writing-enhacement platforms and the like

Some weeks back, we (meaning me and my English class) were given the opportunity to download Grammarly for free! Now, if you don’t know what Grammarly is, let me explain it to you.

It was founded in 2009 and is a writing-enhancement platform. What it does is proofread texts and detect plagiarism while using – wait for it – grammar rules. You get the name of it now.We were lucky to receive a full version. While a free download is available, you have to pay some cash money to receive all the tools and features, the full on luxury experience. And it’s worth it.

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predictions and parties (not the fun kind)

Oh my god, the UK general election is TODAY! Oh, I have to make sure to watch it. It will be so gripping and compelling; I almost can’t breathe, that’s how excited I am!

No, that’s not the truth.

See, it’s not as if I don’t care at all about politics. I mean, that’s a lot of what we focus on in this English class, not to mention I have Politics and Human Rights as well. If I thought politics was the single most boring thing in the world, I don’t know how I would have survived having it for 9-10 hours every single week. So. I do care. To some degree.

I have paid some attention, of course. I know the biggest British parties, I know the more controversial British parties and I know what has been predicted. Most of the predictions are pretty similar; the Conservatives are thought to have a slight decrease in their number of seats. From 302 (their current number) to around 270-280. Labour is thought to have an increase from 256 to around 260-270, thereby making the competition neck-in-neck. The most controversial of the lot, UKIP, is thought to either decrease from two seats to one, or maybe increase to three (for such a tiny party, they surely do irritate a lot of people).

Well. UKIP is actually one of the bigger parties when it comes to percentage of supporters; it’s the system that relegates them to the second largest party in a lot of places. The one guaranteed seat for UKIP is thought to be Douglas Carswell’s, according to the London School of Economics.

It is also thought that the two largest parties will experience a lack of votes from one third of the voters; they will vote for parties smaller than the big two. The most interesting part is; David Cameron could possibly lose his position as Prime Minister. If so he’ll have to give the crown to Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Labour Party. Cameron has been the British Prime Minister since 2010 and I feel he’ll probably want to hold on to the title. I think he could manage it. We can only wait and see.

SOURCES

Dette er den viktigste grafen for å forstå det britiske valget

Election 2015: The Guardian Poll Projection

Election Forecast

a missing girl and the war against terror

Joyce Carol Oates, author of novels such as Black Water, What I Lived For and Blonde, all nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, released Carthage in 2014. The novel tells of a missing girl and the community’s search for her. The possibility of a murder is awoken when the car of an Iraq War veteran with close ties to the family is discovered to have her hair and blood in it. A wounded corporal, a complex family pattern and the atrocities of war are explored in Carthage.

I’ll be honest – I haven’t read much of it, though the book has been in my possession for weeks now. From what I have read, however, I have encountered the Mayfield family whose youngest daughter is missing and been introduced to the young veteran Brett Kincaid in glimpses. The book is set in 2005, just a few years following the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, a time when young men were passionate and determined to participate in the war against terror. Of course, not everything is as easy as it seems. While many went home with scars on their bodies, the scars in their minds were deeper. We’ve all heard of soldiers coming home traumatized, many with PTSD. There are also high chances for military veterans to commit suicide after coming home; studies have shown that veteran suicides are twice as high as civilian suicides. I do find this topic interesting and I hope Carthage explores it in an interesting yet respectful way.

SOURCES

Veteran Suicides Twice as High as Civilian Rates

human compassion and a prevalent message

I just finished watching the movie Pride and… can I just say; BLESS. Oh, bless this film. I might have become quite emotional at the end. Scratch that, very emotional.

ANYWAY, the film raised questions as well as answered them. Why was LGSM started? Why did gay and lesbian activists decide to help the miners when the relationship between these groups weren’t all too great? Well, I guess one ill-treated group can find a community in another ill-treated group. And maybe they can support each other eventually. Because of human compassion, I guess. That was how it evolved in this case. Many miners decided to return the favor by supporting gay and lesbian rights. The film tells us a bill was passed in favor the Labor Party supporting LGBT equality rights, partly because of great support from the National Union of Mineworkers.

Also, since the film was based on true events, they featured characters based on real people; Sian James, Jonathan Blake and Mark Ashton were singled out. While Sian James and Jonathan Blake are still alive today, it was revealed that Mark Ashton died of AIDS at the age of 26. The eighties were a tough period for gay men. Public opinion of them sunk since people were afraid of being infected by merely interacting with them. Thousands of men died and it is still a prevalent fear to this day. Jonathan Blake was the second man in the UK diagnosed with this illness and is alive today at the age of 65.

The miners lost eventually. Around a year after the strike started it stopped and the miners went back to work.  Thatcher was still Prime Minister and the distaste for her hadn’t diminished in any way. The gay and lesbian activists continued fighting, but the focus went on the rights they themselves needed. The world went back to normal. There was a definite change, however, and the two communities had each other’s backs.

Wow. What do I have to say except… wow. A sad and tough film to watch yet sprinkled with humor and heart and a prevalent message; that support and community is the most important and it can break down prejudice. That’s what the film is trying to tell us and I think it succeeded.

coal mines and gay activists

So we’re watching a movie in half an hour, the movie in question being Pride. I’m excited. It’s actually been on my to-watch list for a few months now and I’m always interested in movies featuring LGBT characters (though I think this one comprises of the L and the G only).

For anyone unaware of the plot; U.K gay activists support miners during the National Union of Mineworkers’ strike in 1984. Basically.

The strike came to fruition during Margaret Thatcher’s regime. Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, Thatcher was a controversial figure. Known as the Iron Lady for her leadership style and unyielding politics, she garnered intense distaste among some groups in society, especially the working class. The distaste grew and the triggering reason among the miners was when the government announced their intention to close down 20 coal mines and eventually closing down 70 pits. March of 1984, mass walk-outs and strikes occured following this disclosure and the strike lasted for a year. It’s been referred to as “the most bitter industrial dispute in British history”.

During the strike, the miners received support from the alliance LGSM (Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners). They raised money for the strikers’ families and in return many mining groups participated and supported gay pride events. And thirty years after the strike began, a film was released depicting these events.

SOURCES

1984: The beginning of the end for British coal 

Margaret Thatcher: Britain’s Iron Lady

from tangible to technological

The British General Election that is going to be held on the 7th of May has been the subject of much discussion. Some feel that the system is outdated while others argument for the process, claiming that it’s safe and revamping it would be unneccessary.

The world in 2015 is largely characterized by technology now more than ever. In 1950, 83,9% of the electorate cast a ballot, making it the biggest general election turnout in British history, while in 2010 the percentage was only 65.1. This has led to many arguments for a voting process that is geared towards the youth and directed towards technology, perhaps with an app or a website.

On the other side, many feel transferring the process from tangible to technological could allow for errors and mistakes. The values of tradition and British history are also being focused on by the defense group. Not to mention, since many young voters participated in the Scottish referendum, the argument for a technological process seems irrelevant.

In conclusion, while the opposition force seems to be growing stronger, it’s quite clear that the current system will remain. We’ll have to see what the future will hold.

Khadi and Belisa

SOURCES

Are British general elections stuck in the 1950s?

controversial statements and the general election

Yesterday: Ban the jobless from driving to ease congestion, Ukip candidate says. Obviously this is a controversial statement. Not very surprising, though. Ukip representatives manage to utter these kind of statements seemingly every day. Who can forget Kerry Smith’s leaked phone calls and Ukip leader’s Nigel Farage wish to join forces with Russia. Believe me; there are plenty of those.

On 7th of May, the United Kingdom is having their general election. Now, Ukip is not a big party (they only have two seats), but they did win the fourth most votes during the 2010 election and it is predicted that their seat gain is almost guaranteed. The real competition is between the Conservatives, the largest single party currently in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, and the Labours. 303 and 257 are their current seats in the House of Commons. However, we can’t ignore the fact that Ukip placed first in the 2014 European Elections.

While Ukip is laden with problematic statements and a subject of much loathing, it does have supporters and is growing year by year.

UK opinion polling 2010-2015.png

This chart shows opinion polling for the general election from 2010 to the predictions in the future. The purple line represents Ukip. It variates through the months, but the rise of the party is quite clear. Maybe in some years from now Ukip will be a substantial competitor to the Conservatives and the Labours? In my case, I hope not.

 

 

Sources

Ban the jobless from driving to ease congestion, Ukip candidate says

Farage’s golden boy’s rant at ‘pooftahs’, ‘Chigwell Peasants’ and ‘Chinky bird’: Astonishing leaked phone calls expose outbursts of Ukip man sent in to replace Neil Hamilton

Nigel Farage: Stop opposing Vladmir Putin in Ukraine and join forces to defeat Islamic terrorists

European Elections: UKIP Tops British Polls