THE headline on Alison Rowat's column reads “What on earth would we do if all our computers said no?” (The Herald, June 10). I would turn this question on its head and ask: “What on earth would we do if we said no to our computers?”

In General Practice, I was never happier than when the computer crashed – as it frequently did. I would turn the machine off, focus my attention entirely on the patient, and ask: “How can I help you?” These were invariably the best and most productive consultations, uninterrupted by the tiresome pop-up reminders of a system preoccupied with its own agenda.

Information technology has dehumanised every area of life. We may imagine, for example, that internet banking is convenient, but in fact the bank is employing us to be our own bank tellers, and not paying us. If negative interest rates become a reality we may even have to pay the banks for the privilege of working for them. But the banks are not alone. Each IT system that is forcibly conjoined with public services such as health, education, the police, and social care, is a manifestation of empire-building by informatics mandarins who have no interest in, far less commitment to, the agencies they purport to serve. Multinational tech companies exist primarily to make a small number of individuals eye-wateringly wealthy.

Young people love social media. Well, that’s understandable. Most of the content is, after all, puerile, bordering on infantile. The rest of us ought to grow up.

What on earth would we do if we said no to our computers? We would go for a walk in the country with a friend, enjoy the pastoral sights and scents, the birdsong, and we would talk to one another. In short, we would live.

Log off.

Dr Hamish Maclaren, Stirling.


THE Scottish Government is in a no-win situation, as whatever it does on Covid it will be attacked and undermined by political opponents. A classic example of this is over the European football championship arrangements ("Euro 2020 fanzone is a big gamble for First Minister", The Herald, June 10). The fan zone in Glasgow Green is being held in a massive area capable of holding 80,000 people and merely allowing a maximum of 3,000 all-seated, socially-distanced football fans at any one time with only table service allowed. There is a vast difference between this and indoor activities or those held in limited outdoor spaces such as beer gardens, soft play areas or children’s nurseries.

In stark contrast to the febrile debate in Scotland, the much smaller Trafalgar Square fan zone in London is allowing up to 9,500 fans to watch games without any lateral flow testing, but opposition politicians and the BBC are not questioning the plans put in place in London.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.

*ARE parents finally waking up to the SNP’s modus operandi? It is really fine for thousands to meet up to watch a football tournament but heaven forfend you should wish to watch your child in the sack race. You would think that a political party would know better than to put sport before family. People can stay home and watch the football on TV and there will be other competitions but a child taking part in a sports day is a memory that can never be recreated.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.


WHILE Allan McDougall’s grandchildren are cavorting among the idyllic turbine-topped hills (Letters, June 9) they could widen their knowledge of wildlife by retrieving the dead birds and bats killed by the rotating blades that glint so fetchingly in the sunlight.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinross.


I NOTE an interesting article about the boxer Jack Jackson and how he suffered from racism ("Johnson was proud as punch of day in Dundee", Herald Sport, June 10). Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that racism probably saved his life. In his song The Titanic, American folk legend Lead Belly sings: "Jack Johnson went to get on board, the Captain said 'I ain't hauling no coal'." So he missed the boat.

George F Campbell, Glasgow.


THANK you, John Macnab (Letters, June 10). Can I say how delighted I was to find out I'm not alone in being annoyed by the latest production practice at BBC Scotland's news studios which requires Sally Magnusson et al to stand or wander around the studio for the 30 minutes of Reporting Scotland at the behest of some producer who seems to think that we, the viewers, have such minute attention spans that we need to have action as well as words to get the message.

David Adams, Glasgow.

* I CAN’T recall any other channel that has stand-up news presenters. Please, BBC, leave the stand-up to the comedians.

Alastair Sillars, Dumfries.


TO whom it may concern in Westminster, some years ago in Tenerife I witnessed an Irishman take six sausages at breakfast, followed by another six, followed by another six ("UK appeals for ‘common sense’ solution to Brexit sausage war with Brussels", The Herald, June 9).

Clearly “sausages are the boys” across the Irish Sea and Irishmen must not be abandoned in their time of need.

I urge swift and resolute action as the sausage saga sizzles on.

As a footnote, I recall that the defeat of the Euro Sausage by the Great British Sausage in the final episode of the brilliant series Yes Minister in 1984 resulted in the advancement of the aspiring lightweight minister Jim Hacker to First Lord of the Treasury.

Opportunity knocks.

R Russell Smith, Largs.