YouTube Video: University Dissertation Research Project: Pronunciation of British English #VolunteersNeeded #HelpPlease

Link to the Study.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

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Netflix Film Review: Ghost Story (2017) @Netflix @ghoststorymovie #GhostStoryMovie


Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, this is A Ghost Story told from the perspective of the ghost. But unlike classic Oscar winner Ghost, where being a ghost is portrayed much like being alive, A Ghost Story paints a more realistic picture (if ghosts are realistic at all, which they aren’t): the ghost is silent, unable to effect change in the world, and robbed of all that made him a personality in life, such as voice, memory, and that dreamy Patrick Swayze quiff.

Ghost Story makes some interesting choices. It’s shot in 4:3, although it’s not apparent why. The ghost is portrayed as a man with a sheet over his head which, believe it or not, does actually work and isn’t ridiculous as it surely deserves to be. And our spectral protagonist never utters a word in death. The film is a tale of loss and how you struggle to come to terms to loss.

Well, “protagonist”, “tale”, “struggle”. Perhaps those aren’t the best words. The film actually has no plot whatsoever, let alone “tale” or “struggle”, and the “protagonist”, such as he is, doesn’t “tagonise” anything. And when I say “no plot”, I don’t mean in that hyperbolic jargonised English that “his head LITERALLY fell off”; I mean, quite actually, there. is. no. plot. Therefore I can plot spoil without plot spoiling for there is no plot to spoil. The unnamed couple cuddle in bed for several minutes without talking. Affleck’s character dies, which we don’t see. Mara’s character then sits around doing nothing, and I mean nothing: we see her eat a pie, in real time, for a full ten minutes. Eventually, she moves out of their house, someone else moves in, then they move out, then someone else in, and so on, until the house is knocked down. The ghost silent watches all of this. Fin. Literally nothing happens, and there is no character arc for our ghost or plot development.

Aristotle wrote in his Poetics, some 2300 or so years ago, that drama needs the following elements: a beginning, a middle, an end; plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, music; a single central theme whose elements are logically related; that the dramatic causation and probability of events hangs on the characters’ actions and reactions; and catharsis of the spectators, that is, “to arouse in” spectators “feelings of pity and fear, and to purge them of these emotions so that they leave the theatre feeling cleansed and uplifted”.[1] A Ghost Story has none of these apart from “spectacle” (nice cinematography and visual effects) and “music” (sound effects, which were effective in building atmosphere). The whole film, in fact, feels exactly like a five minute A-Level student’s film project which has been inflated to 92 minutes and a massive budget.

Here are some snippets from IMDb user reviews.

“Worst film I’ve seen in a long, long time. 1/10”
“What a total waste of time. 1/10”
“Like watching paint dry. 1/10”
“Enough to make you think you have died! Do not bother! 1/10”
“Truly awful. 1/10. Boring, pretentious, irritating, amateur, self-indulgent”
“High rating on IMDb is inside joke about this movie. 1/10”
“The director thinks he’s Bergman and he is not. 1/10”
“A wonderfully hypnotic and philosophical film exploring the enormity of life. 8/10”
“A mind-alteringly realistic depiction of human life. 10/10”

This film isn’t so much “Marmite: love it or hate it”, as it is “hate it, or brainwash yourself into thinking you love it”. Do not believe the many wanker reviews or critics that have boosted this to a very respectable 6.9 on IMDb and, extraordinarily, a 91% Fresh Critical Consensus on RottenTomatoes.com, who declare that this film is “powerful” with a “passionate couple” at the core. The film is no such thing. It is self-indulgent crap at its worst. This really is a case of “the Emperor has no clothes”; fearful, mindless, cretinous film critics rate it highly as they are scared that to do otherwise would make them appear uncouth and uncultured and probably get their next schmooze fest invitation cancelled. Above all, nobody wants to say the emperor has no clothes.

The film’s not even saved by the “so bad it’s good” factor; this is the most tedious, boring piece of shit I have ever watched. And I do mean “ever”. Good news, though; that I managed to make it through the film without turning off or tearing my own eyeballs out means that the instanews social media whizz-bang world we now inhabit hasn’t completely destroyed my patience. One out of five — for spelling its own name correctly.

1/5

[1] https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/a/agamemnon-the-choephori-and-the-eumenides/critical-essay/aristotle-on-tragedy

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://image.tmdb.org/t/p/original/sD94aixD7fMAc2e9ugbv4KQprBL.jpg

 

 

University Dissertation Research Project: Pronunciation of British English: Participant Informed Consent Form

To take part in this study, it’s necessary to sign the Informed Consent Form. It can be downloaded in .doc (click here) and .pdf (click here) formats.

University Dissertation Research Project: Pronunciation of British English: Participant Personal Information

Participant Personal Information Form

 

Name:

 

Date of Birth:                      (day/month/year)

 

Gender:           MALE/FEMALE/OTHER (please specify)

 

Nationality:

 

Region of origin within UK:

 

Did you spend your childhood (ages 4 – 15) living in the United Kingdom?       YES/NO

 

Occupation:

 

What is your ethnic group?

White

ENGLISH, WELSH, SCOTTISH, NORTHERN IRISH, OR BRITISH
IRISH
GYPSY OR IRISH TRAVELLER
ANY OTHER WHITE BACKGROUND, WRITE IN:

Mixed/multiple ethnic groups

WHITE AND CARIBBEAN
WHITE AND AFRICAN
WHITE AND ASIAN
ANY OTHER MIXED OR MULTIPLE ETHNIC BACKGROUND, WRITE IN:

Asian/Asian British

INDIAN
PAKISTANI
BANGLADESHI
CHINESE
ANY OTHER ASIAN BACKGROUND, WRITE IN:

African/Caribbean/Black/Black British

CARIBBEAN
AFRICAN
BLACK BRITISH
ANY OTHER AFRICAN, CARIBBEAN OR BLACK BRITISH BACKGROUND, WRITE IN:

Other ethnic group

ARAB
ANY OTHER ATHNIC GROUP, WRITE IN:

University Dissertation Research Project: Pronunciation of British English: Participant Script

Participant Script

Below are nineteen short passages. Please read them through a couple of times to yourself so that you are familiar with them. Then, please record yourself reading them out aloud. Please take a few moments between saying each passage. Try to read the passages as naturally as possible; do not try to “perform” the passages. Use your own natural talking speed; do not read the passages quickly or slowly. You can send your recording to Bryan.Parry.16@ucl.ac.uk. 

 

  1. The garage is one kilometre away.

 

  1. You’re very rude. Don’t patronise me!

 

  1. I’ve been singing that tune all week.

 

  1. The Caribbean is incomparable! Have you been?

 

  1. Hong Kong and Pakistan are both in Asia.

 

  1. The tennis player hit the spectator with a racket.

 

  1. It’s ordinary to harass politicians, but it’s not right.

 

  1. We will research the increase in the native falcon population.

 

  1. The refund policy is only applicable if you still have the receipt.

 

  1. Cate Blanchett was President of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Jury in 2018.

 

  1. I have great recall, but I can’t recall when I began to patronise this restaurant.

 

  1. I hope I rebound from my sickness in time to see them baptize my grandson.

 

  1. Her boyfriend left her and straight away she got with someone else on the rebound.

 

  1. I will dictate the words in English. You must translate them into either Spanish or French.

 

  1. New research shows that smoking one cigarette a day can increase the risk of birth defects.

 

  1. The translator cannot schedule me in for this week, but her schedule is more open next week.

 

  1. Digital currencies, like Bitcoin, are still a niche market and the regulatory framework is not fully developed.

 

  1. There was controversy in 1982 when the Soviet hockey player, Alexander Mogilny, wanted to defect to the United States.

 

  1. Hundreds of people are gathering to protest the visit of the President. One protester called the President a “dictator”. This protest is the biggest since 1972.

House of Commons Reform Proposal: Very Short Summary #ElectoralReform #HouseOfCommonsReform #HoCReform

I’ve been writing an essay on possible electoral reform in the UK, but it’s turning into a mini-book. So I’m just going to post up the very short summary of my main conclusions and proposals.

My proposal for how to reform the House of Commons:

  1. Decrease the number of constituencies from 650 to 600.
  2. Ensure all constituencies are almost identical in size so as to make all votes roughly equal (currently, the smallest has 21,769 electors and the largest 110,697).
  3. Following the Jenkins Commission’s Report 1998 (JCR 1998), introduce two kinds of MP; those chosen from single member parliamentary constituencies (like now), and those chosen proportionally from multi-member regional constituencies. This is what happens currently for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the London Assembly.
  4. Following the JCR 1998, only 15-20% of MPs to be multimember; so, 480:120 or 500:100, single member constituency MPs to multimember constituency MPs. This is as opposed to the devolved legislatures which have around 40-45% of members drawn from the multimember regional constituencies.
  5. Very approximately, the country should be divided into around a dozen multimember regional constituencies; this ensures a high level of proportionately, but not so much that politics becomes destabilised.
    1. This could be on similar lines to how Members for the European Parliament are currently elected from the UK so that the constituencies do not all have an equal number of MPs. The benefit is that natural geographic or cultural regions can be treated as constituencies regardless of size, e.g., Northern Ireland.
    2. Alternatively, this could be done as in Wales and Scotland where the regions all elect the same number of members. The disadvantage of this is that either traditional boundaries would have to be disregarded, or some constituencies would have more MPs than their populations would proportionately require.
  6. In the single member constituencies, MPs to be elected on the same basis as the London mayor, on the Supplementary Vote system; voters pick a first and second choice, if no candidate receive more than 50% of first choice votes, then all but the leading two candidates are eliminated and all second choice votes are redistributed to determine the winner.

This series of proposals taken together introduces some proportionality, but not to the point that it destabilises politics (that is, permanent coalitions and collapsing governments). It encourages people to vote for who they really want, as they know their vote really counts in the multimember regional constituencies, and that they can vote for who they want in the single member constituencies without wholly ruining it for the second favourite candidate. Currently, people will often vote Labour to keep out the Tory, or vice versa, when they really want to vote Green (for example). Under this proposed system, they could confidently vote Green in the multimember regional constituency, and then either Labour in the single member constituency or Green first choice and Labour second choice. It also makes it more likely that the MP in the single member constituency will command 50% or more of the electorate.

The only possible downside is that it introduces two kinds of MP. But I say we already have two kinds of MP: we have those in the Government who are thus in the Executive branch of Government, and back benchers who are not in the Government and are thus not part of the Executive. In other words, the MPs who run the country + look after their constituents, and MPs who only look after their constituents. Indeed, the Speaker of the House could himself be considered an altogether different, third type of MP in the current set up.

I hope to publish a more detailed analysis and investigation into reform of the House of Commons soon.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://culturalwednesday.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/House-of-Commons-1024×681.jpg

Random Quotes 2: de Gaulle

Belgium: a country invented by the British to annoy the French.
Charles de Gaulle, President of France (1959-1969)

featured image from http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/france/aircraft_carriers/charles_de_gaulle_r91/charles_de_gaulle.jpg

“But Brexit ISN’T ‘The Will of the People’!” #Brexit #BRINO #WillOfThePeople @Anna_Soubry @StevenEdginton @WestmonsterUK

Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP who stood for election on a 2017 Manifesto which committed to delivering Brexit and who herself in 2017 said “you can’t vote for a Referendum & then renege on delivering the result because you don’t like the result”, has famously reneged. She has done nothing in the last year but attempt to overturn the decision to leave the European Union, most recently voting against her own Government’s position on the recent Customs and Trade Bills by trying to tie the UK into a Customs Union with the EU.

How times change…

But by now, all politics junkies know she’s unprincipled (although I’m not sure to what extent the general public is aware of the extent of her unprincipledness). What has piqued my interest, however, is that now she’s talking absolute rubbish on Twitter, again. Specifically, she’s parroting the oft-repeated, in-vogue line that, actually, the vote to leave the EU wasn’t the will of the people after all! Why? Because whilst it is true that more than half of those who voted did indeed vote to Leave, many people did not vote at all. Some 27.79% of the eligible electorate didn’t bother to vote, in fact. This means that, of the total electorate eligible to vote in the EU Referendum, 34.74% voted for Remain, and only 37.47% voted for Leave — considerably less than 50%!!

Soubry fails logic

However, this is a completely bogus argument. There is always a huge percentage of the electorate who don’t vote. Indeed, as one Twitter user (@AlastairJT) has helpfully pointed out to Ms. Soubry, she herself was elected in 2017 on less than 50% of the electorate; the turn out in her constituency of Broxtowe was 75.0%, of which she achieved 46.8%, giving her a grand total of 35.1% of the electorate — a lower percentage than voted for Brexit.

But actually, the issue is even larger than that. More people voted for Brexit (17.4 million) than for anything else in British history. Moreover, and this is the master stroke I feel, you have to go back to the General Election of 1959 to see the winning party earn a higher percentage of the total electorate than the 37.5% who voted for Brexit. 1959! When Britain was a virtual two party state. And indeed, you have to go back to the 1931 General Election before a party achieved a higher percentage of the turn out than Leave achieved — and that was because the Liberal Party had imploded and split four ways.

If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is…

As they say in football, “you can only beat the teams that are put in front of you”. That more than a quarter of the population stayed at home does in no way invalidate the result of the EU referendum. If the benchmark for a vote to qualify as the “will of the people” and be so enacted is more than half of the total electorate voting one way, then no General Election since 1959 has been “the will of the people”, and nor was the election of Anna Soubry herself. If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry