How Star Trek got Aristotle right

“The implications for using Aristotle to measure the quality of ‘television’ today are curious. There’s a deluge of remakes and reimaginations on streaming platforms that seem determined to modernise old formulas. While they do this, they forget that the format in which they were originally told is just as important as anything else.”

Read More How Star Trek got Aristotle right

Did you know President Bush?

“There’s a cynicism at the heart of this piece, I freely admit. Many will point out that it’s simply in good taste to praise the deceased and analyse their legacy later. I worry, however, that the quirks of good measure can often camouflage the stark truth in real-time.”

Read More Did you know President Bush?

The genius and warning of Bradbury, Burgess and Huxley

It’s become too easy to call something ‘Orwellian’. We all know what it means. ‘Big Brother’, ‘Room 101’ and ‘doublespeak’ have all passed into the cultural and political lexicon. Constant observation, scrutiny and intrusion are the essences of the totalitarian system. While 1984 remains seminal, it lacks the technological imagination of other works in the […]

Read More The genius and warning of Bradbury, Burgess and Huxley

The enduring appeal of Rocky

If you regularly read my essays and articles, you’ll know I despise cliches. Nevertheless, after lamentably being turned down for a job in Scotland, I went on watch Rocky Balboa to cheer myself up. I’m no fan of boxing per se, but the Rocky series has a transcendental truth to it that reaches out to even […]

Read More The enduring appeal of Rocky

In defence of the expert amateur

When I started Darrow all those years ago it stemmed from a  frustration: I wanted to talk about politics to prove, on a CV, that I had a right to work in politics. Having a degree in International Relations was like having just passed your driving licence and asking to drive a Formula 1 car with […]

Read More In defence of the expert amateur

God bless Amazon…and comic books​

This isn’t a placement ad. I promise. No, I’ve just been musing on the genius of Amazon. It’s become the new hypocrisy to have a stab at the company for allegedly destroying local businesses while simultaneously relishing its next day delivery service and limitless merchandise. While I’ve never been unsympathetic to the decline of local […]

Read More God bless Amazon…and comic books​

Reflections on trial by media

“There is no easy answer. As soon as a news story breaks, a production company is placed in the impossible position of being seen to side with their star by not taking action or cutting their losses for the sake of their image. Netflix cut ties with Spacey as a result of the allegations, a decision that cost the streaming service about $39 million.”

Read More Reflections on trial by media

A very British fudge – why democratising the monarchy may be the best compromise

As royal wedding fever takes over, writer Alastair Stewart asks whether the best thing to do would be to keep the constitutional monarchy but make it open to election rather than by bloodline – a very British fudge. I RECENTLY had a conversation with a friend about the Royal Family. Fatigued by the constant coverage of […]

Read More A very British fudge – why democratising the monarchy may be the best compromise

Why it’s time for overseas MPs

Brits overseas are a curious bunch. For the folks back home it looks as if we’ve sailed away for sun, fortune and a better life. But that’s the cliche and prevailing stereotype of the ‘expat’. British citizens abroad are, well, just that. It’s impossible to categorise their motivation for leaving home, and it’s arrogant presumption […]

Read More Why it’s time for overseas MPs

Petition launched for expat MPs

ALASTAIR STEWART, a freelance writer and teacher based between Edinburgh and Almeria, has launched a petition to introduce Members of Parliament for British citizens living abroad. The petition to ‘Introduce MPs to represent the interests of British citizens living abroad’ is calling on the UK Government to acknowledge the unique concerns of British citizens across the […]

Read More Petition launched for expat MPs

Passports are a hint of things to come

“With little surprise, it turns out the ‘new’ blue British passports are now to be made by a Franco-Dutch company. The irony can’t hit hard enough. Lord Palmerston once spoke of Britain’s splendid isolation from Europe. In the 21st century, nothing could be further from the truth, no matter how much Brexiteers try to pretend otherwise.”

Read More Passports are a hint of things to come

Guns will stop the U.S government? Give me a break

“Seldom is any real attention given to the outright reform of gun ownership. Onlookers can expect messages of ‘thoughts and prayers’ from presidents, congressmen and senators and even the public after all too familiar of mass slaughter. There can be no other word than ‘system’ for the complicit and non-reactionary way in which governments, commentators and citizens battle it out over rights versus freedoms in the aftermath of shootings. If you want to restrict guns, you’re treading on the Constitution. If you don’t, you’re perpetuating a system of mass murder.”

Read More Guns will stop the U.S government? Give me a break

Review | Star Trek: Discovery

“Consider for a moment if the creators, writers and actors had conspired together to do the unthinkable. Audiences want sex and violence at a time when streaming services ensure they’re saturated for choice in that department. Instead, what could they have done? Given an idealised version of the future where an intrepid band of humans and aliens show us that a better tomorrow can be made.”

Read More Review | Star Trek: Discovery

If Nigel Farage is calling for a second referendum, it’s time for a rethink

“If Nigel Farage admits the issue should be put to bed, it’s important to understand why that is. A democratic mandate must be granted to the pledges of a government so it can act. This can only be done at the final stage of negotiations when a clear package of proposals can be approved or disapproved. A referendum is only half the battle, and if May’s government is to act with purpose and conviction it should call another general election when the final settlement is clear and on the table.”

Read More If Nigel Farage is calling for a second referendum, it’s time for a rethink

Decluttering social media

Social media’s a bit of a bombsite. If your accounts resemble mine, they’re a patchwork of random likes and superfluous information that’s grown and grown to indecipherable levels. Academics and social media users alike seem to agree that social media has an addictive quality that erodes people’s quality of life. Paul Levy, a researcher at […]

Read More Decluttering social media

It’s not superhero fatigue, it’s misery fatigue

“It’s long overdue for a return to the heady days of Christopher Reeve’s Superman. Everyone who hears John Williams’ orchestral march feels ecstatic because Reeves’ portrayal is so rich in simple decency. The pants and red-caped moralism fell into cliche long ago because the world felt these creations weren’t equipped to deal with modernity. Perhaps it’s the other way around?”

Read More It’s not superhero fatigue, it’s misery fatigue

Revisiting ‘The Omega Factor’ 

One of the funny quirks about Scotland is that everyone can name a Scots actor, but very few can name famous Scottish TV shows. Beyond the standard native fare of cop shows and comedies, Scotland’s televisual output is well below its literary or film standing.  Of course, there’s Take the High Road (And if you […]

Read More Revisiting ‘The Omega Factor’ 

Shouldn’t International Men’s Day be as important as International Women’s Day?

“The figures themselves are deeply troubling. In 2016, the suicide rate for males was more than two and a half times that for females. In 1981, 63 percent of UK suicides were male, but in 2013 the figure was 78 percent. The proportion of male to female deaths by suicide has increased steadily since the early 1980s. The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK show signs of alcohol dependence against 3% of UK women. Testicular cancer incidences have increased by 28 percent since the early 1990s. The list continues.”

Read More Shouldn’t International Men’s Day be as important as International Women’s Day?

Machiavelli was a striking moralist

“For Machiavelli, the people are the moral universalism at the heart of The Prince. Across 26 chapters, he directs princes to pay their attention to the limits and tolerances of the populace. Whether in hereditary, mixed, ecclesiastical or new principalities, Machiavelli attempts to achieve a delicate balance of protecting the people, protecting the prince and protecting them both from the other.”

Read More Machiavelli was a striking moralist

Edinburgh’s best bookshops

Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Edinburgh. There’s something about the city that just radiates nostalgic indulgence. The pub that had just the right music. The view that was hit by just the right light. The kebab that hit just the right spot. You know the story. But even for a city as old as Edinburgh, the streets are […]

Read More Edinburgh’s best bookshops

Lights, Camera, Salmond!

For “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad” said Prometheus, as he learned of Alex Salmond’s new RT-backed television show.  After more than twenty years Salmond’s thespian need for attention and the drive for Scottish independence have finally now become an inseparable pursuit in his head. And what better evidence? RT, formerly called Russia Today, […]

Read More Lights, Camera, Salmond!

Kevin Spacey has betrayed his fans and they’re hurting too

“With Frank Underwood’s asides, the audience is invited into his thinking and to share in his schemes. Like all good Machiavellian characters, viewers indulge a faux Stockholm syndrome for scurrilous bastards because they love to be in the know. It’s a macabre indulgence, but that’s the game – audiences love feeling intelligent, and they’re never more in tune with that feeling than when the character speaks to them.”

Read More Kevin Spacey has betrayed his fans and they’re hurting too

Why history matters to Catalonia

Was the Catalan vote for independence illegal? Yes. It’s that simple. The 1978 Spanish Constitution, agreed across the country in the years following General Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, makes two explicit provisions regarding Spain’s unity.    The first is that “the Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation”. Secondly, “political […]

Read More Why history matters to Catalonia

The Scot who nearly killed Franco

SCOTS are famous for many things, but trying to kill Franco isn’t typically one of them. Nevertheless, on 11 August 1964, an 18-year-old anarchist by the name of Stuart Christie was arrested in Madrid attempting to do just that. To make matters worse, not only was he carrying a kilo of explosives, but they were […]

Read More The Scot who nearly killed Franco

Why irredentism explains Brexit

IRREDENTISM is any political or popular movement intended to reclaim and reoccupy an area that the movement’s members consider “lost” or “unredeemed”. Most people know the concept, but not the word. It matters because it explains most, if not all, of the current Brexit debate. The Balkans is the textbook example of the topic. Ideas […]

Read More Why irredentism explains Brexit

Can you compare Scotland and Catalonia?  

The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region, Carles Puigdemont, has called an independence referendum for October 2017, in defiance of the Spanish Government. The announcement follows Catalonia holding a non-binding vote in 2014, called a ‘consultation’, on independence in which 80 percent of ballots cast supported a breakaway, but with only a 35 percent voter turnout.  […]

Read More Can you compare Scotland and Catalonia?  

When Churchill bribed Franco   

The Spanish Civil War is widely considered a prelude to the Second World War.  All the central powers were peripherally involved, and Spain owed a debt of $212 million for supplies given by Nazi Germany to General Francisco Franco’s Nationalists.  As such, there was a fear that Spain might come out on the side of […]

Read More When Churchill bribed Franco   

A street called 17 January 1966

HIROSHIMA and Nagasaki: the only two occasions in history when nuclear weapons were used in combat. But who remembers the time America accidentally bombed Spain? The 1966 Palomares B-52 crash occurred on 17 January when an American bomber collided with a refuelling tanker over the Mediterranean Sea, killing seven of the 11 crew members. The aircraft carried four […]

Read More A street called 17 January 1966

Moggmentum is the last straw of sanity  

‘Moggmentum’ is sweeping the UK and it’s gotten a little out of hand. The online campaign to elect Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative leader is rooted in a pseudo-ironic play on the ‘Momentum’ movement that launched Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership.  The problem is people presume contemptuous political positions must be held by reasonable people if […]

Read More Moggmentum is the last straw of sanity  

Stop panicking about Jodie Whittaker

The end is nigh! Hold your loved ones and kiss them goodbye. A woman has stolen to the keys to the TARDIS and isn’t giving them back!  The apocalyptic slaughter of male icons doesn’t just end there, oh no – they’re getting replaced with female doppelgangers. First, the womenfolk took over the government, then they […]

Read More Stop panicking about Jodie Whittaker

Read this before you see Dunkirk 

Christopher Nolan’s latest epic is just that. It’s a self-contained piece of cinematography the likes of which audiences have not seen in decades. From flawless direction to edge-of-your-seat suspense, it’s not so much a film as an experience. And it can only be enjoyed at the cinema.  A lot has been made of Dunkirk’s cinematic […]

Read More Read this before you see Dunkirk