Sunday, March 30, 2008

Off to America

... to get my Green Earth prize. May blog from there if time allows!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Canadian Seal Slaughter 2008 - GRAPHIC FOOTAGE

All right, here's the video. I've watched it and it's not as horrific as some of the other ones on youtube which document the seal "hunt." The point is we have to face what we are doing to animals. This is not for food. It is senseless and inhumane slaughter for fashion and fashion accessories.

Shame on Canada!

Yesterday was the beginning of the annual Canadian seal "hunt." I put that in quotations because you can hardly call smashing in the heads of baby seals as they lie on the ice beside their mothers hunting. Despite scientific evidence that the increased quota for the killing of harp seal pups - as young as 3 weeks old! - is endangering the species, the Canadian government continues to approve this cruel and unnecessary slaughter. Ignoring the reality of a diminishing market for seal pup fur, not to mention both country-wide and international outrage, Canadian politicians bow to powerful hunting lobbies and the ridiculous notion that this is somehow a 'manly,' outdoorsy, Canadian event. Belgium and the Netherlands have already banned all seal products while Germany, Italy, and Austria are considering doing the same. Hopefully all of Europe will soon follow suit. The seal fur industry is already in crisis, with a saturated market and the price of seal pelts halved; yet the Canadian government insists on propping up this immoral trade. I could have included a video here of the slaughter that began yesterday, but I just can't. It's too sickening. And this has nothing to do with being a wuss. This is the soul's reaction to the senseless slaughter of young animals, all 275,000 of them. The Canadian seal slaughter is the largest annual killing of marine animals in the world. It is also specifically singled out for its cruel and inhumane methods of inflicting death. For more information go the IFWA, International Fund for the Welfare of Animals, www.ifaw.org and click on Canada.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Rising

Easter is not only a religious festival in Ireland, it also marks a major political anniversary. The 1916 Easter Uprising was the start of the final and successful battle for Irish independence from England. Two brilliant modern films deal with the times that were in it, Michael Collins (with Liam Neeson) and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (with Cillian Murphy). Here is Sinead O'Connor, accompanied by the Chieftains, singing The Foggy Dew, which tells of the Dublin rebellion. Actually the revolution itself was a failure, but the British were really stupid and executed the leaders, mostly school teachers and poets, which created a groundswell of support that eventually led to the War of Independence.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Here are some lovely bluebells to celebrate the day that's in it, compliments of the woods outside my favourite Buddhist Centre, Jampa Ling in County Cavan (mixing my religions here, but hey, the Divine is the Divine). I'll be off to a family do later at my sister Geni's and her husband Paddy's place. There'll be an Easter egg hunt in their big back garden - yes, the adults participate, in fact, we are the worst at scrabbling for the goodies - then lots of eating and drinking and chat over the potluck buffet. I am not doing my usual pasta dish this year but have opted for a glorious dessert: giant organic medjool dates stuffed with creamy mascarpone cheese, each topped with a pecan, then drizzled with maple syrup. You have to taste it to believe it: simple, gorgeous, and about a gazillion calories a bite.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

ARCHITORTURE I

What did Yeats say? A terrible beauty is born. Well, in modern Ireland, it's the opposite. A terrible ugliness is breeding. We've got motorways ploughing through the sacred lands of Tara and we've got utterly bizarre and inappropriate buildings sicked up here and there. Case in point: this cube. My jaw dropped when I saw it. No points for guessing the architect of this bit of architorture was a Star Trek fan. But who let him - I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that a man did this - inflict his little fantasy on the landscape? I'm not saying it isn't an interesting building, but look at what it faces:
A row of houses where people live. I mean, can you imagine waking up every morning and looking out your window at that? We are the Borg. Your uniqueness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile. And what exactly is this institution, you may ask? None other than the IADT - Insitute of Art, Design, and Technology of Dun Laoghaire. Yep. They are breeding even more architects of architorture in that cube. People of Ireland, you have reason to be afraid. Very afraid. You will be assimilated.
And it's not as if you can't put institutional buildings in residential areas. Here's the local fire station just down the road from the Cube. Amazing to consider, apparently this structure was actually built before the houses in the area, i.e. when the landscape was all fields. One can only assume that the architect - okay, he was probably a man too - took into account that houses were likely to be built here at some point. With that roof, the colour of the brick and so on, the station suits a residential area. Instead of architorture, this is architecture: functional, graceful, elegant.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The King Call

Reliving my youth here with Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy (which I thought for ages was 'Tin Lizzy' because of the way all the Irish people I knew pronounced it!)I've posted him over on my Book Blog as Finvarra and here he is singing about another king along with Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. But just look at those legs. They go on forever! They should be in the Guinness Book of Records.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beannactaí Lá Phádraig!

Nothing like a bit of classic video for St Paddy's Day. The day the world changed for Irish dancing! It reminds me that when I was a kid we did loads of Irish dancing gigs around this time of the year. Only in Canada could that include St Patrick's Day celebrations in the Orange and Masonic Halls! (We also marched in July 12th Parades.) Roll on the day we see that in Northern Ireland too.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Olympic Shame

Here are some facts about the country where the Olympic Games are about to be held. These are facts reported by two well-respected Canadians: David Matas, an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg and the Hon. David Kilgour, a former Crown Prosecutor and Secretary of State for the Government of Canada. Their report presents the soul-sickening truth that the Chinese Government harvests organs from living Falun Gong practitioners. As the two Davids state themselves: "When we began our work we had no views whether the allegations were true or untrue. The allegations are so shocking that they were almost impossible to believe. We would have much rather found the allegations to be untrue rather than to be true. The allegations, if true, represent a disgusting form of evil which, despite all the depravities humanity has seen, are new to this planet." Here is the full report if you can stomach it (I could not): http://www.organharvestinvestigation.net/. Regarding the Chinese Communist government in general, the report points out: "China violates human rights in a variety of ways. These violations are chronic and serious. Besides Falun Gong, other prime targets of human rights violations are Tibetans, Christians, Uighurs, democracy activists, and human rights defenders." If all that is not horrible enough, here are two incredible facts included in this report: The Communist regime of China has already killed more innocents than Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia combined. It executes more people than all the other countries of the world combined. And this is the country which is hosting the Olympic Games? Well done to Prince Charles of England for boycotting the games!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Democracy is Precious



Those of us who live in free societies can hardly imagine that doing something as simple as shouting "Free Tibet" could lead to imprisonment, rape, torture, and even death. Yet this is precisely what has happened and still happens to Tibetan monks, nuns, and civilians in Tibet whenever they even attempt to speak up against the Chinese occupation of their country. Yesterday was the anniversary of the uprising of the Tibetan people against the Chinese invasion of 1949. All over the world - wherever they were allowed, that is - exiled Tibetan communities reminded people of what their country has suffered and continues to suffer. In Ireland, we stood out in the usual pouring rain on O'Connell Street before the historic GPO (General Post Office) in Dublin. As always, the Irish public expressed their support for Tibet and the Dalai Lama by beeping horns and letting out cheers on their way to work. You know, I never thought I would live to see the day when there would be peace in Northern Ireland, when the countries of the Eastern Bloc would be free of the Soviet Union, when the Berlin Wall would come down, when a woman and/or a black man would be on her/his way to becoming President of the United States. But here I am, not even retired yet, and all these things have happened. This gives me hope that, before I die, I will see a free Tibet.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Lest We Forget

I wanted to blog this heartbreaking photo my brother sent me showing the funeral of a Canadian serviceman. I've never forgotten my time in the Canadian Armed Forces and I have always been proud that Canadian troops, like Irish troops, are engaged in peacekeeping duties in many countries in support of the United Nations and world peace.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Free Tibet

I'll be heading into Dublin this Monday, March 10, for a peaceful protest against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. It begins at the Spire on O'Connell Street at 9:30 a.m., for silent prayers and waving of flags, then on to the Chinese Embassy on Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge. I'll probably get a major spam attack from China for announcing this. It happened last time, when I did a post about my friend Siofra's book on Tibetan exiles in India. My webmaster told me I was bombarded from three sources in China, including an official government one! Jaze, it'll be like the Battle of Helm's Deep. Hope my firewalls hold against the dragon. The Dalai Lama was in Canada when I was there before Christmas. The Chinese government sent a 'counter-delegation' to give their side of the story. In a press conference, they insisted that the situation was the same as Quebec in Canada: that only a few Tibetans want to be free and the majority are happy under China. "Have you held a referendum of the Tibetan people to confirm this?" asks a Canadian journalist, because of course there have been referendums in Quebec and the separatist Parti Quebecois has even ruled that province. Their answer? Total silence. Then an abrupt end to the press conference. Sad to say, though, the Chinese government may well hold a referendum in the future, after they have resettled hundreds of thousands of Chinese in Tibet. Meanwhile the world does nothing about this unjust invasion and occupation: why? Because Tibet has no oil or anything else the West wants and we are all doing business with China. For more information and neat pics see: www.tibetancommunityinireland.com.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Humorous Abandonment

Billy Connolly used to be my favourite commedian but I have to say Tommy Tiernan now owns my funny bone entirely. There's something wild and a bit dangerous about him. You never know what he's going to say next but you can be sure it will probably be politically incorrect. He's definitely not 'harmless.' I'd love to see him cast as the leprechaun or the cluricaun in film versions of my books. He'd bring an edgy hilarious anarchy to the stories. Roll on that day, me bucko.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Mea Culpa

Sometimes you don't know you have a prejudice until it surfaces out of the blue and slaps you - or more likely someone else - right in the face. I have no idea why I described Seasick Steve as "trailer trash" in an earlier post and I am not happy about it. I'm going to delete that post - like washing racist graffiti off the wall - and re-do it, but at the same time I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen. Face the shadow. Deal with one's character defects. It's definitely my own stuff, as I grew up in some pretty rough areas myself in the early days of our immigration to Canada. But what a dreadful thing to say about such a lovely man! You hear the words of his songs and you realise that, though he suffered terribly, he refused to become bitter and twisted about it. He has so much heart and soul he deserves better than my throwaway nasty remarks. Of course, as with all offensive behavour, it says a lot more about me than it does about him. I am heartily sorry and rather ashamed of myself. So there it is. Sorry about that, Steve, you're only gorgeous in every way!