Thursday, 25 February 2010

Why tragic things like this may happen...

I wonder if you'll agree with me on where I find a problem with this introduction.

The story is most certainly one that should be told, a poor girl got trapped addicted to heroin. In a brief moment of clarity she wrote a letter declaring herself clean, but sadly died from an overdose a mere 3 weeks later. Read the full article here.

The reporting itself is usual metro quality, so too badly written to be particularly offensive. What I really take issue with is the linking between ecstasy and heroin in this regard. Don't get me wrong, I would agree that there is probably a causal link, but those that take ecstasy to not immediately (or indeed ever in most cases) become heroin addicts.

See this link I think is actually completely counter productive. Ecstasy and variant drugs are relatively easy to come by, so some people will find themselves in a position where they can experiment. After experimenting and finding the whole experience to be quite different, but no more severe, to being drunk, they will probably wonder what all the fuss was about.

Now imagine that someone who has taken ecstasy, and has seen ecstasy and heroin conflated in this way, now finds themselves in a position where they can experiment with heroin.
'well ecstasy wasn't so bad,' the thought process may go 'so maybe the media are exaggerating with this too.'
Except they're not. Heroin is horrible (I've not tried it, but I've seen the results), it's incredibly good at making your problems go away, and it's highly physically addictive. A perfect storm for stealing the life of a young person with problems.

Add to this the insane classification system that considers just about any drug more potent than cannabis (with the exception of the taxed drugs) a class A, and what genuine messages are we giving out about the relative dangers of heroin compared to other drugs? None. Including ecstasy use so prominently in a story like this, only serves to exacerbate the problems.

Migrationwatch watch

Have you heard of Migrationwatch? Most of you will have heard of the name, but for a lot of people it the recognition will cause a vague ringing in the back of the mind. Like when you pass someone on the street who's face looks a little familiar, and you don't want to talk to them because you can't remember their name, and then it's too late because they have already started a conversation that you can never quite get into because you just don't know where you know them from.

Well does this jog your memory? "Sir Andrew Green of the Migrationwatch pressure group said: 'This report confirms that ministers deliberately rode roughshod over public opinion in adopting a policy of mass immigration."(source - but I wouldn't click if I were you)

How about? "But Migrationwatch UK warns that initiative planned or in place by the two main parties will fail to meet that target." (from here)

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

You tube faves

It's all gotten a little bit serious and educational here at Hippoblahblahwhat recently. So I thought I'd cheer myself up and lighten everyone's day with two of my favourite music based youtube vids.

Voting reform 2: The basics of Alternative Vote (AV)

I argued in my previous post that First Past The Post (FPTP) is a voting system that should be consigned to the electoral dustbin. Should the Electoral reform bill make it past the lords before parliament is dissolved in the next few months, we may get the chance to boot it out. What will take it's place though?

The alternative vote system offers the (near) guarantee that the elected representative for a constituency will have been voted in by a majority of the turnout. On election day, instead of placing one 'x' in the box of your
favoured candidate/party you number the candidates in your order of preference. To illustrate this, Below are two 'example' ballot forms. The first is a traditional FPTP ballot, the second an AV paper.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Voting Reform 1: What's wrong with FPTP?

MP's recently voted to allow a referendum on electoral reform. That is to give us the option to finally send the outdated and unrepresentative First Past The Post (FPTP) to the scrapheap.

The option on the referendum (if it gets through the House of Lords, no mean feat given that parliament will be dissolved within the next 4 months) will be a straight choice between FPTP and AV. For this, the first blog entry in this series we are going to look at why such a change might be considered necessary. In the second I'm going to ignore the curiousness of the timing of this bill and instead try and explain what you will be voting for, or against in the Alternative vote system. In the final installment I'll go over 'what we could have won' (and what we should IMO get behind) Single Transferrable Vote (STV).

Friday, 19 February 2010


Ok so who uses twitter?

You have probably heard a lot about it in recent months, and I have just recently offered my soul up to the beast to see just how much of it is engulfed. Strangely for something that is just the status bar from facebook, it's really quite compelling.

Because people are forced to sum up their thoughts in text message format, you never have reams and reams to read through, and looking at the trending topics can offer a sort of 'life highlights' with all the links that you need to find out what is going on in the world.
The one thing I still haven't quite grasped is actually tweeting. I currently have all of 1 follower, a polite 'refollow' that probably occurred all but automatically, so what s the point in me tweeting? Some may argue that it's the same point in me blogging with no readers, but I actually enjoy writing. I don't much enjoy texting (never have) and while writing skill may aid me in the real world, no sane person is ever going to hire me off the back of a few entertaining tweets.

But if I don't tweet.... Why would anyone follow me anyway? It's a paradox that I haven;'t yet resolved in my mind. Do I tweet to the masses that don't yet exist (like here) assuming that 'they will come'? or do I just go around following people and see if anyone follows an empty feed?

We shall see. One thing that I do tweet is when I have posted a blog (#blogs is a shameless promotional tool) so follow me if you wish to keep up to date on Hippomonstroblahdeblahdeblah. (wish I'd thought about that name for just a touch longer).

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

props to power

Really quite a short note to highlight some great work that is being done to try and inject some public enthusiasm into politics.
The aim is very simple, to get people to vote on what sort of reforms they would like to see in the political system. Once this procedure has been completed the aim is to lobby political parties to include those reforms in their manifestos.

There are only 5 days left to vote, so click on the link, read through the options and vote for those you like. It is worth voting, even if your selection is a clear favourite for inclusion, as the greater support exists for a proposal, the more pressure will exist on parties to include it.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

I'll write some original content soon....

But in the meantime, here's some stuff that I wrote for this issue of the Thames Valley Student mag.

As a little aside, I actually quite like the idea of collecting all my writings from other sources to go here. As well as padding out the blog for the one or two visitors that might want to read something by me, it also becomes a nice one stop shope for me to look back over in years to come.

Anyway, it's for the game portal column, so is about videogames. Download videogames... Because I'm poor.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

What can I say.... I was bored....

Feeling really unmotivated today, so what else to do but type 'unmotivated' into a search engine and see what happens?

That really cheered me up :)

Monday, 8 February 2010

It's debating day!

In a further case of blatantly padding out my blog with writings done form elsewhere (see piece on tax breaks for the games industry) I decided to share a long reply to someone on a forum discussing the existance of God. Mainly because in a couple of months, that discussion will be culled from the forum, and I spent a lot of time writing it.
I have removed the user name of the person I was debating, but have left the points that I am replying to in the quote areas. The first line seems to include a typo on their part, as they themselves believe in god...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Make the pope pay!

You may or may not be aware that Pope Benedict the something or other is coming to the UK soon to place his hand (I said his hand) on children's heads. Well OK he's an intolerant old bastard, he's against equal rights, and was once a member of the Hitler youth (we all make mistakes eh?), but I'm a liberal and believe in free speech so sure. It'll make some people happy. Go for it.

One thing I'm not happy about though, is that this visit is expected to cost the UK taxpayer £20million. That's quite a lot of money, like the annual budget for a couple of schools. So the National Secular Society have started a petition asking the catholic church to stump up the cash.

If you, like me find having a country billions of pounds in debt paying for a man with more bling than Dr Dre to visit a little unfair. Go and sign it.