Thursday, August 30, 2007

For 'Pluralist' and 'Secular', read Atheist

I AM thoroughly fed up with the frauds who constantly preach to us about how me must have a ‘secular’ or ‘pluralist’ society.
These people portray themselves as liberals, as great thinkers, as philosophers and saviours of society. The believe in their own little minds, that they have discovered things about the world and about mankind that has, somehow, bypassed the rest of us.
And the first thing they all do, is lie.
They lie by talking about the ‘pluralist’ or the ‘secular’ society.
Because what they want, is an atheist society, a godless society.
It is an extraordinary thing, that these people who pretend to preach tolerance, have no tolerance whatever, of those who believe in God, whatever their creed.
They are atheist preachers. They preach nothingness. They preach that life is pointless.

Some of them, use science to help spread their message.
The likes of Richard Dawkins constantly mocks believers because, he says, there is no proof of God.
He forgets, though, that it was science which, at one time, said the earth was flat. Science which said the sun orbited the earth. Science - and in particular Sir Isaac Newton - believed in alchemy, turning base metals into gold.
They were, of course, wrong. But they thought themselves as right as Dawkins thinks himself.
Some who deny the existence of God point to science for proof. They talk about how it all began with the Big Bang. Though they cannot explain exactly what it was that went bang.
And they cannot tell us what was there before the Big Bang.
And they rail on those they call creationists, those who believe it was actually God who started the whole thing.
Certainly, some of that belief may have their dates wrong. But the fact remains that belief in God makes a whole lot more sense than belief in nothing.
Science cannot prove the existence of God. Nor can it prove that He doesn't exist.
Christianity, has, over the tears, been less than tolerant, indeed, less than Christian.
The proselytising zeal of Christians in the past was excessive and unforgiveable in many ways.
Fundamentalism of all kinds is wrong.
Intolerance is wrong.
Killing in the name of God - whatever you call Him - is wrong.
But none of that in any way, proves there is no God.
Back to Dawkins.
In a television discussion after the Christmas tsunami a few years ago, Dawkins looked Cardinal Murphy O’Connor in the eye and said: Your God must be cruel to allow things like that to happen.
And that is typical of the kind of arguments dunderheads like Dawkins make. When it suits him, when he believes he has an opportunity to insult a Christian leader, he pretends he believes there is a God.
It was a scientist, Einstein who said this: Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
And of course, it was Catholic writer GK Chesterton who said: The man who does not believe in God does not believe in nothing, but believes in anything.
Those who believe that atheism which offers nothing - and don’t worry about it offering nothing in the hereafter, it offers nothing here, no guide for life, no moral code, not reason to discern between right and wrong - is the way forward are, themselves, backward.
God help them.
And He probably will.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Well, Charlotte, it was like this...

Someday, maybe in the not too distant future, my daughter Charlotte may ask me what life was like when I was a child.
At least, I hope she asks me.
Now, I know how boring the past is for some. I have personally witnessed eyes glazing over at the mere mention of the Sixties.
But for little Charlotte (she's not 18 months old and really isn't into my music yet) it will be important to know what life was like for her daddy. If she isn't permanetly on her phone and her computer, that is.
I made a little list for her. Ok. A big list.
Here, I will tell her, is what we DIDN'T have.
1 More than one television channel.
2 Colour television.
3 Live soccer on television.
4 Reality television.
5 Satellite television.

6 Personal computers.
7 Email
8 The Internet.
9 Mobile phones.
10 Playstation or Nintendo.
11 Health food.
12 Late night drinking (legally, at least).
13 Cheap air travel.
14 CDs
15 DVDs
16 Even the now obsolete videos.
17 iPods or any form or MP3 player.
18 Identity theft.
19 Digital cameras.
20 Digital anything.
21 Shredders.
22 ATM machines.
23 Chip and Pin.
24 Motorways.
25 Commuter rail services like LUAS or DART.
26 Greed.
27 Barbecues.
28 Sushi.
29 Chinese/Indian/Thai/Japanese/anything other than Irish or Italian, restaurants.
30 Wine (other than Blue Nun, Black Tower and Green Lable).
31 Chick Lit.
32 Bonsai trees in offices.
33 Sandwich bars on every corner.
34 Kebabs.
35 Karaoke.
36 Hair gel.
37 Botox.
38 B list celebrities, C list celebrities all the way down to Z list celebrities.
39 Multiplex cinemas.
40 Shopping malls or even shopping centres.
41 Enough taxis.
42 The money to get taxis.
43 Gap or transition years.
44 Work experience.
45 Points to get into college.
46 Two, three, four – or even one car per house in many cases.
47 Dishwashers.
48 Detergent tablets.
49 Quite as many corrupt and useless self-serving politicians.
50 Black pepper and sea salt.
51 Speed cameras.
52 Alternative medicine.
53 Dairy spreads.
54 GM foods.
55 Heelys.
56 Replica football shirts.
57 A Rugby World Cup.
58 A card-carrying imbecile in the White House.
59 Widespread availability of drugs. Other than a bit of blow. Maybe a tab of acid here and there. And a little speed.
60 Rap 'music'.
61 Footballers paid, per week, what most people earn per year.
62 WAGS.
63 Any concert venues.
64 Bad manners.
65 Booking fees for tickets.
66 Toll roads.
67 The Green Party.
68 Fridge-freezers.
69 Islands in the kitchen.
70 Stereo.
71 Remote controls for the television.
72 Property speculation.
73 Crap summers.
74 Foreigners and immigration.
75 Christmas ads in September.
76 Pat Kenny
77 Millions of radio stations.
78 People making millions out of Irish dancing.
79 Boy bands.
80 BMX bikes.
81 Latte, cappuccino or  mocha.
82 Croissants, bagles, Danish pastries.
83 Croke Park – as it is.
84 The Spire.
85 Smoke alarms.
86 Iraq and Darfur and tensions with Iran. (But we did  have Vietnam and Biafra and tensions with Cuba)
87 The Brit awards. The Soap awards. The Irma awards. The Meteor Awards. The Mercury Prize. The IFTA Awards. And so on.
88 Alternative comedians.
89 Wheely bins.
90 Wormers.
91 Anybody going to Leinster rugby matches.
92 Disc parking.
93 Smoke-free pubs.
94 Natural gas.
95 Church scandals.
96 Dirty hospitals.
97 Chuggers.
98 Garda helicopters.
99 Political correctness.
100 The cheek to tell our fathers they were boring when they told us about their childhoods.

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Monday, August 27, 2007


The world is full of Paddy Murrays. We are, it seems, as common as muck.
I was in college with one.
I drank with one.
I work with two.
I wondered, then, where the others were. So I conducted a search.
And I found 86.
Here they are.

1. An auctioneer West Cork
2. A Coolderry GAA Club member in Offaly in 1911
3. A player with St Mochtas, Darrarh Cross Co Down GAA club
4. A breadmaker in Bunadoon, Australia
5. Hon Sec of Kilkenny Golf Club
6. A top-class handball player from Dublin
7. The founder and Director of Proassured Ireland Ltd.
8. A republican dissident, Belfast
9. The manager of Ainslie Village, Canberra, Australia
10. A runner from Mayo. Fourth in five mile race in Athenry on my last birthday.

11. A Kildare GAA player
12. A New York policeman in 1917.
13. The Antrim GAA goalkeeper.
14. A priest in Roscommon.
15. A docker in Belfast at turn of 19th century.
16. A 31 year old Bebo pager from Tallaght.
17. MD of Murray Timber Products.
18. A Belfast lawyer.
19. A Cullagh, Ballinasloe GAA player.
20. A survivor of Cleggan Bay disaster of 1927.
21. A player with Drumalee, Co Cavan GAA club in 1934.
22. An expert in labour law, Dublin.
23. The HR director at Fintel Publications Dublin.
24. The founder of Daydream Resort, South Molle Island, Australia.
25. A fisherman, Mullingar.
26. The President of Strokestown Golf Club Co Roscommon.
27. The Dancing Genius on Youtube.
28. The young son of the proprietor of Grove Garden centre, Connecticut.
29. The father of composer and musician Martin Murray.
30. An ancestor of someone called Ginni Swanton, who lived in thr 1880s
31. Soccer player who scored a goal for Hibs against Hearts on New Years day 1895. Hearts won 6-1.
32. Man who ran a band called The Marines Showband in the 1960s.
33. The head lad in Arkle’s stable from Moate Co Westmeatn
34. A bodyguard for gangster Hymie Weiss, both gunned down and killed by Al Capone’s hitmen in broad daylight in Chicago in 1926.
35. An annual trophy in Clonmel Golf Club.
36. An Australian counsellor who specialises in male intimacy.
37. The Vice Chairman of the St Patrick’s Day Parade Run in St Louis.
38. An Irish horse breeder.
39. A juvenile Committee member, St Gall’s Gaa Club Belfast
40. A member of Ballinacourty Fife and Drum band in the 1950s.
41. The master Painter for making of movie Excalibur.
42. A committee member, Loughinisland GAA Club
43. A trainee Finance Officer in Disability Action, Northern Ireland.
44. Half of DJ team Divine Intervention from Clonmellon Co Meath
45. The Chairman, Rathcoole Community Centre Dublin
46. The person in charge of stand-by props for the movie The Nephew
47. A member of Veterans, Peacekeepers and Families in Australia
48. A half caste male aged 15 yrs at Mount Wells, house boy in Northern Territories, Australia in 1926.
49. A character in Australian medical drama, MDA
50. A guitarist in bands Rosita and These Animal Men
51. A Mini Cooper racing car driving, Kent.
52. A potato and Coal market owner, Cork.
53. An artist, New South Wales.
54. A gilley in Kildare.
55. A rugby, cricket and Liverpool FC fan, aged 24, living in Linvingston, Scotland.
56. Someone who is something in IBEC
57. An English stonemason.
58. The former caretaker at the church of St Peter in Chains in Ardrossan, Scotland.
59. An Athlone historian
60. A plumber in Wexford.
61. A Senator in Virginia, USA
62. An architect in Zambia
63. My late uncle, Parish priest in Newtownpark Avenue.
84. A colleague 1 in Independent Newspapers
65. A colleague 2 in Independent Newspapers.
66. A fellow student in Commerce faculty in UCD in 1972.
67. A therapist in Bunadoon Australia
68. A 23 year old bloke in Niles, Michigan.
69. A commerce teacher, Tubbercurry, 1945/
70. A priest from Co Kildare who was chaplainto the London Irish Heritage Centre in 1965.
71. A doctor in England
72. A GAA player from Raheny
73. A chap in Kilcolgan, Co Galway
74. A rugby player for Skipton, RFC
75. A Bohs fan.
76. A WWII pilot in a group known as the Odd Bods
77. A student in Killure National School, 1924
78. A boxing fan in Newcastle England.
79. A member of Dublin branch of Man City Suppporters’ Club
80. A Coupe car fan from Scotstown, Ireland.
81. The co-author of a book called Word Procesisng on Disc.
82. A former national school teacher from Coolgreaney Co Wexford.
83. A22-year old chap from Linwood, Scotland.
84. The chairman of Waterford Branch of Paychiatric Nurses’ Aaaociation
85. A member of the Rice Cup winning Hurling team in Templemore in 2005

Any more?

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Rugby World Cup: Excitement and Fear

❍Max Brito: I wonder how he is doing

I AM seriously looking forward to the Rugby World Cup.
I look forward with, not a little, hope.
Ireland, for its size and population, manages to produce outstanding performances in many sports. Golf, for example. Or soccer where we managed to rise to eighth in the world in 1990. We’re pretty good at athetics. We have a good history in cycling. We almost rule the world of horse racing. We’re not bad at hockey. We’re top ten in cricket. We, er, box above our weight in boxing.
And, of course, there is rugby.
We’re goling into this world cup with a good chance. If we perform at our best, we can do very, very well. If we perform at our best and other teams, such as New Zealand and France, don’t perform at their best, we could actually win it.
But while I’m looking forward to the competition with a huge sense of expectation I also look forward with trepidation.

Because, like previous world cups, the 2007 tournament has thrown up some blindingly obvious and potentially dangerous mismatches.
Twelve years ago, Scotland beat the Ivory Coast 89-0. New Zealand beat Japan 145-17.
In 1999, New Zealand beat Italy 101-3
England beat Tonga 101-10.
In the last tournament, four years ago, Australia beat Namibia 142-0.
Apart altogether from the fact that routs such as these do nothing to encourage rugby in what are laughinly called ‘emerging nations,’ these are mismatches on the scale of putting a ballet dancer in the ring with a heavyweight boxer.
Rugby has, if anything, become more physical in the professional era.
In 1995, Ivory Coast winger Max Brito, was left tetraplegic as the result of a tackle. It seemed innocuous at the time. And there was certainly no intent.
But Max was playing for a country that rarely plays internationals and qualifies for world cups - not this one - not because they’re good, but because other teams are worse.
Maz received £1560,000 from the International Rugby Board’s insurance scheme at the time.
But soon, the memory of his injuries seemed to fade. A couple of years later, he was in deep depression, living with his parents and still, incredibly, watching rugby.
Max is the father of two children.
So far has his plight faded from the memory, that web searches turn up little about him now.
Wikipedia offers only a stub.
One Portuguese blog contains a short and innacurate piece about him.
ASouth African blog refers to the tragic game in which Max was crippled and then adds this: “The rest of the match was a non-event in the bigger scheme of things. Ivory Coast battled bravely while Tonga smashed and bashed their way to a 29-11 victory.”
Sad, that the result of the game is considered by someone to be “the bigger scheme of things.”
This world cup is throwing up more mismatches.
There is New Zealand and Portugal, France and Namibia, Ireland and Georgia, South Africa and Tonga, Australia and Japan.
The minnows will, likely as not, be eaten up. Morale will be, perhaps fatally, wounded, Young kids in those countries will turn their backs on rugby.
Hopefully, there will not be another Max Brito.
Hopefully, Max is alive and coping. I don’t know.
I wonder if the rugby authorities do.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A little bit of China over here

❍Tara: Buried by the ignorant and the stupid

Welcome to a little bit of China.
It’s right here on the west coast of Europe.
It is run by a man who has expressed his undying admiration for the Chinese way of doing things.
And like the modern day China, nothing, not a single thing is to be put in the way of business doing business.
Not once has the government of this place stepped in on the side of the little man. It’s always to on the side of business.
Whatever the rights and wrongs, from a business point of view, of the Aer Lingus decision to abandon it’s Shannon to Heathrow service - in the name of profit - it demonstrated, yet again, the government’s disdain for ordinary people.

The leader of this country has said how much he would love to be able to undertake the development of infrastructure the Chinese way. “Up and over,” were the words he used.
No attempt to take on board the worries, concerns or fears of the people. Development by decree.
Of course, every arm of the state apparatus has been put in place by the government. And so, regardless of what appears on paper to be a just and fair system, every appeal, every concern, every fear of the people, is dismissed out of hand.
Roads are built by a state agency, working hand in hand with, you’ve guessed it, business.
The local authorities back business against people.
The courts rule in favour of business.
The planning appeals board does the same.
Because in this Chinese outpost, the people don’t matter. Only business does.
Those who get in the way of business, are summarily dismissed. They are described as 'anti-progress' and worse.
They are portrayed as enemies.
You will have gathered by now, that this place is - at least currently - called Ireland.
It is a place where once it was debated whether it should be closed to Berlin or Boston. Well, Beijing has been the choice.
Our leader can barely contain his admiration for the country which massacred students at Tiananmen Square, a country which pollutes the atmosphere without a care for the consequences. Ireland is following suit on the latter, but not yet the former.
Of course, it is not just the Chinese who are admired by our leader.
He likes the warmonger George Bush too, regardless of what he does or where.
He’s good for business.
Some politician not too long ago, had the gall to suggest twinning Dublin with Beijing.
What not Auschwitz?
Back here, in this little bit of China, they’re still destroying Tara in the name of business.
No railway, because you don’t build retail parks, hotels and big DIY stores along railway lines.
And no honesty to admit that the road got priority over the railway because it will open up land, sacred land, for development.
With an utterly inept Heritage Minister in charge, it is likely they will continue apace to bury forever, 5,000 years of history so someone somewhere can make money..
What kind of people are there in government, local authorities, planning boards, legal profession and business, that would boast - as they do - of doing such a thing?
Certainly, it is not a surprise that a prime minister who takes large sums of cash off people he hardly knows, would do so.
But to ignore the appeals of people from all over the world? To spit on the views of the majority of people in Ireland? To snub international archaeologists? To offer two fingers to the Europe that actually built Ireland?
You would have to be an ignoramus. You would have to be a boor. You would have to be a Philistine and an fool.
Sadly, that’s what we have in charge.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

To Move Or Not To Move

❍Charlotte and the dog, Eric. Would they prefer a garden to the city?

I AM currently making a list.
In the very near future, we may move house.
If we do, it will be out of the city, up the country as they say.
If we go, we’re going to the seaside.
So I’m writing my list of pros and cons.
Living in the country has enormous advantages.
In the village in which we’re proposing to live, there is an organic butcher (good), a restaurant (good), a church (good), a primary school (good) a stream - it runs through the garden of the house we’re looking at (good), a beach (good) and a pub (excellent.)

But then, the house is close to the sea, and the sea isn’t getting any lower (bad), the stream in the garden has been known to flood (bad), there’s no railway station (bad), there are no concert venues - well, you don’t get them in villages with populations under 2,000 (bad), there is only one pub, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got to go to the next one which is miles away (very bad), and there are no shops to speak of (very bad indeed.)
Mind you, where we now live, we have a back garden the size of a postage stamp which has to be shared by Charlotte and the dog.
It’s becoming impossible to park on our street.
They’re planning to build six storey apartment blocks along the road that runs through our area.
There are no plans to upgrade public transport.
And Dublin is expensive.
None of the pubs near us is what you might call good.
It takes an hour to drive a couple of miles to work.
We would really need to spend on the house to get it the way we like.
And we live only half a mile from Mount Argus, where the recently canonised St Charles is buried, which is a nice thing.
But then, if we have a garden, someone will have to cut the grass, tend the flower beds and plant things.
The stream might turn out to be more of a worry than anything else.
Not only are they not going to upgrade public transport in the village we’re looking at, there isn’t any.
What do to?
Mind you, I was sitting at home today, when something dropped through the letterbox.
It was, naturally enough, a letter.
It was from a man from the northside of Dublin who had read what I wrote in the Sunday World last weekend.
I suggested that our Minister for Justice had been wrong to deport a Nigerian boy who suffers from autism.
I pointed out that millions of Irish left this country to seek a better life abroad and were accepted, maybe not always willingly, but they were accepted.
Had they not been, Ireland would now be an overpopulated, impoverished country.
This man disagreed with me, suggesting that a) the boy’s mother had enough money and was a sponger b) sure weren’t the Irish mistreated abroad too and c) we’re not a charity.
This guy drove from the northside to personally put the letter through my letterbox.
Scary or what?
Don’t reckon he’d drive 30 miles to do that.
Well, hope not.
Which is probably the best reason of all for going.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

What Ever Became of Celebrity?

❍Paris, Britney and Lindsay: Drunk, knickerless and arrested. Does it matter?

Well, what a story that was.
The famous Natasha Longhorne-Smythe pictured out on the razzle, completely our of her brains on drugs, driving a car in which a well-known criminal was a passenger, and flashing her breasts at the policeman who stopped her.
She’s certainly facing a long time in the slammer.
Or in my imagination, maybe.
Because that’s where all of the above happened.
But does it matter? If there was a Natasha Longhorne-Smythe, she’d probably be forgotten in a week anyway.

Isn’t it an odd world, where people appear to be obsessed with minutiae of the lives of people who really aren’t that interesting and certainly, don’t qualify to be described as ‘celebrities.’
For weeks, but not months, poor unfortunates who are voted of television reality shows, are hounded by the cameras.
They are shown drunk. They are shown almost naked where possible. They are shown angry, sad, happy, alone, in company. Everywhere.
And then, they disappear back where they came from, forever to be forgotten.
There are one-hit wonders who grace the front of celebrity mags for a few weeks. Or, at least, until their next record bombs and the news of their dumping by a record company, makes on par, without a picture, on the music pages.
There are the ‘next big things’ in sport who turn out to be the next big nothing.
And actors and, in the main, actresses who are photographed shopping and with bits of flesh preferably hanging out. They are snapped crying or laughing and, hopefully, wearing as little as possible on the beach.
The most notorious trio on the planet, Lindsay, Britney and Paris are, in the main, famous for being famous. Sure, Britney had a hit or two. But none have left an indelible mark on the world, other than for shaving their heads, not wearing knickers or driving drunk.
Whatever happened to real celebrity?
Are there to be no more Grace Kellys or Marilyn Monroes who both had their difficulties, who both caused controversy but who both retained a certain dignity, despite it all?
Will we ever see another Audrey Hepburn or Sophia Loren who simply exuded class?
Are there no more Steve McQueens or Gregory Pecks?
Are there no more Clark Gables, Jimmy Stewarts or Kirk Douglases?
Have we seen the last Bobby Charlton, the last Joe diMaggio, the final Muhammad Ali?
Will there ever be a replacement for John Wayne and Laurence Olivier and Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis who although of vastly different talents and who all had their problems, were without doubt, celebrities in the real sense.
Sure, some of the great old stars ended up with drink problems, divorced, in the slammer.
But they didn’t have a paparazzi wishing them into rehab, praying for them to fall over drunk just as the camera was ready or fighting a hideous eating disorder which contorted their bodies and made pictures of them all the more saleable.
Try, if you can, to get your hands on a celebrity mag from last year, even from last month. See how many of those who once managed to get onto the Z list, have vanished without a trace, eaten up and spat out by a fickle world that seems to have no understanding of what it is to be a celebrity.
Who will be drunk/knickerless/arrested/overweight/pregnant/divorced/in rehab next week?
Frankly, my dear, i don’t give a damn.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Our Unhealthy Fear of Islam

❏Osama bin Laden: Claims to be Muslim and quotes the Koran

THE BBC has canned a script for its hospital soap Casualty, because the plot involved Islamic terrorists.
The decision was taken by a group called the “Editorial Guidelines Department” because it was felt the story line would “perpetuate stereotypes of young Muslims in Britain.”
Have you ever heard such utter tosh in your life?
For 30 or more years, since 1969, Ireland - and the North of the island in particular - suffered from what we still euphemistically call “the Troubles.”
Right from the start, movies and television dramas emerged containing plot lines involving Irish terrorists.
And that was fair enough. Irish terrorists were killing people. They were simply reflecting reality.
For a generation, Hollywood survived by portraying Eastern Europeans, Russians in particular, as evil monsters bent on world domination.

Eastern European cinema, conversely, portrayed the Yanks as overarmed, gun-toting lunatics, equally determined to rule the world.
In both cases, fair enough. That’s precisely what they were.
Cinema, television and indeed, theatre and the world of literature, has always drawn on conflict.
Should The Odd Man Out or Michael Collins have been cancelled for fear the Irish got upset?
Should Ken Loach not have made The Wind That Shakes the Barley for fear Britain got the hump?
Should Platoon or The Fog of War have been canned for fear Americans got annoyed?
Should The Sands of Iwo Jima have been left on the shelf for fear the Japanse mightn't have liked it?
Should Schindler's List and Sophie's Choice have been binned for fear they might make Germany unhappy?
You could go on and on, citing Zulu, Das Boot, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and hundreds if not thousands of movies which could offend someone somewhere.
Right now, though, it seems, the world’s most vicious conflicts are to be ignored for fear of causing offence to Islam.
Let’s get things straight.
If the stereotype of young Muslims in Britain is being perpetuated, it is being perpetuated by young British Muslims who are drawn to extremism and fundamentalism.
It is perpetuated by those who bombed London on 7/7 and those who attempted to repeat the outrage a week or so later.
It is perpetuated by those who tried to bomb London and Glasgow again this summer.
And in the heel of the hunt, Osama bin Laden claims to be a Muslim and both he and his deputy regularly cite the Koran as justification for their murderous campaign.
The West, for want of a better term, has an unhealthy fear of Islam, or more accurately, extreme Islam.
We are told that we must respect Islam and accommodate it in every way.
And so we get utterly nonsensical comparisons between a woman wearing a crucifix to work and a woman wearing a full veil over her head whilst standing in the dock as a defendant in an assault case.
We are expected to bite our tongues when Islamic leaders spout hatred and urge violence.
We keep diplomatic relations with countries like Iran, which habitually hangs, in public, criminals and dissidents and permits the stoning to death of a young woman because a judge didn’t like her attitude.
We are told we must tolerate Islam in all its forms while Islamic nations such as Saudi Arabia permits no display, whatsoever, of Christianity or - and you hardly have to guess it Judaism. Tolerance is a one way street for Islam.
The fact of the matter is, that the carnage in Iraq, for which the US and Britain are not entirely blameless, is carried out by Islamic militants, encouraged by their clergymen.
The genocide in Darfur, is visited on the unfortunate people by Muslims because they are not Muslims.
Somalia is rent by Islam. Christians are regularly the subject of attack in Pakistan.
In many other Islamic countries, Christians practice their religion secretly for fear of persecution.
Islam is, of course, due respect in the same way Christianity, Judaism, Hunduism or any other religion is due respect.
But before it can gain that respect, it has to tackle the evil within. It has to respect other religions in the way it expects to be respected.
The West bows to Islam, not because of a fear of Mohammed.
It bows to Islam because of the fear of men, armed men, vicious men, misguided men who kill without mercy.
And fear of men will never, ever compare with a fear of God.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

None Of The Above

❍The Viking site at Dublin's Wood Quay, destroyed by ignorant politicans

MY late mother was of the view that, when it came to voting in an election, there should be, at the bottom of the ballot paper, a box which you could tick called: None Of The Above.
If None Of The Above was then duly elected, the politicians would have to have another go at producing a candidate people actually wanted.
And those who failed in the first election would be forever barred from standing again.
I mention this brilliant idea because I have come to a conclusion about politicians, and not just those in Ireland, politicians everywhere.
They do only two things:
1) they create problems
2) they fail to solve them.
Of course, problems are the bread and butter of politics. When problems arise, they permit politicians to blather on, to indulge in double-speak and, betimes, triple and quadruple speak.
It permits them to go on television and radio and to give newspaper interviews which, they believe, give the impression they’re doing something when, actually, ordinary people realise they are blathering on, indulging in double-speak and, betimes, triple and quadruple speak.

Unfortunate soldiers may fight wars. But it is politicians who cause them and start them.
Factories close, jobs are lost, homes are repossessed, misery ensues and politicians talk and rabbit on. Sometimes, they even set up committees or working groups or task forces.
But they don’t actually do anything.
Floods devastate an area. And politicians rush to the cameras to tell everyone they will now do what they should have done years ago. And they think we’re grateful.
The spend money, our money, on big projects. But very often, if not always, the projects are designed, not to benefit people, but to help get the very same politicians re-elected.
They use our money to hire ‘advisors’ and ‘consultants’ who, on the surface of it, appear to be giving sound advice on national issues but who, when you look at it more closely, are – yet again – employed solely to increase the popularity of the politicians, to hone their image and get them re-elected.
Culture and politics are alien to each other.
They may attend and opera and nod off, they may even endure the first night of a play (never the second. The cameras aren’t there for the second) if they think it will improve their image.
But, right here in Ireland, it was politicians who ordered the destruction of Wood Quay (pictured above, during its destruction) It was the finest example of a first millennium Viking town in the world. I know, I was there, and I saw the houses and streets that were bulldozed to make way for a hideous office block which serves the dual purpose of burying the site under concrete and blocking the view of Christ Church from the quays.
Currently, they are destroying Tara for a motorway, which may very well be obsolete in less than 50 years.
They could have built a more efficient railway instead.
But developers don’t like railways. Developers don’t build huge DIY stores alongside railways. They don’t open retail parks along railways.
And that’s another thing politicians are not. Honest.
They won’t admit they chose a road instead of a railway from Dublin through County Meath, because it will open up land for development. They lied about it, and they continue to lie about it as the destruction, under a lame duck Green heritage minister, continues apace.
The big crisis in Ireland now is the forthcoming withdrawal, by Aer Lingus, of its services from Shannon to Heathrow.
Most politicians are in hiding.
Some local yokels are making noise.
But the government politicians who have surfaced – they managed to get to fund raisers at Galway Races in huge numbers, but have disappeared at the first sign of trouble – are engaging in the aforementioned double, treble and quadruple speak.
Democracy is a good idea in principle.
There is, likely as not, no better alternative.
But why is it, when it comes to election time, the choice presented to us is between one gobshite and another?
I would love if someday, some brave politician took up my late mother’s idea which might, ultimately, get some smart, honest, cultured people elected.
Sadly, as with culture, bravery and politics are alien to each other too.
Anyone know any half decent benign dictators who are looking for work?

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

How not to buy a car

I had to go out and buy a car the other day.
As one who cannot remember the last time he bought anything other than groceries and pints of Guinness, it was a major undertaking.
At least, it should have been.
What actually happened, was that I was a complete pussycat and bought a car in record time, embarrassing the salesman who had expect at least some attempt at bargaining.
What I was buying was an SUV.
Yes, I am aware of climate change, emissions, carbon footprints and the rest. Indeed, I do less than 10,000 kilometres a year. And I need an SUV to transport the two of us, our lovely daughter and our large dog.
So off I went to buy a pre-owned/second-hand/used car.

What I know about the mechanics of cars could be written on the head of a pin.
My options, therefore, are limited to well-known, established motor dealers who, I am pretty sure, will still be there next week, when the car will, inevitably, break down.
I saw a car on the internet I could afford, and off i went.
This was going to be a cash deal, no trade in. Straight forward deal.
In fairness, when I got there I DID actually look at two cars. I mean, fair’s fair. I didn’t just look at one and drive off. No fool me.
But after looking at two, I opted for the one I’d seen on the web.
I looked into the car. It had a radio and tape deck.
“Would you throw in a CD player instead of the tape deck?” I asked.
“Yes,” came the reply, half way though my question. Think it was a question they get asked a lot. The answer seemed a little, well, rehearsed.
And so we went into the salesman’s office.
And I wrote a cheque.
And I bought the car.
There’s nothing wrong with the car. I like it.
But I have this feeling, that the salesman will dine out on the sale.
I asked him if it was the easiest sale ever.
And he hesitated before telling me it wasn’t.
Since then, I have been told by friends that I did a number of things wrong.
Like the following:
1. Never put your chequebook and pen on the desk before you negotiate the deal.
2. Always sit in the car before buying.
3. Always, at the very least, ask one question.
4. Kick the tyres, or something like that.
5. Even ask if it has been cleaned.
6. Demand a service before you take it away.
7. See if there is some kind of warranty.
8. Check the mileage
9. Drive it before buying.
10. Offer him 75 per cent of the price and work your way up.
Alternatively, get someone else to do the deal for you.
And go on a long holiday with the money you save.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Joy of Winter

IF this Irish summer was a Broadway play, it would have been over months ago.
It might have earned reviews like this:
“A dismal flop” New York Times.
“A poor imitation of previous productions” Washington Post
“A bitter disappointment” New Yorker.
But because of the way the world works, we have been stuck with this dismal excuse for a warm season since the last time we had three good days in a row, sometime back in May.
So roll on winter.
Winter never lets you down. It delivers exactly what it promises. It is reliable.
It will be in about eight weeks time, I would guess, that we will see the first television ads mentioning Christmas.
There are a couple of department stores in Dublin which will, to my certain knowledge, open their Christmas shops around the same time.

Shortly after, you will begin to hear the Christmas tunes playing in your local supermarket.
Then Santa will arrive at some shopping mall.
The hour will go back.
And winter will be here.
Of course, winter brings with it, rain, cold, wind and darkness. A bit like the summer we’re having.
But winter also brings with it blazing fires in pubs and homes, hot soup, stews and casseroles, cosy nights in with the curtains drawn and the expectation of Christmas not far away.
One of the great pleasures of winter, is going home. Whether you’re going home from work, or shopping or visiting, the pleasure is the same.
The warmth of a house or an apartment after a cold day is a welcome you don’t get in summer.
If you are fool enough, as I have been for years, to stand on the side of some sports arena watching people battle, not just each other, but the elements, you will know the joy and pleasure of that pint in the bar afterwards and the warmth of your own home when you get there.
And isn’t it a wonderful, if selfish, feeling, to lie in bed, with the rain spattering the window and the covers over your head, knowing that somewhere, someone is out there trying desperately to get a taxi to bring them home?
(Don’t worry about the selfishness of it. When that person eventually gets home and under the covers, he or she will feel exactly the same way.)
Winter doesn’t have flies in the garden, those hideous midges, wasps and flying ants.
It doesn’t have people who shouldn’t be baring too much flesh, dressed in far too little far too often.
It doesn’t have all that grass mowing, hedge cutting and weeding.
It doesn’t have burned sausages, raw steaks and the runny eyes that come with barbecues.
Oh, you might say there are bad things in winter and of course there are.
But if you embrace winter, it will embrace you back.
For example, if you go to work in the dark and return home in the dark, you will know that the only real light, is that which you see shining from your home at the end of the day.
Even those who live alone, have the comfort of knowing that, in winter, television schedules greatly improve as the dross and repeats of summer are left behind for another year.
To cap it all, there is Christmas.
Christmas carols, Christmas decorations, Christmas trees, Christmas presents. Children.
Christmas and winter go hand in hand.
And Christmas is the time we most mention peace, even if most people do nothing about it.
And it's a time when we are, or should be, more acutely aware of the plight of the poor and the homeless and the disadvantaged.
Winter, in its own way, is warm and friendly and caring.
Another few weeks to go, and it will begin its slow arrival.
Welcome it.
It won’t let you down.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pride turns to shame

IT is increasingly difficult to be proud of Ireland, proud to be Irish.
Like most of my countrymen, I am patriotic if not nationalistic. And, when I travel abroad in particular, I like to tell people what a wonderful country this is.
No more.
Even when Ireland was poor, there were many reasons to be proud.
During the 1980s, when the country and its people were on their knees, we were proud.
(Of course, we didn’t know then, that our Prime Minister, Charles Haughey, was as corrupt as it is possible to be and that he would leave a legacy of corruption.)
We enjoyed Barry McGuigan winning his world boxing title, the success of Stephen Roche and Sean Kelly in the cycling world, the relative success of our rugby and soccer players. We loved Johnny Logan winning Eurovision, the embryonic careers of the boys in U2, Phil Lynott’s rocking hits and so on.

Now, our sports men and women are as successful as ever. Our rugby players had a fantastic season, things are looking up for our soccer players, our athletes are winning medals - even our cricketers are doing well.
U2 is still the biggest band in the world. But now we can add wonderful talents like Republic of Loose, Fionn Regan, Damien Rice and so many others.
Our actors are on the world stage. Our Irish dancers are earning millions all over the world. Our artists are sought after.
So much to be proud of.
❏ Today, this country is deporting a Nigerian woman and her twins, one of whom suffers from autism.
There is no treatment, no special school, nothing for autistic children in Nigeria.
Despite our wealth, there's not much in Ireland.
But there's something. But now, little Great Agbonlahor won't even get than.
St Patrick, they say, brought Christianity to Ireland. This government is deporting it with little Great.
❏ We are a country of emigrants which frowns on immigrants. We turf them out if they come to Ireland as economic refugees, precisely the way millions of Irish arrived in countries all over the world.
❏ We spend millions on politicians’ vanity projects - gyms in the Dail, illegal car parks on Leinster Lawn - and yet refuse to meet our commitments to the poor of the world.
❏ We trample over our heritage at Tara for electoral gain and to satisfy the construction industry. Opening the rail line was the sensible option, the planet-friendly option. But of course, that wouldn’t have opened up land for development, for DIY stores, retail parks and hotels, the fate that awaits Tara, thanks to our feeble ‘Green’ heritage minister.
❏ Our politicians have given themselves 22 pay rises in the past ten years whilst the poor of our country have, in relative terms, received only crumbs.
❏ Corruption is still rife. If you don’t think so, just look around the country at over-development, at the places where builders have been given permission to build despite the infrastructure being utterly unable to cope.
❏ We have a government led by a party whose members feel far more comfortable in the company of wealthy builders than they do in the company of the disadvantaged, for whom they are supposed to care.
❏ We have wealth. But we spend it on construction while at the same time, fighting in the courts, the parents of autistic children who seek only what care they should be getting in a rich, civilised country.
❏ We kow-tow to the Americans caring not a whit what prisoners they bring through Shannon, what troops pass through on their way to kill or be killed.
❏ We have ministers constantly telling us what they can’t do, having spent an election campaign telling us all they were going to do.
❏ We have a Taoiseach who, to his utter shame, took handouts, massive handouts from friends and strangers and never offered to pay them back. Worse still, he keeps changing his story about amounts, currencies and dates.
And shamefully, most people seem to adopt the “I’m all right Jack” attitude to it all.
We now live in an Ireland where builders are more important than the poor, roads are more important than schools, construction is more important than the climate change and power and wealth are more important than almost anything.
Which is why pride has turned to shame.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

A Bluffer's Guide to the Football Season

YOU know the feeling.
It's the soccer season again. And you're not that into it.
You might be into some other sport - personally, I can't wait for the Rugby World Cup - or you might not be into sport at all.
But for the next few weeks, just until people start complaining about how much soccer there is on television - everyone's full of it.
So here are a few key phrases which you can thrown into conversations about soccer and which will give the impression you actually know something about the game.
(If you have any more, do let me know.)

✖ You’d have to say, all credit to the lads.
✖ They got a result.
✖ But it’s still early doors.

✖ The ball was just millimetres away from being inch perfect.
✖ If it had gone into the net, it would have been a goal.
✖ Sadly, it was on his left peg.
✖ He has an educated right peg.
✖ At the end of the day, our boys won because they wanted it more.
✖ It’s been a step up for them.
✖ They’re prepared to take it to the next level.
✖ They had their backs to the wall.
✖ They gave it 110 per cent.
✖ Obviously like.
✖ They had bouncebackability.
✖ Put the ball in the onion sack.
✖ The lad done good.
✖ They're a one-man team.
✖ It's a team game.
✖ Between the sticks.
✖ One for the record books.
✖ We’ll take each game as it comes.
✖ At the end of the day.
✖ If we play within ourselves, we’ll be over the moon.
✖ I mean like you know.

Please apply the above to any match you like in the coming season.
But careful, don't name names.
Or you'll be caught out.

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From riches to RAGS

IF there is one thing more depressing, in this world, than witnessing the suffering of the poor, the sick and the hungry, it is witnessing the growing greed and excess of the rich.
There is nothing wrong with rich. Rich can be good. Rich can be inspirational. Rich can lead by example.
But, increasingly, the wealthy of the world seem, not just to ignore the plight of the poor, but to trample on them in their quest for more and more money.
The fact is, there is enough food in the world to feed its population.
There is enough land in the world on which its people could live.
There is enough water in the world for us all to drink.
There is enough wealth in the world for everyone to share.
And there is still enough money in the world for the rich to remain rich.

There are those today who will tell you, with some degree of certainty, that there is no God.
But unfortunately, many have them have replaced belief in God with a belief in self. It is comforting to them, to believe that they will not have to account for themselves, that the accumulation of wealth, the pursuit of pleasure and the mistreatment of others have no consequences.
It is beyond the understanding of many, that there are people in the world who can look at suffering and poverty and disease, and not care.
It is beyond the understanding of many, that those who have been blessed with the power to change the world for the better, seek only to change it to better themselves at the expense of others.
It is beyond the understanding of many, that man, who believes himself to be God’s most intelligent creation, would spend more on weapons to kill his fellow man, than he would to spare his fellow man from suffering.
Sometimes, the behaviour of the rich betrays their shame at the things they do.
Take, for example, what they call ‘outsourcing.’
Outsourcing is a name industry and business dreamed up to disguise what it really is.
And that is, an effort to find, somewhere on earth, the people who will do a job, for the longest hours, in the worst conditions for the least return.
Of course industry must make profit.
But when profit is the one and only goal, the sole purpose of a business, then it is a failed entity.
Profit and decency can go hand in hand. Profit and generosity can live together. Profit at a belief and trust in God, are not mutually exclusive.
When loyal and valued employees are thrown away without a thought, when long serving workers are treated like something on the bottom of the managing director’s shoes, when those who worked for years to build up a company are discarded without any care for their well being or the well being of their families, profit is no justification.
We are going from riches to RAGS.
Rich can be good. Rich can help mankind.
But Rich Arrogant Greedy and Smug never will.

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There I was trying to improve the old blog, when it went crash bang wallop and I lose everything.
Ah, sure most of it was probably rubbish anyway.
Naturally, it was all my own fault.
But, to be honest, I think I've come a long way from working on dodgy typewriters - not forgetting to make a carbon copy of my stories - and supervising printers putting hot metal pages together to managing to establish a blog.

It is a wonderful thing that, these days, journalism is not the sole preserve of journalists. Anybody in the world, with access to a computer, can be a journalist.
I haven't the slightest doubt, that someday in the very near future, I'll make a complete hames of this blog again.
But, sure, what of it?
I would encourage everyone to set up their own blog.
And if you havent done it already, log on to and do it.
There are two great things about it.
Firstly, it's free.
And secondly, if you ever get fed up with it, it's very, very easy to delete your own blog.
As I, sadly, can testify.

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