This week in Scotland, it is Book Week. Many note authors are supporting it with free events. And so is the mysterious sculptor who seized the imagination of people worldwide with her books made sculpture. She (one of the few things known about the sculptor) has done a series of five mystery hidden sculptures to help celebrate Book Week. Each of them is related to a Scottish story or author. [more inside]
The usual rape prevention campaigns often focus on the victims and what they can do to minimise the risk of being attacked (as discussed previously) but in Scotland they're now doing things differently. [more inside]
The governments of the United Kingdom and Scotland agree on a framework for the latter to vote on independence. Other reporting in the Telegraph, Guardian and the Scottish Sun. The referendum, for this nation of 5.25 million people and a unicorn as its national animal, will be held before the end of 2014. [more inside]
They're best known for one song: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), as featured in Benny and Joon in 1993, and though the identical twin brothers faded from the public eye in the US, 500 Miles was lovingly parodied by Homer Simpson in 2001, and the brothers appeared on Family Guy in 2006. That song was featured in Comic Relief 2007, and that rendition was the number 1 song in the UK for three weeks. Given this focus on a single song that was first released in 1988, you might want mark The Proclaimers as a one-hit wonder and leave it at that. But David Pollock, writing for The Guardian, wants you to reconsider: The Proclaimers are a lot better than you probably remember. [more inside]
"...scientists have discovered that two 3,000-year-old Scottish "bog bodies" are actually made from the remains of six people."
To a fisherman, all areas of the sea have names, just as a farmer will name his fields or streets have formal and informal names. For instance, there is the Witch's Ground, an area where the fishing is good, but the bottom is very rough and gear can easily be damaged or lost. Or if you're really unlucky, an undersea methane burst might make water less dense, and the sea could swallow your whole trawler. [more inside]
So the infamous deep fried mars bar has reignited debates about Glasgow as the unhealthiest city in the UK. The Economist has also weighed in with their view on life expectancy in Glasgow, touching on the city's industrial history. The issue of Glasgow as the unhealthiest and most dangerous city seems to be at odds with Glasgow as a friendly city, and despite continued efforts to improve its reputation, Glasgow still seems to be afflicted by negative evaluations.
Hugh MacDiarmid was born 120 years ago today. Best known for his long, comic, dark, epic, complex poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, he was a central figure in the Scottish Renaissance. He was the type of guy who would get kicked out of the Scottish National Party for being a communist and get kicked out of the Communist Party of Great Britain for being a Scottish nationalist. [more inside]
The Scottish Government has announced that it intends to legalise same-sex marriage, and will produce a draft bill for public consultation within the year. [more inside]
Q: What's the connection between heroin in Glasgow and a dead goat in Turkey? A: Anthrax.
The British Council Film Collection "is an archive of over 120 short documentary films made by the British Council during the 1940s designed to show the world how Britain lived, worked and played. Preserved by the BFI National Film Archive and digitised by means of a generous donation by Google, the films are now yours to view, to download and to play with for the first time." A couple of essays and case studies also already up, with more to come.
Atlas Obscura (seen 'round here before) has organized its third annual Obscura Day for April 28. It's "an international celebration of unusual places," from the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Particle Accelerator at John E. Edwards Accelerator Laboratory in Athens, Ohio, to a tour of the Secrets & Oddities of the National Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland and an Expedition to the 1,553 Stone-Carved Monks of Nihon-ji in the city of Kyonan, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
A recent article in the Economist followed up on the British cover of this week's edition with a scathing attack on the economic case for Scottish independence. The Scottish National Party, currently in power and preparing for an independence referendum, are not amused but at least they have a powerful friend that can help out these days. [more inside]
Today is National Tartan Day, and in New York city it's Tartan Week! A celebration of Scottish heritage, Tartan Day is held on April 6 to commemorate the Declaration of Arbroath, a declaration of Scottish independence submitted to Pope John XXII in 1320. [more inside]
A potentially dangerous situation is developing off the coast of Scotland. An off-shore drilling platform is leaking substantial quantities of gas contaminated with hydrogen sulphide. Much as here, the comments thread is as interesting as the post at The Oil Drum itself.
The last man to remember St Kilda. Norman John Gillies was five years old when he, and all the other residents, left the remote Scottish island of St Kilda in 1930. Fortunately, we still have photos and films of island life, including 1928's 'St Kilda, Britain's Loneliest Island' (part 1, part 2). (St Kilda on MeFi, previously and previouslier.)
Friday dreams. Simon Raymonde, bassist of Cocteau Twins, writes: A rare nostalgia moment: i didnt think any footage from the Heaven or Las Vegas tour in 1990 existed and i remember how cool it was being able to have a lighting designer for the first time that tour but have never seen how our stage looked from the audience till tonight so this is a treat to me. The whole concert in on youtube now pretty much. And my god, what a voice Elizabeth had on this tour, absolutely perfect on every song. Some rare good memories. [more inside]
The true name of the man most famously known as Lord George Gordon Gordon will likely never be known. His name, though false, will nevertheless live in history for pulling one of the great advance-fee cons of all time, swindling in 1872 over a million dollars out of Jay Gould, most unscrupulous of all the robber barons and no stranger himself to a long con. Gould's quest for revenge would nearly lead to a military invasion of Manitoba by the Minnesota state militia. [more inside]
Hacker group Anonymous joined the FBI - Scotland Yard conference call coordinating their strategy against Anonymous. Call recording is now on YouTube with some suspect names bleeped.
Mapping out whiskey. Start here, swimming in Drunkards Channel: Map On Temperance, 1846. [more inside]
Tobar an Dualchais will keep you busy for awhile. It's a collection of over 26,000 oral recordings made in Scotland, from the 1930s onward. Folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, oh my. Includes some fascinating material from Belle Stewart, the McPake Sisters of Peebles and John the Bard.
Hanging With Frank - a 1997 short film portrait of a Glasgow prison's execution chamber and a man that worked there in the 50's.
Grierson believed strongly that the filmmaker had a social responsibility, and that film could help a society realize democratic ideals. His absolute faith in the value of capturing the drama of everyday life was to influence generations of filmmakers all over the world. In fact, he coined the term "documentary film." [more inside]
Here is Coffee: The Greatest Addiction Ever and other neat videos by C.G.P. Grey who explains non-obvious aspects of science, history, geography, elections, and economics in entertaining and clear ways. [more inside]
Voice recognition technology don't do Scottish accents. Really! Apple's new iPhone voice recognition technology, Siri, is having trouble with the Scottish accent. It has trouble with simple phrases like can you dance for me? and boot your bawz and how many miles are there in ten kilometers? and create a remainder.
St. Peter's was a seminary built near Cardross, on the outskirts of Glasgow. It is remarkable for its modernist design, the architects having drawn significant inspiration from Le Corbusier's brutalist monastery at La Tourette, and has been A-listed by Historic Scotland. During its construction, the Second Vatican Council recommended that priests should be trained and educated in the communities they were to serve; the quasi-monastic setting of St. Peter's thus meant it was obsolescent before its completion. Although it was briefly adapted to serve as a rehabilitation centre for drug abusers, it was abandoned in the 80s and, by 2008, found itself on the World Monument Foundation's list of most endangered sites (PDF, see p.58). There has been recent talk of the Scottish Government funding a £10m restoration project, but it is not entirely clear if the restoration is intended to turn the building into an arts centre, a museum or an 'intentional modernist ruin'. [more inside]
John Cunningham Climbing Ben Nevis, 1976 (slyt, 8:09)
“Before me as I write lies an inch-square bit of brown leather --- not, you would think, an inspiring subject for a tale. But perpend. This fragment of human skin, for such it is, has been since 1829 in the possession of three persons only: The original owner, my grandfather, and myself. Inconsiderable in size and unimpressive of aspect, it was nevertheless potent to influence the direction of my future studies… While yet a small boy, my grandfather would often show me by request this singular relic and I never wearied of hearing how he came by it. As a matter of history, its first proprietor, the late Mr. William Burke of Edinburgh, in the circumstances hereafter to be related, was publicly anatomized, his carcass thereafter flayed, his hide tanned, and his skeleton by order of Court preserved in the Anatomical Museum of Edinburgh University, where it remains as a memorial of his infamy even unto this day. Mr. Burke’s integument being cut up into sortable parcels to suit buyer’s tastes and exposed for sale by private bargain, my grandfather, who was then but a young man, invested a modest shilling’s worth. Wealthier purchasers bought larger lots --- I have heard that the late Professor Chiene had a tobacco pouch made of this unique material. Personally, despite my predilection for crime, I prefer India-rubber.” --- "The Wolves of the West Port" [more inside]
A year after spending some time in Edinburgh, and subsequently finding his way home across Scotland, Danny MacAskill unexpectedly finds himself in an abandoned ironworks. A zen-like state of bicycling ensues. [via kottke]
One August morning in 1826, two men went for a walk in the Scottish countryside. Only one of them came back alive. Timewatch tells the story of two men who fought to the death with pistols: one a respected merchant, reluctantly provoked into an unwanted duel; the other a professional soldier, steeped in military tradition. The soldier also happened to be the merchant’s bank manager. It would end with the death of one man and mark the demise of a 600-year-old ritual. [more inside]
Someone has been leaving mysterious miniature paper sculptures in various locations in Scotland. They seem to all be tied to Scottish author Ian Rankin, twitter, and the magic of the written word. [more inside]
Dog and Deco. My name is Pickles McConchie. I’m a 15 year old Art Deco and camera loving Terrier from Scotland. I like to travel the country with my bitch and pose in front of art deco factories and industrial buildings from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, as well as other twentieth century architectural gems.
Philosopher Crispin Wright walks the Pennine Way, answering questions, to raise funds for philosophy students
Philosophy fundraiser mountain walk-a-thon. Prominent philosophy professor Crispin Wright will walk the length of the Pennine Way, a 250+ mile mountaintop trail in the UK, to raise funds to support his philosophy students. (The link on the Pennine Way is worth reading.) Along the way he'll stop each day to answer a philosophical question voted on by the people who contribute to the fund.
It was bound to happen eventually. After a quarter-century, 26 Academy Awards, and an unparalleled streak of eleven artistic and commercial triumphs, Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten. Critics have assailed the film as a slick but hollow vehicle for Disney's $10 billion-dollar Cars
merchandising industry "lifestyle brand," replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games, hyperactive chase sequences, and even more lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy. But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short, preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow. Also, be sure not to miss the sneak peak of Brave's associated short, "La Luna"!
How Britain's largest corporations helped engineer the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
The Unst Bus Shelter website has been updated, and remains as charming as ever, 10 years on. It has been occasionally mentioned on the Blue, but the new version of the site shows that it just keeps on getting better. The shelter has even been praised by UK film critic, Mark Kermode who visited it when it doubled as a two person cinema. It has also hosted the crown jewels, beer drinking hamsters and music festivals.
"When you say to a child 'Bedtime, it's bedtime now' that's not what the child hears. What the child hears is 'Go and lie down in the dark. For hours. And don't move. I'm locking the door now."
Scottish teenagers to receive sleep training in schools. [BBC] Resources to teach teenagers how to get enough sleep are to be offered to schools across Scotland.
Can you speak Scots? As part of this year's census people in Scotland will be asked to say if they can understand speak, read and / or write Scots. [more inside]
Mr Mowatt said he had always wondered what lay under an 8ft stone in the garden and eventually curiosity got the better of him, "On the screen... I could clearly see what I thought was a white skull, with two eye sockets, looking back at me." [more inside]
A Short Film about Pringle of Scotland by David Shrigley (SLYT).
World War II was a time that called for many things from many different people. However, one Polish soldier stepped above and beyond the call of his nature. He carried ammunition, he helped his squad members get better at wrestling, and he drank and smoked with the rest of them - Wojtek, the soldier bear. [more inside]
Scottish trade unionist, journalist and broadcaster Jimmy Reid has died aged 78. Often described as the best MP Scotland never had, Reid was the instigator of the 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders famous work-in, where rather than striking, workers demonstrated the viability of the shipyards by working to fill the orders on the books, drawing national and international support (including a fat cheque from John Lennon). The year after, he was elected as rector of the University of Glasgow, where he delivered a speech (behind a paywall, sadly) that the New York Times (which saw fit to print it in full) called one of the finest since the Gettysburg Address [more inside]