Posted by: Jack | April 14, 2010

Has it really been that long!?

Erm, seems I haven’t added a new blog post in almost a month. This isn’t due to a lack of ideas, but it started off as too many essays and then the Easter hols which meant I had to pack up and head back home to England. I just wanted to put in a brief post saying that I am still going to continue with this blog but unfortunately I doubt its gonna run like clockwork! Hopefully I will write an EU related post and perhaps a summary of my plans for next year (which also may cut this blog short). However do not despair as my time next year will probably get recorded on a new blog of which will get posted on here if that’s what happens!

Jack D

Posted by: Jack | March 17, 2010

Things going downhill for the hyper-president?

Looking over the last year or so, it seems that Sarkozy’s magic touch on the international scene, and even arguably in his own domestic sphere, seems to be waning. I’ve always been an avid fan of Nicolas Sarkozy ever since I was made to follow the French Presidential elections of 2007 as a project for my french class. I’m quite sure nobody else in my class of approximately 6 people were as intrigued as I was, but this was essentially the first foreign election that I had ever watched and came to understand. I remember it seeming that this election was going to be very close, which made Sarkozy’s victory look even greater. However over the past year it appears that he may be losing his flair. In contrast to 2008, where France took over the rotating presidency of the EU and the famous actions of the French president heading out to Georgia during the South Ossetia conflict and establishing diplomatic agreements and a ceasefire. His adoration by the media and his popularity overseas made Nicolas Sarkozy a force to be reckoned with. Nevertheless, the disappointing failure of the Copenhagen Climate Conference last year blighted Sarkozy’s standing. This summit gave France a chance to put out admirable ideas and targets when the conference lacked guidance. In the end, even after arriving later than the other delegations, it was left to Obama to save any chance of progress even if it was on a bilateral basis.

More recently, France’s regional elections look like they are going to be bad for the President and his party, UMP. In opposition, the Parti Socialiste after the first round of voting has quite a few safe regions whereas for the UMP it is uncertain, especially when considering that Front National has anything up to 12% of the first round vote. Adding to the disconcerting mix; the fiasco last year with Sarkozy’s son and his bid to run La Defense business district in Paris. Plus falling popularity statistics for Nicolas Sarkozy do not make for an encouraging outlook. Unless something spectacular can be done to turn around his situation within the next two years, then it seems that France’s 2012 elections may be looking at a change of administration or perhaps just a dwindling second term as President. Also, seeing as I bought one of his biographies/political books for a pound when inside its marked for 20, book sales can not be doing well! End on a positive note though. His wife, Carla Bruni? Sarkozy is the man.

Posted by: Jack | March 13, 2010

Geneva Motor Show 2010

As mentioned in a previous post, I am a bit of a fan of cars. I’ve thought that having a nice, new, top of the range car showed that things were looking good in your life so clearly I aspire to possess one of these wonderful machines! Although I’d like to point out that I’m not the car version of a trainspotter, I simply enjoy the new concepts and performance of cars coming out, and arguably even a few old ones. One of the most anticipated events of the motor industry calendar, its the Geneva Motor Show! Which means the exhibition of new supercars, evolving everyday vehicles and even a few wacky concepts chucked in here and there. There are so many cars that get shown at Geneva that I couldn’t possibly talk about all of them, therefore I’ve picked a bunch that caught my eye and peaked my interest, though however as you will see, some for better reasons than others.

Audi A1 – I’ve always been a fan of little cars and small hatchbacks so naturally the Audi A1 seemed just the sort of thing I’d like to see at Geneva. Audi looks like it seems to want to get in on the ever-increasing market for superminis/city cars etc and I don’t blame them. What with the Mini and Fiat 500 being as popular as they are, it would make sense to try and take a market share slice of the pie. On looks I think the A1 is fantastic, the typical Audi grill and headlights style have always been favourites of mine. Plus the kind of rails that run down the sides of the car look very chic. Buyers will have the choice of a 1.2 petrol or 1.4 diesel, and from what I’ve read the diesel should do at least 70 mpg. Hopefully the A1 will take off once it goes on sale, I mean sure I like the Mini and the Fiat 500, but its nice to see some diversity eh?

Peugeot SR1 – This car just looks amazing, and its a Peugeot! Peugeot haven’t really shown many gob-smacking cars before but this one looks incredible. At the moment, this roadster is only a concept but if it gets through to production then I’m sure there will be more than a few who will want to buy one. Almost in the same sense as Audi, Peugeot seem to want to diversify the range of cars that they sell, I guess this means a higher chance of making a profit, especially in such money clinching times. Suprisingly, the SR1 would have a 1.6 petrol engine on its front axle and a 96 hp electric motor on the rear axle. For starters, I’d have assumed just by looking at this car that the engine would have been alot bigger than that, and secondly I would have thought that even if it was this kind of hybrid, that the petrol engine would have been running the rear axle. However I suppose a rear-wheel drive gas-guzzling Peugeot sports car wouldn’t have done very well for its green credentials. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing the SR1 especially with a design like that!

Aston Martin Cygnet – Now this just made me laugh. The thought of Aston Martin evokes in my mind big cars, powerful engines and they normally seem very impressive. The Cygnet unfortunately is none of those things. Lets put what I said into perspective, Ok, this is an ASTON MARTIN…Now you’ve said that and looked at the picture, I think you understand what I mean. It looks as though someone has very carefully squished a Vantage in on itself. Many critics have brought up the issue of its basis on the Toyota iQ, which is definitely cheaper than the proposed 30k for the Cygnet. My verdict, bad move Aston Martin.

Nissan Juke – Here Nissan gives us the Juke. If a Qashquai and a Micra had a car baby, the Juke is the hideous creation that would be born. Nissan officials desrcibe its new mini 4×4 looks as “challenging,” I think they hit the nail on the head there. Apparently young urbanites are meant to be the poor souls who are destined to buy this vehicle, thank god I’m not one of them. This picture does not do complete justice to its design as the back looks almost as bad as the front. Plus, I am against this new category of car that has been slowing creeping in over the past few years known as SUV Crossovers and mini 4x4s, which have no specified role or reason for being. Nissan Juke? More like a Nissan Joke.

Porsche 918 Spyder – Now I’m not usually a fan of Porsches, with the exception of the Carrera GT. However I do like the look of the 918 Spyder. In looks it seems similar to the GT, which is no bad thing, but also I am astounded by its performance capabilities. This car apparently can do a lap of the Nurburging in approx 7 mins and this car is a hybrid!! Two electric motors adding 218 bhp to the car plus a V8 petrol engine has made this car even faster than the GT! Astounding. The front splitter and wheels are also nice design features on this car. The wheels look almost as if they are encased in some kind of polymer, very cool. If Porsche produce more cars like this in the future, then I’m sure that this manufacturer could become one of my favourites.

Audi RS5 – Yes, yes I’ve chosen another Audi but what can I say, I like em. Big fan of the previous RS4 model before it was changed again and liked its mix of power combined with the reliable and sturdy quattro 4-wheel drive system, hopefully the RS5 can deliver the same feeling I had with the RS4. Clearly its main rival is going to be the new BMW M3 which I hope loses to the Audi seeing as most people given the choice, in my opinion, if given the choice would pick the M3. I hope the RS5 changes that. A 4.2 litre V8 under the bonnet means that this thing is going to back a punch on both the straights and into the corners (hopefully with the handling prevailing) where its 4-wheel drive will keep it in the right place at the right time.

I went with some more normal kind of cars here to review but feel free to check out the Geneva show and see some of the weird concepts. Honda has some kind of weird 3 wheeled scooter thing that I’m guessing will be marketed as the future of travel, plus Ferrari’s lack luster hybrid sports car. Its an interesting time especially with the demand for cars to be more ‘green’ so there are more and more suprises to be found.

Posted by: Jack | February 27, 2010

Surrounded by political critics

As we all can see with the upcoming General Election in the next few months, politics is abuzz, it’s constantly filling up news channels and is splashed across the front of most newspapers (unless something new has happened to Cheryl Cole). Don’t get me wrong, being a student of politics this is all very interesting and intriguing to me what is going on in the UK political arena. However, there seems to be this increasing tendency where if there are ever 2 or more people within the proximity of something political being reported in the media; one or more of the people involved will explode into a raging barrage of insults, slander and arguments against whats being reported. Is it just me or have most of the population been infected with an extreme case of political criticism? Maybe I’m just at the epicentre of public critique. Being passionate is one thing, but I never feel inclined to defend the view of politicians, whereas some people take things of this nature very personally just as if someone insulted their mother. It’s ok, politicians are all big boys and girls and can look after themselves.

I came to this university to study politics because I wanted to study and learn in its Department of International Politics! So why must people in classes always bring in issues of domestic politics and why Gordon Brown is an idiot, almighty Satan etc. when they also decided to come and study international politics!? If I wanted to hear the deranged opinion of a ‘jumping on the band-wagon’ student conservative supporter, then I would have gone to a university with a department that ISN’T based on international relations.

In my opinion, the repetitiveness of the constant assault against each other’s parties has left me slightly dissatisfied with UK politics. I’m sick of other politicians jumping in after policy proposals are put forward, trying to cloud the judgement of the public who try to make sense of it. Maybe I’m just too neutral in my standing, perhaps that’s how things are meant to work; everyone picking a side even if there are certain things you don’t agree with it on. However I’ve always thought that by not tying myself down to a political party, I’m more open-minded and am able to examine things clearer without having to sign my voice away before it has even spoken up.

“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend” – Abraham Lincoln.

Well after all that I couldn’t really put up a quote by a UK politician now could I?

Posted by: Jack | February 23, 2010

Sometimes it all just gets a little too much

Unfortunately I haven’t added to this blog in over a week, which I am sorry about because I really want it to be a consistent and regular thing but the past two weeks increased in hectic-ness. The only thing that is consistent around here is the supply of homework I get from teachers! Then there’s a whole host of bigger assignments coming up that need to be completed, meetings, important documents to sort out, feeling ill AHHHHHH ! Sometimes these sorts of moments in life can be a bit overwhelming and I’m starting to feel like I can’t keep up with it all. Coupled with the thought that the nearest people who care about you are over 200 miles away, it’s not great at keeping your spirits up. Life always seems to want to test you, to see how resilient you are and how you cope under certain pressures. I think life is testing me a bit longer than the average person at the moment!

I know what you’re thinking, which is “Jack, life is not a person who is trying your patience, that’s just life,” and yes you are right. Bad things just have a habit of being attracted to each other, so one problem becomes five at the worst possible time imaginable! I’m really sorry I used this first blog post in over a week just for a bit of a whinge/moan/rant, normal service should resume once I get rid of this cold, toothache and my ever-increasing mountain of work!!

Maybe some more old cheesy adverts might cheer me up 🙂

Posted by: Jack | February 10, 2010

What were people thinking?

I’ve stumbled across this old Chevrolet Corvette commercial from 1984, and my jaw literally fell to the floor. What were people thinking when they decided to make this advert!? Sure, it’s from the 1980s, but boy is it cheesy. I mean, the lasers, smoke and the epic singing in the background, I know that’s probably all that they had to work with back then but come on! It gave me a bit of a giggle as it sort of portrayed the Corvette as the sort of car that someone would come back from the future in (granted having a Corvette instead of a DeLorean, would have made Back to the Future slighty more enjoyable). Will adverts of this caliber ever make a return to our screens? I sincerely hope not.

Would I have one of these cars? Damn straight I would.

(Also I do enjoy cars so there maybe some more entries on them in the future!)

Posted by: Jack | February 8, 2010

Online shopping? Out here, it’s a necessity…

Now I know that I don’t live in the middle of nowhere, however, as some of you may know, in Wales people are few and far between and the same goes for where I am. I’m not a shopping nut or anything but being a student, other than studying the whole time I need other things to keep me occupied, although only if I have a few spare quid. The town’s high street is little more than half a dozen shops, which some may say is adequate, which it is, just it doesn’t have everything. Honestly, this place is so far away from any big towns/cities that I’m suprised that we even get post everyday!

Therefore the ability to buy things across the internet is a blessing. Sure it may be old films that I got off for £1.99 each (of which I then discover why they are such a low price when I start to watch them), or a dog-eared book off of Amazon which I know will be in a sorry state but then the joys of receiving post as a student makes me forget all this when I tear open the parcel, but I’m sure it’s something that most of us take for granted from time to time.

Plus, Welsh sports stores are not going to be the biggest stocker of England Rugby shirts, and seeing as its the Six Nations at the moment, I had to buy myself an England shirt to wear while watching the match so the interweb was my first and only choice. Although I hope I don’t upset any of the locals, they take it really serious out here…

Posted by: Jack | February 7, 2010

Hello world!

Oh dear I hope I don’t mess this post up, wouldn’t be a very good start now. I’ve always wanted to start a blog but never thought I could live up to some of the great witty entries of other bloggers (of which I will also attempt to do, although sorry if any jokes or humour I try to put forward are about as funny as dirt!). I hope you any of you who actually ever read this blog like the little Parisian café scene, I thought it was a bit nice, would make me look edgy but don’t worry I’ll try to get some more colourful stuff up in the near future!  Apologies on the lack of info about myself but hopefully that will come across in my blog entries, I wanna keep this first entry short and sweet. Expect posts on subjects such as my bizarre life, whats in the news, things that catch my eye and maybe even the odd review if I’m feeling ambitious! Wish me luck and I hope you guys enjoy my blog.