Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Dossing Times Movies of the Year 2007

10. Sunshine

As much an ode to space set movie classics such as ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘Alien’, ‘Sunshine’ is a master class in suspenseful examinations of people within claustrophobic confines in its own right. So too it matches some of the best visual treats of the year with its simple, yet excellently executed story.

9. Waitress

Yes this is a shamelessly girly movie, in fact a girl sat crying behind me during one scene in which our heroine sang to her unborn child while making pies. Nevertheless this earns a mention for being the type of insightful romantic comedy I want to see more of, one that manages to undo the damage inflicted by a hundred Meg Ryan movies – the problems are real, unwanted pregnancies, abusive husbands – the humour is real, it is the type that strives to distract from misfortune and the overall effect is that this movie is full of real charm and enjoyment. The lead, Kerri Russel , is set to deservedly make a name for herself. I read during the year she had auditioned for the role of Lois Lane and her work in ‘Waitress’ makes me wonder what she could have done with the role.

8. Stardust

The surprise of the year for me, in the vein of ‘The Princess Bride’, this intelligent, funny and heartful treatment of a fairytale is a great adventure, ‘Stardust’ is the post modern take on fairytale conventions ‘Shrek’ could only ever manage pop culture digs at. The combination of spectacle, young talent as well as stalwarts such as Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer refusing to take themselves too seriously combines to deliver a great movie.

7. Half Nelson

Ryan Gosling sitting slumped in a dingy hotel room, looking both apologetic and unrepentent in his need for drugs, as one of the students he must teach high school English to the following day delivers his supply, earns in my eye the performance of the year for Gosling. This story of conflicted conscience, class and race divide and human frailty is perfectly tied together in the redeeming friendship struck up between student and teacher. Subtle, effective film-making.

6. Michael Clayton

Along with this year’s ‘Breach’, ‘Michael Clayton’ is a good old-fashioned thriller, with issues and political commentary taking a passenger seat to the driving force of tension, pacing and great performances. Tom Wilkinson can do no wrong in my book and so too George Clooney and Tilda Swinton lend great credibility to this story of corporate greed. More of the same please.

5. Transformers

The most fun and original of what I am classing the popcorn set of output which filled our summer. Good simple mindless plotting, sees Shia Le Beouf somehow evoking Allenesque neurosis while managing to be a hero and get the ridiculously hot girl from the wrong side of the tracks. All the while transforming robots have arrived from space to track down a box and that’s as much exposition as we shall be getting so as not to take from the time given to blowing stuff up and directing destructive killing machines towards populated areas. Ridiculous fun.

4. Once

The underdog story of the year, this movie could not but melt even the coldest heart. A story set within a naturalistic world of bitter sweet romance told through music, the audience is gripped to the story of characters whose names we never even learn. This is the first film I saw having moved to Dublin this year and it served as a perfect reminder of the wonder of small stories set to a big canvas. The closing sequence is my scene of the year, which is posted below, though nothing will match the great experience of watching the entire movie.

3. The Bourne Ultimatum

Few films can come along and set the standard that an entire genre of film will subscribe to and more so the standard that the longest running franchise of films in history will reboot to match. The Bourne Trilogy has achieved this and the third and final entry is a perfect testament to why these films have such impact. Demanding, fast paced and making innovative use of film making tools to add to the effect ‘Ultimatum’ is an apt resolution to the trilogy, with a Moroccan roof top chase and a Waterloo Station chase being amongst the best sequences of the year.

2. The Darjeeling Limited

I begrudge the characters of Wes Anderson films, they get to live in worlds where their dysfunction and eccentricities are unapologetically on show. Whether I subscribe too much to the world around me or the reality is these fictional characters could never exist in the real world, I know that these films and their moments of reflection are always stand out and ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ is one in a canon of consistently great films coming from Anderson and the talent he draws together. My exchange of the year is a train stewart asking Jason Schwartzman ‘What’ wrong with you?’, his response being simple ‘I’ll have to get back to you’.

1. The Dossing Times Movie of the Year: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

In terms of the films I have seen, I feel something new was achieved in film this year and it came in the shape of this movie. Set to one of the bleakest, yet most beautifully evoked surrounds, the film has neither a traditional structure nor a crowd-pleasing pace. The film is full of pensive, stalled tension with characters minds riddled with paranoia and mistrust a world away from the gun totting legend of Jesse James and his gang. Pitt has the least to work with but does a stellar job in evoking a man tormented by his own legend and Casey Affleck delivers the most unnerving, layered portrayal of a man. An outstanding piece of work, a perfect marrying of image, characterisation and atmosphere to create a unique film experience.

Monday, December 24, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 12) Holy Night

Now for something more traditional Placido Domingo & Charlotte Church

To you and yours a very happy Christmas from all here at the Dossing Times.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 11)

I still remember the Christmas where I was over awed by the presents I got - very simply - a tractor, a game boy. So too I remember that Christmas Eve more than most, having being awoken the night before by the front door opening convinced I had heard Santa downstairs, though I was of course too terrified to ever leave my bed. So too Christmas 2004 I will always remember for it being the most picture postcard perfect Christmas day. I was woken up around 8.30 by a text from a great friend I had made that year to wish me a Happy Christmas and a hope that we were having a white one as well. I had no sense that snow was expected and presuming that his homestead was lucky enough to experience snow I nevertheless sensed there was a brighter than normal light coming through the cracks in my curtains. It was literally magical to open the curtains and see the snow and how it dressed every visible surface and the stillness it created all around our house. Then being up so early I proceeded to watch Willy Wonka, while the rest of the house alighted, each with a sense of excitement on their faces at what the day had brought. I don't remember the crappy TV choice or even the presents I just know it was a peaceful relaxing day, my dog bemusedly running around after us on the snow, probably wondering how we got such enjoyment from the snow crunching under our feet. It was a great day, one in which I felt thouse around me got to see that bit of magic Christmas that I see but sometimes the busy world around us allow us treasure.

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 10)

Having had Clarence the angel guide George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) through the reality of life had he never been born, the once despondent, suicidal man realises the value and fullness of the life he has. These final minutes of 'It's a Wonderful Life' are a classic of heartfelt Christmas cheer. Track down the movie in full over Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 9)

I was speaking with a mate last night and agreed with him that this year the Christmas spirit is taking its time settling in, through a combination of work, hangovers, little chance to watch TV and just a sense of mania. Its great to take a step back though and reflect on this story which Tuathal brought to my attention, one of that great redeeming positive feeling you get when you get a reminder of the innate good in people. I have linked here a well written account of the events of Christmas 1914, when there was a brief cessation of hostilities between British, French and German troops on the Western Front of WWI. In one instance a game of soccer was organised, drinks and cigars exchanged. In some locations the ceasefire lasted until early 1915, in others there was a return to arms on the 26th. The article linked above references diary entries showing both scepticism and a sense of comraderie at the ceasefire which emerged.

How to do a Cover

Option A. Fergie

Or Option B. Guns and roses.

Does not even need a poll

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cloverfield

It Approaches

With the coverage of the Irish premiere of 'PS I Love You' splashed all over the papers today, be aware of the looming general release and read here of my fervent warning to avoid at all costs.

Late Night Talk Shows Look to Return Without Writers

AICN has published a statement from Conan O'Brien, confirming his intention to return hsi late night show to the air in January without his writers. He willingly admits the show may suffer however he is doing so to support his staff. Jay Leno will also take the chance that day. Letterman is holding out, hoping to negotiate a special deal that will allow his writers return. Read O'Brien's statement here. Late night talk shows were the first to go with the calling of the strike.

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 8)

The all important Christmas Dinner is one of my favourite meals. The meal has become a real family effort in my house, eith everyone contributing, something that has developed over the years due to my Mam often working at Christmas. The meal can be cooked well and luckily we manage this most years in our house, while others moan at the dryness of their turkley or squishy brussel sprouts. Years ago the wider family gathered for the meal in the family pub with trays of up to 30 glasses of prawn cocktails lining the counter. These were fantastic days, manic and my duty each Christmas Eve was to help my grandmother make the stuffing, a task I still perform every Christmas Eve morning. The meal has developed over time. With some assistance from Simon on the dessert front here are some small touches I like to add when I am helping around the Christmas kitchen. Please note there will be no advice on gravy. Gravy is not my strong point, I don't know how to make it, let alone perfect it, so all advice is welcome.

Some form of alcohol to start the day (well early afternoon), usually Bucks Fizz in our house.

Make the prawn cocktail sauce rather than taking it from a jar, combine mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, a bit of tomato puree, wostershire sauce, lemon juice, pepper, tasting until you achieve the correct balance. Slices of avocado give a nice kitsch look to the glass bowl of prawns.

Pour a boiled kettle of water over your potatoes, leave to cool and then drain the water from the spuds before cooking as mormal. This destarches the potatoes, adding to their flouriness.

Fresh stage and pancetta in the stuffing.

Ease butter under the breast skin of the turkey and layer up the bird with strips of rasher/pancetta before its cooking.

Roast parsnips with the roast spuds. Gorgeous.

Cut the spuds for roasting at an angle into chunks so as much surface area as possible is exposed to the heat.

Cranberry sauce from scratch - simple put the fresh berries, a glass of water and orange juice, a shot of rum and more sugar than you think you need in a sauce pan and let the mixture combine as the berries pop. I put this on everything.

And here is a link to a dessert as recommended by Simon, which looks very tasty.I am not a dessert eater or maker and would rarely eat it straight after dinner.

Neverthless I do enjoy flaming the pudding, pouring over a shot or two of brandy. Avoid vodka though, it will burn until Stephens Day!

Finally, an Irish coffee.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 7)

I remember watching the Den of old on Christmas Day a number of years back and Ray D'Arcy and the gang were excitedly reporting that Dustin the Turkey and his topping the charts in Ireland had made it to Sky News. It struck upon me though to consider how notable the day has been in history other than of course being the centre piece to the Christian calendar and see if the day is traditionally a slow news day. Without having to think for long I remembered from primary school history that William the Conqueror was crowned King of England in 1066 following the Norman invasion. So too I have the selected the following noteworthy events: 1939 - Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was read on radio for the first time, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer appeared for the first time in shops in the US, 1941 - World War II - The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong begins, 1957 - The longest pro-football game finally ended when Garo Yepremian kicked a field goal in the second quarter of a sudden death overtime. Miami’s Dolphins nipped Kansas City Chiefs, 27-24. The game lasted 82 minutes and 40 seconds, 1971 - Shane McGowan born, 1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as president of the Soviet Union, 2003 - Beagle 2, a European space probe, crashed on Mars. It has never been found, 2006 - James Brown dies

Dossing Times Christmas Party: Race of Champions

So the crew here at The Dossing Times headed to London this past weekend, partly to sample the fine ale that our disastrously exchanged Euro could be spent on but also to visit Wembley stadium for the Annual Race of Champions. Now the other members of the team being genuine fans of motor sport, I was more attending in the spirit of a tastily eclectic life. And 15 minutes in I wondered what could be achieved by drivers racing for the next 4 hours around the same route. How wrong I was and an afternoon of exciteful, fast paced and skillful displays were put on show. Each racer, firstly as a representative of their country and in a second round defending their own good names to ultimately earn the title of Champion took to the track in 5different models of car including an Aston Martin and a specially designed Race of Champions car (See specifications here). The drivers came from the worlds of Formula 1, NASCAR and the World Rally championship to select a few. More than impressed with the intimacy of the amphitheatre that is the new Wembley, the singular draw back to the day was the glacial conditions. I had decided that because of the likelihood of me loosing such items as gloves and scarves etc they were best left on my bedroom floor in Dublin, a decision which was instantly regretted emerging from Stansted Saturday morning. The afternoon ripped by, demonstrations by stunt bikers and of monsters of cars I knew nothing about but knew I was impressed by filled out the time between laps where every corner mattered and a number of laps including the final 3 to decide the Champion were decided in nail biting, crowd pleasing style. So too some time was set aside to pay tribute to Colin McRae who passed away this year in an accident and would have been attending the event representing Scotland. The main piece of information I took away from the day (other than dress warmly in December)is that while trophies and adulation are all good and well, the ability to send smoke pumelling from your vehicle and do wheelies is key in motor sport. The day was one of good entertainment, one enjoyable to me as a novice and so too to my companions who appreciate fully the skills and characters involved.

Awards Season Scrapped?

Worrying times here as Dossing Times HQ as the inspiration for many a post come this January maybe whipped away from me as the writers strike in the US rumbles on. Those pesky writers could potentially deny their services to award shows therby meaning the Golden Globes and the daddy of them all the Oscars may not be held. The damage to the Californian economy is already a cause of concern for many and Oscar season is a particularly buoyant period, with nominations meaning huge cash injections and often the revivial of the fortunes of films critics are a fan of though not necessarily audiences. This could mean a significant up hill battle for independent film in 2008 as many such artier films rely on the publicity that comes with nominations and hype. The Huffington Post is happy at the prospect of a season free of red carpets and back slapping - read more here.

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 6)

The King sings Silent Night

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 5)

So I'm experiencing my 1st official Christmas party season, with the official work Christmas party going down a treat last Friday. A special plug goes to the Jameson Distillery in Smithfield who put on a great nite - an excellent band, magicians, caricaturists, everyone had an excellent night with even the most reserved of people in my office getting into the swing of things. I have no cringeworthy moments to report of bums being copied on a photocopier though somehow I think I did somehow gave our accountant the impression we would be going on a date in January. Pushed into the middle of a circle of dancing revellers I did some form of spasmodic physical contortions and later contemplating my inability to dance under pressure I thought of the David Brent dance from 'The Office' as a possible comparison. Below I have posted a clip from 'The Office Christmas Special', a clip that sees out the culmination of the series central romance, one that is heartful and mostly devoid of the cringeworthy humour of the series but not in any way to the detriment of this great episode. The clip can't be embedded so find the link to the youtube page here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 4)

One of the most important charatcers associated with this time of year, his power can also be wielded in the middle of Summer with a threat of him not bringing any presents if behaviour does not improve. It thought to look at Santa throught the ages, though Christmas party aftermath meanst there is no particular order to my selection.
I begin with the Coca Cola Santa, with the common perception being the soft drink giant changed the image of Santa to a jovial, round bellied man. My reading tells me though the origins of this image, changing him from the more saintly waif like man St. Nicholas was to the red clad man was in fact the image below from caricaturist Thomas Nast, with one article going as far as suggesting he 'invented Santa'!Then I chose the classic 'Miracle on 34th Street' as a natural progression, it being a stalwart of the American Christmas. 'Santa Claus: The Movie' earns its place here as I still remember it being put on the last day of school when I was in Junior Infants and had to be turned off as the school day
finished, leaving me absolutely traumatised as to whether Christmas would be saved. I prefer thsi much moreso to something like The Santa Caluse which tries to over exaplin and take away the mystique of the character. I can think of few more polarising images that these entries and that of Billy Bob Thornton in 'Bad Santa'. I will be mentioning this movie again but for me it should become part of Christmas as much as 'Some Like it Hot' or 'Willy Wonka'. I watched it with my entire family last year and adult themes a plenty, there is still a Christmassy glow from the untimate redemption on show. Go watch it!

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 3)

So I'm easing into my way into the inevitable selection of Christmas movies to be included in our yuletide countdown. First off the blocks is 'Home Alone', with the first Youtube clip chosen simply for playing the great Home Alone theme (Somewhere in my Memory), the second then is the extremely cheesy 'Alone for Christmas' from 'Home Alone II' with that dam reunion at the Rockefeller Christmas tree getting me everytime! I watched Home Alone II in Christchurch, New Zealand this time last year wearing shorts in the beginning days of the Kiwi summer and got talking to this American guy who had just sailed from Fiji to Auckland to tour New Zealand. Home Alone II was the instigator of our conversation and the subsequent night out that left me with less than $50 to survive my last week in New Zealand. Good times!

Irish Actress picks up Golden Globe Nomination

I am happy to be reporting that an Irish actress, Saoirse Ronan, only in her teens has picked up a Golden Globe nomination for her role in 'Atonement'. She was the best thing about what I feel is a highly over rated film. Clearly the members of the Foreign Press who select the nominees disagree with me as both Keira Knightley and James McAvoy have received acting nods and so too the film is up for Best Film.

Dickipedia

The premise for this take on that vestige of information Wikipedia is simply to give people a ripping. Find here a link to some unflattering words for Rudy Giuliani.

Christmas Day Movie

Want to die a little inside? Head to the RTE Guide listings for Christmas Day, and see the movie you know you will have to battle hard with the female members of your family not to watch -Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason! No! Who chooses this as the centre piece for Christmas Day viewing? I will do my best to bring you some alternative viewing suggestions.

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 2)

Today we bring you the opportunity to impose your face or the face of those you know onto the body of an elf. Said elf will then do some form of crazy dance and have your entire office in fits of laughter, racing to impose their own heads. Its all very simple and straightforward to do and there is a chance your Chief Executive will call in having heard the laughter from your room and remark you have a very big head!If i was the type of guy who sent Christmas cards,I would send these in their place! Head to elfyourself.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

'Once' receives 2 Grammy Nominations

I'm reporting this news a bit late but its noteworthy nevertheless that Irish movie 'Once' has been nominated for two Grammy awards, namely Best Compilation Soundtrack Album in a Motion Picture while one of its songs, Falling Slowly, was nominated in the Best Song category. It will compete with US films, Hairspray and Dream Girls. Read the nominations here on the Grammy website.

Christmas Starts Here

So today begins the Dossing Times 12 day countdown to Christmas. 12 posts of random Christmas related trivia, videos, information and whatever else strikes us over the next while. Those of you who can add will know it is in fact 12 days to Christmas Eve but I won't be posting on Christmas Day! So to begin we have Andy Williams sing 'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year'

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Movie Review: 'Youth Without Youth'

Francis Ford Coppola, despite his status as a mould breaker in film, suffers the same burden of having to bow to the ignominy of the Hollywood studio system and its demands of crowd-pleasing output. Consequently, you cannot help but wish for a project such as his adaptation of Mircea Eliade’s novella ‘Youth without Youth’, to be a success. Coppola has spoken of his passion for the source material and his determination in bringing the work to screen, describing it as his most personal project. The only feasible means of bringing the work to screen was for Coppola to bring its production to Eastern Europe. Using locations in Romania and Bulgaria to create numerous European settings, Coppola litters the cast with local talent, Tim Roth being the only recognisable cast member.

The film opens with our protagonist, Dominic Matei (Roth), now an elderly man overwhelmed by the disappointment of his life’s achievements. Never having completed his magnum opus - a study of the origin of language and human consciousness, he is haunted by great plans he once made and the great love he lost as a result. A cataclysmic event finds Dominic awakening on a hospital bed, his body restored to that of his 35-year old self and so too he discovers newly acquired intellectual abilities. A story of sorts develops. Along with the fascination of the medical community, word of his recovery reaches the upper echelons of Nazi Germany and events find Dominic escaping to neutral Switzerland.

This film is one primarily of ideas. The premise of a man restored to youth with the knowledge of the fruitlessness of time ill spent acts as a conduit for philosophising on the passage of time, reincarnation and the blurring of reality and dream. Any early attempt at developing mystery or suggestions we could be watching a war time thriller are cast aside, particularly in the films second half as Dominic begins a relationship with a woman (Alexandra Maria Lara) who through a similar experience to Dominic now acts as a channel to the languages of ancient civilisations.

There is always great potential in the value to be reaped from watching such a distinctive film. Movie fans relish the prospect of what pastiche of confusion David Lynch for instance can deliver to the screen. So too it is to be welcomed that a revered filmmaker such as Coppola chooses to deliver such a complex and demanding film, potentially introducing a wider audience to new viewing experiences. You cannot but sense a tireless effort and finesse being put to the construction and look of this film. Peculiar shots and stylised yet apt recreations of the decades the story spans show the work of a thoughtful filmmaker.

Unfortunately the overall effect is a numbing one. Roth’s Dominic is a sterile lead, wearing an expressionless face for the films run. He and the characters around him seem to have been plucked from the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, stunted and showing few dimensions or attributes that would endear them to the viewer. As with the characters the ideas are poorly expounded upon, the intellectual ramblings of Dominic, his inner self and those around him are uninspiring, convoluted and leave the audience disengaged rather than welcoming us to be a participant in the learning.

Intelligent films can layer their stories with examinations of any number of themes and ideas while still being cinematic entertainment. Recent examples that come to mind include ‘Adaptation’ and ‘I Heart Huckabees’ - these films tackle notions of identity, metaphysical examinations of what is truth and challenge literary and story telling conventions. Importantly, their expansion of such ideas is accessible and engaging. Certainly, Coppola should not be expected to compromise on the depth of the source material however it is essential for some cohesion to be in evidence. The film instead is episodic with no sense of progression or tangible resolution, so confusing is the presentation of its ideas.

Coppola first work in 10 years, following the peculiar choices of ’Jack’ and ’The Rainmaker’ is ultimately a dissatisfying one. The combination of unengaging characters and underdeveloped ideas leaves you feeling uninterested in reflecting upon the individual ideas or on the piece as a whole - surely the death knell to the success of such a film. Taking risks in how stories are told is to be lauded however with such an off putting delivery the film leaves a taste of wasted opportunity.

New Indy Art Work..........

............the most exciting bit? - the words May 22

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Top 6 Friday: Vocal Performances in a Movie

To mark a birthday, the promise of a night of karaoke and also just some good entertainment here is my selection of actors lending their vocal ability to the flsm they have starred in.

6. OK so Hugh Grant rarely deserves mentions in any list worth compiling but I enjoyed 'Abot a Boy' and I enjoyed his rejection of the offer of being a god father for fear he would be would try to make a move on said child once she turned 18. So too his performance at a childrens talent competition gets included here. Why? - because we need a number 6 and because I want to. 5. Karaoke in a movie too far reviled by audiences, revisit 'The Cable Guy', you just might surprise yourself. Plus how much more of an emphatic and moticated karaoke performance can you come across?! 4. Meryl Streep in 'Postcard from the Edge' A movie based on the autobiography of Carrie Fishers childhood, there are more acerbic one liners and dysfunction on show here then most soap operas but Streeps performance, singing for the entire run of the closing credits is a standout. 3. Melancholy all around as the interlocking cast members of 'Magnolia' take a moment out to sing in unison as to the misery the find themselves in an the way out they need to find. 2. Woody Allen directs a musical, Edward Norton usually a humourless soul sings, a more recent Allen film that not enough people have seen - 'Everybody Says I Love You'. 1. The Blues Brothers - Everybody Needs Somebody, no expansion required.

Random stuff

One of my favorite bloggers is back Palestinian Princess , now married and living in New York. But still with incites of her home. Check it out. Also posts today from Irish Election by me today

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New Motor Tax will encourage more pollution. There Is a lively discussion over on politics.ie at the moment about the new Motor tax regime. With many posters pointing out that it will make old cars paying higher motor tax then new ones. Poster noodles

Just checked my car.. Ford Mondeo Diesel 115bhp TdCi, 2004. 154 grammes per Km. That makes me a Band C or E290 if it was a new car. However as mine is a 2004 car I will continue to pay 560 + 9.5% increase. Well done mr. gormleyE350 reduction for new car versus my car.

AS I said before.

In 1994 the Environment and Forecasting Institute in Heidelberg, Germany conducted a survey on the energy and environmental impact of a car through out its life time. Having driven 13,000 km a year for 10 years. It will produce 2,040m cubic metres of polluted air driving and 922m in production. This mean that about 40% of the emissions coming from a car in its 10 year lifetime comes from the manufacture. Or to put it another way. If you buy a new car every 4 years the greatest factor in the emissions in the car comes from the manufacture not the fuel.

So basically this new regime seems to be incentives new car purchases and more manufacturing costs. So while it will cause a drop in Irish emissions (as we produce no cars) world emission would go up.

Nice one I am not the biggest fan of John Gormley but that does not mean I will not say he has done well. In his carbon budget one of the policies is to

develop a national energy efficiency standard for lightbulbs, which will see an end to the use of incandescent bulbs by January 2009.

I have always liked that idea. Incandescent light blubs in the home constitute about 3% of our electricity usage in the state energy saving light bulbs 3 times less. So 2% off our electricity usage is a pretty good thing in my book.

Priorities Science or Arts funding.

With the recent results showing that Ireland was only middling in Science and Maths people were wondering why, why can we not improve this. Well One of the reasons is this. From the Irish Times

An additional €12 million has been earmarked for higher education research, bringing the total Government spend on science, technology and innovation to €133 million next year.

So we will spend €133 million a year on Science technology and innovation in 2008. Compared to €245 million on the Arts. Considering that physics based industries alone (not even touching bio-tech or pharmaceuticals ) have a share of the countries turnover close to 10% and construction. While Arts contribute next to nothing to that figure, do we have our priorities right? Is the Arts twice as important to Ireland as Science.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A 9 minute wine ad

Now here is advertising. A nine minute ad for a bottle of wine based on the idea of Martin Scorscese embarking on a project to bring 3 pages of a never completed Hitchcock script to the screen, encompassing both a mockumentary style format and the eventual outcome of the recreation - a gorgeous homage to Hitchcock. Is it all cheapened by the fact this is an ad? - probably, but the sense of reverance for the great director running throughout and Scorscese's input more than earns your viewing time.

The Dossing Times predicts.........

Casey Affleck for an Oscar nomination next January. 'The Assassination of Jesse James' may be the most unique and distinctive film of the year, with muted intense performances played out in surrounds of the most striking beauty I have seen on film for an age. This is not a crowd pleaser, this is not a fast paced Western cataloguing James' last days of glory as a character of mythical status. Filled with paranoia and restrained exposition of the dark recesses of the characters minds, this is absolutely one of those films that demands viewing and is an experience, a challenge to what we normally expect of a film and extends your consciousness of what can be achieved in film.

Your Online Presence

Garlik, an online safety company, has created a system of measuring how prominent you are on the internet and, therefore, how paranoid you are entitled to be about the amount of information about you online. '50 Cent' for some reason beyond my comprehension has the biggest online presence, followed by people like Obama and P Diddy. Bloggers make up the majority of those taking up the top spots. The system is designed for people with post codes and didn't throw up any results for my name, but I like to see the types of blogs that have made a mark. The Top 5 bloggers are as follows: 1. Perez Hilton (celebrity gossip) 2. Harry Knowles (multimedia reviews and spoilers) 3. Arianna Huffington (politics) 4. Nick Douglas (gossip about companies and personalities in the computer industry )5. Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (liberal political blog)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Movie Music

Two great pieces of music that have added to the effect of great scenes in American Gangster and The Darjeeling Limited. From Gangster, Bobby Womack sings 'Across 110th Street' followed by 'Clair de Lune' by Debussy, aptly played at a camp fire in the excellent Darjeeling Limited.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Great Headline from The Onion

Not that the Onion is exactly poor on its record of having you laugh from the wit of so many of its headlines, I feel this one deserves mention. Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement. Read the full article here.

RTE now better then the BBC

People like to keep saying how the BBC is far better then RTE, how they make far more informed programming and all that. Well finally the debate has been finished with RTE demeed 100% better. Why you ask? This is why. 9 pm BBC3.
The ten overweight teenagers featured on Can Fat Teens Hunt?

Can Fat Teens Hunt?

Imagine the pitch. Its like I'm a celebrity get me out of here meets Celebrity fat camp. Public service broadcasting at its best. So never ever ever again will I give out about Killinascully.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Bruce Springsteen Tickets

Would anyone be interested in swopping Bruce Springsteen tickets, that is give me Thursday tickets in exchange for Friday tickets? (22nd and 23rd May)

Movie Review: 'P.S. I Love You'

The best description I can give to my experience watching P.S. I Love You is being stuck in an elevator for two hours with the most mundane of music being piped incessantly into my surroundings and an unnerving feeling that the walls are encroaching on me. The film is a slow progression of a senseless story with the most unappealing collection of characters on screen since ‘Batman and Robin’. Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler lead the cast, playing a struggling married couple, Holly and Jerry. She is a histrionic New Yorker, he a caricatured Irish man brandishing a guitar and an ‘Oirish’ turn of phrase at every opportunity. The story follows Holly’s grieving in the wake of Jerry’s death. Left a series of letters by her departed husband, Holly follows the advice contained within – steps set out by Jerry to guide her through her life without him.

Based on the bestselling debut novel by Cecilia Ahern, this movie, like the source material, is obviously designed with a specific target audience in mind and needs to be judged within this context. Nevertheless, while I would willingly accept that there may be familiar conventions and unchallenging progressions at play, an audience should at the very least expect to be entertained. Instead the film is an all-out assault on the viewer’s intelligence. The story is a paint-by-numbers patchwork of clich├ęs so overused that there is never any doubt as to how events will be resolved, right down to the message in the final letter. The characters live in a world of acerbic sitcom one-liners and romantic hyperbole where marriage and children are the only possible aspirations any woman could have. Grieving is managed by watching Bette Davis movies, jobs are randomly discarded and new love interests are introduced at your spouse’s wake. Swank may be a double Oscar winner but from her opening line, the character she is laden with is only deserving of an award for immaturity. Male characters are wafer thin, with Harry Connick Jr. so poorly drawn he borders on schizophrenic. Gerard Butler may as well be on a box of ‘Lucky Charms’ he is so infuriatingly animated.

The attempts at weightiness are feeble. Ideas such as being true to oneself, the impact of an absent father and the grieving process never ring through – due to both poor plotting and a lack of sincerity about the whole exercise. Events bring Holly and her friends on a trip to Ireland to reminisce on the couple’s first meeting. The segment begins with standard lackluster aerial shots of the countryside – a perfect metaphor for the mediocre filmmaking on display. ‘Oirish’ stereotypes would have been a welcome distraction here and while there are some, there is still no escaping the insipid heroine and her friends who make the prospect of a holiday with rabid hyenas look attractive. The sequence serves as nothing more than filler for a poorly constructed plot. The story lumbers along, riddled with embarrassing scenes so that it becomes a question of waiting for the next set-up to wince at. The story returns to New York dragging the viewer through an endurance test of a conclusion with the final fade to black being the single positive attribute of this film.

The novelty of having a high profile film partly set in Ireland as well as Ahern’s family connections means this movie will be a talking-point come Christmas. Unfortunately for all those curious enough to visit a cinema, the film never reaches above the level of a poor Leaving Cert essay based on an idea stolen from a Mills and Boon novel, ultimately serving testament to the ‘quality’ of female lead vehicles coming out of Hollywood.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Top 6 Friday: Douglas Adam Quotes

Atheism reared its head this week with religious groups in the States calling a boycott of ‘The Golden Compass’, with one of the plots of subsequent books featuring a plot centred on the destruction of God. Douglas Adams, a fervent follower of atheism and the idea there was no God created a wonderfully unique story for his novels ’The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe’ and ’The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’. In ’Restaurant’ I loved the idea of human ’evolution’ in fact beginning with the lesser people of an alien society crash landing here, their ship having run out of fuel. So too the sequence in Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe where Arthur Dent is introduced to the idea of a planet workshop, is magically created in the movie. I’m conflicted as to whether I should post the clip below, it does contain that scene, however it absolutely demands as big a screen as possible to appreciate and the accompanying music is by Coldplay. Top 6 Friday is 6 quotes from Adams, the simplest and most effective of the somewhat convoluted remarks he has made or written. The post is closed off with the trailer for ‘The Golden Compass', shamelessly plugging itself as a contender to the Lord of the Rings crown of a Christmas fantasy. New Line has not had true a success since the Rings films so its been a case of make one and see rather than simultaneous filming of a set of films.

6. A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

5. Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

4. Arthur hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realised there was a contradiction there and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.

3. He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

2. He shifted his weight from foot to foot, but it was equally uncomfortable on each.

1. The story so far: In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

Songza

So I've tested this Internet Duke Box and think I'll certainly link to it now when I'm in the mood for recommending music or tunes to listen to while you browse. Check it out here - songza.com

Government to Launch €15m Climate Change Campaign Today

Read more here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Annapolis Talks

Despite low expectations some strong statements and a timeframe emerged from the opening day of the Middle East peace talks in Annapolis. The BBC is reporting that Olmert and Abbas both view this as their greatest chance at achieving peace considering their weak political positions. Read more here.

The Song of Wandering Aengus (W.B. Yeats)

I’ve been meaning to do a post on this, my favourite poem for a while. By post I mean copy and paste it in here just to let readers enjoy. It was a poem I said on stage for a local talent competition many a moon ago, my English teacher having recommended it to me as one of the most beautiful things he had ever read. I cannot argue with that point. Then a shorter time ago, my first weeks in UL I was incredibly uncertain of my decision to go there to do my post-grad. Walking to the library I spotted the large stone slab welcoming people to UL had two lines of text on the back of it – which were in fact the last two lines of this poem. These are the most beautiful lines I have ever read, that may be a symptom of not having read enough poetry, I choose to believe I was very lucky to have discovered it. For that day at least I had a soothing feeling that everything would work out. The poem reads like a piece of music, so simple yet laden with inspiration from the Gods and mythology. Enjoy.

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I turned to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

'The Dark Knight' Marketing

The marketing for the Batman Begins sequel is going to new extremes in the depth of material for fans to pore over online in advance of the films release. Extensive time was given to revealing the look of the Joker and now with the launch of thegothamtimes.com come a string of sister sites all loaded with perspectives. I am not interested in the sequel but I am interested in the buzz the producers are creating and how film marketing in general will change after this. So too a prologue featurette on the Jokers beginnings can be found here.

I have discussed this before here. That same post also discussed Cloverfield, another film which is steeping itself in secrecy with the trailer below being the largest reveal to date.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The World Today

Consensus for once on the Middle East, all sides are pesimistic and cautious of what could potentially be achieved through the talks. We will no doubt be waking up on Tuesday to news of any developments. Read more here.

The delegates can discuss the announced principles for an ongoing bilateral agreement the US and Iraq, viewed by this commentator as establishing a permanent presence and tieind down the next administration to a plan that will be difficult to reverse.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Resturants in Dublin

A call for help people. Anyone know of any Good Restaurants in Dublin. By the way the one that CK wroth about is booked out :(

Bill Maher season finale 2005 with Mary Robinson

Friday, November 23, 2007

Top 6 Friday: Decisions Made in a Drunken Stopor

6. To Drink Until the Morning and Beyond

That feeling of being invulnerable and wanting to embrace the night and all it has to offer, determined neither hangovers nor daylight nor the entire breakdown of your organs will stop you,. So many great intentions, so little follow through. Succeeding with this decision is of course possible but can result in uber hangovers, financial devastation and disownment.

5. To Go on a Holiday

Oh my God that sounds so great, how in my sober mundanity did I ever not realise the craic that could be had with you a bunch of people I may not know that well, but am determined to go on a trip with now that I have alcohol replacing blood in my body. So many promises, so much enthusiasm, so much blunt force of the reality of life the next day meaning all this determination falls to nothing. As ever an exception to prove the rule and two friends of mine followed through on a plan to be at Newgrange early one morning last week and actually did - fair play.

4. To Make a Move

We’ve all been there, somehow the movements of the person in question are more provocative and inviting than usual and you feel you may as well throw yourself into it, whether it be the end of the night or someone you have fancied for an age. Equally the stimulus for the beginning of relationships as well as the destruction of time honoured friendships, making the move is perhaps the most fundamental of all decisions made under the influence.

3.To Accept a Dare

This entry may unfortunately introduce a somewhat serious element into the list as dares when drunk can turn dangerous. Nevertheless people have ended up dismantling toilet bowls, having their hair shaved off and skulling the dreggs of everyone else’s drinks for money all with great comedic potential and effect.

2. To Converse with a Sober Person

This is a classic of mine, slow down speech, over enunciate very word, I will not have the bubble of my sobriety burst in my parents/relatives/employers face and I will purposely engage them so as to prove this point. Give up for the love of God, you’re on a sinking ship and basically just look stupid and people will slowly push their seats away from you with you too drunk to realise.

1. To Write a Complaint to a Bar about Your treatment by a Bouncer

The rejection you can’t comprehend, your exasperation at their refusal to let you in, your shoes that cost more than they earn in a night, the power trips they need to go on for a sense of self-gratification. Such poor pathetic reasons you look down upon the bouncer, whether he be odd or perfectly justified you fling accusations, threaten legal action and swear blind you will return the next day complaining to management. Reality - you barely remember your own name let alone what the man looked like or how many pubs you were actually refused from.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A True Low

It has been a dark few months for Irish politics, I cannot imagine a time where a government was so openly arrogant and unaccountable to its people. Our Dail and its Ministers now operate without any accountability, with statements and reports deflecting blame and events have now reached a true nadir where for the second time in recent history a group of women have had their lives put at risk due to intolerable management and resourcing of our health system. Obligations to act in the interests of our citizens and their welfare are forgotten, with any action being delayed or no response coming at all.

In 2002 a phone call was made from Bobby Molloys office, entirely inappropriately making contact with a judge prior to sentencing in a rape trial. Whether the call was made by a member of staff or Molloy is unknown, what did happen is the TD took responsibility for the actions of his office and resigned. Now however we live in a State where Ministers can have knowledge of years of mishandling the nursing home fees of the elderly, can preside over a health system that misdiagnoses people and operate within a department where a business decision made by a state asset is never discussed, without ever considering their obligations and the integrity of the portfolios they represent. So too the leader of the State can openly lie to the nation, presenting half baked stories and have the audacity to take a tone with questioners at a Tribunal as he cobbles together pathetic snap shots.

Our country has inaccurate electoral registers, with an infeasibly high turn out in our last general election. Every imaginable social problem riddles our streets stemming from poor access to education and an imbalance in opportunities for all. The gap between the rich and poor is cavernous and all the while huge infrastructural projects and budget overspends have squandered the reserves of an ageing populace. To use the term waste management is a farce, so too our most beautiful country is being ripped apart by an insatiable need to build properties that we can't afford, with planning lumbered by bureaucracy and localism and economic management and the lowest rate of corporate tax in Europe failing to sustain industry, escalating inflation and diminshing tourism, our greatest asset.

Who are we to look to for a true alternative? Ideas are lost to our politicians. The opposition parties have essentially never led the State in a time of prosperity and have failed to capitalise on open goals such as our Taoiseachs lecherous behaviour - therefore neither good at spin or substance. Writing this piece has been a deflating experience, whatever the perspective, taking a large scale view of the state of the nation or looking to the quality of life of individuals, relaity paints a sorry picture.

New Carlsberg Ad

Happy No Music Day

The 3rd Annual No Music Day takes place today, with Radio Scotland taking the lead playing no jingles, tunes, music and presumably staff are prohibited from striing coffee rhythmically. So too the radio station is taking it upon themselves to make citizens arrests on individuals listening to music on the street outside the station. The purpose of the day is to instil debate on our relationship with music and the standard of the stuff we listen to. I know for one I have a strange relationship with music, owning as little as 5 CDs including Bruce Springsteen. numerous movie music compilations from my teens, Alabama 3, and some U2. It never strikes me to put on a CD while hanging around the house, it always the TV and whle travelling or indeed there is little on that I want to watch I will listen to the radio. I Youtube a very limited few songs to listen to while I browse on other tabs, I do not have in my possession an i-Pod and when I did own a walkman it was for the radio. I Youtube Bjork, Moby, Supergrass, Fo Fighters and of course some Journey. Songs I discover I like or music I might look into finding (which happens very rarely) would largely come from being impresed by the soundtrack to a movie or an add on TV. So its fair to say I don't have an in depth knowledge of music, despite knowing the power of good music, its mood setting abilities and there being few better nights out than a live gig.

Read more of No Music day here and find the official site for the day here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Helium filled Bubble wrap

Alas I haven't won a Wii from Science Week :(. But one thing that it did highlight to me was how little actual science there is out in the Irish Blogosphere. Other then James . I can't think of anyone that actually blogs much about science which is a shame. So I will try to write a bit more about science. We had a bit of a discussion to the other day at lunch about the use of helium bubble wrap. The idea being that by using helium in the bubble wrap packaging could be make the package lighter by lifting it and thus cheaper to transport. This is both true and false.

It would be cheaper for the reason that when you weigh the parcel in the post office. It would somewhat float thus the weighing machine that sets the price would give you a smaller reading, thus cheaper price. Alas in real terms you are not saving money, well you are the post office is losing. The reason is this. If you consider the parcel being sent by airmail. While on a scales the package would be lighter the airplane is carrying the weight of the parcel and the air around it. Thus even if the package floated in mid-air in the cabin. It would be the same as if it was tided down.

New scientist is having a similar discussion.

Movies begin to feel the Writers Strike

With a number of sitcoms, soaps and entertainment shows already in reruns, prime time shows such as ER, Heroes and Grey's Anatomy are looking at having only 2 to 3 more original episodoes to air this year. Now comes the news that movies are being effected, with 'Angels and Demons' the prequel to 'The DaVinci Code', the 'Borat' sequel 'Bruno' and the 'Justice League' movie each stalling, being left without a finished script to begin pre-production/shooting. Reuters covers more here.Arnold Schwarzenneger has set out his concern the impact is having on the economy of California and it seems the talks set for the end of the month cannot come quickly enough.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Venu Brasserie

So despite living in Dublin 6 months now, I realised descending the marble stairs into Venu Brasserie last night there was a lifestyle I had heard of but not yet sampled in my time here. Happy to sup pints in conveniently located pubs, I haven't been tuned into what is hot and what is not, when it comes to dining. A tasty Italian on Talbot Street was as exciting a meal out I have had, simply because it wasn't Eddie Rockets. I know of Chapter One and Shanahans on the Green and so too Gary Rhodes recently graced the northside with a restaurant of his but to date it was all look and don't touch. An invite to Venu to catch up with college friends was welcome without hesitation - looking up the location online to see about getting their I felt a loss of appetite coming on at seeing I would be paying €25 minimum for a main course and more dismay again at reviews proclaiming the Brasserie to offer reasonably priced foods. Had I missed an adjustment to what was meant by reasonable these days?

Hidden away off South Anne St. a reception area extends down into a high ceilinged cavern. My extremely unstylish corduroy jacket hanging amongst the other coats you are immediately confronted with a throng of fake tan and little black dresses partaking of what I was soon to find out were excellent cocktails. The impressive dominating bar acts as a barrier to the dining booths, ours booked wisely two weeks in advance. A large open room, with a high ceiling conversations echoed around at high volumes, as I looked around feeling distinctly underdressed even in my smartest shirt and pointy shoes. Late arrivals and contemplation of a familiar menu with some added class, main courses finally arrive with meat cooked to melting perfection, fish perfectly crisp and potato dauphonis I will think about for the rest of the week.

My meal, 'a cushion of venison' was the best cooked meal I have had in 2 years I would say. Blushing within with a robust poivrade sauce and roast pumpkin and chestnuts on the side you knew you were eating well and yes jokes were made that there had previously been a pattern on my plate I cleaned it so intensely. I'm living too much with my wallet in mind at the moment and had a really enjoyable weekend overall, the good company being more important than any meal I might have but if I am to pay such amounts I would gladly pay again for the quality on offer at Venu.

Weblink here

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stag Hunting

I always find it hilarious when I hear townie commentators in Newspapers (just because you bought a big fancy house in the country does not make you any less of a townie) going on about the the realities of rural life. Kevin Myres is on a rant today about how a stag hunt should be aloud as it is part of rural life. Sorry Kevin bullshit. Most farmers I know don't like hunts as it usually involves a load of toffs on horses running through fields disturbing livestock. If there is trouble with foxes or the like. Farmers do not jump on horses (most don't own any) don red coats and run across fields with a buggle. They get their shotgun amongst other things. Hunting is not a reality of rural life it is a reality of town life just because it does not happen in the phoenix park does not make it any less so..

Thursday, November 15, 2007

P.S. I Hate This Movie

I've just seen the movie adaptation of Cecilia Ahern's debut novel 'P.S I Love You'. I want to send out a warning now that this film will be a talking point this Christmas, but you the readers of this blog will have the advance warning that it sucks so much there are few words in existence that can encompass it. I will write a review after a period of time that will allow me come up with words strong enough to convey how absolutely horrific an experience it was. Get a taster with this god awful trailer at the movie's website here.

Some tunes

I have not posted these videos for viewing purposes, I'm aiming more for a audial experience. These songs - the theme from 'Requiem for a Dream' and a song titled 'Nara' by E.S. Posthumus should be recognisable from any number of trailers, are suitably dramatic pieces of music and of course great to listen to in full. You will see the videos are nothing special so I recommend enjoying them while you browse.

Science Week. What gadget do you want to buy next

It is day three of Science Week Ireland. With everyone gunning for a Wii.

So todays question is what gadget do you want to buy next.

To tell you the truth I am not much of a gadget person. To me science is about understanding the world, understanding how stuff works. That is what I get my kick from not from actually owning a mobile phone that can double as credit card or whatever. But that is just me but in interests of a wii. Which is one gadget I of course would like to have. Indeed it is actually quiet interesting seeing that it has for instance gyroscopes in its remotes . But for this I will pretend I don't have a key fob to get into my office and go on about it.

Key fobs are like so wicked cool awesome they like let you into buildings. Ya go key fobs.

Actually they are quiet interesting. Most of them I have used use radio frequency chips. You know how you go to some metro's around the world. You get a ticket that is a card. and instead of reading into the machine you just kind of massage it against a panel. That uses RF chips. Basically what they are is a chip that stores you entry data on it. I.e the data that the computer needs to see to let you in. When you place the thing on the receiver it sends a signal to the receiver telling it that you are you and the computer lets you in. The really cool thing in my mind is that the chip is powered not by a battery but by the receiver itself. How cool is that

No trust me it is cool

The signal from the receiver induces a current to flow in the circuitry just enough to power the chip to do its thing. It is similar to the old crystal radios where the power of the radio signal powered the radio.

I know some of you might be going what key fobs, how lame is that. How about a new iPOD to listen to the latest Frames ( Cat strangling ) CD. But that is just a device that leads to more cat death, the Science behind that is what is interesting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Censorship

Anabolic Initiations No. 5 is not a film you would think says a lot about Ireland today. The synoposis of the film on mentions the words ass, cum, sluts etc etc. Yet this film says more about Ireland today then any film staring that twit from the Frames.

A case has been taken by a owner of an adult shop against the film censors board for the banning of the film. Resulting in her not being able to sell the DVD. In this day an age it is a bit crazy. If you google the title which I did to get the synoposis the first link is to a shop selling it. (google it your selves). Considering that it can already be bought by someone, why does it make sense to force people who want to buy it to buy it where all the money is going out of the state. If it is going to be bought we might was well keep the money in the state.

But the other issue

The censor said in his decision that the work was unfit for viewing because it contained material that was "obscene or indecent" that would "deprave or corrupt persons who might view it".

Now who is the censor to tell a grown adult what are what will not corrupt the person. Why is this appointed to be our moral guardian? This DVD is of consenting adults it is not child porn. It is not showing illegal acts. (I haven’t watched it so can’t say for sure but I guess if it did that would have been the censors offices main argument.) We let people get blind drunk which “depraves and corrupts an awful lot of people” The point of the matter is, whether or not the government can say what people can or cannot do in their own homes (with in the normal confines of the law). It seems that we are on the cusps of social change in Ireland. The last vestiges of the Catholics church’s control on the minds of the people are holding on. It is time we let them go.

What invention do you want to see most in the future?

So Science week day 2. Todays question is

What invention do you want to see most in the future?

Inventions of the future is a very tricky question to answer. Because it takes place in our current understanding. Back in the 19th century a futurologist predicted that the streets of New York would be at the current rate of growth be 6 feet deep in horse dung. The thought that a invention such as the motorcar could come along and totally change the way we travel could not be seen. Much of science is involved in improving what we know about. Take laptops.

At the moment one of the many trust of research on laptops is about trying to get longer life out of the batteries, This is done by cutting down on the power need to work the computer. And this has been successful. But the interesting thing is that the obvious avenue of progress i.e actually improving the battery has been slow. The dry cell battery that we use in most products to day has been pretty much the same since it was invented in 1800 by Volta (Guess what the called after him) and hasn't changed much since then.

More so then ever do we need batteries. With climate change and energy security so vital in the world today. Renewable energies are big news. However they have a major flaw. They are variable energy sources. Some days the wind blows other days the wind does not. TO over come this batteries are needed. The main type of energy storage used is pumped storage which Ireland has one at Turlough Hill in Wicklow. At night time less energy is used then during the day, but it is inefficient to turn down power stations. So the solution is to use the energy to pump water up a hill to a reservoir at night, then drop it back down through some turbines during the day to get back the energy. To use this however to cover all our renewable energy would be impractical. Basically we would need an awful lot of these stations.

But there are other types of storage systems being developed around the world. Flow batteries which work a bit like car batteries save with the ability to once charged pump the chemicals out so they can be stored in cheaper tanks. Hydrogen Cells which are the big favs at the mo would basically be using electricity to split water in to hydrogen and oxygen. And then re-combing them, (for instance by burning) to get back the energy.

There are other storage forms of energy that are being investigated such as flywheel storage. Basically storing energy in rotating disks. Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage(SMES). Storing energy in superconductors. But all these have advantages and disadvantages and as of yet none seem to be offering the super answer.

So to answer the question. What invention would I like to see in the future. There is many inventions I would like to see. A room temperature super conductor for one. Much of the problems of all energy sources is the losses and resistances that they have. If super conductors could be used much of this would be not lost. Also indeed the SMES type battery would lose it is major impediment. It would revolutionize the world we live in. Everything these days uses power to minimize that power needed, would do so much for the world.

But That is the thing with science we don't know where it can take us. My choice of future is based very much on the past and the present. Like the guy in the 19th century my take on the question is based on my take on the present. But Science is not about the present it is not about the future. Most science is not invention it is discovery the answers to most of our problems are out there we just have to find them. So I can speculate all I want about the future but what happens in the future, what the greatest invention of the future maybe be, maybe be something we can never imagine. But some day someone will imagine it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What was the favorite invention from your childhood?

Damien Mulley the info king for all things blogging informs us that Science Week Ireland is running a competition of blog posts. To write about various science topics. Now I am not the kind of person they want entering this. Science Week is about promoting science getting young people to think of doing it and others to be interested in doing it. Considering that I am doing a PhD in Physics it is already to late for me to be influenced but they are offering a Wii everyday this week so thought I am unlikly to win as I am going to dive straight into nerd anyway and not have some great poetic story of my youthful brush with science anyway. Here is make answer to the question.

What was the favorite invention from your childhood?

One Christmas I got a torch amongst other things but it is the torch that sticks out of my mind. I used to run around the house in the dark thinking I was in the x-files (really Famous Five but in retrospect X-files far cooler) solving mysteries and that sort of thing for hours on end. Annoyed when anyone came into the hall and turned the lights on. I always remember looking at the torch an wondering why it worked why it gave light. I used to sometimes just sit and look at it turning it on and off thinking that if I just caught it before it went too bright I might discover the reason why it worked. Alas I never did see anything but I did learn how it worked.

But it is with good reason that I did not figure it out. Because I great many people have wondered that question and not really until quantum physics was first devised did people really understand why. It is basically Black Body radiation. Black Body radiation comes mainly from a Danish Physicist by the name of Max Plank. (Some say that is Enda Kenny’s and Pat Kenny’s true surnames anyway Picture on the right). Basically this is how it works. In an Atom the electrons going around the atom have different energy states. Think of it like a ladder.

So an electron is standing on the bottom step of the ladder. Then someone heats the floor. Depending how hot the floor is he will jump up higher. (remember your Warner Brother cartoons). Basically the more the heat the more the energy the higher up the ladder he can get. Also the electron has to stand on a step he can not float in mid air between steps. These different steps which are different energy levels they are quantized. Hence we have the term Quantum Physics (which is the study of the very small because very small things are ultimately quantized they can only exist or be with in certain slots) Now the electron is scared of heights so does not like being up on a high step it is unstable. But to drop down to safety it has to lose the energy that it gained by jumping up. (If you take the real world situation of the ladder the same thing applies the person would have to lose energy to fall. In the form of causing the air to move, sound when hitting the ground etc. ) So to do this it emits a photon of light. The frequency of this light is dictated by E =hv. Where E equals energy and v is frequency of light and h is planks constant. Thus more energy higher frequency. By admitting this light the electron drops back down to the stable lower level. Here is Planks Law equation that governs it encase you are interested. Wikipedia explains it.

I(\nu,T) =\frac{2 h\nu^{3}}{c^2}\frac{1}{ e^{\frac{h\nu}{kT}}-1}.

This is how a light blub works. The current from the battery heats up the wire (reason why we have energy saving light blubs as most of the energy is just used as heat not light.) and the electrons go up to higher energy levels and drop down emitting photons emitting light. The light bulb was not really invented by Edison. He merely made it practical. The first incandescent light source (As normal light bulbs are) was by Humphry Davy in 1802.

It is hard to pick one favorite invention from when I was a child, indeed it is a very strange question. Much of what you had as a child you took for granted. The car is a great invention but I never thought of it was a great invention it was just a car. But that is the great thing about science. You can sit and ponder the workings of a torch. Read up on it study quantum mechanics. Work through the pages of equations that govern it. Know how it works on a quantum level and marvel at the wondrous complexity of it all and how it can be described on a piece of paper with numbers. (more numerous pieces of paper and letters) Or you can just use it and be a kid in your hallway trying to catch the smugglers under the telephone chair.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Harney informed of inept service in 2005

I like Mary Harney, despite the fact her role is a spokesperson these days with Brendan Drumm running the HSE disaster zone. The Irish Times reports today that she was informed of the poor quality of the breast cancer screening in Port Laoise in 2005. This will be the greatest slur to the idea of ministerial accountability or accountability as a whole if this goes unanswered for. Read the story here and also coverage over on www.irishelection.ie

Top 25 Movie Highlights

THE TOP 5

5. 'The Silence of the Lambs’

I for too long went through a phase of being unable to admit I hadn’t seen a classic or well known movie that surely anyone who claimed they were a fan of movies should have seen. The thing was my movie collection, that is, my now defunct collection of movies taped onto VCR, began slowly. The whole practice began with a friend, T.J. Begley, loaning me The Silence of the Lambs in secondary school after he discovered I had never seen the movie. There was a sense of great discovery and almost fear of the unknown with this movie before I ever pressed play to follow Jodie Foster on her morning jog, The false reveal before the pitch black shoot out is one of the great constructs and smarter than anything Tarantino or Shyamalan has sought to dazzle us with. All the pity the Lecter character has descended into the ranks of caricatured villains. A random bit of trivia I carry around is that ’Lambs’. ’One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest’ and ’It Happened One Night’ are the only three movies to ever take home the big five on Oscar night - Best Film, Actor, Actress, Screenplay and Director.

4. 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'

Charlie Kauffman has already of course been mentioned in the list. 'Eternal Sunshine' deserves a mention, and this high ranking, for being so real to life despite the unique story of a couple seeking to remove memories of a relationship from their minds. Our memories are such strange filters of events, we hang on to events in such an onconsistent style, happy memories enshrined, the darker moments relegated to the back of our mind yet somehow still impacting on our personalities. Love and the people we love effect us like no other, the importance of and lessons we take from relationships can hurt us and inspire us in equal measures. 'Eternal Sunshine' captures this in the most impressive way, using an intelligent, funny and bitterly sad story, with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet delivering performances that make you want to be in love.

3. The Writer

Taking an original idea, a source novel or article, or re-working a poor script, creating characters and dialogue that can enter an audiences consciousness , building the ideas and providing the basis for the images to follow is an underappreciated and pivotal element to every film mentioned on this list. The writer deserves our respect. Talents that come to mind must include the afore mentioned Woody Allen. So too Billy Wilder’s work on movies like ‘Double Indemnity’ and ‘Some Like it Hot’ is the stuff of greatness. Wilder is of course a hero of Cameron Crowe, a great writer in his own right in work such as ’Almost Famous’ and ’Jerry Maguire’. David Mamet has filled work like ’Glengarry Glenross’, ‘Wag the Dog’ and a personal favourite ‘State and Main’ with sharp and layered dialogue. Associated more with his work on TV, Joss Whedon has done untold wonders with movie scripts. Uncredited for re-writing the script for ‘Speed’, Oscar nominated for bringing us the revolutionary script for ‘Toy Story’ and his work on films like ‘X-Men’ and ‘Alien: Resurrection’ has been infamously butchered. ‘Serenity’ of course hardly needs mentioning as the greatest example of the eclectic mix he brings to any story.

2. 'Superman’

Everyday, we create versions of ourselves that we feel will ingratiate ourselves more to the world around us but we often end up more isolated. How much much more of a symbol of this is the 3 versions of himself Clark Kent has to inhabit every day. The Christopher Reeve Superman movies are a mixed bag but there is a perfect nostalgic charm that enshrines the first in the canon in my memory. The scene perfectly epitomising this is Superman’s first appearance in Metrpolis, flying to save Lois Lane and a helicopter toppling from the roof of the Daily Planet. He catches Lois, reassuring her he has her only for Lane to squeal back ’You’ve got me, who’s got you?’. There is no other movie I return to more often. No amount of cynical misunderstanding that Superman is subject to can take from the great nobility of the character and his decision to do good with such immense power.

1. 'Psycho'

I first saw Psycho on a Friday night, introduced by a guy called Brian Reddin as part of a classic movie slot 'The Last Picture Show', shown after the Late Late Show on RTE 1. My father beside me asleep on the couch, I sat riveted to this story of a woman who makes a stop at a motel, the fact that she was on the run with money stolen from her employer soon became your last concern. One of the most discussed and respected of film makers, Hitchcock as a personality and the demands he placed on his actors, particularly the actresses at the centre of his stories, are stuff of cinematic legend. With 'Psycho' the stand out moment is of course the shower scene. What struck me though is a simple shot of the heroines sister, Lilah Crane walking up the hill to the Bate house unaware of the horror toc come and then the final scene of Norman Bates revealing his inner thoughts kept me awake that night and single handedly made me realise the power of film. 'Psycho' is my No. 1 because I see it as the first film I ever really saw, appreciating every shot, with the red herrings and lack of convention that Hitchcock brought to his films gripping me jut as much as they did audiences 30 years ago. A masterpiece.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Old cars not new cars should be the priority.

Labour the other day released a press release about the new car add’s showing the CO2 emissions from cars such as adds with g/km of CO2 in them. Tommy Broughan says

The transport sector contributes very significantly to our total greenhouse gas emissions. This proposal for making much more information available to consumers on the environmental profile of new vehicles is very valuable and worthwhile of strong consideration. The first session of the new Oireachtas Transport Committee takes place this week and I intend to request that this matter is placed high on the Committee’s agenda for a comprehensive hearing and examination.

It is however slightly counter productive.

One of the biggest emissions from a car come not from its operation but from its manufacture. In 1994 the Environment and Forecasting Institute in Heidelberg, Germany conducted a survey on the energy and environmental impact of a car through out its life time. Having driven 13,000 km a year for 10 years. It will produce 2,040m cubic metres of polluted air driving and 922m in production. This mean that about 40% of the emissions coming from a car in its 10 year lifetime comes from the manufacture. Or to put it another way. If you buy a new car every 4 years the greatest factor in the emissions in the car comes from the manufacture not the fuel. Now cars probably have improved since 1994 but not by a significant amount to render the fact that it is more environmental to keep a car for 10 years then the trade it in and buy a new more energy efficient car because the energy efficiency is nullified by the manufacturing emissions.

If Labour really want to do something to push for better emissions. Push for less car purchases, increase tax on purchasing new cars and decrease it on old cars. By doing a measure that seems to big up cars with low emissions per km. It will may make people feel guilty about their old car and get rid of it thinking that they are doing their bit for the environment when the opposite may well be the case.