Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Malachy

  1. I don't think I'm entirely immune to that way of thinking at all. But given that my personal history doesn't even make me a Shetlander in some people's eyes, I don't suppose my own sense of identity is a very enlightening addition to the debate. I see myself as a Shetlander, and beyond that I guess I'm technically Scottish, British and European, but I don't have a great deal of interest in those titles as identities per se. Perhaps another way of looking at this is the way that identity is created in opposition to other identities, or as an extension to them. So I think what is being described as the more usual view of older people was that they were Shetlanders as opposed to being Scottish; whereas now I suspect a lot of young people would see themselves as being Shetlanders, then Scottish/British/European/Christian/Scandinavian/whatever. So it's not necessarily that the Shetland part of the identity has changed, merely that is has changed in terms of its relationship to other identities, particularly Scottishness. When I first came to Shetland there was a lot of anti-Englishness in school, which wasn't very helpful for me arriving with an English accent. I suspect that a generation or two earlier anti-Scottishness would have been just as prevalent. So at some point the idea of who is not us had altered. The reasons for that are many, as has been discussed. But I think you'll still find among a large proportion of young people that "Shetlander" would come before "Scottish" in any discussion of identities. It certainly would in my generation, but given that I'm 30 now I suppose I'm no longer in the young category, so perhaps things have changed. I don't know enough 'proper' young people to make a sound judgement on that. It doesn't surprise me either. The reason it's interesting is that it suggests that Shetland does not have, and has never had, a public voice that reflected common perceptions. Well I found it surprising. Kavi Ugl's description sounded unconvincing, unless the athlete was competing as part of a Scottish team (as some Shetland sports folk do), in which case it might be appropriate. However, I don't think it would be usual practice, and in my view it would be mistaken. Kavi's characterisation of Vaila Wishart's opinions is also unconvincing. I'm not going to speak for her obviously, but I don't recall any SL column in which she expressed a view so blunt and simplistic, and I certainly don't ever remember her waffling.
  2. The idea of national identity is very interesting, and really an entirely different subject from the one this thread is supposed to be focusing on. However, I think you're probably right - Shetland was just the last part of Scotland to be absorbed into the national(ist) sense of self. There are surely many causes for the emergence of what we would now call "Scottishness", but I think it's helpful if we don't just take that thing for granted. Scotland is a complex nation that has never been homogenous, and while some of its diversity is being gradually ironed out (partly through popular culture, partly through politics, partly through economy) it isn't helpful (or respectful) to assume that local identities are unimportant elsewhere. Shetland does not have a monopoly on distinctiveness, nor do we benefit from assuming this is so.
  3. The interesting thing about this is that what you are describing is not really a Shetland story at all. Shetland has not just gradually become like "Scotland" or "the UK" or anywhere else. The fact is that a century ago, every place in Britain could point to things that were representative of their own cultural distinctiveness. Two towns in the middle of England could be a few miles apart but have entirely different styles of brickwork, say, or local recipes, dialects, crafts or farming practices. The idea of "us" becoming like "them" is mythical really, since there never was a homogenous "them" to become like until not that long ago. One of the great tragic stories of the 20th century was the gradual loss of local distinctiveness everywhere - Shetland is no different in that, it just perhaps became noticeable here more recently than elsewhere. Some might argue that Shetland was more unique than other places, but in a sense that is a meaningless statement since uniqueness is not a scale, it is an absolute (when I was a reporter at the Shetland Times, the word 'unique' was banned for that reason - it is so often meaningless). This loss of local distinctiveness went hand in hand with the movement of people off the land, which again is not a Shetland story - it happened everywhere. 200 years ago, 50% of British people were involved in agriculture in some way, today it is 2%. That reduction has mostly been post-war and its effect are perhaps even more dramatic elsewhere than they are here, where the figure is still considerably more than 2%. Certain things tend to get blamed for these changes, most notably immigration, whether it's the talk of incomers in Shetland post-oil or "the black man having the whip hand over the white man", or whatever it was Oswald Mosely said. But in fact the main driver is economy. Loss of cultural diversity is partly a side-effect and partly the intended victim of other changes in our economy. A great deal has been lost everywhere, not just here, but that is the price we have paid for prosperity. And I suspect if you asked people whether they would trade it back again, most would say no. On the other hand (or perhaps on another finger of the same hand) if the economy collapses and the whole system falls apart, distinctiveness will reamerge quickly, though it surely won't be the same one that existed before. This is a long post, sorry, but my main point was to try and quash this talk of "Scottification" and so forth. The loss we've suffered has been suffered by every region and every town in the country. We are not unique in our uniqueness.
  4. Jean Urquhart becoming an MSP has nothing to do with the number of votes she (as an individual candidate) received - it relates to the number of votes the SNP received as a party on the second, 'list' vote. Jean was sixth on the SNP list, so presumably never expected to get in at all, but because the SNP received so many votes, and because several of those above her on the list were elected in 'first-past-the-post' constituencies, she did get in. You're right, it's not as simple as plain FPTP, but it's preferable in my view. Shetland has eight MSPs now: one FPTP (Tavish) and seven list/regional/Highlands & Islands candidates, including Jean Urqhuart. The regional candidates have a tendency to ignore Shetland, partly because it's such a safe LibDem seat, and partly because it's far away. But I suspect we'll find that Jean will visit more often than most. Yes, she was parachuted in, but I think her experience here will make here more likely to pay attention to us. So, for that reason if nothing else, I'm quite glad she got a seat.
  5. I had the same issue khitajrah. Try disabling the ad blocker then reloading. That worked for me.
  6. Hmm, sorry to hear that. Let me know if the problem persists. You should be able to post on the forum as a guest, but it's better to register. You could always try registering a different username if all else fails.
  7. This year's trout fishing competition schedule can be read or downloaded from the Shetland Anglers Association website at: http://www.shetlandtrout.co.uk/competitions.html
  8. A new website has been set up for anyone in Shetland interested in growing vegetables, keeping animals, self-sufficiency etc. It's at http://www.growshetland.co.uk. There are forums for landshare, workshare, freecycle and advice, as well as resources for new growers, including a sowing calendar and 'successful seeds' list, plus events and links. You can follow the forums via RSS or Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/GrowShetland) and join the Facebook page too.
  9. Er, I don't really understand exactly he's being criticised for here. Tom's using two different accounts, one for his council work ('SICcomms', I think) and one ('Etterscab') for his personal posts. Are people who work for the council not allowed to post on Shetlink in their own time?
  10. The club is only open Tuesday and Friday evenings from around 8.30pm. You can buy flies from there though. The shop in Harbour Street is now closed, but LHD have tackle I think.
  11. As far as I understand it, crofting tenants have an absolute right to buy the house in which they live, plus the garden. The landlord cannot refuse. They also have the right to buy the croft itself, though this can be contested if it would cause the landlord hardship. The price is usually fixed, as crofter said, at 15 times the annual rent. This has been the case for quite a while as far as I know.
  12. I'm just finishing up a new album, which will be available free from my website here: http://www.malachytallack.com/country-and-northern.html The first four songs are online now, including John's Roller Disco Blues, which was premiered in the Clickimin Centre a few weeks ago. There are 21 songs in total and more will be posted soon, with a full, free download available early next year. Do take a listen.
  13. From much earlier in the thread... It seems that people's complacency about safety in the North Sea may not be entirely justified. This from the Today programme this morning (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/today/tomfeilden/2010/12/a_near_miss_for_the_north_sea.html) shows that there was almost an identical incident to the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the Sedco 711 rig four months earlier. Then, in May of this year: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11801317 The insistence of some here that oil companies can be trusted over safety seems to me a little naive.
  14. Probably best to check facts before making suggestions of impropriety. I'm pretty sure this post was advertised in the Shetland Times a couple of months ago (unlike most council jobs). I certainly saw it at the time. It was also mentioned in at least one news story when the post was created. I can't find the ad online now, but the salary may well have been mentioned in it. They were looking for someone with quite specific skills and knowledge and Tom is one of not very many people locally who would have fitted the bill.
  15. Paul, borrow an energy meter from the amenity trust (it's free). They plug into your meter and allow you to experiment, turning things on and off, so you can figure out what's eating up the power. Sounds like there must be something wrong with a bill like that.
  16. And therein lies the problem. The idea that the environment is there to be 'managed' by man - indeed, that it cannot cope without human management - is so deeply instilled within out society, our culture and in most people's way of thinking, that it seems almost instinctive. You hear it in the biblical notion of man's 'dominion' over the birds and the beasts, and I'm sure it goes back much further, to the early days of agriculture, most likely. Humans make the rules, and nature must bend (or be bent) to fit them. So the thinking goes. Nature is imagined as something helpless. Or at least nature in its preferable state is helpless. In places where we cannot pretend to 'manage' (such as the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, for example) nature becomes threatening to us - a thing to be fearful of - and therefore we have done our best to destroy such places, and to make them manageable. Unfortunately, I don't think the climate can be controlled and managed like a zoo or a safari park. Someday, if we're lucky, there will be a change in the way we imagine the world around us. Other cultures in the world have seen things differently, and some continue to do so. For them, nature is not something to be managed, it is a 'fact', a way of being, of which we are a part and to which we must adhere. This makes me sound like some new age wanna-be Buddhist or something, but it's not like that at all. I believe the countless environmental disasters we see happening around the world - oil spills, toxic sludge in Hungary, mass crop failures, extinctions, habitat loss and climate change - should not be seen as individual events exactly, but as natural, inevitable results of our own attitude: a kind of mass, societal hubris that leads to repeating, accumulating disasters. This doesn't even begin to express my problem with Gibber's statement really, and I don't expect to elicit agreement from you, him or anyone else. It's just an attempt to express the difficulty I have with the way that many issues and arguments are framed within mainstream debate.
  17. There is so much wrong with this particular statement that I don't know where to start. In fact, I won't start. I'll maybe just put my head in my hands instead, and rock backwards and forwards, weeping quietly, muttering about mankind's eternal foolishness and hubris until someone comes to take me away.
  18. Your entire supporting evidence is taken from a Wikipedia page that is criticised at the top for being based almost entirely on a single source, ie a conspiracy website. That's hardly surprising - the links you post generally are paper trails to nowhere - but rereading this section I noticed something amusing: Hmm, this is interesting - so, between 1985 and 1990 the United States and the Soviet Union were moving closer together, which suggests a Communist plot within the US? Does it not actually reflect the changes that were taking place within the USSR at the time, centred around perestroika? These were changes implemented by Gorbachev (who came to power, incidentally, in 1985). By 1990 the USSR was well on the way to not existing. Perhaps the writer of that page is just historically illiterate? The Reece Committee actually produced two reports - a majority and a minority report. The majority report stated: "Some of the larger foundations have directly supported 'subversion' in the true meaning of that term--namely, the process of undermining some of our vitally protective concepts and principles. They have actively supported attacks upon our social and governmental system and financed the promotion of socialism and collectivist ideas." This was the opinion of the McCarthyites on the committee, and their view of the world was pretty common at the time - paranoid about Communism to the point of delusion (see the John Birch Society). The minority report however stated that the whole process had been tainted by this paranoia, that it had been biased in terms of who was allowed to testify, and that it amounted to an attack on independent thought. I repeat my charge - if there was a Communist conspiracy, it failed. The US remained violently anti-Communist for decades, until Communism died. Now you may think it's still secretly controlling the world or something, but if that's true then it's not really Communism is it? We don't have any kind of collectivism; people aren't guaranteed work; I see nothing even remotely like Communism around. What we have is autocratic capitalism, which is exactly what people like McCarthy and Dodd wanted. They won. Great! Woopee! They saved us from socialism. (Edited for a mistake in my quoting - having serious problems getting it to work properly for some reason.)
  19. You absolutely proved my point here: Your quote: The original scientific paper From a scientific perspective, there is a world of difference between Jim Hansen's 'expectation' and your 'guaranteed', and by pretending they mean the same thing you do a disservice to the science. And although we are on the wrong thread for direct discussion of VE, this applies more generally to your approach to renewables, so I think it's valid here: Again, you rather prove my point. What you are keen to save is not the environment, it's human civilisation, i.e. the status quo, i.e. your computer and your TV. This is where we differ. I think the hill itself is worth saving. The fact that you believe a natural landscape can only be judged in terms of a human 'view' is telling, as though subjective beauty were the sum worth of the environment. It is this type of thinking that has caused our problems in the first place, and again you show how similar your perspective is to those of the destructive, old-style capitalist ones that you purport to oppose. Your posts reek of the same old, dualistic idea that's been hanging around going stale for far too long: Nature can only be valued in human terms - as a resource, as food, as a 'view'. What threatens this planet most is that attitude - that everything is expendable so long as it benefits human beings. Some people feel an attachment to the place where they live which cannot be written off as just 'liking the view'. It's not NIMBYism (a stupid word that you are guilty of using) to care about a place or a landscape. The fact that some people still feel that kind of attachment - that they still feel a sense of loss when something unhuman is humanised - is one of the few hopeful signs that I can see at the moment. If enough people felt that way then maybe things really could change. Clearly, you do not.
  20. It's funny how we can look now at Joseph McCarthy, thinking everyone with a beard or a guitar is a dangerous Commie and anti-American, and consider him as a paranoid, nasty buffoon. And yet here's a video of one of McCarthy's followers, and simply because he's less well known his words are being held up as somehow believable. At that time there were an awful lot of people in political circles in the US who believed (or purported to believe) that communism, socialism, internationalism, whatever, were infiltrating America and threatening to destroy the American way of life, or some such thing. But history rather proved them wrong, didn't it? People like him stayed rich, and the poor stayed poor. That's what they wanted, that's what they got. If these foundations were conspiring to lay the foundations of socialism into American life, they must have been rubbish at it.
  21. It's a little patronising to assume that the reason for my disagreement with you is merely my own ignorance. I've read that book and numerous others - I feel I have a pretty decent understanding of the science. I fully understand that the climate is changing, and that humans have had a significant role in the changes now taking place. However, I've never read any scientist make a statement like this: I don't think anything is guaranteed when you're speaking about the future, and science doesn't ever come with that kind of certainty. And I certainly don't believe that covering every hill with wind turbines is guaranteed to help us. The fact is that human beings will use up every scrap of fossil fuels they can get their hands on, whether windfarms are built or not; so all of that Co2 will get into the atmosphere anyway. If you think that's not going to happen, you are very much mistaken. I don't like it, you don't like it, but we don't make the rules. Windfarms won't delay that, and they certainly won't stop it. All they'll do is make some people rich, and destroy even more of the land that we haven't already destroyed. We live on a finite planet, and I see no signs that we are going to hit those limits at anything other than breakneck speed. Windfarms will keep us running for a little longer, but I feel no inclination to assist in that particular race.
  22. However, I think NorthernXposure may find that AT actually holds quite similar views to Mr Landsburg (though he wouldn't admit it, of course). For, while Landsburg measures everything in dollars, and sees no other value in the world, AT sees only Carbon emissions. His countless letters and posts in support of the VE windfarm express a belief that all actions can be measured in Co2 emissions alone. Building on Shetland's hills is fine, he argues, because the amount of carbon (theoretically) saved, will be more than the amount emitted during construction. Simple! Both Landsburg and AT would dismiss the possibility that Shetland hills have an intrinsic value, which can be measured neither in Co2 nor in dollars. I would say both are utterlywrong.
  23. I think it was blindingly obvious that AT was referring to the man who wrote the article rather than to the poster when he mentioned kids. I found it a terrifying rather than an interesting article. What is interesting though is that he writes as if he is some kind of helpless maverick outside the mainstream, whereas in fact his view of economics (actually, he deliberately misuses that word - he actually means capitalism) is the dominant one, the one that dictates our laws and our politics. He is not an outsider, fighting some all-powerful environmentalist conspiracy that is brainwashing the world's children - he's an economics professor and part of the mainstream elite. However, in his obsession with money, and his belief that there is no value in the world, only price, he is clearly leading a hugely impoverished life.
  • Create New...