 on a computer and I have only had time to use it once! I have been working for two years and then I die right before my final exams! I just tidied my room! It would be really inconvenient for me to die right now! Can I schedule death in some other time, like never? Joking aside (like that's gonna happen) I feel that I am not yet ready to die. There is so much I still need to do, and have done to me! (steady). My scientific side says that death is just yo
ur body shutting down. Your brain dies and your conciousness ends. Zip. I don't pretend to know what happens when you die. I just really worry that there will be nothing. I try to rationalise that if there is nothing, and you just cease to exist, then you will not be aware of not existing - if that makes sense. I managed to confuse myself there I think! I do know what I hope is there. Anyone who has read The Last Battle by C S Lewis will know what I mean. It is the final book in the Narnia series, and all the good people and animals end up in this world where everything is wonderful. It is like Narnia, but so much better that Narnia seemed like a shadow or something like that - you need to read it to understand exactly. Anyway the people then find out that they died in a train crash, and this is the next step. I know that Narnia is all Christian metaphor, with Aslan as Jesus and everything so this world being described stands for heaven. It just always seemed really nice. I want that to be what happens when you die. I rationalise again - dying is not likely to resemble the final chapters of childrens book but I can hope. I think if we are being scientific again then all theories on life after death are just to comfort people. Think of "Silicon Heaven" in Red Dwarf! No one can properly die and then come back to write a review on the subject, so you don't know until you are there. Anyway if my ideal doesn't happen then I want to be able to come back as a ghost and haunt people. I just think it would be fun. I would only haunt bad people of course, but wouldn't it be cool to keep hiding people's car keys and things? He he he he. I appologise once more if I have offended or confused people. This is my lighthearted rambling look at life after death, complete with forays into Narnia, and is as such not meant to be taken too seriously, or really understood. :-)
Many people may have seen the film of this book by Tom Clancy, featuring Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan. I saw the film before I read the book but I found that this did not spoil a good read. I picked up this book along with some others for the huge price of 25p at a car boot sale. If you prefer your books new or cannot find it second hand (I doubt it - Tom Clancy books make up 50% of car boot sales) then Amazon has it for £6.39 in paperback, published by Harper Collins. Now the boring bits are out of the way: to the action! Jack Ryan, all-American good guy, ex-Marine, ex-CIA consultant, naval history teacher and general hero-in-waiting is in London with his family. There he manages to stumble over a terrorist attack in the way that only a Tom Clancy character can. Without thinking of his own safety he foils the attack and saves the Prince and Princess of Wales along with their newborn child (this was written back in 1987). The surviving terrorist is sent to prison for a long time. Jack is knighted by the Queen for his bravery and has a grand old time hanging out with Royalty before returning to the USA. This happens in the first few chapters - the next paragraph contains spoilers if you want to be surprised. But wait! The surviving terrorist, a member of the Ulster Liberation Army (remember 1987 and from an American's perspective) is rescued from prison. Sean Miller, played by Sean Bean in the film, is understandably angry with Jack and wants revenge. He launches an attack in America and almost kills Jack's wife and daughter. Oh boy - now Jack is angry and seeking revenge. He returns to the CIA where he works to try and track down the terrorists. The Prince and Princess of Wales travel to America and arrange to have dinner with Jack and his family. Cue thunderstorm and pitched battle with terrorists and a climatic cliff-top escape and boat chase. The book ends with evil terrorist guy being arrested and Jack's second child being born.
Ahhh. Some people have criticised this book for having a weak plotline. It is more basic than some of his other books, but anyone who has got through Executive Orders knows that too much going on can be a bit overwhelming. As an English teenager who thinks of Prince Charles as the old guy who has a reputation for talking to plants, I found the bits where Jack is with Royalty a bit sickening. This is from an American author who probably has a bit of a fuzzy, soft lighting image of the British monarchy but they do seem to be able to do no wrong in his books. The Prince and Princess of Wales bits are just awkward now, what with the divorce and then Diana's death. But this book was written before all that so you just have to accept it and work around it. The film was made in 1992, and substituted them for different royals by that stage anyway. The action at the beginning of the book was the best bit in my opinion, along with he operations by the terrorists. Tom Clancy does write action very well. There were maybe a few too many scenes with Jack and his wife going "ahh" together about her being pregnant, but it all adds up to developing the characters so you can't complain too much. This is just one book of many with them in so they can't just be skipped over. All in all it was good read. Probably not Clancy's best Jack Ryan book - the later ones with more of a global perspective such as Debt of Honour are more action-packed - but good anyway and it inspired a great film (any film with Harrison Ford is great by default). A good member of the Jack Ryan collection of novels.
Anyone who has sky or digital tv must have at some point come across the wonders of shopping channels. Come on, you can admit it - we've all done it, turned to the continuous adverts that are the shopping channels for some mind-numbing viewing. It's so relaxing! Anyway I first came across OxiClean on these shopping channels. They can make me want anything, these marketing people, but OxiClean stood out for it's "I must try that!" desirability. The feature - read "advert" - was presented by the typical pair with one dumb blonde character to ask the stupid questions and one very enthusiastic expert. I swear this guy must have been hyped up on high doses of caffeine or something, he was talking at a million miles a minute and was overly interested in this cleaning product. At least that's what I thought until I saw the demonstrations. On the tv they had big glass tanks filled with water to show you what was happening. They got some white clothes and poured coffee, juice and iodine all over them. They then put the clothes in the tank and squirted in more iodine so the water was dark brown. That's not gonna come clean I hear you say! But it did! They added a small scoop of OxiClean and swirled it around. As they did this the water bubbled with oxygen being released and the colour disolved away. The clothes became sparkly white again. Wow. I am sceptical of product claims and tv trickery but I had to try some. This product was being sold as "nature's miracle" - a bit far in my opinion - but it is powered by oxygen and activated by water. It says it is non-toxic so it doesn't give off harmful fumes or damage the thing you are cleaning. Obviously you are not supposed to eat it but it is fairly harmless as chemicals go. My mum ordered some from her catologue (thanks mum) where it was around £6 for a tub I think. It is also sold in a 1kg pack with "Orange Glo" cleaner, as it belon
gs to that company, for around £20. Now I had some the fun could begin - the testing! The tub comes with directions on the back for it's different applications. It can only be used on organic stains such as coffee, blood, grass, mildew and the euphamisticaly named "pet stains". It can be added to laundry - a scoop per load - along with your normal cleaner to get your "whites whiter" and to act as a "laundry booster". We use it more on stains where you mix it with water in the applicator bottle and use as desired. You do not have to add much so it lasts for ages and ages. After a few trials we discovered that it works much better with hottish water, it seems to bubble more furiously and dissolve stains better. You might want to just make up what you need and use it while it is hot rather than leave it for use later. We have used it on coffee and wine spills on carpets, tea stained cups and teapots as well as mysterious stains on the kitchen carpet that no-one can identify. It brought the cups up shiny and new and the coffee spills are no more. As for the kitchen carpet, it made us realise we would have to clean the entire thing now as we have a few clean spots where the stains once were! OxiClean is a bit more expensive than some other cleaners, and it's use is limited to organic stains. Despite this it will last you forever and it is very good at the stains it specialises in. As the enthusiastic advert guy says "OxiClean - powered by the air that we breathe and activated by the water you and I drink!". He said that a lot, very loudly right down the camera. Its very good but he didn't need to be that enthusiastic. Calm down man!
To me Harrison Ford makes a very good president. I have been influenced by him appearing as Jack Ryan in the films of Tom Clancy's books, and that character becomes president so my image of the fictional president is pretty much Harrison Ford. This film confirms my image by him playing James Marshall, an almost sickeningly ideal president. The man is a Medal of Honour winner, he has a perfect family and is just too damm brave to run away. Don't you just hate presidents who do that? The secret service definately seem to! Air Force One (the call sign of whatever plane the president is traveling on) is taken over by terrorists. You would have thought the security guys would have suspected something when Gary Oldman (chief terrorist guy) got on the plane! Come on he is always the bad guy! They try to take the president alive but security men spirit him away to a neat little pod at the back of the plane so he can escape. Of course Indiana can't retreat only 15 minutes into the film so he hides instead and takes on a Bruce Willis "Die Hard" campaign against the terrorists. They are holding the people on the plane hostage so that their leader will be released from prison in some tiny made-up country near Russia. Of course the vice president down on the ground can't do this so they rely on the president to save the day. Which he does of course. In one of the more unbelievable scenes the hostages are secretly rescued and they parachute down under the guise of the plane being refueled. But of course the president still refuses to leave. Not while his family are at gunpoint! He has to save them himself to get full hero credit. Eventually Gary Oldman has an unfortunate accident while having a fistfight by the open cargo door of the plane and falls out. Oh dear. The good guys win! But wait - the security guy who was helping the terrorists - he's still there! Behind you Mr President! He manages to kill off any remaining g
ood guys who might take credit away from Harrison Ford before dying. Indiana then dangles from a cable being towed by another plane and is winched to safety. A happy ending. This film is not as bad as I might have made it sound! I really like it - it is one of my favourite action films and it is highly entertaining. It might get a bit far-fetched at points (like the whole way through) but part of enjoying a film is supending your disbelief. The acting from the main characters is very good - Gary Oldman makes his terrorist more three-dimensional than many actors would and Harrison Ford manges to add a bit of dignty to his president that is hard to do in the circumstances. A fun film for a dull evening - suitable for everyone except smaller children.
Ah Muller Corners. The perfect way to convince yourself you are eating fairly healthy yoghurt when in actual fact all you want is the interesting bit - be it cereal, biscuit crunchy topping, chunks of meringue or if you are diet inclined or just like them maybe even fruit. Mississippi Mud Pie, as well as being fairly difficult to spell, is just about the most removed from healthy yoghurt dessert but it is very chocolatey and yummy. There are four "groupings" of Muller Corners: Fruit - fruit and syrup mini section. Includes Strawberry, Peach and Apricot, Pink Grapefruit and many more. Crunch - biscuity bits covered in chocolate in the mini section. Includes Vanilla Choco Balls and others. Kellogg's - cereal mini section. Cornflakes, Frosties and Coco Pops. Dessert - pretends to be a full on dessert. Includes Rhubarb Crumble, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemon Cheesecake and of course Mississippi Mud Pie. Muller Corners are to be found alongside their more mundane yoghurt cousins in the chiller cabinet. They have two sections; a larger yoghurt section and a mini topping section. In the more complex corners there may be sauce underneath the yoghurt eg. in Rhubarb Crumble there is yoghurt with rhubarb underneath and the crumble topping is in the separate section. The container is designed so that you can bend it almost in half, tipping the fun topping part into the yoghurt section so they can be mixed together. Snacks you can play with before you eat - marketing people really know what consumers want! Also, being fun to eat children might like these - particularly the Kellogg's Corners with Coco Pops and Frosties in them. The Mississippi Mud Pie Corner has yoghurt, underneath which is the yummy part - chocolate and toffee-coffee sauce! Mmmm! In the topping section is chocolate crumble biscuit bits. You can add this straight away and mix the whole lot together, creating a wonderful mud pie mix. I
however prefer to eat some of the yoghurt at the beginning, thereby creating a higher sauce to yoghurt ratio and more chocolatey flavour. This is left to your discretion - you could eat all the yoghurt and sauce and then eat the crumble biscuit on it's own! The choice is yours! Just so you know what is in it, the ingredients are listed below (the ingredients are in very small print on the packaging): Muller Corner Dessert: Mississippi Mud Pie Yoghurt, Chocolate Sauce (13%)(Modified Maize Starch, Stabiliser: Carrageenan; Flavourings) Toffee-Coffee Sauce (12%)(Modified Maize Starch, Flavourings) Chocolate Crumble (12%)(with Wheat Flour, Flavourings) Fructose, Dextrose, Flavourings. Mississippi Mud Pie is my favourite flavour of corner. It is more like a proper dessert than a yoghurt snack, and is full of chocolatey flavour to prevent me turning to real chocolate later in the day! Muller corners are perfect for breakfast, as a snack, in a lunchbox or as a pudding. They are on sale in supermarkets, smaller stores and often alongside other lunchtime snacks in sandwich bars. They are around 35-40p but can usually be found on offer such as "3 for 99p" in supermarkets. Mississippi Mud Pie Corner - the fun way to enjoy yoghurt! More specifically yoghurt with lots of chocolate sauce! Yum!
For some reason people seem to put their own A-Z’s under the “A” category. I don’t really know why but I thought I would join in! So here, for your re-viewing pleasure, is alocin’s A-Z! A: A is for the band known as A, under which people place their A-Z’s on dooyoo. I happen to quite like this band so they are my first entry. My favourite track is “Starbucks” but “Nothing” is also quite good to shout along to in the car! B: B’s are insects that pollinate flowers and make honey, but B also stands for Bambi. A wonderful film, the first Disney movie I ever saw. The bit where his mum dies is so sad! Why must kid’s films always have heartbreaking moments? Ah but he is so cute. C: C is for cat. I have two cats, one called Jasper and one called Smudge. I love them very much and am going to miss them loads when I go off to university (more than my parents!). They like to kill small creatures and leave them on the landing where I am likely to tread on them in the dark, but they can do no wrong in my eyes. Yes they do have me wrapped around their little tails. D: D is for destruction. A trail of this seems to follow me around wherever I go. If it is breakable then keep it in a safe place when I am near – mugs fall, glasses shatter, wing mirrors are knocked off and important documents have coffee spilt on them. Keep a 5m radius from me to be safe! E: E is a class A drug, but not being into such things it does not feature in my A-Z. Instead E is for energy, a characteristic I rarely possess when needed, such as now when I should be revising for my exams. E is also for exams. God I hate them. And yet I seem to have hundreds. Wish me luck in June. F: F is for flowers. I never seem to get any. Why is this? Answers on a postcard. G: G is for goat. When I was around five years old we went to a farm park. There were goats. It is a complicated st
ory but the result was a goat ate a large chunk of my hair. This has left me with a permanent distrust of goats, a condition difficult in this modern world where we must deal with the creatures so often. I suspect they may have something to do with my glasses going missing (see “I”). H: H is for hermit. I sometimes think that I would make quite a good hermit, not having to have pointless conversations with telesales people and communicating generally in a monosyllabic way. Then I think wait – hermits don’t get TV and I would miss then end of 24. I will found a new group of hermits who get to keep TV and computers. I: I is for seeing with. I need glasses to drive and watch TV, as my vision is OK in my left eye but very short-sighted in my right. My glasses are never where I left them – I swear someone must go around and move them when I am not looking. Why must they torment me!? J: J is for jam. I like jam a lot, although marmalade is my favourite. It is very nice in a sandwich with peanut butter, but most people make gagging noises when I describe it. It’s delicious! Jam should be pip and seed free if at all possible. K: K is for kite. Let’s go fly a kite, up to the highest height! Well maybe not right now, it being dark, cold and rainy. When the weather clears up and it gets lighter so you can see power cables and the like. Kites can be death-traps you know. L: L is for law. I am planning to study law at university with the view to being a solicitor. I enjoy A Level a lot, homicide being a lot of fun. Honest it is! Law textbooks are both very heavy and expensive. A dangerous combination. M: M is for mountains. I have never seen one in real life, living in rolling Devon which is not noted for rugged mountain ranges. Disliking climbing even the smallest of hills and having a healthy fear of heights I don’t have any particular desire to correct this. N: N i
s for Nicola. That is actually my name. Alocin – Nicola, own up who didn’t notice before I told them? O: O is for olives. I don’t like olives. Not good enough? Ok then O is for orange juice, which I do like. Ovaltine – don’t like. Octupus - never tried. Accept it I just can’t think of anything good for the letter O. P: P is a normal bodily function, about which we do not require any toilet humour. Toilet humour, get it? He he he. Q: Q is for queuing. A great British tradition that we are very good at. I personally think that it makes my legs tired but I will join in the public lynching of anyone who queue jumps. Get to the back of the line – I’ve waited a long time to look smug about the fact that I am 12 people ahead of you! R: R is for reading, riting and rithmatic. Who came up with that? They obviously missed out the spelling part of the second one. I’m OK at the first two but my maths has seriously declined since GCSEs. I had trouble working out 10% staff discount the other day! S: S is for SARS. I just thought I would be topical to show that I pay some attention to the news! T: T would be quite nice thanks, milk and no sugar. And some digestives if you’ve got them. Ta ever so much. U: U are hopefully reading and even possibly enjoying this list. OK I might be stretching it with enjoyment, but toleration is enough for me! V: V is for voting. Not nearly enough people do these days. You have a voice so use it! People fought long and hard so that everyone could have their say. Even if you just write “You are all rubbish candidates – I abstain” on the paper you have spoken. I think there should be a box saying that which you could tick. W: W is for Wales, which is where I am hoping to go to uni. I know that this is quite sad but I think that it is really cool and exotic to have everything in two languages,
like fire exit signs and things. I know Cardiff isn’t exactly deepest darkest Wales but I think it’s great and am going to try and get beyond “bora da” or whatever hello is in Welsh. X: X is a very difficult letter to receive in Scrabble. I suggest cheating and trying to avoid getting it in the first place. If not then there is always “ox”. Y: Y do people put A-Z’s of themselves under the band A? I don’t know. Maybe someone could tell me in the comments? Z: Z is for zebra. I painted my desk in my room with zebra stripes. It looks very scary. Oh come on I got to the end of the list! You should be praised for doing the same!
Having really enjoyed The Godfather and The Last Don, both by Puzo, when I spotted this in the library I thought that it would be a good read. Alas it is nowhere near the standard of the man who brought the Corleone family to life. Another review mentioned that this was an unfinished manuscript found when Puzo died, if so then someone really mangled it bringing it to publication. It really is a mafia novel by numbers - in places it seems more like an imitation of Puzo's style by an inferior writer. The characters are typically colourful - the old Don Aprile, the hitmen Sturzo brothers, the nephew Astorre. These were fleshed out well and had depth, but some characters seemed skimmed over - sterotypes from previous books renamed. I can't even remember most of their names, that is how much of an impression they made on me while I was reading this! One sentence plot - no major spoilers as you guess what is going to happen early on: Old Don is killed, seemingly flaky singing adopted nephew takes over, really he is a throwback Mafia Don, doles out justice to those responsible for adopted father's death, lives happily ever after in Sicily. Along the way there is police corruption, some treachery, bribes and pay-offs, lots of people die with messy descriptions eg. brain matter splatters everywhere. If you like Puzo's work then this will be a disapointment. If you have a vague interest in the mafia then it should have enough to keep you reading. Having read other Puzo books I just felt that I knew what was coming. It is an OK book, it will keep you occupied for a couple of hours but don't expect it to be up there with the Godfather.