Thursday, 31 July 2008
It is suggested that there is sufficient evidence to mount a case for prosecution, except that apparently steps have been taken to ensure that such a prosecution would fail - apparently to preserve reputations. An investigation will be mounted into the separation of powers (legislative, executive and legal) in Jersey, which are allegedly too intimately intertwined. The abuse could easily be proved. More on this here.
It should be borne in mind that Jersey, although part of Great Britain, has a large degree of autonomy from mainland Britain. London takes care of matters like foreign affairs and defense, but Jersey has its own laws.
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
MV Muirneag is on its way home. The ship ran aground on Friday morning, nearly knocking over a jogger who was out for an early-morning run on the shoreline path between Cuddy Point and the Creed. Fancy having to dodge a 5,800 tonne ship coming straight at you!
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Monday, 28 July 2008
Both cruiseliners left at or before lunchtime. I only got very foggy images of both of them, a pity, as I had not previously seen them here in Stornoway before. The fog also put paid to the delivery of newspapers, which failed to appear in the shops today (as far as I know).
Sunday, 27 July 2008
Your result for Which Chess Piece are You Test?...The Rook's Hawk
Congrats! Only 12-16% of the population score this!
The Rook’s Hawk is like a judge. They have a great sense of right and wrong especially in their area of interest or responsibility. They are devoted to duty. They are punctual. People who set their clocks on others are typically measuring their time with the Hawk. It is common to perceive that the Hawk is cold or aloof. They frequently protect their emotions via practicality.
They work systematically to get the job done. When a new procedure is proven, they can be depended upon to carry it out. The Rook’s Hawk is deeply frustrated by the inconsistencies of others, especially when it comes to commitments. They will keep their feelings to themselves – but when asked expect truth over tact. They are quite able to make the tough call and carry it out. You will find the Rook’s Hawk at home in government, schools, military or any other organization which maintains strict hierarchy. They are the traditionalist and are perfect for balancing out the idealists of other types.The Rook’s Hawk thrives on organization. They keep their lives and environments well-regulated. They bring painstaking attention to detail in their work and will not rest until satisfied with a job well done. They are obviously hard workers. They will sort through ideas and find the most practical ones, again revealing how common sense prevails in this type. This ‘Pawn’ is the cornerstone of an ethical working society. They are centered on dealing with the present and most practical affair. They observe life and promote consistency in society. They value loyalty and others are best to acquaint themselves with this type if they wish to gain a fruitful insight to what makes the world tick.
Sat outside for a while around the midday mark, but just managed to add more sunburn to what I had already acquired in Holland over the past few months. The sea haar that plagued us through the night and into the early hours of the morning was quickly dispersed by that northeasterly.
The A9 is a 110 mile accident blackspot, notorious for its intermittent single- and dual-carriageway stretches.
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Our freight ferry, MV Muirneag, met with a wee bit of an accident on docking at Stornoway yesterday morning. Muirneag takes cargo vehicles across the Minch in an overnight run between Stornoway and Ullapool. Yesterday, she was preparing to dock along no 1 pier here when an apparent technical fault caused her to run aground at Priest's Island [shown on the left of this picture], off the Castle Grounds. The ship refloated half an hour later on the rising tide and docked successfully shortly afterwards. Conditions were clear with light winds. The cause of the incident is being investigated. Earlier this evening, the ship was seen leaving Stornoway, and the AIS ship monitoring site showed her passing Cape Wrath at 8pm, bound for Aberdeen.
As you know by now, I am Dutch, and was taught 4 languages at school - Dutch, English, German and French. Dutch being a minority language in greater Europe, this makes sense. I think that it is beneficial to anyone to speak more than one language, as it creates greater opportunity in the world at large. Spanish is spoken by many of the residents of the American continent (both South, Central and North), and represents a rich cultural heritage. Who has not heard of Cervantes' Don Quixote, or Picasso's Guernica?
I feel that English speakers should drop that arrogance that you only count if you can speak English, and the rest does not count. Don't forget that there are more Chinese speakers (1,200 million) for a start. If your children can speak Spanish, at least they are able to communicate with more people, who are there in the US whether you like it or not. Here in Europe, we also have problems with illegal immigration, but don't go all xenophobic over it.
Please don't forget that if you ostracise a sizeable section of your community, you start to tally up problems that will come back to haunt you in the future. It happened in Europe in the 1950s and 60s, when "temporary" migrant workers were attracted from the Mediterranean (Morocco and Turkey e.g.), who were not invited to integrate into society. The migrants are still there, 40 to 50 years later, not speaking the local languages, and a fertile breeding ground for religious extremism.
Mr Obama at least had the sense to realise that, and if the Hispanics cannot learn English (because they are ostracised from and by society), well, the English speakers will have to come the other way. As the Muslims say, if Mohammed cannot come to the mountain, the mountain will have to come to Mohammed.
Friday, 25 July 2008
The old cemetery is a wee bit messy, full of stones, flies and dead rabbits. I'm not blaming the bunnies for the flies (they were omnipresent), but it did not help. The gravestones in that churchyard are the hide-outs for snails, measuring almost an inch across. I found 8 gravestones in addition to the ones I had already located in April 2007 related to the Iolaire disaster. A short hike up the hill brought me to the new cemetery, where 8 military graves were found. At one point I feared I was photographing the flies rather than the stones. I beat a quick retreat and went to the beach, which lies half a mile away. Eoropie Beach is famous - see the pictures - and very busy this afternoon. Many young families taking advantage of the nice weather.
Beyond the beach I trudged round the headlands to the Butt of Lewis lighthouse and back to Eoropie village. The bus appeared at 6.20pm to take me back to Stornoway.
Another feature that struck me today was the wealth of wild flowers that turned the area above the shoreline into a sheen of yellow. The machair is a habitat, unique to the islands. It is created when sand is blown onto peat. Peat is acidic and not conducive towards growth of many plants. However, the finely ground shells in the sand neutralise the acidity, leading to a wide variety of multi-coloured flowers.
I have uploaded the pictures, but you'll have to call back for the annotations tomorrow.
Major news in the UK is related to a by-election (interim election) for the UK Parliament in a constituency in Glasgow. The seat was previously held by the Labour party, currently in government, but their 13,000+ majority was overturned by the Scottish National Party. It is the latest in a series of bad election results for Labour, which is currently in government. In Scotland, the SNP has been in office since elections to the devolved Scottish Parliament in May 2007.
A plane, en route from London to Melbourne, was diverted to Manila, Philippines, after an 8 by 10 ft hole appeared in its fuselage below the wing. This was also noticeable to the passengers, because pressure was lost in the passenger cabin, the floor and ceiling collapsed and winds began to blow inside. On landing at Manila, passengers saw the hole for themselves, making some of them physically sick.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Yesterday, the new Tesco supermarket opened up the road. Somerfields closed on May 3rd and it took all this time to revamp the premises ahead of the opening. Yesterday, all islanders crammed through their doors to have a look. When I went shopping, it took me half an hour to get round the store. Mayhem. Today was much better.
Had a brief amble round town just now, and not much has changed.
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Anyone in the path of Dolly - landfall is expected within 24 hours; more details on the location from NHC. Updates from them every 6 hours.
Tropical storm Dolly is in the Gulf of Mexico, some 200 miles southeast of Brownsville, TX. This system is moving slowly northwest and will intensify to a category 2 hurricane, with winds up to 80 knots (90 mph) by landfall. The exact location of landfall, expected sometime tomorrow, is not yet certain, but will be in the area of the US / Mexico border.
I copy the 1500 GMT / 1000 CDT warnings from the National Hurricane Center.
A HURRICANE WARNING is now in effect for the coast of Texas from Brownsville to Corpus Christi, and for the northeastern coast of Mexico from Rio San Fernando north to the border with the USA.
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected in this area within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING is now in effect from north of Corpus Christi to San Luis Pass.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours.
A TROPICAL STORM WARNING and a HURRICANE WATCH is in effect from La Pesca to south of Rio San Fernando.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 36 hours.
Otherwise, I'm keeping a quiet day, as I'm still pretty knackered following my long journey yesterday.
At Gatwick, I had to transfer from the North to the South Terminal by rail shuttle. At the South Terminal, there was some time to spare before the 2.35 flight departed for Inverness. This proved to be a lesson in geography, as the aircraft flew the length of the country, with good views out over the western coastline. The northern coast of Wales was laid out beautifully, with Anglesey, Great Ormes Head and the Wirral. Further north, Blackpool, Lancaster and southern Cumbria moved into view, until high cloud obscured the outlook. On descending over the Highlands, the plane left the clouds over Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie, following the line of the A9 north to Aviemore, thence over Culloden Moor to Nairn and Inverness airport.
It was sunny and mild at Inverness, with a pleasant smell of heather and wild flowers. The staff were most helpful, pleasant and polite, and made sure that my bag had followed me all the way from Amsterdam. The wee plane to Stornoway departed on time at 5.10. The pilot promised us a delight of views, but the only good view was had over the city of Inverness with Loch Ness and the Kessock Bridge. A little further west, we sat in clouds all the way to Stornoway.
It was cold and very windy in Lewis, and I was freezing by the time the wee service bus turned up to return me to Mrs B. in the town.
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Saturday, 19 July 2008
Hurricane local statements are in force in SC, NC and VA, but I must stress that this is NOT a hurricane. The main problem with TD 03 is the amount of rainfall - 2 to 4 inches. Please check the NHC website for 6-hourly updates and further details.
Friday, 18 July 2008
NEVER look DIRECTLY at the sun, with the naked eye, binoculars or darkened glass. Your sight may be irreversibly damaged or lost.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
The Netherlands Antilles are affected by a tropical wave, which will bring heavy showers and strong winds. A tropical wave is a seasonal weather phenomenon in the Atlantic, where bulges of moist air are released from the African continent. These waves tend to be the sparking points for hurricanes to form.
At this point in time, I'm monitoring 4 tropical cyclones around the world, as well as three pieces of weather that could become that. A typhoon has just passed near Taipei, the Taiwanese capital. Two systems in the Eastern Pacific, and tropical storm Bertha, which has been around for more than 2 weeks; NHC are currently on their 59th advisory. It could become one of the longest living storms in the Atlantic.
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Monday, 14 July 2008
The president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal of The Hague, for alleged crimes against his own population in Darfur. However, Sudan does not recognise the jurisdiction of the tribunal, so he won't be seen around The Hague just yet. He should be though, with the way things have gone in Darfur recently.
Sunday, 13 July 2008
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Friday, 11 July 2008
Apparently, a Windows update clashes with ZoneAlarm, causing it to deny all Internet access. Basically, the best thing to do is to un-install the update (through Add Programs on your Control Panel). It does NOT apply to Windows Vista.
Thursday, 10 July 2008
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Google Reader is what is known as a feed-reader. Every time a site (such as a blog) is updated, a signal is released from part of the code that this has happened - a feed. Feed readers can receive this signal and flag up the new entry on a blog on a site like Google Reader. There are plenty of other websites that can do the same.
For Reader to work, you need the URL of a journal. When you view a blog, the address bar should show that (the bit starting with http://journals.aol.com or co.uk). Highlight the URL and copy it (press Ctrl-C), then go to the feed reader and add the URL (by pressing Ctrl-V) in the bit where you can add a subscription.
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Sunday, 6 July 2008
Don't forget I'm currently running the Shell Gallery blog as a personal journal.
A black day in the history of North Sea oil exploration.
167 men die on board the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea after a gaspipe ruptures, causing a huge fire. The horrifying images are etched on the minds of all who work in that industry, as well as of their relatives, friends, neighbours and communities. The BBC has published a good but chilling account on this page. Lessons have been learned, but those that died will not come back. Those with scarring, physical or emotional, will not be much helped by that.
I know one or two people who work in the oil industry, and their tale is one of money before men. On one rig, a man was killed instantly in an accident. His corpse was covered in a tarpaulin and his co-workers ordered to continue operations over the body. The production of oil may not be interrupted without serious cause, as national interests are at stake.
This entry is dedicated to the memory of those who died on Piper Alpha.
This entry is dedicated to those who suffered injury of whichever form there.
Saturday, 5 July 2008
Ingrid Betancourt was seized in 2002 when she was campaigning to become president of Colombia. As such, she tried to engage the FARC movement in an effort at national reconciliation - and FARC seized her, as it has taken hundreds hostage. It was almost to be expected. The Colombian rebels have been severely weakened in recent times, not least because several of their leaders have been killed or died naturally.
I just hope that this spectacular action will be the prelude to the release of all of FARC's hostages, and the dissolution of the rebel movement. Methinks Colombia should be united in its battle against the cocaine barons, not divided.