Scotland Homecoming

EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scottish poet Robert Burns gave the English-speaking world some of its most famous sayings and sentiments, including the New Year’s favorite “Auld Lang Syne.”

Now, on the 250th anniversary of his birth, the government hopes worldwide interest in the poet will create a tourism boom. As part of the celebration, the tourism industry has launched Homecoming Scotland 2009 to attract visitors with Scottish roots from around the world, as well as those who are just curious. The schedule of some 300 events includes a huge gathering of the clans in Edinburgh in July.

Burns’ political radicalism, romantic verse and use of the Scots dialect have made him a heroic figure to many Scots.

“Burns is the inspiration behind our yearlong celebration of some of Scotland’s great contributions to the world: golf, whisky, great minds and innovations, our rich culture, wonderful heritage and of course, Robert Burns himself,” said tourism minister Jim Mather.

The Scottish diaspora dwarfs Scotland’s population of just over 5 million. More than 4.8 million Americans reported Scottish ancestry in the 2000 census, and more than 4 million Canadians also claim Scottish roots.


I always admired “Wired” as a name for a magazine dedicated to tech nerds of all stripes, because of the slight double meaning: anyone who’s up on technology and enthusiastic about the latest greatest developments therein is probably someone who is plugged in, electrified and…caffeinated. As usual, Mark Morford says it better than I in his recent column, “Let’s All Get ADD!

Speaking of caffeine, have I ranted lately about 20 oz. sodas? The 12 oz. can of soda is an endangered species these days at convenience stores and vending machines as companies have realized they can stick it to us by selling us more beverage than we need for twice the price. It’s absolutely insidious. They know we want caffeine and that we’ve probably got a dollar, but nevermind the fact that 20 oz. is more than any human needs to consume in one sitting. Yet this is the only choice kids have in schools and recreation centers across America. And at convenience stores the cans, if they’re there, are usually at the very top where kids can’t reach them. Is it any wonder we’re a nation of fatsos? I actually feel like starting some kind of petition but what a crappy cause to take up when there’s so much else to worry about in the world – we have too much sugar! Too much sweet beveragey goodness! Oh the humanity! Damn youse corporations for forcing my cup to runneth over with bubbly deliciousness! How do you sleep at night?!

I say all this while maintaining my position that CokeĀ® remains perhaps the single greatest beverage man has yet devised for all ages to consume. I limit myself to no more than one can a day [1], but these companies are making it so difficult. Perhaps they’ll get regulated a la the tobacco industry someday? I scoff at the libertarians and conservatives who say that unregulated business will spontaneously regulate themselves into market balance – The Coca-Cola Company being the perfect example of a sneaky corporation that seduces us almost subconsciously into paying more for what we don’t need.

1.) Except in cases where I’ve been to the movies and have no other choice but to purchase the rural-water-tower-size cup.

Ironic Deconstruction = Comedy Gold

The Zeitgeist for Spring 2005 is Qwantzing, a process whereby song lyrics are displayed in outline format. I made this one as an example:

Things I want:

  • a new drug

Things that this drug should not do:

  • make me sick
  • make me crash my car
  • make me feel three feet thick
  • make me nervous, wondering what to do
  • spill
  • cost too much
  • come in a pill
  • go away
  • keep me up all night
  • make me sleep all day
  • make me feel too bad
  • make me feel too good
  • make me talk too much
  • make my face freak out

Things that this drug should do:

  • make me feel like I feel when I’m with you, when I’m alone with you
  • what it should
  • have no doubt

Area Satire Website Nails It Again

The “What Do You Think?” section of The Onion is always a dependable source for incisive commentary. Today’s best example comes from the middle-aged lady, this week known as Joy Mattingly, Designer. She had this to say about Condoleezza Rice’s confirmation as Secretary of State:

“Twenty years ago, I never would’ve believed that we’d have a black, female Secretary of State, much less one who was a conservative warmonger, too. We’ve come a long way.”

In other news, happy 50th birthday to Eddie Van Halen. Ed, I can’t say enough great things about your abilities as an innovative player and composer. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then you’re the most flattered guitarist in the world. I do wish you’d quit smoking and drinking, though; if you’re lucky you’ll live to look like Keith Richards, and who wants that?

Eddie Van