11 February, 2005 at 04:40 Leave a comment

Of Rain and Future of Scotland

Got totally wet and cold today and do not know if it is the rain or the freeze or what but I think I might have come up with a geo-techno-polity-socio-econo-psycho-cultural theory of why and how Scotland produced scientists of calibre in the past but why it is struggling now to produce anything of value other than be the golfing club of the world or goign ga-ga over some actor who played a dumb spy in a few movies. Well, Scotland is doing better than Wales (ga-ga over some actress) if this is a good metric. Anyway, I pity Scotland who has gone to the extent of trying seemingly desperate things like [Fresh Talent] scheme among others.
The answer dear Watson, is because of various interdependencies of what we identified. First geographical and technological. Imagine yourself living in Scotland in the 1500 wherabouts. If with all modern amenities, gas, electricity and heating, people today in 2005 still feel Glasgow as grim and complain about weather all the time, imagine what would it have been like in 1500. Let us just say it would be real grim. What would a sane man (yes, I am not using person as per present political correctedness – before you shoot me, consider the fact that I am talking about 1500 – gosh) do when spending all winter (all 10.5 months of it in home or a pub) in such an environment? With tourism not as what it is as it is today, this guy is probably stuck in Scotland for the majority of his life. So, I ask thee, what could he do in 1500?
Go to a pub. Maybe but how often can he go? Even if he wanted to do for every *beep* waking hour, absence of globalization probably meant that there was little (if any) choice of drink. Unless people respected alcoholics and drugaddicts (duh, sportstars by any other name), the possibility of a guy wanting to spend time in a pub can be eliminated too. So, where would he go? Because this is a clean blog (and sorry for the annoying pop-ups due to that stupid stuck-in-a-rut TagBoard service), let us focus on clean individuals. Nowhere. There were only three possibilities –
Farm – which was primarily sheep and agriculture and whisky making. Idle and bored
Study – at some University and by backpolating to the kind of workload, they should have atmost 2 hours every week. Idle and bored
Work – again backpolating, the workind hours would be 12-3 or a one hour lunchbreak. Idle and bored
So, most sane people were quite idle, bored but yet well-fed. The point I am trying to make is that for a sane person living in 1500 in a wet, grim, cold Scotland – the only possibility to do anything worthwhile was to do something along the lines of blue-skies thinking or do some kind of invention which brings them out out theur misery and sheer boredom. So, you can hardly blame Adam Smith to think out grandiose economic theories and could probably identify with or John Logie Baird who wanted to build a television to escape the sheer boredom of life and monotonous existence. Poor chaps, really had nothing to do but then, they got famous. Good for them – wherever they are 😉 Who would have guessed, sheer boredom and idle hands can bring in wealth to a nation, eh?
Right. Let us take a quick jump to the present. Why is Scotland losing out? The answer this time dear Watson lies more in social and cultural conventionality. We said that in 1500 alcoholism and smoking were not virtues. Today they are. Read the events guide and one can find drinking competitions (call it iron-stomach or something) with students leading the way. I can say that with remarkable confidence because of a conversation I had with a person the other day –
Me: “So, you going to the V-Day Party on Sunday?”
J: “Cannot say”
Me: “That busy, eh? Have to put it in your calendar or something?”
J: “Yeah. It all depends how I recover from two parties I have tomorrow and Saturday” (never believe people who say that they have to honor party invitations said my Mom at some point of her wisdom classulu)
Me: “Well, what is one more party to the list?”
J: “Well, I meant that I can get over my hangover, I can probably come” (oh, that is what people do on weekends? I always wondered)
Me: “Oh. You pretty sure you will be getting a hangover. Do you like it?”
J: “No. Not at all. It pains” (your brain trying to comprehend your own stupidity and it pains because it is thinking which it is not accustomed to)
Me: (puzzled) “Then why do you want to do something that gets you a hangover?” (unless you take pleasure in pain)
J: “Dont know. It just happens. And everyone has a hangover. It is nothing immoral you know”
Me: (startled and to myself) “Shit happens”
-People often spend time abroad getting burnt. And then there is so much media and entertainment possibilities. Spoilt for choice, today anyone can do any number of totally useless things to fritter away time no matter where they are. In Scotland or in India.
– It is society and attitudes and culture that determine the future success of a country. Today it is OK to be drunk and have a hang-over. Where is the intelligence in that?
– There was this person Ju who was so sure that she will have a hangover
– Inspired from Jared Diamond’s explanations of why human civilization developed the way it did (aka the West getting Westernized), I am bound to put my few pennies
– Now, why did Linus come out from Finland?
– Why are Spain and Portugal holiday destinations and hippety people because the one resource that is being valued is the sun. Not for solar power but for people to burn and roast and fry and cook themselves to get some sking color. And people say Westerners are racists when they are trying hard to become darker, eh?
– It is amazing how one idea can change your perspective. I will now be more understanding and sympathetic to students. This is not a place that anything good happens. The weather is too grim. The University is in the wrong time but then who would come in the summer?

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