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‘So Now What?’: The Future of the Union After the Scottish Independence Referendum

Hasn’t anybody told you? Now is the time for change: swift, bold and absolute. Things need to be different; the people of the Union (Welsh, Northern Irish, English and Scottish) won’t stand for this anymore. We don’t like Westminster because – well, there’s the problem. I know why I don’t like Westminster, and I’m fairly certain Nigel Farage does too, but we both dislike Westminster for radically different reasons. Hey, Farage, what would be the difference between white British/German MPs and white Romanian MPs?

The no campaign heavily criticised yes campaign on the basis that they had no detailed answers with regards to what an independent Scotland would look like. Indeed, they did not. After all, a yes vote would have meant the creation of a new parliament, and the government leading that parliament could have been from any end of the political spectrum.

And so the people of Scotland voted no. And change is coming, so we’re told. But, just as with the yes campaign, what we’ve not been told is exactly what that change will be. The Tories are discussing introducing a system whereby English laws can only be voted on by English people and Scottish laws can only be voted on by Scottish people. This is somewhat confusing for several reasons: The first is that at no point during his campaigning in Scotland did Cameron mention this plan (actually, that’s not confusing, it’s fairly obvious why he didn’t mention it, so I suppose ‘fucking sneaky’ was the expression I was looking for), the second is that Cameron is trying to introduce a system that will unravel the very Union he fought so hard to keep, and the third is that, if this is what Cameron wanted, why didn’t he introduce the further devolution option on the ballot papers of the Scottish Referendum in the first place? Let us not forget, it was his misguided arrogance that led to the strict ‘yes/no’ referendum when a ‘yes/no/more devolution/less devolution’ referendum was clearly on the cards.

And so we turn to Labour? Ed Milliband attempted to woo his voters with a solid outline of what Labour would do if they were voted in now Scotland have voted ‘yes’. This was a great chance for Miliband. He had the attention of a left-leaning English, Welsh and Northern Irish audience, usually sympathetic towards charismatic Labour leaders, and the attention of a pro-Union, pro-Labour, left-leaning Scottish audience who are usually downright devoted to charismatic Labour leaders. The issue was that his ‘solid outline’ wasn’t very solid at all. He said ‘change’ and ‘devolution’ several times, but hasn’t mentioned what this change or devolution would entail. He did, however, say that he disagreed with the Tory’s proposed reforms. So at least we know what kind of devolution Miliband doesn’t want.

You could argue that it’s early days yet. I mean, Jeez, they’ve only just finished campaigning. Give them break, right? Except that no voters were promised a ‘motion’ from the ‘No Thanks’ campaign; the motion should have happened yesterday: ‘The day after a No Vote the timetable for further powers will be published as a motion before the UK parliament. All UK parties will support the motion.’ Ignoring the fact that ‘All UK parties’ couldn’t agree on anything more complex than a colour scheme for a 3 year old’s birthday party, the fact is that this did not happen. So, unless they did it in secret, I think we were lied to. Still, the new Doctor is Scottish. And, thankfully, Scotland is still part of the Union. So, I’m sure, if we ask nicely, we can borrow the TARDIS, go back in time, and have this little motion after all. How about it Doctor?

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‘You’ll starve to death trying to find the light switch’

Bloody hell. Maybe not then… So now what?

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How the Daddy Long-Legs Will Save Scotland After the Referendum…

Today the Scottish people will go the polling stations but, whatever they choose, and whatever the outcome when the votes are counted, the undeniable fact is that, come tomorrow, there will be 2.5 million pissed off Scottish people. The vote is split 50/50; there is no happy ending to be had. One side winning will not end the debate, so while I, an Englishman, do not have a real solid opinion on Scottish independence (on the one hand, fuck Westminster, fuck Cameron and fuck Empire. On the other hand, the pound? The NHS? The deficit?), I would like to suggest a solution the problem that will definitely arise in a few days’ time; how do we reunite the now rivalling people of Scotland?

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Free Irn-Bru?

Last night, when I should have been kept awake by the possibility that the UK may soon be headless and how that excites/upsets me (still undecided remember?), I was kept awake by the fluttering of a daddy long legs fecklessly arsing about between my curtains, around my radiator and, inevitably, near my face. When the tiny insect approached me, I did what any rational person would do; I calmly batted it away… Did I say ‘calmly batted it away’? Sorry, that was a typo. What I meant to write was that I completely lost my fucking shit and exploded into a murderous and terrified rage with my unfinished paperback copy of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ as a weapon. And when I eventually smashed the bastard against the wall, seething with hatred, I surprised myself with the fact that I hit him a few more times, for good measure.

I didn’t realise I was capable of such anger, but it occurred to me that, for some reason, we all hate daddy-long legs. It’s not simply the act of intrusion; if a baby-penguin, a kitty, or Beyonce Knowles were to have wandered into my room, I probably wouldn’t have beat them to death with a classic American novel.

I’d like to beat her to death with a classic American novel – if you know what I mean? Oh, you don’t know what I mean. Neither do I.

There is something ‘other’ about the daddy-long legs which we don’t like and it probably explains, in some small way, how and why people are racist. When something, or someone, is that different from you, you don’t like it. Baby penguins are much more similar to baby humans than baby daddy long legs. Penguins have two arms and two legs and can dance and can be voiced by Robin Williams and… Actually, I think that was a film.

Pictured: The Punchline.

Pictured: The Punchline.

The point is that all humans dislike daddy-long legs (which is literally racist seeing as they are a race in the genuine sense of the word; all humans, remember, are part of the human race) for no real reason. We even use racial slurs, as they are not ‘daddy long-legs’ they are actually several different types of fly and or spider which we have lazily generalised about in the way racists tend to lazily generalise.

Scottish people, last time I checked, are all human. Regardless of what side of the independence debate they are on, they are all human. And nothing bonds humans like a common enemy. Gordon Brown, in his ‘No Thanks’ campaigning, made a somewhat over-the-top call to arms for British identity (both camps, for the record, are fiercely and annoyingly nationalist in their own ridiculous way), and in doing so he mentioned the graves where soldiers lie, not as English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, but as British. Ignoring the fact that this morbid guilt-trip tactic somewhat ignores the fact that many Irish people have some pretty strong things to say about fighting in British wars, and that using war to stoke up nationalist pride stinks a little of the ‘old lie’ (‘dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’), it is very clever. Because, like I said, nothing unites a group of people like a common enemy.

Taking Ireland as an example, seeing as we were just talking about them, their identity is largely forged by a common agreement that they are not British. The United States identity was also largely forged by a common agreement that they were not British. And so, whatever the outcome of the vote, Scottish people need to be united by their common enemy and, as humans, their enemy is the daddy-long legs.

Tomorrow, Scotland may be divided among itself but, whatever the result, they need to remember that they are all still Scottish, they are all still human, and they all fucking hate six-legged arachnids flying into their rooms in the middle of the night.

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A Teacher’s Thoughts on the Future of Education

I am a 23 year old English graduate who has spent the last two years of his working life arsing around in different countries and trying to write, but if I have to pick a career that defines me, right now, I would call myself a ‘teacher’. I’ve been a teacher in Spain, Oman and – the even more exotic and exciting – Leeds.

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I wasn’t just being sarcastic Leeds because, you know, you’re actually kind of awesome.

And even though these positions have never been permanent, ranging from a week to a year, and even though I’ve never had the kind of true autonomy that a fully-qualified PGCE-waving teacher has, I have taught, in several environments and several ways, and as a result I do have an opinion on the future of education.

I have spent the last few weeks watching John Green’s ‘Crash Course: World History’ on Youtube. There was no classroom, no homework, and as much as Mr. Green’s mirthful but also profound telling of history is no replacement for an actual, physical teacher, I did still learn. This, I would argue, is something like the future of education.

I know it sounds like jumping on the bandwagon ten years late here; the internet has been around for a while. And I also know that the ability to learn things, booky things, outside of school is not unique to the internet; you can always learn booky things in, you know, books. But what is remarkable is that we are now living among a generation of pupils, teenagers, who have known nothing but the internet.

As a teacher, you’re not meant to have favourite classes, or favourite students, but, quite frankly, I did. And my favourite class was the Omani class of Grade 7A: a wonderful group of 11 – 13 year olds who thought that I was the coolest person in the world purely because I was a teacher who, very occasionally, used naughty words.

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That’s my rose-tinted view of teaching; don’t take it away from me.

These kids, however, were all born in the 21st Century. To them, the world before the internet was a historical one. And so these children have the potential to learn everything I could possibly teach them, five times over, from their mobile phones. They have the potential and, while not every child is Albert Einstein, some of them actually have the desire.

Teaching a class about the Greek Gods I was corrected, several times, by an eager (albeit bloody annoying) boy called Dean. He had done some Googling and pointed out that the book was wrong. Dionysus wasn’t just the God of the harvest; he was also the God of sex, alcohol, drugs and ecstasy. However, the book, and its version of history, was different, and it was the book on which they would be tested. And so, in front of that classroom, I started to wonder about what education even means in a world where knowledge can be constantly contested due to an ever-increasing abundance and availability of information. Dean, of course, was not thinking this. He was just happy that he got to talk about sex in class and make the teacher look like a dick in one fell swoop.

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Although, when this guy is your teacher, it’s not hard to make him look like a dick.

This entire generation is an experiment. Children today have more information available to them from the window of their smartphone than someone living pre-internet (regardless of how rich, powerful or intelligent they were) would have available to them in their entire lives. The internet has been able to stockpile, and is continuing to stockpile, almost every piece of information possible. The downside, of course, is that while this information is available, it doesn’t mean that it’s being accessed in the right way. And this, more than ever, is why we need teachers and teaching.

As many people have argued, including this guy, the abundance of information that the internet generation are exposed to has led to shorter attention spans. Intuitively, this makes sense. Why would Dean bother remembering anything I’ve told him in class if he can Google it whenever he wants? The answer to this question raises both positive and negative thoughts for the future of education. The internet generation have the potential to become either much more, or much less, intelligent than the one before it. The information is there, and it’s easy to access. The job of the teacher is not, and has never been, to provide a child with information. Rather, now more than ever, the job of a teacher is to stress which information is important, which information is relevant and which information will help them to become better human beings in an increasingly complicated world.

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My Vitriolic Defence of the #icebucketchallenge

Getting mad at people raising money because they are using water is like getting mad at Live Aid because they were using electricity, like getting mad at an AIDS awareness campaign because condoms are made of rubber or like getting angry at gay marriage because legalising the nuptials of same-sex couples would lead to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions from all of the extra cars driving to and from weddings. In other words, it’s a wonderfully ignorant and ill-informed way of missing the larger point. A toilet flush uses anywhere between 1 and 7 gallons of water, (which is anywhere between 4 and 32 litres of water) so unless you plan on shitting and pissing in your back garden and burying the remains, in order to conserve the environment, I suggest you take your environmental anger elsewhere. Pouring water over your head is about as dangerous to the environment as it sounds. In other words, it’s not very dangerous at all.

'No... You'll kill us all!'

‘No… You’ll kill us all!’

The other argument is that throwing water over your head is an arrogant slap in the face to the millions of people without water. Still, I think that if those people living without water were to get angry at our wanton waste of resources, the #icebucketchallenge would not be the place to start. Would these same people not be as, if not more, angry at the Great British Bake-Off for its hedonistic and luxurious displays of excess cakes and pastries? And the Great British Bake-Off dares to do all of this without raising a penny for charity.

Pictured: a group of souless monsters.

Pictured: a group of soulless monsters.

The world is full of bad news, happening 24 hours a day a day, but for once humanity won. We poured water over our heads – thousands if not millions of us – in order to raise money for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a life-threatening disorder usually associated with Stephen Hawking. And then, because humans are wonderful, people branched out. They began pouring water over their heads to raise money for cancer, for Palestine, or for Bristolian hospitals (as in my case). We poured water over our heads and we altruistically gave our money away. That’s fantastic. That’s amazing. That’s the kind of shit John Lennon would have written about.

So please, please, do not try to tell me that this is somehow a bad thing. Lots of people are doing it, and I’m sure there’s an element of narcissism to it as well, but that does not make it a bad thing. Gandhi, Mandela, Luther-King were all great men – but I can imagine that they all had a bit of a personality complex too. Gandhi beat his wife, but that does not mean that India shouldn’t have gained independence. Nothing is simple; life is a complex series of selfless and selfish events which sometimes resembles structure. If you were to criticise the #icebucketchallenge, criticise its self-indulgence, its self-congratulation, its self-righteousness, but after all of that criticism, the fact still remains that immeasurable amounts of money has been raised for organisations that are legally obliged not to make profit.

I am a cynical man; I believe that nationalism, religion and ‘culture’ are all hypnotic opiates used to distract us, take our money and then send us to an early grave. I believe this because I am insane but, also, because I read a lot of different things. And yet, despite my cynicism, I support the #icebucketchallenge, I have completed an #icebucketchallenge, and I know that the #icebucketchallenge is an inherently good thing. And this, all of this, is coming from a man who hates hashtags more than an arachnophobe hates Spider Stompin’.

If we'd have used the all the money wasted on this game, we could probably cure Lou Gehrig's Disease...

It’s like ‘Dance, Dance Revolution’ – with murder.

Perhaps we could do better – perhaps we could find a way to raise money for non-profit organisations without using water. But don’t piss all over everything that has already been accomplished here. Don’t try and tell us that our fundraising is evil because we utilised 2 litres of water to do it. Have a look at your car, you food, your clothes, your house – your whole life depends on the use of water. Enter your details here, find out how much water you use very day, and get yourself some well needed perspective. The #icebucketchallenge may be crude in its means but, at its heart, is a very simple and awesome kind of humanity.

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‘Wibbly-Wobbly Timey-Wimey Indeed’: Thoughts on Welcoming the New Series of ‘Doctor Who’

Both the BBC and I ushered in the the new series of Doctor Who with quite an intense sequence of rituals. The BBC sent the fifty year old franchise on a world tour, gave the revelation of the new Doctor its own TV show and screened the first episode in cinemas with a live feed from Leicester Square (after the episode) containing a Q&A with the Capaldi, Louise-Coleman and Moffat. As for me, I ushered in the Twelfth’s era by playing with my newly acquired sonic screwdriver (I am 23 years old), embarking on a 4 day Doctor Who marathon (taking me and my fellow Whovian from the first episode of the rebooted series to David Tennant’s swan-song) and attending said cinematic screening with my said Whovian friend and his girlfriend. Did I feel like a third wheel? She doesn’t like Doctor Who. I think she was the third wheel…

People refer to watching 12 hours of the same television show as a marathon. It’s a good metaphor. And I’ve thrown it around a lot myself. But it was only after starting the marathon when I realised how appropriate the term is. It was hard. It is genuinely hard to sit in one place and digest 4 years worth of Timelords, London and bow-ties. Arse-numbness, junk-food induced gases, and fatigue are all hurdles of the marathon experience. We were athletes of television, challenging our ability to concentrate and, as peculiar as it might sound, we emerged from that stinking room proud of what we had accomplished and ready for the new season.

And what of the new season? Moffat, once again, has gone for change. Both the title sequence and the TARDIS have had yet another makeover despite the old ones only having half a season. Still, it makes sense because this feels like a very good ‘jumping-in’ point. That is to say, if people have never watched Doctor Who in their lives, now would be a great time to start. The opening of the episode began with Strax (the Victorian-era bound Sontaran) doing a video blog about this strange man called ‘The Doctor’. It was goofy, fun and wonderfully mirthful way of simplifying the science-fiction giant’s intensely complex fifty-year storyline. After all, despite said complexity, it is still a children’s show.

The Doctor himself is great reminder, however, of the fact that, with Doctor Who, what’s new is also old. Capaldi is an old Doctor – not just as an actor, but as a character. He states he is 2,000. Tennant, by contrast, was a little over 900. This strange old/new paradox also becomes central to the plot of the first episode as Clara dwells on the oldness of the new Doctor and the newness of the old Doctor while running around dinosaur-filled Victorian London and tackling clock-work humanoid-robots with lasers. Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey indeed.

Of course, the most important ritual, for both me and the BBC, is remembering what the show is, why it’s important, and why you love it. I’m not sure if the BBC did this (if Moffat addressed the cast and crew on the first day with a Whovian manifesto, a mission statement, or a kind of rousing speech about what Doctor Who means) but I know I have. And for me, the show is about a pacifist super-hero trying to make moral decisions, and teach people, with the power he has been given: the power of time. It’s important because pacifism is such a rare quality in superheroes. Sure, Batman doesn’t kill people. But he has no problem with beating the shit out of them. The Doctor, however, avoids that – as much as he can anyway. And it is a children’s show. And it’s nice to remind children that what’s much more important than being super-strong, or super-fast, or super-attractive is being super-smart, super-modest and super-kind. The Doctor sometimes struggles with those last two – but that’s what makes him human… Or rather, that’s what makes him Timelord.

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4 Reasons Why ‘Pokemon: Red Version’ is a Modern ‘Utopia’

Thomas More first coined the Latin term Utopia in 1516 to describe the fictional world of his novel where everything worked in a (sort of) perfect harmony. Almost 500 years later, it is obvious which recent fictional work of the best deserves comparison to More’s story; I am talking, of course, about Pokemon. Specifically, the world of Pokemon: Red Version for the Nintendo Gameboy.

Yeah, but no-one gives a fuck about you.

Yeah, but no-one cares about you.

Not convinced? Here are a few reasons why…

Both Loved Creating a New World View

By the time Pokemon reached the UK, it already had its own TV show, trading card game and cuddly toys – all of which were very successful. As a result it can be easy to forget that, when Satoshi Tajiri first came up with the Pokemon universe, it was literally unprecedented. Nintendo didn’t understand the concept and they didn’t expect Pokemon, a game based on Tajiri’s bug-catching hobby, to be very popular at all. However, the Game Boy was dying, soon to be put out of production, so they thought, why not?

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He kept them sweet with a cheeky reference to the SNES.

And so the Pokemon universe was given the chance to exist – and it was beautiful. It is a world of non-violence (it was important to Sajiri that Pokemon never died or bled), where all health-centres are free, where a child can ride their bike into the unknown with guaranteed safety and where there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ Pokemon. This last idea was the most revolutionary. After all, you spend the whole game battling other Pokemon. Why else would you battle them if they weren’t ‘bad’? Sajiri explained that a rival Pokemon is just a Pokemon that was raised by another person. Just because it hurts your Pokemon, it doesn’t make it bad, because it could have been your Pokemon. This view, though not massively complicated, is quite a brave thing to wire into a game. Namely because it sounds way too fucking boring for any ten year old playing the game to give a shit about. And yet, it is there from your very first important decision. Three Pokemon sit on a table. One of them becomes your best friend, and one of them becomes your biggest rival. Is Blastoise ‘bad’? Maybe from your point of view, this time round, but reset the game and choose again. All of sudden, Venasaur is the ‘bad’ Pokemon.

Why do Oak and Blue look so bloody angry?

Why do Oak and Blue look so bloody angry?

And More’s Utopia? It too was somewhat unprecedented. He created a world where no-one locks their doors, where there is no extreme wealth and where the entire island can be circumnavigated in 500 miles. These features also exist in the world of Pokemon, and these feature’s also come from a world view that More seemed to create from nowhere. For almost 500 years people have been debating about why More even bothered to write Utopia. Kautsky wrote that the book was either a ‘Platonic Republic’ or an ‘idle fantasy’. Maybe, just like Pokemon, it was a bit of both. More’s island still had some problems (like how adultery meant that you were punished with enforced slavery) and the Pokemon universe isn’t completely innocent either (as PETA love to point out), but at both of their cores is an idea of a nice world where everyone gets along. The difficulty, as always, is fleshing out exactly what that means.

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Which implicitly suggests she hopes all your Pokemon get beaten to shit again.

Both Loved Using Made up Words

Pokemon, as most people know, comes form the portmanteau combining pocket and monsters, but the 150 Pokemon themselves are also a wonderful gallimaufry of hotchpotch neologisms. Some had to be translated from Japanese to English (Popo became Pidgey because, in English, it sounds like pigeon) whilst some were fun, onomatopoeic creations. Pikachu, for example, came from what Sajiri believed to be the sound of electricity (‘pika’) and the sound a mouse makes (‘chu’). Most, if not all, fictional universes rely on invented terms, to create an invented world. However, Pokemon does all of this is on 125 kilobyte cartridge. That One Direction song on your Ipod takes up more than 30 times as space as the entirety of Pokemon: Red Version.

More, on other hand, used Latin and he did this, more or less, just to fuck with people’s heads. Utopia translates roughly as ‘no place’ but he made a point of noting that this could easily be confused with Eutopia which roughly translates as ‘good place’. Rather than clearing up this confusion, he continues to name the places around the island: Polyleritae (‘Muchnonsense’), Macarenses (‘Happiland’) and the river Anydrus  (‘Nowater’).

More’s confusing-ass language suggested that while Utopia would be great in real life, it was also ‘no-place’ and pretty much unattainable as a result. Sajiri’s language suggested that the world of Pokemon was attainable (pigeons are just shit pidgey’s after all) but probably wouldn’t be great in real life.

Quit bitching Arcanine, at least you're not in a ball. Ha, ha, bitching. It's funny because you're a bitch.

Quit bitching Arcanine, at least you’re not in a ball. Ha, ha, ‘bitching’… It’s funny because you’re a bitch.

The fantasy is much more fun, and it’s much more humane… because it’s fantasy.

In real life, a dragon would have just drowned a dog to death.

In real life, a dragon would have just killed a dog by drowning it.

Both Loved Friendly Rivalries

At the start of the game, you’re introduced to the world of Pokemon and Professor Oak’s grandson who has, so the game says, ‘been your rival since you were a boy’. Then in an act of game-design so ridiculously clumsy that even a child playing the game wouldn’t be able to help but grimace, Oak handily forgets his own grandson’s name so you can go ahead and name him yourself.

He he he he.

Ha.

The rivalry makes the game more interesting, as he tends to take you by surprise and can be as challenging as gym leaders to defeat, but he’s not a bad person. He makes a few jokes here and there, but he doesn’t actually do anything particularly mean or malicious. Our natural tendency to call him ‘douche’ or ‘dick’ at the start of the game says more about us then it does about the world of Pokemon.

In Utopia, friendly rivalry comes in the form of religious understanding as More imagines a place where there are five different religions that are all tolerant of each other. Raphael, the lead character in the book, does try converting people to Christianity, but religious difference remains friendly. This may seem obvious to us now but, in the 16th Century, it was pretty revolutionary. In Pokemon, it too seems pretty revolutionary that your main ‘enemy’ in the game, is actually not that bad.

Go fuck yourself Douche.

Go fuck yourself Douche.

An important side note, however, is that although other religions are tolerated in Utopia the atheists are… not. There is no punishment or anything (once again, an extremely progressive idea considering the era he was writing in), but they are constantly bombarded with the idea that their non-religion is wrong and that they should change. Likewise, I should imagine that anyone living in the world of Pokemon who said that they didn’t like Pokemon would be treated in the same way. Remember the catchphrase? There’s no element of choice or ambiguity there; you’ve gotta’ catch them all.

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You’d fucking better be.

Both Loved The Idea of Peacefully Overcoming ‘Evil’

Team Rocket are quickly identifiable as the largest criminal group in the game. However, it would be more accurate to say that the only criminal group in the game. In other words, according to Pokemon: Red Version, Team Rocket are the only bad people in the world.

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Besides this cunt.

And Team Rocket can be taken down, not with a war, not with sanctions or threats and not with any kind of blackmail. No, Team Rocket can be taken down with a series of Pokemon battles. You just need to walk up to them beat their Rattata (remembering that, as I previously mentioned, the Rattata are not bad and don’t bled or die) and return Silph Co., the Game Corner, or Mt. Moon back to the people. When Russell Brand spoke of a ‘peaceful revolution’, maybe this was what he was talking about. A place where the only terrorists, the only ‘evil people’, can be defeated by a ten year old with some motivation…

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…Or a 23 year old with too much free time.

With Utopia, More imagines a world where war is a last resort, where enemies are captured rather than killed, where people are supported with aid rather than the slaughter of their enemies and, as a result, More sounds like a 500 year old John Lennon. The fact is, however, that More once again manages to express something far beyond his time. Kautsky was determined that if More were a Socialist living in the 19th Century then his ideas would have been a lot more (no pun intended) developed and accepted. In the same way, I would like to believe that if More were a gamer (or a ten year old) in the Mid-Nineties, then he would have found refuge in the neo-Utopian world of Pokemon. A world where you can travel everywhere and anywhere with your six best friends, a world where everybody is willing to talk to you so long as you are willing to press A near them, and a world where the only thing stopping you is thumb cramp or running out of batteries.

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What Kind of Survey Taker Are YOU?

Facebook feeds, Buzzfeed and all other kinds of feed absolutely love surveys. In the 21st Century, there is no need to take a long hard look at the mirror and contemplate your own existence. Instead, you simply answer a few questions and discover what kind of person you actually are (because, evidently, no matter how much you think you know about yourself you are actually someone else), what city you should actually live in (because, evidently, now matter what city you do live in you should actually live somewhere else) and which character from How I met Your Mother you are (because, evidently, the main cast of How I Met Your Mother represent a vast range of possible personalities… so long as your white, Western, young and impossibly good looking).

Is it even statistically possible for this many attractive people to exist in one place?

Is it even statistically possible for this many attractive people to exist in one place?

Countless internet surveys even claim they can even tell you what kind of person you are (here, here, here, here, here, and a Buzzfeed article claiming to know better than all of them by telling you what kind of person you actually are here).

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Buzzfeed really do love ‘actually’.

Hence, the great philosophical quandary over self has finally been solved: Cogito ergo who gives a fuck? The internet can tell me. Okay, so it’s hardly as quotable a maxim as anything Descartes might have said, but it’s still true though isn’t it? After all, all you need to do, to find out who you are, is take an internet survey. The only thing you have to ask yourself is which one you want to take. I mean, are you a house in Harry Potter? Is there a decade you should have been born in (actually)? Are you a Pokemon?  A cat? A fucking games console? Or is there a kind murderous dictator who best captures your individuality? For the record, the last survey doesn’t actually exist, though it would be no more ridiculous than any of the others.

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You are young, ambitious, and you won’t let anything stand in your way.

Regardless, now your problems have been solved because this is the ultimate survey. This is a survey about what kind of survey taker you are. We have taken a step back from surveys, created a meta-survey, the Inception of surveys. This, avid survey takers, is the survey to end all surveys. Let’s start with question 1…


You see someone has posted another survey on Facebook claiming ‘OMG. I love Chandler. I knew that I was just like him LOLOLOLOL’. What do you do?


A) Complete the survey yourself and comment back saying ‘LMAO. I got Monica! Ha, we should get together LOL :P’.

B) Politely acknowledge it and carry on with your day.

or

C) Become unnecessarily angry and cynical about the whole thing and briefly depress yourself while you think about humanity. You wonder about why we are so obsessed with ourselves that we need to constantly advertise our own existence via a constant stream of information to other people. You wonder about why we are so insecure about ourselves that we have to keep taking surveys or, worse still, message the public forum of the internet directly for answers: ‘Write one word that describes me. True friends will comment.’ You consider writing a Facebook status about all this, but stop when you realise the extremely hypocritical nature of that. Instead, you write a blog which, to be honest, is even worse.


Someone mentions the same survey later on in the day in the real world, (the real world, for the record, refers to anything that doesn’t happen on a computer, phone, tablet or laptop screen. If you are unaware of this place, slowly turn your head right until you can no longer see any notifications. If you see a large bright light, do not worry. It’s probably the sun)…

Okay, but what the fuck is that blue stuff surrounding it?

Okay, but what the fuck is that blue stuff surrounding it?

…Anyway, what do you do?


A) Look up from your Iphone to actually face the person, (a task you struggle with) tell them that you took that survey too, laugh, and then quickly returning to safety of your Facebook feed. Phew, that was close right? You almost wound up in one of those – um – what are they called? – conversations. On your Facebook feed, you find another survey and a few more pictures to ‘like’. You then write a new status ‘LOLOLOLOLOL. @ the pub with friends’. This is then followed by another status a few seconds later after taking the What Sexually Transmitted Infection are YOU? survey: ‘LOLOLOLOL. I’m definitely genital warts. Totes describes me!!!!!’

B) Politely acknowledge it and carry on with your day.

or

C) Sink further into your melancholy, neck the last third of your pint and go up to the bar: ‘Could I have a double whiskey please? No mixer. No ice.’


Someone mentions the same survey in the real world for the second time and a debate starts. Someone in the room is now offended because they have been compared to Phoebe. What do you do?


A) Become intensely involved in the discussion. This is the first time all day that you have been aware of your own existence. You begin to re-realise the joy of using your mouth to create words, rather than your thumbs, and find yourself acutely aware of your own accent. You never knew you had an accent. You then start to remember who you are and, to your surprise, you realise that you had a personality before you started using the internet. And even though you only started using social media and surveys to express and explore your sense of self, the irony is that your constant obsession with social media and surveys has obscured it. Your personality has become something you can no longer understand because it is no longer rooted in anything real. You laugh, privately, at the strangeness of it all. However, you suddenly become hit by a wave of sadness as you realise that this insanity has lasted so long that your pre-internet personality is now so uninteresting and uninspired that you consider walking out into moving traffic and ending it all. You alleviate these suicidal thoughts by returning to your phone and finding some pictures of cats on Buzzfeed. You forget the whole epiphany ever happened and write a status referring to the aforementioned argument over the survey: ‘WTF people getting offended over stupid shit! Pisses me offffff!!!’ Then you find some more cats (thanks Buzzfeed) and write another status: ‘LOL at these guys!!!’

B) Politely acknowledge it and carry on with your day.

or

C) Bury your head into your hands. When someone asks what is wrong you take a long pause and say, ‘Have you ever read Brave New World?’. They say no. You were hoping they’d say yes, because it would avoid what you have to do now, which is explain yourself: ‘Sometimes I think that if you added up the average amount of words written and read by the average internet user in – let’s say – a month, it would equal having read two chapters of a fairly heavy novel or textbook and having written about one chapter. Imagine if people used the cognitive effort involved in all that reading and writing for something – positive? Imagine all the hours people pour into writing, completing and commenting on the completion of surveys, the size of a celebrity’s arse or the merits of Radiohead’s newest album. Now imagine if people used all those hours of reading and writing on finding solutions to the crisis in Gaza, the Ebola virus or the tensions in Ukraine. Wouldn’t the world be a much better place?’

Your friend thinks about this for a while and then responds with, ‘Don’t you spend countless hours reading pretentious old books and writing a blog?’ You smile and respond rather smugly, ‘Why yes. Yes I do.’ You friend looks at you in a very strange way: ‘How is that any better?’

You are silent. You have been soundly defeated by their argument. You realise your blog is mainly full of dick jokes…

images (1)

Could someone hold my sausage?

…And you return to the bar: ‘Could I have a treble whiskey please? No mixer. No ice.’


The results…


Mostly As Your personality is far too complex and unique to be defined by any survey on the internet. Put your phone down and go outside.

Mostly Bs Your personality is far too complex and unique to be defined by any survey on the internet. Put your phone down and go outside.

Mostly Cs Your personality is far too complex and unique to be defined by any survey on the internet. Put your phone down and go outside.