Monday, July 31, 2006

If Music Could Talk

This time I got to see the last Top of the Pops. I shouldn't have bothered - it was mostly cringeworthy stuff and a reminder of how god-awful most music is. It was hard to know which of the past presenters appearing for the last show looked the most decrepit and pathetic but I'll go for Dave Lee Travis, the self-styled DLT. What a collosal tosser that guy is. He was trying to be witty and came across as a lecherous old git with a chip. Which he is.

Somebody Got Murdered

Well that's it - they really have fucked up royally. It doesn't matter anymore if the IDF was right to take the fight to Hizbullah in the manner they did in the first place. It also doesn't matter anymore that the fact Hizbullah have not been seriously weakened is proof positive that they have spent the years preparing solely for a fight with Israel on their terms. Hizbullah may hide among the civilians but, frankly, that was Israel's hard cheese - they had to deal with it and deal with it in a manner that didn't slaughter innocents. They couldn't do it and now they must stop shooting.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Complete Control

Bit Irish Times mad these last few days...

Anyway they have managed to print the same Guardian Service report in both yesterday's and today's editions.

Yesterday it was headlined "We have to kill them before they come to kill us" whereas today it is headlined "Zealots join Israeli troops on the front line".

Interesting difference...

Hate And War

This Martyn Turner cartoon appears in today's Irish Times. You can see what he's saying on the surface - that such groups can't be defeated militarily (and, indeed, anyone would struggle to name a terrorist group using guerilla tactics that has ever been defeated militarily). Unfortunately the underlying implication is that there must be some other way to resolve such conflicts, which can only mean negotiations.

With that in mind it has been instructive to note how many people have used the example of Britain's response to IRA terrorist activity as an analogy with Israel's current activities. Basically the point appears to be that Britain didn't respond to IRA atrocities by launching air strikes on Dublin and ground assaults into the Irish side of the border with the North to wipe out the IRA, so why is it OK for Israel to do something similar in Lebanon?

It really does prove how ignorant people remain of radical Islam. For a start the radical Islamists have no interest in negotiations - they truly believe that they must wage Jihad until all infidels have been driven from all (their) holy lands. They are not nationalists with easily defined political goals a la the IRA or ETA. Any negotiations they carry out are simply to buy time or breathing space before launching the next round of attacks. After all what did Hizbullah do when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon? It moved its people and weapons up to the border to launch the attacks we have seen when the time came.

Second, Lebanon today and Ireland of the 1970s and 1980s are incomparable. The Irish authorities always attempted to take on the provos, albeit with policing and intelligence tactics as opposed to military ones, and were never as impotent in the face of IRA attacks on Britain as the Lebanese government are in the face of Hizbullah. Furthermore IRA attacks were always launched from within Britain's borders - bombing Dublin would have zero affect on IRA capabilities and, if anything, would prevent the Irish authorities from working against the IRA. Lebanon has shown neither the inclination nor appetite to take on Hizbullah.

Lastly the IRA had a narrow political aim - and it wasn't the annihilation of the Protestant people or the wiping out of Northern Ireland or Britain. Hizbullah and its sponsors have stated that that is what they want for Israel. It's worth noting that Israel has not been an enemy of Jordan or Egypt since those governments saw sense and made their peace with Israel, remembering that both states are secular and not run by radical Islamists.

People here seem to see everything in terms of Imperialist v Nationalist, Oppresser v Oppressed and Overlords v Freedom-fighters, which only colours their thinking. Until they realise the true nature of the Sharia-ah law-imposing nutjobs, Israel will remain on its own.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Complete Control

In a recent Irish Times Book Review of Noam Chomsky's The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy, Hugh Linehan (the reviewer) points out that "Chomsky is a master of the quotation, although his tendency to slip in and out of them rather than quoting entire extracts may make the conscientious reader uneasy. But how many are likely to go back to trace the hundreds of different sources?"

Last Friday a letter was published in the Times written by, among others, Noam Chomsky. Right at the start they state that "[t]he latest chapter of the conflict between Israel and Palestine began when Israeli forces abducted two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from Gaza. An incident scarcely reported anywhere, except in the Turkish press." The obvious implication being that, contrary to conventional wisdom, 'they started it'.

So, after reading Chomsky et al's letter, how many did 'go back to trace the different sources.'? Well at least one person has, and his letter is in todays Times. In it he writes that "after a brief trawl through the Internet I find [the kidnap incident] mentioned by - among others - the Observer, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, CNN and Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency."

In Lenihan's original book review he also says "[c]ontext is not necessarily a defence against any of Chomsky's charges, but its complete absence here is breathtaking... if we truly seek to understand the political, economic and military dynamics of power in the 21st century, we are ill-served by a narrative which so aggressively occludes huge swathes of that story.'

With that in mind I return to today's correspondant who writes "[f]urthermore, the source for this story seems to an Israeli Defence Forces spokesman. The "doctor and his brother" accordingly become "two Hamas members believed to be planning a large attack against Israel". Additionally, the 'doctor' in the story is a 31-year-old medical student lately returned from university in Sudan: I could not ascertain from the story whether he had ever practised medicine anywhere, though the letter seems to imply that the Israelis plucked the scalpel from his hand and dragged him away from sick patients." Hmmm.

It's also worth noting that one of the blurbs on the dustjacket of the book has a quote attributed to David Goodhart, editor of Prospect magazine: "Chomsky has an authority granted by brilliance." Goodhart did indeed write those grand words, but they were written in relation to Chomsky's academic field of linguistics not his geopolitical analysis. What did Linehan write about context?...

Armagideon Time

I'm sick of the word 'disproportionate'.

Monday, July 24, 2006

If Music Could Talk

I thought last night's Top of the Pops was the last one (it isn't - that's next week) so I tuned in for nostalgia purposes. Unfortunately I was treated to the aural (and visual) torture that was Ronan Keating covering The Goo Goo Doll's Iris. Christ above it was awful. He even managed to do a perfect impression of his own Gift Grub parody by shouting out "Thank you very much Top of the Pops!" in the middle of a quiet instrumental section. Gobshite.

Surrender

There was a Socialist Party demonstration in the centre of Cork on Saturday. There were a number of placards detailing Israeli actions/atrocities but nothing mentioning or condemning the firing of rockets from Lebanese civilian areas into Israeli civilian areas by Hizbullah.

Anyway what I want to know is how, exactly, the socialists/communists of western Europe have managed to side with religious fanatics who justify every act of depravity they commit as being the will of God.

I'm sure they might reply that they are siding with the 'people' and not the terrorists but it is quite clear that all the Islamic fanatical groups are living among and draw their membership from the 'people'. So either they have the tacit support of ordinary Middle Eastern muslims or they are holding these communities hostage to their mental point of view.

Either way the lefties should be happy to see Israel take those facists on, but Israel is supported by the US and anti-Americanism obviously overides all other considerations these days.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hate And War

It's easy to believe the world is going to hell in a handcart, but it's worth remembering that things seem so bad because the 1990s were a time of relative peace - if you didn't live in the Balkans, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, Colombia... The Middle East has been a mess since the end of the First World War with war, terrorism, hijackings, kidnappings and so on. It really isn't any worse now than pre-1991 (not that we're in a *good* place or anything) - we've just been conditioned to believe it is with all this "Global War on Terror" stuff, and the implication that Al Qaeda is this globally masterminded terror network pulling all the strings. Well it isn't and things will calm down again, relatively, soon enough. Unfortunately, just like an Iraqi being liberated, that's not much use if your dead, I suppose.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Complete Control

The front page of The Sunday Times' News Review section two days ago was devoted to a story about how Kylie Minogue has battled back from breast cancer. The article gives a brief introduction to the moment she was diagnosed before announcing that the full interview could be seen that evening on Sky One at 10pm.

Apropos of nothing BSkyB and The Sunday Times are both owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Stranger In A Strange Land

I'm busy trying to get myself to Stuttgart on Electric Picnic weekend for the big Euro qualifier versus the krauts. I'm trying to do it in such a way that I don't get raped by the airlines (all of which have jacked up their prices to the hilt for direct flights to Germany that weekend). The FAI's allocation of tickets is already oversubscribed, so I'm not even sure I'll get to the game!


In the meantime pricing has been announced for the games in Crokers next year. Needless to say the egg-chasers are attempting to fleece their middle-class, bandwagon jumping 'fans' (short for fanatic, remember - ridiculous). The FAI aren't being quite so bad. When asked about it by RTE 'An IRFU spokesman said the difference in price merely reflects the different markets involved.' CLASS!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Walk To The Water

Dunno if I ever said this before - but I drink Harp. So there. Of course since we got all uppity in Ireland nobody else drinks Harp now except Northerners (and I don't like being lumped in with them at the best of times). But, as an exiled Dundalk man I, a) feel some brand loyalty to the local Great Northern Brewery and b) actually like the stuff.

Well right now I'm sitting in the Aer Lingus Premier Lounge in Boston Airport (having got here 3 hours early because of my slightly rotund, and anally retentive, work colleague who was too tired to walk around Boston and insistant that we check in the full two hours before our flight) and drinking a bottle of Harp.

As anyone who has bought beer in the US may know Harp is one of the more expensive brands of lager. Well I was all happy just now explaining to some American sitting beside me how I was from the town it's brewed in. I turned the label to show him and saw... "Product of Canada" Fecking Canada! WTF!! So that's where all the jobs went when Guinness scaled back. Big bunch of James Blunts. I'm not going to finish it...

Friday, July 14, 2006

I Fought The Law

Have you ever noticed that if some punter writes a letter to a paper or contributes to a radio show denouncing American or Israeli actions, they always refer to the “violation of international law”? Well I have - look out for it.

I would like to believe that I’m not in a minority of people when I confess my expertise in the area of International Law – specifically knowing when judgement has been passed that it has been violated – to be rather limited.

It would be nice, don't you think, if these people would be a bit more precise about which part or parts of international law have been violated (and who has passed such judgement)? That way an average bloke like me can be reassured that such statements of certainty are accurate and not (heaven forbid) used lazily to add weight to a one-sided worldview.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Beautiful Days


Yes! Forza Italia!! I got only one bet right all tournament but it was my main one - 30 quid on the wops at 9/1... MAGIC!!!

It wasn't the flowing final the whole world wanted to see, unsurprisingly. I think you're guaranteed a cagey game when there's so much at stake. But personally I was gripped by it (apart from possibly the last 20 minutes of normal time and the first period of extra time where the Italians were out on their feet - their substitutions having backfired - and seemed to be hanging on for a draw).

Still, over the course of the tournament the better team won out. They played the match of the tournament (the semi versus Germany); gave us the most beautiful moment of the tournament (Grosso's goal and celebration in the same game) and had the outstanding player of the tournament in the legend that is Fabio Cannavaro.

France, on the other hand, were shocking in the Group Stage, won through the last-16 against Spain following an outrageous piece of cheating by Terry Henry; have an utter clown for a goalkeeper in Fabian Barthez; were dull in the semi against toothless Portugal; took the lead fortuitously tonight after a dive to win a penalty; and were badly let down by Zizou. Poor Zizou, what a stupid thing to do... I'm also glad that the coach Domenech has won nothing - a guy who doesn't select Scorpios in his squad and is afraid that his Leos will commit a rash act in every game.

I wonder what might have been, had Argentina fulfilled their early promise. But they left two indelible marks on the competition - Cambiasso's 'team' goal and Rodriguez's late individual wonder strike against Mexico. There's a cigarette paper between them for best goal of the tournament.

Now it's time to go football cold turkey for a while. League of Ireland head tennis in other words!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Another Time, Another Place

This day eight years ago I watched a World Cup Quarter Final between Holland and Argentina in Roosendaal in Holland. I had gone over to visit a mate for a week - before I started my first job in Drogheda a couple of days later. I wasn't staying in Roosendaal but in some smaller town down the railway line a bit. My mate was working in a small family hotel there for a few months.

There was a festival on in Roosendaal and the whole place was decked out in orange on a scorcher of a day. We went down on the train in the afternoon and started boozing immediately and getting food from all the on-street barbeques. The main square was packed and the amount of orange would blind you. The streets and square were full for the game, which Holland won 2-1, with the winner being a late wonder-strike by Denis Bergkamp (below).

The place went absolutely nuts but I didn't. I seem to have a love for Argentina (like I have for Russia) that's not based in any logic, only childhood memories that have left an impression. Anyway, trying to take advantage of the mood, I remember in particular talking to a girl who seemed delighted to talk to me until I told her I wasn't English, which she seemed to have been hoping! When she buggered off it dawned on me, for perhaps the first time, that not all foreigners "hate the English and love the Irish", which many normally-sane people still seem to believe.

As the evening wore on I got, frankly, hammered. The next morning I woke up back in the small-town hotel face down on the bed with no shirt on but with my jeans, socks and shoes still on. Not only have I no idea to this day how I got back, I don't even remember it getting dark! My mate (now a manager in a big city-centre hotel in Dublin) can't recall anything either. Daft!

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