Author Archive

Aim of Human Endeavour in 2015 is to Avoid Other Humans.

April 15th, 2015 Comments off


Social media? You’ve got to be kidding. Are we all one big happy human family? (Setting aside ISIS and the Tea Party). The emptiness of the craze strikes me again.

I’ve just been to the local library to collect a book I ordered. Now this library is something – very fancy, modern, loads of space, big picture windows, students all along one wall, grandparents introducing their children’s children to picture books in the centre, and, if you are very lucky, a staff member here or there who may or may not answer your question.

It struck me how bloodless and person-avoiding was the whole procedure. I had ordered the book via the library’s website, that was fine. Previously you would walk up to the staff desk, mention the name of the book, and the librarian would find it, stamp it out and hand it over to you – maybe even with a smile. Read more…

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Women are disposable – still

April 10th, 2015 Comments off

IF you haven’t read recently about an Irish architect called Graham Dwyer, count yourself lucky. If you haven’t, you’re also probably living in another country, as the Dwyer trial was big news in Ireland for the first three months of 2015.

And if you haven’t perhaps you should – not only because it is a fascinating if repulsive story, but also because it, sadly, suggests at the underlying attitude to women in the human race.

And that is: disposable.

Read more…

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Tips for non-English speakers

January 9th, 2015 Comments off


Tip your hat. Give me a tip for the 5.20. I’m taking this load of rubbish to the tip.

It was the subject of cow-tipping (sneaking up on the unfortunate animals when they are asleep and pushing them over) that inspired a late night mental ramble through the many, many uses of this small word – and a reflection on how difficult such small steps can be for students learning English.

Here’s a list, without even consulting dictionaries:

Tip out – to throw something away, “I tipped out all that soup that’s  been in the fridge for three months”


Tip out – to eject: “Ma tipped me out of bed and it was only two in the afternoon”

Tip your hat, as above – “A gentleman tips his hat when meeting a lady.”

Or a synomym for “dump” as in a place to leave large amounts of refuse: “This old mattress has to go to the tip.”

You can give someone a tip, and depending on your intonation it can be sarcastic: “Let me give you a tip about the best way to wash dishes.” Read more…

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Best films of the year by A Long chalk

December 29th, 2014 Comments off

Everyone’s doing it, ’tis the season to be listing, cinephiles abounding – so here’s my pick of the flicks for the year that lies expiring.

The rider is that I haven’t seen either Mr Turner or The Imitation Game, which I suspect might have made the AL-List. The controversy is that I HATED Calvary, sorry to be disloyal to the Irish industry but it was a soggy pudding of cliches with the cherry of Brendan Gleeson’s ever-reliable performance skill on top. And you won’t see much-hailed Boyhood here, either. It was nice. But nice is not great, and the film’s main distinction seemed to be that it took 12 years to make.

So, taking it from first place…

  1. Jake Gyllenhaal brilliant, creepy, unsettling. Director Dan Gilroy.

  2. Under The Skin. Scarlett drives around Glasgow picking up men who end up in ooze (spoiler alert). Genuine art.
  3. Locke. Tom Hardy in a car. Yet you are riveted for 85 minutes. Respect for writer/director Stephen Knight.
  4. Two Days One Night. Belgian everyday excellence.
  5. Maps to the Stars. Julianne Moore sticks in the memory most from Cronenberg’s latest.
  6. What We Do In the Shadows. Silly, perhaps, but very funny. You expect that from Jemaine Clement, but the main vampire, Taika Waititi, was new to me and utterly enchanting.
  7. Frank. Not as mad about it as some, but it was different and well-done.
  8. Mystery Road. This Aussie movie starring Aaron Pedersen was perhaps not as widely seen as it deserved.
  9. Grand Budapest Hotel. Enjoyable whimsy from Wes Anderson with fine performance from Ralph Fiennes.
  10. My 10 was going to be Despues de Lucia, a Mexican film about bullying among teenagers – but although I saw it this year it came out in 2012. Highly recommended. Don’t be put off by what sounds like an unoriginal idea, for it’s masterly execution by Michel Franco.
  11. A substitute 10 would be Her, Spike Jonze’s movie about a man who falls in love with Scarlett Johansson’s voice. The Irish Times has it on its list, but does it qualify as a 2014 film?

Read more…

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On Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – the ‘asocial media’ emerge

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

It’s good to see the Irish authorities have reached the stage of public consultation on fine-tuning changes to existing laws so they cover bad behaviour on digital platforms.

But why not a whole new law, even a suite of laws? As netizens [ugh], or rather people who overwhelmingly both work and play via the internet, we should have controls that refer specifically to this environment. It’s no longer possible to pretend that the wonderful freedom and openness of the web can be a highway without road-signs and restrictions.

More and more, the unlovely side of the internet comes into view. And that’s without discussing the Dark Web, hard-core porn and its trade, ditto for drugs and weapons.

Up in the sunny, noisy, hillsides of ‘social media’ it’s becoming ever more clear, to anyone with sensitivity and clear sight, that the term ‘social’ denoting a big open party is a misnomer. Even the implication that social implies a concern and regard for one another is often inaccurate.

More often it should be ‘asocial media’. ‘Asocial’ means ‘without society’. And individuals such as those who threatened athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill with sexual violence after she stated she would not support the re-employment of a convicted rapist at Sheffield football club should not be welcome in any society. They have no regard from others, except for those who confront them in the flesh. Read more…