Floating in Mid-Air

Since my first Eurovision party in 2004, with its memorable Ukrainian winner, I’ve only watched the final every few years. There have been some good songs and performances along the way, but not many from the UK. So when I caught the tail-end of the first semifinal on Tuesday and the rest of it the next day, I was left wondering if this year’s entry was any good. When I heard it, I was stunned to realise that the UK actually had a shot at winning for the first time in twenty years.

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15 May 2022 · Comment · Music

Warnings From the Ages

Nobody will read this essay in 200 years.

The essay’s initial target, Jason Stanley, is right: it’s really good. It also prompted me to start reading his 2018 book How Fascism Works, and although I don’t know whether it will last 200 years, it takes a broad enough historical view that it might—and more importantly it’s very much a book for right now. I keep thinking of how many of his points apply to the last few years of Boris Johnson’s government, not to mention the last few months of Russia going off the deep end, and it’s an urgent reminder that the danger of Trumpism persists despite the change of US president.

Gawker has changed the title of McClay’s essay to “It’s Very Unlikely Anyone Will Read This in 200 Years”. Where’s the fun in that? Leave the circumspect language to academic articles that it’s very unlikely anyone will read in 200 days.

Get yer 200-year-old coincidentally relevant essay right here.

3 May 2022 · 1 Comment · Books

Kitchen Sink Drama

Cloud over Edinburgh, 1 May 2022
The view this afternoon from our kitchen window.

1 May 2022 · Journal

Weeks Turn into Months

Russia’s genocide handbook. Russia’s genocidal identity. The words that lead to mass murder. The novel that mapped out Putin’s war plan.

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30 April 2022 · Events

After the Volcano

Three months after the eruption, Tonga is slowly rebuilding [archived] as it struggles with aid waste.

Geologists are building an account of the devastating eruption: how it unleashed a once-in-a-century shockwave [archived], worldwide tsunamis, and a disturbance in space like a solar storm. Why was it so explosive?

A New Zealand researcher has snorkelled over the volcano before the robots take over.

30 April 2022 · Events

Plastic Love

How Youtube’s algorithm turned an obscure 1980s Japanese song into a hit. Mariya Takeuchi, the singer behind it.

Microplastics have been found in human blood.

Inelegant variations.

Forever is not the definition of success.

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30 April 2022 · Weblog

Reinfection Misconceptions

Britain still believes the three big myths about Omicron.

Covid restrictions have now eased in Scotland (as of 18 April), and at least two-thirds of people seem to have abandoned masking in the shops. Two of our household caught it again in March, one pretty badly, so we had another few weeks of disruption as a result. I had another faintest-of-faint test result, but didn’t come down with it this time. Is this going to be the story every three months?

The grief of a million US Covid deaths isn’t going away.

The first US cases may date back to mid-December 2019.

30 April 2022 · Events

Good Friday

Gorse at Chesters Hill Fort, 15 April 2022

When the kids were little we used to visit North Berwick a couple of times a year, but for some reason hadn’t been in eight years. (Possibly because finding a parking space there on a warm dry day is almost impossible.) I took them out there on Good Friday for a beach picnic of hot cross buns and some soft serve, for old times’ sake. On the way back we spontaneously stopped at Chesters Hill Fort to admire its earthen ramparts, cows and gorse. Click through for more photos.

19 April 2022 · Journal

Gartmore House

A few days ago we visited Gartmore House in Stirling for our son’s performance, which I’ve since discovered was the home of Robert Cunninghame Graham from 1883 until 1900. I took a few photos of the grounds while we were there… click through to see more.

Gartmore House, 8 April 2022

11 April 2022 · Journal

The Horror

Reports on the weekend of the bodies of mutilated children left behind by retreating Russian troops in Bucha, just outside Kyiv, confirmed the worst fears of recent weeks.

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7 April 2022 · Events