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Pat Kane
Glasgow
Author of The Play Ethic, one half of Hue And Cry, father, partner
Interests: The future, love, sex, funkiness, great technology, classic life-changing songs, the multitude, longevity, Scottish culture/independence/prospects
Recent Activity
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By Pat Kane. First published on NOVEMBER 19TH, 2016 ‘WHO do you think you are?” No, don’t worry – this isn’t an angry quote from a Channel Four interview conducted in the heart of Trumpland (or for that matter, Leavetown). Readers of the Radio Times will recognise it as this week’s front cover headline, heralding the return of the BBC’s successful family history show. Inside, we discover Eastenders’ Danny Dyer is a distant relative of William the Conquerer, Edward III and Oliver Cromwell. Well, thanks for that. The routine for the new series of Who Do You Think You Are?... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on NOVEMBER 26TH, 2016 WHITE, middle-aged, middle-class male. That’s what I am, undeniably. I have long thought of myself as a supporter of women’s rights, of the rights of sexual and ethnic minorities. Yet here I am, the empirical fact of me, appearing in analysis after analysis as the foundation of a poisonous turn in Euro-American public life. What should I do? What can I do? The answers to those questions reverberate up and down my own timeline, and across the field of society before us. And before I assume any right as a pundit... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on DECEMBER 3RD, 2016 ‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” That’s what the thuggish Dick proposes in Shakespeare’s Henry VI as a means of improving society. And perhaps one way to hasten their end is the sight of lawyers making a killing. This week in Scotland has provided quite a spectacle of all that. The new Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Gordon Jackson QC, suggested that independence might allow Scots lawyers to “grab some of that [legal] practice cake” from London, which usually secures the major litigations. Various political gobs... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on DECEMBER 10TH, 2016 A FEW weekends ago, Michael Gove MP, a notable friend of this mighty organ, took the chance to clarify his famous “the people have had enough of experts” statement from the Brexit campaign. “The point I make is that not all experts are wrong, that’s manifestly nonsense. [There’s] expert engineers, expert doctors, expert physicists,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. “But there are a sub-class of experts, particularly economists, pollsters, social scientists, who really do have to reflect on some of the mistakes that they’ve made.” Whenever Gove comes to my... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JANUARY 17TH, 2016 They go trudging into Trump Tower, hit the elevator button, then pop out of the gold-plated doors – there to meet the Sun God, or at least the Suntan God. Our innards took enough of a lurch seeing Nigel Farage and Aaron Banks smear themselves across the marble floors, barely hours after his victory. But this week, the world’s most dangerous reality TV show – centred around Trump’s big corporate table on the 22nd floor, with chosen family members as a creepy consiglieri – had some notable new contestants. The frozen... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JANUARY 24TH, 2016 ‘LIBRARIES gave us power”, goes the opening line of the Manic Street Preachers’ A Design For Life. Do they still? With supercomputers in our pockets connecting us to galaxies of knowledge? What do libraries give us now? The answers are crucial, as they feed into debates about funding and supporting public libraries, caught up in this wretched trap of austerity. Closures, and defences against closure, are everywhere. Fife Council announced fifteen of them earlier this month. Free collections of books winking out in towns like Abbeyview, Bowhill, Colinsburgh, Crail, Crossgates, East... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on DECEMBER 31ST, 2016 AFTER 2016, who’d be a soothsayer for 2017? Today I’m going to take refuge in events coming next year that are cast-iron and certain – that is, significant anniversaries. They’re standard furniture for the media, but I like them more and more as I get older. They jolt you back into a past that must, by definition, still have its grip on you – whether 20, 100 or 500 years ago. In a time when malevolent powers are out to scramble your sense of recent events, the anniversary makes a historical... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JANUARY 7TH, 2017 WHETHER we are a significant minority or a bare majority, many of us seem to have a problem with aliens at the moment. Pressing at our borders, threatening our jobs and identities: a surface target that takes the blame for much deeper structural problems. Yet that’s only human aliens. Non-human ones? Going by our most popular entertainments, we are all at least ambivalent about them – certainly fascinated, but not always phobic, and often clearly progressive. Rogue One, the Star Wars prequel released last month, has its usual diversity of encrusted... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JANUARY 14TH, 2017 "A LITTLE girl of seventeen in a mental hospital told me she was terrified because the Atom Bomb was inside her. That is a delusion. The statesmen of the world who boast and threaten that they have Doomsday weapons are far more dangerous, and far more estranged from 'reality' than many of the people on whom the label 'psychotic' is affixed." As The Donald inches closer to the nuclear launch codes, this quote from the late Scottish anti-psychiatrist and 1960s guru RD Laing has been rattling around my head. Mad To... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JANUARY 21ST, 2017 IT’S the stat that drew a collective intake of breath at the Build Indy conference last week. And throughout Dr Craig Dalzell’s vital paper The Demographics of Independence, it’s the one he’s most anxious about: “The underlying reasons … should be investigated immediately”. Here it is: Support for indy among women over 55 has dropped from 44 per cent in 2014 to 22 per cent in 2016. “The idea of the UK leaving the EU appears to have affected this group profoundly, as their leaving the Yes group has not resulted... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on JANUARY 28TH, 2017 AS the stakes get higher and the high-ups get crazier, there’s always respite in tales of friends and family. Yet even stories of beloved four year-olds and their happy playtime experiments aren’t free from the ominous low-notes of the times. So this wee yin I know has been living with a device in her home called an Amazon EchoDot – the size of a hockey puck – inside of which lives an artificial intelligence called Alexa. You say her name clearly, and Alexa wakes up, her device’s circumference glowing blue. “Alexa,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on FEBRUARY 4TH, 2017 SO if you’re going to prank Donald Trump by chucking swastika-covered golfballs at him, as he opens one of his tremendous courses, you should do it at Trump Turnberry. According to the comedian Simon Brodkin, whose stage name is Lee Nelson and who perpetrated said stunt last June, he was slumped in custody when a Scottish sergeant noted: “You’re that guy”. “In that moment I realised I had an ally,” recalled Brodkin this week. “They loosened the cuffs so the blood went back to my fingers and asked if I wanted... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on FEBRUARY 11TH, 2017 FOR as long as I’ve been a Glaswegian – which is since student days – I have simply taken the M8 at Charing Cross for granted. But pinch yourself for a moment, and you realise what a monstrous chasm it is. A road bridge allows you to trudge from the train station to the Mitchell Library. Stop halfway, press your chest to the rail, and all the vehicles in the world thunder madly and relentlessly below you. God knows what damage is done every time you inhale. Turn around, and it’s... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on FEBRUARY 18TH, 2017 SO the bookies say Tilda Swinton, our resident White Witch of Nairn, leads the betting on who will become the new Doctor Who. For this viewer – best described as a brooding former fan – the prospects of this are instantly pleasing. First, there’s the scene where the reincarnated Doctor starts to gingerly lay hands on his (now, hopefully, her) new form. For connoisseurs of those moments when TV captures a moment of social change, there are great possibilities here. Swinton is already the very definition of androgyny. I imagine the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on FEBRUARY 25TH, 2017 ‘ALL things are possible. But happen less and less”. It’s always been a sore line from Deacon Blue’s Fergus Sings The Blues – a shot straight to the heart of our national miserabilism. But the new BBC Scotland channel is something of a triumph for those who steadily believe things can happen more and more in Scotland, even short of our necessary statehood. Not forgetting, of course, that it’s the threat of statehood that has doubtless sharpened the focus of the BBC’s London mandarins. Poorly-reported referenda, protesting crowds on the Pacific... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on MARCH 4TH, 2017 IT’S not often you get the chance to be involved in the launch of a new political force. But I took it this week, as one of the co-initiators of The Alternative UK (www.thealternative.org.uk), inspired by and connected to Denmark’s Alternativet party, which describes itself as being for “sustainability and entrepreneurship”. Our soft launch in London was full of the diversity, energy and global embrace which that world city can provide, and which always makes this Scot welcome. (It also shows what a bum steer Mayor Khan was given by his... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on MARCH 11TH, 2017 IT’S like a reject script fished from the bins of the Sherlock writing room. Inside an elegant building in Knightsbridge, London, under the protection of a Latin American embassy, lurks one of the most destabilising men in the world. His hair and beard are white; his pallor keeps pace. His revelations topple governments and explode conspiracies. And as he opens his boxes of digital secrets, he is visited in his diplomatic lair by an entirely random set of A to C-list celebs. Vivienne Westwood, Eric Cantona, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on MARCH 18TH, 2017 AND yet we realised: Hatred, even of meanness Contorts the features. Anger, even against injustice Makes the voice hoarse. O, We who wanted to prepare The ground for friendship Could not ourselves be friendly. – Bertolt Brecht, To Those Born Later” THESE lines have been running through my head, since the First Minister gravely announced her timetable for a second independence referendum. How can this binary, fundamental, what-kind-of-society-are-we choice become a “friendly” process, this time round? “What, even friendlier than the last time?” is a response I’d expect to hear from... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on MARCH 25TH, 2017 HYENAS currently prowl the TV studios, yelping and snarling about the clash of civilisations. So let me tell you a story I heard this week, about a real and historical utopia. It covered 800,000 square kilometres of the landmass we now call Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, and existed between 2600 to 1900 BC. The Indus civilisation, in the words of New Scientist, “seems to have flourished for seven centuries without armour, weapons, inequality or royalty”. Its largest cities prosperously traded across the Arabian seas and many territories (indeed, Indus units of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on APRIL 1ST, 2017 SO, signed letters are arriving at the desks of political leaders, borne in briefcases gripped by sombre officials. It’s as if email was too trivial a medium for the dissolution (or assertion) of state relations. This is, of course, a bit hilarious. It’s the flows of digital information, and all the economic and institutional applecarts they’ve turned over, that are partly the root cause of this momentous exchange of vellum. But it’s also a reminder. The merest duties expected of us as citizens – that we tick the electoral boxes by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on APRIL 8TH, 2017 IT’S a slippery word, identity. We’re exploring it tonight in a talk at the Lyceum Theatre, as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Our immediate topics are online identity, and your biological identity (Caryl Churchill’s stark play about cloning, A Number, is on after our discussion). But my prep has just sent the hornets whirling around my head. When did this essentially philosophical term become part of our daily chatter? Google’s Ngram Viewer can chart the historical popularity of single words, using their massive corpus of scanned online books. It... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on APRIL 15th, 2017 ‘THEY are a plaything – like a yacht or a Riviera villa”. Thus speaks a London lobbyist when asked about the status of Highland properties for his clients, while staying at Blair Atholl for hunting and shooting. The quote comes from a brilliant set of articles by Cathy Newman in the new National Geographic magazine. The pieces make a very well-informed tour d’horizon of land politics and ownership in modern Scotland. Do they also make your blood boil? Do they make you want to flatten the accelerator of land reform legislation... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on APRIL 22ND, 2017 ‘STRONG and stable leadership... strong and stable leadership...” Theresa May used the term 14 times during her first General Election stump speech, and incessantly throughout the day. We’ve received the message, Prime Minister. Or, more exactly, we’ve received the message of her master strategist Lynton Crosby, and he didn’t get to where he is today by underestimating the need to drive a campaign line home, like a nail through the head of the distracted citizenry. It wasn’t difficult to find on social media the obvious retort to all this. A leader... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on APRIL 29TH, 2017 GLASGOW belongs to who? Well, let’s see. Opinion polls for the June Westminster General Election show the SNP taking something of a hit across Scotland. But the rumour mill on May’s local council elections says that it’s going to be a landslide in Glasgow for the Nationalists, tipping 50 per cent of the overall vote. The Yes City looks like it’s finally about to have its Yes “City Government”, as the party’s shadow council leader Susan Aitken likes to phrase it. She continues, “I will make Glasgow a rival to Barcelona,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2019 at Thoughtland
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By Pat Kane. First published on MAY 6TH, 2017 ‘I BELIEVE we can build a more secure and united nation by taking action against the extremists who seek to divide us, and standing up to the separatists who wish to tear our country apart.” I guess the first are Corbyn and his lefties. But is the second me? Or you? Or are we both of these terms? And what will “taking action against” or “standing up to” involve, precisely? Strange, fevered days. May’s speech in front of Downing Street the other day had one other target, of course – the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2019 at Thoughtland