View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wednesday 21 July

Not a very nice day today. Although it is dry, there is this grey cloud cover and strong wind and the mercury at a very mediocre 12C / 54F. It should get better on Thursday and Friday.

Last night at midnight, the analogue signals from the television transmitter at Achmore were switched off permanently. They were replaced by digital signals, which can only be viewed using a Freeview decoder. Modern tv's come with an in-built decoder, older sets need a separate box. At midnight, I switched on an old TV without decoder and watched BBC1, until the signal disappeared a few minutes later. Don't worry, I'm not deprived of TV. Not that I watch it that much; the 550 channels on Sky are mainly full of the brown stuff.

Achmore and the transmitters on the top of Eitsal; 27 May 2005.


There is a lot of discussion going on these days about immigrants, legal or otherwise. I'd like to say a few words about the amount of hot air going up in the States on this subject. From the pages of the blogs I read, I pick up a deal of resentment about Mexicans sneaking across the border illegally, and subsequently given all the perks that many Americans lack: housing, healthcare, social security and so on. Without speaking a word of English.

Call me a bloody-minded European, but I'm allergic to this manner of talk. First of all, virtually nobody in the United States has any right to moan about immigration. Why? Each and everyone of you is descended of immigrant stock. Whether that's going back to the times of Christopher Columbus or to last week, that is the simple truth of the matter.

The only people in the US who have a genuine right to complain about illegal immigration are the native Americans, often referred to by that misnomer "Indians". They reached the American continent 30,000 years ago, across the Bering Sea landbridge, which linked Asia to America. The native Americans lived in their vast continent without hassle until about 1500 AD, when the Spaniards, Portuguese, English, French, Dutch and many others thought they had a god (sic) given right to invade, occupy, murder, slaughter, pillage and rape for all they could.

However, we should not live in the past, and I genuinely do not bear any ill will to the America of 2010. Even as recently as 1995, we could see what happens if you do hark back to events from centuries ago - the Balkan wars of 1991-1995 were justified by referring to a battle in 1389. I would suggest however that the USA should continue to welcome immigrants as it always has. I appreciate that the world continues to change, as it always has, and that there are groups of people about that you can do without.

If there are folk in the States who feel hard done by, because the illegals get things that they themselves are entitled to, but not getting, well - speak to your Congressman.