View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 18 December 2015

Shell Gallery

Until January 13th, postings will be made on The Shell Gallery blog.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Wednesday 16 December

Probably the last post on this blog this year. On Thursday, 17th, I am travelling to Holland, to return to Stornoway in the New Year.

I am considering to merge Atlantic Lines and the Shell Gallery into a new blog during January, but will confirm that in a following post, nearer the time.

Wishing you Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Islam vs Christianity

A lot is being said about Muslims and the Islamic faith, particularly where Islam has been abused as a pretext for committing atrocities. I have read the Qu'ran, the Muslim's holy script, and although it was only a cursory glance (which took me a year), I will just tell you what I took out of that reading.

Islam is the younger brother of Christianity, as much as Christianity is the younger brother of Judaism. They share common forefathers, such as Abraham. Quite specifically, the rulings of Islam are quoted as being excluding those of other faiths, such as Christians and Jews. In other words, Muslims respect those faiths.

In the Qu'ran, God expresses exasperation over the hard-headedness of mankind, saying that He gave Man the Torah, but Man ignored that. God then gave Man the Gospel, but Man ignored it. So then, God gave Man the Qu'ran - and Man IGNORED THAT AS WELL!

In both faiths, there are factions, who are battling each other over interpretation of the scripts. However, in Islam, the Prophet has been given the one and only interpretation by God. In Christianity, there is room for interpretation. And don't we know it.

In other words, I don't know why on earth Muslims and Christians are fighting each other.

Aren't we all brothers? 

I actually do know why people fight. It's over power.
It's shameful that religion is being dragged in as justification for the most heinous of crimes.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Wednesday 9 December - Donald Trump

Donald Trump hopes to be nominated candidate for the Republican Party in the US presidential elections in November 2016. He has opened his mouth very wide, stating that all Muslims should be banned from entering the USA until the politicians have worked out what the hell is going on.

I have no time for sweeping statements like that, and on face value it is objectionable, coarse, undiplomatic and unbecoming of any statesman. However, let's cut away the fluff, smoke and fireworks and see what has prompted Trump to trump so loudly - trump used here as synonym for flatulence, by the way.

Several terrorist attacks have been carried out, with justification to the Islamic faith. I name but a few: the attacks on the New York World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001 (to name the worst), the mass shooting in San Bernardino last week and the attacks in Paris in January and November this year - and so many more.

What we should do about Donald Trump's exhortation is take the warning seriously. The warning that the current atrocities being carried out by "Islamic State" should NOT be used against Muslims as a group. That's what IS wants us to do. We, in America, Europe and beyond, should engage with the Muslim community in our midst, to ensure that they are an integral and integrated part of our community, respected and valued. To make sure that those who are disaffected with the society in which they live do NOT fall for the lure of IS, which preaches hatred under the thin disguise of religion. Listen to those who have genuine complaints about the way they get treated, and get them back on board.

What we should NOT do about Donald Trump is to take his exhortations seriously. I don't think it helps the debate to strip him of honorary degrees (like Robert Gordon University has done today), as it just entrenches his views and turns him into a martyr.

People like him are warning signals that there is a problem in society, which is not being addressed. Starve him of the oxygen of support, by addressing the problem, and he will be silenced. Donald Trump has his place in society, making and investing money. He should stay the hell out of politics.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Sunday 6 December

A scattering of terrorist incidents, small in scale but troubling. The one in California, where two lone wolves went on a killing spree, is bewildering. There is some suggestion that they 'self-radicalised', without being connected to a known terrorist group. In history, religion has often been the focal point for radicalisation, and in this day and age it is Islam. It is my opinion that interference by foreign powers in the Middle East has fomented the current state of affairs. The reason for such interference is strategic, going by the name of crude oil. Oil is the lifeblood of a modern economy, and no nation can do without it, or (more to the point) its derived products. What would have happened if the Middle East had been nothing but the sand pit it is on the surface? Well, we shall never know. But I'm afraid when you sow wind, as we Europeans and Americans have done for more than a century, you will one day reap the storm. I am horrified at the current state of affairs. It will only get worse, not better, through a bombing campaign that the United Kingdom joined last week. It appears to have become a rallying point for people with an axe to grind against 'The West', or even their own countries. Should we bomb ISIS? Only if it is backed up with a ground offensive to remove them. Who will do the ground-offensiving? Only local forces. Are there any? Well, the Iraqi army is a paper tiger, and we have decided that we don't like Syria's leader Assad. Of course we don't, he has driven half his population from their homes and a large percentage of them out of his own country. Although I cannot understand the Middle East, I know one thing. You NEVER gain anything there through violence.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Wednesday 2 December

I don't want to write about Syria again, it is filling the news media and social media ad nauseam. Weather? Well, it is quite interesting, fluctuating between mild and chilly and between calm and stormy. It's early December and winter is making its presence felt. The battle with autumn will reach fever pitch on Friday, when severe gales to storm force winds, bringing sustained winds of 45 to 55 mph (70 to 90 km/h) to our islands. Ferries could well be cancelled, electricity supplies interrupted and all the other hazards that a good blow brings. I expect a full supermarket on Friday morning, just before the highest windspeeds occur. It is 7pm as I type this, and darkness has long since fallen. The sunset was colourful, which is always nice and uplifting. But our nights are long and dark, and it won't be daylight until about 8.15 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Tuesday 1 December

Back in 1985, I wrote an essay on AIDS, HIV and the treatments available at the time. It was around that time that the disease Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome had come into prominence, some 25 years after it first emerged in humans in Uganda. Apparently, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (which gives rise to the complex of symptoms that is called AIDS) came from monkeys, and thanks to human interference jumped the species barrier. Another species of animal that gets a comparable disease is cats, where it is called FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus. HIV attacks the immune system, leaving the body open to all sorts of infections. These are not normally a problem in healthy people, but cause serious illness in someone with HIV infection. HIV is transmitted through body fluids. Blood transfusions were initially a source of infection. HIV's main transmission route is sexual intercourse. In the 80s, the disease first manifested itself amongst homosexual men, but very soon found its way into the heterosexual community. After a public awareness campaign, the usage of condoms and the practicing of safe sex increased markedly, but a recent news item warned that AIDS is in the ascendancy again in the young, teenagers and young adults. The safe sex message has not gotten through to them - yet. AIDS is not curable, although drugs have been developed which slow the progression of the disease by slowing the multiplication of HIV. Research into a cure continues, as does research into a possible vaccine.