Lots of movies and great companions

Wow, it’s been ages since I last posted anything, and probably will be until the next post as well.
I have the minor matter of my Oxford finals coming up in June, which are almost universally responsible for a fair bit of stress. The simple version is that I will be examined in 9 subjects in the space of 14 days on material learnt since April 2013.
And there’s the fact that I’ve somewhat moved on from this blog, both for personal matters and from a debating perspective.

The reasons behind this newest post are, like most of my other recent posts, inspired by flights (seemingly the only other exciting thing that happens other than debate related thingys). And even to that extent this flight came on the day of the Oxford Schools Debating Championships Finals Day 2015… so perhaps really I should just blame debating anyways.

I’m not entirely sure what was so exciting about this flight. Probably partly because I was in the new A380 double-decker plane, which is only the 3rd trip I’ve had in it. It’s the largest plane in the world, and I was certainly taken a back by the massive wings that also curved considerably more than the Boeing 777.

Kudos to British Airways for a well designed interior with reasonable amounts of space even in Economy class. There was more vertical space than horizontal space, though the latter is probably more important for people flying and who spend most of the time sat down. I particularly liked the flat cabin overhead storage bins which just struck me as making much more sense than having trays that drop down.

The newspaper selection was rather disappointing with only the Daily mail, i and the Daily Mirror available. perhaps other classes of seats had better options… I can’t say for sure.

My favourite bit of the new plane has to be the entertainment system, which now is switched on whilst you’re still on the tarmac, saving precious movie time, although it was still interrupted by the safety announcements and the like. It was probably one of the reasons I managed to fit in 5 movies and even a TV show, which probably beats my old record of 5 movies. This unsurprisingly also entailed not sleeping… I mean you just can’t fit in 5 movies if you slept for any extended period of time.

I was probably lucky to be flying just a little while after Oscar season because many of the films were available, and indeed too many for me to watch. I had to start with The Theory of Everything, and I must say I think Eddie Redmayne throughly deserved his Oscar statute. Was also funny to try and location spot, which was really the only good thing about The Riot Club. The storyline was just poor… and that’s independent of the terrible content of the movie itself. Thankfully though it represents many aspects of Oxford that I detest, nothing I’ve seen in real life is quite as terrible as is portrayed. The Imitation Game was reasonably good, and I guess about as exciting as bio-pics can go. The presentation of the story-line was a bit convoluted to be honest, but no real complaints. I still think The Judge did a better job of portraying the souls of the characters so to speak. Or maybe I’m just biased towards films with a legal element to it.

I eventually ran out of films beginning with ‘The’ to watch, I had thought of watching The Hunger Games but having not watched any of the earlier ones the first 3 minutes confirmed to me that it just wasn’t going to work. Same probably goes for The Hobbit. I ended up finishing off with Whiplash which despite not seeming to have that much content (some guy playing the drums) was surprisingly captivating. I rounded it all off with an episode of Veep, I had considered slipping in an hour and a half long movie, but figured there wouldn’t be enough time with landing and all. There are still a tone of movies I wanted to watch (cf: Foxcatcher, Interstellar, Birdman) which I’ll have to fit into the return journey.

The other interesting bit of the journey was my sitting next to a Swedish couple who were flying into HK in order to catch a cruise around South East Asia. It’s one of the few times I’ve bothered to strike up conversations with fellow travellers and it led to a torrent of interesting tidbits including discussions about Chinese air-quality, HK’s future, Scandinavian countries amongst other things. I also found out how to lift the arm-rest adjourning the aisle after the flight attendants wrestled with it for nearly an hour (there’s a button, but not an obvious one). This was because one of the couple had a disability (cue Paralympics conversation) which meant that they had to go to the toilet with the aid of an in-flight wheelchair.

So all in all, new plane, a lot of movies and a very interesting pair of fellow travellers, all mixed up in a single flight. Well, back to revision then.

SOAS IV 2014 – Break

Quarter-final motion: THBT the state has a duty to provide the long term unemployed with lasting employment which pays at least the minimum wage

ESL Break

1. 11 points IIUM A (main break)
2. 8 points IIUM 2
3. 8 points Vienna Sisski and France [Spelling likely to be incorrect]
4. 8 points ISM (not competing)
5. BBU A
5. Berlin A

Open Break

1. 14 Brownie Points
2. 12 TCD Phil A
3. 12 Balliol
4. 11 TCD Hist A
5. 11 Warwick Carswell 4pm
6. 11 IIUM A
7. 11 GUU EM
8. 11 Chinese Diaspora
9. 11 Warwick B
10. 10 Nottingham Empire Strikes Back
11. 10 Durham A
12. 10 Cambridge Red
13. 10 ULU MG
14. 10 MCH Alpha
15. 10 TCD Phil E
16. 9 UCL NUS

Speedy Mass Transit Railway

I really like this video, and I think it’s a reasonably accurate reflection of how efficient the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway (MTR) can be. Essentially it’s someone trying to see if they can get from one station to another faster on foot than via the MTR. In short, they don’t beat the MTR, but even then only by the sink of their teeth.

There’s a UK version of it for the tube, which has the result going the other way.

Obviously both are a bit contrived, but still a fun experiment, not that I’d want to do the running myself anytime soon.

The Layover

This blog has been dormant for quite a while now, though I promise there’s a WSDC 2014 wrap-up on its way eventually (unless I forget).

Currently on a trans-pacific flight with a layover, which has dragged out because of mechanical failures. Thankfully the airport has free wifi, and in my boredom/amusement, I have decided to make a few observations.

[It has occurred to me I am doing nothing more than an inscent and annoying stream of tweets in blog form. On the plus, I’m saving all of you the pain of being flooded with each individual update.]

The first leg

Nothing really happened. We got delayed, crazy pilot taking us through turbulence, then warning us about the turbulence whilst we were holding onto our seats and enjoying the seconds of seeming weightlessness.

The second leg

There was this person on our flight who for all intents and purposes did not know English, notwithstanding the obvious difficulty this might pose going to a foreign English-medium country for a whole year… Ended up having to coach them on how to fill out an arrival card.

They then forgot to get off the plane. Cabin crew did an announcement, and I suspect they didn’t get off until the cabin crew went to fetch them.

3:30

Entire plane’s been asked to disembark into the waiting area at gate D73. We’ve also been told to get our bags, which makes me wonder if they’re going to switch us to another plane. We were greeted by a long row of drinks as we entered the waiting area, a few people have begun scavenging. To be fair, they have provide us with a toilet.

Almost instantly someone set-off the alarm on the door between our waiting area and the main terminal area. Best follow-up, the security guy who released the alarm, managed to set it off himself whilst going back to the real world.

We’ve got a crying passenger, but still no crying baby…

3:42

Our crying baby has arrived. Crying passenger has become a sleepy passenger.

Internet has slowed to a crawl… probably the unfortunate effect of having 200 tired, unhappy passengers all trying to use the internet at the same time.

3:48

Turns out the row of supplies includes food. So it’s not just liquids.

All assortment of phones have now appeared, unsurprisingly I’m the only one with a laptop.

3:57

Crying kid now… next will be a crying teen, the young adult, then adult, oh wait, we already had a crying adult… (see crying passenger) ok, this logic no longer works

3:59

I love inflight entertainment systems though, the three things needed to stop a riot if a plane is delayed: (1) food and drink, (2) a functioning inflight entertainment system, (3) Thai masseur [I may or may not have a biased perspective on this last one]. They’ve got 2 of 3 so I say the airline is doing quite well.

All the more reason against inflight systems that don’t switch on until after take-off, which are sadly a bit too common occurrence on some airlines.

It does occur to me that they’ve sought to replace inflight entertainment systems with free wifi. Seats are no more comfortable, though I suppose lying sideways is now possible, if it wasn’t on the half empty plane anyways.

Lots of people inching towards the food and drinks. Ohhh, crisp packets!

Snoring man to my left, thankfully very much irregular and not too loud. He does pose a risk though… I can feel more snores coming my direction.

4:03

Now a full 3 hours after we landed, and at least 2 after we were supposed to have taken off. Crying-then-sleeping-distraught-passenger has decided to awaken.

Security guy has popped in to grab some food and drinks for himself :D This is my favourite security guy yet. He’s attempting to motion for permission from the cabin crew, and has decided just to take it and leave.

He also happens to have about a dozen lanyards around his neck. No idea why he needs so many security cards.

4:06

“We are looking at a five and a half hour delay.” Noticeable gasp of shock. Then again, it’s already been like a 3 hour delay.

4:07

We’ve attracted a second crying baby, or maybe it’s the same one. Can’t see around this massive fern tree.

Crying baby this time has decided not to stop. Maybe the idea of not being in a plane for another 2 hours painedit so much it felt compelled to cry.

Angry man in a yellow face-mask is complaining at the desk. He has a matching yellow shirt.

No idea why the facemask is necessary. He keeps lowering it in order to speak angrily to the cabin crew anyways.

Facemask guy has left the counter, then circled back with a new approach route. Now trying to get behind the counter.

My fav security guy is now with the cabin crew. Probably because it gives him a table to put his stash of food and drinks.

Facemask guy joined by another yellow-shirter, also complaining about something.

4:13

Laptops starting to emerge as people realise the length of the wait they are in for.

I’m still slightly surprised at how many people manage to do these trans-ocean flights in long sleeves and long-trousers. I mean it’s just so uncomfortable and hot, even if planes do get quite cold.

Inflatable pillows and neck rests have been deployed. No sign of an inflatable bed yet. Crying->sleeping->sobbing->philosophising passenger might like that.

“We’re trapped in a cage that represents the airport.” I’m gonna start calling originally-sleepy-passenger the drunk passenger. They’re acting more and more like they’re drunk. Not that I have a particular wealth of experience as to how one might act in that state.

4:20

Managed to video-bomb someone skyping their girlfriend.

The washroom is now officially out of paper for drying hands.

Passengers and myself included keep getting faked out by the ‘final call’ calls from other airplanes, even though the two announcements have a very distinct tone, volume and style.

Have acquired some food. Beautifully I have realised despite offering 7-up, coke, sprite and 2 types of juices… no water is on offer at the mountain of food. The gods clearly do not like water.

Humanity has gravitated towards the power sockets. Perhaps the way to bring down Central is just to install USB sockets on everywhere on street level.

“I don’t want to get agitated.” claims the distressed-maybe-drunk passenger. Erm, they’re already seriously agitated!

7:00
Woke up from my slumber to find the entire area in a minor craziness. Seems they’ve been making quite a few announcements over the PA system.
The crew caused major confusion when asking people if they’d all gotten custom forms and had filed them out, despite everyone having been given one when they boarded… smart passengers, or maybe just stressed ones to be fair.

7:03
We’ve been told to grab our current possessions, and to clear customs/immigration, grab our checked-in baggage at which point they’ll give us food vouchers, for like dinner I guess… cause it’s already 7 and crisps can only placate a human for so long.
On the way to customs I discovered a designated ‘Area of Refuge’, which was really just a fire-proof door. Was sadly disappointed.
On the plus, Vancouver International is quite nice with a massive fountain, cool indigenous weaves, and even fake statutes.

8:40
After going through a super giagantic queue in order to get our meal vouchers (with almost 2/3 of the plane still in the queue) I’m now heading off for dinner.
We apparently get an actual flight at midnight.

11:43
Had another nap, now heading over to check-in counter to see if we have a plane on our hands. Fingers crossed!

WSDC 2014: Semi-final results, Grand-final line-up

SF1: South Africa (1) beat Canada (4)
SF2: England (3) beat Ireland (2)

SF Motion: THBT drone strikes are a legitimate tool of foreign policy

Both result were split decisions.

This means the Grand Finals of WSDC 2014 will be between England and South Africa.
The Grand Final motion is THBT an ASEAN political union is an impossible dream

WSDC 2014: Quarter-final results, Semi-final match-up

QF1: South Africa (1) beat Peru (9) 5-0
QF2: Canada (4) beat China (12) 5-0
QF3: England (3) beat Australia (6) 4-1
QF4: Ireland (2) beat Netherlands (10) 3-2

SF1: South Africa (1) v Canada (4)
SF2: England (3) v Ireland (2)

Top 4 breaking teams all get through to the semi-finals.
Semi-finals will be split between two different high-schools so we’ll have to wait on the inter-web to get results for the other venue.

WSDC 2014 – Media Guide

Long story short, I’m now helping with tabbing for WSDC 2014, and for obvious reasons will not be doing the regular reportage of results, etc. I’ll probably still do round-ups but certainly not at the same regularity as I have done in the past.

For those of you who want minute-by-minute updates on results as they happen, monitoring #WSDC and/or #WSDC2014 should give you enough details.

Round-by-round results will be published via @WSDC2014. But since we have to get the results for all debates, it will take a little longer than I have done in the past where I only need results of certain debates.

In short: check @WSDC2014