bookmark_borderMy predictions for 2013 :-(

Originally uploaded by Paolo Dallorso

Predicting future events is harder than it looks…:

  1. At least one of Scotland’s unionist parties will change their leader. No.
  2. It will finally become possible to obtain dual citizenship in Denmark. No, not yet.
  3. One more country will join Scotland and Catalunya in planning an independence referendum for 2014. No.
  4. The CDU/CSU will continue to be the largest political grouping in the German Bundestag after the election. Yes!
  5. The Eurozone will survive another year (although Greece and Spain in particular will continue to suffer). Yes!
  6. Facebook will continue to be the most popular social networking site. Yes!
  7. The kids won’t get any opportunity to use their sledges or build an igloo in Newton Mearns. Yes. 🙁
  8. England will join Scotland and Denmark in not qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. No.
  9. Rangers FC will collapse again. No.
  10. The UK won’t win the Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö. Yes!

On paper, my predictions weren’t too bad (the same number of correct and incorrect ones), but the ones I got right were mainly the ones where I predicted a continuation of the status quo.

I must do better next year!


I got Stephen King’s 11.22.63 for Christmas, and I just finished reading it last night.

It’s basically about a teacher who gets a chance to go back in time and save JFK’s life. It appears to be well researched and it’s quite a page-turner (although I think the ending is weaker than the rest of the book).

My only real criticism is that the main protagonist (born around 1975) seems to be a little bit too comfortable with life around 1960. Could it be that Stephen King forgot that 1960 isn’t a sweet childhood memory for a child of the seventies in the same way as it is for a baby-boomer like himself? I definitely would be much less worried about trying to fit in around 1980 or 1990, because of have memories of that time.

It’s well worth a read, even if you aren’t particularly interested in Lee Harvey Oswald and John F. Kennedy.

bookmark_borderExit Voyager

Star Trek Timeline
Star Trek Timeline, a photo by Wyrmworld on Flickr.
On 18 September 2011 I wrote this:

I blogged back in May 2009 that I had finished watching Enterprise and that I would move on to Deep Space 9.

I finally finished watching DS9 last night, and I must say I really enjoyed it, although it took me a wee while to get into.

I’m now going to proceed to Star Trek Voyager, which will presumable last until Christmas 2013.

I must congratulate myself on my powers of prediction, given that I watched the last episode of Voyager last night (without having checked my old blog post first).

The last few episodes were really good (probably the ones made after they had been told the show was getting the axe), but in general I think there were too many poor ones. My guess is it was caused by travelling quickly through the universe, which makes it hard to develop complex plots.

I’m quite sad, however, that I’ve now watched everything in the Star Trek saga, apart from the animated series. Hopefully they’ll make a new TV series soon.

bookmark_borderMultilingual Scotland

Languages in Scotland over the past two millennia.
Languages in Scotland over the past two millennia.
One of the things I like about Scotland is that it has never been a monocultural place — it has always been a melting pot.

Let’s look at the languages of Scotland as an example (I am a linguist after all!).

Today the main language of Scotland clearly is English (or rather Scottish Standard English) — everybody knows it, and it’s the main language of government, education, etc.

However, according to the latest census, 1.5m people (out of 5m) also speak Scots, a closely related language (the distance between Scots and English is a bit like Danish and Swedish). However, it hasn’t got much support in the education system and it’s often stigmatised. Both English and Scots are of course derived from the language of the Anglo-Saxons, who immigrated to Great Britain from what is now Denmark and Germany more than 1500 years ago.

The third of the extant languages is Gaelic, which has only got 50k speakers left. Many people seem to think that it’s Scotland’s original language, but this is only really true in the sense that it was the dominant language at the time of the unification of Scotland. Gaelic is also an immigrant language and has its roots in Ireland.

For centuries, another Scottish language was Norn, the descendant of Old Norse, the language of the Vikings. It was spoken in large parts of Highlands and Islands for a while, but for the last few centuries of its existence it was confined to Orkney and Shetland. The last speaker died around 1850.

If we go further back, the language of large parts of southern Scotland was Cumbric (or Brittonic, Brythonic or Old Welsh), which was closely related to modern Welsh. Indeed, Welsh speakers still know legends set here in Scotland. It was described well on Wings over Scotland recently:

[Visiting Scotland by train] also takes us through the lands of “Yr Hen Ogledd” (the old north), the heartland of the old Brythonic language, the prototype of modern Welsh and the seven kingdoms which established themselves in the intervallum of several centuries after the Romans left these shores in 400 AD.

The old Brythonic names of these kingdoms such as Ystrad Clud (Strathclyde), Galwyddel, (Galloway), Aeron (Ayrshire) and Lleddeiniawn (Lothian), are instantly recognizable to a modern-day Welsh speaker, and being confronted with a cultural link which stretches back over well over 1,000 years cannot fail to touch one deeply.

Finally, the language of the northern two-thirds of Scotland used to be Pictish, which was probably related to Cumbric (although we don’t know for sure).

The historical records don’t allow us to go back any further, but Cumbric and probably Pictish were Celtic languages, and Celtic is a branch of the Indo-European language family, which means that these languages too must have been immigrant languages at some point (the Indo-European languages probably originated near the Black Sea). Alas, we don’t know which language(s) they replaced.

All we know is that Scotland has always been multilingual.


Folkemodet Uffe Elbaek 20120615 1868F
Folkemødet Uffe Elbaek 20120615 1868F, a photo by News Oresund on Flickr.
Det radikale Venstre har igen født et lille udbryderparti — hvis det bliver ved, bliver DrV vel snart kendt som alle partiers moder!

Denne gang er det Uffe Elbæk, som jeg jo kender ganske godt fra mine dage som aktiv i Århus Radikale Vælgerforening, som står bag, og hans nye parti hedder Alternativet.

Da Ny/Liberal Alliance blev stiftet, skrev jeg flg.:

Det er lidt underligt at se Anders og Naser bryde ud fra mit gamle parti og lave et nyt (“Ny Alliance“). Da jeg forlod Danmark, var de stadig kernemedlemmer […].

Det viser, hvordan jeg gradvist har tabt forbindelsen til Danmark. Jeg aner ikke, om jeg – hvis jeg ikke var emigreret – ville have gjort dem følgeskab. Jeg tvivler nu kraftigt på, jeg ville have gjort det, for socialkonservativ har jeg nu da lige godt aldrig været.

Jeg har det lidt på samme måde nu — og så alligevel.

Hvor jeg anså Ny/Liberal Alliances fremkomst for lidt af en anakronisme, og hvor deres ideologi ikke appellerede til mig overhovedet, må jeg indrømme, at jeg faktisk synes, Uffe har nogle idéer, som tiltaler mig mere. Han siger:

»I Alternativet har folk en anden vækstforståelse, en anden økonomisk forståelse af en mere økologisk, cirkulær økonomi. De ord bliver slet ikke brugt hos de radikale. Der er heller ikke den samme form for social indignation i forhold til ulighed«, siger han i interviewet med Zetlands journalist.

»På en måde er Alternativet både mere rødt, mere solidarisk og mere iværksætter-agtigt på samme tid. Paradoksalt nok. Jeg synes, Alternativet er tættere på det, jeg synes er grundrødderne i Det Radikale Venstre. Bare i en ny tid«, lyder det endvidere fra Elbæk.

Jeg véd, der er mange, der føler, de danske partier er rykket så meget mod højre, at Enhedslisten snart er det eneste parti, man kan stemme på. Hvis Uffe gør det godt, kan han potentielt samle mange utilfredse vælgere op, som hidtil har stemt på DrV, Socialdemokratiet og SF, og som ikke har det helt godt med Enhedslistens uvilje til kompromiser og revolutionære partiprogram.

Når det er sagt, bryder jeg mig nu ikke om de radikale udbryderes måde at lave partier på. Jeg synes, det er en uskik at lave et parti i overskriftsform, finde sympatisører og først derefter at skrive et partiprogram.

Jeg er en stor fan af Det radikale Odenseprogram fra 1905, som blev skrevet af medlemmerne uden politikernes medvirken, og først bagefter fik de mulighed for at tilslutte sig det.

Det er måske lidt urealistisk i dag, men jeg mener nu alligevel, at politikken må komme først, og politikerne bagefter.