View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Social networking - one columnist's view

I read the Press and Journal newspaper, the regional paper for the north of Scotland. One of its columnists is UK columnist of the year. Not if her outpouring in today's P&J is anything to go by: prejudiced to a P. Read for yourself -

Hurricane update - 4 November

This afternoon, a tropical depression has formed in the far southwestern Caribbean Sea. It is located about 125 miles east of Nicaragua and is moving northwest. System 11L (Ida) could already be a tropical storm and will certainly be at that intensity at landfall, in the early hours of tomorrow (GMT). The main hazard is rainfall, and Nicaragua and Honduras could see 15 to 20 inches (375 to 500 mm) of rain, with possible maximum amounts of 25 inches (625 mm). Mudslides and flashfloods are a distinct possibility.

The National Hurricane Center carries 3-hourly updates.

Wednesday 4 November

A very nice, sunny day here in the Western Isles and it's been dry all morning. Hardly any cloud in the sky, although there is a breeze going. The starlings, sparrows, finches, greenfinches, doves and other small fry is still having a good old go at the birdfeeders - they don't go far when I go out to rake up the last of the leaves. When a hooded crow came in to have a look, they retreated to a safe distance in the tree, and did not resume eating until after the black and grey crow had flown away.

A baby is in hospital in Edinburgh, suffering from botulism. The 16-week old from Fife was admitted on September 19th, and is in a serious but stable conditions. I am surprised to hear of botulism in November; the disease, caused by a form of Clostridium bacteria, is commonly transmitted in hot weather, when the temperature in ponds etc exceeds 27C / 80F. It is carried by ducks, and that how the bacterium reaches humans. The clostridium bacterium lives in soil, and does not require oxygen for its life cycle. Tetanus is caused by another type of clostridium, and the hospital infection caused by Clostridium difficile takes a hold when someone's immune system is weakened.

The war in Afghanistan continues to claim the lives of servicemen from the States and the UK; five British servicemen were killed by an Afghan policemen who fired on them. NATO forces ousted the Taliban from power in Afghanistan in 2001, following American intervention in the wake of 9/11. The Taliban have resorted to guerilla warfare, using roadside bombs as their most effective means of killing the foreign troops. The situation in the country begins to resemble that of the 1980s, when Soviet troops tried to take control. The purpose of the war is beginning to recede into the background, as not much progress is seen to be made. Elections were held recently which were far from devoid of fraud, and President Karzai, who was reelected by default after a challenger withdrew prior to a rerun of the poll, has pledged to root out corruption.