Diversions and Debates around New University Builds

Students at Essex University are being faced with a barrage of new builds on campus this year, causing diversions and turning the campus into a building site.


Every university needs to grow and expand its facilities over time, but Essex University currently has six different builds underway, transforming the campus into something quite unpleasant on the eye. Students are having to naviagte their way through different routes to reach accommodation and lectures, raising questions of whether the number of simultaneous building projects has become excessive.

The biggest projects currently in progress include: a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Centre, a temporary car park for contractors, an overhaul of the lakeside barbecue area and a redevelopment of the sports centre. Many of these developments are set to continue to the end of the current year, or beyond.

The total number of constructions currently going on is six, and students have given mixed responses to dealing with the problems, and looking forward to the potential benefits. Michelle Burke, a 33-year old History student at Essex University said “The visual issues don’t bother me, it’s the other inconveniences caused like diversions, internet service disruptions & problems that affect students living here during the building work. The university could definitely do with more parking, although I’m not sure why it’s temporary or limited to contractors”. She praised the expensive new development on campus though, stating that “The science, technology, engineering and maths centre (STEM) sounds like a good investment in education”.

This sentiment wasn’t shared by all students however, as Kristjan Purru, a 20 year old film student described the £13.2 million STEM centre as “money wasted” but claimed his biggest issue was with the travel disruption, adding that “the thing I dislike is the closure of the footpath near the business school”.


third year economics student Andrew Cheung also offered his views in the following interview: https://soundcloud.com/user-933074734/interviewbar

It is clear that students can see the benefits of further developments, but there is clearly a widespread feeling that the disruptions are being felt, and they look set to continue for several months yet.

Star Names Leave Their Mark on the WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Florida


Jason Mercier, Ryan Riess and Daniel Weinman were the stars of a riveting week in Florida, as they each won an event at the WPT Hard Rock Poker Showdown. Tony Sinishtaj also furthered his own credentials by taking down the $3,500 event.

First, it was Mercier who made headlines, defeating fellow pro Justin Bonomo heads-up to win the $25,000 event. The large buy in ensured a high quality field numbering 116, with every player at the final table being a professional. Well known players such as Bryn Kenney and Olivier Busquet managed to cash in this event, finishing 7th and 5th respectively, with Juston Bonomo and Jason Mercier being joined by Loni Harwood in the final three players.

Despite Bonomo and Mercier providing illustrious company for Loni Harwood, she certainly brought tournament pedigree to the table, having three World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit victories and a WSOP bracelet to her name. Had things unfolded a little differently, she could also have added this title to her collection, but her challenge was ended by a crazy hand in which Jason Mercier hit one of two cards left in the deck to eliminate her. Once he had gained the upper hand, Mercier never looked back, slowly grinding Bonomo down before eliminating him. Hometown hero and five-time WSOP bracelet winner Jason Mercier took home the trophy, along with $794,600 in prize money.

The $3,500 event belonged to Tony Sinishtaj, although it could easily have gone the way of enigmatic young pro Daniel Colman. Colman burst onto the poker scene in 2015 by winning the Big One for One Drop, netting the 1st prize of $15.3 million, only to then refuse to smile for photos or do any interviews. Colman was among the final four players in $3,500 event, and played a huge pot against Sinishtaj where he made the right call and was a strong favourite to win the pot, only for his opponent to get extremely fortunate to end Colman’s tournament and take the chip-lead. Sinishtaj went on to win the event, taking home $661,283 as he bested the field of 1,207 players.

The $10,000 event saw the big stars of the poker world shine once more, as 2012 WSOP Main Event champion Ryan Riess added a WPT title to his world champion’s crown. Riess ovrcame a field of 349 players to get his name on the WPT trophy for the first time. He won $716,088 for his 1st place finish.


The Hard Rock Poker Showdown was rounded off by the special $15,000 invitational event – the Tournament of Champions. Only those with their name on the trophy could participate, and sponsors ensured that a car and a $100,000 bonus cash were added to the prize pool. The event saw a total of 66 players buy in.

For quite some time it seemed that fan favourites Michael Mizrachi and Erik Seidel could take the top prize. Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Michael Mizrachi built up a strong chip stack at the end of the second day, and eight-time WSOP bracelet winner Erik Seidel was an ever present threat throughout the event.

Seidel would eventually fall in 5th place for $73,575 while Mizrachi was one of the final two players standing, facing off against Daniel Weinman for the title. In the early stages of heads-up play it appeared that Mizrachi had the measure of his opponent, and had soon overturned the chip defecit he began with, drawing almost level in the chip counts. Then came an ourageous bluff from Weinman, in which he forced Mizrachi to fold a flush before showing him he had been bluffed. The match was over moments later when Weinman’s ace-eight managed to spike an eight on the turn to outdraw the pocket fives of Mizrachi, who had moved his remaining chips in pre-flop. Mizrachi took home $218,000 for his runner-up finish, while Weinman claimed the $381,500 1st prize.


The World Poker Tour now moves on to Beijing, where the next festival will take place between April 14th-19th.

Miami Trip

I do apologise for taking a break from this blog, and temporarily turning it into the monthly word rather than weekly. I have been busy undertaking an exciting journey, which began as follows…

Having written part-time for a website called Somuchpoker during the last two years or more, I have had the fantastic opportunity to write about poker, which has been a serious hobby of mine since 2010. This hands-on experience of journalism has been a great addition to the skills learned during my studies, and right at the end of my second term, I was offered another great opportunity.

The website I write for, which targets an Asian audience was invited to send two people  to provide coverage of the World Poker Tour (WPT) events which were set to take place at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Fort Lauderdale, just outside Miami. Flights and hotel costs were all covered by WPT, who treated us wonderfully while we were there.

On the first day, I walked into a casino for only the second time in my life. That may seem strange given my enthusiasm for poker, but I have always lived some distance away from the nearest casino and for the most part, have been happy enough playing my poker online. Despite not having any great interest in casinos, Hard Rock was an impressive spectacle. As soon as I walked in, there was a wall of rainbow-like illumination from the hundreds of slot machines which pinged and buzzed with activity as I walked past. We eventually found our way into the poker section, and walked into a large hall which had press tables at one end and around a dozen poker tables at the other.


Only two tables were occupied at this point, as the $25,000 buy-in High Roller event was down to the last dozen or so players, but we had the potential for an exciting story as Jason Mercier, holder of five World Series of Poker titles, a European Poker Tour title and winner of this same event in 2015 was still in the hunt. By the time the final table got underway the following day, Mercier was still going strong and our hopes of a big name player taking the High Roller title were given a further boost as he got down to the final two players. At this stage, which we call ‘heads-up’ in the poker world, he only had to defeat experienced pro Justin Bonomo to claim the title, and he went on to do just that, winning the 1st prize of $794,600.

The second day provided no major stories, but we were there covering proceedings all day as a relatively unknown player won the $3,500 buy-in event. Then came the $10,000 event, and once again we had an interesting story developing, as the 2013 world champion Ryan Riess was gaining the upper hand on the final table. He also went on to deliver the story we hoped for, winning the event for $716,088. With the open events concluded, all eyes turned to the special invitational event. The Tournament of Champions had a $15,000 buy-in fee, and was reserved only for those who had won a WPT event in the past. The WPT trophy which awaited the champion was impressive to say the least.


The Tournament of Champions lasted three days in total, and there were plenty of big names involved. Ryan Riess was joined by Yevgeniy Timoshenko, Mike Sexton, Erik Seidel, who is the holder of eight World Series of Poker titles, Dominik Nitsche, who has three, Michael Mizrachi, who also has three, and Scott Seiver, who has one. All players were of course holders of a WPT title too, and so the quality of play within the field was high. Sponsors of the event had thrown an extra $100,000 and a car into the prize pool, which was already over $1,000,000 creating some added value for those involved. By the end of the second day, we had our final table set, with Mizrachi and Seidel both still in the tournament.

For once, we had to settle for a slighty lesser known player winning the top prize as Daniel Weinman defeated Michael Mizrachi heads-up, and Erik Seidel could only manage 4th place. But still, the tournament made for great viewing and capped off a great week of WPT events.


Alongside the many hours of reporting we had put in over the course of six days, we found a little time to enjoy an ice hockey game courtesey of WPT and were even given a free bottle of champagne each. With the final event wrapped up and an unforgettable time spent attending one of the world’s biggest poker events, it was finally time to head to the airport. My journey back was not quite as smooth as I had hoped though, as delays to my first flight caused me to miss my connecting flight, and I had to spend 12 hours stuck in Newark airport. It took a total of 29 hours from leaving my hotel to arriving home, but it was all worthwhile.


Myself, Loic and Lars who worked for another poker website stopped to take one last photo before sharing a taxi back at the end of the final day.


Nelson – A Story of Courage

Apologies for the delay in this post. University life has been busy, and there have been a couple of nights recently which were spent wading through walls of sound while being intermittently blinded by coloured lights. In many ways, my nights out are similar to what I’d expect an alien abduction to feel like. Darkness, confusion, flashing lights and loud noise accompanying the sight of gesticulating silhouettes moving about around me. But, despite that description, going to the club always makes for an interesting evening (as it did last night) and so I shall no doubt be talked into going again next term.

For this post today, I will move away from complicated theories about time, size, space and other things and take a moment to admire the strength of spirit and courage that exists within certain historical figures. One person in particular has always been inspirational to me, not just because of the extreme bravery they showed, but also in their tactical brilliance.

Horatio Nelson is my favourite historical figure. Despite having a statue in Trafalgar Square, and of course having the square itself named after his greatest triumph, not too many people know his full story in detail. One quick google search and you can find an accurate description of him on wikipedia: “He was noted for his inspirational leadership, superb grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics, all of which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories”. Having always loved strategic games myself, but having never really been overly courageous, Nelson’s story has always been an interesting one to me.

Having joined the navy at 12 years old, Nelson quickly rose to become an officer and later, after gaining command of his own ship suffered a wound at Corsica that led to the loss of sight in his right eye. As soon as he was able to sail again, he was given command of a 74 gun ship called HMS Captain and soon found himself involved in the battle of Cape St Vincent. Disappointed by the fact that his ship was at the rear of the fleet and would take a long time to be able to engage Spanish ships in battle, Nelson broke away from the fleet and disobeyed orders to engage three large Spanish ships. With command of the 74 gun ship, Nelson fought the 112 gun San Josef, the 80 gun San Nicholas and the 130 gun Santisima Trinidad in a vicious 2 hour battle. He had help later in the battle from another British ship, but nonetheless his victory was spectacular, as he captured two of the Spanish ships in the process.

Further battles against Spain took place in the months that followed. Hand to hand fighting at Cadiz would have led to Nelson’s death, had it not been for a seaman named John Sykes who saved his life, and was badly wounded himself in the process. A few months later came the battle of Santa Crus de Tenerife, in which Nelson led a battalion ashore by night, and was struck by a musketball which shattered the Humerus bone in his upper right arm. Nelson remained unfazed by his injury, refusing attempts to help him back aboard the ship claiming that he could do just fine with two legs and one arm at his disposal. He went to see the ship’s surgeon, showed him the mangled arm and simply said “the sooner it’s off the better”. He was up and about giving commands half an hour after the amputation.

The year of 1801 brought with it the Battle of the Nile, and more fighting against the French fleet. The British atacked the enemy fleet, despite having less firepower, and Nelson was once again almost killed in battle as a piece of French shot struck a glancing blow to his head, tearing a gash above his good eye. After being quickly patched up by the surgeon once again he came back on deck to direct the battle, only retiring to his quarters once the French flagship had exploded after catching fire.

The same year, Nelson fought in the Battle of Copenhagen. With three ships having run aground and heavy fire coming from gun batteries on the shore, Nelson’s superior officer gave the signal to retreat. Nelson raised his telescope to his blind eye and said “I really do not see a signal” before pressing on with his attack. The fierce three hour battle ended in a ceasefire and diplomacy, before an armistice was signed. Nelson was then given the HMS Victory to command, and went on to meet the combined French and Spanish fleet at Trafalgar.

The opposing fleet had 33 ships to Nelson’s 27 during the Battle of Trafalgar, but Nelson remained confident of victory. Rather than fighting as one single line of ships versus the other, he planned to separate his fleet into squadrons and dissect the line of enemy ships at different points, surrounding and engaging them in pockets, inflicting heavy damage  before they were able to organise and respond to the unusual manner of attack. As an example of supreme courage to his men, Nelson wore his jacket covered with medals, clearly marking himself out to the enemy and making himself a magnet for musket fire. Musket shots were notoriously poor in terms of accuracy, and so it wasn’t complete suicide, but it was an incredibly brave way to show his men true courage and draw some of the gunfire away from them and onto himself.

As the gunfire erupted and the ships engaged each other at Trafalgar, Nelson was joined on deck by his flag captain, Thomas Hardy, and his secretary, John Scott. Almost as soon as the battle started, Scott was struck by a cannonball and killed instantly, with Hardy’s clerk then taking over the role. The clerk was then killed almost immediately before a piece of shrapnel ripped the buckle from one of Hardy’s shoes, causing Nelson to remark “this is too warm work to last long”. At around 1 o’clock, with the battle raging, a French sharpshooter in the mast of an enemy ship which was alongside HMS Victory, struck Nelson down with a musket shot. The projectile entered Nelson’s left shoulder, passed through his spine and ended up lodged under his right shoulder blade, inflicting injuries that no surgeon could repair. The following part of the story perhaps describes Nelson better than any other. As members of the crew were carrying the stricken Nelson below deck, he commanded that they stop a moment, so that he could give some advice to a midshipman on his handling of the tiller. Once below deck, Nelson clung to life for another three hours, and only allowed himself to die once he had been told that his fleet had won the battle.

I should also point out that along with suffering recurring bouts of malaria in his career, Nelson also suffered with sea-sickness throughout his life, making his victories all the more impressive.

While we should never revel in conflict or empire building as being glorious, I do feel that Nelson deserves his fair share of admiration as a remarkable example of courage and sacrifice in the face of adversity. I think the reason that I personally find him inspirational is probably because he had more courage than I could ever have, along with having tremendous faith in his own abilities.

For most of us, life isn’t about achieving the seemingly impossible, it is simply about making progress. We should never use failure as an excuse to stop trying or be defeated by falling short. When it comes to overcoming difficulties in life, the only thing we should ever really feel ashamed of is giving up. So, while approaching our struggles and fears with a willingness to fight will eventually allow us to look back with pride upon what we overcame, I think we can all take some extra inspiration from admiring the great struggles overcome by people like Horatio Nelson.

Sizing Things Up

This week, I thought I would take a look at the idea of size, the human perception of it and how it relates to the existence of all things. It has often been said that it is virtually impossible for a human mind to imagine and truly digest the idea of the universe and everything beyond it being endless. This week, I’ve flipped this idea on its head and will offer my personal insight into what the metaphorical soles of its feet look like, in the coming post.

In our everyday lives we constantly encounter objects, and we view the size of the objects in a way which is anchored to other objects around us. For instance, a car is fairly large, a planet is really vast, and an apple pip is small. We equate the size of all things to how they appear to us, and how they compare to everything else around us. This idea of size is something ingrained into our way of understanding the world we interact with, and is  constantly used and reinforced every moment of our lives. This means that when someone asks us to imagine endless infinite space filled with numberless galaxies, planets or even universes extending forever, it’s quite hard to imagine the full scope of that.

I should note that while our experiences make our mind want to repel the idea of the infinite, logic tells us we should embrace it as fact. Because, if you’re telling me that space ends somewhere…and I ask you what happens if I step the other side of that line – you can’t ever really give me a satisfactory answer that refutes the idea of endlessness. If you say there’s simply nothing on the other side of that line, well ok, then this ‘nothingness’ that you describe is what extends forever. The fact is, that something has to be infinite, even if it is ‘nothingness’. Furthermore, if a universe with stars, planets, solar systems and life forms happened to form in one place and we accept that there is an infinite expanse surrounding us, it actually means that no matter how long the odds were of life forming in one place, it becomes a mathematical certainty that there are an infinite number of alien life forms in existence in a never-ending number of other worlds. Of course, we’d never meet each other because only a couple of them possibly, (or maybe even none of them) are close enough to be able to reach us. Even if they had a life-span of 1,000 years and transported themselves within a light beam somehow and travelled towards us at the speed of light for their whole lives – they’d still die before they got anywhere near us.

But anyway, let me get on to the flip-side of this idea. While the idea of endlessly big things being tough to imagine is common, not many people think of how endlessly small things could be. You might say “ahh, but we’ve broken things down into molecules and atoms so we know how small things can be”. Are you sure? Because, hundreds of years ago we had no understanding that things too small for our eyes to see could exist, even though they were there. Theories about molecules were eventually proved, we discovered that molecules were made from atoms and then relatively recently the smallest particle of known matter was changed to something new: leptons and quarks. As technology has moved forward we have gained a greater understanding that things more miniscule than we ever thought possible, actually exist.

So, I’ll now hypothesise something that will involve you suspending your brain’s natural inclinations towards the concept of size. I’m not saying the following is my theory of what’s really true, just that it is not impossible, even though our minds want to tell us it is….

The only part of this I want you to focus on is the principle of size, everything else is just used as an example: There is a dog sneezing. One tiny particle inside a tiny particle inside an atom of a molecule of what is propelled from his nose at that moment is our universe. It’s filled with chemical changes and shifting energies on a scale so tiny that the dog does not have the intelligence or technology to ever see it, understand it or know that I am sat upon a tiny planet somewhere within the middle of its sneeze writing this blog. There would be know way of us knowing, assuming that were true, and we could indeed be entities smaller than microscopic, floating in a world far larger than our own universe. What if  our world right now in that way, and that within every molecule in our world exists particles smaller than leptons and quarks and inside every one of those was another dog, far tinier than could ever be detected by us – sneezing out universes. I mean, size is entirely relative. How far can you actually shrink an object and all the molecular parts of it. Limitlessly, in theory. I’ll mention here that scientists know that protons have 2,000 times more mass than electrons. They have no idea why. I’m not suggesting it supports my argument in any way, but it’s an interesting thought.

Now, make what you will of the dog example used, in truth, I could have left out the dog altogether but it clumsily represents something which is important to many people who feel certain that we were created. And creation is also plausible, although not certain to me.

Hopefully, after reading this you will conclude as I have, that something similar to this could theoretically not be too far from the truth, as concepts go. The endlessly huge can be almost impossible for the human mind to imagine – but it works the other way too when you think about that which we consider very small. I’m in danger here of heading in the same direction as my last post and concluding that, as things can be large or tiny to infinite degrees, the idea of size is just a human invention inside our heads and so doesn’t really exist. Perhaps I should just conclude that nothing at all exists and have done with it.

If we must accept the existence of size, we must also agree that like outer space/nothingness/whatever is beyond the nothingness – size is also endless, in both directions (big and small). If you fill a 1 metre square glass box with oranges and pose the question of how many oranges can fit in it, the answer then becomes….an infinite number. Because you have the box within a room within a country upon a planet within a universe which may actually exist within a particle of a particle of a particle which constitutes the skin of another orange, which is one of many oranges inside another glass box. Work that logic in the opposite direction and you’d have infinite universes, boxes and oranges within the glass box you were actually talking about in the first place.

Time for me to go and have a lie down I think….within my bed, which could theoretically exist within endless other beds.

Time and Travel

I’ve been thinking about time this week. What is time? Can we travel through it? These two questions have been at the forefront of my mind, and so I shall begin by offering my thoughts on the first of those questions….

The human notion of time is more or less as a tunnel that we are all passing through. We break down our passage through this tunnel into endlessly numbered segments and map those segments with devices called with clocks. In truth though, can we really be accurate in thinking of time in such ways? Long before humans even arrived in this world, clocks did not exist and time was not numbered. To understand time we must step outside of human constructions. That means the numerical system we have etched into our brains must be discarded, and we must boil everything down to the simple question of: what remains in the universe that indicates the passage of something akin to our ideas of time, when you take all human ideas and constructions out of the equation? The most obvious thing is the orbit of planets in our solar system, and chemical reactions. The expansion of our universe is perhaps another.

The movement of planets was the sole driving force behind the earliest clocks, which were dials using shadows to map the position of the sun, and if we are to say that time exists, then what is time other than the shifting of objects in space and the reactions of chemical compounds? The growth and decay of organic matter falls under the umbrella of chemical changes I would say, as we are made from carbon atoms. So if there were a theoretical way for us to reverse those reactions, move planets backwards in their orbital paths, shift all the molecules of our universe back to where they were yesterday, have we travelled back in time? There appear to be no other constituents of time itself to alter, assuming that we accept time exists, and so we could say that yes, we have. If that is indeed the case, then time travel is theoretically possible, while also being entirely impossible in any practical sense.

You might suggest that time exists outside of anything physical and time must still pass even if the universe and everything beyond it were simply nothingness. But in that situation where nothing at all exists, how can you ever get a grip on quantifying the speed at which time is passing? There is absolutely nothing to anchor the idea to. It’s like saying you’d still know which way is up or down. So, while we think of time as something which is always passing by and can be thought of as something we are passing through, in reality, it isn’t really that at all because it can’t be tracked or perceived in any way outside of our universe and how we understand the processes of that universe. It becomes a ghost. The truth, I feel is that time doesn’t exist at all. It’s just a concept in our minds. Matter continually shifts its location while energy is stored and released as that matter interacts with itself. That’s the only thing that factually changes. We simply tried to find a system to make sense of those things in a way that would be easy for our minds to comprehend, and then named our system ‘time’.

As a footnote, I’d like to add that if time were exactly as we imagine it, and it is possible to pop out of a little hatch on top of the tunnel of time, and re-enter through another hatch at a different point in it, then the fact that no time travellers have showed up in our present or past, indicates one of two things: either human beings never work out how to do this at any point in the future, or we wipe ourselves out before we get a chance. Given the massive upswing in the technological trajectory of our species in recent decades, you would expect us to work out time travel within the next hundred years or so if ‘time’ exists as we think of it. If we worked out time travel, we would immediately get billionaire time tourists booking a trip just as they are on the brink of doing right now with trips to the moon. Hundreds of people would be appearing from nowhere, having travelled from the future.

So, either I’m onto something here, and time is entirely different to how most people perceive it, and essentially, doesn’t exist….or we will wipe ourselves out of existence within the next hundred years. Both scenarios seem entirely possible to me.

Why did the Titanic sink?

Now, I’m aware this post could quite easily be four words long. I will however, give you the longer version of what is the most credible theory behind the sinking of the Titanic. I have even furnished you with a wonderful picture created by my own artistically talentless hand.

Without further ado, let’s get into the analysis. There were lookouts on the Titanic, and on most days they would be able to see a dangerously large iceberg from either its silhouette against the stars or waves breaking against its base. On that fateful night however, there were two problems. Firstly, the sea was as calm as could be. It was described as being like a millpond that night, which meant no waves breaking against any iceberg. But the second, more important problem was refracting light creating a thermal inversion illusion. Allow me to explain….

I’m no physicist, but as I understand it the process goes a little something like this: Whenever a beam of light passes through different levels of density in air (or anything transparent) it bends. If you mix sugar into water and dont stir it in, but instead leave a denser sugary water near the bottom of the glass – try shining a laser pen through it at an angle. The laser’s path should bend as it hits denser water.

This density change acting upon something travelling at speed and causing it to change direction can cause problems. I remember one criminal case in the U.S where a man was shot through the windscreen of his car by a woman stood on the driveway in front of his car, but the woman in an upstairs bedroom was wrongly convicted of the crime. The reason being that the bullet struck the man at a downward trajectory so it was assumed it could only have been fired from the upstairs window. If you fire from the driveway the natural thought is to think the angle of the windscreen would deflect the bullet’s flight path on an upward trajectory, so ruling out the driveway suspect, right? Wrong. As the bullet passes through the windscreen, there is more resistance on the top half of the projectile because the angle of the glass means the solid resistance comes from above the bullet as it passes through, defelcting it downwards. I’ll draw you more abysmal science pictures on another day to demonstrate, but for now I shall get back on topic.

So anyway, back to our fated ship. The Titanic was just passing from slightly warmer water into a stream of freezing cold water coming from the north (and carrying icebergs with it) called the Labrador current. The problem with this was not only that the Titanic sailed into an area carrying many icebergs, but that now the light passing between the eyes of the lookout and the horizon was passing through freezing cold air (which is denser) above the cold current. This caused the light to bend further around the curve of the earth instead of bouncing back from the normal horizon point, creating an optical illusion which meant the lookout was staring at a false horizon much further away.

This meant that when the fateful iceberg came toward the Titanic, it emerged from the gloom below a false horizon, rather than silhouetting the stars above a normal horizon. This made it almost impossible to spot.

As an interesting footnote, the Titanic was built with several compartments below the waterline so that it could take a few large holes in its side and not sink. One or two compartments would flood, but it would stay afloat. Tragically, when the lookouts finally saw the iceberg far too late, the ship took evasive action, dooming everyone on board. If they had hit it head on, one compartment would have been flooded, but they turned and struck a glancing blow, dragging the iceberg along the hull. This created a long gouge which tore open four compartments. This was one too any for the Titanic to withstand.

Next week, I shall be talking about more cheerful things such as the concept of time, and time travel.

Valentines Poem


Her beating wing and fluttering heart

Are the delicate twist of godly art

Our blood and beauty’s rhythmic fusion

Left me transfused with lost illusion

Eclipse the grey my solace brings

Question light on opened wings

Bless me with your two replies

Kaleidoscopic heaven of the eyes

Licit orchestrator of my sweetest felt compulsion

Heaven’s music played upon twin palette fuelled propulsion

You dance among my dream filled days and spur my sleepless nights

Your vibrant dark twists amidst the singing rainbow lights

Elations elevation borne alight with coloured kites

Punctuate the tapestry of gathered blues and whites

Sweet nectar still collected, little trinity still shown

and pollen dust about your feet to show how far you’ve flown

Nomad of the sunlight, steady streams into my church

Holds my faith within and brings an ending to my search

Forever strewn the shadowed dust, and thoughts of any other

By wings of stained glass windows and cascades of loving colour

Nostalgia and Forgiveness: Weekly Thoughts

After two recent posts which fall into the category of official work, it’s back to my thoughts for the week.

My previous weekly thoughts post included a picture of a man with a bow and arrow, and so I apologise if we’re getting heavy on the archery pictures. If it helps, you can simply view this week’s picture as a man walking down the street who is struck with that sudden fear we’ve all had before…”did I leave the cooker on?” Or, as one of those times when your mate ‘Chainmail Dave’ is trying to build a fire and confidently declares that the fire needs more wood, sending you off to fetch some. You only get as far as picking up the first stick before you are informed by the wall of heat hitting your back that Dave has in fact reconsidered, and decided petrol would be better. (We’ve all been there).

But anyway, I’m digressing already.

The real point of using this photo is that this film was a great favourite of mine when I was around 8 years old, and in some small way, changed how I view the world. The Bryan Adams song which accompanied the film was also the first song I ever bought, back when cassette tapes were around.

The film gave me a major moment of realisation when it came to people and life. One quote from Azeem in the film goes as follows: “There are no perfect men in the world; only perfect intentions.” It’s been apparent to me ever since that people never seem to judge the actions of others based on their intentions, but only on outcomes. If you genuinely believe a person to have a good heart and good intentions, but they make a mistake that disappoints you; how can you ever stay angry with them? Surely we must accept that flaws and weakness can be found within all of us, and must try to forgive those who make mistakes that hurt us, provided we feel that their heart was in the right place.

So much resentment and negative emotion in the world arises from people who can’t find it within themselves to be patient and forgiving. Often when we don’t forgive human error, we upset the person who tried their best but made a mistake. The knock-on effect can be that they can then have less faith in themselves, and they either stop trying to do their best, or make more mistakes because they feel pressured. Obviously there is a limit to patience if someone keeps endlessly making the same mistake, but in general, we really need to give people chances to redeem themselves.

This brings another quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to mind: “Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” The second part of that quote is important. When you see true goodness within a person, you must keep faith in that even when they make mistakes, and nurture their strengths. In doing so, you will help bring out the best in that person. When the first green shoots of a plant have not yet broken through the surface of the soil, you gain nothing by reaching into the soil and trying to pull the plant into the light; You have to gently encourage it with more sunlight and the right amount of nourishment.

At the end of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, the witch charges at Robin Hood with a spear in an attempt to kill him, and Azeem throws his sword at her, with deadly accuracy, saving Robin’s life. (As the film is from 1991 I’m not feeling it’s necessary to put a spoiler alert in here.) If Azeem had actually been a horrible shot and hit Robin with the sword by accident, his response should really be: “Hey Azeem, it’s ok. I know you probably don’t throw a sword in most battle situations so it’s probably a skill you’re not very familiar with. You just saw the witch running at me, realised it was the only option you had and made the best of it. We’re still mates, don’t worry. I mean, with the happy ending to this film now turned into a strange plot twist in which I get my legs chopped off by a piss-poor attempt to throw a sword at someone; the film may not do so well at the box-office. But then, money isn’t everything.”

In reality, we rarely respond that way when things go wrong. But, the world would be a far better place if we all took a moment to step outside our own shoes and started judging people’s actions on their intentions, rather than getting bogged down in the number of limbs we have intact after their mistake.