12 February 2014

Water bills rise, Spaghetti monster banned, Students put off ‘Posh’ unis…

‘Offensive’ flying spaghetti monster banned from London South Bank University

Spag MonsterA poster put up by the South Bank Atheist Society has been banned by the university, because it was offending religious people.

The post depicted the famous ‘Creation of Adam Fresco’ but with the Christian God replaced by the, almighty, Flying Spaghetti Monster. The ban has caused a row about free speech and censorship on campus.

Our take: Faith is always a topic to be handled sensitively, and a bit of respect and tolerance from both sides never goes amiss. On the other hand, using religion as a tool for censorship is simply not cool. If your faith is so shaken by a clearly satirical poster, it’s not the poster you have an issue with…

Water bills to rise by 2%

Rising water billsWater companies have announced that bills will rise by an average of 2% from the 1st of April.

In real terms the average cost of water bills will increase by £8 to a total of £339 for the year. Six of the major water companies have not increased their prices by the maximum they were allowed to. A decision the regulator, OfWat  welcomed.

Our take: Well done to the water companies for showing the other utility providers how it’s done. Thinking about the consumer instead of the profit margin is always a good thing in our book. And well done to us for getting all the way through a story about rising water and not making a single joke about flooding. Too soon?

Ministers criticise overpaid VCs as they cut budgets

Overpaid VCsBusiness Secretary Vince Cable has criticised University Vice Chancellor’s over their ‘substantial’ wages at the same time as announcing a £125 million cut to Higher Education funding.

Cable claims that leaders in education should ‘show restraint’ with their escalating wages, and focus on delivering greater value for students.

Our take: Pretty clearly, the real news here is the £125 million cut to the budget, and the government is trying to sneak it past by attacking the other people that students are frustrated at, the often absent executives. It won’t really be VC’s that suffer though, it’ll be students, lecturers and the other front line support staff at British institutions. For shame.

Students are put off ‘Posh’ Oxbridge Unis

Posh UniNew government research has found that students from poorer backgrounds are being put off applying for the top universities like Oxbridge and Russell Group institutions because they’re full of ‘posh’ people.

The results of the survey have been revealed alongside a new government initiative to ‘inspire’ young people into applying for top level institutions.

Our take: We have to admit here that in the past we may have had a role reinforcing this damaging and reductive stereotype. Okay,  maybe more than a few times in these columns we’ve stated that ‘Posh’ people go to Oxford for cheap laughs. People shouldn’t feel put off from what are generally very positive and welcoming campuses.

Academics speak out against Uni of Birmingham suspensions

Drop SuspensionA number of academics and other public figures have spoken out against the University of Birmingham’s decision to suspend five students who were part of a protest on campus.

Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach and local MP Clare Short, have all called for the students to be reinstated, and that their suspension is against freedom of speech and sets a worrying precedent about how to deal with protests on campus.

Our take: It’s good that public figures have thrown their weight behind this noble cause. Standing up for what you believe in and taking part in a peaceful protest shouldn’t come at the cost of your education. It’s a clear attempt to silence any kind of protest and blackmail people into staying in line.

State of the Machin: On the Lego Movie

Lego MovieIf you haven’t seen it already, your first plan for the weekend should be to see The Lego Movie. What should have been a dull, soulless advert for toys is actually one of the funniest and brilliant films I’ve seen in a long time.

While ostensibly aimed at children, the film is jam packed with layers and layers of jokes for people of all ages. The film is especially funny when it starts to get self referential with it’s studio, Warner Brothers, and their (mis)handling of the popular DC franchise films.

Will Arnett’s Batman is hilariously over the top as all the angst of the Nolan/Bale Bats gets turned up to 11. There’s also a nice bit of Justice League fan service that will have comic book nerds feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

I saw the film at the weekend in a double cinema trip, along with the Coen brother’s latest film Inside Llewyn Davis, which was fantastic in it’s own right. But despite all the incredible folk songs featured in the film, it’s the Lego Movie’s ‘Everything is Awesome’ that’s still stuck in my head four days later.

And anything that winds Fox News (see below) up enough for them to consider it a threat to America’s youth has  to be a good thing, right?

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