Hear it debated here.
I’ve been inactive on the blog for sometime and I think it is time to get blogging once more so if that is ok with all you guys. Watch this space for more controversy!
Today is a special day in the Irish calender. The 31st of October is of course Halloween/Oiche Samhna the great pagan festival and New Year which has been celebrated in Ireland for over 3000 years. But today is also the day when Steve Mc Queen’s film Hunger goes on general cinematic release in Ireland. It is 27 years since the death of Bobby Sands the IRA prisoner who went on hunger strike to the death in demand of political status as a prisoner. Ten men were to die before the strikes ended. I am not going into the details of the hunger strikes as they are well documented else where.
One of the things that struck and inspired me were international reactions to Bobby Sand’s death and election to Westminster. There were protests outside many embassies throughout the world, minutes silences in various parliaments and numerous statues erected. The most common tribute given to Bobby is perhaps a street name. There are many streets in France renamed after him in Nantes, St. Etienne, St. Denis and Le Mans Verzion. In Cuba there is a statue to Bobby Sands and his comrades in Havana. There is one memorial in particular which always gives me a smile and that is the re-naming of the street where the British embassy stands in Tehran. The Iranian government decided to replace Winston Churchill Street to Bobby Sands Street. Brilliant.
Despite constant pressure by the British government to change the name the Iranians refused to bow to Whitehall’s pressure for years. I notice that the British say the British embassy in Tehran and can be found at British Embassy. 198 Ferdowsi Avenue. (PO Box No 11365-4474). Tehran 11344. Whether they decided to change location or the Iranians did succumb to British pressure I don’t know. From what I know Bobbby Sands Street is still the official name of the street. If anyone knows please get in touch.
Here is an article written from the Iranian perspective I took from the Bobby Sands Trust website. It’s entitled ‘The Night we named Bobby Sands Street’.
The film Hunger is released nationwide today.
Following on from my previous post I would just like to make people aware that the current financial crisis is nothing in comparison to the crisis that faces Mother Earth.
This is an article worth reading from the BBC that the destruction of the rainforests is costing more to the global economy than the banking crisis.
Nature loss ‘dwarfs bank crisis’
The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.
It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.
The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.
The study, headed by a Deutsche Bank economist, parallels the Stern Review into the economics of climate change.
It has been discussed during many sessions here at the World Conservation Congress.
Some conservationists see it as a new way of persuading policymakers to fund nature protection rather than allowing the decline in ecosystems and species, highlighted in the release on Monday of the Red List of Threatened Species, to continue.
Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.
“It’s not only greater but it’s also continuous, it’s been happening every year, year after year,” he told BBC News.
“So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today’s rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year.”
The review that Mr Sukhdev leads, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), was initiated by Germany under its recent EU presidency, with the European Commission providing funding.
The first phase concluded in May when the team released its finding that forest decline could be costing about 7% of global GDP. The second phase will expand the scope to other natural systems.
Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.
So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming foods that were once naturally available.
Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.
The Teeb calculations show that the cost falls disproportionately on the poor, because a greater part of their livelihood depends directly on the forest, especially in tropical regions.
The greatest cost to western nations would initially come through losing a natural absorber of the most important greenhouse gas.
Just as the Stern Review brought the economics of climate change into the political arena and helped politicians see the consequences of their policy choices, many in the conservation community believe the Teeb review will lay open the economic consequences of halting or not halting the slide in biodiversity.
“The numbers in the Stern Review enabled politicians to wake up to reality,” said Andrew Mitchell, director of the Global Canopy Programme, an organisation concerned with directing financial resources into forest preservation.
“Teeb will do the same for the value of nature, and show the risks we run by not valuing it adequately.”
A number of nations, businesses and global organisations are beginning to direct funds into forest conservation, and there are signs of a trade in natural ecosystems developing, analogous to the carbon trade, although it is clearly very early days.
Some have ethical concerns over the valuing of nature purely in terms of the services it provides humanity; but the counter-argument is that decades of trying to halt biodiversity decline by arguing for the intrinsic worth of nature have not worked, so something different must be tried.
Whether Mr Sukhdev’s arguments will find political traction in an era of financial constraint is an open question, even though many of the governments that would presumably be called on to fund forest protection are the ones directly or indirectly paying for the review.
But, he said, governments and businesses are getting the point.
“Times have changed. Almost three years ago, even two years ago, their eyes would glaze over.
“Today, when I say this, they listen. In fact I get questions asked – so how do you calculate this, how can we monetize it, what can we do about it, why don’t you speak with so and so politician or such and such business.”
The aim is to complete the Teeb review by the middle of 2010, the date by which governments are committed under the Convention of Biological Diversity to have begun slowing the rate of biodiversity loss.
As the world’s media is caught up in an economic free fall frenzy, share prices are dropping dramatically and financial stability is ever so fragile I ask myself one question; So ****ing what?
So what that the FTSE, ISEQ, Wall Street is down the tubes. So what that our banks and financial institutions are in crisis.
I ask myself- are these the stories that really matter? As we slide dramatically back to the days of 1929 and The ‘Great Depression’ looms large- Do I really care? The answer my pocket fumbling friends is NO, I don’t.
You may ask yourself- well, what should be making the world’s headlines while I’m flicking through my paper this morning? As I read about economic forecasts for 2009 I can’t help but wonder where are the things that really matter?
What I’m talking about are the news stories that actually affect not only every single one of us on the planet but our animal friends and our environment. While people are worrying about monetary instability what the hell does it matter if there isn’t fresh air to breath, clean water to drink or any trees left to give us oxygen to live.? What does the slide in the markets matter when I watch the destruction of the globe happen in front of my very eyes?
The stories that really matter are not the finanical crisis. The stories that matter are the environmental crises. The apathy to environmental issues by the media and the public at large disturbs me. As capitalism is in crisis why do our leaders and media moguls not seize the opportunity to once and for all change the focus to what really affects us?
As I breath into my inhaler and I struggle with the adverse weather conditions on my way to the hospital to visit my uncle dying from cancer. I can no longer deny that climate change, our sedentary ‘first world’ lifestyles as well as environmental destruction doesn’t affect me. It affects all of us and why aren’t we in a frenzy about it? Because we are too worried about the bank balance and the change in our pockets.
I’ll include a little example of the type of disaster I am talking about. It’s about the melting of Europe’s largest glacier in Iceland. No big deal…
Most people who know me know that I’m a bit of a geek for Dylan and although I don’t claim Dylonologist status I have to express how excited I am about the new Dylan Bootleg Series ‘Tall Tales’ which I am currently downloading.Today I have decided to put on a great video put together to a great song. ‘Series of Dreams’ was recorded during the 1989 Oh Mercy album sessions. Dylan didn’t think it worthy enough to be included on the album so most people don’t know it. It’s just one of dozens of songs he has discarded throughout his career. Enjoy!
I’ve been a bit quiet for a while as my lack of blog entries demonstrate. My reasons vary from studying for exams Im never going to pass anyway, looking for and starting new work and most recently my sister’s wedding. An Irish wedding is bad enough but imagine 80 Irish people in a small village in Tuscany for one week. Without going into details of wht kind of a week I had I’d like to play this video by an American comedian called Jim Breur about the effects of mixing your drinks. The Scottish accent aside I think it’s a hilarious routine.
Bill Cosby did some good comedy routines also on the subject which you can find on Youtube also. I just thought it was appropriate for me as I am still recovering from a crazy yet memorable week.
It was a fierce hot day in July and the work had worked up a right aul drouth on the pair of us. Myself and the other fella John had been under the Irish sun all day and were right and tired as well as sunburnt. Although that might sound laughable, with this global warming and what not, people do say that the sun is hotter and more dangerous these days. I don’t know shite but certainly this day I got a fair aul burning working out in the bog.
By six in the evening it was time to pack up and head for a pint. We fired the tools in the back of the van and headed for the nearest watering hole. This drinking establishment was the refuge of the working – man, the country farmer, the husband out for a sneaky pint to get a few minutes peace from the wife and the local teenagers who are in a hurry to grow up. Anyway, the pints of black porter with creamy yellowy heads were set upon the mahogany and it was only then after that first sip that we realised the weekend had begun.
“Decorate the mahogany”, I shouted at the young lassie behind the bar. Fair play to her, she dutifully carried down the beverages we required without hesitation. I do feel sorry for those poor craters working in bars and listening to the likes of myself shouting abuse and acting the cod on the other side of the counter. But sure that’s what they get paid for I suppose. It wasn’t long until the pub began to fill up and the evening was getting on a bit too. I was in two minds to go on home after a loch of innocent enough pints or nip over to the house, get changed into the glad rags and head into town for an all out session. It was a tough call. I decided to make my decision after one more pint of which was going down very easy. In consultation with my work colleagues we decided to do the honourable thing and spread our wealth among the valued vintners of the town.
Being fortunate enough to live within walking distance of the pub I gainfully strolled home where I was greeted by my doting mother, who naturally enough had the spuds boiled and waiting on me. I had the dinner in me in no time and ran up the stairs for a bit of a shower, shave and to red the pipes. It was 10 o’ clock by this stage and time to make a move. I told the ma I’d see her in the morning. “No bother son” she replied. I bolted out the door like a greyhound out of the trap. Got myself a taxi into town and met the lads who were already there waiting on me.
On these little adventures into town the only objective was to blank out the monotony of the previous five working days and give the weekend a kick-start. I’m not much of a philosopher but I don’t think the majority of lads who get drunk at weekends actually think about why they get drunk. They just do.
There we were in The Shamrock bar and sure the slagging and the craic had already started as I was approaching the lads. ‘Get a round in there you miserable cunt before you sit down’ was roared at me by Paddy. Paddy I could safely say would be the ‘leader’ of the group, not exactly the sharpest tool in the box but not a bad fella all the same. As I approached the bar the young barmaid whom we have sort of gotten to know over the past few months handed me the drinks and a smile to go with them. It was the kind of smile that would make me feel good about myself as if I was worth something. The smile of a passing beauty that so seldom happens but when it does it gives you a warmth so deeply personal you can’t explain.
The night continued as you’d expect with a rake of pints and as I wasn’t in the mood to go with the rest of the eejits. I just got myself a curry and a taxi home courtesy of ‘Mr.T’ the Nigerian refugee turned hackney that so patiently returns the drunks of Monaghan to their beds.
The Saturday I would consider as the best day of the week. It can be the best day because you know that you will have Sunday to recover from whatever shennanigans may proceed. I got up about 10.00 am and had a fry that me Ma had made. For those unaccustomed as to what a fry might mean, it’s basically a cooked breakfast containing a lot lot of pig and swallowed down with a dose of tea.
After the grub I didn’t do a whole pile bar a few odd jobs about the house and getting a few messages for the mother who since having a bit of a tip in the car is too afraid to go into town by herself anymore.
It was the weekend of the All-Ireland Qualifiers and somehow Monaghan had made it into the quarter finals. The whole county was on a high and I have to admit for once I had some sort of pride in where I came from. How fifteen biys kicking a ball of inflated leather around a field can instill a sense of personal belonging and meaning to one’s life I can’t explain. It just does.
I made my way into town to make sure I got a good seat in the pub to watch the game. Well- That’s what I told my mother. More to the point I was gagging for a pint. I met the usual heads and it wasn’t long until the rounds were started. The match ebbed and flowed in an epic David and Goliath type contest. The Monaghan minnows against the might of Kerry. This time however the giant conquered and the contender was vanquished. There was no David sling with which Monaghan could hurl at Kerry.
Despite the loss the Craic continued and we carried on into the night still proud and specualting on the ifs and buts.
I don’t remember much about the tail end of the night as it was drenched in a hazy cloud of inebriation.
One of the rituals of rural Ireland that is still hanging on by a thin thread is the Sunday mass. Regardless of what sort of a sham you made of yourself the night before if the auld doll is still the ‘Bean an Ti’ she’ll have you up and out the door to get your weekly dose of communion. Sunday mass for me is usually a time for piecing together the events of the night before while I look around the chapel and see faces that provide me with flashbacks. My mind wanders and thinks; was I talking to Fintan Duffy last night or did I dream that? Did I organise a camping trip with John Murphy whom I haven’t met since we were in primary school?
Mass is the reality check needed after a week of monotony and mind numbing work and a weekend of excessive behavioural expression.
The sweats and shakes continue until the Sunday roast is dutifully eaten. That Sunday as I lay on the sofa after having my dinner I thought about my life. I thought about many things. I drifted off and imagined myslef doing something I had always wanted to do but never did. I imagined the achievements I was capable of and I hoped that somehow I would make things different.
Yes, Sunday was the day to take stock and ask yourself why do I do the same aul carry on week in, week out? I went to bed that evening contemplating these thoughts. I went to bed with the knowledge that I could do something better with my life. I knew I was stuck in a rut. I knew I was wasting my life. I knew I was a loser. I went to bed that night knowing I would get up in the morning to go to the work I loathe so much and my week will proceed exactly like the ones before and the ones to come. I went to bed knowing nothing will change.