Published November 30, 2006
If any of you bloggers based in Ireland any spare quality of life on their hands, feel free to send it in my direction.
An executive summary of my own quality-of-life review for the last year:
Hospitals: A disgrace.
Doctors: Unsympathetic and often authoritarian, reminiscent of how members of holy orders used to be years ago.
Transport system: Let’s say I got a job that required me to travel on the M50 every morning and evening, and it paid me 50% more money than what I earn now. I wouldn’t take it, because I value what little quality of life I have. Public transport is improving, to be fair.
Towns and Cities: Filthy. The centre of the capital is characterised by the absence of anyone over the age of 65, since these people stay off the streets less they get bundled over by the dead-eyed drudges who make up the bulk of the population.
People: Dead-eyed and selfish drudges obsessed with property prices. Many people are a curious mix of posh manqué and feral.
Housing: Did I tell you that my house has gone up by 500% in the last 3 years?
Food: Getting better. Weird obsession with orange cheese.
Work: No thanks.
If Ireland is the ‘best place in the world to live’, the world must be a very miserable place indeed.
Published November 29, 2006
Times like this I wish I was a graphologist. What might one say about a man who dots his capital I’s?
The common assumption is that Loyalists are stupid. This is not without justification, but Michael Stone’s note -assuming it is authentic and not dictated by someone else- indicates a good command of the English language. His prose is quite coherent, apart from one slip where he ends up saying that he withdrew from his previous mission to assassinate the Irish Republican ‘war criminals’ (takes one to know one, I guess). ‘History has an inevitability of repeating itself’ is a bit of a mouthful, but it would not look out of place on an angry weblog.
His project plan is a bit demented though. It is clear that it is not intended to function as a plan for his own reference, but rather as the first draft of what he would like history to record.
He is a megalomaniac out to create his own myth: ‘freelance-dissident’ indeed. Note the allusion to the Zapatistas in his sign-off, too. Heaven knows what ‘lose the golf balls’ is supposed to mean.
As for his nickname – ‘Flint’ – I have this awful mental image of Michael Stone eking our an painting career for himself decorating children’s bedrooms with illustrations of the Flintstones.
Published November 28, 2006
Language Log is a rather rather cool site, if you like that sort of thing.
On a Turkish woman who said the following of the last pope:
Jampol very, very good.
Geoffrey Pullum observes the following:
…the obvious answer to how the Turkish woman learned to reduplicate the modifier very is that she had heard people who spoke English saying very very, and she knew enough to imitate them in this regard.
Another possibility would be that reduplication of modifiers for emphasis happens to be a property of Turkish, and the woman tacitly knew just enough about English (namely that very was a pre-head modifier in an adjective phrase) that she was able to unthinkingly transfer it from Turkish to English, and by good luck she was right, because it is a feature of English too.
Somewhat less plausible, in my view would be a Chomskyan line on this: that reduplication of modifiers for emphasis is a linguistic universal, held in common by all natural languages and built into human brains at birth or conception, so no one ever has to learn it.)
I know zero Turkish myself, beyond the first page of the phrasebook. It seems possible that reduplication of modifiers for emphasis is a property of Turkish, since this is not the sole preserve of English, being also a property of quite a few European languages (English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German).
But does anyone know if it exists in Irish? I managed to find a couple of instances of ‘iontach iontach maith’ on Google, though I am too ignorant to be able to determine if this is a ‘naturally occurring’ property, or if it is just evidence of someone acting the lig by stealing from the English.
Published November 27, 2006
Speaking of psychopaths, this song was written by Charles Manson:
Published November 27, 2006
The weird thing about this time of year this year is that as yet I haven’t had the filthy cur of Seasonal Affective Disorder growling at me everywhere I go.
Take today. I left for work in the dark, came home in the dark, and spent about 15 minutes outside in the daylight. In previous years, this would have had me plunged into a deep funk, contemplating whether or not I should down a bottle of Sainsbury’s Gin after Eastenders.
This year, I feel totally fine, as though I’d spent the entire day out sipping iced tea and holding forth with delightful anecdotes, to the amusement of all aboard the barge.
I can’t explain it. Eastenders hasn’t got any better, and I can’t stop reading disturbing material about ethnic cleansing and genocide, but it doesn’t have any effect.
All-out war and natural disaster loom large, yet here I am, as though I’d just won 20 quid on a scratchcard.
Maybe SAD this year has turned me into a psychopath.
Published November 24, 2006
Another note on Michael Stone. I watched the programme with him and Desmond Tutu where he was brought face-to-face with the widow and brother of a man he was convicted of murdering. He came across as a narcissist and a bullshitter. There was one point where he addressed the two victims of his crimes and he said “you’re better people than me”, but it sounded as though he was really trying to say “I’m not really all that bad.” He seemed a bit of a pathetic character.
I don’t know what he was doing going into Stormont with a gun and a ‘viable device’. Maybe the painting career hadn’t been going all that well, and someone managed to persuade him to recapture lost ‘glory’ days. Whatever his motivation, he has managed to take a bit of heat off a few emperors who were set for a day of prancing about in the buff. And he provided the opportunity for yet more soundbite nonsense about consigning the bad old days to the past. The ‘threat from dissidents’ might gain also a higher profile.
It seems highly improbable that he was able to make his way all the way up to the front door without anyone recognising him. Also, if I recall correctly from the TV programme, he walks with a limp these days, so he can’t have been moving too quickly.
This was pure theatre, with a hint of orchestration. What next – Johnny Adair crashes a microlight into the Albert Clock?