Stem2 What’s Inside? Key General Interest The Editors letter. Page 3 The teacher interview with Mr Crosbie. Pages 4 & 5 Arthouse Action Cinema. Pages 6 & 7 Book reviews. Pages 8 & 9 Lucid Dreaming, an explanation. Politics and World Affairs The return of the Cold War. Page 12 Some recommended cover songs. Page 13 An article on Catalonia and Scotland. Music And Cinema Science and Tech.nology Art and Literature Pages 10 & 11 Pages 14 & 15 The Good the bad and the British. Page 16 An interview with Ciaran Davidson. Page 17 An exploration of the concept of 4D. Pages 18 & 19 Hip Hop music recommendations . Page 20 Front cover uses a selection of old photographs from the school archives Prezi I have finally come up with my 'App of the month'. The link belowwill show you an example of how it can be used within a mathematical environment and I see that it now comes available on iPad, for free. Mr Canter would like to invite you to view the prezi: 'NUMBER SYSTEMS' Follow this link to watch this prezi: http://www.prezi.com/n-8ibkiw881r/ Happy zooming! From The Editor Andrew Witherspoon Introduces and gives his thoughts on this edition of STEM2..... and other matters. H ello and welcome to the – characteristically late second edition of the school magazine this session. This one has, it’s fair to say, seen quite a bit of controversy during production – almost all of which due to the fact that this editorial should have been written many, many weeks earlier than it was. Indeed, it is pretty much entirely my fault that the magazine didn’t make it in time for a seasonal Christmas edition – but you know what they say… bah, humbug. Not to worry though, for despite a brief hiatus working on such trivial matters as UCAS applications, dissertations, School Council meetings and last but not least (well, maybe slightly least) Christmas Ball preparations, I have finally seen the light and returned my focus to the one truly important part of school life: Stem2. That said, everyone involved has put a lot of work into this issue (of course, we put a lot of work into every issue – if and when we feel like it). Unfortunately the mounting pressure has become too much for some members, with a few neglecting to come to the weekly meetings. Rumour has it these former giants of the team now believe themselves ‘too cool’ to contribute. How this could be possible escapes me… Then again, if you think you’re too cool for Stem2, you’re almost definitely not cool enough for Stem2. Anyhow, enough office politics. Given the bumper size of the magazine, the staff have been anticipating similarly massive sales, even weeks before publication. In the scrabble to get your hands on the last one left in the library, you might have missed something different about this particular production. That’s right, it’s actually printed on something other than 80gsm copier paper! We thought it might be an idea, given the hefty bulk of this edition, to make a foray into the realms of professional printing firms. You never know, we might even make back the costs one day. So, what’s actually in this veritable behemoth of a magazine? As usual, there’s the usual range of articles that are no doubt exceptionally interesting to those who wrote them and hopefully almost as much for you readers. If you’ve not had a headache in a while and quite fancy one then I’d recommend taking a look at Sam Cooper’s ‘brief’ introduction to the Fourth Dimension. On the other hand, if you’re just looking to chill out and relax, then look no further than the usual pile of film and music articles that make up a lot of the meat of this issue, from writers such as hip-hop guru Rahul Prakash Bharawaj, music aficionado Greg Ritchie and the trusty, if eccentric, tastes of James Witherspoon. Of course, there’s also a swathe of other pieces from new-this-session writers such as Mauricio Gibson, Kenneth McHardy and John Hannah. However, if there is one piece of journalism that is the ‘star’ of this edition, it’s our exclusive interview with legend of teaching Mr Crosbie. We plunge deep into the psyche of one of the school’s longest-ever serving staff to find out all about what he thinks teaching is all about and his experiences in the ancient world. As I said before, this issue of Stem2 was really meant to have come out on sale for Christmas 2013. However, just to give you an idea of how long it takes to get an issue ready, as I’m writing this editorial the date is 12/12/13… So, by the time you come to read this, Christmas will be just another memory. Most likely, if you’re in the higher years, you’ll also have started revision (hopefully!) for your exams. Either way, the school year is certainly slipping away. I’m not sure if I ever properly noticed just how short a time a school year really is; in fifth year I was too busy stressing over Higher Maths, and before then I was probably too busy mucking about or something to care. But in Sixth Form, I have found myself appreciating more and more how finite the academic session actually is. Once you factor in prelim leave, holidays and – even more so this year with one of the earliest ever – exam leave, there actually is not much ‘school’ left. For some, this is probably a blessing. For me, though, with the daunting prospect of uni and the ‘real world’ ahead, it’s something I find quite unnerving. Why, though is this feeling felt amongst a lot of the schools’ S6 cohort? Must be all the free periods. Teacher Interview Interviewed by Andrew Witherspoon. The team would like to thank Mr Crosbie for agreeing to be interviewed for the magazine. Where are you originally from? I’m from Dumfries. I enjoyed growing up there – I go back there fairly regularly; my mother was living in the town until fairly recently, she’s now in Edinburgh. I go back to support my football team. Apart from teaching, what other jobs have you had? I haven’t had too many other jobs… When I was a student I did act as a tourist guide at the camera obscura on the Royal Mile. What made you want to become a teacher? (a great length of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’) To be honest, I can’t really recall a sort of sudden decision. It was something that occurred to me quite gradually during my degree (here in Edinburgh). What I found was that I quite liked the idea of being able to plan and do a job without being bossed around too much by superiors. Apart from teaching, then, what would be your ‘dream job’? My dream job? (laughs) It would’ve been playing professional football (more laughing). No, my dream job… Well, I think some teachers are definitely failed comedians – and some comedians are failed teachers – so I think I’m sort of in that zone maybe. And your nightmare job? Well, like I say, it would be one with a boss breathing down your neck – an open plan office. Somewhere with everything having to be done according to rules and regulations, or if there were set targets to be strictly met every day or week. If you didn’t teach Latin and Classics, what other subject might you teach? My interests now, as an adult, are pretty different to what they were when I was at school. So I’d be quite happy teaching quite a range of subjects, to be honest… I didn’t enjoy English at school – probably mostly my own fault – but, you know, I’d be quite happy teaching English. I’d be happy teaching… Geography, History… You know, your interests change quite a lot over the years, I mean neither Geography nor History were subjects I chose to study beyond say S2 level. What sort of music do you like? I like pretty much all kinds, but I’m particularly interested in classical. That’s something I got interested in through school, were we were taught the sort of ‘easy to listen to’ classical pieces. I’m not very musical; but I had a close friend at school who was musical and helped me to go in directions with similar things to what I liked. But obviously all through your life your taste changes. I was brought up in the era of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the like, and pop music is everywhere. Recently I’ve been on the iTunes kind of rediscovering music from the 70s and 80s a bit more. So yeah, classical music is big, but I’m listening to quite a lot of pop music as well. Favourite SMC yeargroup? S1: I don’t teach them. Do you ever impart teaching knowledge or give tips to younger teachers? Uh, not really, because everybody has their own style, and there isn’t a set way of doing something. I mean I get things wrong frequently, as I’m only too well aware. So I’m always a bit wary of being set up as some kind of ‘guru’ or something. Again, something that appealed to me about the job – you can take your personality, exaggerate things and ‘perform’ in your own way. It would be dire if all teachers performed in the same way. Continued on next page. Continued from previous page. What is your greatest achievement at SMC? (sighs) Hmm, that is difficult. Well, occasionally you do get pupils who struggle a bit with your subject, and sometimes they do well; you know, if they do well in a final SQA exam that can be quite satisfying. I don’t know if there’s a big thing really – I can’t think of a big single achievement as such. I’ve done a variety of jobs: I’ve been a head of house, head of outdoor education and head of classics. So having a bit of variety in the jobs, I’ve enjoyed my length of time here… But to be honest I can’t think of a sort of ‘mega achievement’ per se. I haven’t built a swimming pool or designed a school flag. [Mr Crosbie did get me an A in higher Latin – that might be a pretty major achievement –Ed.] Favourite Book? Favourite book… I’m a big fan of George Orwell actually, and I’ve always liked Animal Farm. I’m a bit of a sucker for animal stories and I think what’s brilliant about Animal Farm is it’s so revealing about human nature and politics. It does a lot in a small book. Favourite film? Well, there’s quite a few. I think Monty Python’s Life of Brian is one of the funniest films I’ve ever see. So that would be my favourite comedy, certainly, if not film overall. Favourite historical figure? When I was a kid I was a big fan of Robert the Bruce. I came from the Borders and was very aware of my Scottish Identity – so he was a big hero in a way. But I suppose as you grow older you realise that some things aren’t quite as simple as you thought when you were younger, and you wonder whether there actually are any heroes… So I don’t think I do any more. Favouite Latin phrase? (chuckling) Ah, well I suppose, off the top of my head, the phrase ‘Amavi Here Mane’ [Say that aloud – Ed.] is a favourite because it keeps popping up in coursebooks. Have you ever insulted someone in Latin so they don’t know what you are saying? Ah. Yeah, I remember refereeing a football match down at Inverleith once and giving a yellow card to a boy who was South African; and I hadn’t a clue what he was saying afterwards. It can be quite useful, if a bit dishonest, to use a second language like that. I hope I don’t use my Latin to ‘show off’ as it were – I know that’s not truly showing off, but as I see it, if you were going to give someone a mouthful so to speak it’s probably better to do it so they understand it. But no, I haven’t done that. Do you think you could defeat Mr Garden in a Latin rap battle? (Hysterical laughter) No, no. He is much more musically talented than me, and probably better at Latin too. One of the things I would say actually is the fact that Mr Garden and I have worked together for over 20 years is a real achievement in my mind. So do you have departmental meetings in Latin? Well, as with any department, the Latin department has departmental meetings. So we do have departmental meetings in Latin. But we don’t speak Latin… most of it is in English. You have some strange objects in your room, such as the Frogs of Discipline, Fred Nurke Cup and the Baldy Boffin. How did you come to own these oddities? Um, it’s just things that have taken my fancy really, that I thought would be useful for teaching Latin. The Frogs were a McDonalds promotion at one point, I think, and I’m a bit like Norman McCaig in thinking that Frogs are quite cute, funny and interesting. I like frogs. I’m not sure really where the Baldy Boffin came from – just sort of appeared. His real name is Socrates. If you were a classical God, who would you like to be? Well, I don’t like swimming, so it wouldn’t be Neptune. I quite like mountains, so the little bearded guy with the horns, what’s his name… Pan! Yes, Pan. God of the countryside… I’ve got a beard already. What do you hope for most in the future? I’d like to stay reasonably healthy. I’m getting on a bit now, getting wrinkly (laughs) so I’d like to think I’ll be able to keep going out on my bike, hillwalking and the like. Our thanks once again to Mr Crosbie for sharing his time and opinions. Arthouse Action M By James Witherspoon odern cinema is a tough nut to crack, directors need to try and create something original whilst also vying for audience demand. The problem with this is that the two are rarely compatible. More people go to see blockbusters than small independent films, for sure, but if one of these films catches on (e.g ‘The Artist’) then it has the potential to make big money with patrons flocking to see something new. However, this rarely is the case. Blockbusters are a sure-fire way to secure big stars and make big bucks, so more and more directors are turning to this. Also on the rise is the increasingly shameful ‘reboot’ genre. With such atrocities as the new ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Straw Dogs’, the great reboots (‘Dredd’ etc) go largely unnoticed. So as you can see, the trend now is largely for moneymaking rather than originality. A particularly worrying sign of this is the way that sequels are being churned out. Exciting and original films such as Taken are being turned into child-friendly money-making sequels. It appears that a sequel is warranted if the first one makes a lot of money. It seems as if the saying ‘nothing can be original anymore’ is more relevant than ever before. At the other end of the spectrum, we have more obscure cinema. Sometimes over-pretentious, sometimes not, it’s hard to judge. These films get talked about online and in certain papers but are dismissed by a large portion of people as ‘arty-farty rubbish’ which, to be fair, a lot of it is. Indeed, this is a huge generalisation and I could spend the whole of Stem2 explaining my thoughts on the current state of cinema but I shall not keep you. So on the one hand we have the action movie. What do we conjure up in our minds when we think of action? Blockbuster, car chase, shootout, explosions, fast-paced. As a general rule, if a film contains 2 or more of these elements, it is probably an action movie. Let’s think of the Arthouse movie. Some readers may already be groaning in pain at the very mention of the genre. When I think of arthouse I think of arty farty content, pretentious, originality, obscurity, fancy filmography. Add to this a bespectacled student stroking his chin in the theatre and you are most likely watching an arthouse film. Don’t get me wrong, both genres have their flaws but they have genuine positives too. Action has excitement and an adrenaline rush for the viewer as well as a fast pace. Arthouse has the originality and the beautiful filmography. Even though the genres are practically the furthest apart genres in cinema, they fit perfectly together, thus the beginning of the fantastic arthouse action genre. The genre is characterised by beautiful, surreal cinematography paired with heavy action, suspense and moments of shocking violence. Often as the film begins, we are introduced to an (often nameless) cold protagonist and by the end of the movie, they have become somewhat more human. Artion really exploded onto our screens with 2011’s original and supremely exciting Drive. Nicolas Winding Refn was no stranger to Artion before the film (having already created Valhalla Rising and Bronson). However, this film really was his masterpiece. It combined hallucinogenic, 80s infused cinematography with cathartic violence and an eclectic and fantastic techno score. The story focuses on a stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who acts as a getaway driver at night to make ends meet. However this all changes when he meets Irene, his next door neighbour, whose husband is in very deep trouble indeed. A truly outstanding film and the start of, in my opinion, one of the greatest partnerships in film history (Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn). Continued on next page. Continued from previous page. After this, facebook, twitter and the only community was flooded with discussion about arthouse-action and about how it may be one of the best subgenres ever created. Later on in the year, Steven Soderbergh released his immersive and personal thriller, Haywire. After this came Hanna, probably one of the biggest surprises of film in 2011. From the trailers, Hanna looked like an over – expensive teen-action flick (to appeal to the masses) but the reality could not be more different. Hanna was an explosive and beautifully filmed surreal artion about an assassin child. The film mixed the thrill and originality of a typical artion film and then mixed it with some classic fairy-tale elements to create an unforgettable movie experience. Next came one of my favourite films of recent times, The Raid. This film is basically one huge martial arts fight sequence. Remember the House of Blue Leaves Massacre from Kill Bill, well yeah that, but with crazily dangerous hand martial arts, for 1hour 40mins! The film is shot beautifully and the approach, as you can probably guess, is highly stylistic. Add to this a thumping electronic soundtrack and an amazing director and you get one of the surprise hits of the year. A strangely beautiful, and brutal cacophony of cathartic violence. The film follows a group of 20 elite policemen, especially ‘Rama’ as they progress through an apartment block of drug dealers, run by Rama’s brother. If you haven’t seen this one already, and I supremely doubt that, given its reputation, I strongly advise that you watch it right away as you’re in for a treat. Alternatively, watch it again! Similar to this was 2012’s Dredd. This film had its positives and negatives. On the positive, it was an amazing film, it repaired the Judge Dredd reputation with an adult orientated film that suited the character of Dredd better than any movie so far. It was fast-paced, had brilliant cinematography and was filled with the kind of cathartic violence which wouldn’t be out of place in a Tarantino flick. It also explored the theme of a character becoming increasingly human which I have already mentioned: a true artion movie. The problem is, its premise was too similar to The Raid, it’s not too hard to imagine the influence. Both films feature a ruthless ‘hero’ and a sidekick who are forced to fight their way through a high rise building with the aim of killing one person. Nevertheless, it makes an interesting film to watch back to back with the raid and to draw comparisons between the two. Coming into even more modern times, we encounter Brad Pitt in the incredibly stylish neo-noir crime thriller ‘Killing them Softly’ with an electrifying performance from Pitt, it was assured as one of the year’s biggest hits. Following this was one of the biggest films of the year, Looper. The film, starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis remains the most successful arthouse action film, grossing 175 million dollars. The unusual time-travel paradox plot follows a ‘looper’, an assassin who kills targets sent back to him from the past (with a RIDICULOUSLY large blunderbuss). They are called such because they are forced to kill their future selves, sent from 30 years in the past. They can then live the next 30 years in retirement before they get sent back and killed by their past selves. An intriguing concept indeed, however, it was pulled off incredibly stylistically with beautiful imagery and some of the best camera shots in modern cinema. To cut a long story short, it seems apparent that some of the most stylistically beautiful and influential films in modern times have fallen into this incredible genre and it appears to be becoming even more prominent. It proves that big budget action movies can still have humanity and beauty, even in these commercialised money grabbing times. The Casual Vacancy T A book review by Struan McLean. he Casual Vacancy is the first novel written by renowned author JK Rowling since her massive phenomenon of the Harry potter series ended six years ago. It spawned a massive franchise consisting of movies, and even a theme park. Would her more recent venture be nearly as successful? The novel follows several characters in their dayto-day lives but in particular, their reaction to the death of Barry Fairbrother, a much loved member of the village Pagford Council. Several people make an attempt to replace his seat on the Parish Council but all sorts of revelations come out about them from ‘The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother’. There are several main characters who are all related to each other and know who each other are. My favourite character in this novel was Andrew Prince. His father is one of the candidates going up for the extra seat of the council and is best Friend of ‘Fats’ Wall. We learn about his love life, his relationship with his friend ‘Fats’ and also that he hates his abusive father and would do anything to make sure he did not get a seat on the Parish Council. The book kept me on edge with such a wide range of storylines going on at the same time; who would The_Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother attack next? Would Terri get to keep her baby? Would Andrew ask Gia to be his girlfriend? Although these story lines made the plot of the story much more exciting, it certainly made it very difficult to follow. I was about half way through the book by the time I had gotten my head around who all of the characters were and I often found myself flipping back to re-read parts of the beginning of the book. I also feel like the story was not rounded off enough for me. We are left to wonder what happens to many of the characters and what the consequences of many of their actions were. All in all, I found ‘The Casual Vacancy’ a great read. I think the book can be read by any teenager or adult as it features such a diverse range of characters and anyone could relate to any one of them. Although it was fairly dark and depressing at times, it also has drama, romance and action all in just 568 pages. Death and the Penguin T A book review by Kenneth McHardy. o describe Kurkov’s Death and the Penguin as simply ‘different’ would be a massive understatement. For a start, Ukraine in the midnineties is a fairly unusual setting. Then there’s the deadpan, staccato style of writing, a hesitating narrative completely devoid of any description beyond that which is absolutely necessary. And then, then there’s the penguin. ”What we’re after is a gifted obituarist, master of the succinct. Snappy, pithy, way-out stuff’s the idea. You with me?” He looked hopefully at Viktor. “Sit in an office, you mean, and wait for deaths?” Viktor asked warily, as if fearing to hear as much confirmed. “No, of course not! Far more interesting and responsible than that. What you’d have to do is create, from scratch, an index of obelisk jobs – as we call obituaries – to include deputies and gangsters, down to the cultural scene – that sort of person – while they’re still alive.” The short novel tells the story of Viktor Zolotaryov, a forty-year-old writer of short stories trapped in the post-Soviet slump of Ukraine a few years after the breakup of the USSR, a time of broken communities, relationships and spirits, and his pet Misha, a penguin. Viktor struggles to find an audience for his writings in the local papers until he is offered a mysterious, yet well-paid job; to write obituaries for those who are still alive. Viktor accepts the job, but it isn’t long before strange things seem to happen, journalists working for his paper are mysteriously murdered; an associate of his disappears leaving him to care for the man’s young child; and some men take an interest in having Misha attend the funerals of their ‘colleagues’. As events begin to escalate, the reader is often left simply trying to figure out what is happening amongst the surreal cast of journalists, acquaintances, and lovers all operating in a city with soft overtones of mafia involvement. Perhaps the most engaging part of the story for the reader, (besides an ending which catches you completely off guard), are the relationships that Viktor has with various other characters in the tale, in particular his penguin. Viktor’s sad, lonely persona finds its own true peer in Misha the penguin, a depressed penguin isolated from its kin and the way they behave towards one another, and in a strange way, depend on one another is both fascinating and surprisingly moving. The book was described by a reviewer at the Daily Telegraph as a ‘tragicomic masterpiece’, and I think that that basically sums it up. If you’re looking for a novel that will make you laugh, make you sad, but above all, make you think, then I can think of no better book to recommend. Lucid Dreaming By James Witherspoon S o, before you read the rest of this (almost certainly fantastic) article, I have something to say. What has been written in the following paragraphs is of a slightly unusual and fantastical nature. However, I assure you that what I speak about is true, and those of you that know me will know the full extent of my sceptic ism, so you have my word that I’m not giving you a load of BS. In the words of Alan Partridge (or Steve Coogan, whichever you prefer), “I want you to take all your prejudices, put them in a box marked ‘prejudices’, put them to one side and wipe the prejudice juice off your hands”. That said, you are about to read about the coolest thing since, well, ever, really. When we go to sleep, we dream (really?). We all dream, whether we remember it or not. During the 5 REM stages of sleep we experience these strange jilted hallucinations of reality. I do not need to explain these to you, you have them every night. Some sources would have you believe that dreams have the ability to foretell the future. This is not what I wish to talk to you about, ‘cause, frankly, that’s a load of tosh. You can see my scepticism, despite the fact that a family member once dreamed about the Lockerbie bombing and woke his parents during the night before to tell them there would be a plane crash. Creepy right, yet I think somebody had been watching too much of ‘Airport’. Here comes the turning point. If you have never experienced what I am about to explain, then this may seem unreal or fantastical. If you have, then everything will make more sense. Here goes. Have you ever had a dream, in which you have become aware that you are dreaming because of some logical error in the dream and then used this to control the outcome of the dream. Yes that’s right, we’re talking full on ‘Inception’ style. This is known as lucid dreaming. Brought on by a number of sophisticated techniques (or multiple English essays and excess caffeine), these dreams are possibly a main cause for the superstitions of ancient peoples. Dreams such as these have shaped countries and ages, since they were perceived to be sent from God. Yes, I know I sound crazy, I should join a cult, or scientology or some other form of ludicrous idiocracy (no offence to Tom Cruise), but, there is scientific evidence to prove that this phenomenon is real. Continued on next page. Continued from previous page. I could talk to you for pages about the research, the top names, development and about getting meaning in your life, solving problems and finding yourself. But I’m not going to. I could go on to explain the 5 REM cycles, aiding products and an in depth guide of how to achieve this phenomenon. But I’m not going to. I could explain the history of dreams and the meaning behind them, but I won’t. The fact is, you probably don’t regularly try to lucid dream, and I need to persuade you to partake in this activity, so I will tell you the truth. Lucid dreaming is damn good fun. You’ve had a boring day doing work and you go to bed awaiting the next mind-numbing and excruciating day (probably a Tuesday, they suck), yet, you do not feel dread or unhappiness, because you know that now you can do WHATEVER you want, privately, and it’s all yours. Do you want to fly, sure, why don’t you go do that?. Do you want to have a MASSIVE party, sure, why don’t you go do that?. Do you want to jump off something very high and survive, sure, why don’t you go do that?. Do you want to be a general psychopath and just kill everyone, sure, why don’t you go do that?(although you probably do need to go and see a doctor). Do you want to go all Francois Hollande and just sleep with EVERYBODY, sure, why don’t you go do that. Hooked? I certainly was, and if you aren’t, then, well, you, my friend, are a complete non-human, and yes that is now a term. The fact is, if you wish for this to happen, then it can, but you have to wish for it, really. Lucid dreaming takes a lot of work, frustration and general figuring out to actually master, and it’s easier to learn sooner rather than later, so give it a go now. In order to accomplish this, you are going to need to remember your dreams, develop a deep suspicion of reality and force yourself awake at 3 in the morning, the challenge begins here. You will need to constantly check your surroundings and and constantly ask such basic questions as ‘can I read the same sentence twice without it changing? Can I read the same sentence twice without it changing? And yes, there will be many failures, and setbacks, and doubt, yet, I’m sure that you will pull through. In order to help you on your odyssey, I advise that you buy ‘A Field-Guide to Lucid Dreaming’, simply because it is helpful, down to earth and does not involve any of that spiritual stuff found in other manuals. It is split into 5 parts. Dreaming (about dreams), becoming lucid, staying lucid, mastering the terrain (how to further your experience) and moving on. Of course, you can lucid dream with the help of the internet, but the advice that I have gained from this manual is invaluable. One more thing, if your real life seems infinitely boring after you have saved the earth from some alien-terrorist-things and become an international icon, it’s not my fault. Return of the Cold War by Mauricio Gibson Why tensions between the US and Russia remain perilously high. Since 1945, when the US and the USSR went their separate ways after WW2, the two superpowers were at odds with each other and almost 70 years on, through a missile crisis, a dividing wall and the threat of atomic bombs, they still are. Foreign relations dominate news headlines, and none more so than the relations between the US and Russia. In very recent times, the Russian Federation and the USA have had major disagreement over the current Syrian crisis, with the former siding with the Ba’ath Party regime of President Assad, supplying them with support and military hardware, while the rest of the western world is behind the rebels trying to take the government down and so friction occurs between them with military intervention In Syria being prevented because of Russia vetoing it at the Security Council (The US have bypassed international law with their intentions of limited military strikes). If the two nations can’t agree over who their enemies are, perhaps they can’t be friends at all. At the recent G20 summit, President Vladimir Putin of Russia stated he did not agree with US President Obama over the issue of Syria, claiming such military intervention would destabilise the region and have a knock-on effect on oil prices and global production costs. A Putin spokesperson even attacked the UK claiming it is “just a small island … no one pays any attention to them”. What this person got in return was a rousing, patriotic, if a little cheesy speech from David Cameron. Yet, even with the Russian President’s stubbornness, Obama is adamant on intervening in Syria. News that dominated this year was US whistle-blower, Edward Snowden (shown left) leaking information of the US government’s secrecy and mass surveillance to the world, a man who was to be returned back to the US and imprisoned for espionage and theft of government property, ominously evocative of cold-war era crimes. However, what happened was Russia granted asylum for Edward Snowden, a serious criminal to the US government. Such an action would be suspicious not just to the US but the west as this looks like a statement: an enemy of the US government is a friend of the Russians. Perhaps then, the façade of a Russian President is slipping for Putin and the ex-KGB man is starting to appear. Or is the US getting reminiscent? It was several months ago that US diplomat Ryan Fogle was arrested and detained by Russian authorities after attempting to recruit a Russian Intelligence Agent to spy on the Russians. He was on a mission to find out information about the Boston Bombing suspects who were ethnic Chechens. He was apparently arrested wearing a blond wig and was widely shown on Russia TV. The Russians criticised it for a provocative act in the spirit of the Cold War. Even if it was a spy mission to Russia for US affairs, the principle of espionage just creates portentous implications. This scene could have happened in the mid-70s and it would have gone unnoticed as it was at the heart of the Cold War. It just goes to show how strained relations have become. It looks like neither nation is 100% willing to be open and cordial with each other. This may be perhaps because of many years of suspicion and misgivings, these two countries can NEVER trust each other. This may also be because these two countries are competing for the top platform in global politics, to assert influence on everyone else in the world. The two countries may be increasingly economic and social partners but they are certainly not political partners. As long as Putin is around, the situation won’t get any better, if may well get worse. Great Cover Songs by Greg Ritchie W hy would a singer or band ever attempt to do a cover song? Why would they take an old hit and give it a quick rehash, when they’re only bound to get masses of fans complaining that they ruined the song for them forever, and all the neutrals, even if they like the version, question your originality as an artist? Yet many people still do, from former X-Factor runners-up to respected bands and artists. And, occasionally, gems do crop up, that can even oust the original. It’s impossible to make a complete list of all the brilliant covers so I know I’ve left out a few great tracks, but in no particular order here’s a list of some of the best ones, with some old classics and a few others to note. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix One of his finest moments, Bob Dylan said this about Hendrix’s take on his song: “He found things that other people wouldn't think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.” What more is left to be said? Heard it Through the Grape Vine – Marvin Gaye Debatable whether it should be classed as a cover, since Gaye was the first person to record the song, but it was Gladys Knight’s version that was first released, whose success spawned the release of the Gaye version. His impassioned vocals made his take the most timeless, and created a true Motown classic. Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies Described by Lou Reed as the ‘best and most authentic version I have ever heard’, the Cowboy Junkies offer a narcotic haze to the song in line with the Velvet Underground’s original, but they also add a less aggressive and more contemplative tone, marking it out as a great cover. Sea of Love – Cat Power Taking from The Covers Record, Cat Power takes a 1959 hit from Phil Phillips and, using just simple and disorientated instrumentation and her ever so fragile vocals, she lets us see the song in a new, more vulnerable light. Despite some other notable versions before her, this one stands out strongest. Comfortably Numb – Scissor Sisters A cover which was always going to cause controversy amongst fans, the Sisters decided to take the classic Pink Floyd song with its unearthly guitar solos and transform it into a disco style rendition. Former members of Pink Floyd complimented the vision of the new version, and whether you like it or not you can’t argue that they didn’t try to add some originality to the piece rather than trying to simply imitate their forefathers. For that – at the very least – they deserve credit. Bitches Ain’t S*** – Ben Folds Ben Folds is a white multi-instrumentalist songwriter, best known for being the lead in the power pop trio, Ben Folds Five. Bitches Ain’t S*** is a song by Dr Dre. This cover shouldn’t work. And, to be quite frank, it doesn’t. But it’s hilarious nonetheless in how it highlights and satirises Dre’s often less than poignant lyrics and is more than worthy of a listen. Jolene – The White Stripes Jack and Meg White weren’t the sort you’d usually associate with a Dolly Parton song, but they made Jolene a staple of their live performances over the years, and Jack White’s rasping vocals along with the simple rock backing is surprisingly effective. Just Like a Woman – Jeff Buckley Jeff Buckley, of course, provided one of the most famous covers of all time in his rendition of Hallelujah, which holds strong despite it being horrendously overplayed. But his cover of this Bob Dylan song is just as heartfelt but is tragically near unheard of to most people. His majestic vocals rise and fall with such an ease that you can’t help but envy his skill, making his untimely death all the more tragic. Lovesong – Adele Adele’s most famous cover is, of course, her rendition of Make You Feel My Love, but her cover of the Cure song from her album 21 is worthy of note, if only for doing that one thing that so many other artists fail to do: make a cover sound as heartfelt Hurt – Johnny Cash as if it’s your words alone, and not a regurgitation of old. Also known for its emotional video charting his past while also highlighting his frail state at the time of release, his cover of the A Case of You – James Blake Nine Inch Nails song received universal acclaim. He famously Blake has an uncanny knack of producing precisely formed yet made the song his own by changing the lyrics ‘crown of s***” heart-felt pieces, and his cover of the Joni Mitchell song is no into “crown of thorns”, which sends the listener images of different. Even though Mitchell delivered one of her greatest Cash’s Christian faith only a few months before his death. masterpieces in the original, Blake couples his well-controlled piano backing with his effortlessly transcending vocals to create a memorable cover. We’re Not Alone by Oliver Rhodes I What independence means for Catalonia n light of the Scottish Independence Referendum this September, around 1 in 5 of us are as yet undecided on whether independence for this country will bring oilfuelled prosperity or economic isolation. In the coming months, the debate will invariably heat up: serious questions about our position in NATO and, especially, in the EU will be launched across the chambers of Scottish Parliament; we, the general public, will undoubtedly undergo interrogation by eager political activists – desperate for our vote, desperate for everyone to take a side. Those still pondering will be politically torn to pieces: bombarded with facts and figures until they’re inevitably blown into one side’s trench. Meanwhile, the EU “super-state” has taken some flak in recent months. The UK Independence Party, while controversial, has drawn more than a few eyes to the UK’s current position in this diplomatic union. Immigration policies – over which Brussels has complete authority – have angered the more conservative of UK residents in how little control we really have over who can walk in. In this modern age, political institutions like the European Union have knocked down trade and cultural barriers – you can drive from Gibraltar to Tallinn and no one will demand a passport – and while some are fighting for separation, ironically, they’re simultaneously fighting for their right into the bigger union. As the Scots draw swords with Westminster, Westminster takes up arms with Brussels… are the bonds of political harmony falling apart in the 21st century? The creaking of century-old borders can be heard in other parts of Europe too. On your next visit to the golden coasts of Barcelona, you may notice something peculiar. The flags draped over balconies, plastered on walls, “INDEPENDENCIA” sprayed across the concrete (see left), give tourists today a subtle atmosphere of discord. Catalan nationalism is a hot topic on Spain’s eastern coast, and the similarities between our situation and is both remarkably similar, and still wholly different. Catalonia is Spain’s north-eastern-most province, serving as the country’s top tourist hotspot and beating heart of the economy. Like the Scots, Catalans take pride in their cultural identity – they retain a regional language, and FC Barcelona bears similarities with Celtic in its embodiment of national pride (if nothing else). So with such a wide breadth of cultural liberties, what has urged Catalonia to stand before the conquistadores at Madrid in a declaration of divorce? Yes-voters in Edinburgh talk of economic freedom, Scotland’s right to make its own choices, and historic restoration. Can the same be said for Catalonia? The demands of Scottish nationalists are only amplified in Catalonia. Catalans see themselves as “Catalans”, and not “Spaniards”; they rightly believe that the region has long been an economic powerhouse – keeping Spain on its feet in recession, but stripped of €17 billion in taxes; they believe it is in popular interest, with recent polls suggesting nearly 60% want full independence. Continued on next page. Continued from previous page. These plights echo chilling sentiments of nationalists back at home… though the argument of popular interest in Scotland can be debated. Here, however, the similarities between us and them unequivocally end. While Churchill was guiding the country through the Second World War, fighting against fascism and oppression, Spain was living in its own hell: a civil war left hundreds of thousands dead and a dictator in power. Francisco Franco tried to crush Catalan identity – this only strengthened Catalan nationalism, enflaming in the hearts of men the anger brought about through years of conflict and oppression. The closest we ever got to that was Edward Longshanks’ game 800 years ago. The reactions to nationalism in Spain and in the UK have also differed widely. When here David Cameron has given Scotland the right to self-determination, Madrid has postponed any dates for referenda. The heavy-handedness of Spanish politicians to deal with the situation has enflamed Catalan nationalists further. The Eurozone has taken heavy casualties in the economic crisis with Greece and then Spain experiencing unemployment levels at nearly 30%, as their common currency continues to fall into the depths of financial despair. The United Kingdom’s, and so Scotland’s, Sterling currency has not been infected with the same disease, and as such the British economy has managed to hold its ground, despite obvious struggles. Catalan nationalists demand complete autonomy in hope of changing this. As we now see, the situation between Scottish nationalism and Catalan nationalism is simply poles apart. Those on the Costa Brava are looking to Scotland to lead the way through this new generation of power struggles and devolution, potentially paving a way for further separatist movements. But our circumstances are very different. Thus, the results will undoubtedly be so. And then there’s the struggles of becoming independent. Catalonia alone holds debts reaching €42 billion. How would it be fair on the rest of the continent if a new Catalonia were to be bailed out? Not to mention the widespread criticism of Catalan hypocrisy if it so happened. And there’s another problem: despite EU policies and EU currency arguably causing the economic turmoil which encouraged Catalan autonomy in the first place, they would have to reapply to join the EU for bail-out security and diplomatic unification with their neighbours. In the end, that’s what it comes down to: unification. Economic and political bonds with other people ultimately fuel greater prosperity and security for all those involved. That’s what brought the first two tribes together, that’s what brought NATO together, and the EU, and the United Kingdom. Is political harmony falling apart in the 21st century? Really? If Catalonia becomes independent, they will need help from others to establish their dream state. That also applies to an independent Scotland. In the globalised modern world, it only seems certain that, in the long run, boundaries will continue to fall and countries will continue to mesh closer with each other in the name of peace and capitalism. Of course, in Scotland’s immediate situation, there are many arguments for its separation with the UK, and many against it. No, it won’t be simple; and yes, it will be closer than we think. The Good, the Bad and the British! S by Sam Cooper cotland, despite the numerous jibes and jokes I make at the country’s expense on a daily basis, is a wonderful place. Only an idiotically patriotic English fool would fail to notice that, and trust me they exist. I won’t lie and tell you that I don’t enjoy living here, however I am a Yorkshire lad at heart, and it would be an insult to your intelligence to say that I did not prefer living there. You see, both countries have some awesome ups, and some pretty major downs, I hope you agree. Yet I, like many, having lived both north and south of the wall, have a perspective unlike a patriot of either country. Attitudes towards each other change depending on where you are and who you are talking to, and I, believe it or not, have experienced both. Understandably, there are rivalries running deep between our two nations, but then again a lot of them are simply hot air. None of this of course is helped by the current political issues regarding independence, which as I have noticed, is not only worsening international relations but even sparking disagreements between scots themselves. When I first moved up here, I found the country ostentatious, brash, with some of the most overly patriotic people in the world, yet I have come to realise, that is part of Scotland’s charm. What I do not understand however, is how you have “scottishized” many things that you wouldn’t have expected, in some of the weirdest ways. For example an egg; naaah, put some breadcrumbs on that, that’s a Scotch egg. Cellotape; naaah, put some tartan packaging on that, that’s Scotch tape. As well, as this, the Scots have claimed things as Scottish, which aren’t. Simple as. Scotland Yard, a major detective agency begun in Scotland, right? Wrong. Scotland Yard is not a Scottish agency, but is in fact named after a geographical location in…London! Yet who am I to judge, to each his own (but Scotland Yard is ours). Of course, being proud of one’s country has never been a bad thing; it’s just the things that people use their pride to justify doing. I am proud of my heritage, and I’m sure you’re proud of yours, but that is not to say that the English and Scottish have to have malicious attitudes to each other as some do. The truth is there are both amazing and awful things about both our two nations. Our choice? To exploit those of the other for ammunition in arguments? Or to accept them and be proud of the accomplishments that we two have made together. The fact is a house divided against itself cannot stand, and underneath it all we are the same island. So let’s put our differences aside, the past behind us and move on, to the future. (I know, cheesy right?) An Interview with Ciaran Davidson Ciaran is a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Edinburgh Central. Recently Kenneth McHardy managed to catch up with Ciaran Davidson of 5T, who is currently serving a term on the Scottish Youth Parliament, representing Young people in the constituency of Edinburgh Central, and was able to ask him a few questions about what exactly the SYP is, and how young people can become involved in local politics. Firstly, Ciaran could you please explain what the Scottish Youth Parliament is? The Scottish Youth Parliament is a body in which members (elected for constituencies by young people) debate and discuss issues that affect young people. And what exactly is your role in this parliament? I act as a link between the board and the general membership. I debate on behalf of Edinburgh Central. I also work on the external affairs committee which looks at foreign affairs. The majority of the work is constituency related. How did you first become an MSYP? I applied to the SYP who put me in contact with the Council. I then stood for election against two others for two seats in Edinburgh Central. Naturally thanks to my school’s support I won my seat. Can you tell us anything which you, perhaps with the help of other members of the SYP, have been able to achieve for young people in Scotland? As a body we were able to secure One Fair Wage through the First Minister in his conference speech and we were one of the many advocates for gay marriage- indeed I am sitting in on the next general assembly of the Church of Scotland on behalf of SYP. One Fair Wage? The campaign to achieve the same minimum wage for young people as those above the age of 21. Is there any way that other young people in Edinburgh could help to also make a difference on issues important to them? Absolutely- the council runs numerous organisations such as youth forums for local areas, youth clubs and numerous policy groups which look at issues such as mental health. Also issues that people are particularly passionate about should be brought to MPs, MSPs. MSYPs, councillors etc. Young people with good ideas and passion always stand out and influence our decisions. Finally, what do you hope to achieve in the rest of your time as an MSYP? I hope to complete my work on an international youth parliament and leave my successor (I hope they come from SMC) a slightly better standing to work with. The Fourth Dimension by Sam Cooper T he fourth dimension has eluded the minds of some of our best scientists, and the question of what it is baffles some and makes the rest laugh. Some say that it doesn’t exist, or that if it does, we can’t perceive it. Well I’m here to prove them wrong. To understand what the fourth dimension is then we have to first understand what those boring first three are, and what they mean. You see there are many definitions of a “dimension”, depending on what subject you’re talking about; filmography, geometry, mathematics, graphics, cosmology, even science fiction, there are many more than just the one. And here, I’m going to talk about as many as possible. We’ll get the easy one out of the way first. As anyone who does Product Design will know, a drawing can have as many dimensions as needed, with different types: angles, lengths and diameters, no surprises there. So straight off the bat we have dimensions past our well known three. As well as this, there are the mathematic dimensions, and I’m here to tell you, they are wrong. Yep, I said it, wrong. Pretty much all mathematicians will tell you that there are only three dimensions, X, Y and Z and no more. What many fail to understand though, is that these don’t exist, they were created by humans. There are no set dimensions of our universe, and we could have equally chosen four of them, or six, or the number of breaths you take a day, or the number of times you have coughed in your lifetime. As long as the axes are equidistant from each other, and you plot the points perpendicular to the coordinates on each axis, there are infinite numbers of dimensions possible, s’just three’s easier innit? Okay, here we go, now we head into the stuff that starts to mangle your mind, so to keep it simple, we’ll start from the beginning. In geometry, 1 dimension is a line (figure 1), but the misconception comes when you go from 1 dimension to 2. Many believe it’s just a shape, but in truth you simply add another 1D object at a different place, and connect the points (figure 2). It is the same going from 2D to 3D; if you put another 2D object on a different plane, and join the corners (figure 3), you achieve a cube. So, by that logic (prepare yourself), to get to the illusive ‘Fourth Dimension’, we should add another cube through the first, and join the points (figure 4). By definition, we should finally have a 4D shape, no? Continued on next page. Continued from previous page. Of course, this isn’t a 4D shape, just what one would look like if they were possible. To achieve this, we would need a material that could literally pass through itself. Unfortunately, no such material exists…so far as we know. And now, let’s charge into the really tricky stuff, and I’m going to level with you, even I don’t fully understand this. However, this is the last really tricky one, so if you want to want to skip this paragraph and move on to the easier bits, no one will blame you. Right, here we go. So you’ve probably heard that the fourth dimension is time, well you’re not far wrong. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, time and space join together into what is known as the fabric of space time. Earth’s immense mass makes a dimple in this fabric and its rotation twists it. This creates gravity. Imagine it this way, if you stand in the middle of a trampoline, it pushes the centre down, then if you roll a marble around the edge, it spirals into the centre, if you just put it at the edge, it rolls straight down In fact everything that has mass makes a dimple in space-time, hence GRAVITY! However, gravity stretches time. Since they are both joined in one fabric, as gravity increases, space-time is stretched. The off-shoot of this is that the larger the gravitational field strength, the slower time goes. Fun fact; at the centre of a black hole, the event horizon where gravity is infinite, time stands still. Thank God that complicated malarkey’s over, on to the easier stuff. We’ve all seen 2D films (obviously), most of us have seen a 3D film, but have you ever been to a so-called “4D film”? In filmography, the fourth dimension is simple; touch. In such cinemas, there may be water sprayers on the seat in front of you, a smell releaser or moving seats, all in the endeavour of a more engrossing movie experience. Coupled with 3D technology it can make for a very entertaining movie experience. Although there are very few feature length 4D film cinemas, these theatres are quite common in theme parks, my personal favourite being a 4D Spiderman ride at Universal Studios. Other dimensions are not just a scientific thing: the sci-fi fans out there, especially those familiar will the David Tennant era of Doctor Who. These features make good use of the well known multiverse theory. This states that not only are there multiple universes exactly like our own yet slightly different, but every choice we make creates another one, which is how it would be if our choice was different. While a lot feature this - such as Star Trek, The Golden Compass, even a certain episode of Family Guy - what sets Doctor Who apart is that it specifies the Fourth dimension as the gap in between worlds, containing ‘absolutely nothing’. Imagine that eh! So there you have it, six Fourth Dimensions, all different and all perfectly viable. Take the pick of your number four and enjoy. I hope your head is hurting after reading this as I had a migraine after Hip Hop Top Tunes by Chae Gordon. Rakim- The 18th Letter Rakim’s first solo 18th album, The Letter, was a debut to remember. Full of jealousy, optimism and criticism: it has something for everyone. Rakim, once the personification of cerebral rap, is now dwarfed by newbies like “Emminem” and “JayZ.” He takes it to heart, reminding us who is no.1 in the song “guess who’s back." He furthers this concept in “The 18th Letter,” here he employs countless internal rhymes, at such a speed that you keep finding new ones every time you listen. The best thing about the album, however, is that not only do you get the 18th Letter. But it comes with “The Book of Life” which is essentially a greatest hits compilation of Eric B. and Rakim. Which is almost worth the purchase as a stand-alone album: featuring classics like “Follow the Leader,” “I Know You Got Soul” and “Microphone Fiend.” Honestly, just give it a listen, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Top Tune: “Guess who’s back”. Rebel Without a Pause- Public Enemy When I first listened to this album I didn’t like it. It was grating; it was loud; it was angry. It wasn’t my cup of tea. Revisiting it a month or so on I loved it. Now I realised the intellect involved in Chuck D’s biting lyrics and whilst my opinions on their beats are still mixed, I could listen to it for hours. It truly is a classicvoted in the top 20 Hip Hop tunes by Rolling Stone. It is angry but I like it; indeed, there is no better catharsis. You can come home, bung it on, and release all your daily stress. Well worth a listen. Resurrection- Common Resurrection uses piano riffs and the Hammond organ in a refreshing manner. What’s more it’s full to the brim of lyrical complexity and intensity. It’s great: an absolutely classic album. “Resurrection”, “Thisisme” and “I Used to Love H.E.R” are all worth a listen. Slippin’- D.M.X D.M.X is sort of an enigma. His gritty, gruff (almost barking) voice: is contrasted by his soft, sensitive subject matter. Slippin’ focuses on D.M.X losing himself in the pursuit of money and street cred: it’s deep stuff. With a beautiful hook and great lyrics it well worth a listen. Young MC- Cold Stone Rhymin’ Young MC has a style seldom heard in today’s rap. His delivery is an enigma to the children of post EPMD gangster rap. Gangster rap which focuses on bass heavy beats and lethargic delivery; contrasts, Young MC with his rapid, “r” rolling, red-blooded delivery. This style, although pre-historic, is now strangely vivacious and embryonic. Harkening to a time where artists had talent. Not just good looks. To a time were hip hop didn’t equal Dre and Jay. A time of discovery, experimentation, overuse of Nile Roger’s samples. To the golden era of hip hop. Believe me. It’s worth a re-visit.
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