And the Double Paradox

As you look out on the moon tonight, you will see a blue moon. It is the scheduled blue moon for August 20, 2013 at 9:45 pm Eastern time. Pictured below is what the blue moon of August 31, 2012 looked like.

Blue moon last August

Blue moon last August

The general rule of thumb is that the second full moon in a solar calendar month is every couple of months. However, when we discuss the second full moon in a calendar month, we confuse the issue. An older definition is that a blue moon is the third full moon in a season with four fall moons. Hence, tonight's full moon is what is more correctly called a seasonal blue moon, which happens every several years. The next blue seasonal blue moon will happen "once in a blue moon". The next one will be May 21, 2016.

In addition, you will note that blue rarely looks blue. Blue moons have a painter's palate of potential colors or even names. Here are some colors and/or names: green corn moon, grain moon, Sturgeon moon, lavender and red moon.

However, on those rare moments, only once in a blue moon is the moon blue. Debris that is exploded into the atmosphere due to volcanic eruptions often causes the blue look to the moon. The following examples of blue moons occurring after volcanos at Krakatoa, Mount St. Helens, El Chichón, and Mount Pinatubo erupted causing volcanic ash to get into the atmosphere.

Now that I have fleshed-out the blue moon issue, I want to suggest that for some in Scotland, they will be seeing a blue moon that will look like this for the next year...

A blue moon and Scottish flag mashup

A blue moon overlaid with the Scottish flag


It will be just over a year from now that Scotland will vote on independence from the UK. The last time that Scotland voted for independence was the referendum in 1979...a once in a blue moon ago. The referendum passed with 51.6% of the vote but did not have the required percentage of voters living in Scotland casting votes.

However, as the blue moons return, the Scots will have an opportunity to vote on independence on September 18, 2014 or what is often called by them devolution. The vote is on whether they wish to erase the political relationship with the UK and Westminster.

The devolving of countries from Great Britain started with America in 1776. However, it continued. This is a map of the British Empire in 1921, which contained 1/5 of population and 1/4 of land mass of the world.

The British Empire in 1922

The British Empire in 1922

In less than a century, the British Empire had dwindled down to a precious few places in the world. Gone were the days of a vast global empire where the sun never sets on the British Empire.

What remains of the British Empire

What remains of the British Empire

The British and the Scots are debating the issue of independence. From an outsiders vantage point, they both need to address a double paradox, which is in both paradoxes is wrong:

  1. There is a fear among some Scots about their ability to function as an independent nation.
  2. There is a fear among some English about their ability to function as a nation without Scotland financially and psychologically.

The Scottish Paradox

It is a strange double paradox. Some Scots have the notion that they cannot do it without Westminster's help. Until the past couple of years, Scotland has not had a parliament...not since 1709. London ruled the country. Cities and towns had home rule, but not the country called Scotland. That is similar to having states in America not have their state legislatures in their state capitals. Scotland did not govern Scotland...Westminster did. That is at best presumptuous of London, but more tragically, many Scots bought into the notion that they were not capable of governing themselves.

The Scots have a term for this psychological phenomenon; they call it the Scottish cringe. There are 28-EU members and Scottish population and landmass ranks in the middle of other EU members. The countries smaller in landmass and population are fully functional members of the EU. Nonetheless, many Scots feel that they are not capable of what other smaller nations are doing. This feeling of inadequacy reinforces the cringe factor.

Churchill said of Scotland, "Of all the small nations on earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind." That seems to me high praise coming from an Englishman about Scotland and its people.

I did post graduate studies in Scotland for a year in 1968-69 and have returned for a month this past spring. They are functional people. America owes much to the Scots. Sadly, some Scots feel inadequate to the challenge when Scottish immigrants help make America what it is today.

The English Paradox

The other inadequacy issue is English. Finance and being the king of the hill. Churchill, after leading the UK through the darkest days of WWII, lost to the Labour Party in July 26, 1945 in a landslide. The war in Europe was just over and the one in the Pacific was still on. Churchill's loss was due in part to his dream of returning to the glorious and also ignoble days of the British Empire. However, the British people wanted Attlee to lead them.

We need in America to learn to avoid that haughtiness and hubris...something that we surely inherited from them.

Both Northern Ireland and Wales want devolution also. Wales has voted 64% for devolution and Northern Ireland voted 80% in a recent poll wanting devolution. In both cases, Wales and Northern Ireland do not want independence but devolution and home rule. They recognize the warning signs and are watching Scotland closely.

William Wallace, the Scottish leader 700-years ago said something that I believe in my heart: "Every man dies, but not every man really lives." I want to live, because I know that I will die someday. I want Scotland to live now as a free nation.

A must read follow-up to this article entitled: Scottish Consciousness.


Scottish independence: Yes campaign

Scottish independence flag

Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.