Archive for 22 August 2006

Robin Hood lives on

I was interested to read the article about Robin Hood (‘We love Robin Hood’, August 15), particularly as I am conducting some research into the perceptions of Robin Hood for an international conference about the myth.

One of the biggest claims about Robin Hood is that he was an excellent shot with the longbow, something alluded to in the article. However, if Robin Hood lived between 1160 and 1247, as many claim, he would have died three years before the longbow was introduced into England from Wales.

Some of the ballads refer to Robin Hood as living in the time of King Edward, when all sports but archery were banned on a Sunday, which would perhaps give greater credence to Joseph Hunter’s historical account if we are to believe Robin Hood was a master of the longbow.

Whether Robin Hood was an actual historical figure or not, the legend is alive today, and whether he robbed from the rich to give to the poor or save the lives of innocent men, Robin Hood will always capture the imagination of those who are intolerant of injustices.

Why Gordon Brown Needs a Class War

Tony Blair was defined as a Labour Leader by taking on the idealistic failures of his party to redefine Labour as party fit for government. Gordon Brown needs to take on the political classes to transform Britain into a country where power, wealth
and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few.

Periods in history have always been struggles for identity, whether it be the working class struggling against the bourgeoisie under Marxism, or the battle between repressive men and ambitious women under Feminism, people have fought battles to secure equality and self-respect.

For me, the present time is a battle between the ordinary people who have a profession and work for a living against the political elite who wield power like it is their weapon of choice, who consume wealth like they have sole access to a tuck shop and who deprive others of opportunity like they are the only ones who have a right to achieve their goals.

As a recently elected Town Councillor who aspires to be a Member of Parliament, and a Chartered IT Professional who aspires to be on the Board of Directors of a leading IT firm, I experience the difficulties of an ordinary person seeking
responsibility in a world where only the elite prosper, and where difference is seen as a disadvantage.

The party political system favours the elite, the people who are remote from everyday people, who have the talents of a salesman, the cunning of a cameleon, and who have struggled as much as someone trying to put a hot knife through
butter.

It was once illegal to live on earnings from the oldest profession in the world; this should be the case for elected representatives. Being a politician should only ever be a part-time unpaid position as this would mean that elected representatives would be required to have a real job and face the same financial struggles as the people in society they claim to represent. Brown should tackle the elite who cling on to power to preserve their publicly funded lifestyles, rather than to serve the public interest.

House of Lords reform is often talked about as a class battle, but all the government want to do is replace an unelected elite with another political elite.

The House of Lords should be made up of professional people and members diverse interest groups rather than consider of more members of the political class.

Brown needs to tackle the inequalities created by the political class, firstly in his own party and then in political institutions in the country as a whole.
06

Application for injunction against Mike Powell

Jonathan Bishop’s application for injunction against Councillor Mike Powell by Jonathan Bishop

A day in the life of an autistic person

On Monday my friend Mark asked me if I could help my other friend Gemma on Tuesday move her goldfish and other belongings from her old flat to her knew one.

Mark knows that I like to know in advance before doing something and that I often make plans to do something. Having Aspergers, as June Welton says in her book “Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome” means that people like me “can get very upset
when unexpected things happen, or when there’s a change of plan that I haven’t been warned about.

When I went down there on Tuesday, I was waiting for Gemma to pack her things and get the goldfish ready, when something unexpected did happen. Her landlord Richard Davies barged into the property and demanded that I leave. Richard Davies not only said it in a confrontational manner, but when I said I would not leave as I said I was helping Gemma move out he demanded to know my name, and then ordered one of Gemma’s house mates to call the police.

When Gemma said I should leave and I did, Richard Davies started to follow me and began taking pictures of me.

I then asked Richard Davies why he was taking pictures of me and he started harassing me, telling me he did not want me on his property again and then Richard Davies proceeded to tell me that he wanted me to go back to the flat to speak to the police, who were on their way.

This sort of harassment from Richard Davies is not something autistic people like myself, or anyone else should have to put up with. He interfered with my clear plan to help Gemma move her goldfish and belongings, and then proceeded to hound me when I did what Gemma wanted me to do and leave.

What sort of world do we live in when people cannot help their friends out without being harassed by people who behave in a
wildly reckless manner like Gemma’s former landlord Richard Davies.

Online communities good for youth’s health

I was interested to read that online communities help young transplant patients
recover from their treatment (‘Virtual communities help ill youth‘, August
10).
Online communities often provide a useful support network for people who have
been diagnosed with a particular condition or undergone surgery to treat one.

Online communities are often real communities

John Dvorak of PC Magazine describes online communities as ‘fake communities’, saying that he has “always been concerned about these fake communities ever since watching one fall apart back in the early 1980s”.

Online communities are not fake; they have many things characteristic of realworld
communities, but are also different from them. In my class on online
communities that I did at the Glamorgan Summer School, I got my students to
think about some of the differences. The main difference is that real‐world
communities form based on geographic and political factors, and online
communities usually form based on a common topical interest.
Dvorak says, “Most of the destructive force within any online community comes
from this large group of fakes who see the community as something of a videoarcade
adventure game where the user can go in and stir up trouble, then leave.
Because of this, you have to rethink online communities if you actually want them
to be maintained and grow over time.”
This criticism of online communities by Dvorak is one of the things that make them
communities. Real‐world communities often contain characters that incite chaos
through making provocative comments or playing devil’s advocate, and online
communities are no different. Referred to as ‘trolls’ in online communities, these
people are an essential part of cyberculture, driven by an intent to cause chaos.
Perhaps this article is Dvorak himself being a troll, so why he would want to
criticise himself is beyond me.
Dvorak criticises online communities saying they are self‐selecting and not
necessarily democratic. I do not see how they are different from real‐world
communities in that regard and this is perhaps another thing that makes them
communities, in that they have barriers to entry and rituals.
In my class I introduced my students to an adaptation of A.J. Kim’s Membership
Lifecycle, which states that individuals begin in the community as lurkers, they
then break through a barrier to become a novice, they then become a regular, they
may then break through another barrier to become a leader, and they then
become an elder. This lifecycle can be seen to apply in most online communities,
and is perhaps something Dvorak needs to consider before dismissing online
communities as fake.

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