Author Archive: Eamonn Fitzgerald

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

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A drawing a day keeps the doctor away

Tuesday, 9 July, 2019

That’s the philosophy of Mrzyk & Moriceau, both of whom “Vivent et travaillent à MontJean-sur-Loire,” where they draw daily.

Mrzyk & Moriceau


Word of the week: sinister

Monday, 8 July, 2019

The adjective sinister, with its meaning of evil, entered the English vocabulary early in the 15th century. It came from the Old French senestre, sinistre “contrary, false; unfavourable; to the left”, and its origins are in the Latin sinister, meaning “left, on the left side”.

The Latin word was used in augury, the Roman religious practice of interpreting omens from the flights of birds. Flights of birds, seen on the left side, were regarded as bringing misfortune, and in this way sinister acquired a sense of “harmful, adverse.”

When the augur interpreted flights of birds, it was referred to “taking the auspices”. This comes from the Latin auspicium and auspex, literally “one who looks at birds”.

Flight of birds


A Year Along the Geostationary Orbit

Sunday, 7 July, 2019

A geostationary orbit, often referred to as a geosynchronous equatorial orbit, is a circular orbit 35,786 km above the Earth’s equator and following the direction of the Earth’s rotation. Here, Felix Dierich presents a year through the eyes of the Himawari-8 Japanese weather satellite.


How China deploys Android malware at its borders

Saturday, 6 July, 2019

The Chinese authorities are are conducting a huge campaign of surveillance and oppression against the Muslim population of the Xinjiang region and foreigners crossing certain border checkpoints are being forced to install a piece of Android malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other data to the regime. Vice has the story. Snippet:

“The Android malware, which is installed by a border guard when they physically seize the phone, also scans the tourist or traveller’s device for a specific set of files, according to multiple expert analyses of the software. The files authorities are looking for include Islamic extremist content, but also innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.”

One of the most repulsive supporters of the awful Beijing regime is Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order. It was published in August 2016 but the resistance in Hong Kong has exposed the shabbiness of his world view.


Delivering the news

Friday, 5 July, 2019

“The question is not how to get cured, but how to live.” — Joseph Conrad

The Ward


The sound of LA

Thursday, 4 July, 2019

He won an Oscar in 2002 for Best Original Score for Frida and for this clip, Gavin Heffernan used another soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal. It’s from the 1995 thriller, Heat. Very LA. Happy Fourth of July.


Family photo taken by my mother in 1948

Wednesday, 3 July, 2019

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.” — C.S. Lewis

Home from home


USA 2 – England 1

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019

Football, innit? Sport. Life. Joy. Heartbreak. Great game.


Limerick fans celebrate

Monday, 1 July, 2019

Munster Senior Hurling Championship Final result: Limerick 2-26 – Tipperary 2-14. It was a rout in the end but there were sunny Sunday moments to savour at the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Some of the scores were beautifully taken, some of the skills displayed were exquisite and some of the hits that went in were so hard that the spectators felt them. All in all, a memorable day out.

Limerick fans celebrate


The gardening gift

Sunday, 30 June, 2019

What a life! Diplomat, dissident, defector, poet, Nobel Prize winner… Czesław Miłosz did it all, and more. After World War II, he served as Polish cultural attaché in Paris and Washington but, disillusioned with Communism, he defected to the West in 1951. His resulting book, The Captive Mind, exposed the pernicious effects of Marxist orthodoxy on his generation of idealists. “Written before the Berlin Wall went up, The Captive Mind was a key factor in eventually bringing it down,” noted Clive James in Cultural Amnesia.

When the Polish intelligentsia was being “wiped out half by one set of madmen and half by another”, Miłosz found strength in the Bible because it “provided a standard of authenticity against a much more dangerous language, the language of legalized murder,” writes James, a confirmed atheist. Of his own position regarding the Good Book, James declares: “But without the scriptures we poor wretches would be lost indeed, because without them, conscience itself would become just another disturbance of the personality to be cured by counselling. We are surrounded by voices telling us that everything will come right if we learn to love ourselves. Imagine the torment of Jesus in his passion, if, on top of the sponge of vinegar and the spear, they had offered him counselling as well.”

From 1961 to 1998, Miłosz was professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley, and he punctuated his stay in the USA by winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980. Fellow Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, described Miłosz as “among those members of humankind who have had the ambiguous privilege of knowing and standing more reality than the rest of us.” Born on this day, 30 June, in 1911, Czesław Miłosz died on 14 August 2004 in Kraków.

Gift

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

Czesław Miłosz (1911 – 2004)

Our garden


“I don’t use a machine,” the gravedigger said

Saturday, 29 June, 2019

“He was walking back through the cemetery to his car when he came upon a black man digging a grave with a shovel. The man was standing about two feet down in the unfinished grave and stopped shoveling and hurling the dirt out to the side as the visitor approached him. He wore dark coveralls and an old baseball cap, and from the gray in his mustache and the lines in his face he looked to be at least fifty. His frame, however, was still thick and strong.

“I thought they did this with a machine,” he said to the gravedigger.

“In big cemeteries, where they do many graves, a lot of times they use a machine, that’s right.” He spoke like a Southerner, but very matter-of-factly, very precisely, more like a pedantic schoolteacher than a physical laborer. “I don’t use a machine,” the gravedigger continued, “because it can sink the other graves. The soil can give and it can crush in on the box. And you have the gravestones you have to deal with. It’s just easier in my case to do everything by hand. Much neater. Easier to take the dirt away without ruining anything else. ” — Philip Roth, Everyman

Grave