The Somnolence of the (succulent) Lambs

The supposed revelations about Rangers FC in the Daily Record this morning are in truth anything but revelations. Almost, if not quite all, of the information has been readily available for may months. Thanks to the work of the Rangers Tax Case blog, Phil MacGiollabhain, more recently the Random Thoughts re Scots Law blog, and many others, people have been able to learn about this information for months.

The fact that the mainstream Scottish (sic) media are taking this up now in part speaks to the fact that the Daily Record has been in serious trouble for a while with dwindling sales and recent layoffs.

The more interesting part is why they haven’t taken it up before now. Jokes about the “succulent lamb”  provided to journalists explain part of it. The lobby system has always been an effective control mechanism against journalists and Scotland seems to have had its lobby system working in one of its football clubs more than in its parliament. Furthermore, Rangers supporting journalists have been unwilling to rock the boat (or is that sinking ship) at their chosen club and have therefore kept silent.

On the links I have provided above you will find far more in-depth and for the most part better written information on the Rangers case than you will find in the Scottish media so I have nothing to add on that here.

What I want to ask is this…  if the Scottish media have been covering things up and reprinting untruths to keep one of their favourite unionist institutions intact, with a referendum on Independence coming up, might they be doing it about something else?

Rejected Unionist Referendum Question Proposals

The wording of “Do you agree that Scotland should be an Independent Country?” caused some consternation as being unfair in some circles.

It is therefore only right that we look at some of the alternatives that were put forward by unionist parties…

  1. Would you like all these puppies to be poisoned, or would you prefer to stay part of the union?
  2. Would you prefer to be independent and be subjected to numerous terrorists attacks, meteor strikes, possible dinosaur attacks and financial ruin or would you prefer not to have all those problems if we just sort them all out for you?
  3. When the moon is in the 7th knee and the wimble-wimbles wemble, would you prefer to wash the moon or grembille the runfrunffers? (this was the suggestion of George Foulkes).
  4. Is it better to shut up and f*ck off or shut up and not f*ck off?

Beaten To The Punch

I had been about to post the video of Paxman’s shameful interview with Alex Salmond last night but Bella Caledonia (with the excellent title of We Pay For This) and plenty of other notable bloggers beat me to the punch. I will put the video on the continuation page below this short article anyway.

For many of us it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to see the BBC behaving in such a blatantly biased way and another thing that won’t come as a surprise is the tone of some of the writing in this Scotsman (sic) article. The bold and italics are mine.

The move, apparently planned for months, will mean that the Tory part of the coalition will at last have a direct Scottish link between the lobby in Westminster, where many journalists for London-based titles are still playing catch up on the issue, and will be able to get their message across as opposed to the Lib Dem side of the coalition which was meant to run Scotland.

The Lib Dems have had their troops in place for a little longer, Euan Roddin at the Scotland Office and just before Christmas, Christine Jardine in Downing Street.

But Tory Chancellor George Osborne has taken change of the Scottish question. So the arrival of Mr Jones is significant because it is clear that the Tories have decided that the Lib Dems cannot be allowed to deal with Scotland alone, not least because the Conservative approach is far more aggressive than the one Michael Moore first pursued.

So the Libdems have to “run Scotland”, not the Scottish Parliament and when things don’t go to London’s plan it appears  we have to be “dealt with”. The  article itself says “deal with” but I don’t think they mean in the sense of “make a deal with”, do you?

And yet they still wonder why more and more people are going for independence every day.

Continue reading

Film Guide (with free films) – Part 2 – Economics

A few years ago I used to run a biweekly free film showing in the University for anyone who wanted to come along. The films were a mix of documentaries, fiction and  based on true story stuff. I would try to get a guest along to speak too.

I thought I would make the list of films available here with links to where you can see them free where possible.

I’ve divided them into rough groups and posted links to where you can find them online if you want to. The first week I had some films about the media.

This week I have some films about the marvellous economic system that seems to be serving everyone so well at the moment.

The Corporation - The first is the absolutely magnificent The Corporation. This documentary highlights that under the law, the business corporation is in fact a legal person. The question then follows, what kind of person is a corporation. This one is unmissable and I imagine many readers here have already seen it. If you haven’t then you can WATCH IT ONLINE HERE.

Roger & Me – Michael Moore’s first film is one of his best and focuses on the destruction of his home town and his attempt to get an interview with Roger Smith, then CEO of General Motors. You’ll have to get a hold of this one yourselves but it is worth it.

McLibel: Two People Who Wouldn’t Say Sorry – This film, directed by Ken Loach and Franny Armstrong, is a documentary about two people who were taken to court by McDonalds for handing out leaflets about them. A remarkable story indeed.  It shows how far some of these companies will go and also the courage of the people who stand up to them. You can WATCH IT ONLINE HERE (Spanish subtitles).

The Yes Men Fix The World - No words apart from fantastic, WATCH IT ONLINE  HERE.

Political Realities Explained For Children…With Penguins

Now kids, if you watch the little video below you will see 99% penguin. 99% penguin works hard to build his little nest but because he is so busy building that little nest, he cannot see 1% penguin behind him stealing the things he has worked to collect.

1% penguin’s nest looks very good and he has almost finished it, without doing any real work. 99% penguin will have to keep working if he is to finish his nest.

1% penguin is also ready to respond with violence or the threat of violence if someone tries to take back the things he stole.

Next Month

I very rarely take a stab at writing short stories but over the christmas period I listened to an interview with Neil Gaiman (who I have never ready anything by) and he said that at one time he had been challenged to write  a story with only 247 words. I thought this seemed like an interesting idea so I decided to do one with 248 (not including title) and give myself half an hour to do it. This is what I came up with if you don’t count two very minor changes…



I always thought it was a strange place for a pawnbroker; right in the middle of one of the most expensive places in the city. This meant that either rich people were pawning things off or poorer people had to take the bus or, more probably, have a long walk to get there. That seemed a bit like adding insult to injury.
I’ve seen the first time you go described in story before and it’s true that the first time you have your dearest items examined and deliberately undervalued is unpleasant. But it isn’t anywhere near to the humiliation that comes over you when you go to pay your monthly and show the world, again, that you still don’t have enough money to reclaim what is actually yours.
Anyway, this time I went in through the doors and then into the little booth. I showed him my receipt, and gave him my 9 pounds for the month which he took via the little safety drawer. He didn’t say a single word to me. I started to put myself in his position and began to think how he must see desperation every day and have to be either hardnosed or just indifferent to it.
This was my fourth payment so I had paid 6 pounds more in monthlies than I’d initially got for pawning the thing in the first place.
I toyed with the idea of saying “See you next month”, but instead I just thought it and left.

Ignorance Is Strength

Learn a new language and get a new soul.  - Czech Proverb

As an outsider looking at the Republican primaries, it always seems like the best thing we could hope for is the victory of the least obviously mad candidate.

He who does not know foreign languages does not know anything about his own.  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The debate usually consists of talking about who they won’t shrink from bombing, what public services they will be happy to destroy, how many people they are prepared to deny healthcare and how far they are prepared to go along with fundamentalist christians. All of these are seen as good things.

This is par for the course, however last night I tweeted about something which was a new one for me. One of the candidates is being abused by another for knowing something.

Quelle horreur! Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has been skewered in a new political attack ad – for speaking French.

The ad, released by rival Newt Gingrich, seeks to draw unflattering parallels between Mr Romney and another Massachusetts politician, John Kerry.

After decrying the former Massachusetts governor for backing government-mandated healthcare, taxpayer-funded abortions and raising taxes, the ad delivers the coup de grace.

“Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney – he’ll say anything to win. Anything,” warns the narrator. “And just like John Kerry he speaks French, too.”

It is followed by a clip of Democratic Senator Kerry saying, “Laissez les bon temps rouler”, juxtaposed with another of Mr Romney saying, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Mitt Romney.”

The idea that it makes you weak and stupid for knowing something is what will lead us back to “burning witches and dung for dinner” soon enough, and in fact there is a witch-hunter about to go on tour in the US.

The anti-intellectualism that is rampant in the US can in some senses be blamed on intellectuals themselves – perhaps in the field of science for example,  some of the best and brightest should be coming out and refusing to use their brains to make the latest binnable christmas toy or refuse to, for example, design weapons for military. There are of course some heroic examples of this.

There was a recent debate about an article on the Pod Delusion podcast because someone suggested the money and brains going into the CERN project would be better used in disease control, medical science and green energy which would have a more direct effect in improving human quality of life, which is true. This provoked a lot of responses saying that many physics experiments have yielded unintended consequences that have benefitted humanity, such as brain scanners, which is also true.

Surely a good solution would be to start removing scientists from military endeavours and putting them into more progressive areas of research. It’s like the old saying “Don’t hate the government, make it the government you want” – what about “don’t hate science, make it the science you want”. One way to do this would be to attack the form of anti-intellectualism that we can see in the US primaries.

In the political field, when public intellectuals come along in the fields of politics and philosophy (Chomsky, Zizek, Finkelstein), many professors prefer to quietly snipe about them behind university doors instead of engaging in the public debate. Others are too frightened of losing their position to come out in support. But in politics as well as science, the general depiction of professors as stuffy old pedants allows what might otherwise be good advice to be dismissed out of hand as  abstract irrelevance.

In the electoral sense, the anti-intellectualism seems to have gathered pace since mateyness was used to cover up for the intellectual deficencies of a certain Ronald Reagan. The Bush years certainly did nothing to ameliorate this.

It is clear that a decline in political and scientific awareness makes it easier to hoodwink the public. In the TV programme Yes, Minister, when Sir Humphrey said “If they (the public) don’t know what you are doing then they don’t know what you are doing wrong” he was talking about concealing information. Today it seems that it might be more apposite to replace the word “know” in the quote with the word “understand”.

For Les Americains involved in this electoral race, they might try to remember that a little linguistic dexterity can help you out from time to time. When the ridiculous decision was made to change the name of french fries on the whitehouse menu to freedom fries, the French ambassador was asked what she thought about it and is rumoured to have replied along the lines of “I think it is a sad reflection on a culture to take a concept as beautiful as freedom and attach it to something like a potato”.