Forever

A March for Independence (in April)

People marching across the Tay BridgeOn Saturday, YES North East Fife organised a march across the Tay Bridge from Fife to Dundee followed by a rally in the City Square. It was well-attended for a local event – by hundreds, according to the precision journalism of the Courier. The weather was fine, and many motorists seemed to approve of the display, judging by the proportion of them sounding supportive horns – though in the interests of balanced reporting, I must admit that there was one car that went by shouting something incoherent and waving the Vs.

Once arrived in Dundee there were a few stalls, including one selling books by the speakers that had them to sell, a Scottish Green Party stall (with Maggie Chapman in attendance), and a stall for English Scots for Yes. English Scots for Yes seemed to emerge quite late in the last independence campaign, but I think what they’re doing is important. Although many English-born residents of Scotland voted Yes – and there are plenty English people in the SNP – they are out-numbered by their compatriots who voted No. I don’t think English Scots have anything to fear – if I did, I would be siding with them – but it’s clear that as supporters of independence we haven’t done a good enough job of convincing them that there is no beef between us. English Scots for Yes may help to change that impression.

Change of that sort is sorely needed when there’s nonsense going on like the news story that finally made it to the top of the BBC's Scotland page today of suspect chemical packages being sent to at least three Scottish locations. It’s been an emerging story since Tuesday, but has taken two days to get any profile. Stuff like this is happening because of people whipping up resentment against independence supporters – unionists so “obsessed” with their fear of a democratically driven readjustment at a national level that it’s all they can talk about in their council election leaflets, and a poisonous press. No-one could claim that independence supporters are all saints, but I honestly don’t think they’re the dangerous side in this.

There were talks from a variety of speakers, not all of which I was able to stay and attend, but I caught and enjoyed listening to Robin McAlpine, Billy Kay, Paul Kavanagh (The Wee Ginger Dug) and Lesley Riddoch. Three of the talks can be watched below, and if you’ve got the time I recommend doing that. I was a bit disappointed Maggie Chapman wasn’t among those speaking, since she was present, but I presume she had her reasons.



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Forever

Unpacking the Crates

Tea ChestsLooks like the import from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth completed earlier today. There are plainly things that are bust (mainly things like embedded videos and tweets) so I’ll have to trawl back through 13 years of entries and fix as much as I can – but not today! Also, I notice that images hosted on LiveJournal have remained there, and I’ll have to figure out what’s best to do about hosting for new images. In the meantime, here’s an externally-linked image…

This post is also just to check that posting with Open Live Writer works. If you’re a Windows user and haven’t used it for writing your blog posts I recommend giving it a try – subject to this post being made successfully, of course…



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Reluctant Mover

This evening I’ve become a reluctant mover to Dreamwidth. I’ve been with LiveJournal since 2004, have had a permanent account for most of that time, and have not previously set up an account with Dreamwidth; but the effect of the recent LiveJournal licence changes on LGBT users is not something I can support. I’m still in the process of configuring stuff, and my LJ entries haven’t even been imported into DW yet, so I’m not sure precisely how things are going to work out and whether my LiveJournal will stay and be cross-posted to. The logic of “taking a stand” suggests that it should go, but I’ll have to wait and see what the practicalities are before making a final decision. This post itself is a bit of a test to see how things work.

I don’t seem to be alone in taking this decision now.

My new account is at http://ggreig.dreamwidth.org/. In the short term I intend that content will be cross-posted to LiveJournal, but that may end at some point.



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Forever

State of the Union

Two and a half years ago, almost to the day, I stopped blogging on political matters as the argument I cared about was over for the time. My last post on the subject started “Oh Scotland. I think you’ve made a big mistake.

You may not be surprised to hear that I still think that (especially if you follow me on Twitter).

The events of today mean that it’s time to be prepared to use whatever small platform I have again, reluctant though I may be to do so.

Since September 19th 2014, the promises made by “No” campaigners to win the Scottish independence referendum have mostly been watered down or abandoned altogether – a bit like the promise of more money for the NHS that was going around on an infamous bus last summer.

One of the reasons I thought Scotland had made  a mistake was that I saw the EU referendum result coming – although like everyone else, I was surprised by how quickly it came, and the degree of incompetence involved. It was inevitable though – given twenty years during which pro-EU politicians didn’t dare to stand up for it against the poison of the newspapers, a referendum had to happen at some point, and the result was not surprising. I just thought it would take longer.

Well, OK, regrettable as the outcome is, that’s democracy. But what’s not OK is that the promise of staying in the EU was a major part of the Unionist case in the Independence Referendum. What’s not OK is that leaving the EU has major effects on all sorts of things that affect Scotland. What’s not OK is that, without even consultation never mind approval, Westminster is now talking about taking back responsibility for devolved areas like agriculture and fisheries. What’s not OK is that Scotland voted to stay in the EU by a far larger margin than that by which the UK voted to leave (62% Remain as opposed to 52% Leave).

What’s not OK, outside Scotland, is the effect on Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

What’s not OK is that the UK government hasn’t even responded to compromise proposals put forward by the Scottish Government, despite having promised to reach an agreed position before Article 50 was invoked.

And what matters most of all is that a party with one MP out of 59 in Scotland, and at a high point for them, the votes of 22% of the population, think that they can say “no” to a Holyrood majority for a new Independence Referendum, arrived at in a proportional system, based on a manifesto commitment to deliver exactly that under exactly these circumstances, because it’s a time that doesn’t suit them. There is no higher test of the will of a people – except for the referendum that’s being sought!

And as for “now is not the time”, well, the proposed time period for the referendum (between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019) is exactly the period during which other EU governments will get their say on the final deal that’s due to be agreed by September 2018. Why is it inappropriate for the Scottish people to have their say during that same period?

(One caveat: that Holyrood majority won’t actually materialise until the debate next week, but the chances of it not occurring are somewhere between extremely low and non-existent).

Meanwhile, the same party playing these games’ one Scottish MP is under police investigation for possible election fraud, along with others in his party. They lied that they cooperated fully with the Electoral Commission in that investigation when the Electoral Commission had to take them to court to get their cooperation. Today they introduced the so-called “rape clause”, which will require tax credit claimants to prove they were raped in order to receive assistance for a third child. Their main Brexit negotiator when questioned in committee had to admit that he knew almost nothing about what was going to occur. That’s only in the last couple of days! How dare these paragons lecture us?

Imagine if the EU had said the UK couldn’t run their referendum, or when they must run it? That’s the direct analogue of what is happening here. If you are a democrat, you can’t support that. Conservatives, and Labour and the Lib Dems who support them should be ashamed of themselves.

Dark Wizard

20 Years

Blocks signifying 20 years at InsightsOn the first of October, it was 20 years since I started work at Insights, and today I got my fourth block signifying a period of 5 years service.

When I started at Insights, I was the first developer through the door (I was joined by a colleague the next day) and the total number of direct employees of the business was smaller than the number of people in the department I’m in now. Now we’re a medium-sized international business, working with some very large businesses indeed, and all still heavily reliant on the software I’m involved in building.

Not counting founders (one of whom currently sits across the desk from me) there are a couple of people who’ve been with the business longer than me. In one case, 26 years! Still, 20 years seems like a long-ish time.

Yesterday I had lunch with other members of my team, and I have a couple of lunches with more senior people coming up in the next couple of months. I also have to decide what form I want to receive a gift in. (Thinks: I have a handy list of 28mm models I’d like…)

Whatever happens, what with having spent a relatively long time in further education, that’s more than half my working life spent at Insights – if I stay here until I retire, I’ll only earn another 3 blocks.

Dark Wizard

World Porridge Day

Today is World Porridge Day, which is being promoted by Mary’s Meals. Mary’s Meals provide a daily meal of maize porridge (likuni phala) to some of the world’s poorest children. It makes a bigger difference than you might think – for many children it’s the meal that allows them to attend school.

Insights, where I work,  supports Mary’s Meals, and today there are some themed activities and people were encouraged to wear tartan. You may remember Mary’s Meals was the charity supported by Martha Payne, who blogged about school dinners in Argyll a few years ago as NeverSeconds.

Wearing tartan with Fraser Paterson 
Wearing tartan with Fraser Paterson

Not sure I’ll actually be indulging in any porridge as I hate the stuff, but I’ll be seeing what else I can do.

Donate to Mary's Meals.

Dark Wizard

Inside the Mark I Tank

Here’s a really interesting video from the World of Tanks people. Yes, it’s a YouTube video, but you can drag your viewpoint around to see the video from different angles. This is particularly interesting when they’re inside the tank, as you can pause the video and have a good look around. Contains a mixture of exterior and interior footage of real and replica tanks, and game animation.

Dark Wizard

Weekend - Peter Pan, Bon Scott and Sydney Padua

It’s been a while since I wrote, you know, actual words here – nearly six months, which is my longest gap ever – so I thought I’d make a cursory effort and record the weekend.

It started on Friday, with a day off work and a trip on a whim to Kirriemuir where my Dad grew up and where we visited my grandparents for many years. As with anywhere you haven’t visited in a while, there were changes. The Star Rock shop (established 1833) was still there, but across the road was a railway modelling shop that I hadn’t visited before, and I came out with my wallet figuratively lighter.

The square now features a statue of Peter Pan – apparently it’s a replacement for the one that used to stand in the Glengate, but which got damaged – and the Town House which I remember housing Kidd’s the chemist is now the Gateway to the Glens museum.

The Square in KirriemuirWP_20160916_14_53_03_Rich

Inside the museum, there’s a model of Kirriemuir in the 1600s, which I enjoyed seeing, and the silver casket and illuminated scroll given to J.M. Barrie when was granted the freedom of the town. I hadn’t realised he was buried in Kirriemuir as well as being born there – I’d always just assumed he’d been laid to rest elsewhere.

Kirrie’s other, more recent, famous son has also been honoured with a statue since last time I visited. I had seen the flagstone to his memory in Cumberland Close, but now he stands in effigy opposite the Gairie Mill.

WP_20160916_15_03_27_Rich 

Friday evening was spent pleasurably in the company of qidane, tobyaw and Beth.

Perhaps not as rock and roll as Bon Scott, but just as cool in her own way, on Saturday I was on my way home from spending the afternoon with friends in the Whey Pat when I spotted on Twitter that Sydney Padua was in town for a conference of mathematical biographers, and had gone to the Whey Pat shortly after we left. I hopped off the bus again and was able to shake her hand and tell her how much I liked her book (Buy it!). A very pleasant surprise.