These days, everyone is talking about the Scottish Independence Referendum, especially when they’re not talking about ISIS.

September 16th, 2014

Karl reMarks: We Give the Scottish Independence Referendum the Middle East Expert Treatment.

The English and the Scottish had a long-running rivalry throughout history, which partially explains the current animosity. The two nations often went to war against each other, but the rivalry came to an end with the Acts of Union 1707. (So called because it was signed at seven minutes past five in the afternoon.) Despite being part of the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, many Scots never felt comfortable and always wanted to seek independence so that they can enjoy their simple way of life in the mountains, drinking whisky and eating the local delicacy known as ‘fried Mars bars’.

The English however are intent on depriving the Scots from achieving this goal, not least because it would mean re-designing the flag and changing all the letterheads. (The English are pragmatic down-to-earth people, but they are notorious for their aversion to change, particularly when stationery is involved.) The English would also like to keep their hands on Scottish oil and gas reserves, because clearly as Middle East experts we feel obliged to stress the importance of oil regardless of context.

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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Devo on 'devo max' for Scotland

February 17th, 2012

This morning's Devo on 'devo max' for Scotland was by some considerable margin the most surreal item I've heard on the Today programme in quite a while.

I'd dearly love to have been a fly on the wall in the editorial meeting when someone first suggested they ask a member of Devo what they thought of the possibility of adding a third option to the ballot on Scottish independence.

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iPad as whiteboard

March 31st, 2011

Fraser Speirs' ongoing series of posts on his iPad Project – a 1:1 deployment of iPads to pupils in the independent school where he teaches IT – has made for fascinating reading for some time now.1 Not just for the techie stuff about how to manage, configure and backup all the pupil data and all those applications, but for the insights into the way that supplying enough tablet computers is changing how teachers teach and how pupils learn.

The latest post in the series is a good example. With a little help from a simple drawing application, the iPad – when plugged in to an external display via the VGA port – doubles as a digital whiteboard that is much more versatile than a regular whiteboard.

The point isn't that schools should replace their whiteboards with iPads, but that once you have a school where every teacher and pupil has access to a lightweight, flexible tablet computer there are all sorts of things you'll end up being able to use the tablet for that you might not have envisaged beforehand.

  1. Of course, this sort of experiment is easier to carry off when the school in question is a smallish fee-paying institution rather than a state-funded comprehensive. Scaling this sort of project up is a very different challenge, but that doesn't in any sense invalidate the lessons learned from the project about the uses to which you can apply a tablet computer.

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Local Hero

March 11th, 2011

A post in praise of Bill Forsyth's Local Hero:

Premature nostalgia is perhaps most common to travelers – a melancholic appreciation for where one is that an impending departure drives home (pun intended). You can occasionally find it elsewhere, at a high school graduation or a play's closing night. But rarely are life's departures so obvious. Travel time is finite time, and the end of a trip underscores the non-negotiable impermanence of nearly everything. The redeeming feature of nostalgia, then, at least a mutant form: in a minor panic, we feel vividly present, compelled to use well our life allotment.

Director Bill Forsyth's 1983 cult hit Local Hero articulates this feeling more precisely than any other film I've seen. […]

[Via The Awl]

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"On these landscapes of early memory I've inflicted science fiction."

November 5th, 2010

Ken MacLeod on depicting the places where he grew up in his fiction:

In an age of increasingly metropolitan media focus, it's easy to accept that Paris, London, New York and all the other cities so readily evoked by their recognisable skylines in disaster movies and in technothrillers should have their place in imagined futures. But other towns and villages and open spaces will still be there, and deserve their piece of the action as part of our futures. Even futures that didn't happen. Without the Martians, who would have heard of Woking? Today, maybe in grateful civic recognition of this, Wells's alien invaders are memorialised by a fine steel statue of a Fighting Machine looming over the pedestrian precinct in the town centre.

[Via The Early Days of a Better Nation]

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As opposed to tramping the dirt down…

May 14th, 2010

In the MeFi thread on the prospects for our new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government, Grimgrin relates a quip about one of David Cameron's predecessors:

I remember a line from Frankie Boyle when discussing the 20 million pound planned funeral for Thatcher.

"For twenty million pounds you could buy everyone in Scotland a shovel, and we'll dig her a hole so deep we can hand her back to Satan personally."

(For context, here's how the Conservative party's support in Scotland crashed and burned during the Thatcher years and has yet to recover. Which is why the new Secretary of State for Scotland is a Liberal Democrat.)

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Boycott Scotland!

August 25th, 2009

Boycott Scotland!

Abdel Baset al-Megrahi did not show his victims any humanity or mercy, so why did Scotland decide to show him any? How can we possibly show these terrorists that we will not be intimidated if we continue to be better than they are?


The actions of the Scottish government are despicable. They have freed a man responsible for the mass murder of 270 innocent civilians, therefore, they, and the rest of Scotland must be held responsible, for ultimately the people of a democratic nation are responsible for its leadership.

Because of this I urge every American to Boycott Scotland. It is the only way we Americans can ensure that every nation maintains and respects our rules, our laws, and shares our viewpoint. […]

[Via GromBlog]