Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. have always represented for me the dregs of media and corporate behaviour; they target opponents individually – try to intimidate them into silence; yet the influence of this ‘gangster’ damages democracies. Simon Kuper’s article in this week’s FT says that Murdoch has emerged as the leading voice for climate denialism in the English-speaking world. While the free press is sacrosanct, I think we need to limit the amount of media influence one person can wield; controlling size is an important contemporary issue.
The canon of neoliberalism says that there should be no limit to the influence and wealth an individual can control; Murdoch has been a shameless model for what has become the pattern of our times. We see a current crop of billionaires – free to build gargantuan corporations, which gather and exploit everyone’s predictive data. As their power and influence grows, accountability to any democratic process seems to diminish; democracy is a nuisance to these guys; they prefer to do deals.
There are only five households in the wee clachan where I live; when the recent ‘frozen week’ cut us off, I got daily visits from neighbours to check I’m okay – clear the snow. In extreme weather, a dozen ordinary folk, virtual strangers, instinctively move to support each other. This natural human behaviour is the very basis of our civilisation – hard wired; it will ‘see off’ all manner of Rupert Murdochs – it always has. Meanwhile, we’ll try to follow the moves.
This article argues that Scotland has plentiful economic potential – more frequently I read that we are too poor to be independent of UK subsidy. I don’t give this issue great priority– while financial viability is certainly important, for me, it has always been a secondary consideration. If the Scots’ vision for society is significantly different from the Union, we should leave; we have the wherewithal to make our own way in the world. The long-term benefits, including economic, of separating from Westminster, justify a period of transitional discomfort. Starting any new enterprise, whether commercial, social or political, requires special effort. We need to be as honest as possible about economic implications – but they’re only a challenge.
Welcome news that – after four years of legal wrangles – a court has cleared Camila Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company Directors of poor governance. The Official Receiver argued that Kids Company, having insufficient financial reserves, was knowingly operating an unsustainable model. This criticism applies to most charities I’ve known; an important legal ruling. This blog is worth a read.
The ability to not fight amongst themselves was an important part of SNP’s success – but the bitterness of this Salmond/Sturgeon spat takes us back to the Labour years (yawn). Trying to fathom the trigger of this conflict is a distraction; egos at war have wreaked more destruction than anything else in human history. Check out this article.
Many parents are concerned about the potential long-term effects on their child’s social intelligence from the Covid closure of nurseries and schools. Researchers don’t yet fully
understand the potential implications of this delayed social interaction – but, in this Conversation piece, four academics share certain insights which you may find helpful.
“The future belongs to those who can hear the thunder coming”. Some people earn a living forecasting future trends; Emily Segal, for the Guardian, has reviewed and selected 20 such predictions for the next decade (not impressive). Dani Garavelli, in the Sunday Post, has a longer, more considered piece about how Scotland’s education system could be transformed post-pandemic; it’s based on the bold (outsider) thinking of lecturer, Neil McLennan.
I’m a great fan of Kurt Vonnegut – was one of the sanest men on the planet. This is from his memoir, ‘A man without a country’.
“My late uncle Alex was my good uncle – well-read and wise. His principal complaint about other human beings was they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honey bees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt this agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice I don’t know what is.” So I do the same now – I urge you please to notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”