The ‘Winston’: Our new £5 note

So! The Bank of England has announced that Sir Winston Churchill is planned to appear on the new design for a £5 note which will enter circulation in 2016.

A wide range of historical characters appears on the reverse of Bank of England banknotes. The current face of the £5 note is social reformer Elizabeth Fry, the only woman besides the Queen on any British banknote.

The design will include a portrait of the former prime minister, adapted from a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941. The image is one of his more famous, and his glum expression was due to his cigar being forcibly removed moments before it was taken. He is the only politician from the modern era to feature on a banknote.

The artwork will also include Churchill’s declaration “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” which came in a speech in the Commons on 13 May 1940 as well as a view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower (or Big Ben) from the South Bank. The Great Clock will show three o’clock – (the approximate time of the Commons speech) and it will also feature a background image of the Nobel Prize for literature, which Churchill was awarded in 1953.

Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England (until later this year when he is replaced by the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Mr Mark Carney) has stated;

“Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer. Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world. His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all.”

Personally, I have absolutely no problem with Sir Winston Churchill being placed on the back of a £5 note. I think that he performed admirably as a war-time Prime Minister and was an incredibly strong asset to upholding British morale.

However, I can also see the reasoning from people who don’t support the change. I have seen forums where people have despaired against his love of the British Empire but dislike of its subjects, and his abrasive personality doesn’t seem to have earned him any favours. However I equally don’t think it’s fair to compare someone who lived the prime of his life nearly 100 years ago to the modern day; his ideals and grasp of the world was deeply different from our own and I doubt that any other historical figurehead would be different. I am also tentative about a political figure being used and I hope that this doesn’t open the floodgates up to other Prime Ministers being placed on Bank notes undeservedly.

I think that the people who feature on our currency should also be easily recognisable as British icons. I mean, I looked at the backs of £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes just before writing this post and could only name Charles Darwin from the back of the £10. I’d never heard of Elizabeth Fry (£5), Adam Smith (£20) or of Matthew Boulton (£50) and although I know of James Watt (also £50), I couldn’t pick him out from his picture.

Putting someone like Churchill on the back of the notes fits the exact purpose of having the funny little pictures; it promotes British History and culture. People will see it and think, look at the grumpy old British bulldog. If only we all still had his fighting spirit.

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Post Script:
I also think its quite funny to imagine the new note as being nicknamed a ‘Winston’. I mean, how quintessentially British can you get?

Post-Post Script 03/05/13:
I have just came accross a book entitled : ‘Churchill Style: The Art of Being Winston Churchill’.
I have a burning desire to acquire said book and store it on a shelf where I can admire its name for decades to come.

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Bringing the Law to Life: The only way is ethics

Law webinar 17/04/13: Bringing the Law to Life: The only way is ethics.

So I just took part in my first ever ‘webinar’ focusing on ethics and the way they interact with the law. It really was interesting stuff and I can’t thank the University of Law enough for putting it on.

It got me thinking about a bunch of different scenarios such as the way we judge achievement in society (does a footballer deserve their wages compared to a nurse, or a soldier?), the ethical ramifications surrounding assisted suicide, and the possible benefits of animal testing compared with the likelihood of animal cruelty developing.

As each point began, I found myself re-thinking opinions I thought I was sure of. For instance, while I began feeling that so long as animal testing if for medicinal purposes rather than cosmetic purposes, then the gains outweigh the negatives, however then it was mentioned that no matter how much we know, before testing, could always bring unexpected results which could (and most likely does) lead to animal cruelty. While this has challenged my earlier disposition, I think I still support animal testing given the right conditions. I suppose I’m a bit of a utilitarian; the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

I will most definitely be taking some of the ideas and points to my debating and philosophical discussion groups (and that probably made me sound more pretentious than I intended it to). We have already discussed euthanasia, but animal testing and the wages issue will be very interesting topics.

The subject of confidentiality was also brought up, and whether or not it was right to continue to act for a defendant even if you knew they were guilty. I was surprised that it was a 65/35 split in favour of continuing to defend the defendant; I thought more people would disagree with me and say it was morally wrong to defend someone you know is guilty. I don’t know why, but the argument that if you defend someone you know committed a crime (such as murder) and then succeed in getting them ‘off’ you are then letting a murderer on to the street doesn’t seem to have much actual standing. I think that the clause of confidentiality is one that should be protected, almost beyond all others. An example I used is, my Doctor treats me with complete confidentiality  and I wouldn’t like my Doctor breaking it, so why should a lawyer?

I found the interactivity of the webinar fantastic. I don’t know if anyone has ever taken part in one of these things, but they are brilliant. The ability to respond to incorporate the opinions of people watching is something I hope to see again in the future.
Tom Sykes, you more than likely won’t ever actually read this, but thanks a lot for putting the webinar on in conjunction with the University of Law’s Future Lawyers Network. It really was interesting and, as much as this might appear blasphemy, considerably better than watching a recorded episode of Poirot (as I was at 6:27 when I remembered the webinar started at 6:30).

Genuinely can’t wait until next time!

Post Script:
For those who were wondering what the webinar was like, here is a YouTube link to a video of it.
http://youtu.be/NgDbHK0FkV8

Europa Universallis 3: England 1399 to 1589

Is it just me, or are games based on Alternative Histories just brilliant?

Let’s take Europa Universallis 3. In my current campaign, starting at 1395, its been about 155 years and England has used Colonialism to conquer most of the Northern and Western Africa as well as a chunk of Eastern South America. I also control parts of Northern France (Brittany and Calais). It’s funny the way things work out. The English Empire is growing larger than it ever actually did.
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Here be England – you’ll see I’ve left Scotland alone to the North, but for political reasons I have also been forced to leave parts of Ireland unconquered. 

Unfortunately, Portugal beat me to most of the available areas on the coast of eastern North America, but using my place in South America, I’m going to try and take the area where Mexico would be and dominate the southern hemisphere. I don’t fancy a war with one of the largest nations in the world which has been a loyal ally for over a century and a half, so I’ll leave Portugal be as long as possible. In a couple more years, I should be able to integrate the Spanish Crown into my own and combine our Empires – makes me wish I hadn’t blocked Spanish expansion in the Americas.

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Here are my few possessions in Continental Europe. Luckily, France isn’t too bothered about Brittany or its Western Coast. But by God they don’t half want Calais back.

So, what’s my diplomacy looking like you might ask? Well I am allied to Spain, Portugal and a couple smaller nations across Europe. France hates us, the African nations don’t trust us and most of Europe don’t care about us. Brittany keeps demanding the ‘return’ of Calais, even though four successive wars over it have failed. Scotland is proving to be something of an oddity. They quite like us, and we have a Royal Marriage, however they refuse to accept any closer diplomatic relations. The only way I will be able to form Great Britain is by taking them over through war, however they are allied to France and I think another nation in Europe – I’d rather not lose my foothold in France just yet, which would most likely happen if I started a war on two fronts.

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As you can see, I also hold pretty much the entirety of the African West Coast. I also hold the tip of the South, and parts of Madagascar. I’m planning on using it as a jumping point between myself and Asia, but don’t tell them!

Financially and technologically we aren’t doing too well. Our tech is lacking behind the other leading European Nations by a few levels which could be important should we ever go to war. The English treasury isn’t exactly low, but it’s weak and could be considerably increased if I didn’t need to fund such a large empire for the time period. I think my lack of decent tech is the reason I’ve only been making minimal increases in Northern Europe – if we were equal, I have little doubt Burgundy would now be within my grasp.

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I’m also a majority shareholder in South America. This means not only to I have the monopoly on slaves from Africa, but also tobacco, gold and sugar cane!

Next step troubles?
France and Burgandy – I have a feeling Calais is going to cause more strife in the later half of the 16th Century. I am also in a predicament in I don’t know if I should integrate Spain, or risk it and hope I eventually inherit the entire country. As it is, I am going to try and avoid war for as long as possible – I am technologically outmatched and as such I think its far more profitable for me to keep investing in a large colonial Empire. South-North America is under my control, Portuguese expansion is slowing and I hold more of South America and Africa than any other state.

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And here is the jewel of my Empire. My very large North American colonies. Sure, they kick up a fuss every few decades, and wheat (their primary product) isn’t too useful, but it gives a huge base of operations in the West. Okay, it’s not that useful. I just want to make sure 1776 never happens. Pity Portugal got in there and snapped up the 13 colonies before I even knew what was happening.

Overall, I’d say the future looks bright for the English. And this is a bloody good game.

Post Script:
I should get around to actually reviewing this game soon. Its somewhere on the list anyway.

UK Ball takes USA Ball’s advice. Sort of.

Just in case you haven’t heard of CountryBall’s before, these are the personification of Countries (often based on stereotypes). The UKBall has a monocle and a top hat, USABall wears sunglasses, FranceBall sometimes smokes or drinks wine, AustraliaBall wears one of those hat things (forgive the ignorance please – kudos to anyone who knows what theya are actually called) ect ect. They really are quite funny, and the talented artists really do make them look fantastic.

Despite being an abysmal artist, I decided I’d have a go and make a cartoon myself.

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And so ends my first attempt at one of the CountryBall things which have sprouted up over the last few months. Naturally, the UKBall is my favourite. Just look at the top hat!

Doctor Who S7 EP7 – The Bells of Saint John Review

Doctor Who – Series 7 – Episode 7
The Bells of Saint John Review – Beware Spoilers!

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Writer: Stephen Moffat
Director: Colm McCarthy

“I’m ever so fond of Alexi, but my conscious tells me we should kill him”
“I’ll inform HR”
“Actually, he’s about to go on holiday. Do it when he gets back. Let’s not be unreasonable.”

And so the Clara plot thickens! At least we get to see her actually starting to travel with the Doctor rather than dying at the end of the episode (although there were a couple of close saves).

The Story
I thought the story was a reasonable idea. The linking of the story to the modern day, with fears over the extent of technology, was an inspired choice. But this episode was written by Stephen Moffat – his episodes should be brilliant ideas. I know I’m not alone in thinking that some of Mr Moffat’s more recent stories have been average at best, particularly last series. However, I don’t think this episode being average was a fault of Moffat – most opening episodes suffer in the same fashion; establishing Clara is more important than establishing an amazing story. Although, the addition of the Great Intelligence, a throwback to the Classic Era is one of the reasons I like Moffat’s leadership. The fact it is regarded as the ‘client’, but ended up controlling Miss Kizlet – I can’t wait to see where they take the GI next.

The Acting
Matt Smith was on top form as usual here – it’s almost as if he’s been doing this for years! The youthful joy which Matt exuberates really does add another dimension to the show. Jenna Louise-Coleman fits perfectly into her role, although I wouldn’t say it was exactly a new role for her by now! I enjoyed her throughout the episode, but I thought her ability to really grow was limited by the fact we had to have yet another episode where her character had to be established. I think the relationship which is developing between The Doctor and Clara is looking good, it’s a little early to call yet though, so I’m not sure on where they are going to go. Personally, there were moments when it was a tad to flirty for me – okay, it’s kind of funny to see Eleven react to people flirting with him, but I think its tired and Doctor Who should lose the Doctor/Companion romance element which has developed post-2005. The only other main acting to discuss is that of Celia Imrie aka Miss Kizlet. I thought she did a brilliant job when it came to pretending to be a child, also her casual indifference to her employees and nonchalant attitude to “hacking” people also came across as a really promising enemy – but I think she was underused in the episode, again, so Clara could be established as a character.

The Enemy
The Spoonheads/Servers didn’t do anything for me to be honest. I found them too similar to the nodes from the series 4 episodes Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. Overall they didn’t get much screen time, we didn’t find anything out about them and they just seem rather dull. The Great Intelligence on the other hand made a nice cameo appearance – can’t wait to see where it goes from here, they are clearly building up to something, presumably that we are going to have to wait until the finale to find out what it is. I just hope they keep using Richard E. Grant – he was criminally underused in the Christmas Special.

The Ending
It was pretty typical of opening episodes really. Exited companions, Exuberant Doctor, vanquished enemies. It’s all pretty substandard really. I don’t know about you, but I saw the spoonheads being involved. Must say though, the scene with Miss Kizlet when the influence of the Intelligence was gone was really strong – I think it was a snippet of the level of control we have yet to see. Also, something I’ve been wondering about is the recurrence of UNIT since this series began. A sign of things to come perhaps?

Conclusion
Well. It was a nice enough story, but I wouldn’t say it was a brilliant episode. I enjoyed it throughout, but I couldn’t help feel it was a little generic. Then again, it has been for a while with a change in companions. I hope one day we might get an alien companion, or one from the future. Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly memorable either. The first mention of the ‘Snog box’ was funny, but when it came to the second and the “romantic tension” between Clara and the Doctor it irritated me. It’s like River Song Jr.

“Why are we travelling by motorbike?”
“Because I don’t take the TARDIS into battle”
“Why? Because it’s made of wood?”

Episode rating:
Acting: 8/10
Enemy: 5/10 (And its only that high because the Great Intelligence made an appearance)
Storyline: 7/10
Ending: 8/10

Average: 7/10

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Post Script:
Full ratings data for the week ending 31st March 2013 is now available and puts Doctor Who: The Bells of Saint John as the eighth most watched programme in the UK for the week. The episode achieved 8.44 million viewers had 35.8% share of the available Television audience.
On Saturday 30th March, Doctor Who was the highest rated programme getting 120,000 more viewers than Ant and Dec’s Saturday Takeaway, even though the ITV programme had a later start time.

On iPlayer The Bells of Saint John has so far been accessed over 1.4 million times.

News Flash! Batman: Arkham Origins

Beware fans of the Arkham Series, this news flash will contain information as to the up-and-coming game Arkham Origins!

Warner Bros. has announced the next title in the Batman: Arkham franchise, currently in development for the PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. It’s currently slated for release on October 25 this year, but there’s no mention of the game appearing on next-gen consoles. I think it’s more than likely that the game will be released on both current and next gen consoles.

The game, which is the subject of Game Informer’s latest cover (see image below), will not be developed by Rocksteady this time around, instead being worked on in-house at Warner Bros. Games Montreal. The new development team will be using many of the assets that Rocksteady has used in the past, including its Unreal engine to try and avoid any discrepancies in the aesthetic of the franchise.

The game will apparently take place long before both of the existing Arkham titles, when a young and inexperienced Batman will encounter many villains for the first time. Deathstroke will be one such foe, making his Arkham game debut.

Personally, I am incredibly excited for this game. Arkham Asylum and City are two of my favourite games and I think they are two of the best superhero games on the market. It does slightly worry me that Rocksteady are not at the helm for this one, but they seem to be confident In WB Montreal, hence why they are allowing the use of the Unreal engine. I’m also glad screenshots have seen Penguin will feature in the game (one of my favourite Batman villans) and I hope Scarecrow and Riddler appear again.

Can’t help but wonder if Joker will be making an appearance considering he isn’t, you know, dead anymore. I’m not sure if he should though. As amazing as the Joker was, I think a lot of it was down to Mark Hamill’s brilliant voice acting, and with him not doing it anymore, I hope they find someone equally brilliant to take his place.

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