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Everything posted by Malachy

  1. You can use the same email address for Shetland Life and the Shetland Times.
  2. I don't think there's a subscription link at www.shetlandtimes.co.uk but you can certainly arrange it by emailing subs@shetland-times.co.uk Personally, I think a subscription to both The Shetland Times and Shetland Life would be a very sensible idea!
  3. Yes, Thule is a very big subject. In Shetland we tend to know of it through Tacitus because it's fairly clear that Tacitus was referring to Shetland, or one of the Shetland Islands. But it was first mentioned by Pythaes, 300 years BC. And it's pretty difficult to know where he was talking about because his book has been lost, and we only know about it because it's mentioned by later writers. The general consensus (just about) is that Pythaes' Thule was probably Iceland, though whether he actually got there or not is another matter. But other folk reckon Faroe, Northern Norway, even Estonia. So on old maps you see Shetland referred to as Thule on some, but then Iceland as Thule on others. There's an excellent book about Thule called The Ice Museum by Joanna Kavenna, which I think is in the ST shop.
  4. It was about three hours in total, with a 15 minute interval in the middle. Which is pretty amazing for a man of 74! He looked full of energy, (literally) skipping on and off stage. His voice is as good as it's ever been, possibly better - just astonishingly deep and rich. And the band were without doubt the tightest bunch of musicians I've ever seen (musically speaking that is). Basically it was flawless, and extremely beautiful. PS Suddenstop, I think Jeff Buckley was dead before Damien Rice was ever heard of, so I think it must be the other way round.
  5. Yes, his is fine. He does it very like John Cale. That's a great idea for a thread actually - songs they shouldn't be allowed to sing on X Factor. Hallelujah would be top of the list, but it's too late now.
  6. It's amazing the different approaches people take to the song. Some people tend to over-sing it - I think kd Lang does, and this X Factor woman certainly does, and crucifies it in the process. There's no engagement between the singer and the words. John Cale does it really well - singing it pretty straight - and Jeff Buckley's is good, but a bit overwrought. There's even a recording of Dylan singing it live on Youtube, which is pretty good too. I don't see why folk don't approve of the original though - I think it's great. Leonard's the only one who manages to make the humour come out (how could a line like "Really, what's it to ya?" rhymed with "Hallelujah" not be funny?) I was at the concert in Glasgow Fifi. It was amazing, and this song was just fantastic. (I also had a spare ticket, which I couldn't even give away in the end!)
  7. Leonard Cohen's going to do quite well this Christmas too - possibly Christmas number one and two at the same time if Jeff Buckley fans get spending. I wouldn't begrudge him a penny either - he can't be blamed for the quality of the more recent cover.
  8. It seems that eating seals in Shetland was never particularly widespread. Generally, skins and blubber would be taken and the meat thrown away, which seems quite strange considering how little food people had for much of the time. I know that some people ate them, some of the time, but it doesn't seem to have been commonplace (as it is in, say, Greenland). Skin was the important resource. I've never heard a proper explanation for this, though there could be superstitious reasons for not eating seals, relating to selkie stories. I'd be very interested to know. As for this news story, I think seals are plentiful enough that killing one or two if you want to eat them is not a problem, but indiscriminate killing simply because you object to seals is not acceptable. But sadly, Auld Rasmie's attitude is quite common - seals aren't useful to us, therefore we should kill them. If that philosophy was carried out to its logical conclusion we would live in a pretty empty world.
  9. That is a poor and feeble excuse made in order to duck any responsibility. Britain should have the same responsibility to house refugees as anywhere else. Just because we happen to be an island doesn't mean we should only have to take people fleeing Ireland, Norway and France: ie, none. Many people come to Britain because they can speak some English, which is understandable, and perhaps this is one of the prices we have to pay for our efforts to make English a global language. This is just daft. The two are not comparable. Living off benefits is not a comfortable life. Plus, who exactly is it you are referring to? Are you saying that people within Europe - Poles, Lithuanians, blah blah - are coming and living off benefits? That's not my experience. They seem to be working very hard. People from further afield? Well they can only come in with a work visa (ie - they're working), or as successful refugees. And if someone has had a successful asylum claim, having escaped war, violence, whatever, I don't begrudge them a bit of time off. But I suspect most want to just get on with their lives and start working. You're right, there are some British people who live off benefits because they can't be bothered to work. But I wouldn't say that's because benefits are too high. It's a far, far more complicated issue than that. I sound like I'm defending the status quo in every way, which I certainly am not. But I object to complex problems being turned into simplistic, jigoistic excuses for a bit of zenophobic banter.
  10. The fact is that immigrants don't come to Britain to seek benefits, they come to work. People do not risk their lives travelling across the world to sit on their backsides and get a few quid unemployment benefits, they come to earn as much as they can from whatever job they can get. And if they come legally, they pay tax. If they don't then they can't get benefits. But are still, you could argue, helping to drive the economy. And then, the same people who accuse them of not contributing will accuse them of stealing 'our' jobs. On the other hand there are asylum seekers, who are not allowed to work until their applications have been accepted or refused. Britain has a legal right to take asylum seekers, and rightly so. Asylum seekers cost the state money while their applications are considered, but the fact this process is so slow is harldy their own fault. If the system was faster they could get to work quicker. Then they'd pay tax.
  11. So does that mean that children shouldn't be allowed to go to school until they've paid enough tax?
  12. Agree/Disagree? The issue of freedom of speech is never as simple as some people make out - there are many grey areas. For instance, there are not many people who think the BNP should be banned, or that racist speech should be punishable by prison (the incitement to racial violence is obviously another grey area, but bear with me...). I certainly don't think they should be banned, or that racist speech could be outlawed in any way. But, on the other hand, do I think that racist people should be allowed to say what they want, wherever they want? On Blue Peter, for instance? Or in a classroom? Er, no. Is that restricting their freedom of speech? Probably it is. But that's because there is a difference between freedom of private speech and freedom of public speech. We all have the right to deliberately offend each other in private, but that right should not necessarily be extended to every part of the public arena. So, a bit of a complicated answer there. Sorry.
  13. Ah but the difference is that bigoted views are essentially prejudice - they suggest an opinion formed without a knowledge or understanding of the facts (or an unwillingness to understand the facts). My opinion of MaxFusion's post was formed after reading it. Before I read it I had no opinion either on MF or the post. So my post was not bigoted, as it was a direct response to what was, essentially, nonsense. It was also menat to come across as vaguely humourous in a scathing way, rather than vitriolic. Also, I will certainly admit to being intolerant of racist views, because they're stupid. If that makes me a bigot then that's quite confusing, but okay I'm prepared to admit it: I don't like racists or their views.
  14. Well done MaxFusion - that's the best piece of unintentional comedy I've read all day. It just goes to show that if someone's prejudices are held strongly enough, then anything, no matter how flimsy and nonsensical it is, can be held up in support of an argument. Your list of points was so poor, so empty of thought, so obviously ridiculous, so completely and utterly poisoned by bigotry and ignorance, that it isn't even worth the effort to argue against them. A couple of minutes researching the facts - even a couple of seconds thinking about the logic - would cause all of what you said to collapse into a heap of quivering, stinking crap. Because that's what it is. Crap. Disguised as words. Poorly. In fact, so poor was the disguise that if you had just drawn a picture of some crap and posted it, that would have been as strong an argument as the one you put forward. Possibly stronger, as it would be more graphic. So well done, sir. Very impressive!
  15. If you completed your question like this... ...then I'd consider voting yes. Otherwise, don't be so ridiculous!
  16. Well I suppose it depends what you interpet the word "outed" as meaning. I wasn't suggesting that The Shetland Times was questioning your sexuality. In this instance it was your identity that was being questioned. There was a little bit of commentary in Off the Spike, and a suggestion as to who you might be. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling I'm not supposed to repeat such speculation within the forum.
  17. Only just saw this morning that The Shetland Times have "outed" WiiMan in Off the Spike!
  18. The letter Z was widely used by early printers to denote the sound 'ya' or 'ye' as well as 'z'. It's there in names like Menzies (which has changed pronunciation over the years too). I'm not sure why it occurs in Fetlar, but the other very obvious example is Zetland, which was the printers' version of Hjaltland. It's not meant to be a Z at all. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm sure I've read it somewhere).
  19. Crofter, just to clarify - what I meant was that our consumption of unneccesary, cheap goods relies on those goods being made by people willing to work for very little money. If the goods were made, say, by our next-door-neighbour, they would be expensive (think of Shetland knitwear compared to Primark jumpers). In order to feed our endless consumption, we rely on there being poor people willing to cheaply make the stuff we're buying. So for those poor people to be able to live our lifestyle, there would have to be enough even poorer people who could make things cheaply enough that they could afford to buy them. That's what I meant.
  20. I make no apology for the fact that I believe the problem is not nearly so simple as you suggest. I would tend to consider a wide variety of environmental issues as being connected here, and that tackling climate change is only one part of the very difficult challenges that we are faced with. Which is why, unlike AT, I don't support the Viking Energy plans for a windfarm (nor am I a supporter of Tesco, Auld Rasmie, though I'm not quite sure how you see that as being connected). Converting to nuclear, renewables and hydrogen would obviously massively reduce our output of greenhouse gases, and that is a very valid goal, but that does not mean that continued destruction of our natural environment will no longer have a negative impact. It doesn't matter how little CO2 we are producing if we have no rainforests or peatbogs left. We cannot control our climatic system single-handed. And if plants and animals continue to become extinct at present levels, then what exactly are we trying to preserve and protect? Is our way of life really the only important thing here? Is that the only reason people want to stop global warming? Surely the impact on other forms of life is important too. And surely, then, we must consider the other, more direct, ways that human beings are affecting life on earth. We can't just switch to nuclear and say 'right, job done'. I think I am a fairly reasoned and rational person, and this is a subject that I have thought a lot about. It is an unfashionable and unpopular conclusion that I've come to - perhaps even an 'extremist' perspective - but I'm not going to change it just because of that. I do believe that, unless there are fundamental changes to our way of life, not just material changes but psychological changes too, particularly in terms of the core values of our culture, then we are in a pretty bad situation. Terminal, in fact. Ours is a culture and a society that is driven by greed. That is how capitalism works. When things get shaky, as they are at the moment, we are encouraged to go out and buy more things we don't really need, just to make sure the economy keeps ticking over. To me that suggests that something is fundamentally wrong with the way we are living. There are 6 billion people in the world, and there is simply not enough space, not enough soil, fresh water, oil, fish, paper or anything for all of them to live like we do. It is highly hypocritical and intellectually bankrupt for anyone to turn round and accuse people like me of denying folk in the third world the right to live like we do. They can't live like we do because there simply isn't enough stuff in the world for them to do so; even without the fact that capitalism wouldn't function properly if they did. We need poor people, otherwise we couldn't be so rich. That's the way it functions. The system is fueled by inequality. So the whole basis of the question is flawed. The vast majority of people are denied our way of life by reality - by the size and nature of our planet - not by nasty environmentalists. So yes, I am saying that not everyone can live our kind of lifestyle - it's blatantly obvious that they can't, for a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with their output of CO2. (I realise I have moved away from the topic of global warming, but the question was posed, albeit indirectly, so I am answering it.) As it happens I do not really have much hope for the future. With the current (fast increasing) world population, I do not believe there is any way for us to live sustainably. I don't think there is going to be a sudden sea change in the way Westerners think. We will continue to be greedy and want more than we need. And most folk who are not so lucky as us will continue to want what we have. That won't change. The inevitable question then is 'why bother to do anything?' Why do I choose to write about these issues? Why do I maintain the slight hope that somebody might occasionally agree with me, or even be in some small way influenced to change the way they live. Well, I suppose I wouldn't really be human if I didn't. I'm not holding myself up as some model of sustainable living. Probably many folk would consider my life to be a bit austere - I don't buy lots of 'stuff', I don't have a TV, etc etc. And my carbon footprint is probably not too bad either - living in Fair Isle most of my electricity and heating comes from a windmill, I eat my lamb, reared here, vegetables grown here, blah blah. But I do still live within, and take part in a society that is fundamentally corrupt - cancerous even. If I could change it I would, but I can't. Long answer, sorry. And as for the nuclear question, I am undecided I am afraid. Clearly I don't think it's a solve-all otherwise I certainly would support it. I haven't made up my mind.
  21. Sorry to have to come back again, but this point seems to be absolutely crucial to this whole discussion. It is possibly the main difference between the two sides of the debate- those who believe humans make a big impact on their environment and those who don't. Without meaning to be offensive, I think what you've said there is at best naive, and at worst dangerously ignorant. The fact is that the climate and the environment more widely are part of self-regulating systems that just happen to currently be favourable to supporting life on the planet. But that system (those systems) are fragile and vulnerable. They rely on certain factors remaining consistent. Until 10,000 years ago, most environmental changes were very slow. With the exception of the occasional massive volcanic eruption, the makeup of the atmosphere only altered gradually, and within a reasonably narrow band. The climate has altered too, though the significant changes have taken place slowly (over millenia). In the past 10,000 years, humans have moved from being just another animal to being the dominent creature on earth. Fly over Europe or North America, or Asia, and try to imagine what these places looked like, even 1000 years ago. In that very short (environmentally-speaking) amount of time, people have destroyed most of the forests on the planet, concreted over, ploughed up and completely altered the majority of the land available to them. They have also dramatically changed the level of certain gases within the atmosphere. That is an incredible achievement, and it is very odd to think that such a sudden change will not effect the planet at all. 250 million years ago, dramatic climate change (slower than todays) caused the loss of 70% of land animals and plants and 95% of creatures in the sea. It is called the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event. That is the greatest extinction ever believed to have taken place on the planet, and it took place in less than 100,000 years. If the rate of extinction currently taking place today continues, we are likely to reach the same level of loss in about 200 years. That is largely due to habitat loss, climatic changes and exploitation by people. Two of those factors are certainly caused by humans, and the third is believed by a majority of scientists to be largely human-caused. Nobody is denying that humans are responsible for the massive increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, but some people still deny that such a huge change will have any impact on the climatic system. I simply fail to understand how anyone can say, as you have, that humans 'are not that big a part of the equation'. If you truly believe that, then I think you are looking at the wrong equation. Just as a postscript: Who exactly are the independent climatolagist and who is the 'industry'? In what sense is a climatologist employed by Exxon-Mobil more independent than one employed by a university? I don't think there is a climatology industry, in any cohesive sense of the word. They are employed by a wide variety of people - universities, research institutes, NASA (who you'd think would have a vested interest in denying climate change). Those scientists who do deny it are almost invariably employed by institutes receiving money from the oil industry and right-wing organisations. And if the climatologists who 'believe in' anthropogenic climate change are specifically employed to back up the 'politicians version' of things, why is it that politicians have taken 20 years to accept what the climatologists have been saying? Why did they state the opposite for so long, and only now begin to take notice? Mainstream politicians (particularly in the US, but here too) have been denying global warming for years. It took the weight of the IPPC to finally convince politicians that the weight of evidence was against their version of things. So if it is a great conspiracy, as some suggest, it was an incredibly elaborate and well-thought-out one, which was planned two decades in advance. On the other hand, what you're saying could be wrong.
  22. That's the first time I've been accused of being a mouthpiece for the global elite, Koy. That's hilarious!
  23. Well, I guess it's time once again to add my occasional, weary thoughts to this depressing thread. I try to stop myself reading it most of the time because I am inevitably struck by deep pangs of hopelessness. I try to cheer myself by recalling that an internet forum is hardly representative of the general populus, but it doesn't always work. So, anyway... The questioning of climate science that regularly occurs here is interesting. A fact that is rarely mentioned, but is worth bearing in mind, is that science, for most people, is a question of faith, not of knowledge. Most of us are not trained scientists, and while we may recognise the logic in what we are told, most often we do not fully understand it. We choose to accept the knowledge of those who study the subject. Molecular biology, particle physics, quantum mechanics - we cannot hope to understand these things just by reading a few magazine articles, or even a few books, so we would not think to insult those who study the subjects by informing them that they are wrong, simply because we do not like what they say. And yet, when it comes to climate, everone, it seems, is an expert. Despite the fact that surveys of climate scientists have shown that around 95% believe climate change is partly or largely caused by humans, a huge number of untrained commentators disagree, and they cite the views of the 5% of scientists who oppose the view as proof. Now, each of us is entitled to our own opinion of course, but when I am forming opinions on subjects in which I am not trained, my instinct is to look for the logic and to listen to the experts. In this case, the view of the experts is clear. Just because a tiny minority are given far more than their fair share of media coverage, does not mean that they are correct. Climate scientists are almost united on this issue, and that is good enough for me. And the logic too is clear: it has been understood for a long time how the greenhouse effect works - the gases in the atmosphere regulate the temperature on the surface of the earth, which is why we don't roast in summer or freeze to death in winter. No one, I presume, is questioning that. So why is it so unbelievable that pouring greenhouse gases in immense quantities, over centuries, into the atmosphere, is not going to affect climate? Come on! The reason is obvious. It is human nature. When science tells us what we don't want to know we are naturally inclined not to believe it. The most famous examples of course are Galileo and Charles Darwin. Both made discoveries that flew in the face of 'common sense' and both were hugely criticised for it. The Earth doesn't feel like it's moving, therefore it's not moving, people said. The Bible says the Earth is 6,000 years old, so it can't be 6 billion years old, people said. The Earth doesn't feel any warmer than it used to, so it's not warmer, people say. And if it is, it can't be little old us that's to blame. We're only people! The other reason is that acceptance of what climate scientists are telling us has massive implications for the way we live our lives. If we believe them, and I do, we are faced with a huge personal dilemma - do I continue to live like this, and help to create a planet less diverse, less alive, than the one I inherited? Or do I alter the way I live? And this is not about 'carbon taxes' - that's just a first, tiny step. Making a difference, I think, will involve a complete change in our lifestyle. It may involve sacrificing many of the luxuries that we now consider to be our right. It will be a huge change. And people are not prepared to make that change, so they choose not to believe it is necessary. They tell the climate scientists that they know better than them, and in doing so prove nothing but their own ignorance. This whole debate, for those of us who are not trained in climate science, is a matter of faith. And I am prepared to put my faith in the scientists. Spinner and the rest can carry on believing that it's all a conspiracy of botanists and ornithologists out to get their hard earned money, but, in addition to ignorance, they are demonstrating their greed and selfishness. It's sad, and it makes me depressed. Sorry for the very long post, but it means I don't have to come back again for a long time.
  24. Interesting piece on wikipedia about that video (Grandin, referred to here, is apparently 'the leading American designer of commercial slaughterhouses):
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