Amy Fox

Writer. Editor. Bad at blogging.

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Concrete: ParaNorman

Laika’s ParaNorman is the heart-warming tale of a young boy who sees dead people, which, as Bruce Willis knows, is always a winner.

More interested in hanging out with his dead grandma than the living people around him, Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) is just your average misunderstood paranormal 11 year old until he has to help save his town from a witch’s curse (oh, and zombies).

While the story is a little predictable, it’s still sweet and entertaining. There are some endearing and funny moments, mostly dependent on the mix of conventional horror tropes and realistic domestic comedy, such as Norman and his sister being chastised by their mother for squabbling with one of the zombies in the back seat of the family car. There are also several more self-aware “adult” moments which set it apart from the average kids’ film. The stop-motion animation amongst the standard CGI gives it a classic edge, particularly alongside the out-of-proportion character design.

While there could have been a few extra horror references for the movie-buffs and more shocking twists and turns, ParaNorman is an enjoyable watch with a superbly balanced blend of mock-horror and comedy.

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Concrete: Enterprise centre could make Norwich a “green capital”

UEA are hoping to pioneer one of the most “trailblazing” sustainable buildings in the country.

Instead of the University’s infamous concrete, the £15.9m NRP enterprise centre will be made from locally-sourced renewable materials such as timber and chalk. It will be used by students and new businesses in order to provide a link between UEA and the local community.

Following an exhibition of the plans at the Sportspark on Tuesday 7 August, the EDP reported project director John French as saying: “What we are trying to do is create a world-class building that is exemplary in its low-carbon performance. Just like the Olympics, we want to create a buzz about the place.

“It will be a huge benefit to Norwich’s economy and to Norwich’s reputation as a green capital. It is a statement building. It states a set of values associated with the university, making its contribution at a practical level towards addressing climate change. Alongside our world-class research and teaching this is a practical example of how we can put it into practice.

“We want to demonstrate that this is possible to do, so that people will copy it. People never change in society unless someone comes along and does something differently.”

The goal for the enterprise centre will be 168 kilos of CO2 per square metre. This is extremely low when compared to the best practice of “embodied energy” university buildings, which currently at 845.

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Concrete: Police close Climategate case

Police announced yesterday (18 July 2012) that they have closed the investigation into the theft of emails which began the Climategate scandal at UEA in November 2009. No criminal proceedings will be followed, with the breach being described by the Norfolk Constabulary Major Investigation Team as a “sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s [Climate Research Unit’s] data files, carried out remotely via the internet.”

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.

“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging … There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

In response to the case’s closure, UEA vice-chancellor Professor Edward Acton said: “We are naturally disappointed that those responsible for this crime have not been caught and brought to justice. We are very grateful to Norfolk Constabulary for their sustained effort over the last two-and-a-half years, and appreciate the difficulty of devoting continued resources to such a complex international investigation. Clearly the perpetrators were highly sophisticated and covered their tracks extremely carefully.

“The misinformation and conspiracy theories circulating following the publication of the stolen emails – including the theory that the hacker was a disgruntled UEA employee – did real harm to public perceptions about the dangers of climate change. The results of the independent inquiries and recent scientific studies have vindicated our scientists, who have returned to their important task of providing the best possible scientific information on this globally critical issue.”

Meanwhile, Professor Phil Jones, Research Director of the CRU, commented: “I would like to thank the police for their work on this difficult investigation and also for the personal support they offered me. I am obviously disappointed that no-one has been prosecuted for this crime but hope today’s announcement will draw a line under the stressful events of the last two and half years. My colleagues and I remain committed to the research CRU undertakes to illuminate the globally important issue of climate change.”

The investigation, “Operation Cabin”, focused on the unauthorised access of material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. However, there is a three-year limit to proceedings after the original offence, meaning that Norfolk Constabulary, in consultation with The Met, were forced to close the case, with the possibility of finding the perpetrator deemed unrealistic.

Independent inquiries into the Climategate emails did not find any evidence of wrongdoing by the CRU scientists.

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Concrete: Confusion over results leaves students frustrated

Updated 4 July: According to Dr Andrea Blanchflower, director of Learning and Teaching Services, yesterday’s deadline for final students was met in all schools. The deadline for continuing students is 5pm on 10 July.

A document from the Learning and Teaching Service (LTS) webpage said that the “Deadline for publication of pass lists” would be 3 July. However, for the last few days, the official UEA Twitter account, @uniofeastanglia, has been informing individuals that continuing students will get their results by the end of the week.

There was no official announcement from the University explaining this, and when the 3 July deadline passed, many continuing students appeared to remain uninformed, describing themselves on Twitter as “frustrated”, “fuming” and “sick of waiting”.

After saying that they “understand frustrations” on Twitter, the University went on to announce that the 3 July deadline was for finalists only, most of whom have their results. However, this was also seen as unacceptable by some, with law student James Laughlin citing the month-long wait for many finalists as a “bit of a joke” considering the imminent graduation ceremonies.

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Concrete: Anger over plans to demolish Islamic Centre

The lease for the temporary buildings was granted in 2009 with the intention to build a permanent facility once it expired. However, this has not been the case.

While UEA will apply in June for a new lease to build a permanent teaching space to replace the CD annex, this does not include prayer facilities to replace those provided by the Islamic Centre.

The reasons for this decision remain unclear. However, it was made without consultation with the centre’s chaplain, Masoud Gadir, who was only informed of the closure after the decision had been made, or any other members of the Muslim community.

The Islamic centre is integral to the Muslim community of UEA for daily congregational prayers, at which 20-80 people attend, with over 400 for Jum’uah prayers on Fridays. Due to the relatively small Islamic community in Norwich, it is one of the largest centres in the area.

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Concrete: Students’ film on homelessness wins BBC prize

The documentary, entitled 16:01, was created by Guy Wilson, Will Hanford, Nate Dove and Alex Francis, and was originally displayed over five screens at the Forum. This meant that several different shots could be viewed at once, while the main interviews were shown. However, it can be seen in its single-screen form here.

It was shown as part of a series of fifteen films made by students for Campus City in February, a presentation at the Forum which was a collaboration between UEA, BBC Voices and the SeaMedia project. The students were given the opportunity to make a film based on any subject, as long as it was relevant to Norwich and Norfolk.

Speaking to Concrete about the inspiration for the film, Wilson said: “We wanted to tackle it and get a real strong issue, given the platform that we had, the great opportunity that it was. We saw the opportunity to do something important and to make something that could make a difference.”

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Concrete: Students protest outside David Willetts lecture

Words: Amy Adams and Oliver Balaam.

Universities minister David Willetts was met with strong opposition by students when he visited UEA to give a lecture on philosophy and government. A protest, organised by undergraduate Cal Corkery and approved by the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS), gathered outside the lecture theatres half an hour before the event began. Corkery, along with UUEAS officers Meg Evans, Matt Myles, Tash Ross, and postgraduate officer and president of the GSA John Taylor, met with Willetts prior to the event to ask questions directly.

Speaking to Concrete after the event, communications officer Matt Myles said: “It was good. We didn’t expect to change his mind but we did expect to get our points across, which I think we did really well. We informed him of the motion of no confidence and we challenged him on A B margins and bidding systems as well as research frameworks.”

Corkery added: “We obviously understood that we weren’t going to get any concessions or major slip ups from him but we put across the views of UEA students pretty well, which is all we set out to do.”

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