Saturday, August 13, 2011

What REALLY caused the London riots?

Not enough welfare. Too much welfare. Disaffected youth. Opportunistic thieves.Racial tensions. The shooting of Mark Duggan. Bad parents. The Middle East. Poor police presence. Twitter and Blackberry. Consumerist culture. The Tories. Anxiety over this season's Doctor Who.


Depending on which news article you read, these are all things that have been attributed to the London riots. The only thing that anyone can really agree on is that it's incredibly difficult to tell what exactly the main factor was. I think I've figured it out though. It was my fault. Looking back, I should have seen this coming. There were numerous hints I should have picked up on but didn't. For this, I apologize.

If you want, you can have this kitten.

But you weren't in Britain during the riots.

I know. Let me explain myself.

On May 18th, 2010 a Royal Bank of Canada branch was firebombed in Ottawa. At this point I had been out of Canada for eight months. This was the precursor to the the G20 protests that started on June 17th, 2010, culminating in riots in Toronto on June 26th and 27th. Notably, when I flew back to Canada on June 2nd, my flight did not have a layover in Toronto. Torontonians, I'm sorry. The direct flight was cheaper. Next time, I'll take your feelings into account.

While I was living in Glasgow (a violent city that is no stranger to riots) there was nary a protest. Then in November 2010, along with protests at universities across Britain, students marched on Glasgow University. Coincidence? Perhaps. But lets go on.

In February 2011, students illegally occupied the Hetherington Research Club until their forceful eviction in March. The stated reasons for occupying the building were "to protest the university's closure of the club". However, I'd like to think that they simply missed watching me walk to class everyday (the math building is next door) and were driven to this level of insanity.

In May 2011, riots broke out in Barcelona after they won the Champions cup. Five months prior, I was wandering their streets.

As well in May 2011, minor riots broke out during the Queen's visit to Dublin.

That's six incidents in five different cities in four different countries. Take note, that these are all stable 1st world countries, places where riots are a rare occurrence. The trail of destruction left in my wake doesn't end there though.

I leave for a week and
look what happens

I'm sure most of you still remember the Vancouver riots at the beginning of this summer. I very much wanted to be in Vancouver that day. Unfortunately, work and lectures made that impossible. My absence clearly frustrated Vancouverites so much that they felt the need to destroy their own city. Two days after the riots, I went to Vancouver and people were giving out free hugs in the street. See the power of my presence?

So finally, we find ourselves at the most current and most violent of the disturbances thus far. The London riots. It's been just over a year since I've been in the UK, just over a year for pent up rage to build up the breaking point. Had I realized my power sooner, I would have tried to stop it. But even then, I may have failed. You see, visa requirements in the UK are quite strict and they are only getting stricter.

Drawing from this evidence it seems like the easiest way to solve this problem is to give me a UK passport.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick reviews

I've fallen behind on this. Oops. Let's burn through three albums right now.

The Week Never Starts Round Here - Arab Strap

The Lowdown:

Arab Strap is Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat. Two dudes with awesome names and a very unique, if somewhat repetitive, musical style. I've not heard anything like them apart from in my favourite Belle and Sebastian song "Space Boy Dream" (which is a total ripoff of Arab Strap).

The Good:

Scottish, lengthy storytelling, lo fi

The Bad:

Scottish, lengthy storytelling, lo fi


People who don't like this album will dislike it for the exact same things people love about it. I have a huge bias on this one because it hits three things that I have a huge weakness for (Scotland, stories seemingly about nothing but then they actually manage to say a lot about 'place', and lo fi). Take a wee listen to "The First Big Weekend". If you're keen on it check out "The Clearing" and "Deeper" then the rest of the album. If you don't like "The First Big Weekend" you won't like any Arab Strap

Nice Nice, Very Nice - Dan Mangan

The Lowdown:

Dan Mangan is from Vancouver! That is pretty neat!

The Good:

Thoughtful and well put together lyrics. Brilliant music videos. Duet with Aidan Knight.

The Bad:

He is another bearded dude in a plaid shirt making acoustic guitar music. Not that this is bad inherently, just there are LOADS of options if you're looking for this. Dan Mangan is one of the better ones.


"Indie Queens" has probably my favourite line from a song ever.

"Bus down to the local record store
 Buy something to make you like me more"

Listen to that song. Now. Okay. Now tell me if it is supposed to be a melancholy love song or if it's a commentary on Vancouver's hipster scene. Hint: Both of these work. Dan Mangan is that good of a writer. Also: even if you don't like his music, you will find it almost impossible not to love the video to "Robots" and, to a lesser degree "Sold"

Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys

The Lowdown:

They are the Beach Boys. COME ON.

The Good:

If you are a person that likes to listen to the music then you will enjoy this album.

The Bad:

If you hate it when you hear sounds with your ears then this is probably not for you.


If you were to try and pick a "BEST ALBUM EVER OMG!!!!!!11" and factored in things like popularity, how  innovative it was when it was released, the influence on future bands, commercial success, and how well the album has aged then, depending on your personal taste, you've chosen either "Sergeant Pepper's" by The Beatles, "Highway 61" by Bob Dylan, or "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys. I dare you to disagree.

Anyways, there is a reason for that. Everyone has heard "Wouldn't it Be Nice" about a billion times. But, just for me, go listen to it right now. And actually listen this time. Pay attention. There are so many different things going on and they all fit together so well and it's all so complex and the entire album is like that.