Recently I’ve gone to some lectures. Two were part of the excellent Edinburgh Lectures series. High quality free public lectures are a sign of a first rate cultural and intellectual environment so I consider it my duty to go to them.

The first was from Kim Winser who runs Pringle the borders knitwear company (Pringle invented and trademarked the term knitware a century ago). She has done a very impressive job of turning Pringle from a tacky golf clothes company into a leading fashion and luxury brand worn by a-class stars and appearing on the cat walk in London and Milan. Its an impressive business feat but I found the industry very sad, their use of stick thin models and the way marketing is so much more important than products is very depressing.

The other Edinburgh Lecture was from Stuart Cosgrove “Head of Nations and Regions, Channel 4” the job that should be called “fulfilling the licence requirement to have 30% of programmes made outside London”, which is a tragicly low number. He argued that Scotland is a vibrant and successful country stuck with a cultural attitude towards poverty and industrialism. Almost any film and TV to have come out of Scotland is based on schemies and criminals. Our media should celebrate the great achievements and history we have not the declined industry of the 20th century. Which is a fair point. Someone called Patricia Ferguson gave the closing thanks, apparently she is minister for culture or something.

The other lecture I went to was a computing science MSc presentation of a paper on hierarchical sorting. Two students presented the paper not very well and summed up saying that it was a useful paper. Except it wasn’t and I said as much, sorting by hierarchies is rarely any use, look at Yahoo or how easy it is to loose files on your hard disk. The course organising lecturer agreed with me. So here were these intelligent post-graduate people who had chosen to do this course persumably because they were so interested in the subject they wanted more of it after their first degree and yet they still can’t think for themselves. You would be better off going to a real conference like FOSDEM this weekend where people care and know about the subject matter than doing a university course. We scarpered quickly at the end before anyone realised we weren’t actually students at all.

In other new my favourite musician Martyn Bannett has died, his music is great.