on the test of life


The test of our lives is not the past or the future.  It is the present. Norman Wirzba, 2002 I suspect that it’s something we’re all guilty of; dwelling on the past; fretting for the future? We worry about what we have done in the past, how it might perceived, how others might have seen […]

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on bereavement


You can shake a jar filled with marbles and never hear a sound.  Take all but a few of those marbles out, and those last few will rattle around in the empty space. Steven L. Kent, ‘Republic’, 2013 Death is a daily fact of life.  In some regions of the world you are more likely […]

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my dysfunctions: a wonderful thing


Folks suffering from depression will no doubt appreciate how difficult it can be to put a positive spin on things when you’re in the doldrums and it’s something I have particular difficulty with myself. Often it’s written off as having a pessimistic personality type, and perhaps that’s part of it, taken to extreme’s though it can be extremely negative and self-defeating.

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on democracy & nationalism


A precondition of democracy was the creation of a viable state with a monopoly of violence in a defined geographical area with a common culture.  During the industrial revolution, these states became the focus of democratic struggles, first against foreign oppression, and then against internal oppression by the governing elite.  Modern democracy arose out of […]

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on what Scotland has become

Choose Life

Scotland has become something of a pilot paradise specialising in one offs, unworkable compromises, empty consultations, sticking plaster solutions, rubber-stamping and risk-averse policy – or rather policy which prefers the certainty of stagnation to the risk of success. We also do a pretty impressive line in exclusion, blame, judgement, personal abuse, and media sensationalism.  All […]

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on local democracy


… the average size of Scotland’s vast councils (163,000) would result in just two councils for the whole of Iceland. In fact – even after recent mergers – Iceland has 74 councils. The average council in Germany has around 7,000 inhabitants and occupies 15 square kilometres. The average Scottish council has 20 times more citizens […]

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on building a movement


Like all the best revolutions there was no silver bullet, no single event, no starter pistol and no paid organisers clutching mission statements and clipboards.  Well maybe a few – but mercifully most stayed inside Yes Campaign headquarters.  Their early self-absorbed, apparent inactivity was a mistake.  But like the error that prompted penicillin’s discovery – […]

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on the engagement of the politically missing

on the engagement of the politically missing

During the Scottish independence referendum of 2014 there was massive voter engagement, particularly within the ‘yes’ camp, which saw the official Yes Scotland campaign group become little more than a campaign figure-head and distributor of materials as grass-roots organisations with their own visions sprang into life.  Many of these groups continue to exist to this […]

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Harder than I thought

Sanity is a cozy Lie

In rebooting MadeStuff I had thought it might be a good way to talk publicly about some of the mental health issues I deal with on a day-to-day basis, in a semi-anonymous fashion.  The opportunity for self-examination, self-help and hopefully, ultimately, some self-redemption and re-invention. It’s really tough though.  Even in the written form I […]

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on global capitalism as an apology for massive privilege and inequality


Once you cut through the rather flowery almost high brow language at the start of this piece the tone rapidly changes and some element of righteous anger becomes really quite, and understandably, clear. … “a brazen apology for massive privilege and inequality”, it’s difficult to argue with.  Capitalism to a point is assuredly not a […]

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on the neo-liberal state


I happened to be reading this section of the book shortly after George Osbourne had made the autumn statement on behlaf of the Conservative Liberal coalition government.  The 1938 date came from a programme I was listening to on Radio Scotland at the time. Meanwhile the Guardian commented: George Osborne came under fire on Tuesday […]

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on insulting the poor


It’s the sort of thing that should go without saying, but in an era where we have seen millionaire politicians claiming expenses from the public purse to maintain their duck houses and heat their stables whilst simultaneously demonising the most vulnerable in society, cutting their benefits and suggesting that they only heat a single room […]

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on hope vs optimism


If optimism is a passive virtue, then it follows that pessimism must be too, requiring nothing more than an individual or group to look at ‘something’ and shudder.  Where hope is the act of an individual or group on themselves then fear must be something that is acted upon them by an outside force, individual […]

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on what is Britain? Oh yea, and alcohol.


Two seemingly unrelated quotes, and yet, they seem to go together aptly. More specifically the UK is a unitary state with extremely limited democracy (unelected head of state, unelected second chamber, large, quangos, and institutions), and what little democracy there is (House of Commons with limited policy difference between parties, First Past the Post elections, […]

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on the ‘old firm’


When I originally penned this Jim Murphy had not yet ascended to the thorny throne of Scottish Labour, yet as I go to publish this it seems more relevant than ever as “the alpha ned” promises to repeal a widely supported piece of legislation and also encourage further drinking in Scotland’s football stadia. … since […]

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on who leads change

In essence, don’t look to the ruling elites to make any real difference in your life for the better, not without taking something else away.  Constant flux in leadership of a country will only benefit the masses, those at the top preach ‘stability.  Indeed, it is a key argument for the maintenance of a monarch […]

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Common Place Journal – Mary Hepburn, WHRS, on the impact of deprivation

an idea for a basic christmas tree design

Mary Hepburn is an experienced health professional who has campaigned on these issues for some time, she’s definitely someone who should be taken seriously. Maternal mortalityy is an issue I’ve quoted and commented on previously, yet this is a further condemnation on the targeting of the most vulnerable by a callous and cold government.  Just […]

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