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Brexit and Jarndyce

Tuesday, 14 November, 2017 0 Comments

Like Jarndyce and Jarndyce the case of Brexit and Brexit drones on and on and on. Will it conclude with the British electorate being forced to the polls for an other referendum? Two referendums should do it, unless there’s a dispute about the correct English plural form of the word, that is. The singular, by the way, is a variant of the Latin word referre ‘to refer’ and it means ‘a thing that must be referred to the people’. And some things, such as the choice between freedom and enslavement, must be referred to the people.

This vexed question made news in June 1988, during a House of Commons debate, when the late Alan Clark, Tory MP for Kensington and Chelsea, asked for a ruling on the matter. He said he was prompted to do so because he had previously been called to order for “using the language of the common market.” His point, he said, was that he had “heard on many occasions colleagues refer to referendums — which is an exceedingly ugly term.” Clark, who was fond of the gerundive, wanted to know whether the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, would “prefer us to continue to use the Latin word, or whether you have no objection to the continued Anglicisation of this term.” Madam Speaker replied:

“I do notice on the Public Bill List that the word referendums for Scotland and Wales is used there. The word referendum was first used in English 150 years ago, according to the Oxford English dictionary which I’ve just been able to refer to. So I imagine after 150 years the House will be quite used to it now. I think the plural is a matter of taste but I’ve always preferred the use of the English language to any Latin form if that is of some guidance.”

Now’s the time to get agreement on the plural form of ‘referendum’ because we’re going to need it.


Rain on the road

Monday, 13 November, 2017 0 Comments

On this day in 1850, the British novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson was born. In his short life, he enriched the world with works such as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and A Child’s Garden of Verses:

Rain

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894)

Brolly


We are in the mountains and they are in us

Sunday, 12 November, 2017 0 Comments

Sliabh Ri

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” — John Muir


The 11 th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Saturday, 11 November, 2017 0 Comments

It’s Armistice Day. The event is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the truce signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne in France for the cessation of hostilities. The agreement took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning — the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. More than nine million combatants and seven million civilians died as a result of the First World War.

Lieutenant Robert Martin O'Dwyer Today, we remember the World War I dead of Ballylanders, Co. Limerick: Sergeant John Brazil, Lieutenant Robert Martyn O’Dwyer and his brother Rifleman Peter O’Dwyer. Their bodies were interred in places as far apart as Pas de Calais in France and the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. May they rest in peace.

“The living owe it to those who no longer can speak to tell their story for them.” — Czesław Miłosz


Ms Niamh advances towards Bethlehem

Friday, 10 November, 2017 0 Comments

“And except on a certain kind of winter evening — already dark and bitter with a wind off the river, when I would be walking very fast toward a bus and would look in the bright windows of brownstones and see cooks working in clean kitchens and imagine women lighting candles…” That evocative image of New York City is from Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a famous collection of essays by Joan Didion published in 1968 that takes its title from the poem The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats.

Today, Niamh O’Brien advances towards our modern Bethlehem and we wish her luck in her ventures and with her adventures in New York. A pair of mother’s gloves and a prayer to Saint Anthony will ensure her well-being in the Big Apple, no doubt.

Niamh

“And except on a certain kind of winter evening — six-thirty in the Seventies, say, already dark and bitter with a wind off the river, when I would be walking very fast toward a bus and would look in the bright windows of brownstones and see cooks working in clean kitchens and and imagine women lighting candles on the floor above and beautiful children being bathed on the floor above that — except on nights like those, I never felt poor; I had the feeling that if I needed money I could always get it.” — Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem


From Kathmandu to Paris, the selfie

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 0 Comments

Sometimes, a headline is more baffling than illuminating. Example: “Oppo to launch selfie expert F5 in Nepal”. Oppo? And who is the “selfie expert” known cryptically as “F5”?

It helps if one knows that OPPO Electronics Corp. is a Chinese electronics firm based in Guangdong that’s intent on grabbing a share of the Asian smartphone market, and its new F5 model is being marketed as the device that “takes camera phones to the next generation.” Then there’s this: “It defies the paradox of marrying Artificial Intelligence technology with organic beauty to create the most natural and stunning of selfies.” How does it do that? Time to revisit our headline about Oppo, the F5 and Nepal. It’s from the Kathmandu Post and, quoting from the press release, the writer notes that “the AI will utilise information from a massive global photo database to beautify a selfie shot taken by the Oppo F5.” Is that “massive global photo database” Getty? Or is it a Chinese venture using surveillance photos for commercial purposes? There’s a story there.

Meanwhile, London-based creative Daniel McKee notes that more than six million people visit the Mona Lisa at the Louvre each year and “Many share their visit on social media.” Using images found on Instagram, he created this:


This time, this night last year

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017 0 Comments

Clinton to win


Stone Head by Viscount Lismore

Wednesday, 8 November, 2017 0 Comments

What is now called Glengarra Wood is a part of County Tipperary that was granted by Charles 1 to Sir Richard Everard in 1640. In the ensuing Cromwellian wars, Sir Richard supported the royalist cause, which resulted in the confiscation of his property and its transfer to the Lismore family, who held the lands until 1940.

Glengarra head

In the latter part of the 19th century, Viscount Lismore built a hunting lodge in the wood and planted the banks of the river and road leading to it with many native and exotic trees, including Cedars of Lebanon, Sequoiadendron, oak, spruce, laurel, birch, alder and Scots Pine. Today, Glengarra Wood is home to some 60,000 threes and the lodge, which is being refurbished as a youth hostel, is guarded by fearsome stone creatures.


Information I need to remember

Tuesday, 7 November, 2017 1 Comment

Ben Bajarin, who describes himself as a “Student of the intersection of human behavior and technology,” focuses on global consumer technology at Creative Strategies in Silicon Valley. From his firm’s smartphone photography study on the things people like to snap, “Information I need to remember” is impressively popular. The smartphone has become an extension of human memory.

smartphones


What to wear to the ‘Dump Trump!’ march

Monday, 6 November, 2017 0 Comments

As the world prepares, somewhat reluctantly, for Wednesday’s celebration of Donald Trump’s election as US President, some members of the grieving Left remain unsure of what to wear. Not to worry. Barneys of Fifth Avenue in The Donald’s home town has the comrades covered for just $375 per M-65 Anarchy Cotton-Blend Field Jacket.

Barneys of NYC


I hear lake water lapping

Sunday, 5 November, 2017 0 Comments

Killarney

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)