Category Archive 'Scotland'
03 Dec 2013

European Hate Speech Indictments

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A police helicopter flying over Glasgow, Scotland last Friday lost control and crashed into the roof of a crowded Irish pub, killing three on board and six customers. An additional 32 persons present in the bar were injured.

Apparently, free speech was also a casualty as Scottish newspapers subsequently reported that a teenage male was arrested on Sunday for posting “racist and sectarian comments” on an on-line social networking site.


Meanwhile, French prosecutors announced today that preliminary charges of “public insult and inciting hate” were filed last month against Bob Dylan for comments made in the course of a Rolling Stone interview last year during which the singer-songwriter discussed race relations in America.

Curiously, the offended parties were the Croats. What Dylan said was:

If you got a slave master or [Klu Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.

By a curious coincidence, the Republic of France was also awarding Dylan the Legion of Honor around roughly the same time that French prosecutors were indicting him for hate speech.

16 Oct 2013

The Art of Scottish Fencing

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24 Apr 2012

1% of Scots Descend From Berbers and Tuaregs

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Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders charging just for fun. (click on image for larger version)

The Scotsman reports some surprising results from recent Scottish DNA research.

ScotlandsDNA, the groundbreaking research project that probes far beyond the ink stains of family trees by analysing the genetic make-up of Scottish men and women, has unveiled its interim results, which show that 1 per cent of all Scots are descended from the Berber and Tuareg tribesmen of the Sahara.

Read the whole thing.

My own patrilineal DNA results (Excel file) are very similar to the DNA of Somerled, the 12th century Lord of the Isles, from whom descend the various septs of Clan Donald.

31 Jan 2011

Scots Climber Falls 1000′ and Survives


Telegraph story.

04 Aug 2010

Good Thing They Got That Cleared Up

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4500-year-old henge and stone circle cleared of discrimination

Isn’t it comforting to know that in this time of economic crisis, Western governments still manage to see to it that the public’s vital interests are protected? Take Scotland, for instance.

Earlier this year, Dean Herbert reported, in the Scottish Daily Mail, that the government of Scotland had successfully completed an Equality Impact Assessment involving audits by consultants on the Neolithic Ring of Brodgar in the Orkneys.

Happily, the stones passed their assessment.

To the outsider, they are a weather-beaten circle of rocks that have stood on a remote Scottish island for thousands of years.

But for officials at the Scottish Executive, the prehistoric ruins on Orkney are a potential hotbed of homophobia and racist hate crime.

The ancient Neolithic ruins have caused no discernible trouble since 3,300 BC but civil servants decided to investigate the ‘equality issues’ surrounding them – in case they discriminated against gays and ethnic minorities.

Now their findings on The Ring of Brodgar have been published in a nine-page taxpayer-funded report, one of many ‘Equality Impact Assessments’ (EQIAs) carried out over the past two years, costing the public purse up to 1 million pounds sterling.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Executive concluded the stones presented no immediate threat to gays and other minority groups – but recommended another check should be made in five years’ time. …

Last year, they conducted an assessment to find out if Scotland’s canals were homophobic. Again unsurprisingly, the canals were found to be reasonably gay-friendly.

photos of tolerant stones.

01 Jul 2009

Sir Marmaduke Mustard… In the Jousting Ring… With a Broadsword

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Photo: James Stewart

Investigations of a skeleton found buried under the floor of the chapel of Stirling Castle in 1997 have dated the remains to the Midde Ages, and forensic examination has determined that the remains were those of a well-muscled male individual, who had done considerable riding, who had been wounded in battle, and who died a violent death.

The Telegraph:

Archaeologists believe that bones found in an ancient chapel… are those of an English knight named Robert Morley who died in a tournament there in 1388.

Radio carbon dating has confirmed that the skeleton is from that period, and detailed analysis suggests that he was in his mid-20s, was heavily muscled and had suffered several serious wounds in earlier contests.

He appears to have survived for some time with a large arrowhead lodged in his chest, while the re-growth of bone around a dent in the front of his skull indicates that he had also recovered from a severe blow from an axe.

He eventually died when he was struck by a sword that sliced through his nose and jaw. His reconstructed skull also indicates that he was lying on the ground when the fatal blow was delivered.



(D)espite the warrior’s relatively young age of about 25, he may have suffered several serious wounds from earlier fights.

Researchers thinks it is also possible he may have been living for some time with a large arrowhead in his chest. …

Some research was carried out on the skeleton at the time of its discovery, but a lack of technology meant it was difficult to assess the remains in more detail.

Since then scientists have been able to perform laser scanning which revealed the wounds.

Bone regrowth around a dent in the front of the skull suggested the man had recovered from a severe blow, possibly from an axe.

The warrior had also lost a number of teeth – perhaps from a blow, or a fall from a horse.

The fatal wound, however, occurred when something, possibly a sword, sliced through his nose and jaw.


The Scotsman:

Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland’s head of cultural resources, said: “It appears he died in his mid-twenties after a short and violent life.

“His legs were formed in a way that was consistent with spending a lot of time on horseback, and the upper body points to someone who was well-muscled, perhaps due to extensive training with medieval weapons.

“This evidence, and the fact he was buried at the heart of a royal castle, suggests he was a person of prestige, possibly a knight.”

The skeleton was excavated from beneath a floor in 1997 when archaeologists were working in an area of the castle which turned out to be the site of a lost medieval royal chapel.

Some research was carried out at the time, but only limited information was gleaned. Advances in technology and analytical techniques prompted a re-examination of the skeleton, which produced the new results.

They showed injuries suffered prior to the man’s death, including a large arrowhead in the skeleton which appears to have struck through the back or under the arm.

Gordon Ewart, of Kirkdale Archaeology, who carried out the excavation and some of the research for Historic Scotland, said: “There were a series of wounds, including a dent in the skull from a sword or axe, where bone had re-grown, showing that he had recovered.

“At first, we had thought the arrow wound had been fatal, but it now seems he had survived it and may have had his chest bound up.


London Times

In addition to the three serious wounds, the knight lost a number of teeth — perhaps from a blow, or a fall from a horse while jousting. A large arrowhead found in the skeleton appeared to have entered through his back or under his arm. Crystalised matter attached to the arrowhead may have been from flies or other insect larvae and could have been from clothing the arrow forced into the wound.


Makes you glad you work in an office, doesn’t it?

02 Jan 2008

The Old Ba’ Game

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The Washington Post reports on Christmas Day activities in the Orkneys:

William Thomson’s family had played this sport for centuries, so he understood that he needed to choose between two strategies for the annual Christmas day ba’ game.

The scrawny 17-year-old could fight for the ball in the center of the riotous scrum, where more than 300 men would function as a human juicer, turning his face red, then purple. He would be scratched, punched, kneed and bitten. His ribs might break. He could pass out unconscious.

Or, Thomson could follow convention for players his size and stay near the edge of the scrum, pushing the pile. This would work well unless the ball popped out and the mob changed direction. Cars, gravestones, houses, strollers, hotel lobbies — all had been kicked, shoved or trampled in pursuit of the ball during previous games. Anticipating such a stampede, business and homeowners in town had nailed wooden planks across their doors and windows. “If you’re on the edge of the scrum and it turns on you,” one veteran player said, “then you might as well be dead.”

This, Thomson decided, was his safest option.

He never considered not participating. The men in the Thomson family — like the men in most families here — have played this game since at least the mid-1600s. It is one of the oldest and most physical sports, and it’s almost certainly the most simple. Half of the men in Kirkwall, called Doonies, try to push a small ball into the sea using any means necessary. The other half, called Uppies, work to push the ball to a wall one mile across town. The ba’, which refers to both the game and the ball with which it is played, can last anywhere from four minutes to nine hours in freezing temperatures and hurricane-force winds.

The ba’ is played nowhere else. It has persisted in Kirkwall because its basic tenets are congruent with life on these Orkney Islands in northern Scotland. If you’re tough enough to survive in this old Viking territory, in a frostbitten town of around 6,000 bordered by whitecapped seas, then you don’t worry about relaxing on Christmas and New Year’s Day. You put on steel-toe boots and a rugby shirt and walk downtown to the almost 900-year-old St. Magnus Cathedral, ready for hell.

Complete article


Hat tip to Matthew MacLean.

08 Jul 2007

Putting the Boot to Terror

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John Smeaton recalls the fight at Glasgow Airport for the Press

Dr. Bilal Abdulla, a physician of Iraqi origin employed by a Glasgow-area Hospital, drove his flaming Jeep Cherokee, loaded with propane cylinders, into the main terminal of Glasgow Airport in a failed suicide bombimg attempt at mid-afternoon on Saturday June 30th.

Bloomberg: —

(Abdulla) jumped from the Jeep after the crash, Stephen Clarkson, a witness, told the BBC.

“His whole body was on fire,” Clarkson said. “Immediately after the airport official put him out with the extinguisher, he got up off the ground. He didn’t seem like he was distressed.”

Police attempted to restrain the man, “but the guy was quite strong and started fighting with the police,” Clarkson told the BBC.

At that point, John Smeaton, an airport baggage-handler, chose to intervene. In a later interview with reporters, Smeaton recalled thinking to himself indignantly:

You’re nae hitting the Polis mate, there’s nae chance.”

So Smeaton charged in and proceeded to deliver a flying kick to the struggling physician. Other bystanders also pitched in, including one Michael Kerr whose leg was broken when he was knocked flying by the terrorist. Soon, however, a number of irate locals has “put the boot in” and, as Smeaton recalled,”some guy banjoed him,” which terminated the affray successfully, placing the would-be terrorist on the ground in secure police possession.

In that later interview, Smeaton issued a warning to terrorists:

Glasgow doesnae accept this, if you come tae Glasgow, we’ll set about you.”

0:34 video

The 31-year-old baggage-handler has become a hero in Britain, as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

He has a Wikipedia entry, featuring collected quotations.

A tribute web-site has been created, where visitors can buy Mr. Smeaton a beer. (Over 1400 pints are already on order.)

Posters are being sold featuring a disgruntled Osama bin Ladin saying “You Told Me John Smeaton Was Off on Saturday.” And they’re selling t shirts on Ebay with the motto “What Would John Smeaton Do?”

And some wag has composed a commemorative poem in the style of Burns, which can be found on various web-sites.

Twas doon by the inch o’ Abbots
Oor Johnny walked one day
When he saw a sicht that troubled him
Far more that he could say
A fanatic muslim b*****d
Wiz doin what he’d planned
And intae Glesca’s departure hall
A Cherokee he’d rammed.

A big Glaswegian polis
Came forward tae assist
He thocht “a wumman driver”
Or at least someone half-pi**ed
But to his shock nae drunken Jock
Emerged to grasp his hand
But a flamin Arab loony
Frae Al Qaeda’s band

The mad Islamist nut-case
Had set hissel’ on fire
And swung oot at the polis
GBH his clear desire
Now that’s no richt wur Johnny cried
And sallied tae the fray
A left hook and a heid butt
Required tae save the day.

Now listen up Bin Laden
Yir sort’s nae wanted here
For imported English radicals
Us Scoatsman huv nae fear
Oor hame grown Glesca Asians
Will have nae bluidy truck
So tak yer worldwide jihad
An get yersel tae f***

06 Jun 2007

Free Healthcare in Scotland Has a Price

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The Scottish Daily Record reports:

Poor NHS treatment has led to almost half a million Scots dying in the last 30 years, a new study has revealed.

Doctors at Glasgow University found that between 1974 and 2003, a total of 462,000 people died in Scotland as a result of health service failings.

It means Scotland has one of the highest avoidable death rates in western Europe.

The study examined the number of deaths caused by a lack of “timely and effective health care”.

The vast majority of people – around 250,000 – who died due to inadequate or delayed treatment were heart or stroke patients.

Another 7300 had cancer and slightly more than 2000 were pneumonia patients.

The study revealed that avoidable deaths among men in Scotland over the time period was 176 for every 100,000 people.

This compared with 159 in Portugal, 129 in Austria and 100 in Italy.

Rates for women were 123 per 100,000, also higher than every other European country investigated.

16 Feb 2007

Like the Blade of Grass

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Paolo Uccello. The Hunt in the Forest. c. 1465-70. Oil on canvas. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK.

(above) 15th century Italian gentlemen hunting the roebuck.

Like the blade of grass pushing through the concrete sidewalk, natural human instincts, well known and understood in the past, continue to assert themselves even in today’s deracinated urban sprawl.

In contemporary Glasgow, for instance, young men are secretly breeding and training dogs (lurcher and greyhound crosses), and going out early in the morning in organized groups, just as their ancestors once did, to hunt the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), who, long unhunted, have adapted to life in modern suburbs and grown numerous and bold.

Being deprived of the right to own and carry more useful and practical arms, they have nothing beyond airguns, pocket knives, and their boots and hands to use to kill a deer. And being unschooled in venery or sportsmanship, these covert hunters dispatch their quarry crudely when it is brought to bay.

Regrettably as well, they evidently have not learned how to unmake the deer and how to prepare him for the table. Nor, I fear, has anyone taught them to reward the hounds, as William Twiti advised, with “bowellis and fete” (bowels and feet).

As one might expect, the organized do-gooder organizations are howling, and the British Press, e.g., the Telegraph and the BBC, is suitably outraged and alarmed by the discovery of sporting activity by British youths.

All this is ironically occurring at the same time in which an excess population of rural red deer is leading British academics, environmentalists, and journalists to loudly advocate the reintroduction of the wolf (!) to curb their numbers.

Deer poaching, in defiance of authority, has a long and famous tradition in Britain, including not only Robin Hood but even Shakespeare himself.

Long may Glasgow’s Geordies divert themselves by the manly pursuit of the swift and ingenious roebuck, say I. Over time, it is likely that with greater experience there will evolve among the more skillful sportsmen the same sort of better practices and aesthetic code which naturally evolved among their predecessors.

Unfortunately, better sportsmanship is far more likely to evolve in circumstances in which sport is openly and proudly pursued, rather than in those in which sport is inevitably stigmatised and equated by bigots and Puritans with crime.

26 Dec 2006

Letting Down the Side

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Philip Howard, late of the Black Watch, in today’s Wall Street Journal, editorializes about Britain’s Labour Government’s cheese-paring over minor and trivial expenses attendant upon keeping up the traditions of Britain’s fighting Highland regiments.

The British Army has (created) a shortage of kilts for its Highland Regiment. It has ordered only 320 ceremonial kilts for 5,000 Jocks, so they are having to share, which is not a comfortable business for the buttock-swinging, elite warriors…

This dire deficiency of the kilt has arisen because last August the British Army, in its infinite wisdom, decided to amalgamate its remaining Scottish regiments. No doubt there were sound strategic and logistic reasons for this, on the ground that bigger is cheaper to administer. But it destroyed the ancient traditions and symbols of tribal families…

The Royal Scots were the First of Foot and Right of the Line. They claim to be the oldest regiment in the British Army, nicknamed Pontius Pilate’s Bodyguard. The legend goes that Pilate’s Roman legionary dad married a Highland lass from Fortingal in Perthshire. The Royal Scots wore trews (tight tartan breeks) rather than the kilt, because they were a Lowland Regiment. When they were in French service as “Le Régiment de Douglas”, a dispute arose with the “Régiment de Picardie” as to which was the senior. The French Colonel claimed that his regiment was on duty on the night of the Crucifixion. To which the Colonel of the Royal Scots replied: “Had it been our shift that night, we wouldna hae slept at our post.”

Read the whole thing.

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