THE WEBLOG OF RANTS AND RAVES

31/10/03 Hallowe'en [rave]
Hallowe'en is one of those special times for children, like Christmas, when a gateway is opened from our world to magical places - when, if you're quick enough, you might just get a peek at a supernatural creature, or slip into an enchanted place. For good or ill, I've long since past that stage of imagination, but I still like to allow some of the festive feeling in, whether it's a pumpkin lantern in the porch, or a timely scary movie on TV.

30/10/03 The Second Iraq War [observation]
The war is only over 6 months - some may say it's still going on, but already its history, or at least its military history, is being told. This article by defence expert Sir John Keegan is an extract from a book ("War on Saddam") published by the Daily Telegraph based on their stories from the campaign.

29/10/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
Your natural abilities will be put to good use when you are chosen by leaders of 12 countries to head the U.N. insecurity Council.

26/10/03 Lights Out [observation]
There was a recent campaign in Dublin to encourage drivers to use their headlights during daylight in an attempt to reduce traffic accidents. Lights Out is an American organisation which takes a skeptical view of the claim that daylight usage of lights actually makes cars safer. Worth checking out for an alternative viewpoint.

24/10/03 One Way To Look At Things [observation]
"Who do you support? Mark's Israel. I'm Palestine. Makes the news more interesting."
(Jeremy in Channel 4's "Peep Show")

22/10/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
You will find yourself lost in a strange new world in which the hairless, vaguely simian natives seem to be trying to communicate with you.

21/10/03 Thought For The Day [observation]
"A century or so ago, when Britain ruled one fifth of the globe, prime ministers such as Disraeli, Gladstone and Lord Salisbury could take every weekend off, go on six-week foreign holidays in the summer and devote significant amounts of time to entirely non-political pursuits such as novel-writing, tree-felling or chemistry experiments. Their ministries did not noticeably suffer in any way as a result." (Andrew Roberts, "The Times")

21/10/03 The Case For War [rave]
"Q: If you're a new sheriff in a really bad town, what's one of the smartest things you can do?
A: Smack the stuffing out of the nearest, biggest bad guy you can."
"Why Iraq? Well, there are two answers to that question. The first answer is 'Why not?' The second answer: Iraq deserved it. Now. Here's the important part: Both of these are good answers."
In National Review, Jonah Goldberg puts forward a strident case for war in his usual unique style.

20/10/03 Modern Manners [rave]
"This isnít an ethics question; itís the premise for a romantic comedy." (Randy Cohen)
"Door etiquette is a continual stumbling-block in these liberated days. You were trying to be polite, and mistaken for being rude. The young woman was an idiot. But many of them (and us) are... the main thing is to be decisive and signal your intentions... take command of the situation of passing through the door, if you can." (Phillip Howard)
"True politeness means accepting kindness from others even when it is the last thing we want. Grateful acceptance of the unwanted generosity is true politesse. It is thinking of others before oneself." (Phillip Howard)
Every week the online edition of The Times has a section called "Modern Manners" where etiquette expert Phillip Howard & ethics expert Randy Cohen answer reader's questions on such as issues as accepting wedding invitations, the layout of dinner tables, and the polite way to behave in awkward social situations. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and some helpful information to your brain.

19/10/03 The Big Read [observation]
Following on from the success of their "Great Britons" series, the BBC are running a new one called "The Big Read" to find Britain's "best-loved book". That choice of phrase, "best-loved book" is crucial. Is "The Lord of the Rings" by JRR Tolkien the *best* book of all time? Perhaps not. For instance, in terms of importance, it is dwarfed by George Orwell's "1984". Is it the book that I love the best? Yes.
For the next few months, BBC2 will devote to Saturday nights at 9 to the series. Each program will examine three of the books, and each book will have a champion. You can logon to the BBC website to vote for your favourite, choices include "Catch 22", "Pride and Prejudice", "War and Peace" and "The Wind in the Willows".

17/10/03 Web Watch [observation]
Wilson Quarterly hosts a considered assessment of the scope of, and evidence for, global warming. And at National Review, Peter Kirsanow tackles some of the myths that still persist about the Florida recount from the 2000 US Presidential election.

15/10/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
You tend to fly into a rage over the smallest problems. Fortunately, you'll encounter only huge disasters this week.

13/10/03 The Wisdom of Eric Cartman [rave]
"I learned somethin' today. This country was founded by some of the smartest thinkers the world has ever seen. And they knew one thing: that a truly great country can go to war, and at the same time, act like it doesn't want to. You people who are for the war, you need the protesters. Because they make the country look like it's made of sane, caring individuals. And you people who are anti-war, you need these flag-wavers, because, if our whole country was made up of nothing but soft pussy protesters, we'd get taken down in a second. That's why the founding fathers decided we should have both. It's called 'having your cake and eating it too'."
South Park airs Monday nights on Sky One at 2330.

11/10/03 Thought For The Day [observation]
"Health, you cry: smokers are clogging up the hospitals. Rubbish. Smokers subsidise the rest of us
through their taxes and considerately kill themselves before they clog up the old people's homes.
In the 1960s I couldn't wait to get out of Ireland, for I felt stifled by its authoritarianism. Nothing
has changed, it seems to me, except that those bossing everyone around now are the forces of political
correctness rather than religion.
The US in the 1920s showed the stupidity of Prohibition. Most of the world these days is demonstrating the futility of trying to ban drugs."
(Ruth Dudley Edwards on the proposed banning of smoking in workplaces, including pubs, in "The Sunday Independent)

09/10/03 Web Watch [observation]
Some articles worth checking out - economist Steven Landsburg attempts to explain recent research showing the families with daughters instead of sons are more likely to divorce; and in The London Times, Lord Dick Taverne uses the 'Thunderer' column to lash the myths around organic food.

08/10/03 Autamata for the People [rave]
Your humble blogger enjoyed himself greatly tonight at a gig by upcoming Irish act "Autamata". This is the second time I've seen them live, and while I enjoyed their earlier gig in the "Temple Bar Music Centre", I have to say that this gig at "The Village" was much better. The vocals were a lot stronger, and the venue is excellent. My fave tracks were "Out Of This" & "Jellyman". The band have a multimedia display screen on stage, and I thought it was used to great effect to provide visuals for "Jive County" & "Postscript". The band mostly played tracks from their first and only album, "My Sanctuary" - apparently they've signed a 3 album deal with a UK record label so let's hope it won't be too long before a second album is out.
(For a taste of Autamata's music, their website has MP3 samples from their debut album)

07/10/03 Go Arnie [observation]
So Arnie wins California! While, I have my reservations about Arnie and the whole recall idea, I have to say that I'm delighted to Gray Davis being turfed out of office. This is a man who would sell every last political principle that he doesn't have to stay in office, he would sell out California's future if he thought it would keep in office another day longer. He is shameless. His deputy, Cruz Bustamante, seems even worse. Against that, you had Arnie and fellow Republican Tom McClintock - a competent performance from either as Governor would at least stop the rot.

06/10/03 The Zero Effect [rave]
This little gem of a movie aired on Irish TV over the weekend. Bill Pullman stars as Daryl Zero, the world's greatest private eye, with Ben Stiller as his put-upon assistant. Kim Dickens puts in a wonderful performance as Gloria Sullivan, somehow conveying vulnerability and strength at the same time. The film opens as a comedy, as Stiller, who only wants a normal life, is bemused by the extraordinarily unnessecary precautions that his boss takes to preserve his secret identify. But as Zero becomes entangled in a case where he may he met his match, it shifts into more serious mode. The film is obviously inspired by the classic Sherlock Holmes tale, "A Scandal in Bohemia", and I think it actually plays better on TV than it would in a cinema. I first heard about the film through Roger Ebert's very favourable review of it.

27/09/03 TV Watch [observation]
Tomorrow night offers two interesting dramas, in the shape of "Boudica" (ITV,9:20pm) and "The Deal" (C4, 9pm). Boudica stars Alex Kingston from ER as the English queen who leads a revolt against Roman rule. The Deal tells the story of the (rumoured) deal between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for the leadership of Britain's Labour Party. I think I'll watch Boudica - it could be awful, or very good.
On Tuesday night at 7, Network 2 show the last ever episode of Dawson's Creek, when Joey finally chooses between Dawson and Pacey. I'll be sad to see the show go, but glad I won't have to endure anymore of Network 2's inane "ID" filler segments. The delightful claymation animals of Nick Park are back with a new 13-part run in "Creature Comforts" (Wednesday ITV, 8pm). There is something magical in Nick Park's work, his "Wallace and Gromit" trilogy capable of bringing to life the child in us all.

26/09/03 Nanny State Madness [rant]
Fianna Fail TD Martin Brady has taken offence at the latest alcopop 'fad', the 'Fat Frog':
"To drink three types of alcopops in one glass is nothing other than stupid and dangerous. The 'Fat Frog Fad' will take off if publicans continue to serve them so I appeal to publicans to stop it now for the sake of us all as a nation which has a gigantic drinking problem. The sale of a drink which mixes one or more alco-pops together is a destructive combination. Publicans know this and yet continue to serve them."
There are so many things wrong with this that I don't know where to begin. I'll probably miss half of them. Does Brady propose that pubs stop selling 'Fat Frogs' pre-mixed (as I hear some bars do), or does he wish to prohibit a person from buying the different ingredients and mixing them? Given all the things which our politicians are currently directly responsible for and messing up (health service, public transport, public finances), one of them now wishes to supervise what an adult can or cannot drink?  Let's not forget that the 'Fat Frog' is merely one delivery vehicle among many for alcohol, if someone wants to get hammered, then they can, 'Fat Frog' or no. Brady makes this pronouncement in the same week a FF TD is arrested for injuring a woman whilst driving over the alcohol limit, and another is named-and-shamed as a tax evader. What are more "stupid, dangerous and destructive"? 'Fat Frogs' or Fianna Fail TDs?
Note: The drink is known as a 'Fat Frog' because of its resemblance in colour and taste to the ice pop of the same name. The ingredients are - 1 Orange Bacardi Breezer, 1 Blue WKD & 1 Smirnoff Ice.
Disclaimer: Your humble blogger has been known from time to time to sip a 'Fat Frog' or two, although he prefers his without the Smirnoff Ice.

25/09/03 The Blaine Game [rave]
Use David Blaine for target practice in "The Blaine Game", a flash animation game from BrianMung.Com

25/09/03 Arnie's Heroes [observation]
"I have often said that the two people who have most profoundly impacted my thinking on economics are Milton Friedman and Adam Smith. At Christmas, I sometimes annoy some of my more liberal Hollywood friends by sending them a gift of Friedman's classic economic primer, Free to Choose. What I learnt from Friedman and Smith is a lesson that every political leader should never forget: that when the heavy fist of government becomes too overbearing and intrusive, it stifles the unlimited wealth creation process of a free people operating under a free enterprise system."
That sentence alone would almost make me vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger. In today's "Daily Telegraph", Arnie outlines his political philosophy. The polls from California suggest that either Arnie, or his Republican rival, Tom McClintock, would win the recall election - if there's only one Republican in the race. Many on the right are not convinced of Arnie's commitment to Republican policies. What we're left with is a game of chicken between the two, who will blink and drop out first? It'll probably be McClintock, he can use the exposure he has gained to help him get another political position. One thing is clear, it would be a disaster if the rivalry between them condemns California to more Democratic Party tax-and-spend.

24/09/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
You've been feeling bad about wasting your life, but there's really nothing useful you could have done with it, anyway.

22/09/03 Inventing Japan [rave]
Historian Ian Buruma's new book, "Inventing Japan", tells the story of Japan's relationship with the Western world from 1853-1964. In a perceptive article in yesterday's Sunday Times (registration required), Buruma highlights how the job of rebuilding Japan after WW2 was far easier than the current task of rebuilding Iraq because of Japan's earlier exposure to Western influence. He closes by questioning whether America really succeeded in rebuilding Japan and Germany:
"After 1945 it seemed a good idea that the US would take over the main duty of defending themselves and their allies... the constitution deprives Japan of the right to maintain armed forces. Devastated by the war, most Japanese were more than happy with this.
But this has made Japan totally dependent on US security, fostering a permanent state of pampered adolescence. Japan as the irresponsible but wealthy son who hates his masterful father but cannot live without his protection. Anti-Americanism, in Japan no less than in Europe, is a natural result of post-war Pax Americana. We have all become too dependent, and are helpless to take care of international crises in the Gulf, the Balkans, Iraq or wherever. More and more we resent the only power that can.
The lack of military responsibility in Japan has hampered the development of the very democracy America helped to reinstall. If people cannot be trusted, or trust themselves, to exert democratic control over matters of war they are unlikely to have enough confidence to maintain their freedoms in times of danger."

21/09/03 TV Watch [observation]
An interesting week on the TV front. Tonight, Channel 4 air a brave documentary called "Globalisation Is Good". Fronted by Johan Norberg (who I confess I've never heard of), it will present the merits of global capitalism. The new season of "Malcolm in the Middle" continues on Sky One - I think the best way to describe this hilarious show is as a live-action version of "The Simpsons".
On Tuesday night Network 2 show the first part of the last *ever* episode of Dawson's Creek. TV3 have the Emmy (TV's equivalent of the Oscars) awards on Wednesday night at 8. Simon's return has brought a much-needed boost to "Teachers", which goes out at 10 on Channel 4.
BBC1's modern retelling of "The Canterbury Tales" continues on Thursday with "The Knight's Tale", starring John Simm and the delightful Keeley Hawes (of "Spooks"). Less worthy, though perhaps more enjoyable entertainment(!), can be found with BBC2 late-night on Friday in "Confessions of a Sorority Girl", starring Alyssa Milano. That about covers it.

19/09/03 Mark Steyn [rave]
"I donít mind being the token right-wing madman at The Irish Times."
Mark Steyn is the one of the most insightful, and surely the funniest, right-wing madman around. His biting articles can be found in various publications across the globe: The Irish Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Jerusalem Post, to name a few. I've created a new quotes page, containing quotes by the man himself.

17/09/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
If you didn't get the raise you were expecting, it might be time to consider becoming a Democratic Presidential candidate.

16/09/03 Questioning Statistics [rant]
"The Irish spend more on alcohol than any other nationality, according to a new book published by 'The Economist' magazine. The 'World in Figures', which is published later this month, says we fork out $1,335.50 (€1,183.10) on drink per head annually. Ireland is followed by the UK, at $901.80 (€797.94) each. No 3 is Finland at $458.70 (€404.99). The Finns spend less than one-third of the Irish figure."
When you see an article like that what is the first thing that comes to mind? Irish people conforming to stereotype? Irish people spend too much money on drink?
My mind starts questioning whether the statistics used to backup the article actually justify it. How were these figures obtained? Did they add up total alcohol sales and divide by the population of the country? Did they take a sample of Irish people? Was any attempt made to control for the number of visitors that the country has? Or the demographic breakdown of the country? Maybe Irish people do spend more money on alcohol than any other nationality, or maybe Ireland gets a lot of visitors who spend a lot of money on alcohol. To know the truth we must look deeper at the statistics - and not draw premature conclusions.

12/09/03 Dangerous Insults [rant]
Not only is it wrong to compare George Bush to Hitler it is also dangerous, as it plays into the hands of those who follow Hitler's Nazi philosophy. In National Review, Jonah Goldberg has the definitive takedown of this stupid insult. If George Bush was really a Nazi, those people who publicly oppose his policies wouldn't be allowed to march on the street with banners, they'd be rounded up and 'disappeared'.

11/09/03 Two Years On
"Asking whether the world is safer after September 11, 2001, is a bit like asking someone after a car accident whether they feel safer on the road. When asked, of course no one is going to feel safer. In reality, because the driver is now aware of the real threat on the roads - ironically because they feel less safe - they're more likely to do something to avoid a recurrence." (Alex McNeill, Evening Herald)

11/09/03 September 11 in Quotes
After the evil attacks of September 11, I collected as many quotes as I could about the attacks, the reaction to them, and the aftermath in Afghanistan and put them together in a seperate section of this site.

09/09/03 Madman in a Box Watch
"In Houdini's day, if something appeared to be happening, it generally was. No matter what Blaine cooks up, he will never enjoy that presumption. On the face of it, if he survives his 44 days on nothing but water, he could be returned to his supermodel girlfriend alive but brain-damaged. But the chances are that people would be sceptical about whether he's faking that, too. In a world where everything's an illusion, thinking you can still make a career as an illusionist may be the biggest one of all."
So writes Mark Steyn in his profile of David Blaine in the Telegraph, and I share his sentiments. David Blaine is an illusionist - is he really going to spend 44 days in a glass box by the Thames with no food?
On my holiday to London I went down to see Blaine in his box by Tower Bridge, my friends joked that we should have brought a Kentucky Fried Chicken basket so that we could throw drumsticks at him. Apparently we were not the first to have this thought, as people are reported to have thrown fish and chips at the box. Some award must go the guys who brought golf clubs and teed off from Tower Bridge trying to hit the glass box! If Blaine is really doing this as a feat of endurance, then people tempting him with food seems very human, but come on, trying to hit the box with golf clubs? That's going too far lads. For more crazy ideas, check out Wake David.

03/09/03 London Calling
Your humble blogger will be visiting London for the next few days, and doesn't even want to see a PC when he's there. So no updates for a little while...

03/09/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
People often fall in love with the person who is worst for them, which is good news for you.

02/09/03 Quote of the Week [observation]
"Hey, I'm all for going to Europe, but I don't understand why anyone would want to do it on $5 a day. $5 doesn't even buy you a pint of Guinness in Dublin." (Audrey, "Dawson's Creek")
Actually, I think $5 will just about cover the price of a pint of Guinness in Dublin - only the one though!

30/08/03 TV Watch [observation]
Some interesting stuff on TV this week... tonight BBC2 are showing a film version of the award-winning play "Copenhagen" starring Stephen Rea. The film is about the meeting between physicists Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr in 1941, where it's speculated they discussed the race to build the first atom bomb. Tomorrow Sky One start showing a new season of "Malcom in the Middle", whilst TV3 show "A Scandal in Bohemia" with an American playing Sherlock Holmes. Were there no Brits available?
Network 2 switch "Dawson's Creek" to Tuesday nights, there are only 5 episodes left in the final season. For viewers seeking less cerebral entertainment, "Lolita" starring Jeremy Irons airs late Tuesday night on Channel 4, and RTE1 show the premiere of "Coyote Ugly" on Wednesday. "Teachers" continues its run (and descent into bawdier comedy) on Wednesday night on Channel 4 - bring back Andrew Lincoln! The same night also has Katie Holmes staring in "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" on BBC1.
BBC2 start a new military strategy series called "Time Commanders" on Thursday night, where armchair generals get to replay some of history's most famous battles.

29/08/03 Gig Watch [rant]
The enchanting Heather Nova plays an acoustic gig in Vicar Street on Saturday September 6th. Her new album "Storm" is out the following Monday. I saw her play in Whelans a few years back and she was amazing, she can sing like an angel and rock with the best of them. Infuriatingly, I shall be out of the country and will miss the gig. I cannot recommend this gig enough though!

28/08/03 Web Watch [observation]
Disaster strikes the IT support industry as Dell patents the most popular remedy for PC problems: reboot-and-see-if-its-ok. In other news, Ireland is honoured when Jedi master Yoda takes a holiday here.

27/08/03 What's In A Name? [observation]
I never knew this before, but Latino and Hispanic are actually being used to describe different people from Spanish-speaking America. I always thought that they were inter-changeable. Strictly speaking, Hispanic refers to people who are descended from Europeans, whereas Latino denotes those of AmerIndian ancestry.

27/08/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
You will be honored but embarrassed when Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter visits you to "see if further trouble can be avoided."

26/08/03 Thought for the Day [observation]
Words are weapons, and it is dangerous.. to borrow them from the arsenal of the enemy.
(George Santayana)

25/08/03 Remakes & Reimaginings [observation]
If you hear that a TV show you like is going to be remade, what's your reaction? Outrage? Curiousity? Suspicion? Many sci-fi fans were outraged to hear that a remake of the classic 70s series Battlestar Galactica is currently in production by the SciFi channel. What pushed them over the edge was the news that one of the main characters, Starbuck (who is supposed to be a cocky fighter-pilot and easy-going ladies man) was being cast with a female actress. I'm not sure if this is to appeal to 21st century politically-correct sensibilities, or simply to have a babe on screen. In writer-speak, this constitues a reimagining of the original series. I can imagine Starbuck as a woman (maybe Terry Farrell in early DS9) , but I just can't imagine Katee Sackhoff in that role - even if, yes, she is a babe. Maybe that's because I've seen her playing typical-teenager Lenore in "The Fearing Mind". I await the end result with curiosity.
The common reaction of fans of the BBC comedy "Coupling" to news that it is being remade by NBC seems to be contempt - "Oh no, the bloody Americans will mess it up". Personally, I just don't see how the remake can improve upon the original. Many of the scripts remain unchanged, but how can you have anyone but Jack Davenport & Richard Coyle in the roles of Steve & Jeff? The remake that I most wanted to see was the American version of Channel 4's excellent vampire drama "Ultraviolet". Alas, it only made it as far as the pilot stage. Given that just 6 episodes were made in the UK, an American version could have explored the show's brilliant ideas further.

23/08/03 The Truth About McDonald's [observation]
You know, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

22/08/03 Who Cares About Fairness and Balance? [rave]
Reason to like Fox News #3: Heather Nauert.

21/08/03 I Never Expected To See This [observation]
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Irish Rail have added a new section to their website which displays real-time updates from DART stations. So if you're sitting in your office about to head home you can check to see if your DART is actually on time.

20/08/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
"Narrow-mindedness and jealousy on the part of your coworkers will lead them to denounce your
neckties."

19/08/03 The Boys In Green [rant]
Ireland luckily beat Australia 2-1 in an international friendly in Lansdowne Road tonight. Sky Sports (subscription-channel) showed the match live at 730, and free-to-air Irish channel TV3 then showed full delayed coverage of the match starting at 10 o'clock. I don't quite understand this, because the match wouldn't be over until around midnight. Would a highlights package not be better? I'd imagine parents with young children are faced with a dilemma as to whether to allow them to stay up late to watch the full game or not.

18/08/03 Swashbuckling Is Back [rave]
I saw "Pirates of the Caribbean" last night in the newly-renovated Santry Omniplex (very nice) and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a film for that part of you which is still ten-years old, but if that part of you hasn't died yet, you'll have a fun time. Johnny Depp is brilliant as a washed-out pirate, and Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are suitably earnest and eye-catching as the hero and heroine. To find out more information on pirates, visit Swashbuckler's Cove, which explains the difference between buccaneers and privateers, galleys and galleons and much more.

17/08/03 TV Watch [observation]
Tonight Sky One are showing the last *ever* episode of "Futurama", at 730. I'll be sad to see the series go, it had moments of genius, even if it never reached the heights of "The Simpsons". At this point I'm a bit stumped because there is NOTHING on TV at the moment to watch. I think that this is a message telling us that we're not supposed to be watching TV right now, and instead should be doing something - anything - else. Paraphrasing John Barth, we should be going to the movies, or playing tennis, or bouncing a ball of a wall, or making amorous advances to the person who comes in mind when I speak of amorous advances.

15/08/03 Future Stars [rave]
The Guardian has a feature on rising British and Irish stars, who started out in British films and are now breaking through in Hollywood - such as the lovely Romola Garai, Orlando Bloom, and "28 Days Later" alums Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris. Miss Garai has taken an unusual career move for someone who we expect to see in period British films by taking one of the leads in the sequel to "Dirty Dancing", but she will balance this out with an appearance in "Vanity Fair" alongside Reese Witherspoon.

13/08/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
This week you will discover that one of your favorite words doesn't mean what you think it means. You've been using it incorrectly for two years. Also, girls don't think you're funny, guys don't think you're cool, and small animals don't like you.

12/08/03 Thought for the Day [observation]
"You should not use your fireplace, because scientists now believe that, contrary to popular opinion, fireplaces actually remove heat from houses. Really, that's what scientists believe. In fact many scientists actually use their fireplaces to cool their houses in the summer. If you visit a scientist's house on a sultry August day, you'll find a cheerful fire roaring on the hearth and the scientist sitting nearby, remarking on how cool he is and drinking heavily." (Dave Barry)

11/08/03 Heatwave [observation]
Professor Bjorn Lomborg, author of the eye-opening "The Skeptical Environmentalist", takes a long cool look at global warming in the Telegraph - its benefits as well as downsides, and the costs of coping with it.

09/08/03 Troy [rave]
Following the success of "Gladiator", the big American studios started developing more "swords-and-sandals" epics. There are several in production or pre-production based on characters and events from the ancient world - Alexander the Great, Hannibal, the Spartans at Thermopylae. The one that really catches my eye is "Troy", I haven't been this excited about a film since "The Fellowship of the Ring".
It stars Brad Pitt as Achilles, Orlando Bloom (Legolas from Fellowship) as Paris, Eric Bana (The Hulk) as Hector, Sean Bean as Odysseus and even Ireland's own Brendan Gleeson as King Menelaus. Relative unknown Diane Kruger takes on the role of Helen. I've read some script reviews and the "mythic" elements of the storyline involving the ancient Greek gods are ignored. This is a battle between men, and boy, what battles! Alas, it will be 2004 at the earliest before we get to see this one.

07/08/03 Babewatch [rave]
"Keira Knightley is the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet." (Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair)
This blog is currently in love with Keira Knightley, gracing our screens at present in "Pirates of the Caribbean". Miss Knightley first came to prominence in "Bend it like Beckham", which inspired Bruce Handy's wonderfully apt description, and was the best thing about the recent ITV remake of Doctor Zhivago.

06/08/03 The Onion Horoscope for the Week [observation]
Some problems can't be solved by retreating into drugs and alcohol, but thankfully, yours aren't that kind.

05/08/03 Going Dutch [observation]
Rotterdam did turn out to be a lovely city, although my opinion may be clouded be the gorgeous weather - everywhere looks better in sunshine, even Dublin. Amsterdam is in part beautiful, and in part sleazy.
Crossing streets in Rotterdam is an interesting experience - bikes appear to have right of way over everything, and even mopeds can use the cycle paths. Then you have tram lines to watch out for too!

31/07/03 This Blog Is On Holiday [observation]
Your humble blogger will be spending a few days in the company of friends in the (hopefully) lovely city of Rotterdam. Fingers crossed I won't encounter a Ryanair horror-story en route, and end up stranded in Brussels. Expect me when you see me.

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