Humpback Whales in Thurso


Thanks to Caithness Sea Watching, I know I was not imagining things when I saw what looked like a humpback through the binoculars yesterday.

There were two reported. At least, it did not end-up like a previous time whales strayed into Thurso Bay.


Highland LGBT Forum and Same-Sex Marriage


Although I cannot find online references, the Highland LGBT Forum is reported to be organizing a public seminar with representatives from local churches to discuss ramifications of any introduction of same-sex marriage legislation.

As far as I can see, only one question need be asked: would those who in disagreement with same-sex marriage be forced to marry someone of the same sex?

Caithness Councilor Charged With Electoral Irregularities


I should like to see an unelected upper chamber continue. Not necessarily… well… definitely not with hereditary positions or Church of England bishops, and possibly not life-long. The principle, however, of people who have – in theory, at least – done something with their lives acting in an oversight capacity appeals to me.

No more so when I consider the career trajectories of many MPs and, increasingly, MSPs. Having gone from university political unions, they then get an internship (assuming mum and dad can bankroll them) or are employed in some MP’s office. From there it is onto PPC (preferably in a safe seat), and then Spad status and work their way up the greasy pole of party machinations to get a weighty cabinet position. If they are unlucky enough to be voted out and, in the case of MPs, have upset the system so much that they cannot be elevated to the Other Place, they will take advantage of a generous severence/relocation fee and hope for consultancies or well-paid sinecures in quangos or NGOs.

Like a neo-aristrocracy, they have become so separated from the wider public, that I only can hope that they are being scrutinized by a group of individuals with actual life-experience and who are not another bunch of hacks on the make. Although the House of Lords was established and had its powers strengthed at a time when this country did not follow a social democractic model, it was established to keep in check any selfish and personal interests of the House of Commons.

Part of the currency pushed by the SNP was that they were an antitode to old politics, and could be seen as men (sic) of the people. Then Alex Salmond’s oleaginousness became more and more turgid as what once was seen as the cheeky resourcefulness of the underdog became more and more like recklessness and making-it-up-as-he-went-along.

Candidates in the 2011 Holyrood elections who had not expected to get in, came through during the landslide; and soon the senior leadership were dealing with publicity disasters like Bill Walker or plain embarassing behaviour like that of David Torrance.

At the admittedly milder of this scale was successful candidate for Caithness Landward, Alex Macleod. After winning an internship with Alex Salmond’s office, he went on to work on the Rob Gibson’s 2011 Holyrood campaign in which Gibson secured the Warren’s constituency seat. To continue his rapid rise, he attempted to secure a local council candidacy in the Tain area where he is from, but when this failed was placed as candidate for Caithness Landward; which he won in May 2012, albeit on the seventh round of counting for STV.

From there he sallied forth into several weighty council and ex officio positions, and started touting himself for PPC Holyrood candidate with Gibson’s backing.

During the council campaign, complaints were raised against Gibson’s constituency office for swinging the lead regarding expenses claims which, on analysis, were seen to be promoting Macleod and sitting Wick candidate, Gail Ross. The day after the local elections, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body decided Gibson had indeed breached the rules: although no real censure appears to have been applied, Gibson objected to reporting of this ruling against himself.

Shortly afterwards, a separate complaint was raised with the Police by an unnamed individual against a councilor assumed to be Macleod. His allocated campaign expenses had been £1226.04; and the stated reason included the non-filing of a hotel bill, with total allocated expenses coming to £88.43 below maximum.

It was stated at the time that almost £1,000 had been spent on newspaper ads and promotional leaflets, leaving little for other matters.

It is now being reported that Police have passed Macleod’s details to the Proculator Fiscal according to the Representation of the People Act (1983), something which did not happen following similar allegations against Conservative MP for Richmond Park, Zac Goldsmith.

Macleod has resigned forthwith from the SNP group, but not his seat. I am unsure of other completed investigations into electoral overspend (although a similar complaint has been raised against Perthshire Independent councilor, Alan Ward), but surmise that at the worst end, Macleod could be banned from public office for a finite period and a byelection necessitated.

Impounding Drink Drivers’ Vehicles…


… but the clartier the better.

When new legislation was introduced which called for the confiscation of drink-drivers’ vehicles when they were found to be three or more times over the limit, it appeared to be a leveller. Progressive, if you like.

Thus, more wealthy or higher paid individuals who, appropriately, are more likely to purchase more expensive vehicles, were to experience a proportionately similar punishment than lower paid offenders who may well be driving less expensive vehicles.

Unless there are extraneous considerations thus far unreported, it would appear not to be so. Sheriff Robert McCreadie at Perth Sheriff Court rejected the attempt by the Crown to seize a £25,000 Mercedes sl500 (now worth £9,000) – belonging to an offender who had been four times over the limit – because of its monetary value.

Book Now, Book Early!


Now that the concrete edifice of the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang has been replaced with glass (by Orascom, the Egyptian telecommunications company which also kitted-out the electrics and communication system), I would say it has lost much of the air of awful fascination which brought the accolade “worst building in the history of mankind” (although, with the above animation by Demolition S in mind, I still have in my mind a hovercar carrying Rick Deckard to the top).

After [another] false start earlier this year, from the Guardian, we are told that it finally finally is set to open.

Next year.



And hopefully, with better Korean-to-English translation software than that used by the first responder to this Guardian poll:


02 November 2012 11:41

I welcome the opportunity that you can stay in the most valuable in the world, made ​​by the workers in the great and glorious people of exceptional architecture as a good opportunity to file a complaint with the unscrupulous South Korea

Koryo Tours – founded by British expat wideboy entrepreneur, Nick Bonner; who also has a sideline in directing romantic comedies set in the Hermit Kingdom – is organizing tours to this “enigmatic and oddly iconic” 105 storey building.

For the sake of every foreign investor’s bank balance, I hope they have taken sufficient precautions lest they wish to end-up like everyone else who have put their faith in the integrity of Juche debtors.

More Cheese, David?



When Expensive Projects Fail



A $5 billions uniform redesign by the US Army was intended to introduce a pixellated grey and black universal uniform which was even cooler than the newly introduced USMC uniform.

From the Daily Mail:

‘Essentially, the Army designed a universal uniform that universally failed in every environment,’ an Army specialist who served in Iraq told The Daily. ‘The only time I have ever seen it work well was in a gravel pit.’

Maybe a 1970s episode of Doctor Who, then.

He continued: ‘As a cavalry scout, it is my job to stay hidden. Wearing a uniform that stands out this badly makes it hard to do our job effectively. If we can see our own guys across a distance because of it, then so can our enemy.’

Rather like the British Army after the First Boer War.

Dubai In the Mist



On the Scottish East Coast, this would have been haar.

As with every time a heavy sea fog rolls in from the Arabian Persian Gulf into Dubai City, so come the photographs of those buildings higher than 500 metres sticking above the cloud.

Magic Panda Eye



Click for full-sized image.

© Liu Bolin, Courtesy of Galerie Paris-Beijing (from PDN Photo of the Day by way of Mick Hartley).

Liu Bolin, also known as ‘the chameleon man’ is a Chinese artist (b. 1973) who disguises himself in his surroundings, constantly playing along the boundary between visibility and invisibility. Using various media including sculpture, body art, painting, and photography, Liu Bolin creates performance art installations where he poses motionless for hours, completely swallowed up by the environment. He eschews Photoshop post-production, and makes meticulous use instead of painting and perspective–and many test shots–to capture the camouflage effects of his installations on film.

Liu Bolin’s solo exhibition, Hiding in the City, will open on January 10th in the gallery‘s Paris space and remain on view until March 9, 2013.

Plural of Penis in Korean


‘Penis’ derives from ‘pēnis’ – a third declension Latin noun for tail (or, even, the male member) – so, true to the rules, could be pluralized as ‘pēnes’. As it has been adopted into English, native rules also can apply making it ‘penises’.

Never ‘penii’.

From Robert at the Marmot’s Hole, we get a hotchpotch of big cats roaming 19/20th Century Korean gold-mines; portents of doom for the reign of King Hyegong in 7th Century Korean during the Silla period, as well as his father, King Billy Gyeongdeok’s seven foot willy.