Thursday, 30 July 2015

Scotland’s Road to Referendum 1945 - 2014

This is a timeline of events from the conclusion of World War II in 1945 leading to the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum held on the 18th of September 2014, to reflect how Scotland got to the stage of holding a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.

08/05/1945 – Victory Day in Europe following the surrender of Nazi Germany the day before. The British people could not have been more united in the war against Hitler.

The anticlimactic rise of Scottish nationalism 1967 – 1979

02/11/1967 – Winnie Ewing wins the Hamilton seat in a by-election for the SNP, previously considered to be a safe Labour seat. Ewing’s victory brings the SNP and the issue of Scottish independence to national prominence. Upon her victory, Ewing famously remarked, “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.”

18/05/1968 – Perth Declaration delivered by Conservative Party leader Ted Heath, who pledges Conservative Party support for Devolution.

15/04/1969 – A Royal Commission on the Constitution eventually led by Lord Kilbrandon is set up in response to Gwynfor Evans’s Plaid Cymru victory in the Carmarthen 1966 by-election and Winnie Ewing’s SNP victory in the 1967 Hamilton by-election. The Commission examines the constitutional arrangements for the home nations in the United Kingdom and recommends devolved assemblies to both Scotland and Wales as opposed to independence or federalism.

19/10/1970 – North Sea oil is discovered, which fuels debate over the economic aspects of Scottish independence.

23/04/1975 – Following the discovery of North Sea oil, the McCrone Report of 1974 concludes that North Sea oil would give an independent Scotland one of the strongest currencies in Europe. The McCrone Report is submitted on this date to the Labour government only for it to be deemed classified until 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

01/03/1979 – The 1979 Scottish Devolution Referendum proposes a Scottish Assembly with limited powers in the 1978 Scotland Act. “Yes” wins a narrow majority of 51.6% but due to a controversial 40% rule requiring at least 40% of the total electorate voting in favour of the proposal, which is not met on a 63.7% turnout, the proposed Assembly in the 1978 Act is subsequently repealed.

Thatcherism & the revived road to a Scottish Parliament 1979 – 1997

28/03/1979 – A vote of No Confidence against the Labour government of James Callaghan wins by one vote, which leads to the 1979 General Election.

03/05/1979 – 1979 General Election, which sees a victory for Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party. The Conservatives remain in power for the next 18 years until Labour’s landslide victory in 1997 and oppose any form of Devolution. Thatcher’s polices over the following decade such as the Poll Tax highlights the existence of a democratic deficit between Scotland and England in the union.

30/03/1989 – The Claim of Right is signed, acknowledging the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

01/04/1989 – Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax is introduced in Scotland, a year before England and Wales. It becomes apparent that Scotland is not an equal partner in the Union.

01/05/1997 – The Labour Party led by Tony Blair wins a landslide victory with a pledge to hold a referendum for a Devolved Scottish Parliament. Devolution advocate Secretary of State for Scotland Donald Dewar campaigns for the creation of the Parliament.

11/09/1997 – 1997 Scottish Devolution Referendum. 74.2% of voters answer “Yes” to the first question for the creation of a Scottish Parliament on a 60.4% turnout. 63.4% of voters grant the Parliament tax-varying powers on a second question.

Scottish Devolution & the road to independence 1997 – 2014

12/05/1999 – Opening of the Scottish Parliament. Donald Dewar becomes the first First Minster of the new Parliament.

03/05/2007 – The SNP led by Alex Salmond wins a minority of 47 seats in the 2007 Scottish elections. Salmond becomes First Minster and pledges a referendum on independence. However, due to a minority of seats, the referendum proposal is defeated by unionist parties.

05/05/2011 – The SNP wins a majority of 69 seats in the 2011 Scottish elections, a feat initially considered to be impossible upon the setting up of the Parliament. Alex Salmond continues as First Minster and now has the mandate to deliver a referendum on independence.

15/10/2012 – The Edinburgh Agreement is signed between First Minster Alex Salmond and Prime Minster David Cameron, granting the Scottish Parliament powers to hold the independence referendum.

21/03/2013 – Alex Salmond announces the date of the referendum to be held on the 18th of September 2014.

18/09/2014 – Scotland's referendum on independence is held, which saw 55% of voters reject independence on a usually high turnout of 84.6%.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

A hike in the Scottish Highlands

In September 2014, two long time hiker friends, named Alec and Alistair, decided on the eighteenth to hike along a forest route in the Scottish Highlands. Eventually they had come to a cross road leading to two different routes. Alec wanted to take the road on the left while Alistair wanted to take the road on the right.

Not wanting to split up, the two began arguing over which way to go. Alec wanted to take the road on the left because the scenery described by some familiar Norwegian hikers from their hiking club intrigued his interest. Alistair argued for the road on the right, though you got to see less of the scenery of the countryside, it was the shorter and far less winding of the two routes and thus was the better choice due to this. Alec further argued that precisely because the road on the right was the shorter and less winding of the two routes, it was the more convenient route to take.

Eventually, to settle the matter, the two agreed on a coin toss, with left being heads as Alec was flipping the coin. Much to Alec's dismay, the coin had come up tails. Grudgingly on Alec's part, both friends proceeded with the road on the right but the scenery continued to intrigue him. Being reminded by Alistair that the coin toss was fair as there was an equal chance of either outcome winning, Alistair persisted that because tails won, the choice must be respected.

To the hikers that wanted to take the road on the left, accept that you might not win every coin toss, but the possibility always exists that you may win the next time and finally take the road on the left and experience the scenery of the countryside.

To the hikers that wanted to take the road on the right, you’ve won; the coin toss was for the road on the right. However, the hikers that take the road on the right go that way because it’s the shorter and less winding of the two routes, and therefore the more convenient choice for most. And if the scenery described by others is as beautiful as they claim, then it might just be worth taking the road on the left the next time.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Things we have learned from The Simpsons

1. "Mittens" is a swear word.

2. A baby on board sign will make people stop intentionally ramming your car.

3. A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

4. Abraham Lincoln sold poison milk to school children.

5. Alcohol is both the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.

6. ALF is back, in POG form!

7. All normal people love meat... You don't win friends with salad.

8. All pumpkins are racist.

9. All religions are pretty much the same.

10. Bart didn't do it.

11. Batman is a scientist.

12. Broccoli is one of the deadliest plants on Earth. Why, it tries to warn you itself with its terrible taste.

13. Brothers and sisters are natural enemies. Like Englishmen and Scots. Or Welshmen and Scots. Or Japanese and Scots. Or Scots and other Scots. Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!

14. Candle wax is good to drink before eating Guatemalan insanity peppers.

15. Can't sleep or else clowns will eat you.

16. Cartoons aren't real, they're just something made up for cheap laughs.

17. Cheeseburgers and loneliness are a dangerous mix.

18. Cheeseburgers are more of a weekend thing.

19. Come on down to Uncle Moes, it's good good good good, good good good!

20. Drinking, violence, destruction of property. Are these the things we think of when we think of the Irish?

21. Early Radio programmes consisted of Thomas Edison reciting the alphabet over and over. A he'd say; then B. C would usually follow...

22. Embiggens is a perfectly cromulent word.

23. English women don’t pump gas naked.

24. Family, religion, friendship. These are the demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.

25. Fonzie freed the squares.

26. Guns are for keeping the King of England out of your face.

27. Hair is not a right, it's a privilege.

28. Homer is a jock, not a nerd.

29. Homer is so smart, S-M-R-T--I mean S-M-A-R-T.

30. Homer put the ool in the word cool.

31. Homer would get up but the boy crippled him.

32. If something is hard to do, it's not worth doing.

33. If something unexplainable happens in a TV show, book or film, a wizard did it.

34. If you don't like your job, you don't strike. You just go in every day, and do it really half assed. That's the American way.

35. If you ever travel back in time, don't step on anything because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can't imagine.

36. If you get money for doing nothing it’s because the Democrats are in power.

37. If you live in a houseboat you can pull up the anchor and sail away if you hate your neighbours.

38. If you want to know where to find the brownies, George Harrison is the perfect person to ask.

39. In New York, they call hamburgers "steamed hams."

40. In sporting events it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how drunk you get.

41. In theory, Communism works.

42. Instead of calling it a "garage," its proper name is "car hole."

43. Iron helps you play.

44. It’s unpossible for Ralph to fail English.

45. Jimmy Carter is history’s greatest monster.

46. Justice is not a frivolous thing, for it has very little to do with a disobedient whale.

47. Krusty likes to play with YOU!

48. Lies make baby Jesus cry.

49. Males aren't hard to tame, they just follow their video cartridges.

50. Man has been searching for a Silver Irishman since the dawn of time.

51. Men have the right to marry their cousins.

52. Missouri will never be a true state.

53. Nickels used to be nicknamed "Bees" because they had pictures of bumblebees on them.

54. No jury in the world is going to convict a baby... maybe Texas.

55. No one who speaks German could be an evil man.

56. Nothing gets Chocolate out.

57. On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is a little Irish expect for the gays and the Italians.

58. Only someone who didn't see a movie would ask you if you are sick of seeing it.

59. Presidents used to spank naughty children until the Cows came home.

60. Purple is a fruit.

61. Skinner is a nut, and has a rubber butt.

62. Skinner's posterior is nothing but flesh and bone and that metal plate he got in 'Nam.

63. Some of us pull a few boners now and then, go all half-cocked, and make asses of ourselves.

64. Souls are just something parents made up to scare kids, like the Bogeyman or Michael Jackson.

65. Spilling sugar all over the counter at a bar is apparently a lot worse than getting a snake bite, and lighting your tie on fire (while wearing alcohol soaked clothes.) In fact you will automatically be banned from said bar.

66. Styrofoam is not made from kittens.

67. Texas left is down.

68. That Seymour Skinner is really Armin Tamzarian.

69. And no one will ever mention it again... under penalty of torture.

70. The best way to discipline an unruly child is to grab him by the neck while shouting, "Why, you little - !"

71. The dean of the college is a stupidhead.

72. The lesson is to never try.

73. The Metric System is the tool of the devil.

74. The only ship worth a damn is friendship.

75. The word "twenty" was once stolen by the Kaiser and had to be temporarily replaced with the word "dickety."

76. There’s a New Mexico.

77. There's a Ned Flanders in every neighbourhood.

78. Thomas Edison invented the six legged chair.

79. Throwing a huge silo of pig crap in a lake will cause the whole lake to get severely polluted and the town will end up being covered by a giant glass dome.

80. Tickets to a baseball game give you the right, no, the duty to make complete asses of yourself.

81. Todd doesn't want any damn vegetables.

82. Troy McClure sleeps with the fishes.

83. Trying is the first step towards failure.

84. Universities are not "hotbeds" of anything.

85. Watch Fox and be damned for all eternity.

86. Wearing an onion on your belt used to be the height of fashion.

87. Whacking Day was just an excuse to beat up the Irish. And a fine job they did, too.

88. When a fire starts to burn there's a lesson you must learn. Something something then you'll see, you'll avoid catastrophe.

89. When you sneeze, that’s your soul trying to escape. Saying “God bless you” crams it back in.

90. Without Beer, Prohibition doesn’t work.

91. Won't someone please think of the children?!

92. You can become a booze hound at 15.

93. You can use statistics to prove anything. 40% of people know that.

94. Your underwear holds the answer to all the important questions.

150 things we have learned from Father Ted


  1. A Director’s Cut of Jurassic Park is likely to include extra Dinosaurs.
  2. A missing whistle is a good reason to get a Garda helicopter in.
  3. A naked man can stay on the hood of a moving car for quite a long way.
  4. A pack of Rottweiler’s is the obvious second choice to a pack of rabbits.
  5. A perfectly square piece of dirt on the window is bound to lead to some form of racism.
  6. A picture of yourself in the nip won't win you a parachute.
  7. Always hold your raffle tickets the right way up, especially if you have the winning number.
  8. Always pack a lock-pick in case you become tramped in an underpants hamper.
  9. Any question can be answered either yes or that would be an ecumenical matter.
  10. Being inside a very dark cave is just like being blind.
  11. Biscuit or Cake is a really hard choice.
  12. Bishops go around the country with sarcastic priests as their PA.
  13. Bishops like Sci-Fi.
  14. Bricks make good pets for drunken elderly priests.
  15. Career women are very aggressive.
  16. Clint Eastwood once got arrested for a crime he didn't....oh wait, it’s a film.
  17. Corner flags are difficult to guard.
  18. Crazy golf is nothing like the U.S. Masters.
  19. Crows are pesky glasses thieves.
  20. Cuban priests speak Spanish, drive Porsches and are very fertile.
  21. Dancing across America can get you mugged twelve times.
  22. Dancing is really addictive, so much that it can kill you.
  23. Do not drink Toilet Duck.
  24. Do not get lost in a lingerie section.
  25. Do not give bitter television presenters even a sip of alcohol.
  26. Do not give your housekeeper a tea making machine as a Christmas present.
  27. Do not let the new milkman around your girlfriend/wife/mum/sister/gran/housekeeper.
  28. Dogs do not have the same sense of humour as humans and would probably not be amused by a joke telephone. The dog on the packet is smiling because someone's given him a nice toy to play with.
  29. Don’t press the emergency button when the plane is about to crash. There might be a fine for improper use.
  30. Don't let charity money for a sick boy's trip to Lourdes rest in your account.
  31. Don't park your wheelchair on the Magic Road.
  32. Drunken elderly Priests can hear when they want to.
  33. Erosion is bad for cliffs.
  34. Fashion designers can get so good that they have to be shot.
  35. Feckarse Industries (www.feckarse.com) make damn fine glasses.
  36. Folks holidaying in a caravan tend to not be the friendliest people ever.
  37. Four hours of Cluedo is probably some kind of record.
  38. Gene Hackman doesn't even say Mass in The Poseidon Adventure.
  39. Getting hit by lighting or drinking Toilet Duck won't kill you, but dancing might.
  40. Ghost Town is not a sufficient record collection for a disco.
  41. Glamorous Irish lady novelists describing their sex life can give you an embarrassingly painful hard-on.
  42. Hospitals are full of sick people.
  43. Housekeepers do not have a good sense of balance.
  44. Housekeepers do not understand sarcasm.
  45. Husbands of housewives cannot cook breakfast.
  46. If all else fails you can always say another mass.
  47. If in a nice parish in Dublin, be very careful what you put in under "expenses".
  48. If participating in an all lookalike competition, Mother Teresa and Elvis Presley are both good choices.
  49. If the favourite son becomes a doctor, the idiot brother will be sent off to the priesthood.
  50. If you do not follow the picnic area rules, the gamekeeper will go mental at you and blow his whistle.
  51. If you don't have time to fill the forms in to withdraw money from the post office, sure a shotgun will do just as well.
  52. If you ever find a middle-aged grey-haired man staring at you in the mirror, make sure it's you.
  53. If you meet Richard Wilson, do not, by any means, say "I don’t believe it."
  54. If you pass a bra with a middle arch support, single padding and a white lace outline, then you're on the right track.
  55. If you run the gas off the electricity and the electricity off the gas you save £200 a year.
  56. If you tappy-tappy at the car too much, you won't be able to give it away as a prize...
  57. If you turn on an empty kettle, it will just blow up and you'll be pulling bits of metal out of your face for the next year and a half.
  58. If you’re judging a baby competition, do not get the babies excited.
  59. If you're a priest, buy all your black socks from Habitandhat. Don't buy it from normal shops; they'll feck you over all the time.
  60. It doesn't matter what day it is. There is always time for a nice cup of tea.
  61. It is easy to travel from Gdansk, Poland to a remote Irish island.
  62. It is free to report a missing person.
  63. It is near impossible to buy black socks, but easy to buy very, very dark blue ones.
  64. It takes a completely ludicrous situation to find a use for a radio controlled wheelchair and a pair of joke arms.
  65. Italians know about football.
  66. It's a different shark in Jaws 2.
  67. It's really weird when a tarot deck has three Grim Reaper cards--there's only supposed to be one in every deck.
  68. John Paul II's name before he became pope was not "Jim".
  69. July 19th is the day the Ice Age ended.
  70. Just about anyone can become a priest, it's just a matter of saving up the coupons.
  71. Keep drunken elderly priests away from living room windows.
  72. Keep elderly housekeepers away from window ledges.
  73. Living with someone with waxy ears keeps you in candles.
  74. London is the capital of England.
  75. Make sure that your housekeeper’s cake has Raisins in it and not cocaine.
  76. Monkey priests shouldn't be told they're Priests, it's too much of a shock and they'll crash the plane.
  77. Morons like Oasis better than Blur.
  78. Never an elderly priest drink run-off water from a leaky roof.
  79. Never attend AA with drunken elderly priests.
  80. Never drink a whole bottle of dreamy sleepy nighty snoozy snooze.
  81. Never get on the bad side of a drunken television presenter.
  82. Never trust a priest with the name Damien.
  83. Never try to dance in a very small caravan.
  84. No matter which channel you put the TV on there’s always Gobs**te is on it.
  85. No protest would be complete without banners proclaiming “Down with this sort of thing” and “Careful Now”.
  86. Nuns are people too.
  87. Nuns have a soft spot for chocolate, especially priest's chocolate at Lent.
  88. Old ladies are prone to acting like zombies.
  89. Old women get to that age where they don’t need the operator anymore, they’ve got the direct line.
  90. On December 24th an advent calendar is unlikely to show Ruud Guillit sitting on a shed.
  91. On July 19, Galway was liberated from the Indians, Marathon becomes Snickers, and the Ice Age ends.
  92. Only priests would like the television show Father Ben.
  93. Out of Africa was all about Teleportation.
  94. Over eighty-five priests football matches aren’t very exiting.
  95. Paraguay is better than being stuck in a 60m year old cave with very annoying Priests.
  96. Picnic Areas have several rules including No Swearing, No Paddling, No Single Women and No Tree Climbing.
  97. Priests cannot make tea.
  98. Priests either love egg or hate egg.
  99. Priests have an intuitive understanding of sheep.
  100. Promiscuous milkmen can wire bombs.
  101. Puppies are great for wiping your face.
  102. Rabbits are hairy Japanese bastards.
  103. Rabbits can burrow in anywhere. No-one is safe.
  104. Rabbits can look like Harvey Kietel.
  105. Radiohead is more depressing than Isaac Hayes.
  106. Remote control wheelchairs are difficult to steer.
  107. Robbing someone’s whistle is a serious criminal offence.
  108. And if wrongly accused of stealing such whistle, come up with a plausible reason for why you would.
  109. Sampras is a good name for a rabbit because of that whole rabbit-tennis connection.
  110. Sheep have phonographic memories.
  111. Showing controversial films will guarantee good box office results.
  112. Simple priests cannot remember being airlifted or nearly killed at the zoo, but can remember what they were wearing.
  113. Some books contain “wall to wall bastards."
  114. Some drivers have a very literal interpretation of the "knock for knock" system.
  115. St. Tibulus wore clothes and had a banana-shaped knob.
  116. Talking loudly about a beast in front of a sheep will make it ill.
  117. Television is just chewing gum for the eyes.
  118. That Cow is small, those ones are very far away.
  119. The best accompaniment to jungle music is a hammer drill.
  120. The Chinese are a great bunch o' lads.
  121. The collective name for the poor is “A Shower of Bastards.”
  122. The Greeks invented homosexuality.
  123. The pope lives in an art gallery.
  124. There are gangs in America.
  125. There aren't razors with handles long enough to reach the buttocks.
  126. There is an obvious difference between priests and Fascists. Fascists dress in black and tell you what to do, whereas priests ... More drink!
  127. There is no requirement to wear a bra while playing netball.
  128. There’s a 'g' in Dougal.
  129. There's a special tea for Sheep.
  130. There's no demand for UHT milk because it's *beep*.
  131. There's some mysterious werewolf condition only priests contract.
  132. There's something strange, you know, three priests living alone on an island like that.
  133. There's such thing as a horse dentist.
  134. Tranquilliser darts act immediately on human beings.
  135. Vatican clergy are really laid-back.
  136. Waking someone up to offer them a peanut only makes them dream about giant peanuts chasing them.
  137. When in doubt about your location, be sure to look out for the man with the t-shirt saying “I shot JR”.
  138. When in times of trouble, praying to god will work just as well.
  139. When kicking your boss up the arse, be sure to avoid getting drunk and ordering two hundred copies of photos of the event, as well as a 10x10.
  140. When on your milk route, keep an eye out for pyramid-shaped stacks of cardboard boxes.
  141. You can get a trophy for anything, even coming third in the Ludo Championship.
  142. You can get Opticians charts free with crates of Carlberg.
  143. You can have all the symptoms of death, such as rigourmourtis, no pulse, decomposition...but they can wear off!
  144. You can praise god with sleep, it's a way of thanking him for a tiring day.
  145. You can rub the writing off every black board.
  146. You do not need to be tall to be the pope.
  147. You get more right-wing as you get older.
  148. You know it's a spider-baby because they keep it in a pram.
  149. You shouldn't take Catholicism seriously, it's just a bit of a laugh.
  150. You wouldn't find Hitler playing jungle music at three o'clock in the morning.