Category Archives: Wednesday’s Got Issues

Wednesday’s Got Issues : Angelina Jolie is Living Up to Her Name

Today’s post can only be about Angelina Jolie’s decision to speak about her double mastectomy. The statement has met with widespread admiration and support, and has inspired others in the spotlight, such as Barbara Walters, to come forward about their own decisions to prevent cancer through elective surgery. Who knows quite how many people will choose to take the test to determine their genetic susceptibility to cancer now that the issue is being more widely spoken of.
The addition of Jolie’s status as a sex symbol adds a whole new dimension to the story, as a woman known so often thought of as an object has chosen to alter what is arguably her most bankable asset for the sake of herself and her family. Jolie’s reputation as a de facto angel can only increase after this move, and hopefully it will help to change the perception of women as a body to be scrutinised. If women who would previously have been hesitant to consider such a radical treatment, due to the stigma associated with female perfection, can now see the infinite benefits that come with knowing that your chances of cancer are significantly reduced. That is not to say that it isn’t an incredibly difficult and life altering decision that is certain to have an overwhelming emotional effect, but hopefully Jolie’s choice will give people the sense that they are not alone in their plight, and make people realise that this horrific illness can happen to anyone-even them.
I know that I will be researching the availability of a test to determine the presence of the cancer gene in the UK, and I hope that others are as well. F*ck cancer.

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Wednesday’s Got Issues : Coachella Hipsters Are a Nice Distraction

There are a lot of unsettling stories floating around this week and there’s not much that I can add to make a full blog post worthwhile, so instead I’m going to refer back to a fail safe coping mechanism for bad news : funny YouTube videos! In between reading about unemployment, collapsed buildings and the after effects of terrorism, it’s nice to know that one can always rely on a hipster to provide some comic relief. See below for a segment on Jimmy Kimmel in which Coachella attendees are asked for their opinions on non-existent bands

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Wednesday’s Got Issues : NZ Shows That Love is Louder

Most people who know me, know that I have a particular love for New Zealand. I once lived and studied there, and completely fell in love with it’s beautiful landscape, people and culture. I realise that banging on about it all the time can be a bit annoying, but today I feel that I am justified in mentioning it. Today the NZ parliament passed a bill for marriage equality – which is excellent in itself – but it was the reaction from the gallery upon hearing the news that had me crying.

The woman in the striped shirt is Louisa Wall, the openly gay MP who sponsored the bill. Louisa, well done you!

They are singing Pokarekare Ana, a Maori love song.

P.S. If someone wants to buy me a one-way plane ticket back to Wellington, I’d be mightily pleased.

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Wednesday’s Got Issues : Come on America, keep up

Over the last few days I’ve seen a lot of chatter about DOMA, and the fact that the US government is debating whether to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law in 1996 by Bill Clinton. Recently the UK government legalised gay marriage, and there are some states who have already allowed people to express their love as equal citizens, but from what I understand the repeal of the act would mean that gays would be allowed to marry nationwide, overruling any statewide laws (Please correct me if I’m wrong).

My new favourite website, BuzzFeed, has been posting articles depicting both sides of the argument, but one in particular caught my attention. Pictures of young people who oppose gay marriage holding signs explaining their reasoning. Unsurprisingly most of them mention God, a few of them are having trouble with spelling and some of them seem brainwashed and lack an understanding of the issue. The surprising part is the very fact that they are young and educated, two factors that generally indicate an open and accepting mind. I have met very few young homophobes, maybe it’s because I don’t tend to associate with the kind of people who hate my friends.

But it just seemed jarring that there are people in younger generations who are yet to move on from the restrictive outlook of the past. I’m guessing that the main reason for this is America’s refusal to separate religion and the state, their people are repeatedly told that the laws of their country must reflect those written thousands of years ago by a supposed deity, whether they worship said deity or not. To me, it seems like fairly immature way of living, the kind of attitude that I last encountered at school when trying to work out how to fit in with the cool kids. Thankfully I got over that, hopefully one day the USA will too.

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Wheelchairs can bungee too


It’s not exactly a big issue, watching Christine Rougoor bungee jump in her wheelchair, but it is fucking awesome. And it does help to raise awareness of the 9Lives Adventures project, which helps disabled people to engage in unique experiences that may not otherwise have been possible for them to do.

If you want to find out more about them go to


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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Politicians act like, well, politicians

Warm, meaty, expensive goodness

Today the main topic of conversation seems to be Cornish pasties and petrol, as the government announced plans to increase VAT on hot convenience food, and told everyone to panic buy petrol in case of a strike. Not only are Cameron’s cronies insisting that the already struggling working class must pay for their comfort food, but we must also keep containers filled with flammable liquid at hand at all times. As usual it seems that a government does not have the best interests of the populace at heart.

Watching 10 O’Clock Live this evening, the pasty tax seemed to be characterised as an attempt to curb people’s waistlines and ease the pressure on the (now fucked) NHS. But making people pay an extra 20p for a Gregg’s pie doesn’t seem to be the most effective way to encourage people to lose weight. I would suggest more community exercise programmes, better diet education in schools, or make healthy food cheaper – the amount of times as a student that I chose 8p Tesco Value noodles over a £2 salad is really quite embarrassing.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Francis Maude is facing criticism over his advice to keep a jerry can (a large container with a capacity of 20l) full of petrol in our garages, to prepare for an upcoming strike, though the date has yet to be decided. This led to huge queues outside most petrol garages today, as people took the government’s advice and started to panic. This created chaos among the petrol suppliers, who struggled to keep up with demand, and may face further issues in the future.

Basically, it seems to boil down to politicians acting before thinking. Which should hardly come as a surprise to us, seeing as we are currently being ruled by an unequal coalition government full of such conflicting ideals that, in the only laws that they have managed to pass, they are the only ones in the country who support it. I give you the astronomic hike in tuition fees as an example of both how little thought there is for younger generations, or indeed pre-election promises, within 10 Downing Street.

I would quite like it if they could do something that the majority of people actually agreed with for once. I won’t hold my breath.

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Charity swim/run/head shave/I think I’ll just text in a donation

Surprised by a razor, perhaps?

Disclaimer: I’m about to look like a bad person, I promise you that I am not, and will make up for this lack of moral character tenfold in the future.

This week I am reminded of how much more I could do to help people by Sport Relief, and the myriad of shows leading up to tomorrow night that have detailed the grueling tasks performed by celebrities in the name of charity. David Walliams swam the Thames, John Bishop cycled/rowed/ran from Paris to London, and Helen Skelton CYCLED to the SOUTH. POLE. I mean, blimey, it really puts my £5 text donation into perspective.

And just this week, Jessie J announced that she will shave her head to raise money for teenage cancer charities in April. I still haven’t got over having my long tresses cut into a bob 18 months ago (it’s still too short), it really does put me to shame.

So what am I going to do about it? Well…for the moment, not much. Other than dreaming about volunteering in Africa, I’m ill-equipped to do anything that stretches my already exhausted bank account. And, while I wouldn’t mind doing something for charity, the idea of fundraising fills me with dread – what if no one sponsored me? So tomorrow night I will send in my (already budgeted) donation to help vulnerable people both here in the UK and all over the world.

If you would like to do the same, or find out more about Sport Relief and the brilliant work that it does, click on this link:

Here’s hoping that next year, I’ll have both the means and courage to raise enough money to cure world hunger. You never know. It could happen. Watch this space.


[Image via]

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Kony or Con?

Today, I am one of the almost 10 million people who have watched the Kony2012 video (see below), in which an American based organisation detail their attempts to halt the atrocities committed in Uganda by Joseph Kony and his army, the LRA. It has been widely documented, but not reported by Western media, that they have abducted, raped, murdered or enslaved thousands of people, particularly children, and the Kony2012 people want it to stop. Which is perfectly understandable, the unimaginable horrors committed by Kony and his gang have scarred a generation of Ugandans but received little media attention. I freely admit that until today I had never heard of him or the LRA, and that is my fault for not educating myself better about the world today.

After watching the video, like many others I immediately went to the Kony2012 website and registered my support, then I had a quick look at their merchandise shop – designed to help spread the word through posters, t-shirts and bracelets, among other things – and on an impulse I bought a snazzy looking shirt and one of their bracelets. Don’t ask me why, I plead brainwashing. I don’t generally think of myself as easily led or gullible (but then, no gullible person does), but 5 minutes after hitting the ‘Pay’ button, I was shocked by how quickly I had just spent money, based on a 30 minute video. So I did a little more research on the TRI people (who are behind the movement) and was surprised at how easily I found articles talking about the questionable nature of the organisation, who seem to have created a movement through snappy video editing and an adorable 5 year old who doesn’t understand that there are bad people outside of Star Wars.

Some articles that I found interesting can be found here (there are plenty more to be found via Google):

I want to make it clear that I support the efforts of governments and international organisations who are trying to capture Kony and bring him to justice. But I am wary of a campaign that is light on information and heavy on emotion, I got so caught up in it all that I actually gave them money, and that scares me.

Something else that I find worrying is that, 10 minutes after I placed my order I tried to cancel it by clicking on the links provided on the store website. Every single one led to an error page. Luckily I was able to find a relevant email on another of their websites, and hopefully I will get a refund for my stupidity soon, but I am becoming less and less supportive of a movement whose only goal seems to be to create a world of hipster clones with a cause about which they know very little. I’m glad that I came to my senses, I don’t know why my cynicism alarm didn’t trip sooner. We live and learn.

That’s not to say that I’ll never do anything for charity again, it’s just that I am going to be a little bit more careful in the future and use one of the websites below to verify where my cash ends up.

If you want to make up your own mind, watch the video or click on the link below:

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Syrians are massacred and the UN doesn’t care

Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik

This week it seems that everyone has begun to talk about the unrest in Syria, particularly in the city of Homs, but that’s all that they are doing, talking. I’m not going to pretend to know all of the details regarding why President Assad is murdering his own people, or even why the UN and various governments seem reluctant to take action against a violent dictator. However, as I recall, the action against Colonel Gaddhafi was a lot more decisive and swift, and I refuse to believe that any governing body can think that it is preferential to do nothing.

Today the main story has been the deaths of American journalist, Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, an undeniably tragic occurrence for people who strived to tell the stories of those without a voice. Hopefully the high profile nature of this news story will spur the authorities into action against Assad, who, according to Colvin’s final report, has been purposely attacking densely populated civilian areas and refusing to allow anyone to leave. However, it should not be the sad deaths of two dedicated professionals that inspire our world’s leaders to aid the suffering Syrians, the very fact that a government was murdering their own people should have been enough.

As I understand it, the hesitation is due to the strong Syrian army, powerful position of the country’s leader and, probably, it’s ownership of oil (please correct me if I’m wrong). But the fact that it may be a challenge to overcome a terrible regime should not be a deterrent. Many Syrians have died in their efforts to attain freedom, and their sacrifice should not be in vain. Call me crazy, but the entire United Nations against one administration doesn’t sound like much of a fight. I can’t understand what they are waiting for, do they think that a homicidal tyrant is simply going to stop his vengeful attack? Or are they waiting for all of the dissidents to be murdered and for the country to return to a dictatorship, so that they can return to the more important matter of rewarding the bankers that caused a global recession?

Hopefully our world leaders will grow a backbone soon, for the sake of the Syrian people.

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Education counts for nothing.

As I’m typing today’s post I’m listening to BBC 5 Live’s unemployment debate, broadcast this morning. It is difficult to decide whether it’s more or less depressing to hear that so many other people are going through the same thing as me, graduates and others searching for jobs over a period of months and years to no avail. A number of people are discussing the utter uselessness of job centres, and I have been reaffirmed in my decision not to sign on – it was repeatedly said that job centres have no idea how to deal with graduates. I think the main reason for this has to be the preconceived idea that going to university is an ironclad guarantee of a well paid job, it seems that job centres are equipped to deal with the uneducated, and even then they’re useless. Ever since I can remember a degree has been a non-negotiable part of my life. I never thought about any other options, university was always the plan. I enjoyed my education and was generally placed in the top sets, so it seemed like a natural progression: if you are thought of as smart, you go to university. I wonder if the next generation will think the same, factoring in the astronomical rise in tuition fees, and I envy them. The teenagers of today are becoming more exposed to the availability of apprenticeships and training programmes that offer a cheaper and more stable alternative, as degrees become less of a certain route into satisfactory employment. They are much more aware of their options than I ever was.

Admittedly, my degree is not the best foundation for a vocation. A 2:1 in European Literature and Cultural Studies provided me with excellent skills in researching and persuasive writing, and my year abroad in New Zealand left me with a brilliant ability to adapt and problem solve the most trying of situations. But friends of mine who studied Geology are currently looking at jobs in exotic places with a starting salary of £75000, while I am left to apply for 12 month internships in which my only wage is expenses of £5 a day. And that is the one thing that the debate has not touched on, the rise in vacancies described as internships or work experience, in which you are expected to do a job for nothing. A recent movement discussed on (one of the many jobsites that I visit multiple times every day), has highlighted the exploitation of companies who use people desperate for experience, yet don’t reward them for the valuable contribution that they make. As I understand it, work experience is defined as a shadowing programme, you don’t actually undertake any significant duties but rather gain first hand knowledge of an industry. I accept that internships are different, but from what I’ve seen in vacancies advertised over the last 8 months, it is generally equivalent to the work of an admin/communications assistant, which in other vacancies warrants a salary upwards of £15000. During an internship which I undertook last year, during which I learnt a huge amount and thoroughly enjoyed myself, I received no renumeration whatsoever. And from what I saw, the majority of the legwork was done by the team of interns who assisted the permanent staff. That is not to say that the permanent staff did nothing, they worked very hard and took the time to teach us a lot of skills, however I don’t think that the festival that was organised would have been possible without the work of the interns, and yet we received very little.

I understand that internships are a necessary part of gaining experience, and I am so glad that I was able to undertake one myself, but there are times when the expectations seem a little unrealistic. Could someone explain to me exactly how I’m supposed to live in London and support myself for the entirety of a 12 month contract, in which I am only paid minimal expenses, or nothing at all? The only reason that I was able to support myself during my internship was that it was based in Cambridge, where I was able to stay at my family’s home. It is just not possible to manage for an entire year, in London, without at least minimum wage. A few months, yes, but not much longer than that. The bank of Mum and Dad will not extend that far.

So I am continuing with endless job applications, hoping that one day someone will see that I am employable, and maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones. If not, it’s down to the job centre, degree in hand, where I expect I’ll be viewed with the same indifference that is extended to everyone who comes through the door.


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