Thursday, 18 September 2014

Boutique Nationalism is Undemocratic

Oh God, Scotland. I really don't want to get into it. I'm not going to persuade anyone. Anything I say will just be screeching into the void. And yet. I haven't got another voice. I've almost never written anything up here because I can't bear not to say it.

The first country I had any form of relationship with was Scotland. I was five, my family supported Scotland in the five nations, I was Scottish. I still am, and I still do. My brother was married in a kilt, which surprised people, but he was brought up Scottish, whatever he sounds like and wherever he lived. That's allowed in Britain, especially if you weren't born in England. I am British, and the subset of British I am is Scottish.

I was born in Zimbabwe of parents who'd been in Africa for generations after their families had, mostly, gone out from Scotland. Identity and nationalism aren't rational.* My identity could disappear and I don't get a vote and it makes me feel utterly sick, and angry, and miserable, and weird.

Of course, there's no way I can divorce this from what I like to think are my more reasoned arguments that Scotland should stay part of the union. It  comes down to this, though: I believe that the rise of me-me-me boutique nationalisms like 'Scottish', where people try to redraw borders so they can pick and choose only the things they like or agree with, is fundamentally anti-democratic. Democracy is not living somewhere where everyone agrees with you, it's having as loud a voice as everyone else in the place where you live.

It's a sort of national version of the Great Sort, and although there are arguments on both sides, I think that in countries like the UK - which are by every rational measure free, democratic and highly functional - it is solipsistic and frankly a bad example to the world to claim that you are being oppressed/victimised/whatever because your democratically elected government doesn't happen to agree with you.

But I am also incredibly upset because if Scotland votes Yes, I don't know what I'll be then.**

* I supported Zim against England too for a very long time, although I've gone kind of agnostic now, for Mugabe reasons. I'm not trying to pretend all this is simple.
** I know some people think that doesn't matter, and countries are bullshit. That's fine, they're allowed to. I'll never change their mind and I'm not trying to.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

watch this, watch this


Inexplicably, I had never seen this brilliant thing until @helenlewis posted it on twitter. If you are in the same unhappy position...

Some people say that the new Apple ad (see it here) is a rip off of the latest amazing Ok Go video. Some of those people are OK Go. They are obviously right. Of course other people have done similar things, but the timing means the Apple guys were just copying, and they clearly would consider themselves creatives. Lots of adverts are like this.

Of course, the OK Go thing is a thousand times wittier and more charming.


I am a big fan of the Stanford University mascot - a tree whose inhabiter gets to to design his or her costume every year. My favourite bit from the Wikipedia page:  In February 2006, then-Tree Erin Lashnits was suspended until the end of her term as the Tree after her blood-alcohol level was found to be 0.157 (almost twice the legal driving limit in California) during a men's basketball game between Stanford and Cal. UC Berkeley police observed her drinking from a flask during the game and cited her for public drunkenness after she failed a breathalyser test.

This year's tree has got a hilarious/awful costume. I can't find a picture of it, but this gif is worth a click.