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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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Jupiter Falling: We Get Fooled Again and Again

Tuesday, 4 December, 2018

Last year, the European elites warned the “deplorables” of France, les sans-culottes, and their better-off relations in la bourgeoisie, that if they didn’t vote for the elitist candidate, they would have to endure le deluge. So, they did and thus was M. Macron elected president. He said he wanted to rule as a ‘Jupiter’, above the political fray, but les gilets jaunes have brought him down to earth, sharply.

All of this was foreseen in 1971 by the political savant Roger Daltry, who doubled as a vocalist for The Who. Peering into the 21st century, and anticipating the handover of power from the hapless Hollande to the oleaginous Macron, Daltry said: “Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.”

“There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
The parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight”


Paris is Burning

Monday, 3 December, 2018

We’ll deal with the oleaginous Monsieur Macron tomorrow, but today’s post is given over to the film that inspired a thousand headlines this weekend. Paris Is Burning is a documentary directed by Jennie Livingston that chronicled the “voguing” culture of late 1980s New York City and how gay, transgender, African-American and Latino artists lived out their glamour fantasies in a world that had its own vocabulary: house, category, mother, shade, legendary, walk


Furious fighting

Sunday, 2 December, 2018

After years in the sporting wilderness, the heavyweight boxing division is back. It’s now got three talented, ambitious and title-hungry contenders: Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. The latter two met earlier this morning in the Staples Center in Los Angeles and served up a compelling drama in 12 rounds. Fury won the boxing, Wilder landed the two knockdowns and the judges, a shady lot whenever the WBC is involved, scored the bout a dubious split-decision draw. As a result, Wilder retains his heavyweight title. That’s boxing. Outside the ring.

Inside the ring, the commitment of the main actors entertained Mike Coppinger of Ring Magazine: “All 6 feet 9 inches, 256 pounds of Fury collided with the ring mat with just minutes left in the final round. He didn’t move. Not one inch. One. Two. Three. Still no signs of life. Then he pulled a trick right out of The Undertaker’s playbook, and at the count of six, jumped up like a jack-in-the box. How did Fury possibly survive two flush shots from the most dangerous puncher in the sport?”

A rematch is on the cards and it should be held in London as it’s guaranteed to fill whatever house will host it. The Staples Center has a capacity of 21,000 but Wilder struggled to fill it. The Wembley Arena can accommodate 90,000 spectators and a Joshua-Wilder bout or a Wilder-Fury rematch would sell out in jig time. Bring it on.

Tyson Fury


Adventus

Saturday, 1 December, 2018

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” and the central theme of Advent is the coming of Christ to earth. The Advent season begins tomorrow and it’s observed by Christian churches as a time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.

The Coming by R.S. Thomas, a 20th century Anglican poet-priest from Wales, centres on a conversation between the Father and Son about the suffering of humanity. Thomas invokes the hardship of life in a small farming community in rural Wales, but his “scorched land” could refer to any country torn by conflict: Syria, Yemen, Ukraine…

Thomas imagines the Son’s response to the suffering and pain the Father asks him to look at, but the decision is reserved until the final line. Looking at the “bare hill” and the “thin arms” of the hungry people, the Son finally responds: “Let me go there.”

The Coming

And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows; a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
With slime.

On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.

R.S. Thomas (1913 – 2000)


Merkelism grounded. A metaphor is needed

Friday, 30 November, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires today after her Airbus A340 plane made an unscheduled landing in Cologne last night when it developed technical problems. The German government aircraft plane turned back while it was over the Netherlands and Mrs Merkel will now travel on to Buenos Aires today via Madrid in the company of the huddled masses. Well, Business Class, of course, but still it’s a bit of a come down.

By the way, the very same plane was grounded in Indonesia in October after rodents gnawed through its electrical cables during a meeting of the International Monetary Fund. It would be insensitive at this point to make a joke about rats boarding a sinking ship instead of leaving it, so we’ll leave that to others, but these aircraft incidents offer rich pickings for those seeking metaphors. Merkel’s ebbing chancellorship is the obvious one, but there’s Airbus itself. President Emmanuel Macron’s recent plea for an EU army was welcomed by most factions in Berlin, and Franco-German co-operation on the development and production of Airbus aircraft was cited as example of what can be done when the neighbours agree to bury their bloodied old hatchets. The elation didn’t last long, however, because reality, in the shape of Putin, has given the fantasy army a nasty knock on the head. Despite all the lauded EU mediation over the years, Russia continues to violate Ukrainian sovereignty by waging a brutal, slow-motion war in eastern Ukraine, and Moscow’s thugs took the aggression to the sea at the weekend when they upped their harassment of Ukrainian ships transiting the Kerch Strait.

In response, Merkel and Macron made the usual bleating noises, of course, but boots on the ground in the Donbass region and Ukrainian sailors being paraded before a Crimean kangaroo court show that in the world’s wilder places the belief that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, as the Chinese mass murderer Mao Zedong once said, continues to rule the airwaves.

Maybe it’s best to stick with George Orwell’s dictum: “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.”


Russian thuggery in the Sea of Azov

Thursday, 29 November, 2018

Austin Bay says:

“Putin’s Kremlin specializes in adding complex twists to blatant falsehoods. There is no evidence the Ukrainian ships did anything but try to avoid being intercepted. Russian territorial water? To buy that you must accept Russia’s illegal seizure of the peninsula. However, the strait is an internationally recognized waterway open to transit by commercial shipping and naval vessels. Kerch is comparable to other straits around the globe, like the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Iran routinely threatens to close Hormuz to shipping, but to do so would violate freedom of navigation and constitute an act of war.”

Excerpt from On Point: Russia’s War with Ukraine Goes to Sea.


Leda e il cigno

Wednesday, 28 November, 2018

According to the Greek myth that inspired the great W.B. Yeats poem, Zeus took the form of a swan and seduced Leda on the same night she slept with her husband King Tyndareus. Recently, a brilliant fresco depicting the event was unearthed in Pompeii and the artwork is best described in the original Italian:

Bellissima e sensuale, il corpo statuario solo parzialmente coperto da un drappo dorato, la regina Leda sembra incrociare languida lo sguardo di chi la avvicina. Tra le gambe di lei, in una posa che non potrebbe essere più esplicita, c’è il potente Zeus che per possederla si è trasformato in un grande cigno bianco e che secondo il mito insieme con il marito Tindaro, re di Sparta, diventerà il padre dei suoi quattro figli, i gemelli Castore e Polluce, ma anche la bella Elena, nel cui nome si scatenerà la guerra di Troia, e Clitennestra, che diventerà la moglie del re Agamennone.

Leda and the Swan

Here’s how Pliny the Younger recalled the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 that destroyed Pompeii and preserved the fresco of Leda and the Swan:

“Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked round: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.

‘Let us leave the road while we can still see,’ I said, ‘or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.’

We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.

You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”


InSight at Elysium Planitia

Tuesday, 27 November, 2018

This photo provided by NASA shows an image on Mars taken by the InSight spacecraft using its robotic arm-mounted camera after it landed on the planet yesterday. The spacecraft survived a perilous, supersonic plunge through the Martian red skies, setting off jubilation among scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who had waited in suspense for confirmation that InSight had journeyed successfully across 100 million miles of space. It’s an historic, inspiring achievement.

InSight on Mars

InSight landed at a place known as Elysium Planitia, which is a relatively flat region free of boulders, craters and other potentially mission-ending obstacles. If all goes well, the spacecraft will probe Mars over the next two Earth years, and scientists hope InSight will help answer questions about how rocky planets become habitable (like Earth) or inhospitable (like Mars). We’ll be watching.


Diarist of the Day

Monday, 26 November, 2018

26 November 1992: “A perk of the place [House of Commons] is a free medical check-up. The doctor (thirty-something, a touch insipid, a specialist in ‘occupational medicine’) comes in two or three times a week and is available in a small, airless makeshift surgery located in the Cromwell Lobby. He did all the usual tests and I was given the usual verdict. ‘A little more exercise probably wouldn’t do any harm. Most people put on a stone or so when they come here. You haven’t done so badly. Moderation in all things.’ My cholesterol is at the upper edge of the range. Why did I lie about my alcohol consumption? I said half a bottle of wine a day and it must be two-thirds. (I assume everyone lies and when you say half a bottle he puts down two thirds.)” Gyles Brandreth


Hungarian grill

Sunday, 25 November, 2018

Seen in Budapest, where cosmetic dentistry, especially the porcelain veneer business, is a nice little earner. According to the manufacturers: “NORITAKE SUPER PORCELAIN EX-3 is superior to other dental porcelains because its coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) remains stable during repeated bakings… Its fluorescence is ideal and it is highly resistant to silver-induced greening.”

Budapest dentistry


The Kilauea Eruption

Saturday, 24 November, 2018

One of this year’s most impressive expressions of natural violence was provided by Hawaii’s Kīlauea volcano, which wreaked devastation across the Big Island and displaced thousands of people, while destroying 700 houses and wiping out the state’s largest freshwater lake. Andrew Richard Hara captured the grandeur of the lava in flow.