Read on the street 1 February 2020
From Dundee to Beverly Hills
Dundee is a city I know well. My mother’s entire family lived in and around the city and I often visited beloved grandparents and other family and friends there, celebrating quietly in the back seat of the car as I could see the high flats and housing schemes on the west of the city come into view. There are not so many of those relatives left now, but Dundee remains an important part of me.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Marc Maron, Dundee’s Golden Globe-winning son, Brian Cox, talks with some passion about his hometown’s contribution to the world, which is significant. At one time, 80% of the city’s working population were women, powering a jute industry that covered wagons in most of the Westerns you’ll have seen, and even constructed the Confederate tents.
In this relaxed and informal WTF podcast, Cox offers a fascinating insight into his life and times, from the tenements of Dundee and its repertory theatre to Beverly Hills and many places in between. Have a great weekend.
Brian Cox talks about Dundee, covered wagons, confederate tents and the movies...
If you spin past the first 15 minutes of Marc Maron’s preamble, you will be treated to an hour or so of Brian Cox and Marc Maron talking about everything from Irish immigration to industrial Scotland, Dundee’s mighty place in the world and sleeping in cinemas to his brilliant, award-winning portrayal of Logan Roy in Obsession. With most of the women in his hometown of Dundee employed in the bustling, global jute industry, men were known as “kettle-boilers” - literally sitting at home making tea. So get the kettle on and treat yourself.
Listen to the podcast here.
Mary-Louise Kelly: Pompeo called me a “liar”. That’s not what bothers me
I have known Mary-Louise Kelly of NPR for a few years now; her husband Nick is one of my wife’s oldest friends. Having shared a table with her in the Canny Man’s a few times, I can vouch for ML’s wholly pleasant character, albeit to a limited degree. As I write, I have never been formally interviewed by her.
In the New York Times, ML writes about her high-profile joust with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who reportedly - upset at her line of questioning in an interview - asked the distinguished NPR journalist to find Ukraine on one of the White House’s unmarked maps of the world – presumably the ones Mr Trump himself uses for colouring in. Having correctly identified the whereabouts of Ukraine, Mary-Louise makes a broader and more important point about the enduring freedom of the media to ask difficult questions of people in public office and to share the answers, good or bad.
Read in The New York Times.
The environmental red lines we can’t cross
From changes in land use through intensive farming, ocean acidification and loss of biosphere integrity to freshwater consumption and rising pollution, thisWired piece provides the big picture around the key global environmental tipping points. It makes clear the fact that the UN Climate Change Summit coming to Glasgow in November is a crucial one for our planet and reminds us that positive change is still possible.
Read in Wired.
Mapping Scotland’s quality of life and highlighting inequality
The latest Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation was published this week, highlighting those areas in the country where deprivation remains a problem. Leaving aside the detail, the maps draw a depressing picture of inequality – particularly in cities, where great wealth exists cheek-by-jowl with poverty and deprivation. Perhaps when our politicians have settled the issue of flags and borders, they’ll endeavour to tackle this enduring outrage. I won’t hold my breath.
Explore the SIMD dataset.
Why famous dudes grow beards to deal with existential crises
Last week, we were told that the fringe has become synonymous with women in crisis. This week, men are in the firing line. It turns out, we do exactly the same thing with our beards as women do with their fringes.
During periods of existential turmoil, we’re told that politicians in particular tend to look for comfort in a beard. Whether reclaiming the face or trying to hide it, some men apparently feel the need to grow one in an effort to reassert dominance and herald a change of some kind. For more, see Beta O’Rourke, Ted Cruz, Al Gore and, most likely, someone you know. In the interests of transparency, I do not have a beard.
Read in Vox.
Our occasional pessimist Katie Stanton found Pandemic among her Netflix suggestions, just as the coronavirus was emerging from China’s Wuhan city.
The timing is either an incredibly eerie PR stunt, or a government conspiracy, or both, or neither of course. Regardless, the scientists featured in the programme warn that the next pandemic is not far away, highlighting China as a likely starting point.
This series is gripping. It’s definitely worth watching if you a) want to learn about the history of viruses, their impact and their future potential; or b) if you’re a hypochondriac catastrophist who revels in fear and well-documented death statistics.
Watch on Netflix.
It’s 100 seconds to midnight according to the doomsday clock
And if pandemics aren’t enough for you, here’s some more doom and gloom. Doomsday, in fact: apparently, we’re the closest to it we’ve ever been. Since 1947, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has released briefings on how close they believe humanity is to destroying itself, one way or another. They use a clock metaphor, with “midnight” as the moment global catastrophe strikes. In its entire history, the closest the clock has ever been to this bitter end is two minutes.
Last week, it moved to 100 seconds to midnight, citing the climate emergency and ongoing nuclear proliferation as our two primary threats.
On the bright side, at least dry January’s over…
Read in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Seth Meyers on Mike Pompeo’s feud with Mary-Louise Kelly
It’s back to that one-sided bout between the (still unbeaten) Mary-Louise Kelly of NPR and her hapless adversary, Mike Pompeo. Here is a short YouTube clip, in which Seth Meyers of Late Night will hopefully add some light to your weekend. Enjoy.
Watch on YouTube.
Written by Malcolm Robertson, Founding Partner