Being Brave


I am Scottish. I was born there, I grew up there, I lived there for the first twenty six or so years of my life. I love Scotland. I love the way the rain changes the texture of the landscape. I love the banter with random punters in the street or the pub. I love the social democratic values which underpin much of our political thought.


I also love the United Kingdom of Great Britain. I lived there for the first thirty two years of my life. I love Scotland, England and Wales. I’ve sadly never visited Northern Ireland, but I love several people who hale from there. I love the rolling downs of the south, the canny shite of the northerns and the sheer capacity for drinking of the Welsh. I love the gentle liberal conservatism that underpins much of our political thought.


I am also currently resident in Singapore, a tiny nation of a little over five million people with no natural resources to speak of but one of the highest GDP per Capita in the developed world. It has built this amazing prosperity out of almost nothing in a little under fifty years since their independence.


On September 18th, my friends and family back home have a momentous decision to make:


“Should Scotland be an independent country?”


Sadly I don’t have a vote in that decision, but I have been watching the debate closely and carefully and I think I’m standing on an interesting patch of ground to lend some insight from.


This will require a small amount of bravery, to step up on the soap box and hear whatever feedback is offered to me. But not as much bravery as those who bear the responsibility to cast a vote on this next month. There is no return to the status quo from here, and both paths will require bravery to face.


If I had a vote, where would I stand?


When the referendum first came up following the SNP’s election win and mandate to hold one, I was comfortably in the “Devo Max” camp. With that off the balot, “No” was the obvious best option to pick; improving and expanding the processes of devolving power is the best way forward (even if that wasn’t available in this referendum) but wholesale independence just seemed fullhardy and built on a dream made out of shortbread and old battles that should be left in history where they belong. Reject Independence but build a case for more devolution, was my opinion.


My opinion has changed as the months of the debate have worn on. The light under which I have viewed Scotland’s position within the UK has changed. The Better Together No Thanks campaign retoric has shone a cold, blue forensic evidence lamp on matters rather than the warm, inclusive one it should have. The relationship I thought Scotland could have with Westminster doesn’t look to be available after all and increasingly it even begins to look like an abusive relationship that needs to change.


So I am a convert, if only theoretically as I have no vote, to “Yes” and I’d like to lay out the reasons for that and examine them. I also think it is almost the best thing that could happen for the remaining United Kingdom and I’ll try and explain why that is too.



Posts in this Series:


Master of Tools

Travelers Notebook by koalazymonkeyThere are an extraordinary amount of really random things that can distract you, right when you were in the middle of a really productive bout of work, that can knock you off of the rails. What can be particularly odd are the situations where you know this has happened, but are not quite able to ascertain why.

The common examples, where you do know why, are things like new and urgent projects being dropped on you from on high with little warning but flashing red deadlines or, more simply, just running out of steam and getting sick. Both of those examples you can at least try to have a mechanism for dealing with – make sure you always have “spare bandwidth” available to devote to the unexpected or to concentrating on unwinding and staying fit.

Suddenly noticing you’ve been procrastinating for an hour or two and sifting the Internet looking for pearls but feeling that all the shiny you discovered was nothing but pyrite and the top item on your task list just got more uninviting for being all the more urgent. That’s just classic akrasia and there are a few strategies to try and avoid the worst of it.

Here is what knocked me off a really productive run three weeks back that took me a week to figure out what was wrong and I’m only just picking back up to speed now: My paper notebook was almost full.


Review: Mindfire – Big Ideas for Curious Minds

Scott Berkun - Mindfire Big Ideas for Curious Minds With the self publishing revolution well underway, if there is one work which should be taken as a roadmap of how to go about doing it, it is perhaps Mindfire by Scott Berkun. Like both the previous books I reviewed a while ago, I knew about the existence of this one by following Scott’s blog. What makes my route to this author different from the others is that I came to his blog via one of his other books – coincidentally the first e-book I ever bought.

Scott Berkun is the author of Making Things Happen and it is a masterful study of how to do software project management well. I’ve read it twice now and occasionally dip back into it when a project I’m running is going off the rails. The reason I have been in any way succesful as a Project Manager is because I read that book. It should be compulsory reading for anyone charged with the task.

Obviously I was already a big fan of Berkun’s work, but over the past decade he has left the world of software project management behind and become a top class public speaker and an essayist. There is a distinction, even in our current day and age, between a blogger and an essayist – while many of the pieces in this book have appeared on his blog, the older craft of essay writing shines through in this work. These pieces are deceptively simple, they follow tight structures that you will hardly notice in the same way as you don’t notice the metal frame holding up the building you are in or the subtle contours in a sonnet, they are each suitably sized to get the whole of the concept in question into your brain in one helping and every one of them is a belter.