Category Archive 'Scotland'
15 Oct 2018

No Free Speech in Scotland

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Count Dankula trains dog to be a Nazi video.

Making a supposedly humorous video showing you trying to get your dog to respond affirmatively to “Gas the Jews?” or to raise his paw when you say “Sieg heil!” is obviously very far from being in good taste, most people won’t even think this is funny, but should the government arrest and fine you for doing it? Most Americans would say no. If you agree, you’d better not move to Scotland.

Spiked reports:

In 1941, a dog in Finland sparked a three-month investigation by Germany’s Nazi government. Tor and Josephine Borg had allegedly trained their Dalmatian to raise its paw in response to the word ‘Hitler’. The German embassy dismissed Tor Borg’s claim that he had not intended to insult the Führer, perhaps due to his admission that ‘Hitler’ was now the dog’s nickname. In the absence of witnesses, the charges were eventually dropped.

It would seem that the present-day Scottish judiciary is more tenacious than the Third Reich. When Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was arrested in May 2016 for uploading a video to YouTube in which he teaches his girlfriend’s pug to perform a Nazi salute, few imagined the case would reach a court of law. The story seemed too absurd. In any case, it was surely unfeasible that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service would not intervene and prevent the Scottish legal system from becoming an international laughing stock.

Two years and thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money later, Meechan was convicted at Airdrie Sheriff Court and fined £800 for breaching Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act. The guilty verdict was reached on the grounds that the video was ‘grossly offensive’, a wildly subjective formulation which could be applied to literally anything, depending on how and by whom it is interpreted. In this case, the determination was made by one po-faced judge alone, without a jury to make up for his lacking sense of humour. In such circumstances, a miscarriage of justice was always a possibility.

I visited Markus at his home in July of this year in order to make a documentary for spiked. I’ve long been fascinated by the case because it represents one of the more scandalous instances of the state’s ongoing adulteration of the principle of free speech. Prosecutions for jokes are not entirely new – an outrage in itself – but Markus’s case is so self-evidently preposterous that it merits particular consideration. Moreover, many in the media have made rash assumptions about his character and background, few of which, I was to discover, bear any relationship to reality. …

I asked various members of the public how they felt about the case. Virtually everyone I spoke to understood that the pug video was intended as a joke, irrespective of whether they found it funny or not. Of the roughly three million people who watched the video online, not one complained to the police – the investigation was only able to proceed because the authorities actively trawled for witnesses who would find the material offensive.

The subsequent trial has exposed a yawning gap between the general public and those who occupy influential positions in the media and the judiciary. It is a peculiarity of our time that policymakers and law enforcers apparently lack the basic nous to identify an attempt at humour when they see it, or, more worryingly, have such a degraded view of humanity that they believe that many will be drawn to fascism and criminality on the basis of a misinterpreted prank.

RTWT

HT: Jim Harberson.

12 Aug 2018

The Glorious Twelfth

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“A gentleman will be wearing tweeds weathered to the same consistency as the suit of armour his ancestor wore at Agincourt.”

The twelfth of August, known as the Glorious Twelfth, the first day of grouse hunting season was established by the Scotch Game Act of 1773.

In honor of which, and in order to keep it in print, NYM is republishing, Gerald Warner’s 11 August 2008 Telegraph essay, “Better to kill a fellow gun than wing a beater.”

This week sees a significant date in the British sporting calendar — and it has nothing to do with the Olympics. The Twelfth will inaugurate the grouse-shooting season, though it also becomes legal to take a pot at snipe and ptarmigan if that is your bag. For dedicated sportsmen, the driven grouse, flying high, is the quarry of choice.

Grouse shooting is still conducted on some scale, despite the problems that have afflicted it in recent years. There are 746 upland properties in Britain, covering nine million acres, that shoot grouse and 459 of them are grouse moors. The sport supports the employment of 700 grouse keepers and represents 12 per cent of total United Kingdom shooting provision, which contributes £1.6 billion to the economy.

So we are talking about a significant economic activity. That, however, is not the atmosphere on the moors, among the participants in a sport that, second only to hunting, is the essence of Britain (one feels compelled to eschew Gordon Brown’s horrid, synthetic neologism “Britishness”). The heather is in bloom and there is a feeling of keen anticipation. Of course, the shooting will actually be better in a month’s time, when the birds have been fully nourished and matured, but the Twelfth has a ritual significance that cannot be gainsaid.

This is still rather a smart sport: even the grouse has a double-barrelled name: Lagopus lagopus scoticus. There is a correspondingly acute awareness of social nuances among the guns themselves. A novice kitted out in brand-new knickerbockers and deerstalker might as well wear one of those conference badges saying “Hedge fund manager”. A gentleman will be wearing tweeds weathered to the same consistency as the suit of armour his ancestor wore at Agincourt.

If he has been obliged to replace his Barbour since last season, he may take the precaution of driving his tractor over it several times. Nor should the olfactory sense be neglected: if you cannot out-stink the wet gun-dogs, your bona fides may be suspect. It should be noted, too, that protocol dictates that shooting another gun dead is an unfortunate accident; winging a beater or, worse, a keeper is unforgivable.

It is not necessarily ill-bred to shoot a human quarry: some of our best-born sportsmen had form. The Duke of Wellington was more lethal on the moor than on the battlefield. While visiting Lord Granville in 1823, he accidentally shot him in the face. When shooting at Lady Shelley’s, he hit one of her tenants who was hanging out her washing. “My lady, I’ve been hit!” moaned the victim. To which Lady Shelley replied: “You have endured a great honour today, Mary — you have the distinction of being shot by the Duke of Wellington.” More recently, Willie Whitelaw notoriously winged a keeper and simultaneously shot an old friend in the buttocks, after which he courteously gave up shooting.

Shooting, like hunting, has its distinctive humour and literature, including the cartoons of Mark Huskinson and books such as Douglas Sutherland’s The English Gentleman’s Good Shooting Guide. The classic works of fiction are surely JK Stanford’s chronicles of that veteran sporting gun Colonel the Hon George Hysteron-Proteron, known to fellow members of his club as “The Old Grouse-Cock”, whose game book ran to 20 volumes after he had shot “about 200,000 head”.

Such prolific slaughter would be condemned today. A common complaint is that roaring boys from the City are ruining shooting with their vulgar drive for extravagantly big bags. Over-shooting may be frowned on, but historically there are precedents that are far from plebeian. By the time the 2nd Earl of Malmesbury died in 1841, he had killed 10,744 partridges, 8,862 pheasants, 4,694 snipe and 1,080 woodcock — but no grouse: in Georgian times, it was wall-to-wall partridge. In accomplishing this record, he had fired more than four tons of cartridges.

In the succeeding generations the 6th Lord Walsingham shot 1,070 grouse in one day on Blubberhouse Moor in Yorkshire in 1888. He fired 1,510 cartridges during 20 drives and twice killed three birds with a single shot. In the following January, he shot the most varied bag ever recorded: 191 kills of 19 different species, ranging from 65 coots to a rat and a pike shot in shallow water. The seal of royal approval was given to large bags when George V downed more than 1,000 pheasants in one day in 1913.

The scale of events on Tuesday will be much more modest. Ticks, parasitic worms, floods and raptors have taken a heavy toll of the grouse. In Scotland, long regarded as the doyen of upland game terrain but plagued with problems, this season is predicted to be slightly better than last, but it is very patchy. Grouse stocks are reported to be up by somewhere between 20 per cent and 50 per cent in the Lammermuirs, but further north the ticks have done a lot of damage.

Yet the devotees will have their sport, rewarded for all their efforts by that heart-quickening moment when the sky first fills with the quarry. It is the timeless experience that, years ago, caused the Duke of Sutherland’s loader to exclaim excitedly: “Grace, Your Grouse!”

A more modern complement to the outdoor sport is the competition among restaurants to be the first to serve grouse on August 12. In 1997, this reached a new pitch of extravagance when the first birds shot on a Scottish moor were rushed to Heathrow and transported on Concorde to New York where, thanks to supersonic flight and the five-hour time difference, they were served to diners at the Restaurant Daniel the same day. A similar extravagance featured a courier parachuting into the grounds of a gourmet hotel to deliver grouse.

The Twelfth is a day for extravagance, nostalgia and enjoyment. Here’s to good sport for now, and the perpetuation of a great British rural tradition.

24 Jun 2018

Playing ’til the Cows Come Home

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17 Jan 2018

Enculer Les Mouches*

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In a remote part of Northern Scotland, the development of a shore-side world-class golf course that might provide a great deal of local employment is being blocked by “conservationists” fighting to preserve the supposed habitat of Fonseca’s Seed Fly, Botanophila fonsecai, a species, one of 110,000 in the world and one of more than 7000 in the UK, discovered in the 1960s, and differentiable only by a close examination of the insect’s genitalia under a microscope.

The developers have spent the last two years modifying their plans so as to minimize the golf course’s environmental impact in hope that the local Council in authority will be placated.

Today’s world is mad, and the insane environmentalist religion is one leading source of the madness.

The Verge.com

Golf.com

* French: “Bugger the flies.” — Reversal of the French saying “N’enculer pas les mouches,” a crude way of saying “Let us not split hairs.”

31 Dec 2017

Scottish Parliament Sings “Auld Lang Syne”

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(Sean Connery is present.)

09 Jan 2017

“Hunted Down”

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John Pettie, Hunted Down, 1877, Hospitalfield Arts, Arbroath.

31 Dec 2016

Scottish Parliament Sings “Auld Lang Syne”

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(Sean Connery is present.)

12 Sep 2016

Apparent Gold-Handed Bronze Sword Found Under Scottish Soccer Field

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bronzeswordgoldhandle

Daily Mail:

A suspected Bronze Age sword with a gold hilt that may be up to 4,000-years-old has been uncovered on the site of a new community football pitch.

Diggers moved into the site in Carnoustie, Angus, in Scotland after a collection of relics were unearthed while workmen began laying foundations for the new sports field.

Work to the playing fields has now been halted while archaeologists scour the site.

The find appears to be a sword with a gold hilt, or handle, dating back to the Bronze Age.

It looks as though it could be two items – possibly a spear point or a broken sword.

Early excavations have revealed a trove of ancient artefacts, which the archaeologists believe could date back thousands of years. …

Due to the fragile nature of the find it has to be specially lifted out in order to conserve it for experts to examine in a laboratory.

25 Jun 2016

Trump’s Visit to Scotland Inspired Some Very Creative Profanity

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Quartz story

————–

A few samples:

TrumpScottishInsults

27 May 2016

Recipe For Disaster

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Voice Recognition Elevator… in Scotland!

20 Sep 2015

Scottish Response to Hate Preaching

23 Aug 2015

Live the Dream

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OpenBook

Entertaining “Local Hero-ish” (1983) fantasies of escaping from the rat race to live the simple life in a quaint Scottish village? Ever dreamt of running your own bookshop? The Guardian reports that you can try out your fantasies during vacation this year for a mere £150 a week.

[A]ll those who … who yearn to spend their days amongst the pristine spines and glossy covers of a small bookshop, what might be the perfect holiday retreat has just been listed on AirBnB: the opportunity to become a bookseller for a week or two.

For the sum of £150 a week, guests at The Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town, will be expected to sell books for 40 hours a week while living in the flat above the shop. Given training in bookselling from Wigtown’s community of booksellers, they will also have the opportunity to put their “own stamp” on the store while they’re there. “The bookshop residency’s aim is to celebrate bookshops, encourage education in running independent bookshops and welcome people around the world to Scotland’s national book town,” says the AirBnB listing.

The Open Book is leased by the Wigtown book festival from a local family. Organisers have been letting paying volunteers run the shop for a week or two at a time since the start of the year, but opened the experience up to the world at large this week when they launched what they are calling “the first ever bookshop holiday experience” on AirBnB.

“I wouldn’t call it a working holiday,” said Adrian Turpin, director of the Wigtown book festival. “It’s a particular kind of holiday [for people] who don’t feel that running a bookshop is work. It’s not about cheap labour – it’s about offering people an experience … It’s one of those great fantasies.”

The money is “just essentially to cover our costs”, said Turpin, admitting that “it can be a hard life, selling books in a small town, so it’s not a holiday for everybody”.

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