Until recently, few people took seriously the possibility that Scotland might actually secede from the United Kingdom. However, with a referendum scheduled for September 18, the latest polls show secession in the lead for the first time, and gaining dramatic momentum. The British government is frantically scrambling to offer the Scots a much more autonomous form of federalism, to head off the drive for full independence. Meanwhile, the specter of a diminished Britain has led to speculative attack against the British pound. What's going on here? For one thing, with the European Union allowing membership for lots of micro-states, the idea of splitting up established countries with minority regions becomes economically plausible. An independent Scotland, population 5.3 million, would be a bigger country than nine EU members -- Ireland, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.
A social music company called Smule ran an insightful experiment. They put the 900 million songs in their database through rigorous analysis, correlating the musical tastes of users with "red" and "blue" states. The results were illuminating.