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Author Archive: Eamonn Fitzgerald

Ex-pat Irishman keeping an eye on the world from the Bavarian side of the Alps.

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Jackie Chan goes to war with the IRA

Tuesday, 27 June, 2017 0 Comments

The Foreigner is an upcoming British-Chinese thriller starring Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Liu Tao and Katie Leung. In the film, Chan plays the role of a humble restaurant owner in London’s Chinatown who’s on a mission to track down the Irish terrorists responsible for the death of his beloved daughter. Chan is forced to push his physical and psychological boundaries beyond the limits to find and bring to justice the shadowy Foreigner (Pierce Brosnan) coordinating the IRA terror campaign. Any resemblance between Pierce Brosnan and Gerry Adams is coincidental, of course, but between now and October, when the film is released, much will be written about Adams, allegedly a member of the IRA Army Council and thus responsible for atrocities such as the La Mon restaurant bombing in 1978.

The Foreigner

Directed by Martin Campbell and produced by STX Entertainment, the film is based on Stephen Leather’s novel The Chinaman. Leather wrote the book while working as night news editor on the business desk of The Times in London. At the time, the Provisional IRA terror campaign was at its height, and the book is loosely based on the IRA bombing in 1983 of the Harrods department store in London.


Coding is the new literacy

Monday, 26 June, 2017 0 Comments

So says Preethi Kasireddy, a software/systems engineer “with a passion for understanding things at a fundamental level and sharing it as clearly as possible.” She’s collaborating with freeCodeCamp on a YouTube series called “Ask Preethi” and people are invited to submit their coding questions, doubts, frustrations, and experiences. As she says in this Medium post: “Each week, I’ll answer a question I received. For my first video, I answered a question I get asked a lot: ‘How do you get a first developer job — specifically, a React developer job — if you don’t have experience?”

Note: React is an open-source JavaScript library for building user interfaces.


Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band

Sunday, 25 June, 2017 0 Comments

They’ll be performing with brass, fiddles and bravura in St Canice’s Cathedral on Wednesday 16 August at 8pm as part of this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival. Hug You Like A Mountain features Teddy Thompson, the son of musicians Richard and Linda Thompson, while Eliza Carthy is the daughter of musicians Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson. It doesn’t get more blue-blooded than this alliance of English folk-rock.


In the year of his first cigarette

Saturday, 24 June, 2017 0 Comments

In the year that the great Galty smoked his first cigarette, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland, premiered in Hollywood; Francisco Franco assumed power in Spain; Flann O’Brien’s metafiction At Swim-Two-Birds was published in London; Princess Fawzia Fuad of Egypt married Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran; Billie Holiday recorded Strange Fruit; Italy seized Albania and King Zog fled; an Irish Republican Army bomb exploded in the centre of Coventry, killing five people; John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath was published; Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27; nylon stockings went on sale in Wilmington, Delaware, and LaGuardia Airport opened in New York City.

Oh, and the opening shots of World War II were fired when Germany invaded Poland.

Galty


The Right Banksy

Friday, 23 June, 2017 0 Comments

“The day I came to love Donald Trump was when I saw how hard he was kicking liberals in the teeth,” so says Sabo, the “unsavory agent” who has taken to “appropriating” the propaganda formats of the left for his own purposes. “I am on the edge, the only true rebel artist in LA.,” he declares. With his hilarious posters, the ex-marine has targeted Katy Perry, Jon Stewart, Madonna, Lady Gaga, J.J. Abrams and many other anti-Trump “artists”. As he told The Guardian: “I cater to the street urchins, the young people. I want them to understand that there’s another message out there.”

Sabo Trump


Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy

Thursday, 22 June, 2017 0 Comments

That’s the title of the new book by Tim Harford, best known to readers of the Financial Times as The Undercover Economist. True to elitist form, he conjures up pieces for that paper with intros like “Some things are best left to the technocrats: On any piece of policy, the typical voter does not understand what is at stake.”

The upcoming book is based on Harford’s BBC podcast 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy. One of them is the iPhone, and Harford trots out his typical take on its revolutionary impact thus: “Surprisingly, Uncle Sam played an essential role in the creation and development of the iPhone — of course, much has been written about the late Steve Jobs and other leading figures at Apple and their role in making the modern icon, and its subsequent impact on our lives. And rightfully so. But…”

But there’s always a “But…” However, here’s the blurb for Harford’s book, which will be published on 29 August:

“New ideas and inventions have woven, tangled or sliced right through the invisible economic web that surrounds us every day. From the bar code to double-entry bookkeeping, covering ideas as solid as concrete or as intangible as the limited liability company, this book not only shows us how new ideas come about, it also shows us their unintended consequences — for example, the gramophone introducing radically unequal pay in the music industry, or how the fridge shaped the politics of developing countries across the globe.”

Very Harfordian that, “…the gramophone introducing radically unequal pay in the music industry.” And it all began so harmoniously. In 1903, HMV in England made the first complete recording of an opera, Verdi’s Ernani, on 40 single-sided discs, and on 10 June 1924, George Gershwin recorded a shortened version of Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. It was released on two sides of Victor 55225 and ran for 8 minutes and 59 seconds. But as Tim Harford would say, “But…”

Rhapsody in Blue


Every dawn is the beginning of life

Wednesday, 21 June, 2017 0 Comments

While awaiting the summer solstice at 5:04 on top of An Sliabh Riabhach, what John Ruskin once said came to mind: “Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close.”

The summer solstice


Courage, faith and hope

Tuesday, 20 June, 2017 0 Comments

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” — The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton

Courage, faith and hope


The Lord of Flies

Monday, 19 June, 2017 0 Comments

On this day in 1993, the novelist, playwright and poet William Golding died. Best known for his novel Lord of the Flies, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983 and also won the Booker Prize in 1980 with Rites of Passage.

The main theme of Lord of the Flies is the contradictory human desire for order — living by rules, peacefully and harmoniously — and the innate drive for power. A group of well-educated children descend into savagery when left to themselves on a paradisiacal island. Far from the constraints of modern civilization, they regress to a barbaric state.

“The pile of guts was a black blob of flies that buzzed like a saw. After a while these flies found Simon. Gorged, they alighted by his runnels of sweat and drank. They tickled under his nostrils and played leapfrog on his thighs. They were black and iridescent green and without number; and in front of Simon, the Lord of the Flies hung on his stick and grinned. At last Simon gave up and looked back; saw the white teeth and dim eyes, the blood — and his gaze was held by that ancient, inescapable recognition.” — William Golding, Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies


Vespertines

Sunday, 18 June, 2017 0 Comments

The album title is a statement in itself: Before a New Harbour Can Be Built, Difficult Things Must Be Worked Out. The group is The Vespertine Quintet and the tracks came together during a West Cork winter punctuated by gigs in De Barra’s Bar in Clonakilty.

A central figure in the quintet’s work is Ólafur Arnalds, a multi-instrumentalist from Iceland, who mixes strings and piano with loops and beats from the ambient and electronic genres. Estonia’s Arvo Pärt is in the mix as is the Irish singer-songwriter Adrian Crowley and the Swedish alto Camilla Griehsel. The outcome is a ten-track assortment of neo-classical sounds, part Pärt, part Purcell, portions of Arnalds and echoes of Benjamin Britten.


The face is a picture of the mind

Saturday, 17 June, 2017 0 Comments

“People felt themselves watching him even before they knew that there was anything different about him. His eyes made a person think that he heard things that no one else had ever heard, that he knew things no one had ever guessed before. He did not seem quite human.” — Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Big face