Scotland 2014

My mum and I had a tradition on Friday evenings; we'd either watch true crime shows on Discovery Channel, or reruns of Highlander with the dashingly hot, Scottish immortal played by Adrian Paul. No really, look him up.

Some of the episodes were rather dark, but the one we'd always go back to was the "Stone of Scone" episode. In it, Duncan MacLeod and his partner in crime Amanda plotted a scheme to steal this pricess relic of Scottish history from Westmister Abbey. The English had stolen it, and with it a part of Scottish soverignty. Hilarity ensues, with the stone eventually being deposited on a misty Scottish moore, unbenownst to the golfers playing nearby or the hoodwinked Abbey security guards.

There are some conspiracy therists who believe this really happened, and that the stone in Westminster was always just a convincing replica. I like to pretend this was true, too.

It's emlbamatic of so much Scottish identity since the Acts of Union in 1707.

I look no good in kilts

Much of my mum's family hail from Clan Ross from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The featured image is of our clan's tartan; pretty handsome, am I right? My grandfather has spent a great deal of time researching the family history, including creating a detailed family tree going back generations. I imagine many of us living in former British colonies can trace similar lineage.

It amazes me such a tiny counry with relatively few people could have such an impact on the world. Their romantic (and otherwise!) music, their scientists and engineers, the best breakfast food in the world... not even the Romans could conquer them!

(An adage my grandfather loves, and Alton Brown quipped on an episode of Good Eats goes something like this. An Englishman poked fun at a Scot for his love of oats. We feed that to our horses, he cried! To which the Scot replied: that's why in England you raise fine horses, and in Scotland we raise fine people).

On the 18th of September, Scottish people will be voting on a referendum for independence from the United Kingdom. It's historic in a global context; the next part to fall away from the once globally reaching empire where the sun never set.

It also brings some practical considerations. Will they model themselves on, say, the Irish Republic? Will they use the British Pound, their own Pound, or the Euro? For that matter, will they be a part of the Eurozone? What about businesses operating on both sides of Hardrian's Wall? Will they keep The Queen, or elect their own head of state? Will the English arrange to keep some of Scotland's vast natural resource reserves in the North Sea?

Elsewhere, will this embolden those in Catalonia, or Kurdistan? What will happen to countries like Fiji, Australia or New Zealand that continue to wear colonial hand-me-downs on their flags?

Whatever happens, I'll be watching closely, and channeling my mum and all our proud ancestors in saying yes :).

The Back Nine, with Ben Sidran

It's been three years since we had a Ben Sidran album series. This is clearly three years too many. I'd say maybe even longer, if that were possible.

To rectify this, I've been listening to his 2013 album Don't Cry for No Hipster. He had me at the title, but its songs are equally splendid. It's the cool witty bebop jazz we know Ben for, replete with his trademark troll endings and the distinct feeling he's grinning from ear to ear as he lets us have the lyrics.

What I really dig are those little cars.

As the first track in this series, let's hear his take on golf.

Hmm, I'm thinkin' of making my own tees made up.
Say... bebop... bebop tees.
Put a ball on a bebop tee... goes where it pleases.

Grab from Amazon, watch on YouTube.

Australian Coalition repeals mining tax

The government, selling its budget:

Joe Hockey has told New Zealand that there is no crisis in the Australian economy, nor is it in trouble.

The treasurer also made no mention of the "budget emergency" he and his government referred to when justifying their unpopular budget to Australians.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Revenue forfeited from the mining tax:

delivered a $6.5 billion hit over four years to the budget bottom line.

And how did they pass it?

after striking a compromise with the Palmer United Party

Remind us again who runs that party?

The Palmer United Party (PUP) is an Australian political party, formed by mining magnate Clive Palmer in April 2013

Greens Senator Christine Milne:

And if ever there is a conflict of interest, it is this one. How is it possible that you can have a coal billionaire voting to vote down a mining tax?

Featured image of the Sunrise Dam open pit mine by Calistemon.

Yes, that Buzzfeed-inspired heading was a joke, given the critique in today's post is reserved for this special article "Six reasons I hate cosplay". Let's take a gander:

  1. He thinks patrons are rude, and the worst are those "dressed as Piku Chikka Uku GooGoo Gaga". While he may have a point for common courtesy, me thinks he could afford those targets of his racist diatribe the same.

  2. Some people don't know all the details of those they're cosplaying. Oh you poor dear, have a Bex and good lie down.

  3. Women only cosplay as hot characters to get attention, and guys all lear and drool because they want to sleep with them. Yay, sexism.

  4. Something something your fake weapons take up space. The Golden Rule would have sufficed without belittling those who may have spent hours building a costume you don't feel they're worthy of wearing, or from some "insipid Manga/Japanimation".

  5. Wear the costume you're built for. I admit, I used to think a little like this. I don't anymore, because people can express themselves without yours or my approval.

  6. Crowds. Yes, he complained about crowds at a convention.

It's possible Mr Robinson wrote this as parody, given it so succinctly summarises all the cliché talking points people level at cosplayers. If he didn't, let's pretend he did.

A hundred little drafts

Happy Sunday everyone. Today I reached the rather inglorious milestone of having a hundred drafts. For 2014. Rather than attempt to fix these up for posting, have an image I took this afternoon of the sunshine in Sydney.

Singapore will always be my home and I miss it dearly, but nowhere on Earth has skies as beautiful as Australia. Absolutely spectacular.

This also marks two posts in a row of Australian skies. Better make the next one tie back into anime again, somehow.