Archive for October, 2007

The Hair of the Dog’s Bollocks

October 31st, 2007

Better late than never, here is your new phrase for October 2007:

The Hair of the Dog’s Bollocks: (expr) the very best hangover remedy

Fly, child of mine! Be free!

By the way, for readers further afield, “hair of the dog that bit you” is a saying that means drinking more alcohol as a remedy for a hangover and “the dog’s bollocks” is an expression meaning that something is very good.


October 22nd, 2007

I know this is very childish humour, but I snorted out loud when I saw the photo and caption below. To people from Ireland and Britain, this Lakota gentleman’s name sounds like the kind of unfortunate name unsympathetic people might give him along the lines of “Billy No Mates” and “Johnny Five Bellies”. But this name outdoes them all and I won’t go into the details of the images it conjured up in my childish and sordid mind.

The screen shot comes from a Wikipedia article on the Lakota people. I wonder if Eddie’s name is as hilarious in Lakota as it is in English.

Dear God…

October 22nd, 2007

If you made vampires real, it would go a long way towards raising your credibility and it would give young people something better to do on a Saturday night than get drunk and fight, although they would be fighting vampires.

They would also be useful at Lourdes airport so that security staff could check whether holy water really is holy.

What did you dream of as a child?

October 22nd, 2007

So there I was in Boston the other week, riding a subway train, when an advertisement caught my eye. My apologies for the poor quality, but it was a bumpy ride and so hard to keep the camera straight.

Notice the two phrases I have circled.

Do they strike anyone else as an odd pairing?

When I was a child I dreamt of being a cowboy, Spider-man, learning Kung Fu, becoming a writer…

“Accountant” never figured in my dreams. Did it ever figure in yours?

Don’t get me wrong. Many smart people use their career in accountancy to enable them to fulfil some of their dreams. But accountancy as a dream in itself? I think the dean of that particular college over-rates the sexiness of accountancy. But then I guess he would.

Irish primate to become cardinal

October 18th, 2007

Irish primate to become cardinal

Speaks for itself really.

Apparently I’m a Christian

October 17th, 2007

So there I was on Delk Road in Marietta, Georgia, walking through the car park of a small strip-mall near my hotel (see the exact spot here) when I spotted a rather dishevelled and skinny old man holding a sign that said “Need money for food.” Now he might have needed it for beer or hookers, but whatever his need, considering the state of him, I figured it was greater than mine, so I stopped and handed him $5.

He seemed very grateful and we shook hands as he said:

Thank you for being a Christian.

As those who know me will tell you, I consider myself to be a practising agnostic (before each meal and when I go to bed I put my hands together and say: “Thank… I don’t know… somebody… something… whatever”). So it made me smile a little that he would assume my kindness had something to do with Christianity. OK, so I was raised as a Catholic, but the Pope can’t claim credit for having instilled good Christian values in me because if he claims credit for my handing over $5, then he also has to claim credit for paedophile priests. Sauce for the goose.

Anyway, while the tiny part of my personality that contains all my pedantic, intellectually snobbish characteristics was urging me to knock him to the ground and snap an arm-lock on him until he apologised and took it back, the main part of my personality persuaded me to smile and say “You’re welcome.”

It’s interesting that he would assume that kindness could only come from a Christian. That famous Christian phrase “Good Samaritan” is so ironic because Samaritans weren’t Christians. In any case, so-called religious people are just as likely to ignore someone in need as non-religious types.

Still, I’ll take his remark in the spirit of gratitude in which it was intended. Here are some other things he could have accurately said though:

  • Thank you for being a humanist
  • Thank you for being a sucker
  • Thank you for being the kind of reasonably well-off person who assuages his feelings of guilt about the poor conditions millions have to endure by handing over the paltry sum of $5
  • Thank you for being a decent skin

I like that last one. I think if there were a Jesus-like character around these days, instead of saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, he would say, “Just be a decent skin.”

The hidden value of Bluetooth

October 16th, 2007

Across the world, government health care agencies are financially stretched and patients are being released from care before they are healed and without any support.

I feel patients with mental health problems suffer the most. For example, how often have you been waiting for a bus and the person next to you starts talking to himself. You begin to feel uncomfortable and perhaps even unsafe. You start to edge away. But your concern is unwarranted. These poor souls are no more likely to be dangerous than so-called “sane” people. Your lack of understanding only causes you anxiety and if your fear is noticed by the auto-conversationalist beside you, he will feel the pain and humiliation of social rejection.

There are two possible solutions to this problem. The first involves educating the general populace so that they learn not to fear those who simply need a little understanding. However, this solution is impracticable.

The second solution is, in my opinion, more realistic.

Simply give each patient a non-functioning Bluetooth ear-piece. That way members of the public will just assume they are on a phone call. All that anxiety will be avoided and patients will feel far more integrated into society.

Please help, by donating your old Bluetooth ear-pieces to a new charity that has been set up to co-ordinate the distribution of kit to the needy. Please send your old Bluetooth to

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

October 8th, 2007

What is it with companies and one-ply toilet paper?

If you’re the CFO of a company, please make sure this message filters down to the person who orders the toilet paper:

If you buy one-ply, I’ll just roll off four times as much of it and fold it into four-ply.

If you are the one who orders the toilet paper, take a boot to the head! It’s false economy, you dolt, and while saving no money whatsoever, you also ensure that I spend more time in the jacks folding paper when I should be back at my desk working away happy in the knowledge that I am doing so without any bits of torn one-ply paper stuck to my arse. Cretin.

Bonus points if you can tell me what film the title of this post comes from.

Do y’not think, uh – we’re a little white for that sort of thing?

October 8th, 2007

In 1986 I was on a train from London heading towards Holyhead in Wales so I could catch the ferry to Dublin. This was an old-style train with six-seat compartments and a corridor running down the side of the carriage. Each compartment had blinds, so what typically happened was the people inside a compartment would pull down the blinds so that passers-by would not see that there were seats free. That’s human nature, isn’t it? We all want our own space and we are reluctant to share it.

On this particular occasion I found all the blinds were down in the compartments and I got tired of knocking on doors asking if there was room (and I didn’t even have a pregnant wife and a donkey), so I gave up and resigned myself to standing in the corridor for the duration of the journey. Little did I know that I had decided to stand right outside a compartment that only had three people in it. They knew I was standing there, because one of them peeked out and saw me. Anyway, I was saved by the conductor, who ushered me in when he saw that there were seats inside .

Now here’s the bit where human nature really kicked in. Once I was inside, I didn’t suggest we raise the blinds. There was nobody sitting opposite me and I liked the leg room. Raising the blinds might reveal the free space in my compartment. That’s right… my compartment. My luxury didn’t last, however, as a short while later the conductor opened the door again and ushered in another passenger. I confess, to my shame, I felt a modicum of resentment.

So why do I bring this up twenty-one years later. Well, firstly, because blogs didn’t exist in 1986 and secondly because the memory was triggered by something I saw on TV this morning.

I am on a business trip to the USA at the moment and there was a report on the TV about Mexican immigrants (both legal and illegal) and how many Americans resent their presence and resent their speaking Spanish when the official language of the USA is English. Well, it may be the de facto language but it is not yet the official language. Many of the people interviewed were talking about introducing legal reforms to oblige immigrants to speak English. The irony for me watching that programme is that all of those English-speakers are immigrants themselves. What would be a good analogy here? I don’t know, perhaps kind of like how the people of the Sioux nation might have resented all those pesky Europeans who just refused to learn to speak any dialect of the Sioux language. Those English speakers are just people who were once in the corridor and are now inside the compartment. Indeed, the ancestors of those interviewed took California, New Mexico and Texas from Mexico by force of arms.

Texas is a great example. Spain stole it from the indigenous tribes. The Mexicans stole it from the Spanish when they kicked them out. The Mexicans then allowed some US immigrants to settle there. Instead thousands of US families swarmed illegally into Texas and decided they now owned it. Hmmm… perhaps Mexico is planning to turn the tables. Every country has a mere veneer of legality. Every country was stolen at some point from someone.

I’m not having a pop at the Americans. The same is true in Ireland. The Irish are a mongrel breed (I myself am Irish only on my mother’s side). Everyone likes to think of themselves as Celts, but in the mix you’ll find Viking Norman, English, Welsh and Scottish at the very least. There is also a smattering of Italian here and there. Even Ireland’s mythology is full of stories of one people being conquered and replaced by another. Nowadays, if you walk down the streets of Dublin you’ll hear all sorts of languages being spoken. I believe some of the newspapers in Ireland even have supplements in Eastern European languages. Of course, just as in the USA, some people bemoan the influx of foreigners who don’t speak our language. Irony layered upon irony, I love it!

Firstly, it’s not our language. It’s the language of our English conquerers.

Secondly, everyone in Ireland is descended from immigrants.

Thirdly, if the economy didn’t need those immigrants, they wouldn’t be there.

It’s the same in the UK and in Spain the descendents of Moorish invaders bemoan the arrival of Moroccan immigrants. And if we all think it’s bad now, just wait until global warming melts all the glaciers and 40% of the world’s population starts migrating away from endless drought.

The world is divided into two groups of people: those in the corridor trying to find a compartment and those in the compartments trying to keep them out. Just remember that everyone inside the compartment was once in the corridor too.

Bonus points if you can tell me what film the title of this post comes from.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

October 2nd, 2007

Just to warn you in case you ever fly to Atlanta…

After you have collected your luggage, you pass through customs. Then they take your luggage away from you again and stick it on another conveyor belt. Then, carrying only your hand-luggage, you have to go through a security check just like the one you went through before you got on the plane in the first place. You have to take off your jacket, your belt and your shoes and send all your stuff through an X-ray machine. They even make you put all liquids over 100 cc in your main luggage. The next luggage collection area is so far away you have to get on a train to get there. I guess the bright side is at least they provide a train. This was my first experience of having my luggage checked on landing in a country. Bizarre and confusing to say the least.

By they way, my understanding is that there is no scientific basis for the whole security scare over liquids on planes, or even liquids in Atlanta. If anyone can point me to some article to the contrary, I’d love to read it. It seems to me though that just because some idiot thought he could do it, now none of us get to bring liquids onto planes. If I thought I could make an IED out of my underpants, a slice of Leerdammer cheese and some table salt, would we all have to go naked through airport security with sniffer dogs checking our rectums for hidden packets of salty cheese?