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April 1st 2009
It is difficult, really, to know how to pitch April Fool's jokes. Fear not, by the way, as it is well psat noon as I write this, and thus you are safe from any fooling from this quarter. I mean, the April Fool has to be relatively believable, but at the same time the person being fooled has to stand a chance of working out what's going on. Telling someone "I've just bought some cheese" when in fact you've bought bread, for example, is not a good April Fool, even if they do get fooled.
As well as this, you have to make sure that no one's feelings are going to get hurt. If you tell someone that their favourite TV star is on the phone, and they believe you, then not only will they be stupid, but also deeply disappointed. Which isn't cool. Anyhow, my April Fools this year were as lame as any other year (Lirpa Fuhal being an honourable, if not convincing, exception), but at least no one was too devastated by them.
In other news, you may have noticed that from this year it is possible to get A* at A Level, awarded for a score of 90% or more. I apologise in advance for what will no doubt be regarded as arrogance, but surely I was not the only person who checked their A Level scores to see if they would have got A*s instead of As? Well, I'm pleased to report that I would have got A* in Maths, Further Maths and English, but with only 89.17% would have still got an A in Chemistry. And yes, I do have all my module scores in a spreadsheet on my computer. Gotta love spreadsheets.

When I say 'I love you,' you say 'You better / You better, you better, you bet'
(You Better You Bet - The Who)

April 10th 2009
You may remember the old armchair I have that smells of cigarettes. Well, after leaving it outside for a couple of weeks, washing all the covers I could take off and using half a bottle of Febreze... it still smells. Actually, so long as I use excessive quantities of Febreze every day, it's not so bad. But I don't really want to have an armchair that requires Febreze every day. Sorry.
In other news, today marks the release of 17 Again, which I mentioned previously on this page - I confidently predict that it will be the highest grossing Matthew Perry film to date. Although this is largely, if not solely, because it is really a Zac Efron film. Ho-hum; beggars can't be wachamacallems. Anyways, I advise you all to see it, if only to put me in less of a minority amidst the 12 year old girls (as Tim pointed out. Thanks, Tim).
You may have noticed that someone high up in the police - I apologise, for I forget his name - has resigned due to the fact that he held a secret memo where it could be seen by cameras. This is, frankly, madness, and the latest in a long line of high-profile figures resigning at the drop of a hat. Yes, he made a blunder; but what about all the day-to-day stuff, what about the expertise has built up? I'm not fantastic at my job, and I'm relatively low-level, but if I were to leave AXA tomorrow, it would probably take a few months to get my replacement up to the same standard as I am now. How much more does this apply for a police chief, whose work is not only highly difficult but also shrouded in secrecy? Well, normally shrouded.
Usually we see MPs in this ridiculous situation, resigning over trivial matters - Peter Mandelson, for example, resigned because he'd borrowed money from somebody. He later resigned because he'd called someone to ask about a passport application for a friend. George Osborne came perilously close to resigning because he'd taken a trip on a yacht with a rich man. David Blunkett resigned because he'd helped his nanny get a visa. In this last case, I remember someone being quoted as saying; "Only Tony Blair can decide whether this offence means Blunkett has to resign". Er... surely you're getting 'resigning' confused with 'being fired'?
Of course, in each case the MP in question has been put under enormous public pressure to resign, and you can probably think of several other cases off the top of your head. And, you know, this is because people, in general, are pretty stupid. Which leads me on to the current banking crisis.
A few entries ago, I mentioned how rude it was to give my opinions on public figures... but, being an English gentleman, I feel this is not so bad when it is directed at a man. So: I was watching the BBC reporting on the recent protests in London, and a moron was asked whether he thought it was OK that people had smashed the window of RBS. "The police have brought it upon themselves" was his reply. Er, actually, I can't help but feel that the responsibility lies with the chap who chucked stuff through the window, not the police who were trying to stop people from attacking other people.
Indeed, the whole protest was largely ridiculous, without any direction or cause other than a belief that poor people are better than rich people, and ignorant people best of all. Because, I'm afraid, Sir Fred Goodwin is not an idiot. Neither are any of the other heads of banks, captains of industry and financial chiefs who supposedly brought about this crisis. Economics is fantastically complicated - as someone who is taking an Economics exam in a couple of weeks, I can vouch for that - and I would say that, among the folk who were protesting, no more than a few percent would even understand the decisions that have to be made, let alone be able to choose the right ones. Yes, capitalism has brought with it greed, and I won't defend some of the actions of the big cheeses in the financial sector; but they are by no means incompetents. If they all resigned tomorrow, paving the way for a Brave New World, you would find that the people in't wouldn't have the first clue what to do, and utopia doesn't maintain a stable inflation rate. And as for Fred Goodwin's pension; having twice been given the nod by the Treasury, it really isn't fair to expect him to give it up when Alastair Darling fancies a bit of politicking.
Whilst I'm defending the unpopular, I may as well slip in the fact that George Bush is quite a bit smarter than you. The main evidence of his stupidity is a list of slips of the tongue he mostly didn't say (and, please, get in touch if you've never made a slip of the tongue), the video of him trying to open a fake door (again, if you've never pushed when it said pull, or been outwitted by a fake drawer in a kitchen, let me know) and the fact he once choked on a pretzel. My readership is more intelligent than the man in the street, I like to think - after all, my parents comprise a hefty percentage of it - but I would be surprised if any of you could cope with the wealth of knowledge and decision-making that Bush needed every day during his eight years in office.
Well, I've vented my spleen (is that the right expression?) long enough this morning, and thoughts should probably turn to revision. First exam is two weeks today.

Forrest: I love you.
Jenny: Forrest, you don't know what love is.
(Forrest Gump)

April 16th 2009
Allow me take a quick break from revision (actually, my breaks are, as usual, rather too long. Damn you, Facebook) to whinge a little.
You may recall a while ago that Harriet Harman said, of Sir Fred Goodwin's pension; "It might be enforceable in a court of law, this contract, but it's not enforceable in the court of public opinion and that's where the government steps in." Then it was correctly pointed out from several corners that this was the stupidest thing an MP has said, ever, and Harriet was left to hide her blushes. And, possibly, claim that everyone else was being sexist. But this court of public opinion has stepped forward once more this week, in ensuring the removal of a piece of art from Festival Hall (the picture below is from the Times). This is because it was created by Colin Pitchfork, currently serving a prison sentence for rape and murder.
Bringing Music to Life
The thing is, the artwork is absolutely brilliant, displaying skill, dedication and imagination. I don't think we have enough of that to dispense of it easily. More pertinently, the piece was in a collection of art by prisoners, so everyone was already aware that it was by a convict, though not what the crime was. Which begs the question; what crimes do we count as being too bad to display the perpetrator's artwork? Murder? Or does it have to worse than murder? I don't mean in any way to be flippant, but the beauty of this sculpture is separate from the horror of Pitchfork's crimes, and should be measured in isolation. I have heard people say that certain criminals have 'forfeited their human rights'. I'm sorry, but as long as you are human, this is impossible; that is why they are called human rights. Pitchfork is serving time for his crimes, for the same reasons anyone serves time for their crimes - punishment, protection and rehabilitation - and if other prisoners can exhibit their work, he should not be excluded.

Hudson: I love you.
Sara: Don't say that.

April 17th 2009
A day's revision has just come to an end, with my first exam a week away. Eek. But rather than dwell on that, I shall endeavour to self-improve, by producing this list of things that I should stop doing:
1. Over-sleeping, thus not starting revision until far too late in the day
2. Accidentally leaving the sandwich toaster on all night (only done once)
3. Deliberately leaving the sandwich toaster on all night (not done at all, yet; but worth remembering)
4. Having a 'quick go' at the crossword in breaks from revision
5. Quoting Shakespeare and Dickens, in a Scottish accent, whilst wandering around the house (oddly, it's rarely Macbeth)
6. Retrospectively filling in my (personal) diary with things I've done, to make it look more full
7. Making horribly embarrassing lists on my (online) diary
8. Checking Ant's blog several times a day to see if he's updated it
9. Winking at my reflection in windows, without first checking to see if there's anyone the other side of the window
10. Winking at my reflection, full stop
11. Idolising Steve Bull (in church home group, when discussing false idols, it was suggested that Bull was mine. I replied that I wouldn't say he was a false idol. How we laughed)
12. Making blasphemous jokes, no matter how funny they are
13. Sleeping in a sleeping bag, because I'm too tired to put new sheets on my bed
14. Hoping that the dead light-bulbs downstairs will somehow fix themselves
15. Delaying things like getting my eyes tested or my hair cut, based on the fact that I have exams soon
16. Saying 'hey, that's a prime number' in the presence of people who may yet like me
17. Hey, that's a prime number
18. Tricking people into seeing Matthew Perry and/or Kirsten Dunst films
19. Adding 'except West Brom' when making points about how football should be harmonious
20. Simultaneously reading two books about the Riemann hypothesis
21. Scraping the barrel too much - so I'll stop.

Just to let you know, due to popular demand (Steve), I'm trying out a comment box again... I'm confident that it won't last long, but you never know. Give it a whirl. After trying a few different ideas, it seems the easiest is to change the 'contact' link to 'comment' (top right) just for this page. We'll see how it goes.

Turk: I love you.
Carla: Now say it in Spanish.
Turk: Te amo.

April 20th 2009
I'm revising. And, to prove that fact, I give you what I'm confident is the most boring video ever made. Ever. And I'm the guy who previously provided you with stormers like 'me making tea' - you may also have sampled Ant's 'stuff I got from a careers fair', 'putting things in a box' and 'Colin and Ant wandering around campus' - so the bar is set pretty low. But I'm confident I've tripped over it and dented my nose with this latest effort, simply titled 'Revision & The Who'. I've not done much to it... you know what they say about sow's ears.

Kim: I love you.
JD: Cool.

April 21st 2009
Isn't Gregory Peck great?
That is all.

Ross: I love you!
Rachel: Oh yeah?
Ross: Yeah!
Rachel: Well, I love you too!
Ross: Well, that's the first time we've said that!
Rachel: Yes it is!
Ross: Well, I'm gonna kiss you!
Rachel: Well, you better!

April 28th 2009
It's my last exam of this sitting today: a Communications re-sit. In hindsight, it was stupid to sit it so early last time round - it meant I ended up writing about something I didn't understand - but I'm hoping this one will go better. It's a weird exam, with about a third of people passing each time, and I think that's why it's being replaced with a course. My worry is that, since the Institute will want to underline what a great idea this course is, they'll ensure the pass rates for the last couple of written exams are even lower than normal. Could go either way.
Of the two I've had before today, Contingencies (life assurance and annuity stuff) was a horrible exam, and Economics didn't go too badly. We shall see in a few months.
Those of you who have been reading this page for a couple of years or more will remember that I used to do an 'exam diary' during my Uni exams, and you may be wondering why I haven't kept it up for actuarial exams. The honest answer is that I was intending to, but my internet was down during my first sitting last April, and so I decided to leave it off for all the sittings. Which is why those few lines above are all you're getting; if I fail any or all of them, though, be prepared for more comment on that...
In other news, I bought Bob Dylan's latest album this morning. As was true of the two or three before it, it's pleasant background listening without being outstanding (actually, on Modern Times there was one outstanding track, being Workingman's Blues #2) - as usual, critics have gone a bit overboard, though they've learnt this time not to equate it with the likes of Blood on the Tracks, Bringing it All Back Home etc. Bobby is never going to be as good as once he was, but it's not bad stuff.

Rose: I love you, Jack.
Jack: Don't you do that. Don't you say goodbyes. Not yet. Do you understand me?

what was I listening to?
Private Investigations - Mark Knopfler & Dire Straits
what was I reading?
Jeeves in the Offing - P G Wodehouse
what was I watching?
Drop Dead Gorgeous
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