View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Closing notes

An unusual number of posts on Atlantic Lines today. First of all, many thanks to all who sent me happy birthday wishes through Facebook, Twitter (when it was working), email and on here. I realise I'm duplicating, but better too many than none at all. No, I didn't do anything special: it was a very windy day out here, although quite sunny as well. Did a lot of work on my Roll of Honour site.

Twitter is virtually back to normal, after what appears to have been a bout of cyber warfare between Georgia and Russia, according to some reports. Facebook, Youtube and LiveJournal (a favourite blogging platform in Russia) were also affected. Wish they'd just smash each other's heads in rather than involve everybody else.

64 years ago today

The first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima to force the Japanese Imperial forces to surrender. They did not do so until after a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945. The death toll from both devices, by the end of 1945, stood at 220,000. More people succumbed to the after-effects of the bombs in following years.

Never again. But the same was said at the end of World War I and II.
However, should nuclear war ever occur, it will be the end of all wars.

As there won't be anyone left to go to war for or against.

Twitter down, Facebook not working properly

Twitter has been down for more than an hour now, although Twitter Search shows that it is still possible to tweet using mobile devices. Twitter Status says they don't know what is causing the problem. So, on to Facebook.

But I can't put anything into Facebook either. So, on to Blogger.

Well, that's where the buck stops. I am able to put in an old-fashioned entry and take things on from here. Social networking by Internet? Well, it's up the spout this afternoon :-)

Exodus from the Outer Hebrides to Canada

Lucille H. Campey spoke at Stornoway Town Hall last night on the above subject. She took a novel angle on what is a central theme in the history of the Highlands and Islands, namely with a focus on Canada rather than Scotland. It is not easy to summarise a 60 minute discourse within the confines of a blog, but will go so far as to describe Ms Campey’s stance as controversial.

The exodus to Canada from the Outer Hebrides as well as other parts of Scotland is well documented. Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island in the far east of Canada are littered with pointers to the settlement of people from western Scotland, in placenames, culture and traditions. The mechanism of this migration is the underlying issue, and focuses on the landlords and his tenants.

I’ll focus on the town of Helmsdale in Sutherland to make my point. Two years ago, a statue was erected there to celebrate the achievements of the Highlanders in Canada. I’ll be the last to deny that the Scottish diaspora has achieved great things in their new homelands, whether they be Canada, the USA, Australia or New Zealand - or wherever. Why weren’t the people of the Highlands and Islands not put into a position where great things could be done at home?

Reference was made to the 1886 crofting reforms, prompted by overcrowding and poor soil (according to last night’s speaker). Having read some of Lord Napier’s reports, there was good soil to be had in the Highlands and Islands, access to which was denied to the tenants of the local lairds. Ms Campey denied that coercion played a major part in the drive to emigration, something that I do not believe will go down well with those that are intimately familiar with the history of this region - I do not claim to be. There are some who will say that government, rather than assist in the emigration, should have assisted people to remain. That was not the spirit of the time. If people were unable to afford their rent, set arbitrarily by lairds or his agents, they could be evicted. Conditions at the time, particularly after the potato famine of 1846, were undeniably dire for both tenants and landlords. But a landlord, committed to his tenants, would have worked with them - as was asserted as early as the 1880s, see the Napier report.

The focus in last night’s discourse was on the opportunities afforded in Canada to those who emigrated there. A more egalitarian society, as opposed to the class society to be had in Great Britain. Start a new life in a wilderness, away from materialism and an unjust society. Many people did very well indeed, achieving a wealth that would not have been possible in Scotland. Others did not do very well at all. Some could not afford the crossing, and ended up owing the fare to the ship’s captain. And when he came to claim his debt, the emigrants would once again be left with nothing.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Scots overseas. But I’ll also be the first to assert that a lot of emigration, even bearing in mind society in the 19th century, would not have been necessary.

Hurricane update - 6 August

Nearly two months ago since my last update, although there were a few tropical systems that made landfall since - like two tropical storms affecting Hong Kong.

Typhoon Morakot is currently east of Taiwan, and will hit the island state with winds of a mere 115 mph by 1800 GMT tomorrow, that is 2 am local time. Initially, the storm was forecast to pass north of Taiwan, but since last night, the projected trajectory has been shifted south.

Hurricane Felicia is in the open Pacific, along 131 degrees longitude West, far from any land. The storm carries winds of 140 to 190 mph. The hurricane will gradually lose strength as it moves west, and by the time Hawaii sees it (in 5 days' time), Felicia will be little more than a tropical depression with force 5-7 winds.

For reference, a typhoon is the same phenomenon as a hurricane - just a different name.

Thursday 6 August

Breezy but bright today, with some good sunshine on offer. Temperature at 16C / 60F. Yesterday, the weather took a sharp turn for the worse at 6pm, when a sudden squall passed with heavy rain. It moved away east, and swiped Loch Carron, just north of Kyle of Lochalsh at 7.30. A sailing regatta was underway, but the storm overturned 14 boats, landing 30 people in the water. The accompanying safety boats pulled many competitors out of the water, and the lifeboat and coastguard helicopter assisted in the rescue of the rest. Stornoway Coastguard commented that summer weather is not guaranteed to be benign, and these squalls do pass through. It was a similar, more severe, squall that brought us a tornado 9 days ago.

Many thanks to those who wished me a happy birthday through Facebook and email. Another year's experience of being 21 ;-)