Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Island Paradise: Commuting with Around Orkney

For years, BBC Radio Orkney's morning news program(me), Around Orkney, has been carried online in a Flash-based utility. While I've appreciated the ability to listen to Orcadian news without being within transmission range, the inability to download daily episodes has annoyed me, as has inability to use my Android devices to listen. As such, I derived great joy from learning that BBC Radio Orkney has finally shifted away from the "listen again facility", as they called it, and started posting the recordings of their daily broadcasts on their SoundCloud page. I've been taking public transit to work, so it's great to ignore all of my former commuters and focus instead on the latest news from my beloved island paradise.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Scottish Secession: Early July Update

As we close in on the two month mark before the referendum, here's what's been happening lately.

A European court has ruled (by precedent) that, contrary to SNP claims, a disunited Britain won't be obligated to subsidize Scottish wind farms. The precedent was set when the court backed Sweden's refusal to subsidize a Finnish wind farm.

One of my favorite global security blogs introduces a disturbing harbinger, given my newfound penchant for whisky: the currency crisis caused by Scottish secession would necessarily disrupt the price of whisky, particularly for those outside of Scotland whose purchase of whisky is dependent upon stable exchange rates. There's also no word from the SNP on how an independent Scotland, which would have virtually no navy, would be able to protect its sea lines of communication to ship the whisky to America. That leads into another issue of note: according to the Telegraph, Alex Salmond's intelligence plan 'contains entirely meaningless figures and fundamental flaws'.

Respected analysts are predicting that falling North Sea oil revenues will impact Scotland's budget; per his usual response, First Minister Salmond has responded that these figures are merely "stuff and nonsense", without providing any further reason to doubt his opponents' claims. Unfortunately for First Minister Salmond, even the SNP's fallback example of Norway, which they strive to emulate, is beginning to face challenges with its own petroleum-dependent social welfare model. In an older story, there was a bit of a row earlier this Spring when the Aberdeen City Council sent letters to its constituents encouraging a "No" vote on the referendum. There have also been a number of folks who have come forward and said that they've been subject to intimidation by the SNP, one such figure being author J.K. Rowling; the SNP's defense is that they're the victim of an MI5 smear campaign to discredit them.

First Minister Salmond and his associates have just over two months to convince the Scottish voters that they have a legitimate plan to govern. Time is running out, and shenanigans such as these do little to encourage confidence.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Recent Reminders of Scotland

Over the last few days, I've had a couple of good reminders of my time in Scotland.

First, I've been to IKEA about four times in the last month, which has reminded me of a couple of videos that IKEA UK released last summer. They're reminiscent of Burger King's classic "Creepy King" advertising campaign that ran from 2003 to 2011. Behold, "One Room Paradise" and "My Pad: Take the Tour".

Second was an article from The Guardian that Joanne sent me: Scotland to petition US to bring back haggis. I responded to Joanne with the following points:
1) Haggis = awesome. Imported haggis that's been sitting on a ship for two weeks = not awesome.

2) One of the lasses at my favorite pub in Orkney, aside from being easy on the eyes with a lovely Inverness accent, clued me into the fact that the pub occasionally made a haggis lasagna. AMAZING.

3) We should make repeal of the ban contingent upon Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. :)
Now I miss haggis. I wonder what it would take to get my hands on a sheep...