Month: December 2004

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Better late than never: The Blather guide to surviving Christmas.... Most people associate Christmas with the pleasure of gift giving, or the enjoyable tradition of drinking oneself stupid. But this time of celebration is also associated with other far weirder customs. If you wish to avoid luck in the coming year, you would do well to be cautious. For example, ivy and holly, seemingly innocent decorations that we place in our homes, have superstitions surrounding them. Ivy has something of a mixed reputation in both Ireland and England. A plant of ill omen, it should not be used alone or overused when decorating the house for Christmas. Although regarded as bad luck, it was also thought of as a plant of divination. In Cornwall there is a saying;" Anyone who wishes to dream of the devil; should pin four ivy-leaves to the corner of his pillow". As for holly, it...

blather.net
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Stories from the West: Blather's cub reporter Sue phones in from the edge of Europe... While reading a recent Galway Advertiser, I came across some interesting items. We know tourism is in trouble in the west of Ireland, but it's not 'the Euro' or the high prices charged to visitors for accommodation and meals. It's leprechauns. A visitor to Ireland, writing to the Advertiser, has decided to sort out the problem. She writes: Dear Editor, I post this letter on my departure from Ireland, with a heavy heart. On my recent visit to Ireland I briefly took in the enchanting city of Galway and quite frankly I was a little disturbed by what I saw. I am from New York and as a little girl growing up I have been made aware that these little guys' main purpose is to entertain us tourists, how and ever, as I prepared to...

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It's a frosty Tuesday morning. I'm standing on a hillside in County Meath, staring towards the brightening south east... Around me are school kids and senior citizens, gardai and government officials, families, hippies, antiquarians, and people who are just here for a laugh. Some are sipping hot drinks from flasks, others supping nips from small bottles of whiskey. Many are attempting to stamp some life back into numb toes. There's a big mound of earth behind us - Newgrange. Inside it, there's more cold people, waiting for the winter solstice sunlight to illuminate the deep entrance passage. There's rumours that the Taoiseach, Bertie humourless is in there, but I don't see him come out. There's a group here protesting the planned construction of an incinerator near a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can argue about Newgrange till the cow's come home - about its controversial restoration, it's myriad 'ritual' uses...

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My anthropological study of roads emerged from my observation that motorists and pedestrians seem to ignore the existence of cyclists, as if they are not really present with them on the route ways they traverse. Of course, this led me to suspect that much is going on at the subconscious level, where cyclists are being “filtered out”. It was also quite telling that when motorists and pedestrians do seem to notice cyclists, it is to engage in violent altercations with them. The invention of the bicycle in 1861 represents the beginning of the modern era. Those who remained pedestrians after this watershed moment represent a backwards-looking and resentful tendency that has greeted modernity. Fear of technology, and a belief that everything was better in the past, has given rise to the pedestrian of today. It is notable that even though the noun “pedestrian” is neutral in meaning, the adjective “pedestrian”...

blather.net
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Blather is back. In body, at least... Blather.net has been quiet for a bit. I'm all to blame, I've been off sailing the very high seas, working for Greenpeace - a method ofextreme blogging. Had to rest the journalism muscles for a bit, but over Christmas, will be hoping to kick some life back into the old website. Stay tuned...