Friday, 29 August 2008

You put your left leg in...

Patsy McGarry, thank you! The sectarianism of our society would be laughable if it wasn't so bitter. I would have liked to hear more of the detail behind this story: that a Donegal Atheist has had to be buried outside Donegal - in Derry City Council cemetery - because Donegal graveyards require a religious ceremony (possibly because Churches own and maintain the ground). I'm sad that Christians can't find room for atheists - even dead ones - in their churches.

But I did laugh when I read that the cemeteries department employee, when asked whether the deceased in question had been interred in a new Atheist section of the cemetery, they replied "No, we're putting her in with the Protestants." That doesn't sound like the way a Protestant would express it. I guess that's appropriate enough. Atheism is a form of Protest, after all.

It all ties in with the frustration my NZ friend is having, filling in job application forms, and having to designate herself as Protestant or Catholic etc for the Equal Employment Opportunities Monitoring Form. I know it's meant to protect against discrimination. However, there are times when the requirement to choose between apparently mutually exclusive options just doesn't represent reality

or sanity.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

A song for Nireland

A New Northern Ireland anthem. Congratulations to Monty on his valiant attempt to provide local soccer fans with something worth singing.

Now, we need some big celebratory events to make it part of our shared culture. That shouldn't be too hard, should it? I wonder...

What's the Password?

This really made me laugh, so I have to share it.

But I won't be opening any accounts with Lloyds TSB... would you?

Monday, 25 August 2008

Olympic medals tables with a difference

It has taken the US to be knocked off the top spot, for someone to finally publish Olympic medals tables that reflect a more diverse set of criteria than the number of golds won. Medals per head of population; medals in relation to GDP... it certainly changes the way you look at the world. Have a look and ask if you know where all these places are, and what they won. It might change the perception of who the real heroes are.

Then I wonder what happens the majority of the populations of these countries who have no access to sports facilities, and what it has taken for the elite few to make it to the Games.

Does the success of a few at very high levels inspire investment and a generation of younger sports fans to train themselves for success? If so, does that stimulate a more disciplined, hard-working economy and a lifestyle that fosters stability, providing security for young and old? I'd like to believe so. Not a panacea by any means, and not the whole story. But sport is a hang sight better than prostitution and wage slavery, for those who can get into it.

Monday, 11 August 2008

So much for a quiet, lazy summer!

The last fortnight has been full of faces. 80 new international students here to improve their English in advance of their courses starting in September, converge on a quiet campus well outside the city. They have so much to adapt to. The language, our accents, the lie of the land, the food, and of course, the weather. Lots of it. Does nobody tell them to buy a Gore-Tex before they come here? And a fleece? Apparently not. But they do have umbrellas. Just as well.

It's a privilege to be here to welcome them, to try to be a friendly face, to offer a bit of fun, and link them to some locals, so they can practice their English. Whiteabbey Presbyterian Church has been really hospitable, welcoming, and delighted to receive forty of them last Thursday night for table tennis, pool, Jenga... green tea ... and it seems they particularly enjoyed the apples!

I had lunch today with the three girls from Taiwan and Carlo, an Italian. Really chilled. Not too much conversation, but plenty of fun with the Jenga. I hope we can do this regularly!