'Theatre', Jeffrey Smith / CC
Arts & Culture

Cut @ Underbelly, George Square

Site specific show Cut brings something a little bit different to Edinburgh Fringe this year, taken into an airplane style set-up the air hostess gives instructions and provides a safe-word for those who may need to leave creating a foreboding atmosphere before plunging the room into absolute darkness. (Read More)

'Our fiction writing' / CC
Arts & Culture

Looking back at the rack #2 – Civil War

So last month, we talked about Planet Hulk, in all its green-rage, monster-fuelled (and sword and planet styled) glory! This month, we’re going to look a little closer to home.

When people ask me, “I’m looking to get into comic books, what do you recommend?” I almost never suggest Marvel’s cross-title Civil War. It’s not because it’s bad (far from it!), but because you need to know a little bit about the Marvel universe beforehand so you can truly understand the grand scale of this all-out Marvel event. (Read More)

'Theatre', Jeffrey Smith / CC
Arts & Culture

Review: Clown Macbeth @ C

While it is not difficult to find an incarnation of a Shakespeare classic at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it is often difficult to find a new way of performing it. Using mime, dance, music, and sound, Clown Macbeth by Ryukyu Cirque have certainly achieved this. (Read More)

Science & Technology

Geological time: It’s a big deal

Imagine the Earth was 45 years old, not 4.5 billion. On this timescale the dinosaurs died out 8 months ago; the first humans evolved just yesterday; agriculture only began within the last hour and the industrial revolution happened just one minute ago.
(Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Film & TV

Review: The Martian

Based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel, The Martian tells the story of Mark Watney (Matt Damon), a botanist on a manned mission to Mars who, through a freak accident, is presumed dead and left behind by the rest of his crew as they escape a storm on the planet’s surface. Watney, alive and well, is now marooned on Mars without enough food to last him until the next manned mission from Earth arrives. He must put all of his training and knowledge into action in order to survive and make contact with Earth while at the same time NASA scientists and Watney’s crew try to figure out a way to bring the stranded astronaut home. (Read More)

Asia

The contradictions of Japan’s self-defence force

“ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. (2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” (Read More)

Environment & Energy

Conservation and Global Citizenship: Volcanic Hazards in Tanzania

In the summer of 2015 I was part of a geological expedition team who travelled to Northwest Tanzania to study the unique and unusual lavas of the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano. As the sole geographer on the team, I conducted several interviews with members of the local Maasai community. Through hearing about their lifestyle, I soon realised that we need to move beyond the blanket term of conservation to consider the wider interconnections of the people, wildlife and landscapes we are trying to protect. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Film & TV

Review: Legend

Brian Helgeland’s Legend seems like an almost tailor-made vehicle for its star Tom Hardy. The films hook, of Hardy playing both male leads, allows him to display his immense talent for portraying both subtle, nuanced, dark characters and wild, over-the-top eccentrics at the same time. Hardy has, for a while now, been one of the best actors to come out of Britain but Legend really showcases his talents perfectly. (Read More)

US & Canada

Ben Carson: The man who would be king

Tagged by GQ as ‘a hero to black America’ (we’ve heard that one before), Carson is a classic example of the quintessential American dream. To his supporters, Carson typifies the sort of social mobility of which conservatives are so fond. Singlehandedly, as apparently those from the lowest social strata must, Carson dragged himself from childhood poverty to professional fame. Carson’s story is certainly a truly remarkable one, and on paper, he is a truly remarkable man. Yet, in putting himself forward for the role of leader of the free world, it is his political credentials that deserve our considered attention. (Read More)

Arts & Culture

Limbo @ Underbelly Circus Hub

The circus comes to town in spectacular fashion with Limbo at the new Underbelly Circus Hub. Bringing danger and darkness to the Fringe Limbo serves up a wide selection of acts including live music, dance acts, fire eating, sword swallowing, and contortion. (Read More)

Business & Economy

Toxic innovation: Volkswagen is the tip of a destructive iceberg

In short, VW is only the most current and most prominent example of toxic innovation. If corporations want to keep the trust of their consumers they will have to design toxic innovation out of their broader innovation activity. Sadly, stories are emerging in increasing frequency in which companies are applying the same skills they use to brings us wonderful products and services, to cheating, deceiving or in simply trying to be clumsily smart. The result is damage for everyone along the supply chain. (Read More)

'Our fiction writing' / CC
Books

Book Trailers: Friend or Foe?

I am in turmoil over the recent popularity of book trailers, I despise the use of technology where literature is concerned. I was forced to get a Kindle to allow authors to send me their books for me to review as that is the route most authors prefer. But reading on a device is not the same as holding a book in your hand, the feel, smell, and intimacy can not transcend to an e-reader. I understand it has made literature more widely available to the masses which is not a bad thing however I can only hope they in no way serve to eradicate actual books. I will never understand anyone preferring a kindle to an actual book, it is beyond my comprehension. (Read More)

'Our fiction writing' / CC
US & Canada

What Fitzgerald tells us about the Republican primaries

Mitt Romney’s announcement that he would not seek the US Presidency for a third time gave me cause to consider again what F. Scott Fitzgerald really meant when he wrote that “there are no second acts in American life.” One school of thought promotes a straightforward interpretation: there are no second acts because American life does not allow an actor, in whatever sphere, to overcome initial failure. Another argues that Fitzgerald was critiquing the modern desire for swift resolutions, a trait which does not allow for complex resolutions to complex problems. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

The Balance of Terror

On July 16th, 1945 the world entered the Atomic Age. With the successful detonation of the first nuclear weapon, code name: Trinity, diplomacy would never be the same again. The weapons of a modern nuclear arsenal contain multiple warheads, each with a yield around 20 times as powerful as the early designs. But are nuclear weapons really as deplorable an asset as they are often portrayed and perceived? (Read More)

Asia

Mongolia’s Third Neighbour Policy

The economy of Mongolia has been growing steadily in recent years, and has an abundance of natural resources ready to exploit. The government supports freedom of religion, since the fall of Communism in 1990, which is predominantly Buddhism (60%), and Atheism (25%). Internationally, the country has a lot of potential, especially for a comparatively small population of around 3,000,000 despite being the 19th largest country in terms of land mass. Despite this, it remains a third world country, with the majority of families living in poverty or as nomads.
(Read More)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

How Israel’s targeted killings were consistent with its strategy: Part 4

From a Realist perspective the negative implications of the assassination campaign on Israel’s national interests are negligable when considering that the subsequent rise of Hamas in Gaza had the effect of undermining the bargaining position of the Palestinian authority. Moreover it is worth noting that with the rise of a new generation of Hamas leaders and its take-over of government, the nature of the group‘s attacks changed, with the number of suicide bombings against Israelis decreasing. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

Israel turns a blind powerless eye

Today UNRWA provides assistance to over 5 million registered Palestinian refugees. What was meant to be a temporary relief agency has become a quasi-governmental entity nearly seven decades later. Being a UN agency, UNRWA is supposed to espouse values of peace, yet after thorough examination of the curriculum being taught in UNRWA schools – in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and East Jerusalem – it has been found to be anything but peaceful. Israel continues to turn a blind eye, while its aid and money is helping to create its enemies of tomorrow. (Read More)

Middle East

The West: The problem not the solution in the Middle East

Syria lies in ruin! Rampant with death and displacement, children freeze in the long harsh winter of refugee camps that stretch far and wide. Whilst, Egypt’s democracy lasted less time than the Pleb gate scandal, Libya and Iraq sees militias set the agenda, with death a frequent and tragic companion to these embattled populations. As a citizen of the twenty-first century I am repulsed by what has been allowed to happen in Middle East; however my repulsion as a world citizen is nothing compared to my revulsion at being identified as British, European and Western following the Arab Spring. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC
Scotland

Referendum or Referenda in Scotland?

Scottish Independence! Those two words produce a feeling that is as decisive as it is unifying. It also produces exuberance and a fervour about Scotland’s future which is scarcely witnessed elsewhere. Therefore, with these emotions now stirred, it’s no surprise that the question of independence was not ultimately decided on that historic day last September.
(Read More)

Theatre

Review: Waiting for Godot

So, that was the effect of seeing Waiting for Godot at the Lyceum in Edinburgh. Life became Beckettized. Works of genius will do that. They reach out beyond their medium. (I picked up Naked Lunch for the first time in years, only to be accosted on the bus the same day by a total stranger, who it turned out had been a dealer: ‘What’s it about? Drugs? Oh-ho…let me tell you about drugs, man.’ And he did.) (Read More)

Environment & Energy

The IPCC: A credit to science, but failing individuals

For many the United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Paris at the end of November this year is a make or break moment for anthropogenic, or human-induced climate change. Negotiations over a law-binding international treaty committing governments to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions have been taking place for over two decades now. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has also been in existence for over twenty years now and given the lack of international progress regarding climate over that period, is the IPCC functioning effectively given the severity of the matter at hand? To assess this one needs to consider the history of the IPCC, and the methods it has adopted to convey its findings. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Nuclear Terrorism – What is the actual threat?

Utter the phrase nuclear terrorism and most people would automatically envisage a bright flash, followed by a mushroom cloud rising over a scorched earth. It is an issue that steps into the stage light every now and then, cause some frightening headlines, only to then disappear into the quagmire of issues that are not ‘newsworthy’ enough. Nuclear terrorism is, like all issues connected to the word nuclear, fraught with misconceptions, myths and even outright lies. It is high time that some light is spread over this in order to separate myths from facts, thus enabling a truly informed debate regarding this substantial threat. (Read More)

Australasia

Tony Abbott – Australia’s nightmare is over

However, it is Down Under where another Abbott is making the headlines. Following an abrupt leadership challenge, Tony Abbott was sensationally ousted as Australian Prime Minister. Those unfamiliar with Australian politics may reflect on his misfortunate. However, his two-year tenure, which for most Australians must have felt like two decades, was a catastrophe. Think of America electing Donald Trump as president and you’ll have an idea. (Read More)

'Books are power' / CC
Books

Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Those familiar with Haruki Murakami will know of the fantasy elements that run through most of his books; parallel universes, taking cats, and mysterious wells being just a few. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage is a break away from that. Like his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood, this focuses purely on the people and the relationships between them. Being an ardent admirer of Murakami I spent the whole novel seeing foreboding where there wasn’t any and seeing potential supernatural within the story. This did not lead to disappointment however. As always the writing holds such a magical quality to it that attention is captivated without the need for magic in the plot. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Film & TV

Review: Solace

Originally intended to be a sequel to 1995 film Se7en, Solace is a typical FBI-hunts-serial killer with a psychic twist plot. Haruki Murakami fans, such as myself, will be surprised to learn that the killers method of choice is a sharp implement directly into the base of the neck. For a moment I confused my fictions and thought Aomame from 1Q84 was the murderer. It turns out she is not in this case. (Read More)

'Our fiction writing' / CC
Books

Review: The First Bad Man: A Novel by Miranda July

Cheryl Glickman is not a typical protagonist; middle aged, not a conventional beauty, neurotic, and extremely weird. Cheryl Glickman is a human being. A refreshing change compared to a lot of women within fiction. Her quirkiness is endearing and almost overwhelming as her personality slaps you in the face from every page. Her main concern to begin with is being a strong career woman and capturing the attentions of colleague Phillip. this all begins to fall apart, however, when another colleagues daughter becomes her supposedly temporary room-mate. (Read More)