Thursday, September 25, 2008

Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof

Baader Meinhof film to be released this week in Germany.

Scientists need to challenge

Interesting article below appears in today's Irish Times.


Anti-GM and anti-nuclear advocates need to be challenged
DR WILLIAM REVILLE

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Scientists should be as passionate and determined in debate as anti-GM or anti-nuclear activists

I RECENTLY attended a press conference called by anti-GM (genetically modified) protesters at an agricultural biotechnology scientific conference.

Three people, none of whom are scientists, ran the press conference and each made detailed statements. The audience was a mixture of anti-GM activists, none of whom (to my knowledge) were scientists, and a selection of scientists experienced in the GM field.

I myself have little experience in the GM area. The arguments presented by the amateurs at this press conference were completely at odds with the positions outlined by the experienced scientists. Both sides liberally cited "scientific research" to support their positions. What is the general public to make out of this?

This scene is typical of what happens nowadays, particularly in environmental areas.
As I said, I am no GM expert, but I do have some professional expertise in another environmental area - the effects of low-level ionising radiation. The press conference described above perfectly mirrors many meetings I attended over the years organised by anti-nuclear groups. A main plank of the anti-nuclear argument is that the low-level radiation emitted by nuclear power plants, and ancillary processes, is very dangerous.

Mainline science holds that risk from exposure to radiation is proportional to the dose received and because the leakage of radiation from nuclear power plants under normal circumstances is tiny, the risk to the health of those exposed is correspondingly tiny. Of course, the situation is very different in the event of major accident.

Both sides quote scientific evidence to back their claims. The difference between the sides is that the mainline science position is based on a lot of high quality research published in the best peer-reviewed journals, whereas the anti-nuclear position on low-level radiation is supported by very little research, much of which is not published in high quality peer-reviewed journals.

When pressed on the paucity of their underpinning scientific support, the anti-nuclear people say that all "independent" scientists back their position. But, when you look at the credentials of these few scientists who support the anti-nuclear position it is completely unclear in most cases how they merit the title "independent" any more than most of the scientists who come to opposite conclusions.

Some of the "science" put forward by the anti-nuclear side is farcical. For example, they went through a phase of claiming that risk of ill-health from exposure to low-level radiation is negatively correlated to dose - that is, the less you received, the more dangerous it is. In fact, there is now good evidence to show that exposure to the lowest level of radiation is not dangerous at all but, on the contrary, it is good for you. This is the phenomenon of hormesis, which I described here on September 11th.

So, why was the anti-nuclear argument about low-level radiation not dismissed out of hand in the face of massive contrary evidence from mainline science? Probably the main reason was the timid approach adopted by mainline scientific spokespersons. The anti-nuclear people speak with absolute confidence. They assure the public that every nuclear power plant spreads a deadly cloud of cancers in its vicinity and that they have scientific proof of this. Mainline scientists deny this and say that studies consistently show that risks are small, although not zero.

The anti-nuclear people would challenge them with the question, "Can you guarantee the public that nuclear emissions are absolutely safe?"

The mainline scientists reply, "There is no such thing as zero level of risk". This is where the argument is lost with the public. The anti-nuclear people have no problem giving guarantees of danger and cancer, the mainline scientists will not guarantee safety, preferring to talk of low levels of probability.

Of course, in cases like this mainline science should declare a process to be safe. Safe here means safe in the sense understood in everyday life. For example, is it safe to walk down the stairs? The commonsense answer is yes, provided the stairs is sound and you look where you are going. The strict scientific answer will quote you the probability of having a fall.

Another problem is that the media tends to give every voice, amateur and professional, equal weight. This is not fair to the general public. The media has a responsibility to ask tough probing questions of all who seek a platform for their views. When questions can only be answered by science, scientists have an even greater responsibility to stand firm on issues where the scientific evidence is persuasive. Environmental activists who take a position on issues contrary to the evidence of mainline science always speak with confidence and passion and often try to shout down opposing voices. They should be opposed with matching vigour. Only then can science win out.

• William Reville is associate professor of biochemistry and public awareness of science officer at UCC - www.understandingscience.ucc.ie
© 2008 The Irish Times

No-one available for comment

Since her untimely death of Eileen Flynn-Roche this blog has made two comments on the events that led up to the sacking.

It has made reference to the fact that no apology has been appeared in any daily national newspaper since her death.

This blog contacted the Holy Faith Sisters enquiring as to whether or not the congregation had made any sort of public apology for their action, or indeed whether they had made any comment whatsoever.

On Tuesday this blog was told that there would be no-one available from the provincial team before Friday to make a comment on the matter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shenanigans at Ryanair

Over the last few days Ryanair has made changes to its schedules.

It is notifying passengers that flight times have been changed.

Ryanair does not explain on their web notice that passengers can cancel just one leg of the journey if they so wish.

If a passenger wishes to cancel one leg of the journey they should telephone 0818 30 30 30 (within Ireland) even if it does take a long time, so as to cancel one leg of the booking.

The perceived custom and practice at Ryanair is that if it goes wrong it goes badly wrong.

In this case it is not so and indeed, Ryanair is actually being more passenger friendly than it purports on its own web page.

Still not a word of apology to be heard

Saturday's Irish Times carried an obituary of Eileen Flynn-Roche. The obit is reprinted below.

Eileen Flynn-Roche was crucificed by both church and state.

As a member of the Catholic Church I am deeply ashamed of the action of my co-religionists but I am also angry that the church has not now issued a statement of apology.

Has the HolyFaith congregation issued any sort of apology?

"I explained," Eileen Flynn told the tribunal, "that I could not stand back from the situation. I was living in the town. My responsibilities and my life were there."

The honesty and herosim of those words compared to what Sister Anna Power said to the Employment Appeals Tribunal: "I put it to her that it would be in her best interest if she could find alternative employment."

"She just flaunted it and did not try to hide it or redeem herself", Sister Anna said.

Sister Anna offered to arrange for a parish priest in England to look after her during her pregnancy.


EILEEN FLYNN-ROCHE, who died suddenly on the evening of September 9th, was one of a small group of women who became, in the early 1980s, symbols of the deep tensions in Irish society around issues of religion, morality and sexuality.

Like Joanne Hayes in the Kerry Babies case and Ann Lovett, the 15-year-old schoolgirl who died while giving birth in secret, she was an accidental lightning rod for the emotions sparked by profound social change.

Her case became infamous, not because she set out to cause a scandal, but because she refused to be ashamed of herself.

As Eileen Flynn, she arrived in the Co Wexford town of New Ross from her native Co Laois in 1978, to work as a substitute teacher of English and history in Good Counsel college. When a permanent post became vacant in the town's Holy Faith convent school, she received a strong recommendation from her employers at the college and was given the job.

Her life changed when she came across a distressed child in the town and brought her home to her father's pub. There she met Richie Roche, a publican whose wife had left him, and who was vice-chairman of the town's Sinn Féin cumann. The mildly bohemian reputation of the pub and Roche's political affiliations were believed to be contributory factors to the subsequent events.

Divorce was still unconstitutional, so Flynn and Roche could not marry, but when they began to live together she regarded herself as being, as she later told the Employment Appeals Tribunal, in "a family unit in everything but name".

At the start of the school year in September 1981, the principal of the Holy Faith school heard that Flynn was living with Roche. Two months later, the young teacher was pregnant.

In April 1982, the manager of the Holy Faith schools in Ireland, Sr Anna Power, arrived in New Ross and, as she put it to the Employment Appeals Tribunal: "I put it to her that it would be in her best interest if she could find alternative employment."

She offered to arrange for a parish priest in England to look after her during her pregnancy.

Such a situation was not especially unusual in an Ireland which had developed mechanisms for keeping unorthodox pregnancies out of sight.

What was unusual was that Flynn declined the offer.

"I explained," she told the tribunal, "that I could not stand back from the situation. I was living in the town. My responsibilities and my life were there."

It was not her pregnancy, or even her relationship with Roche, that led to her subsequent dismissal, but her honesty.

As Sr Anna put it: "She just flaunted it and did not try to hide it or redeem herself."

The immediate context of Flynn's sacking in August 1982, after she had given birth to her first son Richard was the anger of the order and complaints from parents in the town. The broader context, however, was an attempt to halt the drift away from Catholic control over moral and sexual behaviour.

The campaign that led to the 1983 anti-abortion referendum was already well under way. Flynn's dismissal represented a parallel attempt to re-establish the boundaries of change.

This was reflected in the judgment by Judge Noel Ryan in the Circuit Court after she appealed the refusal of the tribunal to overturn her dismissal: "Times are changing and we must change with them, but they have not changed that much . . . with regard to some things.

"In other places women are being condemned to death for this sort of offence."

Though in more moderate tones, Mr Justice Declan Costello, in the High Court in 1985, upheld the view of the nuns that her "conduct was capable of damaging" their efforts to uphold Catholic "norms of behaviour".

Legal costs prevented her from appealing the case to the European Court and her failure to join a union left her with little institutional support.

In this atmosphere, it was remarkable that Flynn's relationship with Roche survived and that she continued to live in the town and care for their five children.

They married after divorce became legal and she worked in the two bars they ran together. She was a popular figure among customers, who came to respect her as "a great character". She missed teaching though and did voluntary work on a community literacy scheme before finally returning to her profession in the town's CBS primary school.

Though her death came tragically early, Eileen Flynn- Roche lived long enough to be a respected mother and teacher.

This was, perhaps, the best answer to those who regarded her as a danger to the morals of Irish society.

• Eileen Flynn-Roche: born 1953; died: September 9th, 2008

© 2008 The Irish Times

New church website

According to a report in today's Irish Times, a new website was launched in St Patrick's College Maynooth yesterday by the Catholic bishops.

According to the report it is a new website for 'the faithful'. That word 'faithful' has worrying undertones to it.

The address is http://www.catholicbishops.ie/ and not http://www.catholic-bishops.ie/ as The Irish Times reports. Why would a website that is inviting Catholics to read it and feel easy with it use the word 'bishops' in its title? Strange and worrying but not new.

Because 'everyone is doing it' doesn't make it correct and even the Catholic Church would go along with that idea. So please, web editor try to avoid split infinitives!

The introductory page with 'Catholicireland' emblazoned on it is not terribly appealing and the content page is boring.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The slow polite language of democracy

The general assembly of the chapter of the Irish Dominicans is now completed. Papers have been drawn up and discussed.

The diffinitory - a word not to be found in an English dictionary - is now in session.

The diffinitory is made up of a a number of elected members of the province. They were elected at the chapter.

It is their job to study the papers of the commissions and then draw up a document which expresses the mood or tone of the chapter.

The diffinitory will also make provincial appointments for the next four years. Here politics plays an important role.

What happened so far at the chapter? The provincial and the new provincial council were elected. It seems that was the end of any exciting news!

When any group of people come together they create a positive atmosphere. It's easy to give the impression that 'we are a great bunch of people doing a good job of work'. It is always good to be impressed by and with the company of like-minded people.

So what happened at the chapter? Were any important 'nettles' grasped or bullets bitten? Why should anyone in their sane senses want to 'grasp' a nettle or bite a bullet. Odd idioms?

But in any official communiques that will or are issued on behalf of the province, the impression will be given that all went according to plan and the official documents were sent to Rome and signed off by the Master of the Order, And that will happen too.

And that probably is what happens with many organisations. Although it is not how the banks are behaving right now. The banking world is in melt-down and the fine language and polite talk is out the door as the emergency teams try to hold the line. People have lost confidence in the banking world and the sluice gates have opened. People are scared.

But have people not lost confidence in organised religion, in the ways and mannerisms of the priestly class? And if they have how come the polite talk, the respectable words remain the current dispensation?

But the problem there could well be that the emergency team, the firefighters might prove far too fundamentalist for any ordinary person to stomach.

Maybe the democracy practised within the Dominican Order makes good sense after all.

Fighting it out on the internet

The below link came the way of this blog. It is a comment on Sarah Palin.


http://groups.google.de/group/Minds-Eye/browse_thread/thread/bc793b61916f9776?hl=de#

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A most painful episode

The link below with the quote from Tolstoy make for sad reading.

How intolerably painful can it get?

From my long years of association with the Dominican Order I can honestly say it is only men who are unstable who have refused Communion to people.

Priests are not police officers. If they know someone has not paid their taxes would they refuse them Communion? Doubtful.

Why is it always and ever in relation to matters dealing with sexuality that some priests become so strident in their views?

Has it something to do with personality disorder?


http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/09/denied-communio.html#more

Words of thank you from daughter

Yesterday a report on the late Eileen Roche appeared in this blog and today a comment in gratitude is made by the late Mrs Roche's daughter.

Firstly a profound thank you to Ms Roche for her comment. But it is much more than that.

In recent days and weeks there have been anonymous people looking for the closure of this blog. Naturally, no matter how zany comments and people may be, they always leave their mark. The anonymous ones can leave marks of isolation and fragility. And then a comment such as Ms Roche's appears and the light shines again.

Her comments also put into perspective the actions and remarks of the 'closure people' - the same attitude the same behaviour that caused the late Eileen Roche nee Flynn to lose her job.

And still not a word, at least in any prominent or public place, apologising for the terrible wrong that was done to the late Eileen Roche nee Flynn.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eileen Roche nee Eileen Flynn RIP

On Saturday last Eileen Roche was buried. Her funeral Mass was in Rosbercon Church, New Ross, Co Wexford.

Eileen Roche was 53 when she died and the mother of five children and wife of Richie Roche.

But Eileen Roche back in 1983 was Eileen Flynn and because she was an unmarried mother and living with the baby's father she was dismissed from her job as an English and history teacher at the Holy Faith Convent in New Ross, Co Wexford.

My shame to that event is that I did not raise my single unnoticed voice back then. At the time I was a teacher at Newbridge College Co Kildare. I said nothing.

It's easy to criticise the shocking behaviour of the Church at the time and indeed the decision taken by the courts but I did nothing to support a young woman teacher.

I wonder did any of those who cried out for her head at the time turn up at her funeral and pray with her family? Has anyone from the Irish ecclesiastical hierarchy been with her in her years of illness? Maybe they have. I hope they have.

And what gain was made by the Church authorities in the stand they took?

A public apology printed in the daily national newspapers could be a glimmer of hope, recognition of of a wrong done to a young woman teacher. But it is highly unlikely it will happen. A pity.

It is worth noting that Donal Herlihy was bishop in Ferns between 1964 and 1983 when he was succeeded by Brendan Comiskey.

Did the bishop at the time offer any support to the young teacher? Both these men were highly criticised in the Ferns Report.

The Ferns report published in 2005 found that children throughout County Wexford were abused over a 40-year period while the Catholic church, the police and the Irish state failed in their duty to protect them.

At least 21 priests were accused of more than 100 cases of rape and sexual assault against children in the diocese of Ferns from 1962 to 2002. The rural area of south-east Ireland is believed to have the highest proportion of accused clergy in a Catholic diocese anywhere in the world.

The report, headed by the retired supreme court judge Frank Murphy, is Ireland's first state investigation into the Catholic church's handling of abuse allegations against priests. It found that the church's negligence in dealing with allegations went as far as the Vatican.

And Eileen Roche nee Flynn was sacked from her teaching job because she was an unmarried mother living with the father of her child.

Those responsible for that action and those who coalesced through their silence should bow their heads in shame.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.

It is appropriate we remember those who have taken their own lives. It is an opportunity for us to think of all those who have been terrorised into suicide.

It is also a day for us to remember priests, nuns and sisters who have commit suicide and this blog recalls especially Dominicans who have taken their own lives.

We owe it to them and their memory that the truth be told.

Mirror image of Hitler's newspaper

The current issue of the Alive monthly newspaper carries a story on Europe with reference to Germany.

The article is inaccurate, nasty and indeed hateful. Unfortunatley it could mislead vulnerable people.

The article in its vitriol is a mirror image of what once appeared in Völkischer Beobachter

The Good Friday drink and the judge

There is a story circulating in the Irish media today about gardaí who prosecuted Galway restaurants for serving drink last Good Friday.

Judge Mary Fahy decided not to record convictions against the nine restaurants. She said the prosecutions were 'ludicrous' and 'ridiculous'.

The restaurants were breaking the law.

Earlier today an Irish radio station contacted this blogger and asked what his views were on the issue.

When I pointed out that it was a question of law and nothing to do with anything else I was asked what I thought priests would think. I explained that under no circumstances could I dare to speak for 'priests'. I stressed that this was a legal matter

I was then asked did I know of any priest who might object. When it was suggested to the radio station that they might simply be looking for 'some clown' who would do a rant on the issue, all interest evaporated. End of telephone call.

It is an interesting story of news management and the type of material some print and radio media disseminate. But it also gives a view or snapshot of what some media think of 'priests'.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pedal power through Dublin

Concern Worldwide together with Dublin City Council is organising a fun cycle day on Sunday September 14.

It’s only 10 km, or just six miles if you want to be old-fashioned.

The cycle goes from one square to another, beginning at Merrion Square and finishing at Parnell Square.

Roads will be closed to traffic from 09.30 to midday.

It is the first annual Concern cycle and it is hoped that over 5,000 will join in the ride.

Naturally everyone is welcome. All shapes and makes, human and mechanical are most welcome.
It promises to be a great day out. Calling on anyone, who has ever been on a bike and even those who have never been up on a saddle.
It is the perfect way for a family to spend a Sunday morning, even if it means getting a saddle fitted for two-year-old Fergus.

For more details contact Concern at http://www.concern.net/ or telephone Sarah Maddock at 01 – 417 7758.

And if your cousins are up from the country bring them too.

Folly of the progressive fairytale

The article below, written by John Gray, appears in today's Guardian.

The current panic about Russia is a curious phenomenon. By any objective standard Russians are freer in the authoritarian state established by Putin than at any time in the Soviet Union. Many are also materially better off. Russia has abandoned global expansionism, and is now a diminished version of what it has been throughout most of its history - a Eurasian empire whose chief concern is protection from external threats. Yet western attitudes are more hostile than they were during much of the cold war, when many on the left viewed the Soviet Union, which was responsible for tens of millions of deaths, as an essentially benign regime.

To see how this state of affairs has come about one must understand the progressive narrative - embraced nowadays as much on the right as the left - that shapes western perceptions. The Soviet collapse was a defeat for communism, a prototypical progressive ideology. There was never any prospect of post-communist Russia embracing neoliberalism, another western model. Something like Putin's Russia was always on the cards, but the return of history isn't part of the progressive script. Most of our leaders are disciples of Woodrow Wilson, with a religious faith in what Francis Fukuyama only the other day described as "the march of history towards global democracy". Prosperity brings bourgeoisification and liberal values, or so they believe. Russia - rich, nationalist and authoritarian - doesn't fit this progressive fairytale, and the west's reaction is a mix of threatening bluster and mounting panic.

Nothing is more misguided than talk of a new cold war. What we are seeing is the end of the post cold war era, and a renewal of geopolitical conflicts of the sort that occurred during the late 19th century. Their minds befogged by fashionable nonsense about globalisation, western leaders believe liberal democracy is spreading unstoppably. The reality is continuing political diversity. Republics, empires, liberal and illiberal democracies, and a wide variety of authoritarian regimes will be with us for the foreseeable future. Globalisation is nothing more than the industrialisation of the planet, and increasing resource nationalism is an integral part of the process. (So is accelerating climate change, but that's another story.) As industrialisation spreads, countries that control natural resources use these resources to advance their strategic objectives. In deploying energy as a weapon Russia is not resisting globalisation but exploiting its contradictions.

We are back to great-power politics, shifting alliances and spheres of influence. The difference is that the west is no longer in charge. With their different histories and sometimes sharply conflicting interests, Russia, China, India and the Gulf states are not going to form any kind of bloc. But it is these countries that are shaping world development at the start of the 21st century. The US - its bankrupt mortgage institutions nationalised and its gigantic war machine effectively funded by foreign borrowing - is in steep decline. With its financial system in the worst mess since the 1930s, the west's ability to shape events is dwindling by the day. Sermonising about "law-based international relations" is laughable after Iraq, and at bottom not much more than nostalgia for a vanished hegemony.

Deluded about its true place in the world, the west underestimates the risks of intervening in Russia's near abroad. Russia's weaknesses - demographic decline, cronyism in the economy and a seething sense of national humiliation - are well known, but western vulnerabilities are no less real. Our leaders bore on about Russia needing us as much as we need Russia. In fact, despite a recent blip, investment in Russia is a byproduct of the global market that will continue for as long as it continues to be profitable, whereas Russian energy supplies can be curtailed at will by the Russian government. Economists will tell you the country is too reliant on oil. But the world's oil reserves are peaking while globalisation continues to advance, and Russia stands to gain from any international conflict in which supplies are disrupted. Again, the west needs Russia if the Iranian nuclear crisis is ever to be defused peacefully, and without Russian logistical cooperation Nato forces will find it even harder to bring the aimless, unwinnable war in Afghanistan to any kind of conclusion.

Right-thinking bien-pensants in all parties believe Russia would be more amenable to western interests if only it were more truly democratic. But Putin is wildly popular precisely because he is asserting Russian power against the west; if he were more accountable to public opinion he might be harder to deal with. Democracy has numerous advantages, but it is no guarantee of a reasonable foreign policy. The current Georgian imbroglio is itself a spin-off from democratic politics. Mikheil Saakashvili's reckless incursion into South Ossetia, where Russian forces had been stationed under international agreements for 16 years, was most likely encouraged by elements in the Bush administration in the hope of damaging Obama in the run-up to the presidential election. The gambit may have worked, but the result has been a conflict that increases Russia's leverage over the flow of oil in the region and strengthens Iran in central Asia. If Dick Cheney's pledge of support for Georgia during his travels last week was a move in the Great Game it was spectacularly ill judged.

Clearly, with the exception of some in "old Europe", our leaders do not know what they are doing. The grandstanding of David Miliband and David Cameron in Ukraine illustrates the point. Blathering about national self-determination and territorial integrity, they seem not to have noticed that the two principles are normally incompatible. Self-determination means secession and the break-up of states. In the Caucasus, a region of multi-sided national enmities, it means a wider war and worsening ethnic cleansing. The stakes are even higher in Ukraine. Deeply divided and with a major Russian naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, the new state will surely be torn apart if an attempt is made to wrench it from Russia's sphere of influence. The country would become a battlefield, with the great powers irresistibly drawn in. Playing with Wilsonian notions of self-determination in these conditions is courting disaster.

Let there be no mistake: Russia is, in some respects, a dangerous state. With their background in the security services, its leaders are ruthless pragmatists who will use any means to achieve their objectives. Their goal may be to roll back western influence in Russia's near abroad, but their strategy is to take whatever they can. Perceiving the west to be in decline, they are testing whether it has any coherent strategy to protect its interests. From what we have heard from our leaders, it does not.

A start would be to shelve plans for further Nato expansion, while making it unequivocally clear that existing commitments in eastern Europe and the Baltic states will be honoured. At the same time every effort must be made to reduce Europe's dependency on Russian energy. Western leaders need to acquire a capacity for realistic thinking, or else they will be woken from their dream of progress by the force of events.

John Gray is emeritus professor of European thought at the LSE.
comment@guardian.co.uk

Monday, September 8, 2008

Election of provincial

On Friday September 5, Fr Pat Lucey was elected provincial of the Irish province of the Dominican Order.

Best wishes to Fr Lucey during his term as provincial. The term is for four years.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

20 examples of grammar misuse

BBC website gives 20 examples of grammar misuse. It is excellent and must be highly recommended.

Nut not a word about upper casing the first letter of word when it should be lower case!

If it's plumber or doctor why should it be Priest or Cardinal?

While it does laugh at 12pm no mention of the silliness of 12 noon.

Nor a word about the misuse of the word 'presently'

And you don't have to be a pedant to open the link below.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7595509.stm

Shopping early for Christmas

Department store Brown Thomas opens its Christmas section in its Cork shop today and in its Dublin shop tomorrow.

Major rail alterations this weekend

Major timetable alterations on Dublin Cork/Kerry and return services this weekend due to renewal of Multeen bridge near Limerick Junction.

Intending passengers should check at http://www.irishrail.ie/.

Some services between Dublin Cork, Cork Dublin have been cancelled. Other services will involve bus transfers at Thurles.

The notice in the newspapers and the website is not explicit in explaining how trains to Tralee will be delayed. For example the 20.00 ex Heuston Cork with Tralee connections will be almost one hour late arriving in Tralee.

Dictionary definition of anonymity

Four dictionary definitions of the meaning of the word anonymity.

1. freedom from identification: the state of not being known or identified by name, e.g. as the author or donor of something preserve the anonymity of your informant


2. lack of distinctiveness: a lack of distinctive features that makes things seem bland or interchangeable detested the anonymity of the downtown hotels

3. state of being unnoticed: the state of blending into a crowd and going unnoticed I always preferred the anonymity of the big city.


4. unnamed person: an unnamed or unacknowledged person.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's in a name?

The Republican presumptive candidate for the office of vice-president of the US, Sarah Louise Heath Palin, has five children and their names are Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper.

Clarification

The information relating to the last comment on this blog re 'closing down private blogs' needs a clarification.

The report as it appears on this blog was received indirectly and happens to be incorrect.

The request was that 'private blogs' be 'controlled' and not closed down.

Apologies for the inaccuracy. This blog takes great care to be accurate and transparent at all times.

Michael Commane.

Open session

The chapter of the Irish Dominicans was in session yesterday and it was open to all members of the province.

Last evening the meeting was open to all branches of the Dominican Order. Representatives of the sisters, nuns and, that horrible word, 'lay' Dominicans spoke. They spoke in response to the provincial paper on manpower. After their papers there was a short discussion open to the floor.

Earlier in the day there was a request that 'private blogs' be closed down. Again, what's the problem in naming the blog and being specific? But it is good that at least the topic is aired in public and in the context of democratic discussion.

It seems the 'request' received little or no response.

Whatever about the 'private blogs' out there. It is highly unlikely that this particular blog will be closing down in the immediate future or that it will stop commenting on issues of the day.

Again, there are comments posted on this blog today. They appear under the relevant texts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Michael is flying that kite far too high

If you wish to fly from Kerry to Dublin on Sunday September 21 to attend the All Ireland football final between Kerry and Tyrone Ryanair will charge you €295.74 before credit card fees.

This sector is subsidised by the Irish State.

Posting comments on this blog

A number of contributors have made comments on this blog in the last few days. They have posted them under the relevant topic. This means that the comments can easily get lost under older entries.

Should you wish to read the comments then it is necessary you scroll down the pages.

A licence to ride

It often strikes me how certain items of news become fashionable. They are the sexy news stories of the day. If someone such as Joe Duffy gets a hold of the story it is likely it will run and run. There will be a few days of fantastic indignation. It might even make it to the floor of the Dáil. Irate – that’s a great word for this sort of thing – people will telephone the chat shows and so the story keeps running.

Do you remember sometime last year there was all the hullabaloo about changing the laws relating to provisional driving licences. Minister Dempsey made some sort of a ruling that in order for a person with a provisional licence to drive a car they would have to have a person with a full licence sitting beside them.

Great uproar and indignation – another of those words – ensued. Indeed, the uproar was so great that the poor minister had to back pedal and the implementation of the new regulations was delayed.

They are now in force. This means that if you have a provisional licence you must have a person with a full licence sitting beside you in the car.

I wonder how the gardaí are enforcing the new regulation?

And in the midst of all the furore and indignation nobody seemed to give two hoots about the law concerning the driving of motorbikes.

There is no doubt about it. We are a funny little nation.

When it comes to the danger game, I imagine everyone would agree that a motorbike is a far more dangerous animal that the meek little car!

And guess what the current regulations for driving a motorbike are?
Let me explain.

You go along and do the theory test. This test applies to anyone who wishes to obtain a provisional licence. You sit in front of a computer screen and the screen throws up 40 random questions from a set of prescribed questions. The examinee has to answer correctly at least 35 out of 40 questions. On passing this test it’s off to the oculist for an eye test. So with the two certificates plus two pictures you head to the Motor Tax office and procure your provisional driving licence.

With the magic provisional licence and someone sitting beside you with a ‘full driving licence’ you are permitted to drive on the road even if you never in your life sat behind a wheel.

So after an initial period of ‘driving’ you apply to sit the driving test.

Having passed my driving test first time for both a car and a bus I don’t have to be ashamed to say I failed my motorbike test first time. Of course I was disappointed, even mad.

I walk out of the test centre feeling depressed and dejected having been given the deadly news.
This is where an Irish solution to an Irish problem kicks in. There I am standing in Spa Road with a failed piece of paper in my hand. And what does the State allow me do? Yes, right first time. I am allowed throw my leg over my Honda 680 and head off into the sunset on it.
Of course it suited me fine. But it must be daft.

A motorbike can be a dangerous vehicle. So how come the State went to all sorts of trouble to try to improve safety among drivers of cars who have provisional licences and never a word about motorbike drivers who have provisional licences?

And what’s even stranger is that not a single journalist or newspaper highlighted the anomaly.
It sure is a funny old country. Funny old newspapers too that they have never picked up on the story.

I’m back doing my test later this month. Gosh I better pass it.

Just hope they don’t change the rules before I pass the test.

Day two of chapter

The chapter of the Irish Dominicans is now in session. Today and tomorrow the meetings are open to all members of the province. This evening the meeting is open to all branches of the province - nuns, sisters, that horrible word - lay Dominicans.

The provincial election takes place on Friday.

Two interesting comments are posted on this blog today. One is immediately under this entry and the other comment is a reply to the 'The No name club' entry.

Hopefully people will speak their minds and engage in stimulating conversation during the chapter.