Scoville Units Unite

02 Apr

Couple of weeks of R&R

It was coming up to the end of the year and I had a chunk of holidays left so decided to take two weeks at the end of March. I didn’t get done everything I wanted to do but managed:

House

Managed to entirely gut the house. Cleaned every room, washed every cup, plate and piece of cutlery. Cleared out loads of old crap too. Bought some replacement bits and bobs for things that had broken or gone missing.

Music

Carried on ripping through a big chunk of my albums in preparation for Get the Funk Out. Now up to K. Eurgh so much to do and then singles etc too.

With co-hort Sean Cairns had another evening of Funkness at Kage which was awesomeness.

Computer Games

Got the South Park game and Papers Please, both of which seem fun. Played a bit of Hearthstone and Cockatrice too.

Books

Took a trip to Edinburgh for a day and scoured some charity/book shops. Managed to pick up some interesting looking things and read an analysis of Electoral Systems. Finished Finding Arthur which was very interesting. Started again on Game of Thrones in excitement of the new season starting.

Television Shows

Finished How I Met Your Mother (at last, goodbye and fuck off) and Walking Dead (series will go on, learning from HIMYM I’m not sticking it out). Managed to get not so far behind on Castle, still 1 season behind though. Watched True Detective which was pretty epic. It was one of many shows people recommend but with backlog I hadn’t added to my queue.

Gaming

Won my first constructed Magic event at Highlander which was pretty awesome. Bought Lords of Waterdeep which is just fantastic, and hopefully doesn’t put anyone off due to the Dungeons and Dragons branding as it is irrelevant to game play and bloody good. Played a lot of DC Deckbuilder. Played a mashup of both DC and Lord of the Rings deckbuilders which was as big a trainwreck as it looked to be.

11 Feb

Got Games Going On

I’ve spent a fair chunk of the year so far playing games so haven’t really written much more substantial than those posts over at JoyStuckInThePast.

Appropriate for here though is a game I just backed on Kickstarter.

Scoville

An Euro game about farming chilli peppers which takes into account colour blindness. Couldn’t not back that one!

11 Dec

Nicola Sturgeon

After seeing her performance on the TV debate I was offered tickets to a Q&A with her at Dundee Uni hosted by 5million questions.

So I popped along with @mariettarosetta (Anna) and her dad to see what was going to be discussed.

The turnout was impressive in a large lecture theatre, although I suspected a large portion of the crowd was made up of the sizable local SNP. This was later confirmed when Nicola knew the names of a number of the audience and questioners.

This may seem a bit disjointed but it’s a short thing about various notes I made about Sturgeons quotes/responses. Stuff in quotes is probably paraphrases as I was scribbling down as fast as I could, trying to note the spirit if not the exact quote. I also added my own comments at the time so hope they aren’t interspersed although I may have cocked up.

220px-Nicola_Sturgeon_2

Firstly she answered a question about no poll bounce by saying the white paper was written for the public, not the media. She expected no bounce as you have to read it, so it’s too soon to find out reaction/effect. She expects it to aid to a small drip feed in the polls over the coming months.

On John Majors doubts over independence she hadn’t expected him to read it and be converted.

She described the document as Common sense, reasonable, rational.

A number of points were made about the Better Together negativity, and their attacks on weaknesses of the White Paper. She pointed out that If independence happens those in the No camp opposing currency union will be scrambling to argue for it, like other things they oppose now – they’ll want what’s best for Scotland.. Which seems a fair point.

When asked if she was left – right – centre, she affirmed that she sees herself as centre-left, stating that the SNP are Social Democrats

On the tax gap she pointed out the £32 billion tax gap in UK. It does seem bizarre that considering the state of the UKs finances what seems like minor amounts claimed by the No camp to exist are black holes whilst the UK sinks ever further into debt.

There was a query about tuition fees and the way students from England pay to attend Scottish universities. To paraphrase, she doesn’t want anyone to pay tuition fees, if Westminster stopped charging we would immediately but can’t as the unis would be overwhelmed and Scottish students couldn’t attend. Westminster is stupid for forcing graduates to leave to go to home countries and not stay using their skills in Scotland which has just educated them.. Which seems a reasonable explanation of the governments position. Forced into a policy they claim to oppose by another government body.

On the turnout and expected result she expects turn out to be higher than 70%, people who don’t/have never voted are saying now they definitely will vote.. Which is definitely encouraging. No matter the result, a higher turnout and a decent gap between options should cut down the call for further referendums in the near future.

A question was asked about democracy which covered some of what I intended to ask. Her reply was: there will be a constitutional convention. We want power fed down from Holyrood to Councils – devolve power to local communities.

I hadn’t read the paper yet so didn’t know of the SNP plans for a Constitutional Convention which is definitely encouraging

A modern constitution

Independence provides an opportunity to modernise Scottish democracy on the basis of a written constitution setting out the way the country is governed and the rights of its citizens. The Scottish Government believes a constitutional convention will ensure a participative and inclusive process by which the people of Scotland, as well as politicians, civic society organisations, business interests, trade unions, local authorities and others, can have a direct role in shaping the constitution.

The Scottish Government will be just one of many voices contributing to the debate and helping to shape Scotland’s written constitution. However, there are certain provisions that the Government believes should be considered by the constitutional convention, such as equality of opportunity and the right to live free of discrimination and prejudice, a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons being based in Scotland, and certain social and economic

She stressed that it’s Not [governments/SNPs] to write, its for the country, only UK, NZ and Israel have no written constitution., also Saudi Arabia and Qatar which is frankly embaressing. It’s clear the SNP are too scared to even address the Monarchy though, so all the calls for a modern democracy seem a bit like posturing. Any and every constitutional convention should demand an elected head of state as a basic democratic principle.

An audience member summed up the Better Together campaign as basically FUD. Looking at their page today, the recent stories are:
UK Single Market keeps costs down, say supermarket bosses – shown to be lies
The Grassroots team is now recruiting – recruitment
Independence Black Hole Getting Deeper – fear
White Paper: The experts’ verdict – uncertainty
UK’s first Green Parliamentarian and Former Scottish Greens Co-Convenor backs Better Together – recruitment
‘Turning inwards would reduce chances for Scots to change the world’ – doubt

No positive case for the Union. No mention of Alasdair Darling

When there was a question about Better Together publishing their white paper, she pointed out that the UK government had produced over 800 pages about independence so they don’t think they have to. This is a point which seems to be missed. Whilst Unionists demand the SNP pay for the paper as it’s an SNP document and the taxpayer shouldn’t subsidise it, the SNP are acknowledging that the UK government documents are seen by Better Together as their side of the argument. Why not highlight this?

Finally she closed by saying that the vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP, there would later be a general election where she provoked laughter by saying I dont care what way you vote in an independent scotland, before realising what she said.

The event was covered in the Courier quoting Sturgeon on expected turn out. Also a piece about the generational gap between referendums. There was also a photo in one of the print editions showing me. Infamy.

28 Nov

And now the gloves are off

So after the release of the independence white paper it appears the gloves are off. From ministers dismissing it before they could have read it, nitpicking over the detail or demanding why particular questions are not answered the No camp have pulled out all the stops except producing any document of their own.

The highlights so far have been the Wright stuff show, Sturgeon demolishing Carmichael on STV, and of course James Kelly who scores a hilarious own goal in Holyrood.

I started off with an open mind, willing to be swayed either way, but nothing, nothing has moved me a single millimetre towards No from their campaign. The Yes camp have repeatedly released information or debated in a mature enough fashion so solidify my intention to vote Yes. I can certainly see myself being persuaded to spoil ballot between now and September but can see nothing so far to compel me to vote No.

To briefly explain why let’s take a look at the stooshie over EU membership. The No camp position is that on independence Scotland would be ejected from the EU and have to reapply for membership, taking around 9 years. The Yes camp position is that Scotland would stay within the EU and negotiate membership terms between referendum day and independence day.

So what are some of the factors to influence which camp you believe?

  • Ruth Davidson yesterday in Holyrood said if a country becomes independent it is a new state and that if there is a new state, of course, that state has to apply for membership and negotiate the conditions with other member states.. Of course, she should then support that happenning, as clearly the remaining UK would then also be a new state and need to apply for membership too. As it was pointed out to her, the Conservatives want to leave the EU. So not only does her argument apply to the UK too if true, but she is clearly being disingenuous in her statement.
  • The Spanish Prime Minister has stated Scotland will have to apply for membership from outside the EU, no mention at all about Catalonia whilst discussing the region of Scotland. No hidden message there at all. The Prime Minister of a country, currently saber rattling with Westminster over the sovereignty of Gibralter supports the Better Together position on sovereignty .
  • Every person in Scotland currently eligible to have a British Passport is also an EU citizen. Duel citizenship is pretty guaranteed to apply to anyone who wants a Scottish passport the day after independence. Is it really credible that you can have a country where the vast majority of residents are also EU citizens where the EU will not want that country to be a member state?
  • The only conceivable way that Scotland would be refused entry to the EU are if the following are true. Scottish government makes bonkers demands when negotiating to join, it’s far more likely it will give more than take given how much they want to ensure membership. the remaining UK/Spain/other countries facing internal crises of self-determination will block to deter those groups in their own state. If the UK government is seriously wanting to block Scotlands membership whilst also advocating leaving the EU, they should flat out say so now, so we can see them for the petty spiteful hypocritical idiots they are.

For me the biggest stand-out factor is that the No camp start from a position of opposition and then scramble to find arguments to support that position, no matter how inconsistent or mental they are.

26 Nov

Exclusive IFS Analysis

Well, they’ve been busy haven’t they. After delivering an analysis of how an independent Scotland would fare, using Westminster data, the IFS have got straight to work this morning. As well as reading the entire 670 page document and inputting all the data, they have produced a documentary showing the likliest outcome.

IFS Scotland Documentary

They shared with me an exclusive preview of the work set for release later this week. It shows that just 27 years after independence:

  • Alex Salmond set up as a feudal lord in the Highlands
  • Public services reduced to a single steam train
  • Glasgow becoming a cannibal wasteland
  • A new Hadrians Wall having to be made to keep out refugees fleeing Scotland
  • A decline in farming resulting in wild cows roaming previously populated areas
  • The only music around being cheesy stuff from the 80s (hinted at the Proclaimers and Fan – Dabi – Dozi by the Krankies but there was not enough data to model this

Alistair Darling was obviously available for comment without having seen it yet. I asked him what he thought of this vision.

Well obviously as a proud, proud Scot who is proudly proud of being Scottish the vision here proposed in the SNP Manifesto for independence is horrifying. Clearly the only way I would want to see Scotland reduced to any kind of wasteland is if there’s an accident with Trident. Or if it looks like the voters will vote for independence. Then they’ll find out what a wasteland is when I work with my colleagues, friends and co-travellers in the Tories to punish them.

18 Nov

Dundee City of Culture Bid

It’s been surprising how little and much has been said about Dundee’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2017. How little in the long-run up. And then so much in the last week. Some good, some bad. Some indifferent.

The public face of the bid started with the launch of We Dundee with locals asked to contribute reasons Dundee should win. There was the first round of bidding and 6 six cities including Aberdeen were cut.

The Dundee team pulled together a bid and it was submitted last week with the result expected Wednesday.

“One Day in Dundee” – UK City of Culture 2017 Bid Video from We Dundee on Vimeo.

The full document of the bid has also been made available, although not widely publicised.

The video has some criticism (rightly so), but looking at it it’s well produced with a number of well kent faces. This is all good for people in Dundee seeing Pete Tosh (not that one), Brian Cox (that one, not that one), Howie, but they would only know Brian Cox, so pretty insular. Showing off the sports is grand, but I would assume it was actually filmed in one day and that’s why ice hockey was shown rather than United. Surely showing GMS and Gauld would have counted for more culture than most ;).

Showing features of the city like Discovery, city centre, DCA and skatepark is great for variety and all and I can’t think of many cultural venues to chuck on which are obvious landmarks, oh wait, the McManus! Fair enough I think a couple of bits may be inside there but for fuck sake. If only the regeneration of a cultural landmark for three years which was re-opened to great success had some relevance to what the bid is trying to do. It’s details like that which are infuriating.

And that segues to the real downer of the video – the dearth of computing game content and music. Musicwise there is a Violin Shop and Grouchos. Great – showing wee independent retailers, sure Rainbow could have fitted in too though. Music wise you have the Mains of Fintry Pipe Band – great, doubt Swansea can boast a local Pipe Band drawn from people who mainly live in one of the really deprived communities. For contemporary bands there’s a few stills of what I suspect is a covers band playing in a pub (I may be wrong).

This is around the time the awesome Daisy was putting on OxJam house gigs. Similar to the way we saw contrast from old jute works to modern textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone couldn’t we have had, even with timeline manipulation, a house gig => pub gig => Caird Hall gig, showing the breadth of music in the city?

But that’s not the real downer of the video. The soundtrack is Chvrches. Who are brilliant. Don’t get me wrong. But they are from Glasgow. Not Dundee. I don’t even think they’ve played in Dundee. Is there really no Dundee band who could have provided a soundtrack to the video. Doesn’t show much confidence in the city’s bands. Snow Patrol formed here and iDLEWiLD’s Roddy Woomble is from just up the road, surely if we were looking outside the city they should have been higher up the list and been more of a big-name draw to boot.

The Bid Document

I’ve scanned through the 132 page document so only have a superficial list of what is proposed so far, and some looks great. There are obvious gaps/concerns though. Firstly I would hope a chunk of this goes ahead whether the bid is successful or not. If nothing else then the proposed local consultations to find out what Dundonians want from the official cultural bodies in the city will be invaluable. Somehow I suspect not many will have a floating Opera stage in the Ferry high on their list.

Firstly there’s a balance to be found between local and external to the city. Dundee has extremely tight boundaries so it’s not hard to reach out to other areas and should be encouraged but it’s important that we only do so when Dundee can’t do it ourselves for such important events. A great example is in the bid team – having external culture consultants on it instead of the relevant local Council Convener.

Some of it looks exciting (COMICCON!!), but how much is confirmed, speculation and only dependent on a successful bid is unknown. It’s noted that some info is removed from this document. There are a number of places with grey bars on top of text but the text can still be copied out. Fail. I’m not sure if that’s all the parts covered by that statement or not.

Of course The View and Ricky Ross are name-checked but not Laeto or other bands who have knocked their pan in for 10 years. Somehow I doubt we’re going to see posters of Dundee Culture City presents: followed by Uniforms, Bonehouse or Kaddish. I think the most important thing for us to do is to engage in the consultation then take the great ideas not used by the city fathers and create a fringe for them. Covering all the cultural areas ignored. Supporting the local, grass roots scenes. When bands are invited and local ones ignored put on a mini-fringe fest. When huge designers are promoted all over the Tully throw together a local craft fair. When official events charge £20 a ticket, ask for donations.

The football

There is also one ridiculous suggestion in the document which simply must be pointed out. The football festival has Dundee playing AC Milan. This is great. They have a partnership with them and also most of their fans parents weren’t born when the Italian giants smashed them. Great.

The proposed Dundee United tie? Against AS Roma? In 1984 they met in the European Cup. At Tannadice, United turned them over 2-0. In the return leg in Roma won 3-0 after bribing the referee. And those in charge of the bid think United should celebrate with a match against these cheating fucks? Considering United’s glorious run of 1987 and good terms with Barcelona (after pumping them 4 times out of 4) and Gothemberg either of these would have seen every Arab in the city and beyond queuing for tickets.

Perhaps a better event would be just promoting the Forfarshire Cup though, although Dundee might increase their lead over United in trophy wins for it, as they will have more recent experience with playing other diddy teams.

13 Nov

Where were the Labour Party?

At around the 13 minute mark the discussion on the Bedroom Tax starts.

Here you can see Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, arguing against the Bedroom Tax. Demanding to know why the SNP don’t abolish it (when Welfare isn’t devolved to Holyrood).

As you can gather he is obviously opposed to it. Well last night there was a Labour Party sponsored debate about the Bedroom Tax. the vote failed, by less than the number of absent Labour MPs. These included Anas Sarwar and Gordon Brown.

Obviously this was picked up by the newspapers who were on the ball as usual..oh wait no it was completely missed. Such respectable organs as the Daily Record decided that attacking the Lib Dems for being absent was the correct line to take.

12 Nov

Useless Council Awards 2013

It really must be the silly season as two Councils have went head to head racing ahead of others in publicly crowing about their financial incompetence.

Making their bid yesterday was Glasgow City Council. They announced that in a Cost saving plan they would spend money raising a statue on a plinth. Apparently this would stop Vandals from putting a cone on it’s head. Firstly this hardly counts as vandalism, more like some kind of public installation. more importantly the task of removing the cone costs an alleged £10,000 per year for 100 times at £100 each. Perhaps a permanent way to reduce this to £0 would be to stop removing the cone.

dukeofwellingtonstatue-1245102

Closer to home though there is a parking farce at Dundee City Council.

The unelected bureaucrats had decided that Dundee needs some Park and Ride schemes. The ingenius location for the first one to go before the relevent committee was inside the city boundaries, on the west a few minutes from the city centre. Just inside the area of the bottleneck roundabout at the Western bounds of the city. Not outside that to reduce congestion at the roundabout, inside that area. Sensibly the councillors saw the stupidity of the scheme and rejected it, no doubt due to the response from their incensed constituents hanging one councillor out to dry in the process.

A couple of weeks later there were reports that the Councils coffers were down £365,000 a year. The cause? Lack of use of car parking spaces in the city centre. Meanwhile the council are claiming that due to how busy the city centre is (and presumably the car parks), Park and Ride schemes must be built, costing millions, to reduce the number of cars parking in the city centre.

13 Oct

I’m Certifiable

This year I went on my second training course in Manchester, of which I’ll write later. The second was to a course on Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications. The purpose to then sit the exam and achieve MCP status.

Last week I passed the exam and became a Microsoft Certified Professional.

This is also me a third of the way to the MCSD: Web Applications and a quarter of the way to the MCSD: SharePoint Applications specialisms. The first course was on Sharepoint so the possibility is there to sit the other mutual exam and then do 3 more to achieve two more qualifications.

It was really weird as I never had many exams at uni so jumping into one again was a bit of a culture shock. Unfortunately there is an NDA around the exam or that and the place you sit it would make an interesting post.

The culture shock was such that I actually had to resit. Thankfully another chunk of time spent revising meant I then passed.

There is an overwhelming amount of information out there so the studying I did was around the following areas.

Book for 20486

Microsoft Virtual Academy training and questions

Sample Projects – built the Facebook integration ones which was interesting.

Someones study guide

03 Jul

Better Together vs Yes Scotland

We’ve been hearing loads of stuff from Yes Scotland and Better Together about the forthcoming referendum on independence.

Better Together have been engaging in what they privately call Project Fear, a terrible strategy composing of nothing but FUD. A campaign of lies, skewed statistics and scaremongering. Ironically, Labour have left them and they refused membership to the Little Englander nuts in UKIP

Yes Scotland seem to have spent most of their media campaign countering the nonsense from Better Together whilst on the ground activists/supporters hand out bland leaflets devoid of any political content.

Radical Independence have been ignored in the media and their supporters are on the ground taking part in local campaigns and countering fascists.

When discussing the referendum someone said they were Not yet, I described my position as Yes, but.

The Yes campaign is uninspiring. The No a disgusting turn off of negative politics. I can’t find any reason to vote No. I might vote yes if the offering is appealing. But I may be convinced to spoil my ballot if the Scotland promised is a bland, uninspiring offering with no popular decision making process on shaping a constitution etc.

I have just looked at the Better Together site and here is the positive case for the Union. I will add comments, bolded, in parentheses.


We love Scotland. We are ambitious for Scotland’s people and Scotland’s possibilities. Our case is not that Scotland could not survive as a separate country – it is that there’s a better choice for our future.

A strong Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom gives us the best of both worlds: real decision making power here in Scotland (like defence, social security and all the non-devolved powers?), as well as a key role in a strong (strong country = we have big nuclear missiles, cower before us) and secure UK (which engages in illegal imperialist wars fueling terrorist threats to civilians here). Now and in the future Scotland is stronger as part of the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom is stronger with Scotland as a partner. (Stay in the UK so the UK is stronger?)

In the UK the BBC and the Bank of England were founded by Scotsmen. The NHS was founded by a Welshman (currently being privatised by the Tories). The State Pension system was founded by an Englishman (Sorry, you now won’t get it til you are 67). Partners in these islands. Working together, better together.

We are proud that we fought together to defeat fascism (after ignoring it in Spain and cuddling up to it in Chile), and worked together to build a welfare state (currently being dismantled). But the case we make is about what’s best for Scotland’s future.

Prosperity

Times are really tough at home and really turbulent internationally (due to financial deregulation by the Tories to appeal to a small segment of the population in the South East of England). In the future Scotland’s prosperity will be strengthened by keeping the British connection. We need more growth, more jobs, and more prosperity in Scotland. We don’t need uncertainty, instability, and barriers for our businesses. (but let’s do nothing about metrication, the lack of which damages exports)

In these tough and turbulent times, the size, strength and stability of the UK economy is a huge advantage for Scotland’s businesses (have you read the news over the past 4 years??). Scotland’s largest market is the rest of the UK. (sounds like a threat…) The UK is the world’s oldest and most successful single market and the UK has the oldest and most successful currency – the pound. (measures of these successes please, what are the metrics?)

Scottish businesses are increasingly having to win orders against smart, efficient and productive firms in foreign markets. These competitive challenges will only get tougher in the years ahead. The UK is better placed than a separate Scotland or England to help our businesses find and win new orders across the world. (By doing? I can insert a snidey comment about dodgy deals to sell weapons to despotic regimes in the middle east like Saudi Arabia)

Security

In an uncertain world Scotland’s security will be strengthened as part of the United Kingdom. The British Armed Forces that protect us are the best in the world. (at killing people on foreign soil, defense??) In Scotland we are proud of the Forces and proud of the vital contribution that Scotland makes to them. As part of the UK we have real clout in the UN Security Council (one of 5 with a permanent veto option, completely undemocratic), NATO (defunct warmongers), the EU (which huge sections of the Better Together camp want to leave), and we have Embassies around the world.

Interdependence

As Scots we believe there’s nowhere better, but we understand there’s something bigger. By contributing to and benefiting from the multi-national, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural United Kingdom of the years ahead (the Tories and Labour preaching about multiculturalism after years of spreading prejudice against ethnic and religious minorities whilst trying to deny asylum to people who are sent back to be murdered by psycopathic dictatorial regimes for crimes like being gay), Scotland’s society and culture will be enriched.

Hundreds of thousands of Scots and English have made their homes in each other’s nation. Half of us have English neighbours. Hundreds of thousands of Scots were born in England. This interdependence – the coming together of family, friends, ideas, institutions and identities – is a strength not a weakness, and is an ideal worth celebrating. The truth is we’re better together. (would you stop having English neighbours after independence, this is nonsensical)

Our case is that Scotland is stronger now and will be stronger in the future – economically, politically, and socially – as a partner in the United Kingdom. (if it was treated as a partner rather than a vassal there would be a weaker movement for independence…)

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