Monday, January 29, 2007

The Oscar 5: 'Babel'

I’ve set myself a task of reviewing each of the movies nominated for Best Picture for this year’s Oscars. Hopefully release dates will suit this target!

'Babel' is a film about miscommunication. The title refers to the Biblical story of the people of Babel striving to build a tower reaching to Heaven. God seeking to put a stop to this feat of engineering gives the people of the city different languages so that they can no longer work and co-operate together. Of course the origins of the worlds various languages is not so simple and neither is the message of the film. The notion of miscommunication is multi faceted, whether it be the media reporting the events of an accident spun into an act of terror, a mute girl rejected and isolated in the busiest city in the world, a married couple unable to communicate, even though they have shared the same loss or the simple explanation behind a day trip being smothered by scepticism and panic.

Completing a self proclaimed Trilogy of Death, director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu creates a hybrid of the movies that went before using the fractured storyline of ’21 Grams’ and the multiple story arcs brought together by a single incident of ‘Amores Perres’. Both these films are harrowing, intense watches, ’21 Grams’ has become a by-word for a draining viewing experience to turn any type of day into a Greek tragedy in our house. Babel, a million miles from any semblance of a laugh, never reaches these emotional depths though.

The film is not story heavy, this is not a criticism, it is not the objective of the film to tell a plot heavy tale. Equally the film does not focus on style keeping a naturalistic look throughout, avoiding say the distinctive colour themes used in ‘Traffic’ to distinguish each perspective. Only one shot circling a young boy on a Moroccan hillside towards the end shows any element of playing with the camera. The film's focus is simply on being an observation of people in a crisis and their inability to communicate, so much substance of the film goes unsaid. While the individual stories are gripping they are unfurled in a shuffle effect so that momentum is lost more than once, and scenes tend to wander, particularly the coverage of a Mexican set wedding. The effect at times is a muted and under whelming impact.

Performances are all flawless, not a trace of over shadowing with Pitt and Blanchette, and great performances from Adriana Barraza ‘the Mexican Nanny’ and Rinko Kikuchi ‘the Japanese school girl’ have duly been recognised with Supporting nominations – a testament to the great ensemble on screen.

To finish, this is a sweeping, cerebral treat of a movie and absolutely deserves its nomination for Best Picture. The film is a raw and simple insight into peoples lives, each suffering from loss, whether it be of innocence, a family member or respect and yet it has layers and resonance, being selective in the amount of information it gives us ensuring we are as vulnerable as the characters with no guarantee of a resolution. It does waver but never so much as to undo the overall effect of this thoughtful movie.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Labour on food traffic lights

I started to write this piece with a view to seeing what it actually proposes. But on reading it I got angry and insulted. I felt belittled and talked down too. I felt that this document was treating me like a child. And most insulting of all that I needed someone to do the thinking for me. I feel the need to yell and scream at this document. But obviously I can’t point out every line in this policy. So here is some choice ones

People lead busy lives, so making healthier choices when shopping needs to be quick and easy. However, choosing the healthiest foods quickly is almost impossible at the moment for busy shoppers.

It really is not people are not stupid they know that chocolate is fating and celery not. They know that pre-packaged meals are not as good for you as fresh food. That Frosties have loads of sugar and porridge little. It really is not that hard to do. Yet Labour think so much of the electorate they think they do not have the intelligence to do that, that it is almost impossible for people to know the difference between good and bad.

The average person buys 61 items in 26 minutes during a weekly shop. Given that each purchase implies some examination of competing products, this means that shoppers have all of seven seconds to scan each label. Is it any wonder that consumers confess to a feeling of helplessness as they navigate supermarket aisles?

Two things. Firstly most people will buy the majority of the same products every week so that label reading was done either at a previous shop or outside this 26 minutes. And really how long does it really take to read the word Frosties. Why does it take someone 18.5 seconds to move between products. Who calculates that. Have you ever seen anyone time you in a supermarket. People chose to spend 26 minutes shopping it is not because of time constraints. How many people watch Coronation Street, lost Big Bother. They chose to watch TV and not shop. Do you get confussed in the aisle. Do you get panic attacks thinking oh no daddy or chips, daddy or chips, daddy or chips.?

Currently up to 11 different types of information are displayed on processed food products in Ireland. By the time a bottle of sauce or a ready made chicken dinner is on the shelf shoppers are often very confused about what the information on the label actually really means.

Ok lets take an average label for coca cola. Clearly marked are calories, fat, sugar, protein, fibre sodium. What is confusing about that? Are we seriously saying that the majority of people do not know sodium =salt?

Add to this the spiraling obesity levels in this country and it becomes clear that consumers need impartial assistance in making healthy food choices.

Look to cause of rising obesity is really very very simple. 1.) People are eating crap and 2.) people are not exercising. Now people know these things. They know litres of Coke are not good for you, that crisps are not good for you that chocolate is not good for you. Parents for instance, know this yet they still give their kids these products. No amount of coloured stickers is going to make them stop doing this. They already know.

The system would also address situations where manufacturers make unsubstantiated health claims about products. This is because Traffic Light labeling can reveal at a glance the levels of the key nutrients in each food product.

How is traffic lights going to help people know whether all these super yogurts like Activia or Actimal actually do anything?

But maybe I am being to harsh on Labour maybe people really are so stupid that they have to be told what to do.

Consumers in the UK have become increasingly aware that green means eat plenty, amber, eat in moderation and red, means eat such products sparingly.

Maybe we to are so dumb we need colour coding to know what to chose. Maybe I have too much faith in people. Maybe I am wrong in thinking that people buy chocolate inspite of knowing the nature of it. Maybe if people really have to question. Is it safe to dry a cat in the microwave after giving it a bath? Maybe they don’t realise sugar puffs are made from sugar. Maybe we really do need Labour telling us everything we should and should not do. Maybe we need a traffic light system for the next elections as well. Red means bad, use sparingly does it not?

Lebanon is off again

I know I have mention this loads of times but when you read MacDara in the Leb. You really begin to see how petty everything in this country is.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Oscar Nominations Are In

The Oscar nominations are in, comprising a selection of the movies which have had critics and audiences alike glued to movie screens. Irish interests rest primarily with Peter O'Toole nominated for Best Actor for 'Venus'. 16 year old new comer Andrew Simpson, a native of Donegal is the catalyst for the drama in 'Notes on a Scandal', starring Oscar nominees Judi Dench (Best Actress) and Cate Blanchette (Best Supporting Actress). Also Consolata Boyle, a Dublin based designer is nominated for Best Costume Design for her work in 'The Queen'. Finally I'm glad to see that 'The Dossing Times' movie of the year, 'Little Miss Sunshine' is nominated for Best Picture. I've been listening to its soundtrack and its great listening. Even better is the nomination for Abigail Breslin for her role as Olive in 'Sunshine'.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Custard missile.

Here is a conversation we were having today. A custard safety missile. If you hit custard powder hard enough it will explode so it is possible to create a missile using Custard powder. But what better way but have it tipped with a custard warhead. Custard is a non-Newtonian fluid. Meaning that it is soft to a little pressure and hard to a lot of pressure. If you filled a swimming pool with custard. You could not walk across is but you could run across it. So how to use this as a missile. If you dropped the missile on your foot the pressure created is probably not enough to detonate the custard powder as the custard powder would be soft at that energy. But if you dropped it from a plane and the pressure on the custard would make it hard hitting the powder hard. BOOM.

One interesting idea is custard speed bumps. Hit them at 50 mph it feels like a speed bump. Hit is at 20 mph and it feels like a puddle. But that one is not my idea.

Foot in mouth.

Just listen to Bill Richardson a Democratic party candidate for the president on MSNBC. Talking about his foreign policy experience that he has that no one else has. He talked of his time as UN ambassador deeling with 185 countries while the other candidates have no experience . Is there not 192 countries in the UN. And should a former ambassador know this? And even if he is referring to the time when he was ambassador. There was 187 not 185.

Monday, January 22, 2007

irish election post

I don’t have any other sources of this story other then Fianna Fail press releases so I don’t know how accurate it is (If anyone knows where it was said let me know but it is not entirely new). But if they are true and that Labour want a.) a rotating Taoiseach or b.) Pat Rabbitte as Taoiseach this is truly bizarre.

”Enda Kenny is previously on record as saying a rotating Taoiseach was not on. His views are in stark contrast to the position adopted by Deputies Costello, Quinn, McManus and Bruton in the media this weekend. The insistence that the position of Taoiseach should either be rotated between Labour and Fine Gael or that Pat Rabbitte should be Taoiseach for the full term of the next government says a lot about Labour’s lack of faith in Enda Kenny.

Fine Gael and Labour seem to be doing their up most to lose this election.

With Deasy coming out and challenging Kenny, and then the ease the Pat Rabbitte is getting rode by the Indo. I mean all he had to say was “I want Fianna Fail out but if worst comes to worse if it is required to keep Sinn Fein out of power we would go in for the good of the country and stop FF/SF happening”. Not only does it answer the question but it also gives Labour a shot at the anti-Sinn Fein vote. Indeed they could campaign on the platform that they are the only party that can stop Sinn Fein and again play the FF/SF card damaging FF. But a lass he is trying to dodge the question and allowing Pat Kenny to look good.

Now we seem to have Labour non-committal on supporting Enda Kenny as Taoiseach I mean was the point of the Mullingar accord not to avoid this kind of thing. Surely in a pact the first thing agreed upon is who is going to be the leader of the government. Surely that is point number 1.

Also how does a Rotating Taoiseach work. In Britain they have a practically a lame duck prime minister. With many people thinking, feck it we will wait till the new guy starts he might be better. With a rotating Taoiseach would we have people, unions etc waiting for the flip. Thinking that the other guy would be better to negotiate with.

I presuming that we would have differing policies with different Taoiseach’s. Which of course leds to the fact that Labour don’t trust Enda. If they actually trusted him to implement their policies then surely there would be no need for talk of an arrangement that has never happened in this country and to my knowledge in any other country.

Steve Stauton said “I’m the boss. I’m the gaffer. At the end of the day what I say goes, the buck stops with me”. Surely Enda would be in the same boat. I know this post just rehashes many of the points of the Fianna Fail press release but the thing is they are right.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pan fried Rainbow Trout with Sweet Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichoke mash.

Considering that Fortress Thomand has fallen I felt that I needed something to pick up my sprits. So I got cooking.

First for the Sweet Potatoes Jerusalem Artichoke mash. Take 3 Artichokes and peel them. Add them to boiling water and add some salt and Lime Juice. Boil for about 3 minutes. Then add a peeled Sweet Potato. And boil until soft. When soft mash them, add 2 tablespoons of Wholegrain mustered, some milk and some fried red onions.

For the Trout fry flesh side down for about 1 minute. Then fry skin side down for 5-10 minutes. Until the fish is cooked.

For a White Wine Sauce. Melt some butter in a pan fry some garlic in this. Then add milk, floor and white wine. Stir the sauce until the sauce is of sauce like constituency.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Great Movie Taglines

Read below a selection of classic movie taglines which capture the essence of their respective movies and some of which have entered the vernacular:
  • On every street in every city, there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody. (Taxi Driver)
  • Nice planet. We’ll take it. (Mars Attacks!)
  • Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free. (The Shawshank Redemption)
  • You’ll believe a man can fly. (Superman)
  • He was never in time for classes…He wasn’t in time for dinner…Then one day…he wasn’t in time at all. (Back to the Future)
  • You know the name, you know the number. (Goldeneye)
  • Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. (Jaws 2)
  • In space no-one car hear you scream. (Alien)
  • Don’t give away the ending – it’s the only one we have! (Psycho)
  • Be afraid…Be very afraid. (The Fly)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

What could have been?

I read recently that Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in ‘The Matrix’ series, his basis being that he didn’t think it would work. The man does not believe in regrets (including ‘Wild Wild West’) but he does think now that it was the one role that maybe he should have accepted. The internet is full of rumours as to people who were to play now famous roles, many were just speculation (O.J. Simpson was considered for ‘The Terminator’!) but a number of genuine offers have gone down in lore and make you wonder could any number of careers have taken very different paths.

First up the Indiana Jones box set includes Tom Selleck’s screen test for ‘Indiana Jones’ and he was first choice until contractual commitments to ‘Magnum P.I.’ meant we never got to see a moustached Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford got to play another icon.

Ford himself turned down the Michael Douglas role in ‘Traffic’ and the George Clooney role in ‘Syriana’.

Michelle Pfeiffer turned off by the intensity demanded by the role decided not to play Clarice Starling in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ which lead to Oscar glory for Jodie Foster.

Its hard to imagine anyone other than Pfeiffer playing Catwoman (especially after the woeful Halle Barry effort) but the fact is Annette Bening had signed on to play the role and only pulled out after she fell pregnant.

Robin Wright Penn falling pregnant also meant she has to pull out of ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ and she also pulled out of playing Meridian Chase in ‘Batman Forever’, the role eventually going to Nicole Kidman.

Stephen Baldwin, Ed Harris and Halle Berry were the original line up for ‘Speed’. Could the movie have been lost forever to B-movie DVD boxsets?

Robert DeNiro was committed to ‘Meet the Fockers’ so could not play Bill the Butcher in ‘Gangs of New York’, scheduling conflict also meant he could not play the Martin Sheen role in ‘The Departed’.

Every actor under the sun was considered for ‘Superman’, the most seriously considered though was Nicholas Cage who with Tim Burton at the helm, terrified fans with his plan to play the hero as a wacko!

Chris Farley had recorded the dialogue for the character of ‘Shrek’ before he passed away.

Irish actor Stuart Townsend had committed weeks of acting to film in the role of Aragorn in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series before pulling out. The terms on which he left the project are the subject of much speculation.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chavez more Democratic by the Day

It seems the Chavez the world favourite socialist man of the people wants to rule by decree for a year. I guess if it does not work after a year people can vote to change it. Oh wait! So do people still think he is a democrat. Do the people who think he is a man of the people still defend him. I guess being a man of the people he already knows what they want. So he does not have to bother with democracy.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A compromise on Reality TV and Soaps

Dearest Readers,

I’m at my wits ends. It’s television. Something has to be done about television.

Let me paint you a little picture. I arrive home from work at around 6pm most week nights. I’m tired and not up for anything too much. Ideally I’d like to sit in front of the box and watch something worth watching. Unfortunately I live in a house where TV is controlled by women and this means 1 thing; soaps and reality tv rule the roost. So if I want to watch something, this is what I had to choose from most weeks;

6.30pm Home and Away
7.00pm Emmerdale
7.30pm - 8.30pm a combination of Eastenders, Coronation St and Fair City

This whole situation got the George Bush treatment this past week when the soap ‘stars’ decided karaoke would be a good way to cement their monopoly of Prime time TV, and SoapStar Superstar was inflicted upon us at 9pm. Reality TV crossed with soaps, can anybody think of a worse union?

I can’t afford to move, nor can I afford a new TV so I’m forced to suggest a rather drastic solution. Now, before you get your panties in a knot, I’m not advocating the abolition of all reality TV and soaps (as much as I would like to). I’m a reasonable man and I willing to concede that there is an audience out there for this tripe. The problem as I see it is that there is now too much tripe on.

I mean look at the soap situation. There are 5 soaps on prime time television, each as stupid, badly acted and preposterous as the last. And worst of all, they are all on at different times, one after the other. Do we really need 5? No, of course we don’t and people don’t need to watch all 5 anyway. So that’s the first thing I thought about changing.

However, this problem is not unique to soaps. It’s demon bride, reality tv is another of the afflicted. Is there anytime during the year when television is free of the poison of reality TV? In its infancy Reality Tv was an intriguing social experiment and although I never watched it, Big Brother was worth doing once. You know, televise 10 ordinary people in a house for 6 weeks and lets see what happens with them? In the original concept the ‘them’ referred to the 10 people in the house, but in an ironic twist ‘them’ has come to actually be us, the viewing public as something far more interesting occurred outside the house. But I digress, once more the problem is not the existence of reality TV, per se, but the sheer volume. Now reality TV has mated not only with soaps, but also the music industry and has been polluting it for several years.

As I began, something needs to be done. So I propose that we compromise and kill several birds with one stone. Thus, as we trim down the numbers of soaps and reality TV shows, we should take the opportunity to clean up the music industry and anything else that needs a spit shine. So, in the short-term, let’s give the people what they want, the greatest series of reality TV shows of all time:

Pop Idol Big Brother This show will run just like the current celebrity big brother. Essentially, everybody who began a music career through Pop Idol, X-Factor etc. will be put in the Big Brother house. They will be joined there by all boy bands, girl bands etc. types. Every week the public get to evict an individual or a group (Income raised from voting will go to charity). The last individual or group standing gets to continue their career. All losers must go back to a life of anonymity on penalty of death.

I’m a Reality TV show host/judge, Get me out of here!! Anybody who has every been a judge or host of a reality TV show i.e. Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Linda Martin, Sharon Ozbourne, Ray D’Arcy (sorry, no exceptions), Davina McCall, Ant & Dec etc are all put onto the actual Skull Island from King Kong. The animals of the island get to decide who leaves the show each week. Last one remaining gets to continue their career.

Celebrity Tough-Love Island Has anybody ever seen the film Battle Royale? For those of you who haven’t, essentially it’s a Japanese movie where a group of teenagers are given various weapons, put on an island and told the last one alive can leave. This show would cross this format with Celebrity Love Island. Anybody famous who cannot explain why they are famous on anything worthwhile e.g Paris Hilton, Callum Best, Fran Cosgrave etc. will be put on an island in the middle of the pacific. Once there Battle Royale commences. It is hoped the eventual winner will have learnt a lesson or two about being famous for nothing and actually begin to contribute to society in some tangible way.

TV Soap X-Factor This will be a truly global show as all current soaps from every country will compete to find the one soap that will be allowed to continue. Each week cast members from each show will perform 3 skits; dramatic, comedic and another category of their choice. Public vote will remove the cast of one soap every week (Income raised from voting will go to charity). The winning show will be broadcast at 1pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday only. There will not be an omnibus edition on Sundays.

Strictly Come Jousting Editors of glossy magazines and celebrities who sell pictures of their new born babies or their wedding to them will compete in the medieval discipline of jousting. As both groups are present because of celebrity they will be refused protective clothing so all the world gets the picture perfect image of their face during the contest. As risk of injury is quiet high, the only guarantee is that at least one person will leave the show each week.

Big Brother Imagine a show that accurately recreates the world of George Orwell’s 1984. This show will do just that and is open to all non-famous people from across the world wishing to be on TV and become famous. A city will be purpose built on one of the channel islands (which one will depend on the number of contestants). Once there the contestants will work for the party all the while at the mercy of the Big Brother and the thought police. Room 101 will become the new diary room. The last remaining person will be offered the chance to do the talk-show circuit.

As much as I hate reality TV I'd be willing to put up with that lot, I promise. I might even make an effort to watch some of them. Once the shows are finished, the only reality show that will be allowed to continue in the future will be the new and improved Big Brother.

After that, finally, I might be able to regain control of TV at home.

Yours truly,


Friday, January 12, 2007

Psycholgy of Liberals and Conservatives.

Interesting piece on the psychology of conservatives and liberals. I guess I fall into the libertarian slot as I am messy and like jazz but hate abstract art. (Hat tip Green la girl)

Award Season

Other than the claim by the Stonecutters in an episode of 'The Simpsons' that they rig the Oscars there is a more concrete method of speculating as to who will receive Oscar nominations in the next few weeks than joining a secret organisation. The Oscar nomination system works that professionals nominate their peers so that actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors and so forth before they vote as a group for the ultimate winners. So looking at the nominations of the respective guilds - Directors, Actors, Writers - is a key indicator of who will receive Academy Award nominations. Members of each category can vote for Best Picture so equally the movies that appear most frequently in the Guild nominations are likely to be those contending for the top prize in March. To date the strongest players in all categories are 'Borat', 'The Devil Wears Prada', 'The Departed', 'The Queen', 'Little Miss Sunshine' (already released), 'The Last King of Scotland' (released today the 12th), 'Babel', 'Dreamgirls', 'Blood Diamond' and 'Notes on a Scandal' (yet to be released).

Slow here

Sorry it has been a bit slow from me here the last while been busy with work, life and But you can keep track of my writings on irish Election here.

Movie Review: "The Pursuit of Happyness"

That ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ is a story of survival against the odds is an understatement. From the off the central family are struggling financially and emotionally to stay afloat before the characters lives descend further into destitution and debt. Even the outcome of any resolution is not shown on screen. Comparable to ‘Cinderella Man’, in that it tells the story of a man desperately trying to survive and provide, there is an extra facet to our protagonist Chris Gardner (Will Smith) in that he has never brought his potential to bear. He has never entered ‘the boxing ring’ and in attempting to do so now any stability around him crumbles and he strives to maintain the trust of his son. At every turning point or turn up in fortune a further obstacle appears. Smith, a revelation, free from the need to impersonate a well know character or fill out a cardboard action star convinces as a man with limitless resilience. Even though the story has a message often churned through film, the determination of Gardner and Smith’s portrayal of this cannot but inspire and earn the audiences respect even when watching the doldrums of life he has his son experience. As with true to life movies such as ‘Walk the Line’, the story is linear and can at times seem episodic and indeed is shot with no particularly unique style. However the performances of the central pair (real life father and son), our instinctive desire to achieve our goals and a great story of redemption ultimately deliver a really enjoyable movie.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Iraqi Blog in Ireland

Interesting Blog here from an Iraqi living in Ireland. Latif Yahia used to be a body double for one of Saddam's Son's and has written about it. Now he lives in Ireland. He takes issue with McDowell here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blog Awards Time

Nominations are open. Here Emm I will not vote for myself but if anyone want to nominate me, thuthal or CK. hint Hint hint. Well maybe I will :)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tv of my youth II

I saw this on another blog but can't rememeber where it was sorry for not adding a hat tip. Anyway. Captain Planet in Belfast.

Ocen Girl

Duck Tails


For a bonus point who were the twin detectives in Tintin


Tony Blair has received alot of criticism today for saying that science not restricting people is what will solve climate change. Many people have said that improvements will only do so much.

This reminds me of reading a quote from a futurologist in the 1850s. Who predicted that by 1950 the streets of New York would be 6 foot deep in horse shit.

Damien details the joys of customer service with

Monday, January 08, 2007

Chilli Salad and Teriyaki Chops.

I have not done a food post in a while so here is what I did for dinner tonight.

First I marinade the lamb chops for about 20 minutes. In some mint, honey, 2 chopped garlic cloves, salt, pepper and Teriyaki marinade which I picked up in my local Chinese supermarket. Then I a fried this on a low heat with some mushrooms.

This was served with some lettuce and tomatoes that were tossed in a salad dressing made with. Sesame Sead oil, white wine vinegar, soy sauce, chilli pepper relish, salt and black pepper.

Apocalyptic Cinema

I had planned on writing a review of Mel Gibsons's 'Apocalypto' and praising it for being an electrifying movie, the most authentic movie I have seen in a while and at its core a great chase movie. So too I'm sure there is Christian symbolism, blood letting of our impurities and a metaphor for us being slavishly dragged to the city. However my trip to the cinema proved more post worthy. I stood open mouthed as a young boy, certainly less than 10, approached me as I entered the cinema foyer and asked me to buy him a ticket for 'Employee of the Month'. In case you are lucky enough to have escaped the cleavage laden publicity, 'Employee of the Month' is a comedy vehicle aimed at continuing Jessica Simpsons assault on our senses. I'm aware the girl may have a singing voice, has commanded concert audiences and is not entirely unattractive but so too I am aware that she is part of a media whore collective that drop albums, turn up at premieres and launch perfumes all so as to distract us from the talentless vacuums they are. So this young boy who had decided that instead of James Bond, Denzel Washington and the spate of animated movies out this Christmas he wanted to see this schlock (I say this confidently even though I am of the policy no one sets out to make a bad movie) stood brazenly in front of me confounding me- why not cigarettes, why not alcohol?- anything but two hours of drivel, the type of film whose only uniquness is that it is insulting to toilet humour and whose only assets will be placed firmly centre screen as often as possible. I realise this boy may have needs and possibly friends to impress but I firmly said no, progressing onto the excellent 'Apocalypto' knowing I had done society a service.


For all the talk from the Americans about bringing freedom to Iraq they are failing in possibly the most important aspect of Freedom. That of the right to self-determination.

Over the Christmas period I started to watch Aljazeera and I have to say I have been impressed. It gives you a view of the middle east that you don’t here. Where you get the westernised version of the truth. Now this is not just an attack against the fox news’s of this world and their Bush is great approach but also the so called liberal media that approach the subject from lets prove Bush is Hitler view point. This came from an altogether approach. An approach that we don’t see much over here. So it is very original to me anyway. But also it is not what you might think.

I watched a recent documentary on the channel. Called Witness Return to Kirkuk. (You can watch a shorter version here from PBS). Basically it followed a Kurdish journalist who fled Iraq years ago after being tortured by Saddam’s hench men at the age of 14. In one scene he was getting the grave of his parents fixed up. When the guy who came to fix the graves arrived he realised that it was the guy who had given him up to the “police” all those years. Ago. After asking him. Why did you give me up? The guy retold of how he to had been tortured. And was told the only way it would stop was if he gave the other guy in. Anyone that doubt’s Saddam’s regimes brutality should watch this.

The attitude of the Kurdish people towards Bush and Blair was on the whole positive. One old women even wished a statute be erected in honour of the them (there is something to make the Galway Alliance against War angry) . But the one problem they had with them was the fact that they did not support their wish to be an independent nation.

He called the oil underneath Kirkuk as a curse. Saying that it only ever brought them misery and they had seen very little of the money or jobs it generated. Indeed it was posed if they had no oil. Would they be independent? Even though they have more oil under the city then in Texas. Fuel shortages are rife. One scene outside a petrol station should tensions rise as one person bribed a police officer to skip the queue for fuel. The black market in petrol was also rife and there was a shortage of Gas.

This to me has always been the Americans biggest fuckup in Iraq. People were meant to believe that after Saddam was gone. Things would get better. But in fact they got worse. In the ensuing chaos of the first few weeks of war America lost the war. Wars like this are one by winning the hearts and minds. Hard to do when the hearts and minds are struggling to survive. The first order of Business should have been the rapid repair of electricity, oil and food distribution. The CIA estimates that in 2005 Iraq exported 1,420,000 barrels of oil a day. None of this should have left the country. The Americans were thinking to far ahead. They were thinking of improving the countries image abroad by making them an oil exporter again.. The priority for the Americans should have been to make sure people were 100% better off under the new administration then. Even some of the Kurds the coalitions main allies doubt this. Imagine the people who don’t support the coalition are saying. The American’s had to insure that every Iraqi had more food, more gas, more medicine then they had prior to the invasion. That should have been a priority above all else. Suffer the little children is great propaganda for the insurgents.

I wonder are the Americans looking at this the wrong way round. They seem to think by crushing the insurgency that underlining poverty and injustice in the country will solve itself. Without realising that the poverty and injustice is in itself a cause of the insurgency. And that it can not be left unsolved and the insurgency defeated.

The Kurds themselves find themselves in a catch 22 situation. Not one of their own making but one of America’s making. Turkey is a great ally of America. But they do not want to see a Kurdish state, less the 15 million Kurds in Turkey want to join. Not wanting to anger Turkey they are not going to budge on Kurdistan. To suit political expediency the very freedom Bush says he is intent on bringing to Iraq. Is going to be denied to their biggest friends there? It seems the neo-con’s are not dissimilar to their arch enemy of the Realists Kissinger.

The journalist in the documentary said he feared that Iraq would turn into Yugoslavia. A bitter ethnic conflict that will rip the nation apart with the blood of the Iraqi people. I fear that to. Iraq is a country made up by the League of Nations not the people of the region. I am afraid it will take a blood civil war for the world to see that nations are determined by people not lines in the sand.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Israel Simplfied

Rebels kill dozens in multiple attacks in India While this happens Israel again dominates the agenda with people loving to take their cheap shots. Here is one from Chris Gaskin.
Perhaps it is time for people to stand up and realise that the biggest destabilising influence in the Middle East has been and will always be Israel.
. You know what we could also say the biggest destabilising influence on the island of Ireland has been and will always be the Provisional IRA. I don't think he would agree that the Northern Ireland conflict can be defined in such simplistic terms yet the Middle East seemingly can? I don't think so.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Why argue in favour of drug legalisation when penn and teller already have.

TV of my Youth

James Bond Jr

Around the twist,p>

And Mike and Angelo

I can't find woof though

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Interesting graph here comparing US income vs European. Not entirely what it covers. Whether EU 15 or the EU 25. (or EU 27 as it is now). But it is interesting. Seemingly it does include in the graph such things as medical expenses. It would be interesting to see this broke down per country. From Back Talk Blog

Does a death toll make a war wrong.

Much of the talk about the Iraq war has always centred around the death toll. And using this figure to justify whether the war is right or not. Should we be doing this?

Say for instance that in 1939 Germany did not invade Poland but did start killing 6 million jews. Should we have stopped Germany? Of course we should have. But what about if we knew that the War that would be waged to stop this would take the lives of 7 million people. What would we do? What would you do? Would we lose 7 million lives to save 6 million? If you take it as fact that the holocaust was a terrible tragedy that had to be stopped no matter what the cost. Then it is the moral purpose of a war not that actually death toll that matters.

Also take the legality of the War. Legality of War seems to come from UN security council approval. If in 1939 the UN was in place would Stalin have vetoed UN action against Germany? Secure with his pact? Thus making the declaration of War by England illegal?

Now of course there is differences between Hitler invading Poland and Saddam being generally bad. And indeed invading another country is also different. But then again is there much difference between subjecting a foreign nations people to subjecting your own people to your own brand of despotism. Also considering that many legitimate UN operations have been stopped for one members own reasons i.e. Kosovo. Does the legality matter more then actual rightness of the situation.

The debate on Iraq at the moment seems to stem from those two questions, the death toll or the legality. But do either of those two things matter in determining whether the conflict was right or not. Sure they point to deficiencies in the planning and poor diplomacy at the beginning of the war. But I don’t think either say any thing about whether the war is right or not.

For instance if the war went to plan and only 100 or so died would that make the war right. If the UN approved would it make the war instantly right. I don’t think it would matter.

What do you think. Is right, right regardless. And was disposing Saddam right. And is the debate going in the wrong direction


There is an interesting piece of research coming out of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the University of Ulster. One of the major issues in the world today is the lack of clean water. Kevin McGuigan of the RCSI. Is working on a technique to purify water by wait for it. Leaving the water out in the Sun. Basically the UV rays in combination with heat from the sun kill the bacteria in the water making it safe. They are still researching to find out if it can be used to kill hehepatitis and dysentry etc. However there is some bacteria that are more resistant to this "solar disinfection".

However a group from the UU have discovered that a chemical titania found in whitewash can be used to breakdown these more resistant bacteria into something killable. This material can be painted onto sheets and placed in bottles and acts as aphotocatalyst under ultraviolet light. Thus it is believed that with the 2 techniques combined can produce a dirt cheap, effective water cleaning system. That has the potential to save hundreds of Millions of lives. More here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Outsmarting the Irish

After having dug to a depth of 1000 feet last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 1000 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed, English scientists dug to a depth of 2000 feet and shortly after headlines in the UK newspapers read; English archaeologists have found traces of 2000 year old fibre-optic cable and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech digital communications network a thousand years earlier than the Scots.

One week later, Irish newspapers reported the following:

After digging as deep as 5000 feet in a County Mayo bog, Irish scientists have found absolutely nothing. They, therefore, have concluded that 5000 years ago, Ireland's inhabitants were already using wireless technology.


Any one who knows me knows I am a big fan of spaced. And if you did not you do now. Here is my personal favourite episode from season 2. You can check them all out here. They are well worth a look.

The paintball one is also very good.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Village Now blogging

This is something I just noticed there that Village Magazine's blog is now up and running. All be it fairly quiet.