Busy times

As you can see I have updated this blog with some of the work that I have been doing over the last few months. I am currently contributing to both the Scottish Times and the Edinburgh Reporter. I’m going to be pretty busy in the next few weeks covering a variety of different events for both publications. I have a few other irons in the fire for other projects and I will keep you updated as things progress.

During the first part of the year I was editor of Impulse which is the mgazine produced by third year students at Edinburgh Napier University. It was a challenging time but we produced a glossy, 68 page magazine which I am very proud of. We distributed 3,000 copies in and around Edinburgh and also produced a website. Links to all these publications are found below.

Impulse – http://www.impulsemag-online.com/

Edinburgh Reporter – http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/

Scottish Times – http://www.scottishtimes.com/

Let it snow

Snowboud Edinburgh Napier

By Andy Mackie

Last winter saw the worst snow in my lifetime. This year has topped it already. Of course the adverse weather conditions have become something of a political football with opposition parties queuing up to criticise the response offered by those in power. Here in Edinburgh the council have faced major condemnation along with the Scottish Government. While I am all for elected politicians being held to account I feel that much of the criticism in this case has been over the top. This weather was truly exceptional – the worst experienced in over 40 years – and very difficult to plan for. I was trapped in a bus attempting to hand in an essay during the traffic gridlock on Monday. Frustrating as it was I cannot see how anything could have been done to prevent the chaos. The amount of snow and freezing temperatures, during rush hour, were such that delays and temporary road closures were inevitable. The reaction of some is that we should expect life to carry on as normal regardless of weather conditions, or any other factors for that matter. We must accept that there is no magic wands in situations like this, people will be inconvenienced. It reminds me of a documentary I saw filmed at various airports in the aftermath of 9/11. While many people accepted delays and new search procedures as necessary an alarming number complained and could see no reason why their plans had to be disrupted. Perhaps these days we expect everything to run smoothly and dovetail perfectly around us. Sadly life throws up obstacles every now and then and as a society we seem unable to meet these challenges.

Interviews, contacts, unions, youths and Burma VJ

I was out and about early last Saturday morning, covered in head to toe with waterproofs, to report on the STUC march. The final story is below this article but I was able to make some valuable contacts in the union world. Joy Dunn who is the President of the STUC was able to put me in touch with Fiona Low at the PCS and she was an invaluable help. The interviews I was able to carry out gave my story some real flesh.

On Friday I visited the Scottish Parliament and was able to see the Scottish Youth Parliament in action. I have to say I was very impressed by what I saw. The youngsters involved in debates about mosquito devices and political education in schools were knowledgeable, authoritative and assertive. Andrew Deans who had started the petition gave us an impromptu press conference afterwards and handled it in a manner way beyond his years. The Youth Parliament is definitely a very good thing and more people should be aware of it.

One final inspiring incident happened during my global current affairs lecture when we were shown the dvd Burma VJ. For those unfamiliar with it is a documentary based on footage filmed in the oppressive state of Burma by ‘guerilla’ journalists, the VJs of the title. These journalists risk arrest, beatings and death to film and highlight the human rights violations taking place in their country. There are many fine investigative journalists in this country but none have to take the risks of their Burmese counterparts. To carry on after seeing people beaten and even shot for doing the same thing is awe-inspiring.

This is the Modern World

One of my Christmas presents was Tony Benns latest book – Letters to my grandchildren. One of the most interesting things he says in it is that today each morning he wakes up he knows less about the world than he did the night before due to the speed of technological developments.

That got me thinking about how much the world has changed in the first ten years of the 21st century. When I went to bed on January 1st 2000 I had never heard of any of the following – ipods, facebook,  blogging,  twitter. The internet was still a fairly new novelty and all my mobile phone did was send and receive phone calls and text messages.

Today I have an ipod with over 5000 songs on it – or in old money 500 lps. I can fit onto one small device that I carry in my pocket the amount of music that would have taken the best part of a cupboard to store 25 years ago. I am on facebook and to my astonishment I have 120 friends and all I need to do is type in a message and I can communicate with them whether they are next door or Australia.

This is the world we live in and who knows what further changes will take place by 2020. It’s changing the way we live, work and play and in all walks of life we must adapt to be succesful.