Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kidney Failure

I'm surprised that Declan Kidney hasn't selected Alan Quinlan in his 39 man squad for the autumn internationals. How can Quinlan be good enough for the Lions' squad 6 months ago and not good enough for the Irish squad now? Could Kidney be making a statement about foul play? Does this mean that Shane Jennings' Irish career is also over? But then he has picked John Hayes. So maybe there's the more innocent explanation that he's looking towards the future.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Official: Men Get in the Way

For years I've been labeled a backwoodsman and sexist brute for my single-handed campaign against men attending the births of their children. It's women's work I maintained - man's place is in a nearby pub. But from the early Seventies it became the norm rather than the exception - a by-product of feminism no doubt. All over the land ashen-faced males grimly did their duty, often distracting medical resources in the process. They came out afterwards speaking of mystical experiences rather than telling the truth about the abattoir it really was. Also, let's fess up lads, you never look on your partners in quite the same way again. The mystery is gone.

Now I see that my slightly dodgy rationale has been backed up by the much respected French obstetrician Michel Odent. He was being interviewed on of all places the Tom Dunne show on Newstalk. He had such a wonderful hammy French accent that I thought at first it was one of Dunne's spoofs - but no, it was the real thing. He maintained that men should not attend births for two reasons: it made the woman tense and so slowed the production of oxytocin, the happy hormone that makes the mother forget the trauma of the birth and helps breast-feeding; and it robs the woman of a lot of the feminine mystique she enjoys in man's eyes, an eventuality, Odent contended, that could have consequences later for the couple's sex life. His contention was that woman is best served by having another experienced woman, or mid-wife, with her. So relax lads, you're off to hook. Tell them Mr. Odent advised you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A World Undone by G. J. Meyer

This is as good a primer for the First World War as you'll encounter. It covers everything from its origins with the Serbs troubling the rump of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (a boil that was lanced with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand) to its conclusion with the redrawing of the map of Europe. It's particularly good on the political posturing and personalities that led to the whole debacle - military gung-hoism trumped political dialogue. It's brilliant on context. Besides the main action you get potted histories of the Ottoman Empire, the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also shows, notwithstanding all the guff we read about the Somme, how the Brits stood back from a lot of the engagements and let the French and Russians suffer the cost. The casuality statistics confirm this scenario.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

Not exactly a page turner like "In the Heart of the Sea" by the same author - but a revealing slice of early American life. There is not much on the voyage itself, the book concentrates on the fight for survival in the first few years. This fight was initially against starvation and then against the indigenous Indians that they were supplanting. There was not much to give thanks for on the first anniversary of their landing, half of the 102 that sailed were dead from scurvy and malnutrition. Their religious preciousness was soon forgotten in the battle for food and land. The most abiding impression you get is how amazingly resourceful they had to be after arriving in virgin New England: building, farming, trading, and fighting. A lot of the book describes various battles and skirmishes - mostly of course from a pilgrim perspective as the Indians left no records. The pilgrims had a nasty penchant for sticking Indian heads on spikes for the delectation of the populace. While the Indians were great men for the scalping. The book is strong on anecdote and character but a little weak on the broader picture - the role of England, the French, the other colonies etc.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The breath-taking presumption of that pompous prick John O'Donoghue in his risible and deeply disingenuous resignation speech in the Dail. He suggested that the people of South Kerry are so thick that they will be blinded to his obscene extravagances and look after him at the next election. If I were a voter in that region, and I do have a Kerry father, I would not be amused. I would be smart enough to realise that there is a connection between his incontinent (no wait a minute, unbridled is a more appropriate term) expenditure and the lack of funds for all kinds of causes worthier than his interest in the gee gees.

No Disrespect

What the fuck is wrong with us - Ireland I mean. The death of a very minor pop star - and by the way an apparently very decent guy - receives the kind of coverage in the national media that you might expect for Parnell or Michael Collins. While Boyzone are as charming a manufactured band as you'll meet in a month of Sundays, they are not momentous, they were (oh shit they are) limp, banal, and deeply derivative. Buddy Holly didn't die, nor even John Lennon. Let the poor cratur rest in peace.

And just to confirm that this was a celebration of the trite, Bertie Aherne turns up at the funeral suggesting a great loss to western civilisation etc. Dear God give me strength and courage.