Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Something fishy about the origins of Christmas

An effulgence of lights, crowds of zealous shoppers and soul-destroying music announce that it is Christmas time again. But what is Christmas? Who was Christ? Why do we still call this annual shopping spree after this mysterious mythical figure? He dominates our historical consciousness insofar as our understanding of history is determined by before and after his supposed existence, but is there any reason to believe such a figure ever existed in the sense of an actual historical person walking upon the earth? The churches would have us believe that Christ was both God and man, and inspite of this apparent contradiction, actually existed, actually was born on the 25th of December in a stable in Bethleham, performed miracles and died to save humanity. However, close scrutiny of the scriptures and the writings of his contemporaries reveal no evidence of such a person. We are told he came from Nazareth even though this town did not even exist at the reputed date of Christ's birth! The truth is simply that Jesus never existed. He was the result of a complex ideological fiction that took centuries of assiduous editing and re-writing before the New Testament was finally presented as fact. Rather than an historical person, Christ is, to borrow a phrase from the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, a conceptual person.

Anthropology, however, does show that the idea of Christos or 'The Anointed One' precedes this biblical figure. Adonis and Tammuz, for example, were born of the Virgin Sea-goddess Aphrodite-Maria(Myrrha), or Ishtar-Mari(Hebrew Mariame). In the Bible itself, we have Jehu, son of Nimshi, whom Elijah anointed as a sacred king( 1 Kings 19.16) and Yeshua son of Marah. It is likely that Jesus was another personification of ancient moon worship. The cults of the ancient Essenes always included a healer with the title 'Christos'. The 'chrism' was actually an oil which was used to lubricate the phallus of the statue's of Osiris for penetration by temple virgins in ancient Egypt.

Some theorists have derived the name from 'healing moon-man'. This would fall in with the Hebrew notion that makes Jesus the son of Mary, the almah or 'moon maiden'. It is odd that in spite of Christ's reputed miracles and the oft related furore that surrounded his deeds, that there is no mention of him in any of the renowned scholars of his time. Tacitus, Pliny, inter alia, all eminent scholars and au fait with the events of their time, do not even mention him. This prophetic Jew whose miraculous powers were said to have been considered a threat to the security of the Roman empire, failed to make world-headlines in his day. That is because he wasn't invented until 60 years after his birth when Mark the evangelist sat down to write his first novel! As with all crafy writers, Mark was a skillful plagiarist.He must have been familiar with the writings of Plato, as the Gethsamene episode( 14.32-42) where Jesus continues to pray while the apostles are too drunk to stay awake, is taken straight out of Plato's Symposium. Jesus, like Socrates, just doesn't want the party to end!

One perceptive writer by the name of Aulus Cornelius Celsus, refers to vagabonds and mendicants traversing the Middle East claiming to be the Messiah. He writes:
'Each has the convenient and customary spiel, "I am the god," or "a son of God", or " a divine spirit", and " I have come. For the world is about to be destroyed, and you, men, because of your injustice, will go( with it). But I wish to save, and you shall see me again coming back with heavenly power. Blessed is he who worships me now! On all others, both cities and countrysides, I shall cast eternal fire. And men who( now) ignore their punishments shall repent in vain and groan, but those who believed in me I shall preserve immortal.'
Sound familiar? It was certainly familiar to Celsus but, as you can see, he wasn't too impressed. Of course, the tradition has more or less continued to this day with religious cult leaders still terrorising people into belief. Most of the so-called miracles in the Bible are simply rechauffé stories culled from earlier mythological sources. The changing of water into wine at Canae, for example, was an old trick practised by certain followers of Dionysus. It was a trick involving vessels and sifons which was invented by an engineer named Heron. There were many stories centuries before Christ of priestesses curing the blind with spittle, and Demeter of Eleusis mulitplied loaves and fishes in her role of Mistress of Earth and Sea. Stories of healing the sick and raising the dead were so common at this time that Celsus tells us they were " nothing more than the common works of those enchanters who, for a few oboli, will perform greater deeds in the midst of the Forum... the magicians of Egypt cast out evil spirits, cure diseases by a breath, and so influence some uncultured men, that they produce in them whatever sights and sounds they please. But because they do such things shall we consider them the sons of God?'

The notion of a man-god or god-king sacrificing himself for the sake of his people goes back thousands of years before Christ. This explains the rather cannibalistic ritual of Christianity.In fact, there is very little origininality in the Christian myth. Even the idea of the stable was borrowed from Christ's predecessor Zoroaster, who apparently was born in a stable. The date of Christmas is unsurprisingly nine months after his birth, common to pagan circular theology.There are many more examples which reveal the sources of the Christian myth which I cannot go into here, but what a pity Bishop Theodore of Cyrrhus destroyed up to 200 different Gospels in 250AD, leaving us with only four! As a parting thought, some Irish scholars derived 'Jesus' from the old Irish 'Ischa' meaning fish. Always suspected something fishy myself!
If the tearful skies and lugubrious winds of January are weighing upon you like lead, perhaps you would be well advised to counteract the gloom by exploring some of the country's incomparable treasures such as Bru na Bóinne or the Boyne Valley in royal county Meath. Access to the Boyne valley will be greatly improved soon as Rialtas na hÉireann proceeds unashamedly to bury 5000 years of civilisation under stone and concrete, enabling you to drive through the valley of Cnoc na Teamhrach, the Hill of Tara, at your leisure in your C02-loving SUV! Go n'éirí an bóthar leat! But you won't find a more lugubrious site in Ireland than the Boyne Valley in its present state.In spite of a campaign that has become global to reverse the decision to build the M3 motorway through one of the world's wonders, the Government's pertenacious desire to build this road can only be described as downright perverse. Despite the Government's best efforts, demonstrations against the routing of the M3 motorway are continuing. In a recent press release, the Tarawatch campaign revealed that the office of the Taoiseach tried to prevent the demonstrations of the Tarawatch campaign by officially denying them permission. Nevertheless, the demonstration went ahead. In order to symbolise the destruction of our national heritage, the campaigners made a model of the M3 motorway out of cloth and draped it over the Garden of Rememberance in Dublin. Cait O Riardan from the Pogues and Mary Lou Macdonald from Sinn Féin attended the demonstration as guest speakers.In spite of it being named one of the top ten archeological finds of 2007 by Archeology magazine published by the Archeology Institute of America, the Government has obtusely refused to halt the destruction of the Lios an Mhuillean site in the Tara Skryne Valley. The dishonest and disengenuous stance of the Government is attested by the fact that they moved the destruction date for Lissmullen back to December 18 in a surrepticious attempt to avoid conflict with the Tarawatch campaigners. Instead the NRA handed over the site to the construction company SIAC on December 18. Minister for the Environment and Heritage John Gormely will come in for tough questioning from the Tarawatch campaign about this controversial decision to move the handover date back to before Christmas. Speaking at the recent demonstration in the Garden of Rememberane, Mary Lou Macdonald was vociferous in her condemnation of Gormely's position on the Tara valley project.

"The Minister has flouted EU law since he came into office, by refusing to conduct a dew Environmental Impact Assessment on Tara.
"The Green Party Minister for the Environment has completely adopted the Fianna Fail position and rejected demands by Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, to re-assess the damage being done to heritage there." she said.
While Vincent Salafia of TaraWatch said:
"Not only is Minister Gormley lying about having the power to order a new assessment, but he appears to have given false information to the public about the date of the transfer of Lismullin, in order to facilitate demolition over the holidays.
"The lawsuit being taken by the European Commission could cost the taxpayer tens of millions of euros in fines, and it is the Minister’s duty to avoid these penalties."
Perhaps 2008 will be a year of introspection for the Government and the average Irish citizen. With the Achilles heal of the Irish economy, namely the construction sector in obvious decline, together with a looming recession in the USA, it is time to take stock of the importance of culture and heritage before it is too late. If nothing else, the Tara Skryne Valley serves to show us that although the life of man is short, nasty and brutish, his wretched sojourn upon the earth is redeemed by the works of art he leaves behind, filling us with wonder and enjoining us to think in the words of Shakespeare's Hamlet that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. Much damage has already been done but if the national monuments that challenge the complacency of the present with the imprint of the past are erased, what will we have to reflect upon, where will we look for answers to the big questions, the questions of our origins, of who we were, who we are and who we might be in the future?
Tá uafás agus díomá ar fud an domhain tar éis bháis de Benazir Bhutto an tseachtain seo caite. Cé nach bhfuil fios fós ag éinne cé a bhí taobh thiar de, is léir go bhfuil sé mar chúis imní agus amhrais istigh sa Phakastáín féin. Tá rialtas na Pakistáine ag maíomh gur ndearna Al Queda an marú. Ach, séanann ceannaire de Al Queda, Mehsud na líomhaintí sin. Níl tharlaíonn sé go minic go shéanann Al Queda líomhaintí a thogtar ina gcoinne nuair a bhíonn siad freagrach. Sé sin a rá go ndealraíonn sé fíor-annamh Al Queda a fheiceáil agus iad a rá nach bhfuil aon bhaint acu leis an ionsaí seo. Is léir dúinn, áfach, go raibh Benazir Bhutto i measc naimhdaithe agus go raibh Al Queda agus na Taliban tar éis bagairtí a dhéanamh go marofaí Bhutto ar ball. Mar sin, feictear dom, go bhfuil rialtas na Pakistáine agus Al Queda ag iarraidh dullamóg a chur a dhaoine mar go bhfuil sé sin usáideach dóibh i dtaobh bolscaireachta de maidir leis an olltoghcháin atá ag teacht. Chiallódh sé sin go bhfuil Rialtas na Pakistáine ag iarraidh am agus spás a fháil chun scéal ceart cuimsitheach a chur le chéile, sceál a chuirfeadh an milleán ar Al Queda. B'fhéidir go bhfuil sé sin fíor, ach tá an PPP ag tabhairt comharthaí amach a insíonn scéal eile. Tugann siad ' conspiracy' ar mharú Bhutto agus ardítear líomhaintí i gcoinne an rialtais dá bharr. Dúirt Tariq Azim Khan, iar leas-aire d'eolais agus é ag caint ar Al Jazeera an tseachtain seo caite,
"caithfimid bheith foigneach le sin agus ba chóir dúinn an inniúchadh ceart a dhéanamh sular ardítear líomhaintí" Dúirt sé chomh maith go dtarlaíonn sé go minic go mbíonn baint ag foréigean i bPakastáin agus an cogadh san Afganistáin. Mar sin, ba chóir dúinn fanacht le go mbeidh fiosrúcháin cheart déanta ar na cúiseanna. Ach le hionsaithe agus ciréibeacha ag leanúint ar aghaidh gach lá ar fud na Pakistáine, níl sé cosúil go mbeidh am ann chun an eachtra seo a inniúchadh roimh thús an olltoghcháin i mbliana. Ní chuirfidh sé sin isteach morán ar Uachtarán Musharaf, áfach, agus beidh sé ag iarraidh bás de Benazir Bhutto a usáid mar chomhartha an antoisctheachais ioslamaigh na tíre agus an fáth bhfuil a rialú riachtanach go fóill.
Is melée amach agus amach atá i gceist i bPakistáin faoi láthair le roinnt forsaí ag iarraidh a bholscaireacht fhéin a chur i bhfeidhm. Dúirt daoine áirithe ba chóir go sheolfar forsaí NA( Na Náisúín Aontaithe) don réigúin chun síochán a chur i bhfeidhm agus chun cinntiú go mbeidh feachtas toghcháin chothrom ann ins na seachtainí romhainn. Beidh súile an domhain ar rialtas na Pakistáine as seo amach maidir le bás Bhutto, go hairithe nuair a smaointear ar ráiteas de Bhutto cúpla mí o shin nuair a dúirt sí go mbeadh rialtas na Pakistáine agus na forsaí slándála taobh thiar de, dá mbeadh iarracht ann chun í a mharú. Anois dealraíonn sé go bhfuil fíor-amhras ann maidir le seasamh an rialtais, amhras atá ag leathnú le ar aghaidh le gach lá.
Porqué no te callas? Cén fáth nach bhfuil Chavez cúin?
"Porque ne te callas?!" b'shin na focail a chualathas ar fud an idirlíon; ráiteas borb a d'eascair as argóint idir an Rí Juan Carlos na Spáinne agus Hugo Chavez, uachtarán de Venezuela sa Cruinniu Ibero-Mhearicánan mí na saimhna i 2007. Bhí díospóireacht maidir le polasaí na Spáinne comhlachtaí príomháideacha a chothú ar fud an réigúin faoi lánsheol nuair a bhriseadh an argóint amach. Ach nuair chuala muid morán faoi na chúiseanna a bhí taobh thiar den easaontas. Cuireadh an chuid béime ar iontas an lucht lanúna maidir le ráiteas an rí, agus anois tá na páipéirí spáinneacha ag caint faoi 'relationes dificiles' le rialtas de Chavez dá bharr. Ach ní raibh morán caint faoin díospóireacht ar chor ar bith. Níor bhain sé le stair de Mheiriceá Theas amháin ach le polasaithe eacnamaíochta príobháideacha a bhí freagrach de bhochtanas agus éadóchas ar fud na mór-roinne súid. Ach e sin ráite, ní raibh morán eolais againn ó na tuairiscí a fuair muid faoi céard go díreach a bhí i gceist ann. Bhí roinnt uachtaráin Mheiriceá Theas, daoine mar Evo Morales den Bholaiv, Carlos Lage de Cuba agus Daniel Ortega de Nicaragua agus iad ag maíomh gur ba chóir go mbeadh muster eacnamaíochta nua ann chun dul i ngleic le bearna ollmhór atá idir saibhir agus daibhir sa tír. Tá sé soléir dóibh gur scrios na comhlachtaí idirnáisiúnta alán tíortha ar fud Mheiriceá Theas nuair a cuireadh i bhfeidhm polasaithe eacnamaíochta nua-liobrálacha sna hochtaidí. Mar sin, ní raibh siad ach ag déanamh tagairt don réalachas mar a fheictear go forleathan imeasc a bpobal féin. Ach ní raibh Rí Juan Carlos sásta líomhaintí i gcoinne a hiar-chéad aire José Maria Aznar a chloisteál, mar tá sé aitheanta do gach éinne gur d'imir Aznar ról lárnach mar aire i ndeachtóireacht de Franco go dtí na seachtóidí. Thaobhaigh Aznar le coup d'etat a bheartaigh an CIA i Venezuela i 2002, agus ó shin i leith, mhaslaigh sé Chavez le gach deis a fuair sé, a rá go raibh Uachtarán de Venezuela ina chontúirt de dhaonlathas na tíre agus sé sin ó fhear díograiseach do dhéachtóireacht fhaistísteach na Spáinne! Nuair a tháinig sé os comhair chomissúin um ghnóthaí eachtracha sa Spáinn i 2004, dúirt an t-aire um ghnóthaí eachtracha Migel Angel Moratinos go raibh coup d'etat ann agus go fuair ambassadóir na Spáinne ordaithe ó Rialtas na Spáinne glacadh leis an coup agus tacaíocht a thabhairt dó. Níl amhras ach gur chuir sé sin isteach ar Rí na Spáinne. Theastaigh uaidh nach n-osclofaí an t-eolas sin os comhair an domhain. Fuair sé tacaíocht ó mheán cumarsáide an domhain nuair a chraol siad a ráiteas amháin gan trácht ar na fáthanna a bhí taobh thair de.
Tá cás na Venezuela ag cur isteach ar na Stáit Aontaithe os rud é go bhfuil plean forbartha náisiúnta acu chun neamspleáchas a bhaint amach ó 'Uncle Sam'. Mar sin, tuairisc ina dhiaidh tuairisc ón tír súid ag déanamh masla do Chavez. Rinne na Spáinnigh an rud céanna faoi stúirthóireacht de Aznar. Nuair a smaoinítear ar na tíortha eile sa Mheiriceá Theas atá ag baint neamhspleáchais amach óna Stáit Aontaithe is léir go bhfuil cinneál réabhlóid chúin ag tarlú ann. In ainneoin sin is uile, theip ar Chavez le déanaí bunreacht na tíre a athrú le go mbeadh sé mar uachtarán buan. Comhartha é sin go bhfuil bolscaireacht an daonlathais liobrálaigh ag bailliú nirt sa tír.Ach é sin ráite,níl aon freagair acu d' fadhbanna na tíre agus bheadh orthu Weltanschaunng go hiomlán difrúil ach éifeachtach do gach éinne ag an am céanna a thaispéaint do dhaoine dá éireoidh leis an 'oligarchy' an lámh in uachtar a fháil arís. Ach cén liobrálachas atá i gceist acu le sin i ndáiríre? Liobrálachas a choinnfidh an bhearna idir saibhir agus daibhir i bhfeidhm agus seanréimeas coilíneach a dhúiltíonn deiseanna do dhaoine bochta, alán bundúcasaigh ina measc. B'fhéidir go raibh ciall áirithe ag baint le ráiteas an rí: mas theastaíonn uait athruithe radacacha sóisialacha a chur i bhfeidhm, dún do bhéal! Ach tá tromlach na daoine ag cúlú le Chavez go fóill agus is iadsan a fhreagróidh an cheist sin ' porque no te callas'. Porque consequimos una revolution!

Why the Irish education system is murdering our language

Sitting in a musty room overlooking the rain-drenched january streets of Cork, an opened book before me and a somewhat apprehensive face meeting my eyes at the other side of the table. I am teaching Irish for the dreaded Ardteistiméireacht. Realising the dismal state that secondary Irish education now finds itself in, a half-hearted caricature of language acquisition; or as someone once said, the inculcation of the impossible to the indifferent by the incompetent- I try to engage my student in trivial small talk as Gaeilge hoping that such tentative confabulation would generate sufficient interest to maintain our tremulous amity.

It's not that Irish is depressing or anything, it's just that the travesty of real learning disguised under copious notes perfunctorily swallowed by Ireland's leaving cert students, saps the 'spontaneous joy and natural content', as Yeats put it, from the hearts of our children, drying the cultural marrow of the nation and replacing it with a cancer of ignorance. And I am continually astonished by the level of ignorance that passes for linguistic competence.All over Ireland, leaving cert students are learning off reams of poetry, quotations from short stories of dubious merit, without being able to express their most basic concerns in the language. It is an open secret. We all did it. I look at a copy book of one student and see essay's reasonably well-written, grammatical exercises completed satisfactorily and letters written without too many errors, yet the same student is not able to form one sentence in the language, nor understand the most basic chunk of syntax. But he is one of many.

Let's face it, the Irish revival project under the aegis of An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta has failed. It is over. It will not improve nor does it deserve to. It is a disgrace and a smug obfuscation of the aims and aspirations of the cultural idealists who fought for national self-determination. As I speak the Government are attacking one of the last havens of propror Irish language instruction,Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in Kerry for speaking the language too much! I know, it is perverse, and despicably so.

As it stands, mainstream Irish education in this country is a waste of time. Should we then abandon the language, abandon this umbilical cord that binds us to one of the world's richest and most mysterious cultures? Of course not. But the leaving cert syllabis needs to be scrapped. We need to start again. We need drama, role-play, continuous assessment based on interviews, rigorous oral Irish training for teachers, a national educational programme that would provide incentives for schools willing to make the language a living medium of communication inside and outside the classroom.

Instead the Government routinely refuses to supply the most meagre funding or State support to the Gaelscoileanna movement. We need schools where teachers show example by being heard converse as Gaeilge to each other in the corridors and on the sports fields. We need to make the assessment process 80 percent oral. We need inspectors making regular checks on schools, university students perhaps, who could engage students in conversation in the playgrounds as part of their leaving cert examinations. Extra curricular activities through Irish have to be the order of the day. What would happen then?

Irish would become popular, drama activities through Irish would inspire people to consider acting, perhaps in TG4. Why not make the writin of plays as Gaeilge one module of the leaving cert syllabis? Activities performed through Irish would make the subject both easy and enjoyable. The language would become a means of expression again, and would be viewed and the leaving certs results would improve drastically with more people opting of the honours courses. We would then be on our way to a meaning form of diglossia or even pure bilingualism. The murder machine that is the Irish language education system would be decommisioned once and for all, and verbs, adjectives, perpositions and nouns coughed up apathetically in state exams, would begin to signify once again, ensconsing us inextricably with the cultural landscape of the past but more importantly projecting us onto a new plateau of cultural possibility, giving us another way of being, another way of creating the future.

Titim an bhalla ach gan chéilúradh.

Cé go raibh fhios ag daoine ar fud an domhain go raibh smachtbhannaí eacnamaíochta curtha i bhfeidhm i gcoinne mhuintir na Palistíne, cruthaíodh an mheán churarsáide tuariscí a rá go raibh eagla ar mhuinir na hÍosráile mar gheall ar thitim de chuid den bhalla nuair a scrios Hamas é ar na mallaibh. Cúís imní a bhí ann de réir dealramh, cúis imní go mbeadh cead ag sceimhlitheorí dul amú agus trioblóid a chothú le airm ceannaithe, b'fhéidir san Egypt.Codarsnacht rímhór í sin le dearcadh an domhain nuair a thit balla béirlíneach i 1989. Thug titim an bhalla bhéirlíneach gliondar ar mhuintir an domhain, comhartha ba ea é faoi athmhuintearas, faoi dhaonnacht; siombal an daonlathais. Is léir nach bhfuil cothrom le féine i gceist nuair a smaointear faoi phobal na Palistíne, áfach. Cuireadh tuairiscí amach le CNN go raibh 'cúis imní' ar fhorsaí slándála na hÍosráile go raibh 'sceimhlitheoirí' tar éis dul ó smacht, go raibh 'chaos' sa Stráica Gaza agus go raibh ionsaithe de Hamas 'coirúil'. Fuaireamar tuairiscí cosúil le sin anseo in Éireann chomh maith. Dúirt stáisúín na teilifíse nach raibh ach ragús siopadóireachta i gceist acu. Ach ní cheapfá go mbeadh daoine gan acmhaine, gan airgead, gan saoirse agus cearta sibhíalta bunúsacha ag dul i mbun siopadóireachta i stát cóngarach!
Cathain a tharlóidh sé go mbeidh tuiscint nó bá croíúil againn anseo san Iarthar faoi chás na Palistíne? Leannan an foréigean ar aghaidh gan stad gan staonadh agus cloisfimid na bréag ina dhiadh bréag go seasta.
Der réir dealraimh d'oibrigh Hamas ar an dtionscamh seo le roinnt míos ag geartha an bhalla le uirlisí oxy-acetylene. Nuair a thugann tú d'uighe tromlach na bhforsaí slándála san Iosráil agus an dúil cogaíóchta atá acu, chuirfeadh sé iontas ort cé chomh éifeachtach is a bhí an togra uaillmhianach seo. Is mór an bholscaireacht í seo do Hamas agus tá a n-aitheantas, a mheas, tacaíocht agus a n-údarás an-láidir anois i meas an phobail Phalistínigh. Is léir nach bhfuil aon tuiscint ag na meaín chumarsáide san Iarthar, áfach, faoi céard atá ag tarlú sa Phalistín agus mura ndéanfar rud éigin phráineach chun dul i ngleic leis beimid ag breathnú ar an 'holocaust' leanúnach seo le roinnt blianta fós. Coup mór do Hamas agus ba chóir deireadh a chur le dhaorsmacht mhuinir na Palistíne anois!

Dóchas Obama v seanréim Clinton nó McCain.

Tá súile an domhain ag breathnú ar chúrsaí reatha sna Stáit Aonthaithe faoi láthair agus i í an fhirinne nach bhfacha aon duine a leithéid d'aitheantais agus suime i gcúrsaí inmheánacha Mheiriceá b'fhéidir ó tháinig JFK ar stáitse an domhain sna seascaidí. Níl aon amhras ach go bhfuil iarrthóireacht de Bharack Obama an rud is suntasaí agus is suimiúla san olltoghchán seo. Ní amháin mar gheall ar an troid i gcoinne chiníochais, ach toisc go bhfuil Obama ag caint faoi 'athrú' an t-am ar fad. Tá sé ag cur in iúl do dhaoine go bhfuil géarghá d'athrú ann agus nach féidir leis na Stáit Aontaithe gréim a choinneál ar thíortha eile le láthreáin mhileata. Is athrú mór a bheas i gceist anseo agus sin an fáth go bhfuil tromlach de mhuintir an domhain ag súil go roghnófar é mar iarrthóir uachtarántachta ar ball. Tá fhios againn uile go raibh Hillary Clinton i bhfabhar an chogaidh agus nach bhfuil i gceist aici ach leanúint ar aghaidh le réimeas dá fear chéile. Cé go bhfuil sé follasach go bhfuil muintir Mheiriceá sáinnithe san ideolaíocht bhurgéiseach a roghnófaí duine cosuil le Clinton, mar a chonaiceamar i gcás George Bush, tá muintir an domhain ag súil go mbeadh athrú suntasach ollmhór maidir le polasaithe eachtracha na Stát Aontaithe feasta. Le fiacha ollmhór de 9 trillion dollar agus geilleagar nach bhfuil ag feidhmú mar a bhí, is cinnte go bhfuil géarchéim ag teacht chucu anois agus go deimhin, beidh impleachtaí suntasacha d'eacnamaíocht an domhain dá bharr. Mura n'déanann siad athrú anois beidh sé ro-dhéanach dóibh an phraiseach a réiteach gan beartas taidhleoireachta cuimsitheach a aimsiú ionas go mbeadh an 'léirsáil bhothair' eigin curtha i bhfeidhm i bPalistíne agus deireadh cogadh san Iaráic gan trácht ar na fadhbanna san Afganistán, áit a bhfuil NATO ag fulaingt de bharr easpa smaointe agus treoir. Ach an mbeadh Obama in ann athru a chur i bhfeidhm. Ar dtús, caifhfear tabhairt d'ár n-uighe go mbeadh sé an-dheacair dó má dhéanann Al Queda ionsaithe sceimhlitheoireachta ar na Stáit Aontaithe roimh an toghcháin, bheadh lámh in uachtar ar na Poblachtáigh i dtaobh bolscaireachta de maidir lena sheasamh san Iaráic. Ag an am chéana beidh sé deacair do Obama a bheith an-taircaisneach maidir le beartais an Pháirtí Phoblachtánaigh san Iaráic agus i bPalistíne toisc go bhfuil sé ag iarraidh votaí a fháíl uathú freisin agus tá comharthaí ann go mbeidh poblachtánaigh toilteannach votáil ar son Obama mar go bhfuil siad mí-shásta le McCain. Rud eile atá casta do Obama nach bhfuil cúlra mileata aige. Tá sé sin fíor-thábhachtach d'ideolaíocht na Stát Aontaithe chomh maith agus b'fhéidir go mbeadh sé ina bhuntáiste do McCain madiri le cúrsaí eachtracha. Má eiríonn le Obama beidh ré úr nua ag teacht chugainn agus beidh cúís againn bheith dócasach, má eiríonn le Clinton nó McCain beidh 'business as usual'.
Pensively ensconsed in a Lyon Café I recount the origins of this city in the nebulous past referred to by most scholars since the eighteenth century as 'Celtic'. As the sented coffee ignites my over-wrought brain, I turn to the question concerning the future of European civilisation and the problems pervasive to all our states. The magnitude of such as question prompts me to return again to ideas fossiled in our Indo-European languages and I am drawn therefore to the idea of Lug Láimh Fhada, Lug of the long hand, whose reach stretches across the face of Europe and into the mysterious recesses of Northern India, where a branch of our tribal ancestors called him Indra. Lyon comes from the Celtic Lugdunum meaning the Fort Of Lug. Lug is our Apollo, he represents the aspirations of civilisation, arts, poetry, wisdom and light. His long hand signifes his reach and it is this sense of influence encapsulated in the idea of reach that is best preserved in the German 'Reich' meaning kingdom and cognate with the Irish Rí, king, he whose influence reaches across a great expanse. Lug, the light-bearer of Irish mythology. Lug saves the Tuatha De Danann from the dark forces of the Formorians, and it is Lug we invoke when the dream of a rational world has eluded us, when the hope of science to rid the world of dark superstition, to dis- enchant the world and explain away the problems of modern life according to the dictates of logic, this dream of modern science, this fantasy of reason, the new mythology to which most of us conform has left us shrouded in an empty nihilism where all human value becomes ephemeral, relative to the whims and impulses of the moment, devoid of meaning.
What is Europe and why are we progressing to inexorably to absolute political unification? Are we not like lovers, whose instinct for marriage has blinded our faculites of prudent reflection and criticism? To paraphrase Shakespeare's Othello, has not love, our love for each other or our love for the idea of each other 'sealed with wanton dullness our speculative and officed instruments?
As I ramble on obessively about the significance of Irish mythology for philosophical reflection on our world, my French friend's attention is caught by a waft of roses, the delicate aromas of love and lust that circulate at this Valentine time of year. We discuss marriage, deceit and the indubitably worrying divorce rates in French and Irish society. If the family represents the smallest unit in bourgeois society upon which so much depends, and this invention fashioned to protect the rights of sucession of a patriarchal world order is in such disarray, are we mature and responsbile enough to contemplate a marriage of nations, each with competing views and tendencies to be united in an absoulutist federation controlled by an oligarchy in Brussels? How long will we continue to listen to the sacerdotalism of Brussels, the new priestly cast who preach the ultimate morality of European unification? Will the Union last and on what basis? When the Act of Union marrying us with Great Britain was passed in 1800, the people of Ireland had no say on the matter. This time we do have a choice but few of us know what this marriage is really about.It is clear that we are in need of marriage counciling! Here it may be useful to consider Lug once more. The festival dedicated to Lug was Lugnasad which were practised at a place called Tailteann in county Meath. The festival signified the tantric marriage of Lug with the earth goddess Tailltiu. At the annual Tailltean Fair, men bought brides and marriages were consumated; these marriages were legally codified according to the exigencies of Brehon Law and lasted for a period of one year and a day and were common until the 13th century. Tailltean's reputation for promiscuity was such that any casual sexual affair became known as a Tailltean marriage. My point, then, purely and simply is this: are we really ready for marriage? Do we know what is involved and will it last if we lose faith in the sacardotalists of Brussels and their dream of a macro-state empowered by a global cabel of unscrupulous corporations? Will we have the chance to see for ourselves, to discover what it is that unites us, what the concrete implications of unification mean for the common European worker, and whether we are ready for such committment? How long will this love affair last, and what will be the nature of the new 'reach' to whose aphrodisiac allure we submit with 'wanton dullness'? It is perhaps time awaken from this amorous dream and smell the roses

Cogadh seasta: an féidir linn a bheith ag súil le athrú ar ball?

Céard a tharóidh san Iaráic má roghnófar John McCain? Cén stratéis atá acu chun síochán a bhunú sa tír? Bhuel, ar an gcéad dul síos, beimid ag breathnú ar na Shiitigh mar fhormhór an daonlathais. Ach conas a n-éireoidh leo teacht chun réiteach éigin leis na Sunnigh agus céard a tharlóidh sa Kurdistán, áit a bhfuil trúpaí turcaigh ag feidhmiú anois? Is cinnte go mbeidh na Siitigh ag iarraidh agus an-toilteanach entente cordiale a oscailt leis an Iaráin, ach ní bheidh na Meiricánaigh sásta le seasamh sin ar chor ar bith. Agus, ar ndóigh, má rialtas na hIaráic agus , go háirithe, muintir na hIaráice a bheith ina thír is tábhachtaí sa domhan arabach, beidh siad ag iarraidh a bheidh láidir viz-a-vis a naimhde numero uno, Iosrael. Mar sin, beidh sé riachtanach a bheith láidir go mileata agus ciallaíonn sé sin go mbeidh siad ag iarraidh airm cogaidh ollscriosta a chruthú chomh maith leis na tíortha eile sa réigiún faoi láthair. Tá na Stáit Aontaithe ag breathnú ar blianta neamhchinnte san Iaráci maidir le cobhsaíocht pholaitiúil agus taidhleoireacht idirnáisiúnta. Ar ndóigh, beidh caidrimh na hIaráice le hIarán rud éigin nach dtaitneoidh leis na Stait Aontaithe, os rud é gur ndearna siad
fíor-iarracht Iarán a chur faoi ghlas taidhleoireachta ó tharla an réabhlóid ioslamach i 1979.
B'fhéidir an bhotúin a rinne na Stáit Aontaithe dul chéad uair ná gur chuir sheol siad saighdúirí don Iaráic a bhí páirteach den airm sibhialta. Bhí an fhadhb chéana i gceist nuair a chuaigh siad go dtí Veitman blianta ó shin, agus ciallaíonn sé sin nach bhfuil impireacht Mhericeá reidh chun dul i ngeic lena himpireacht chéanna!

Ardítear an cheist nuair a fheiceann tú ar chás na hIáráice cén fáth nach ndearna comhphobail idirnáisiúnta aon rud chun cabhrú le muinitir na hIaráice nuair a bhí na smachtbhannaí ar siúl ann blianta ó shin. D'fhéadfadh cumhacht a bheith acu chun troid ar sin na saoirse agus an tír a fhuascailt ó Saddam dá mbeadh bia agus acmhainn ceart acu, ach cosúil le gach rud faoi láthair is iad na mórchumhachtaí a dhéanann gach cinneadh a bhaineann le tíortha a bhfuil acmhainn nádurtha tábhachtachta iontu agus ní bhíonn aon mhoráltacht i gceist. Anois tuairiscítear go bhfuil colcheathar de Saddam, a dtugadh 'comical Ali' dó, ar tí teacht os comhar chúirte arís de bharr a hainghníomhaithe i réimeas de Saddam. Beidh an domhan ag breathnú go cúramach ar sin chomh maith agus tá sé cinnte go mbeidh foireann feachtais de McCain ag baint usáíd as an mbolscaireacht sin freisin chun a iarrthóireacht a threisiu roimh an olltoghchán an bliain seo chugainn. Is rud suntasach nach gcloiseann tú caint faoi dhaoine cosúil le Marcos, Duvalier, Suharto agus Mubuto, deachtóireachtaí a fuair tacaíocht ó na Stáit Aontaithe nuair a chur siad a mhuintir faoi dhaorsmacht uafásach. Le déanaí, bhíos ag breathnú ar CNN, mar in ndeireadh an lae, táimid uile ag breathnú ar CNN faoi láthair ó tháinig Barack Obama ar an stáitse. Rinne siad tagairt do Ronald Reagan nuair a luaigh duine éigin go raibh McCain an-shean don uachtarántacht. Ní dhearna aon duine trácht do na hainghníomhaithe a rinne na 'Death Scuads' i El Salvador, Nicaragua agus Panama faoi cheannaireacht Reagan. Níl ach íomha agus ráiteas tábhachtach sna Stáit Aontaithe faoi láthair agus mar sin, i ndeireadh an lae, ní bheidh sé ro-thábhachtach cén reiteach a bheidh ag an chéad uachtarán eile maidir le hIaráic as seo amach. Rud éigin eile go gcaithfidh muid cuimhniú air ná contúirt sheasta ó CIA agus a rúin chun an cogadh a choinnéal dul. Má chloínn Uachtarán Obama le eite chlé an iomarca, d'fhéadfadh a bheith tonnta móra ón eite dheis ina dhiaidh agus tá cumhacht ollmhór acu

musings on the politics of language

There have been rumours circulating for a while now suggesting that either Bertie Ahern or Tony Blair could become president of the European Union. I say rumours as my faith in Europe is such that I refuse to countenance the miserable prospect of our bumbling, mendacious and utterly disgraceful Taoiseach lecturing us on the greatness of Europe. Of course, the thought of the utterly discredited, deceitful,belligerant idiocy that marked the later part of Blair's political car
eer- the thought of him standing there before us, primus inter pares of a new unifed Europe, pontificating about values and responsabilities and the need to bring peace to the world, all this from a man who believed the risible contents of the infamous 'dodgy dossier', bombing Iraq into oblivioun. No, it is unconsionable. Therefore, I dismiss such talk as rumour and calm myslef with drop of Hennessy. Ah, there! that's better! Let us take comfort in the thought of consigning Bertie and Tony and their smug falsities to the dusbin of history! Salut!
But what if, and I writhe as I broach it, what if Bertie were to be elected President of the EU? we have already seen Blair deliver an oration in conspicously impeccable French. Could Bertie do the same? Well, he could start by learning English. Although, to be fair, he has managed to get by in pidgin English all his life, and our European collegues are fluent Pidgin speakers. So, he should be ok on that score. But what about the French? Apart from looking like the long lost brother of the former French prime minister, Bertie might give a speech to the French parliament highlighting the endurance of Franco-Irish relations. He might remind them that they were once under the sway of a French president of Irish origins, Monsieur Macmahon, who flouted the aspirations of the French republic by replacing the prime minister and dissolving the French National Assembly in an effort to resore the monarchy. . After all, inspite of his cronic amnesia, the word Mahon shouldn't be too hard to remember for our inimitable Taoiseach!
Did you even notice the way world leaders talk to each other? For example, looking back at old footage of President Reagan and Mikail Gorbachov, one can see them smiling and chuckling to each other. But Reagan seems to talk incessantly and there is the famous American pointing. American presidents always point things out to their counterparts in front of the camera. It is a way of showing both the other leader and the viewers who is boss. But did Reagan not consider it impolite to natter on to a leader who famously did not speak or understand English? Of course not. But how would Reagan have responded if Gorbachov had done the same to him in Russian? The Ancient Greek writer Plutarch tells an anecdote about two important leaders, King Xerxes of Persia and Themistocles of Greece. He writes
' King Xerxes gave Themistocles leave to speak his mind freely on Greek affairs. Themistocles replied that the speech of man was like rich carpets, the patterns of which can only be shown by spreading them out; and therefore he asked for time. The king was pleased with the simile, and told him to tak e this time; and so he asked for a year. Then, having learnt the Persian language sufficiently, he spoke with the king on his own...'
Bertie is lucky that English is the lingua franca of the world. But what simile would be appropriate for our Taoiseach if he were to describe language to one of his international counterparts? He might say, Mister president, the speech of man is like a rubix cube, you have to twist it and turn it to make the colours match what your listeners want to hear. Having said that he would probably point out the cameras to his stately counterpart and exclaim 'ha ha throw it at me as fast as you can, it won't stick for I'm the Teflon man!'