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With a lack of proper imagination endemic in certain parts of Kildare, journalistic bollocks is the great global king. Give them a minute and they’re off, spouting shite about Chinese bullfighting flower arrangers, or whatever they can think of before the deadline arrives.

And I loathe reading the bollocks that some journalists spew out, without wit or humour or an ounce of research. Only an abject terror of being “judgmental” prevents people discussing this issue with the frankness it deserves.

So for once, let’s be honest. A journalist that is gratuitously talking through his arsehole is needlessly burdened with many handicaps: for ugly writing and imminent dismissiveness in themselves lead to social isolation, emotional and sexual frustration, pontifical infirmity and often premature bed-wetting.

Some journalists are so lazy that they physically cannot be bothered to think about what they are writing. So either they improvise, using tinfoil helmets, or a towel wrapped tightly around their heads, or they get a chum to sit on it. So now do you wonder why the very, very crap also have very, very few friends? (It may also have something to do with bad insect puns).

The conjoined trinity of women’s lib, bra burning and bad mammies lie at the heart of the bollocks epidemic. The mammies of the 1970’s started listening to that Greer wan and all hell broke loose. Everything has consequences you know.

The Sun was a great thing to discover, but we never imagined it would give us sunburn and the purple dots in your eyes if you stare at it too long. Oxygen was great too when it was invented but it created flatulence and yawning. And the feckin’ Greeks! Who invented those?

Moreover, merely to state the next obvious truth — that mothers are largely responsible for people talking through their arseholes — is to court hysterical denunciations from the virally infected. But we all know that most men are now dead, given that their wives stopped feeding them in the 1970’s and once hyper-busy women with careers started watching rugby and farting at inopportune moments — then their children started talking the most unbelievable shite.

Do you know why a shite-talker wheezes? It’s because their huge arsehole is preventing light from escaping, whereby it crushes the brain. The ultimate humiliation comes when you have to ask your one remaining friend to accompany you to the loo, so you can collect up the contents of the bowl to write your next Indo column.

And most lethal of all is the mental virus that accompanies scatological verbiage. This not merely acquits parents of their own personal responsibility for having made their children into shite-talkers, but it also causes them to hallucinate. When they gaze at the revolting column-inches their children have spewed up, their poor diseased brains only register a future Poet Laureate or Pulitzer Prizewinner.

So the key to the cure of the bollocks-talking illness is the neutralisation of mothers especially. This will almost certainly require a kitchen, a large ball and chain, inflammable corsets and lack of access to cigarette lighters — and needless to say, the author of such a solution can only be a woman, as the men are, after all, dead. Until her hour comes, shite, blather and rambunctious nonsense will always rule.

Inspired by this.

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via hollyladd (Flickr) CC Licensed

 

1) Relate your story

Tell your story with a clear beginning, middle and end. Make the story as compelling as possible. Make the protagonists look really heroic, and your adversaries positively villainous. Exaggerate your main points for the maximum emotional effect. Ignore anything that might contradict your story.

2) Ignore

If someone starts to poke holes in your story, ignore them. They might go away or give up if given no satisfactory answers. Don’t take their calls. Pretend you are at an important meeting, or you are out playing golf. If you have to, them you will respond soon. Don’t bother to.

3) Ridicule

If they persist in attacking your story, laugh at them. Go for the jugular. Tell them they haven’t either the knowledge nor the wit to understand. Impugn their motives. Call them close-minded. Make them out to be in the pay of someone. Threaten them.

4) Obfuscate

If other people are now listening, pretend that’s not what you meant, that you were quoted out of context. Exaggerate minor truths to major importance. Minimise the importance of your major points. Appeal to any authority you can find. Appeal to tradition. Appeal to their emotions. Find anecdotal evidence that fits your argument. Throw as many curveballs at them as you possibly can.

5) Justify

If your argument is now falling apart, start to justify your motives with gusto. Blame your enemies. Blame your friends. Blame the media. Blame the polical establishment. Blame the woeful lack of standards in education. Make yourself out to be the victim of a plot. Bring in the effect on your family wherever possible. Go on a drinking binge. Get caught.

6) Oh yeah. That.

Admit you were wrong.

Say, here’s an idea. Why not not go from 1) to 6) directly? You might earn some self respect while actually learning something.

Last Friday, RTE’s Late Late Show invited Patrick Holford, a “pioneer in the area of health and nutrition” to talk to people about how to beat depression. It’s an interesting choice of expert because Patrick Holford has no academically recognised qualifications in the treatment of depression and has spent much of his career building up his health food and vitamin pill business. He has been the source of much controversy. Holford has claimed that AZT (a drugs cocktail used to combat AIDS) is less effective than Vitamin C and has been pulled up by the advertising standards authority in the UK for making unsubstantiated claims. In a nutshell, he isn’t the type of “expert” you want to be to rolling out when discussing something as serious and damaging as depression.

Using RTE Player I went through some of the claims Holford makes during the interview, and as it happens, many of the claims check out. There are studies around that have shown a beneficial link between fish oils and depression. There are studies that show a positive correlation between Vitamin D and seasonal depression. There are studies that link mood to obesity. Holford conveniently ties these studies into a single thesis: that what we eat is the most significant link in causing and treating depression, when many decades of clinical research would present a very different view. In other words, it’s just a confident sales pitch: read my book, eat the foods I suggest and you will feel better. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t; such is the power of the placebo effect; but in reality it falls far short of a comprehensive solution to the problems of depression.

Depression really is a grind. It differs from bad mood because it is not easy to get rid of and the depths of despair reached people inflicted by it. It can last for days, weeks, months, even years. No magic bullet has yet been found and it appears to differ greatly from person to person. There are lots of probable reasons and many treatments. It is one of the most widespread illnesses in society and is tipped to be the second leading cause of disability by 2020. Many of the most effective weapons against it (antidepressants, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy) remain unpopular and stigmatised, often by the very same groups that promote healthy eating and mineral supplements. In the battle against depression what is most important are treatments that work, not ones we would like to work.

We need a serious discussion about depression in this country, not just a sales pitch by a vitamin pill vendor.

A stray tweet in TAM London a few weeks ago has lead to my setting up, with three other comrades in arms, Cork’s first Skeptics group in the city.

We are busy working on the agenda and details for our first meeting, which will take place in Blackrock Castle on Thursday next, November 25th at 8pm. We have a Twitter account and a Facebook page already, some posters on the way and a website in the works too, where we can post all sorts of stuff and nonsense.

The group is part of the global Skeptics in the Pub movement, where people come together to share stories and to discuss a wide range of topics, from pseudoscience to proper science, medicine to alternative medicine, parapsychology to psychology, and goodness knows what else.

I just want to say that I’m really appreciative of the work everyone is putting in. We have Dylan Evans from UCC lined up to do a speech on Alternative Medicine on Thursday and I’m hoping I can get a few more people to talk to us over the coming months. We hope to meet every month in Blackrock Castle. The Castle has a great café with a full drinks license. We couldn’t have asked for a better location and meeting room.

If you have any ideas or suggestions on what else we can do to get the group off the ground, I’m all ears.

Next Sunday, September 5th, The 365 Days of Astronomy website will be broadcasting my second podcast.

It’s all about two gigantic meteor craters in the heart of Europe. I talk about how they were created, what they look like today and how their discovery has changed the way we look at our planet. I will be backing up the podcast with pictures and further details here on this blog.

Please take a listen in and let me know what you think.

(Oh, and if you never heard my first podcast for 365DOA, you can find it here).

A few oldies and goodies.

First up, Homeopathic A&E. Don’t tell me you haven’t seen this.

Next, Crispian Jago gives us an out-of-body experience.

Brian Brushwood gives a talk on Homeopathy and magnet therapies

.. and not forgetting Dara O’Briain’s famous video on Homeopathy

Dimitri Dempsey

Spot the difference? Me neither.

The Irish Minister for Transport, Mr. Noel Dempsey, announced yesterday that he is determined to press ahead with tough new bullshit limits in the face of a backbench revolt.

Mr Dempsey, who works every second night as the President of Russia, announced that new gulags would be built in Siberia for public personalities who were caught with over 5 miligrams of bullshit in their public utterances. Up to now, the limit has been set at 8 miligrams, which is far higher than all other EU countries excluding the UK.

At a party meeting last week, representatives within Dempsey’s own party forcefully expressed their opposition to this move. Some are threatening to vote against the legislation when it appears before parliament. Mattie McGrath, from Tipperary, said that bullshit could relax jumpy parliamentarians and that he was partial to a bit of bullshit himself on occasion to make any of his public utterances even halfway coherent.

The most vociferous comments came from Jackie Healy-Rae in Kerry, who said that high levels of bullshit should be a mandatory requirement for all parliamentarians. “I’ve often used plenty of bullshit in my speeches, and it never did me a bit of harm”. He cites former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, “who was well known to use 90 miligrams of bullshit any chance he could get, and did they lock him up for it? Not a chance.”

Sources believe that Minister Dempsey has a difficult road ahead of him. According to one source, the legislation is dead at the starting blocks. “The level of bullshit in public use these days is so bad that it won’t happen without massive investment in Garda resources”, she said. “Gardai will need to invest in state of the art bullshit detectors while the number of random bullshit tests will need to be doubled, or even tripled. Who is going to pay for that?”. It currently believed that the new limits won’t become law before 2011.

The minister himself was unable for comment this morning. He was was in Vladivostok opening a new missile defense installation.

Knock Shrine

via Declan McAleese (Flickr - creative commons licensed)

KNOCK, Co. Mayo – 31 October 2009

Fifty thousand people from around Ireland turned up the town of Knock, Co. Mayo, today to see a glorious display of Nothing. The anticipation had been building up for weeks after clairvoyant Joe Coleman successfully predicted at least two displays of Nothing over the past months, with this day expected to be the best display of Nothing in fifty years. Bus-loads of pilgrims began to arrive into Knock since last Wednesday. Hotel rooms and guest-houses were booked up as far afield as Ballina and Tuam. James O’Shaughnessy from Rosslare arrived in Knock the night before, having walked in his bare feet from Wexford. All the pilgims spoke in feverish terms about their anticipation of today’s event. “It’s about time that the people of Ireland woke up, cast off our material desires and realised that all out problems would be solved if we moped around looking at bugger all for a while”, said Micheal Foley from Moate, Co. Westmeath.

The day lived up to expectations right from the start. “It was amazing”, said Bill O’Rourke from Prosperous, Co. Kildare. “As soon as we got there we immediately started seeing Nothing, and for the entire time we were there we continued to see Very Little Happen on a regular basis. We must have been there four hours. I’ve never experienced so much Nothingness on a single occasion before”.

Mary Kelleher from Ennis, was slightly more skeptical. “Well, I’m sure I saw a flock of crows at one stage, so saying we saw Nothing is a bit too strong. But it might have been a trick of the eyes. God acts in mysterious ways, you know”. However Martin O’Carroll from Gort was far more insistent. “Praise be! It was an incredible experience! There were thousands of us there, and we all witnessed directly the complete absence of anything interesting at all! You can’t put that down to chance”.

At 3pm on the day , a slight wind blew from the west, but it soon died down again. Some in the crowd immediately fainted from sheer wonderment. Around 3.15, the sun was momentarily seen from behind the grey clouds. “I definitely saw it shining”, said Pat McGarrigle from Roscommon. “It was there in the sky, and it was shining down. The locality suddenly brightened up around us. We could feel the sun’s rays on our faces. We all burst into prayer”.

As the crowd began to disperse around 7pm, a great light appeared in the sky. The Aer Arann flight from Dublin had arrived on time.

Joe Coleman declared the occasion a great success. “By the end of the day, everyone was completely bored. Our traditional values are obviously still strong. Let this be a warning to the politicians and the Church hierarchy. If you believe in your heart that Nothing will happen, then it can come true despite what the authorities might tell you”. He is currently organising a pilgimage to Lourdes, “where a great Non-Event is due to take place before the assembled multitudes during December”.

Most people will agree that we are now going through a period of time that will be remembered for a long time, like World War II, 9/11 or The Great Depression. It’s probably the first time in world history when the entire globe has been caught in the grip of a sudden and calamitous economic crisis. No country has been untouched. Governments,  businesses and households worldwide are desperately fighting to shore up their reserves while avoiding financial meltdown. The problem is far from over and recovery will take many years.

Last month, Dominique Strauss Kahn of the IMF gave the current economic crisis the rather unimaginative appellation “The Great Recession“. Given that we still don’t know how long this crisis will last, or how deep it will be, events might yet consign this name to history.

Doing a quick trawl of the web, I have discovered a few potential alternatives.

  • The Great Deception (*)
  • The Bush Kaboom (*)
  • Depression 2.0 (*)
  • The Flump (*)
  • The Clump (*)
  • The Not So Great Depression (*)
  • The Repression (*)
  • The Econopocalypse (*)
  • World Crash I 
  • The De-Hummerization (*)
  • The Great Uh-Oh (*)
  • The Boomer Bust (*) 
  • Econorrhea (*)

And what would you call the young people who will be shaped by these events? Generation OMG.

800px-a_small_cup_of_coffee

In our main cafeteria, a sachet of instant coffee costs 10 cent. In the coffee docks the very same sachets are free. There are two coffee machines in our cafeteria. One machine brews a 30 cent mocha. The machine right beside it brews a mocha for 1 euro 20 cent. Not to be outdone, beside these two machines is a brand new coffee bar, where you can now buy a mocha for a whopping 2 euros 10 cent. Meanwhile, the best coffees come from an espresso maker right beside our general manager’s office. This coffee is free. The coffee in the smaller canteen is free, but if you want an extra large coffee, it costs a euro.

And if you can understand the economics of all that, you deserve a cup of coffee.

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