Archive for 23 June 2004

Master of Science (MSc) in E-Learning

Glamorgan School of Computing

EU Constitutional Treaty is in Britain’s interests

Tony Blair was right to suggest that the Tories and UKIP want a referendum now because they don’t want their euromyths dispelled (“MPs could vote on an EU deal before next election”, June 21).

The Constitutional Treaty is simply an agreement between nation states on how an enlarged EU will be run. Unlike the Eurosceptics want us to believe, the Treaty confirms that the EU is not a superstate, but an organisation of countries that want to cooperate for shared benefits.

The Treaty does not give away more powers to Brussels, it in fact gives national
governments a greater say over EU legislation and reduces the role of the
European Commission. Perhaps more importantly, each country will retain the
right of veto over key areas, such as foreign policy, defence and income tax and
reforms to the voting methods will ensure other countries do not block measures
vital to UK interests.
There is nothing to fear about Britain ratifying the Constitutional Treaty, the
greater fear is what would happen to British jobs and thegreater fear is what would happen to British jobs and the economy as a whole if
UKIP got their way and Britain was outside the EU.

Technology needs to become more socially acceptable

The findings by the University of Surrey that using mobile technology such as PDAs and mobile phones in meetings can raise work stress should cause concern.

The finding that only 11 per cent of respondents felt it appropriate to break off and use a mobile phone when talking to someone else at work strikes a blow at the possibility of using mobile technology to help people with social impairments such as autism communicate in social situations.

The PARLE System, which uses mobile phones to translate idioms and phrases and display the results on the screen requires the cooperation of those the person with the social impairment is talking to, and these negative attitudes towards this technology means that acceptance of the social model of disability could be a long way off.

The finding that 88 percent believed it was not appropriate to use an electronic device for note-taking in meetings will further make life difficult for people with disabilities such as dyslexia and some forms of autism, who require technology to overcome the effects of their impairment.

The fact that younger respondents found the use of IT less unacceptable is encouraging, suggesting that the workplace of the future in which the Net Generation are the major players will be one where tolerance and respect for one
another is commonplace.

A short suspense science-fiction titled, “Seymour Manor”

I feel relieved to be alive, to have survived a gruesome death. I don’t understand why I was the only one to get away. I feel a sense of guilt, as if it is wrong that it is only me that is still here. I keep wondering how it could have happened, why it was I got on that plane on that day. I should stop thinking about how I got here and more where I’ll go next.

I can smell the scent of the ghastly sea-weed that has been roasting in the devastating heat of the morning sun. The smell of mackerel frying in sun pierces my sinuses as it engulfs the atmosphere with its invading odour leaving me feel nauseous. The beach around me looks like a graveyard of what once lived and what now ceases to exist. I can see the sand stretching into the distance, wreckage from the plane scattered all over the place and masses of rocks and sea-weed sporadically arranged like paint thrown against an uneven wall.

The tide is continuing to come in and I see no way out. I feel trapped and scared, wondering what will become of me, whether I will have survived all this and be left to die in the unforgiving sea. I can hear the crashing of the waves onto the rocks, each time their destructive force hitting that bit harder.

Ahead of me I can see a sheer cliff-face, as high as no other I had seen before. It was as if it had been erected in order to keep intruders away from the mainland, to be a barrier to anyone who dared go further. The wind is whistling fiercely through the trees and crevices of the cliff, almost muted by the sound of the sea gulls, ravaging for food like a pack of starved beasts.

As I start to walk toward the cliff, I feel the rough sand on my feet, as if it is cutting through me like masses of broken glass that has been shattered to form a persistent obstacle. The burning sun on my face attempts to force me away, its brightness acting like a barrier to freedom. As I struggle on my way I feel the sharpness of the rocks digging into my feet like lion claws trying to drag me back into the wilderness where mother nature rules supreme.

I approach the cliff and can see the green moss built up on the surface, acting like a maximum marker on a Pyrex measuring jug. I know that if I do not try to climb now I will become just another meal for a merciless ocean that feasts on the vulnerable and devours the defenceless.

With no other option, I reach for a rock-handle. The jagged edges cut through my hand like a razor blade, but I pull myself up anyway. As I try to balance with my bleeding feet, I feel the rocks digging into them like a sharp wooden steak that has hit its target.

Even as I begin to ascend, those vulture-like gulls swoop down on me like assassins from hell, squawking like out of control beasts. As I near the top, I reach out for what must be the last rock I will ever have to hold. The rock comes free and I lose my balance – once again, I am struggling for my life. It was as if that rock had withstood centuries of storms and gales only to prevent me from reaching safety. In desperation, I leap toward the top, grappling with the cliff I scramble for any firm piece of rock I can find.

Despite everything being against me I have done it, I have reach the top of this precipitous cliff. Feeling out of breath and weak, I collapse to the ground. But, as I lift my head I can see a path in front of me, it must lead somewhere. Perhaps all this effort was not wasted after all.

I feel cold and wet, my clothes are torn and dishevelled. I must look like an innocent antelope after it has been torn to shreds by a possessed lion. I decide to struggle onto towards the path and try to stand up using what strength I have left. With each step I make, the sharp gravel of the path digs deeper and deeper into my battered feet. I feel like an untrained Arabian firewalker that wishes he had bought a pair of sandals.

I eventually reach the end of the path and stagger towards what looks like an ancient manor house clouded in an eerie mist. As I get closer, I see a large weatherworn oak door with a handle-bell covered in cobwebs, as if it has not been used for centuries. Knowing this is the only chance I have, I ring the bell. A loud, hollow sound rings throughout the building, and although it sounds like the house is empty, I wait anyway.

After waiting for about five minutes, I feel like giving up, but then I hear the sound of the door unlocking. I feel a sense of hope and relief, it is like the feeling when you hear the voice of a telephone operator after listening to Mozart’s 7th Symphony for the last hour. The door creaks open and I see a pleasant looking woman dressed in black. She appears very severe, but her frilly white cap and apron made her seem more appealing. She smiles at me and asked me to wait, then closes the door. As the door closes and the dust blows up in my face I sense my hopes have been dashed, my stomach feels like a red-hot needle is piercing it. I have gone through all this and now my only chance of survival seems like it is drifting away.

Despite all my panicking, the woman returns an invites me into the house. There is a dusky smell and I feel a chilling coldness on my arms as I enter the building. I am directed into a room where a woman who introduces herself as Harriet Seymour asks me how I come to be here. I explain to her the plane crash and she sympathises, offering me a warm bath and change of clothes. I gladly accept.

The maid runs the bath for me and directs me to the room. I get in the bath and I feel the pain of my open wounds, but the feeling of the calming heat relaxes me, it is close to a feeling of ecstasy in which every emotion reaches a soothing climax. When I get out of the bath, I notice the nightwear that the maid has left for me. I dry myself and put them on along with the dressing gown. I thank the maid and go straight to bed. I feel like I haven’t slept in days.

As I wake up at about seven o’clock the next morning, I can see the blinding sun shining through the window. I rub my eyes and stretch my arms, wondering whether I have the strength to get up. At that moment the maid walks in carrying a tray, I can smell the scent of a full English breakfast fill the room and immediately I sit up, I haven’t had one of these for years.

After giving me the tray, the maid asks if I would like her to call a taxi and I agree. After having my breakfast, I get dressed into the clothes that she left for me. They look like something my granddad would wear, but I guess its better than nothing.

As I start walking down the stairs, I hear the horn of the taxi. I thank Mrs Seymour and the maid for the assistance they gave me and start to leave the house. I get into the taxi and notice the driver looking at me with a perplexed expression on his face. I wave goodbye to Mrs Seymour and close the door. As the driver accelerates off, I look back and the house has gone, all that is left is a ruin.

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