Fact of the day: 31st January

On this day in 1929, Leon Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union.

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Trotsky was exiled to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan on 31 January 1928. He was expelled from the Soviet Union to Turkey in February 1929, accompanied by his wife Natalia Sedova and his son Lev Sedov.

After leading a failed struggle of the Left Opposition against the policies and rise of Joseph Stalin in the 1920s and the increasing role of bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, Trotsky was successively removed from power in 1927, expelled from the Communist Party, and finally deported from the Soviet Union in 1929. As the head of the Fourth International, Trotsky continued in exile in Mexico to oppose the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. An early advocate of Red Army intervention against European fascism, in the late 1930s, Trotsky opposed Stalin’s non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler. He was assassinated on Stalin’s orders in Mexico, by Ramón Mercader, a Spanish-born Soviet agent in August 1940.

Fact of the day: 30th January

On this day in 1649 Charles I was executed.

Charles I was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.

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Charles was the second son of King James VI of Scotland, but after his father inherited the English throne in 1603, he moved to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life. He became heir apparent to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones on the death of his elder brother in 1612.

He walked under guard from St James’s Palace, where he had been confined, to the Palace of Whitehall, where an execution scaffold was erected in front of the Banqueting House. Charles was separated from spectators by large ranks of soldiers, and his last speech reached only those with him on the scaffold. He blamed his fate on his failure to prevent the execution of his loyal servant Strafford: “An unjust sentence that I suffered to take effect, is punished now by an unjust sentence on me.” He declared that he had desired the liberty and freedom of the people as much as any, “but I must tell you that their liberty and freedom consists in having government … It is not their having a share in the government; that is nothing appertaining unto them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things.”  He continued, “I shall go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be.”

At about 2 p.m. Charles put his head on the block after saying a prayer and signalled the executioner when he was ready by stretching out his hands; he was then beheaded with one clean stroke. According to observer Philip Henry, a moan “as I never heard before and desire I may never hear again” rose from the assembled crowd, some of whom then dipped their handkerchiefs in the king’s blood as a memento.

12 Years a Slave: A review

Yesterday I went to the cinema with my family to see 12 Years a Slave. I had an idea of what the film was about, but I hadn’t read any reviews or done any research into the film.

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What I got was an incredibly powerful, moving film that brought us all to tears. For those that don’t know the film is a true story, taken from the book of the same name, about a free man who is abducted and sold into slavery, where he is kept for twelve years before finally regaining his freedom.

Some of the scenes in the film were incredibly upsetting and difficult to watch. For me, it was fascinating because Soloman Nortup was lucky and managed to return to his family. A lot of slaves were not as fortunate. These films always make me want to learn more slavery in America. It makes me want to pull out all my history books and surround myself with this knowledge.

I think the most poignant thing about the film is that it was only one hundred and sixty years ago. When you think about it, it’s possible that the great grandchildren of people who were slaves in the 19th century could still be alive. For example, if someone was born in 1820 and lived until 1870, their children could have lived until the 1940’s if not later, meaning their children could still be alive and their grandchildren should definitely still be alive. It sounds bizarre, but I think you know what I mean, yeah?

The film shows us what it was like in 1840’s America. It shows how badly slaves were treated and how deep the inequality went. This can be seen when slave owners refer to slaves as their property. Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender are amazing in their roles and I definitely have new respect for them as actors. It cannot be easy to portray those characters and not take it home with you at night. They do a great job.

I didn’t realise that Brad Pitt produced the film. A lot of people have complained about Brad Pitt’s cameo in the film, but I liked it. I don’t think anyone else could have played Bass the way he did.

” Steve was the first to ask the big question, ‘Why has there not been more films on the American history of slavery?’. And it was the big question it took a Brit to ask.”

I like this quote from Brad Pitt. He’s making two points with it. The first one is that more films should be made, more should be done unearth the horrors that people went through. The second point is that it was the British who were asking these questions, when it should be the Americans. The British abolished slavery in 1807, over two hundred years ago. Whereas in America, even when slavery ended, inequality was still an issue.

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One of my favourite quotes from the film was, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” It was sad near the start of the film when Solomon was abducted and put on a boat with other abductees.  The reason I like this quote is because it showed that Solomon didn’t want to just survive. You could tell he was going to fight and try and regain his freedom.

Chiwetel Ejiofor was outstanding in this film. His acting was superb. To be honest there isn’t words to explain how good an actor he is in this film. The way he connects with the audience and makes you feel his pain, it’s heart wrenching.

The character Patsey, played by Lupita Nyong’o, will bring you to tears. What that character goes through, the pain and heart break, the fear she must have felt, is incredible. The actress deserves so much recognition for her role and her ability to play that role so well.

12 Years a Slave is a film everybody should see. They should see it so that they can learn from the past and understand what it was like to be a slave. They should see it because the acting was immense and these actors deserve recognition. They should see it because, if they don’t, they’ll kick themselves for not watching it.

Fact of the day: 29th January

On this day in 1861 Kansas was admitted as the 34th U.S state.

In 1803, most of modern Kansas was secured by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Southwest Kansas, however, was still a part of Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas until the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848. From 1812 to 1821, Kansas was part of the Missouri Territory. The Santa Fe Trail traversed Kansas from 1821 to 1880, transporting manufactured goods from Missouri and silver and furs from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wagon ruts from the trail are still visible in the prairie today.

In 1827, Fort Leavenworth became the first permanent settlement of white Americans in the future state. The Kansas–Nebraska Act became law on May 30, 1854, establishing the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and opening the area to broader settlement by whites. Kansas Territory stretched all the way to the Continental Divide and included the sites of present-day Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.

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Missouri and Arkansas sent settlers into Kansas all along its eastern border. These settlers attempted to sway votes in favor of slavery. The secondary settlement of Americans in Kansas Territory was abolitionists from Massachusetts and other Free-Staters, who attempted to stop the spread of slavery from neighboring Missouri. Directly presaging the American Civil War, these forces collided, entering into skirmishes that earned the territory the name of Bleeding Kansas.

Kansas was admitted to the United States as a slave-free state on January 29, 1861, making it the 34th state to enter the Union. By that time the violence in Kansas had largely subsided, but during the Civil War, on August 21, 1863, William Quantrill led several hundred men on a raid into Lawrence, destroying much of the city and killing nearly 200 people. He was roundly condemned by both the conventional Confederate military and the partisan rangers commissioned by the Missouri legislature. His application to that body for a commission was flatly rejected due to his pre-war criminal record.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

For those of you that haven’t read the latest book, this post will have a lot of spoilers.

bridget-jones-mad-about-the-boyI first read the Bridget Jones Diary about four months ago. And I loved it. I loved the style of writing, the characters. It was a great book. So when I got Edge of Reason and Mad About The Boy for Christmas I couldn’t wait to start reading them. Again, I loved Edge of Reason, I loved the way things didn’t work out, but Bridget and Darcy were still drawn together. So when I read Mad About The Boy, I was expecting the same reaction. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it. At all. It disappointed me.

I’d heard rumours about what happened in the book, but I couldn’t believe when Helen Fielding had actually killed Mark Darcy off. For me, he was central to the previous two books, so how would this book work without him? I don’t understand why she couldn’t have taken the book in a different direction. I didn’t want to see Bridget with anyone else.For me, her and Darcy were the perfect couple and to end that, is just bizarre. It would have been like J.K.Rowling Killing off Ron and expecting Harry and Hermione to carry on without him (obviously I’m aware that Ron does leave in Deathly Hallows, but he comes back so it doesn’t count).

Moving on from that, the other issue I had was with Bridget’s Twitter account. I’ve been on Twitter for four years, I’ve had two accounts in that time, so I like to think I understand how Twitter works. Isn’t it just a tad unrealistic that Bridget would gain several hundred followers? Even when she starts tweeting and talking to a select few people, I still don’t see how she could have that many followers. Even if they were all spam bots. Clearly I’m doing something wrong seeing as I’ve had my current account for five months and I’ve barely hit two hundred followers yet.

I did like the fact that even though Jude married vile Richard. It did turn out in the end that was he indeed vile and she deserved better. That was a nice bit of continuity there. I liked the fact that we still saw Daniel. Even though that also annoyed me, because if we can have Daniel, why can’t we have Mark as well?

The other thing I didn’t understand was the children. To be honest, I never saw Mark and Bridget as parents, but that’s just me. But what I don’t understand is why did they wait so long to have children? Why didn’t they have them in their late thirties, early forties? Obviously in this book Bridget is in her fifties, which again I didn’t really understand. Anyway, it is never explained why they waited so long to have children. I feel if they had been some sort of back story to this, it would have made more sense and, potentially make Mark’s death even more tragic.

Lastly, I didn’t like the fact that she moved on. I know it’s not healthy to hold onto the past, but I just feel that for Bridget they couldn’t be anyone else. She spent so long looking for the perfect man and found it in Darcy, surely no one could replace that?

 

So Yesterday…

…I deleted my Facebook. A bit drastic but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for months and, I’ve deactivated a few times, but that wasn’t enough.

Facebook has been a part of our lives now for six, maybe seven years and for almost everyone, it’s a huge part of our lives. But recently, whenever I went on Facebook, it felt like it had just turned into a site where we could brag about things and get attention, or even rub it in that we’re doing better than others. Not to mention the fact that, Facebook is great for when you’re incredibly drunk and you want to check out the ex partner/friend or estranged family etc and, we all know that is not healthy.

It did feel a bit weird this morning waking up and not checking Facebook, but I still think it’s for the best. I’m not even sure if anyone of my friends have really noticed yet either. That to me means one of two things; firstly, that if your friends don’t even notice, then clearly no one is even paying attention to you in the first place, so why do you need Facebook? Secondly, for me it means that I’ve done the right thing, because obviously my real friends will know how to get hold of me through other methods. And for those people who aren’t really friends, won’t miss me and I won’t miss them.

They say it takes three days to make a habit and twenty one days to break a habit. So here’s hoping that in twenty one days time I will have broken this habit!

Fact of the day: 28th January

On this day in 1813, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was published for the first time in the United Kingdom.

The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Even though this novel was written and published two hundred years ago, it is still one of the most well-known and most loved books, always being near the top in voting lists, constant television and film adaptations and, the book has been published countless times since 1813.

Personally, it is one of my favourite books. I love the style, the period it was written. Everything just seems so much simpler then, compared to now when courtship is now a couple of texts and a snap chat. Hardly romantic now, is it?

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