Aliens, high-neck jackets, purple hair and silver jump suits: Yes it’s UFO

Sunday February twenty three 2070

Thousands of fans are detained by police at an event to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1970 TV series ‘UFO’. Police declare there were multiple breaches of the law.

The inexplicable craze for all things to do with the old ‘British’ TV series ‘UFO’ took a further turn this weekend. An event to mark the 100th anniversary of the series, first aired on British (now Former UK States) TV in 1970, took place on the campus of the University of Middle England (UME) and attracted several thousand delegates from all over the FUKS. The event got off to a lively start on Friday evening with young students and older people alike dancing to a 1970s style disco. Thumping music from the series also rang around the hangar-like auditorium constructed since the destruction in December of last year (See Timeline 2069 ‘University of Middle England Cancels Christmas after riotous party’).
All delegates were required to wear suitable dress that was “as authentic as possible”. Indeed, all of them duly turned up in UFO clothes that made for an impressive sight. There were purple wigs, blond wigs, short silver skirts, polo-neck sweaters and silver jump suits worn inside silver bathing costumes. 

Outside the venue there were several hundred noisy protesters dressed as a variety of strange alien beings. Led by UME lecturer Dr Peter Satchell, they were calling for rights for all aliens. An assortment of chants and banners proclaimed “Aliens are equals”; “Free movement for aliens”; “If you hate aliens UFO”; “My mum was an alien”. 

Fire breaks out.

But things started to go wrong around one am as the party was in full swing. A pile of button-up jackets dumped in one corner of the auditorium suddenly caught fire. There was some panic in the smoke as people rushed for exits, but thankfully no one was hurt. The campus fire service arrived within three minutes and extinguished the fire. However, they were not happy with the overall situation. It seems that the authentic jackets were made from illegal and highly flammable polyester. Furthermore, many delegates were smoking cigarettes as was the custom in 1970. The combination proved to be very dangerous.

Fire officer Sam Montag from Pontypandy stated that, “We were lucky tonight that no one was injured. The combination of flammable clothes and lighted cigarettes was a big problem in 1970 and still is it seems. Those wearing polyester jackets, jump suits, nylon swimwear, and nylon wigs are taking a terrible risk in a crowded venue”.

Mass illegal activity.

The police arrived as the smoke was cleared and suddenly started to round up several thousand revellers. They were all lined up in many long queues and detained as their clothes and wigs were confiscated. Police Commander Eddie Striker arrived and issued a stern statement at the scene, “We have taken very strict action tonight with respect to mass illegal activity. The young people here may have thought they were being clever in sourcing authentic costumes for the evening. However, they have broken several laws. All polyester and nylon was banned in 2035 as un-environmental are fossil fuel based. They are also a fire hazard as we have seen earlier. Smoking cigarettes was banned totally in 2028 and remains a serious health and fire hazard.” We were also told by the organisers that the police had tested the sound system and confiscated it as a dangerous hearing hazard. Apparently it was working at over 110 decibels at the time of the fire and playing the popular songs of 1970, Alright Now, Spirit in the Sky and Black Night.

We spoke with the organiser and UME Student President, Syd Barrett (pictured) who at first asked, “Pardon you will have to speak up. Who are you?” then “Yes, I admit it was a bit loud, but we were looking for an authentic experience. The fire was unfortunate and none of us were aware of the flammable nature of the materials”. We asked if he regretted the event and he rolled his eyes, stubbed out a strangely sweet-smelling cigarette and said “We wanted to have fun. I think young people should have a lot of fun. But I never seem to have any.” He then looked up and noticed something out of the corner of his eye before rushing off shouting “Careful with the axe Eugene!”

From our culture history correspondent and self-proclaimed ‘Prince of Darkness, John ‘Ozzy’ Osbourne III.

From incubator to composter: Compulsory education for life.

Sunday February sixteen 2070

The lecturer’s Higher Education Providers Union (HEPU) conference yesterday, ‘From incubator to composter’, endorsed the government’s commitment to compulsory lifelong education across all of the Former UK (FUK) States. Keynote speaker, Re-Education Minister Karl Corbyn Junior III, stressed that the Socialist Conservative Alliance Movement (SCAM) government would not back off from its promises last year, despite the emergence of many teething problems in the last few weeks, with, “We are determined to adhere to the Western European Confederation leisure time directive and free up time for educational activities for all……If you are not working you are always learning”. The CEO of the Higher Education Providers Union, Sally Forth was not able to attend the conference but reiterated her concerns about the burdens put upon existing staff in a message to delegates, “Academic staff in the FUKS are exempt from the leisure time directive and most work well over twenty hours per week already. They and their families will be the big losers in this unless funds for more staff are found urgently”.

Richard Head of The Union of British Industry was more positive and stressed the importance of high quality courses and re-education for the FUKS workforce. However, he voiced some concerns about how it is being funded through a National Education Service and in particular the liberal use of the National Access Number or NAN, “While having a NAN to help streamline access to courses is useful, use of the NAN is down to the employee’s choice alone. Employers need more of a say in what courses are relevant and economically useful. PM Margaret May sent out the wrong message when said she was interested in enrolling in a crop circle design course last year. This is a pointless skill for the modern day FUKS”

Problems emerging as some providers are cashing in.

Most of the afternoon was devoted to discussion of the problems with respect to workload. But a parallel session on ‘Misuse of the NAN and access abuses’ revealed several surprises and led to a hot debate that fuelled considerable anger. Critics of compulsory education and the NAN have been quick to seize upon stories about some universities concocting meaningless courses with a view to maximising profit. This was been directed in particular at the Alliance of Independent Provider or AIP Universities.

Many had predicted very early on that criminal practices would emerge to cash in on courses that don’t deliver. The conference heard of shocking instances that were being uncovered through a HEPU whistleblowing service. All of them related to the AIP universities with the University of Middle England (UME) topping the list of complaints.

One part-time degree course in ‘Cyber Marketing’ looked particularly interesting. Over three thousand students were enrolled from October of last year for a combination of online and in house lectures and tutorials. Each had to register for a marketing ‘project’ assignment to be completed by March of this year. The students were given various products to devise marketing strategies for. All of the products turned out to be related to UME commercial concerns and investments. More than a dozen students reported that they were conducting a cold-calling telemarketing project as part of their assignment.

In another case, several thousand students were enrolled on a part-time ‘General Leisure Studies’ degree. They were required to log on once a week and fill in how many hours they carried out leisure activities. The university automatically logged the hours as course time and ‘pocketed’ the fees through the NAN service. But it seems that an incentive was payed as a 20% 'kick back' to those enrolled who were simply avoiding compulsory education service to work in the black economy.

Virginia Fox, the CEO of UME, told us that courses were all “tailored to the needs of students” and her advice to those enrolled on the ‘General Leisure Studies’ degree course was that “there was no need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anyone but yourself”

Background to the conference and lifelong learning.

The annual conference has been a regular event for over fifty years with only one break in 2020 in the aftermath of the ‘incident’. It started its life called ‘From the cradle to the grave’ to signify the importance of education at all stages of the human life cycle. The name was changed in 2042 to reflect changes to birth and death practices two years earlier. Burial was banned on environmental grounds in 2039 followed by the banning of cremation in 2040. The FUKS adopted more environmentally friendly composting as standard practice from then on.

Problems with midwife services became very commonplace post-incident and this came to a head during the 2030s. By 2036, plans to streamline births on a stricter timetable were hatched. By 2040, natural birth was a thing of the past and all births in the FUKS were booked in advance. New born babies were all delivered premature, within a convenient nine to five timeslot, and transferred to pre-booked incubators.

Funding a perennial problem.

The challenge of funding of compulsory, and then lifelong, education has been a source of concern that goes back well into pre-incident times. The crisis in accumulated student loans escalated during the incident and the fall out is still affecting people fifty years later (see Timeline 2070 ‘Oldest graduate finally pays off loan’ Sunday January 12 2070). As the population expanded in the post-incident period, and compulsory education from the age of two was introduced, the strain on finances became an increasing burden. The previous FUKSIP government, under former PM Norman Larage and his now infamous ‘rabid acolytes’, introduced educational loans called Compulsory Ongoing Nurture or CON loans. These were issued to all families who wanted their children educated; despite it being compulsory to age eighteen. The CON loans were planned to be paid back on a rolling basis by parents and then the debt passed to their children later in life. This was extremely unpopular and there were legal challenges to the idea of issuing loans to two year olds. Many refused to pay as soon as they reached eighteen and the system started to crumble.

The decision by the current SCAM government to bring in a national education service and issue everyone with a NAN has its roots in pre-incident proposals. The SCAM government will use payments by all working people to fund all education throughout life. To access education from two years old to sixty, people would only have to turn to their NAN and register at any approved educational access point. From last year, all education is paid for at the access point of delivery and directly to the nursery, school, college or institution providing the educational service. Surcharges or fines on students are levied in cases where they were deemed to be deliberately abusing the system by disruptive behaviour or not attending.

By our retirement consultant Ronnie van Winkle.

Further controversy at University of Middle England as course in Lecture Capture Studies is launched.

Sunday February nine 2070

The University of Middle England launched its post graduate diploma course in ‘Lecture Capture Studies’ last summer. This went largely unnoticed and the university reported that twelve students had enrolled at the start of the academic year. But this week a storm has erupted about how the course is using historical data. Some say that the archive they have accumulated is being exploited. The university is the largest repository of video lecture data in the Former UK States housed in its Institute for Backward Education. Critics have dubbed the collection as ‘teaching from the grave’ or the ‘dead historians society’. The students have been allowed full access to the vast collection of video lecture material spanning the last hundred years and more. However, relatives of some of the lecturers no longer alive claim that they own the rights to the material. They have taken out a test case in the courts to challenge the university’s right to use the material for profit. Their solicitor told us that, “On the one hand my clients accept that the archive collection is of historical significance for bona fide research but the university has overstepped the mark by selling degree a degree course that relies totally on the data. Their ancestors sweated blood years ago yet they are exploited after they have gone.”

What is the root of the problem?

The so called ‘lecture capture’ became commonplace just over fifty years ago during the time of the ‘incident’ and its political turmoil and strikes. This led most universities to  video lectures 
widely across their campuses. By 2020 it was assumed that all lecture hall and seminar rooms were being recorded. Some universities imposed the practice through tough new staff contracts with the aim of replacing live lectures with recordings during strike action. However, the reuse of the material came under a challenge as it often contained personal information about the lecturer concerned. This meant that, under the data protection laws of the time, the material should not have been disseminated without their permission. Indeed, to sabotage the practice, most lecturers deliberately included personal information at several points in their lectures. We spoke with one diploma student, who wished to remain anonymous, who said “at the time universities were forced to scour through the material to delete the offending clips”. Her project ‘What can we learn from deleted sections of lecture material from the 2020s?’ reveals the extent of the issue. She told us that some universities later started to deploy a director and censor into some lectures in an attempt to stem the tide of disobedience, However, none of this really worked well since their interventions caused chaos in most cases; with all of it captured on video. We were shown one good example from 2021 where a lecturer repeatedly referred to stories about his ‘talking’ English bulldog called ‘Churchill’ that barked “oh yes” when called. He referred to it as his “lecture capture insurance dog”. When the censor intervened the students all started barking “oh yes” repeatedly.

The relatives of some of the lecturers discovered, through a tip-off from students, that the editing of lectures had been relatively ineffectual in removing personal information. They now claim that they own the rights to most of the lecture material produced by their past family members who did not give consent for the material to be reused. This goes back decades and will be costly to unravel.

On a lighter point.

The University of Middle England launched a prize competition towards the end of 2069 to reward the most effective lectures to date. Working jointly with the FUKS Physics Society, a panel of students scoured through hours of video to find the most effective physics lecture. Surprisingly a lecture broadcast just over one hundred years ago by the Open University came out as the most popular. It featured a relatively young lecturer called Dr Tarquin Sunbeam dressed in a rainbow coloured ‘tank top’ sweater and pink flared trousers. The improbable size of his shirt collars was only matched by his wispy beard and shoulder length hair. The students seemed transfixed as he waved a length of rubber tubing up and down whilst scribbling how to derive the Schrödinger wave equation on a blackboard. His performance seemed as improbable as the output of the theory itself. However, its popularity now illustrates the timeless nature of much teaching and that the intellectual task has changed little in one hundred years.

The CEO of the University of Middle England, Virginia Fox, added her usual obscure comments after a short press briefing about the prize: “For a long time in recorded history we could say that nothing has really happened until it has been described. Now we can capture it and see it happen later but we are incredulous to describe it”.

By our Rome reporter, taking a break from La Dolce Vita, Marcello Rubini

Who’s taking the piste? Review of the 'RahRah Survival Guide' for middle class students

Sunday February two 2070

The publication this week of the ‘Rah Rah Survival Guide’ for posh and middle class students marks the 50th anniversary of this essential annual guide. When first published in 2020, its purpose was to provide a comprehensive guide for students from advantaged family backgrounds wishing to fit in with their lesser advantaged peers. The latest guide has many of the traditional gems of advice in addition to recent updates. Hopefully ‘posh’ students will continue to avoid the common ‘faux pas’ traps into which many have fallen over the years. First and foremost is not to use French words that may seem to you to be ‘en vogue’.  It should be ‘de rigueur’ to use the vernacular wherever possible since doing otherwise will grate on some students. If caught out, then the classic comic defence of ‘pretentious moi’ may work but only the once. Here are a few snippets.

Living together.
Although the proportion of students coming from the poorest neighbourhoods has not risen at our universities significantly since 2020, it still remains important for students of means to try not to stand out.  Back in 2020, the different standards of accommodation meant that this alone marked out the wealthiest students. However, the  Student Equality Bill and accord of 2027, signed by all Former UK States (FUKS) universities, meant that all students were  compelled to live in equivalent standard accommodation. Rooms were all adapted to basic single study rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms.  This means that all students now have the same facilities and advantage in term time. To most students, the rooms are basic and a radical step down from what they experience at home. For others, the rooms are a luxury with a sink and central heating and often for the first time they are not sharing a room with their siblings (use of the word sibling is discouraged in favour of brothers and sisters).
Studying together.
Don’t refer to anyone doing something out of the ordinary and alone as going ‘off piste’. Poorer students have never been skiing and are likely to get ‘piste off’. If you see a risky move from someone (not referred to as a ‘peer’ or ‘fellow’ student please) they are not ‘sailing close to the wind’.  Your less advantaged companions may have never been in a boat and will misunderstand the reference to ‘wind’.

You might be tempted to say they are doing it ‘off their own bat’. This term from the cricketing world will bamboozle those not familiar with the sport. Indeed, foreign students will immediately think of a small flying mammal and assume that you are insane.
Don’t call for a ‘tête-à-tête’ with fellow students to discuss an assignment; ‘let’s meet’ will suffice. Predictive text can be a source of much confusion. In trying to fit in with a message in the vernacular such as, “I can’t get nout” may send as “I can’t get Moët on your phone. Be warned.

What to wear and not to wear  has become an important factor in staying low key. It is important for male students that you NEVER wear brightly coloured, particularly red, trousers.  If you must wear expensive items such as clothes from Harvey Nichols, and similar upmarket stores, then remove all of the labels. Even Marks and Spencer labels are risky. Better still replace the labels with equivalent ones from Primark.
Mistakes are commonplace and widespread. Leaving a bowl of olives lying around that may be mistaken for grapes will leave a sour taste. Avocados are not pears and to be avoided along with foods such as quinoa and polenta. It’s ‘mashed potato’ and never ‘creamed potato’ or God forbid, ‘pomme purée’. French fries are American. Never ask if someone wants cream in their coffee. This will lead to incredible confusion when the reply is “I would prefer milk and not cream please”. Indeed coffee alone will be focal point for many problems and reverting to tea (‘ordinary’ and never Early Grey or the like) might be easier. Many families post ‘incident’ could only afford cheap instant coffee or even a chicory essence referred to as ‘tent’ coffee. They may never have seen coffee beans or a grinder before and the ‘fines’ in their cup will be a surprise. Fines are what you pay when you are caught surely. Wine only comes in three basic types, white, red and fizzy.
Family and holidays.

It is very easy to slip up here; especially when discussing the holidays or weekends. If you have been at the family estate in the country or family villa in Italy for the weekend, then referring to it as ‘visiting my father’s allotment’ might help. But note that an allotment in Tuscany is most likely to seem bizarre.
Planning a holiday with friends should be done with extreme caution so as not to offend. The less advantaged students will be seeking employment nearer home in the summer and they will not be up for a ‘grand tour’ of Europe. Upon return, you could say you were working as a delivery driver around various European cities. But definitely forget to explain that you were, in essence, delivering your parents cash to various bars and restaurants.
Lastly, NEVER EVER bring up the subject of the ‘incident’ of 2019 with a student from a less advantaged background. This may be precisely why they have fewer advantages than you.

Origins of the Rees-Mogg Registry and world standardisation of units

Timeline Sunday July 27 2070 A little known fact about the ‘incident’ of 2019 emerged in recent days that should serve as a warning for...