Oct 082010

Old Susannah gets to grips with more tricky terms.

Two bits of good news this week – it seems a possible New Best Friend has been identified for fox batterer Derek Forbe.  Enter Mervyn New, 45, operations director for Marine Subsea UK, reported to prosecutors for shooting baby seagull chicks (too young to fly) from his Aberdeen office window. One was killed, the other suffered in a wounded state until put down.  Perhaps like Forbes it was a case self-defence for New.

It would have come as something of a surprise to find seabirds nesting near the Aberdeen coast, and hopefully Mr New won’t find the media attention too distressing.  After all, office workers are historically known to surf the web, hang around the water cooler and kill things.  No doubt New and Forbes can go ‘clubbing’ together sometime.  My other cheery news is that Donald Trump is considering running for presidency of the United States.  Break out the champagne (but drink responsibly – see below)


We wouldn’t have have our poor, hardworking executives falling foul (or is that ‘fowl’?) of silly wildlife laws if it weren’t for organisations like the SSPCA and the RSPB.  The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) is an organisation that exists to stop people like Forbes and New having any fun.   It seems the RSPB has just issued a report saying that the situation is serious for wild birds in Scotland.  Apparently things called ‘loss of habitation’ (like when parks are turned into car parks) and fragmentation of habitation (like when parks are turned into football stadia) are bad for birds and other wildlife.  So there you have it – the less green space, the less wildlife.  Yes, that sounds like a very farfetched conclusion.  But if we keep going the way we are, then the world will be a safer place for Forbes and New.   Birds apparently pollinate wild plants and food crops, and feed off of insects, so they won’t be missed much.

Dine in for Two for £10
Loss of green space and loss of wildlife are as nothing compared to some social ills.  Sometimes a problem is so dreadful the temptation is to sweep it under the carpet.  Therefore we should give thanks to the SNP for its bravery and sense of priorities:  Is it going to tackle pollution?  Crime?  The economic crisis?  Decaying schools and hospitals?  Better:  it is going to stop supermarket offers such as ‘Dine in for Two for £10’ once and for all.  Old Susannah understands they have their best people on this full time (doing field research).  Their backbench MSP, Dr Ian McKee, is going to cure Scotland of its alcohol problems in one go by stopping these meal deals.  Once the deal is gone, we’ll all go teetotal.  There are some people who can handle alcohol, and some who cannot.  If we stop everyone from having a glass of wine with their shrimp cocktail, chicken casserole and profiteroles, we’ll have a better society.

You see them —  couples, pensioners, working people –  racing to grocery stores when these specials are on, behaving like wild animals, grabbing main courses, side dishes, desserts – and a bottle of wine (although non-alcoholic drinks are clearly offered as well).  Don’t be fooled into thinking these people are going to eat any of the food.  It’s the wine they want.  After ‘scoring’, they go home and ‘prepare’ – this ritual might involve plates, cutlery and glasses.  Delirious on the wine, they then go to the town centre, fight, commit crime, get sick in the streets, and so on.  Apparently a kidney charity says that such deals make taking alcohol seem socially acceptable.  You could be forgiven for thinking that 8,000 years’ worth of human civilisation had something to do with the concept that having wine was mainstream, but the SNP says otherwise.  Encouraging people to have a glass of wine alongside a three course meal is just wrong.


Freedom of Information Act
A law came into being some years ago giving the public the freedom to ask for information; this law was cleverly called the Freedom of Information Act.  Since then, many government agencies have worked tirelessly to evade complying with it.  Some suspicious people have the nerve not to trust their local governments, and write to request information.  Unfortunately this creates work for the Information Officers (who were put in place to deal with requests).  Kevin Stewart of Aberdeen City Council has said that many of these requests are ‘absurd’.  If anyone knows about absurdity, it may well be Mr Stewart.  Such crazy requests might include questions on what happening to the Common Good Fund, why old buildings are occasionally sold for less than market value, how much money is spent on outside consultants, why the previous promise to leave Loirston Park alone is being ignored and so on.  One question was asked about the Council taking over Marischal College and spending £80 million in the process.  What were the alternatives?  Who suggested this?  Were proper costing’s done and analysed?  After a bit more than the maximum time allowed, the Council replied that the financial data used to select Marischal College as the best way forward was Copyrighted by the consultants who did the study – and could not be released.  The word absurd springs to mind again.

A copyright is a form of protection which can be used to secure a creator’s rights over their creation.  The Harry Potter books and films are copyrighted; ‘Led Zepplin IV’ is copyrighted; ‘Gone with the Wind’ is copyrighted.  This stops unauthorised people passing the work off as their own, stealing parts of the work, or making unauthorised use of these creations, particularly for profit.  Old Susannah cannot find any form of copyright that would stop Aberdeen City Council from showing its figures for Marischal College expenditure and alternatives – unless the Council is planning a book or a film that is.  If anyone out there wants to ask the Council for the figures – or an explanation as to how such figures could possibly be copyrighted – please do send the Council a Freedom of Information Request.