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Scottish Studies Newsletter 46 (March 2016) is available here.

Aktuelle Meldungen

Recommended Book

Robertson, John, Scotland's Propaganda War: The Media and the 2014 Independence Referendum, 2015 (PDF version)

"The establishment is a dirty, dangerous beast and the BBC is a mouthpiece for that." ~ Ken Stott, actor in the Radio Times 30 November 2014, 5.

"The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News but beneath a liberal halo." ~ John Pilger in counterpunch 5 December 2014, 16.

John Robertson, professor in media politics at the University of the West of Scotland, discloses facts kept from the public about the role the Scottish and UK media played in the Scottish Referendum Campaign, leading to a "heated dispute with BBC Scotland." (2)
Publishers hesitated in taking on Robertson's work because of its radical transparency and lack of euphemisms for corruption and preferential treatments, as he unmasks the bias by "revealing the true nature of influences on our media which are the result of unequal access to education and the interlocking of the resultant elites in finance, in ownership, in commercial directorships, in media directorships, in senior post-holders in journalism, in university leadership including professors, and, uniquely in Scotland, in the elites leading the Scottish and UK Labour parties." (2)
Throughout this account, Robertson tries to present evidence of bias in Scottish and UK media as unpretentiously and transparently as possible, without really hiding his own inclination towards Scottish independence. So if you are interested in media bias, democracy, propaganda or looking for a way to inform yourself about the independence issue in general, in order to come to relative terms with the overall picture, it will be worth taking a look at this concise report. Even if, for a change, you just want to see media moguls getting a sarcastic clout on the head, you are going to enjoy Robertson's critical approach to these too often untouched institutions. The free PDF version of Robertson's Scotland's Propaganda War should engage you to think about the way you yourself are affected by media bias, perhaps, without noticing this.
(This recommendation has been written by Jana Schmick, student of English and Spanish in Germersheim.)

 


New Publications in our Library

Lanchester, John, How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say and What It Means, New York: Norton 2014 [WIR-GB 30 Lanch 1]
You are interested in money? Or have a particular focus on business English? Or just want to know how the English language is developing, because this is what you are studying? Then Lanchester is an intriguing read for you, an absolute must. He also tells you very much about the world we live in, the money culture that dominates our lives and minds, its tremendous shortcomings and how it can, even must be improved.
A review of the German translation of this book is available at http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/programmvorschau.281.de.html?drbm:date=21.09.2015, broadcast on 21-9-15 in 'Andruck: Das Magazin für politische Bücher', which is quite an attractive programme generally, a regular series. Make use of such programmes at Deutschlandfunk, SWR 2, the BBC or other quality media sources, in order to increase your knowledge of current affairs, topical events, important developments in today's world as well as your communicative and linguistic competences in German and English.
You can also listen to this review (just 7') at http://ondemand-mp3.dradio.de/file/dradio/2015/09/21/dlf_20150921_1943_ff5b80c5.mp3 and download it as an MP3 file. The review begins with the words "Versteh' ich sowieso nicht", which you might at first also think, but this book is well written and explains its important topics in such a way that everybody can understand them. Thus take a look at this fascinating text in our library.

 

06.07.2015
Tsunami: Scotland’s Democratic Revolution (E-book Only) by Iain Macwhirter

 

Praise for Iain Macwhirter

“A truly important book, particularly at this moment.” ~ Andrew Marr

“A terrific book […] full of shrewd insights. I’d recommend it highly.” ~ The Guardian

“His writing and broadcasting on politics in Scotland have been the benchmark by which many of us judge our own, more modest, contributions.” ~ The Observer

“Authoritative and peerless”~ The List

“A corker” ~ David Greig, Playwright

Following on from the critically acclaimed Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won A Referendum But Lost Scotland, Iain Macwhirter casts his expert eye over the SNP’s victory in the 2015 General Election, which saw Scotland swept by an unprecedented wave of SNP yellow. One of the UK’s most insightful political writers, Macwhirter examines the factors behind this result including the demise of the Labour party in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP vision and leadership, the growing dissatisfaction with Westminster, and the enduring passion for independence. He also examines emerging divisions in the non-aligned independence movement. Tsunami ends with Macwhirter looking forward to ultimately consider where Scotland, and the UK, must go next.

PLEASE NOTE: TSUNAMI IS AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK ONLY

http://www.cargopublishing.com/books/tsunami-scotlands-democratic-revolution-e-book-only/


22.06.2015
New Publications in Our Library on New Media and How We Live Today

 

Crary, Jonathan, 24/7. Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, London: Verso 2014 [soz-allg 07.35 Crary]
"Sleep is a standing affront to capitalism", says Crary, Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University, whose book describes our everyday working and leisure worlds characterised by round-the-clock consumption and production. "Because capitalism cannot limit itself, the notion of preservation or conservation is a systemic impossibility. Against this background, the restorative inertness of sleep counters the deathliness of all the accumulation, financialization, and waste that have devastated anything once held in common. Now there is actually only one dream, superseding all others: it is of a shared world whose fate is not terminal, a world without billionaires, which has a future other than barbarism or the post-human, and in which history can take on other forms than reified nightmares of catastrophe." (128) This, however, can be achieved only by human beings wide awake to what is happening now.

Keese, Christoph, Silicon Valley. Was aus dem mächtigsten Tal der Welt auf uns zukommt, München: Knaus 22014 [soz-allg 40.53 Keese]
Der Journalist Keese beschreibt nicht nur die Welt in Kalifornien, sondern die der Gegenwart generell in Kapiteln über "Technik-Kult", "Grenzenlose Innovation", "Hochgeschwindigkeitsökonomie", "Risikokultur" mit dem passenden Untertitel "Beim nächsten Mal machen wir bessere Fehler", "Alles dem Gewinner: Die Macht der Monopole", "Befreit vom Chef, dafür anderen Zwängen ausgeliefert: Die neue Arbeitswelt" und schließlich "Unbegrenzte Machbarkeit: Der Mensch, hochgeladen in die Cloud". Verschaffen Sie sich einen Einblick in die Arbeitswelt, die Sie vorfinden werden, aber auch in die Fragen, mit denen Sie sich auf jeden Fall auseinandersetzen müssen. Denn Sie haben sicherlich selbst noch keine Antwort auf "das fortgesetzte Disruptionsversagen der Deutschen" (289), oder doch? Sie sollten aber jetzt schon lernen, sich auf fortgesetzte Disruption einzulassen, keine Angst davor zu haben, sondern immer "Strategien für Wagemut und Aufbruchsgeist zu entwickeln." (290) Keese ist gelegentlich etwas naiv und einseitig, aber das Buch lohnt dennoch die Lektüre, weil es immer wieder wichtige Punkte hervorhebt. Etwa diesen: "Verhandelt wird die Freiheit im Netz. Darum geht es. Das geht uns alle etwas an, und deshalb sollten wir alle mitreden." (299) "Es geht um die Wiederherstellung von Autonomie." (302) Dafür brauchen wir erhebliche Kompetenzen, Ausdauer und Willensstärke. Das kann man und muss man trainieren. "Eine Bilanz der Digitalisierung ist vor allem eine Bilanz unseres Willens, Grundsätze zu formulieren und Freiheit zu schaffen." (303)

Keen, Andrew, The Internet is Not the Answer, London: Atlantic Books 2015 [soz-allg 40.53 KeenA 1]
Keen, who has written several books on the digital revolutions of our time, is executive director of the Silicon Valley innovation salon FutureCast, and more (cf. http://www.ajkeen.com/), contradicts claims that the internet "democratizes the good and disrupts the bad [--], thereby creating a more open and egalitarian world." (ix) He describes many negative developments on the web and says that the answer to them "is to use the law and regulation to force the Internet out of its prolonged adolescence." (222) Control is necessary and does not "always need to originate from government", it can just as well come "from voluntary, market-led solutions uniting private companies across the Internet economy". (222) A key question today is "'whether elected governments can control the cyclone of technological change sweeping through their societies.'" (223f) "The Internet's current Epic Fail isn't necessarily its final grade. But to improve, it needs to grow up quickly and take responsibility for its actions." (224) The final answer then is not more regulation but "our new digital elite becoming accountable for the most traumatic socioeconomic disruption since the industrial revolution. […] Rather than an Internet Bill of Rights, what we really need is an informal Bill of Responsibilities that establishes a new social contract for every member of networked society." This would be a "guide for building a good life in the digital age." (226) The question ultimately is "'What society are we building here?'" (227)

24.03.2015
New publications on Scotland in our library

Macwhirter, Iain, Disunited Kingdom: How Westminster Won a Referendum But Lost Scotland, Glasgow: Cargo 2014 [KUL-GB 07.53 MacWh 1]
Iain Macwhirter is a journalist with extensive experience through his work for The Herald, the Sunday Herald, the BBC, and many other sources of public information (cf. his homepage https://iainmacwhirter.wordpress.com/ and his articles http://journalisted.com/iain-macwhirter?allarticles=yes). He was also Rector of Edinburgh University from 2009 to 2012, and has thus been involved in intriguing and important areas of our contemporary society. Disunited Kingdom gives you a first-hand insight into his experiences during the referendum and his evaluations of the events and people that were relevant in this process. What began in the months before September 2014 is far from being over. It will influence the next general election in Britain in May 2015 and the government in power afterwards.
Macwhirter directly says that this book "is a personal account: history as I saw it. But I believe it is also an accurate one, based on direct contact with most of the key people involved." Change now is absolutely necessary, and while the referendum "result was fascinating in its ambiguity", "the real victors were the Scottish people themselves." (9) The book has received much praise and some criticism, a review revealing both sides can be found in the Scottish Review of Books 21-1-15 (http://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/index.php/editorsblog/entry/iain-macwhirter-disunited-kingdom-how-westminster-won-a-referendum-but-lost-scotland-cargo-publishing-8-99), and the Scottish Studies Newsletter in April 2015 includes another review, too. So check the Newsletter, but go and read Macwhirter's intriguing book first, find out what you like about it, what you think is missing, and write about your experience in the next Newsletter.

02.03.2015
New publications on the 'Second Machine / Digital / Computer Age' in our library

Erik Brynjolfsson / Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age. Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, New York: Norton 2014 [KW Allg 07.60 Brynj 1]
The authors begin with "three broad conclusions. The first is that we're living in a time of astonishing progress with digital technologies". They want to show "how the full force of these technologies has recently been achieved and give examples of its power. 'Full', though, doesn't mean 'mature'. Computers are going to continue to improve and to do new and unprecedented things." These digital technologies will "be as important and transformational to society and the economy as the steam engine."
"Our second conclusion is that the transformations […] will be profoundly beneficial ones." (9) "Technology can bring us more choice and even freedom."
"Our third conclusion is less optimistic: digitization is going to bring with it some thorny challenges." (10) As "computers get more powerful, companies have less need for some kinds of workers. Technological progress is going to leave behind some people, perhaps even a lot of people, as it races ahead. As we'll demonstrate, there's never been a better time to be a worker with special skills or the right education, because these people can use technology to create and capture value. However, there's never been a worse time to be a worker with only 'ordinary' skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots, and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate." (11)
Think about this in the context of what and how you are studying! You simply have to try to study in such a way that you will be able "to create and capture value" rather than repeat and reproduce things that computers can do much better, faster, and cheaper. You will have to work in connection with these digital technologies and new media. You cannot run away from them anyway, and yes, they do offer intriguing working possibilities.
So read this book for a fairly good description of where we are and where we are going. But also keep in mind the enormous dangers that are connected with the new technologies. Stephen Hawking, e.g., even thinks that artificial intelligence might completely destroy humanity (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/stephen-hawking-ai-could-be-the-end-of-humanity-9898320.html), and Evgeny Morozov (good books by him are also in our library) says that the idea of the new technologies giving us more freedom is a malicious fairy tale (http://gu.com/p/467zb).
As with all technologies, the effect of these new ones simply depends on how we will employ them. It also depends on what we will allow others to do with them. We all are responsible. So do get involved. 

24.02.2015
New publications on Scotland in our library

Fraser, Ian, Shredded. Inside RBS, the Bank that Broke Britain, Edinburgh: Birlinn 2014 [wir GB 30.20 Frase 1]
The Royal Bank of Scotland once was Scotland's pride and a key asset in the Scottish economy. Fraser describes its Icarus-like ascent and its collapse "built on hubris, self-delusion and inadequate planning." (1) For him, "RBS is a case study in how not to manage and regulate a bank." (xiii) He quotes Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS from 2008 to 2013, admitting that "'RBS was the poster child of excess in the banking industry.'" (xiv) People only very slowly became aware of "the urgent need for cultural change inside the bank." (343) This need is still with us, and the book shows that the bank's corporate culture has even deteriorated since then. After having been bailed out by the public, the bank has continued cheating and swindling customers, actually kneecapping many of them.
You are interested in business and banking? Business culture? The economic and social characteristics of the world you live in? This is your book.
Here are some reviews with further praise of it and continued blame on politicians for failing to deal with this topical subject and to hold bankers to account: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/rbs-could-fail-due-to-100bn-black-hole--with-british-taxpayers-in-line-to-lose-their-entire-45bn-stake-9466823.html; http://www.valuewalk.com/2014/06/rbs-fail-10-days-says-book/; http://www.scottishreviewofbooks.org/index.php/back-issues/2013-03-27-15-25-27/volume-ten-issue-two/610-bad-bankers-and-bankrupt-banks-michael-fry; http://www.heraldscotland.com/books-poetry/reviews/ian-fraser-shredded-inside-rbs-the-bank-that-broke-britain-birlinn.24514569; http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/opinion/1330888/denise-kingsmill-finance-start-ups-taking-uks-arrogant-banking-sector/.
Check also the Serious Banking Complaints Bureau (http://sbcb.org.uk/category/ian-fraser/), and Fraser's homepage (http://www.ianfraser.org/shredded-the-pimp-and-the-whorehouse-of-debt/), appropriately speaking of "the pimp, the ghetto of fraud, and the whorehouse of debt".
Ian Fraser's book has been reviewed by Professor Müller in the current issue of the Scottish Studies Newsletter.

Müller, Klaus Peter (ed.), Scotland 2014 and Beyond – Coming of Age and Loss of Innocence?, Frankfurt: Lang 2015 (Scottish Studies International 39) [23 pol GB 40.10]
Scotland has been one of the most fascinating countries in the world for quite some time now and for many different reasons. This book describes Scotland in the context and aftermath of the 2014 referendum. It is particularly intriguing because of its great variety of international and interdisciplinary perspectives, offering viewpoints from ordinary citizens as well as experts in culture, history, sociology, literature, politics, the law, and the media. The ideas, mental processes, dispositions, and activities that have been involved in past and present discussions about Scottish independence, freedom, equality, justice, and the creation of a fair society are investigated and described. Such discussions have been shaped by specific values, ideologies, class or personal interests and objectives, as well as by specific ways of telling their stories. These are analysed together with the European, global, and democratic dimensions of Scotland, in order to find answers to the question how coming of age might be achieved today, nationally as well as individually. Answers are provided by experts from Berkeley, Edinburgh, Erlangen, Germersheim, Glasgow, Göttingen, The Hague, Mainz, Stirling, and Strathclyde.