Cheer up, experts

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DO THE “experts” who tell us that alcohol is bad for us – along with steak, bacon, sausage, fish and chips, soft drinks, chocolate etc – ever think about the worry they cause ordinary citizens in their zeal to guide us along what they consider to be a healthy lifestyle? Worry caused by their endless edicts urging people to do what they say.

Do they really want to make people miserable? Few of them, if any, seem to exude much in the way of joie de vivre.

William Loneskie

Justice Park, Oxton Lauder, Berwickshire

Social own goal?

John Collins – the assistant manager of Celtic – thinks Rangers reappearance in the SPL will add “more spice” to the league and accuses those not agreeing with him of “not living in the real world”.

Perhaps Mr Collins would care to spend a day in the real world of the A&E of Glasgow’s Southern General after an Old Firm match, where our overworked and understaffed hospital staff have to patch up the handiwork of some recreational bigot taking out their bad loser’s temper tantrum on their family or, more often, some innocent passer-by.

In 2011, Scottish police recorded that domestic abuse incidents rose by 139 per cent on Old Firm derby days and 97 per cent on the day immediately after. A subsequent Scottish government report found domestic abuse incidents rose a third on any given day that a football match involved either half of the so-called Old Firm .

No other football match in the UK requires such massive police and medical resources to be reallocated to deal with it. No city other than Glasgow has its retailers outside the licence trade having to accept a day’s lost trade because shoppers fear for their safety in the street in broad daylight. Maybe it’s time both clubs were made to pay their fair share for the social burden they bring at massive profit to themselves?

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone Renfrewshire

Fallen Monarch

I should point out that it is highly unlikely that planting any of the vegetation recommended in the Gardens “Simply Wild” article (Scotsman Magazine, 9 January) will attract the Monarch butterflies shown in the accompanying photograph, as this species is not a native of Europe, let alone Scotland, and neither is its larval foodplant Milkweed. The rare reports of the odd specimen in the British Isles are usually attributed to its having stowed away in a cargo ship.

Jane Ann Liston

Whitehill Terrace, Largo Road, St Andrews

Barkla was right

Hugh Barkla, son of 1917 Nobel Laureate Charles Barkla, taught Physics at St Andrews University but was better known as a yacht designer with a profound knowledge of the sea. In the 1960s, rogue waves – large and spontaneous surface waves occurring far out in open water – were still considered mythical as there was no hard evidence of their existence. Scientists believed mathematical models developed for other kinds of waves applied to ocean waves yet these predicted that a rogue wave would only occur once in 30,000 years.

However in a celebrated lecture in late 1960s Barkla suggested using quantum mechanics – in particular the nonlinear Schrödinger equation – to explain the formation of such waves. He was a gentle soul and upset by the resulting controversy and it is only today, long after his death, that his idea is recognised as one of great importance and lasting value. A rogue wave’s physical existence was confirmed when one was filmed by the Draupner oil rig in 1995 and they are now detected by satellite in the numbers Barkla had estimated.

Dr John Cameron,

Howard Place, St Andrews

Sink cash here

Instead of bulldozing so called “sink estates” in England, wouldn’t David Cameron be better investing the money in protecting areas that have been sunk or saturated by recent floods?

At least Nicola Sturgeon is offering some relief to flooded communities in Scotland.

Mary Douglas

Glendearg, Galashiels

Gaelic for ‘waste’?

The SNP have decreed that Gaelic Language Plans are a statutory requirement for all public bodies in Scotland. Police Scotland are proposing dual language branding of all logos, etc to feature on police uniforms, signage and vehicles.

There are approximately 58,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland, the vast majority of whom live in the Highlands and Islands which, as everybody know, are hardly hotspots of organised, or any other sort, of crime. All these Gaelic speakers will be fluent in English and so communications between the police and any Gaelic-speaking offender will be no problem.

According to a report by the Oxford Migration Observatory, the number of non-Scotland-born people living in Scotland rose from 191,000 in 2001 to 370,000 in 2011 and will have risen significantly since then. These are people who do not have English as a first language. The largest groups are eastern European, mainly Poles, Indians and Nigerians.

Surely, rather than embarking on costly and useless naval-gazing nationalistic ideological projects, the government at Holyrood should be focussing on improving the means of communication where it can do most good. I question the mindset of those who dream up these schemes and wonder how long it will be before all schoolchildren will have to wear kilts. Don’t laugh!

Donald Lewis

Beech Hill, Gifford, East Lothian

Trump travesty

The idea of banning Donald Trump from the UK is nonsense, as is the notion of a parliamentary debate on the matter.

However wacky and megalomaniacal his behaviour may seem, he was responding to what he saw as a threat to the US. There is no connection whatever to Britain.

He also recommended a high wall to keep out Mexicans – why no petition on that? Considering certain people we recently allowed to express vitriolic public hatred against ourselves, it seems odd to bar entry to someone with no antipathy towards us. Bluntly, the salient fact is that Trump is no threat to the UK: there are no grounds for refusing him entry.

The author of the petition to be debated at Westminster is reported as describing Trump’s threat to withdraw plans for further development of his interests here as “blackmail”.

That’s back-to-front argument. Blackmail starts with the blackmailer: Trump’s behaviour was a reaction to a perceived insult.

The petition might have gained a sliver of validity if it had included a rider to the effect he should relinquish all his current and planned investment holdings in Britain. If he is branded persona non grata, his money should be equally unacceptable.

Robert Dow

Ormiston Road, Tranent

Eschew motion

I write with reference to Martin Redfern’s observations on Nicola Sturgeon’s rhetoric, which indeed, needs to satisfy moderate, potential SNP voters as well as diehard independence supporters (Letters, 9 January). In her speech in parliament last Tuesday she clearly prioritised the latter by announcing a renewed debate on the constitutional question and by promising to make the case for the “enduring principle of independence“.

Speaking in such terms she even elevated independence from a rational concept to an idea carrying a strong emotional commitment – like “enduring love” or “enduring friendship”. And she expressed her hope that, based on visionary SNP policies and proof of competence, she will win the support of all those she has “the privilege to represent“, ie turn the whole country into SNP supporters. Emphasising emotion instead of reason isn’t new. It’s also proven practice to promote popular policies in order to amalgamate an initially diverse electorate, thus getting from voters eventually what they were denied previously. It means to beat democracy using democratic means. While the SNP’s course of action already pointed in this direction, Nicola Sturgeon has now made it crystal clear that this is exactly what she intends to achieve.

Regina Erich

Willow Row, Stonehaven

Wrong number

Brian Petrie and DS Clark (Letters, 9 January) join the group of contributors who are positively gleeful about the effects of the drop in the price of oil on the Scottish economy.

Mr Petrie suggests that Alex Salmond’s upcoming phone-in programme should include a premium number to “swell the coffers”. But why on earth would we want to swell the coffers of LBC radio?

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Fore eternity

Those sceptical of North Korea’s claim to have achieved a successful hydrogen bomb test should be reminded that the talents of the Kim Jong dynasty cannot be underestimated. At the grand opening of the Pyongyang Golf Complex in 1991 (some say 1994) the then Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il, picked up a golf club for the first time, and proceeded to shoot a 38 under par score of 34 which included 11 holes in one. This feat was reliably vouched for by 17 honest witnesses, all members of his security guard.

David Hollingdale

Southbank, Easter Park Drive, Edinburgh