P&J Column for 15.4.13

Not so much further education as back o’ beyond education at the University of Meikle Wartle.

VIEW FROM THE MIDDEN – Rural affairs with MTV (Meikle Wartle Television) presenter, JOCK ALEXANDER

Weel michty, it’s been an edumacational wik in the village. I wis amazed tae read that Aiberdeen University is noo harder tae get intae than Oxford. Amazed because jist ower the Easter hol’days Feel Moira managed tae brak in and nick a hale load stuff, nae bither at a’! It’ll come in real handy, because tae help oot the peer youngsters fa dinna hae the grades for Aiberdeen or RGU, we hiv established wir ain Varsity, here in the village. At the University of Meikle Wartle, feels, dafties, and gypes will be able to tak up a wide range o’ full and part-time courses in a number of different fields, (fields include Jim Barron’s pasture and Tam Young’s tattie park), and get practical, hands-on experience shovelling sharn fae the hinner end of a Charolais wi’ bloat.

As with ony sic institution, entrance can be tricky, especially in the winter months. But prospective students can be confident they’ll be able to get in thanks to wir unique clearing system – Tam’s Massie Ferguson wi’ the sna plough attachment.

Once admitted, undergraduates will find, here at the University of Meikle Wartle, a’thin that they require for academic life; substandard accommodation, dirt-cheap alcohol, and an average twa days work a wik.  But best of all, they winna hae ony complaints aboot the high prices of public transport here. ‘Cos there’s naen. Cheerio!

Professor HECTOR SCHLENK, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, I’m always being asked questions such as ‘Is light a wave or a particle?’ ‘Can renewable energies supplant fossil fuels?’ and ‘What are you looking at, speccy?’ But recently, people have been asking me about intercontinental ballistics. ‘Well’, I say, ‘while I’m not an expert in that particular field, I understand that it’s a type of dance that originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century and the Bolshoi are still a highly regarded company world-wide.” And then we laugh. Albeit uncomfortably.

Tensions have been mounting in the Korean peninsula and many are concerned by talk of nuclear warheads, missile silos and enriched uranium.  These concerns are understandable, but if we consider the facts we will soon realise that there is nothing to worry about. 

It is true, of course, that North Korea may possess nuclear weapons.  The range of their missiles is limited, however, to 4,000km.  To put that in perspective, think of the Taepdong-1 missile as a dart hurled at an ordinary dartboard with the diameter of the Pacific Rim. It can only affect the area from the bull’s-eye (Pyongyang) out to the treble ring (Japan, central China and the really cold bits of Russia).  Luckily, Western Europe is double top, outwith the initial blast wave radius.  That said, intelligence on Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear arsenal is largely out of date guesswork and he may have much bigger, more technologically advanced tungsten-alloy darts in his top pocket. He might have a surprisingly strong throwing arm, and a level of accuracy one wouldn’t expect given his slightly comical appearance. We can’t exclude the possibility that Kim Jong-Un is Jocky Wilson on a global scale.

So, in the unthinkable event that a fanatical dictator with a family history of paranoid delusions of grandeur decides to deploy a nuclear arsenal we essentially know nothing about, what can we expect? Well, detonation of a device of this kind would result in what is known as ‘Nuclear Winter’; the sun would be blotted out, temperatures would be similar to the Arctic, the very soil would freeze and Spring would never come. For us, then, no discernable effect at all.

DODDIE ESSLEMONT, radical independence campaigner for the People’s Democratic Republic of 39G Seaton Drive

It was with some surprise that I received my letter from NATO stating that I would not, as a matter of automatic right, gain membership to that elite military alliance when finally 39G Seaton Drive throws off the imperialist yoke of oppression and takes its rightful place in the community of nations.  The letter does, however, advise that I will be accepted into the alliance in the event of a legally-recognised ‘yes’ vote (a caker) and upon receiving the unanimous agreement of all Member States.  It also expressed the hope that I will be feeling better soon, which was nice.

Unanimous acceptance of the People’s Democratic Republic of 39G Seaton Drive is a mere formality.  On strategic and military grounds, they cannot do without me.  My cludgie window offers an unrivalled position from which to defend any attack on the 6-hole course at the Beach Links – a prestigious leisure facility which would be high on the hit-list of any self-respecting terrorist.  And let us not forget that once, after drinking two and a half bottles of High Commissioner, I sunk my teeth into the calf of my downstairs neighbour, holding on until tazered by the rozzers. A dedication to the preservation of freedom (in that case, my freedom to play the Alexander Brothers greatest hits at the volume of my choice) that other nation states would struggle to surpass.  I’m looking at you, France.  Don’t you give me a Gallic shrug, unless you want to feel The Teeth of Freedom biting down on something a damned sight more tender than a baguette.