Year: 2004

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A couple of rocks in a field. Really! A few years ago, during a May bank holiday weekend, two friends and I were mountainbiking around part of Co. Wicklow. After climbing up through the Devil's Glen, a muddy forest track spat us out onto an innocuous road. We headed for the next hill, but got confused at a fork in the road. While consulting the map, I spotted a couple of standing stones in a field, and pledged to find out more about them. That junction was actually in Moneystown, a hamlet that I've passed through many times since, usually at about 30mph - in a bicycle race. Recently, I've passed through in a more lesiurely fashion, and made time squeeze off a couple of shots of these simple, but elegant stones. The bear the hint of markings on them, but theses have been obliterated by the weather, so it's...

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For once Jasper has been beaten to it... The object has been named Sedna, after the Inuit goddess of the ocean. The body is believed to be about 1,250 miles across, but may even be larger than the furthest known planet, Pluto, which was discovered in 1930 and has a diameter of 1,406 miles. Scientists believe Sedna is 6.2bn miles from Earth, in a region of space known as the Kuiper Belt, which contains hundreds of other known bodies." Find out more: NASA » New 'planet' discovered beyond Pluto »

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Spain is smiling... I have been out all last night. I'm dying. I've been drinking, laughing, listening to music, cheering in streets. What was most remarkable about all of this is that only three days after the worst European terrorist atrocity in almost twenty years, the streets were full with people celebrating too. I was with Spanish, Irish, Scottish, American and French people. Car horns were blaring. People sang out of windows. Why? Well, a large part of why a quiet Sunday night drink became something else is because the PSOE, the left wing socialist party, have stunned everyone and won the Spanish General election, ending eight years of conservative domination. A country which was openly weeping two days ago, tonight looked like a country standing, stunned with a drink its hand, having been told that the previously unimaginable has transpired. The unthinkable has become thinkable. If Spain can get...

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Spain is bleeding... Today, it is difficult to write or speak with any degree of dispassion. The events which unfolded yesterday morning in Madrid, mark a turning point in European history. It's possible a turning point in human history. The "War on Terror" which has been wreaking political, economic and social havoc across our planet since September the 11th took a dark and hideous turn. 200 people are dead. Over 1000 are injured. Of that 1000, many will be maimed for life. Spain is reeling. All political campaigning (there is a General election on Sunday) has been postponed. Valencia, the city in which I now live, has postponed much of the daily activity for Fallas, the annual fire festival, taking place this week. People are crying in their homes and standing horror struck in the streets. From the window beside which I now sit and type, I have just witnessed...

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Guest writer Robert Ansell tells the story... Born in the City of London in 1886, Austin Osman Spare displayed early an extraordinary ability for drawing. When his family moved to Kennington he was enrolled for evening classes at Lambeth Art School and in 1903 became the youngest ever recipient of the National Mathematics Award with his treatise on Solid Geometry. The following year he was recommended for a free scholarship to the Royal College of Art by Sir William Richmond and Mr. F. H. Jackson R B A. and within two years a small drawing executed when he was only fourteen excited great interest amongst connoisseurs and art critics at the 1904 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Encouraged by success he privately published his first illustrated book Earth: Inferno in February 1905, aged eighteen. A powerful and metaphysical perception of the 'self' in relation to the cosmos, Earth: Inferno heralded an...

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Up the hills, on a bike, in the dark. Nuts... In the middle of winter, it's fairly easy to fall into a pattern of hibernation. Fall out of bed on a dark morning, stumble into work when it's still night. After a patch of daylight, we fall home again that night, and slump in front of inane banter from the TV. I used to hate the onset of winter. Year after year, around late October, the dark evenings would get to me. Then I started mountainbiking at night. I no longer think of the dark as debilitating, but simply as a time of day with less light. Being up a mountain at night, in the cold and the wind... I feel more alive. A few of us meet in the city centre around 6:30pm, and fight our way through evening traffic to Harold's Cross, then on to Rathfarnham. Through a...

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That bloody Fianna Fail government are lobbying for GM Food. The hoors... I don't care what anyone says, really... Whatever about the potential harm of of GM foods - I just can't see the point of them, other than for some kind of material gain. I'm sceptical of claims about 'feeding the world' using GM crops, I'm incredulous about the behaviour of organisations like Monsanto, and I'm worried about the long term effects of using GM crops. If our food chain gets screwed up by big business, I don't fancy tucking into Soylent Green. ________________________ Later: Thought more about this over lunch (GM free, I hope). What initially irked me about the whole GM thing is how its presented. I can't help sensing that the GM foods are being foisted on us by corporations who, rather than being evil 'big brother' types, are instead, made up of rather panicked individuals...

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The masters of metal-machine music come to Ireland... Review of the gig » On April 4th, 2004, German musical experimentalists Einstürzende Neubauten bring their junkyard brand of visceral music to the Temple Bar Music Centre. Put simply, Neubauten build their own instruments from found objects... scrap metal and rubbish. Over the years they've used Kango hammers, wardrobes, burning oil, gravel, car engines, earthmovers, shopping trolleys. The name: Einstürzende Neubauten means 'collapsing new buildings', a reference to an architectural phenomenon in post-war Germany, where new buildings kept... collapsing. I came across their music through an act of faith. I was in 1993 that I read about Neubauten, and thought - 'This is the band for me'. I went into the long vanished Freak Out records in Dublin and got myself a copy of Strategies Against Architecture II - a compilation of their work. It was almost unlistenable, but was impulsive listening,...

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What? Orion is clumping around North Leinster? According to The Meath Chronicle, artist Richard Moore and journalist Anthony Murphy are claiming that when viewed from above, the Barony of Ferrard, may represent a huge human figure, and even the star constellation of Orion. The baron stretched some 19km across the Boyne Valley, and in both counties Louth and Meath. The article says that 'the area covered by the colossal warrior-like individual is called the Barony of Ferrard, which comes from ?Fear/Fir Ard?, the ?High Man/Men?, originally Fir Ard Cianachta. In ancient times this area was called Muirthemne, which was ?the plain Cuchulainn called his own.? The researchers have said that the roads bounding the barony of unusual straightness, forming the shape of the warrior. At first glance, it's hard to say whether if good research is behind this claim, or whether it's a crazy notion, a prank, or an interesting...

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Greenpeace have started a drive to convince the people of Iceland that their whales are worth more alive than dead... Just bumping this post back onto the frontpage... If everyone who has pledged to visit Iceland if whaling stops, actually does so, the value of tourism would be $26.6 million. Iceland's annual commercial whaling is worth $4 million. Make sense? Personally, I want to mountainbike the north coast of Iceland. But I'm like that. Here's the pledge: I would seriously consider taking a vacation in Iceland rather than somewhere else if the Government of Iceland stopped whaling. I would be willing to receive an email about the options available for Icelandic tourism, an email that would be sent to me if the Government of Iceland ends its whaling program. Make an Iceland Whale Pledge » Update Here's a response from the Icelandic government: Thank you for your e-mail concerning Iceland's...