Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Completely Inane Newspaper Stories Part II: Locker Spaniel!

Sat in the café just up the road from our university having lunch today, I mentioned my quest for completely inane newspaper stories, which started at the end of last week with the classic story from the Sun (and the Metro) 'Dog Eat Dog', in which a dog swallowed a plastic toy. We came across a couple of contenders for the title of todays most pointless story, including 'some ducks went into a paddling pool' (that's pretty much all that story says). But there was a clear winner, especially given the context: Locker Spaniel

A NURSE was left stranded after her cocker spaniel ATE her car key.

Yes, the Sun had once again decided that the nation needed to know that.. erm... dogs sometimes swallow stuff they're not supposed to. If you read the article, you'll notice that in actual fact, the nurse wasn't even left stranded - she was in the house when the incident happened, and took the dog to the vet a few days later.. presumably she had a spare key. And this week's headline is way less snappy than last week's too.

What really amazes me about this story is that last week's gem was from Chesire, and this one is set in Leeds - so it isn't just some maverick vet who's sent himself up sending in mildly amusing xrays to the Sun: there are two separate incidents of someone thinking that their dog swallowing something they weren't supposed to is interesting enough to make national news!

Anyway - hopefully the next instalment will be non-dog related, but if these xrays keep on coming, who knows?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Completely Inane Newspaper Stories Part I: Dog Eat Dog

When I came home after our university's Postgraduate Research Day (and the subsequent inevitable trip to the Senior Common Room Bar...) on Thursday night, I saw The Sun on the couch, open at the astounding headine: Dog Eats Dog.

What, you might ask, could the story be? Some new species of cannibal dog just been discovered in the Amazon? Maybe one of the 'dogs' is just a metaphor? Maybe both are? Maybe it's commentary on ruthlessness in the corporate world? No... to put it in the Sun's own words:

ALFIE the spaniel was sick as a dog after swallowing a toy pup.

Yes, that's right. Almost a full page in a national "newspaper" was devoted to the fact that a dog had swallowed a plastic toy. Now, I know that the Sun is not renowned for its in-depth coverage of topical issues, I know that it only requires a reading age of 3.5 weeks, or whatever it is, but seriously, how slow does a news day does it have to be for a dog's not-particularly-unusual eating habits to make the headlines? Yes, I know it makes for a nice headline, but so what? If they had a photograph of it, would they actually lead with 'Bear Shits in the Woods'? If I send them a video of myself pressing a shirt next week, will they run it with the caption 'Iron Man'?

I'm starting a new quest to find the most inane story I can in a national newspaper (I'm not yet sure whether to count The Metro, which, incidentally, also reported on Alfie's tragic mishap)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The worst thing about illegal drugs it that they're illegal

No, seriously... According to this article, Portugal decriminalised all drugs about 8 years ago (how I didn't know this, I have no idea) and the results have been exactly what you would expect... less drug-related crime, fewer drug related deaths, more drug addicts seeking treatment and even reduced HIV infection rates:
"Judging by every meric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."
Ok, so the Cato Institute might not exactly be the most unbiased source in the world on this topic, but the fact is that this is exactly what you would expect. Most of the problems related to illegal drugs can be traced back to the fact that they are illegal. I mean, if Ben Elton can figure it out, how difficult can it be?

Unfortunately, I can't see the Tory government that we're pretty much destined to have in the next couple of years following in the Portugese footsteps.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Young Person's Railcard Oyster Discount

This should probably be my facebook status or something, rather than an entire blog post, but I was astounded to discover this week that it is possible to get a discount on (at least.. I haven't bothered to look up the details) off-peak day travelcards on Oyster with a young person's railcard. I have so far saved about £3 since I found this out less than three days ago. Ok, so it's not a massive amount of money, but it's certainly non-trivial. In order to get this discount, all you do is go into the ticket office of any Tube station with both cards, and they'll do it for you (the Oyster card has to be registered, but that's probably a good thing to do anyway).

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this as a blog post is because it made me think: what the Hell is the student union doing? Does everyone else in the world already know this, in which case how come I'm the last to find out? If not, why on Earth is QMSU (and the NUS, for that matter) not shouting it from the rooftops? This could be saving a lot of students fairly significant sums of money, and most of them (ok... some unacceptably high percentage of them) have no idea about it. Seriously, this is probably the one useful thing the student union could have done for me in my time at QMUL (apart from my Topshop discount...), and they haven't. What are these people there for?