Yesterday I attended the SELMAS Annual Conference at Stirling University. The tagline for the conference was, “What will education look like in 2023?” The day was chaired by Dr. Dee Torrance. These are my notes and thoughts from the conference and I should warn you, they are quite long, certainly for a blog post.
The event took the form of four keynotes spread across the day, with opportunity to network over coffee and lunch, followed by a (too) short panel discussion. The planned “group tasks” were ditched as minor technology gremlins conspired to eat the available time (is this the future?). We were also given a presentation by senior girls from Ross High on leadership and a “bonus” session from Terry Wrigley and Danny Murphy on Terry and John Smyth’s new book: Living on the Edge: Rethinking Poverty, Class and Schooling. The keynotes were at first sight eclectic but themes emerged from the four very distinct perspectives shared by our speakers: Donna Manson, Matthew Syed, Ollie Bray and Tommy Boyle. Continue reading
… a crossword. One of the interesting things about being a producer of online material – whether that be blogs, learning resources, online community sites or crosswords, is that sometimes you get no direct response. Feedback is important so that you can gauge whether or not what you’re doing is any good. If it’s rubbish, you can consider whether it’s worth the effort doing it again. If it’s brilliant, you can be encouraged to keep doing it. If it’s in between, you can find out how to improve it.
Some of the things I do online yield positive responses: the physics resources site I run over at sptr.net gets little response online but when I meet users or engage in one-on-one email exchanges, I often get positive comments about how useful it is, and this encourages me to keep working at it. It’s a nice feeling to be making lives easier.
Sometimes, though, you can work hard to put something “out there” and get little to nothing back. Two examples: one, is the audio commentaries and reflections I publish through iTunes and AudioBoo. Although most of these get thousands of listeners, which itself is gratifying, I almost never get a response. It’s a bit like shouting at the radio. I know how that feels, I do it often enough.
The other example is the cryptic crosswords I have been publishing over the past year – 7 in total. As any cruciverbalist will tell you, these take quite a bit of effort to put together, even with the aid of the brilliant tool that I use, John Stevens’ Magnum Opus program. Despite a couple of thousand downloads, I have only ever received a handful of comments or solutions.
So. I saw a guy in Costa yesterday, settling down with the Saturday Times Crossword. He’d finished a substantial chunk of it by the time he got up to leave, so I wrote the web address of my most recent puzzle on a receipt and pressed it upon him and asked him to take a look and let me know what he thought. Bless his heart, he did so, posting the magic words, “Enjoyed the crossword…”.
You have no idea how good that made me feel. Click the puzzle if you’d like to try one.
Jon Baird’s film of Irvine Welsh’s book, Filth, has to stand head and shoulders above almost all of the other movies I have seen in the past ten years, and certainly outclasses every one of those that was spat out by the regressive Hollywood machine. This movie is so different from those that it almost warrants a class of its own. If other films join it, they will undoubtedly be made in Scotland.
The story is set in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, and begins in a vein somewhere between Ashes to Ashes and Chewin’ the fat, with plenty of proper Scots comedy, banter and swearing, as we see the central figure, Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), vie for promotion using every desperate measure he can think of. His misogyny is developed through the film as we see him struggle with the battle for promotion, a cocaine habit and something deeper. I’ll not spoil the plot for you but be prepared for a significant shift in how you think about and empathise with Bruce Robertson, as McAvoy puts in the performance of his life in crafting the twisting evolution of the character on the screen before your eyes.
Be prepared also for some stunning visual comedy throughout the film, from the police party photocopy-your-penis contest to the expanding head of Roberston’s shrink, played brilliantly by Jim Broadbent in a burlesque on the Clockwork Orange side of Cabaret. Watch out for Eddie Marsan’s outstanding portrayal of Robertson’s Masonic brother and victim Bladesey and a musical cameo from David Soul.
This is a stunning, stunning quality film, bound for cult status. Don’t miss it.
This is a recording of a public talk I gave this afternoon at the Embassy Gallery in Minto house, Edinburgh, as part of an installation by the artist Joseph Buckley titled, “One Third of a Series of Elegies : III, VII, XII, XIII, XV & XVIII : An Eternal September”
- ATLAS Proton event at CERN
- WMAP Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (right)
- Whirpool Galaxy
- Sagittarius A*
- Evaporating Black Hole
You can download a transcript here.