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Interrail 2022 Tips
2022-08-14 08:30
I’ve just finished an Interrail trip with my adult children (all students). We started in Amsterdam, then we moved on to Stuttgart, then Prague, Salzburg and finally Venice. We stopped… Read More
More Prague
2022-08-08 08:27
Thinking of Joe H whose passion for Prague was palpable. I’ve wanted to go back here for many years. It’s wonderful to be back in the most beautiful city on earth Read More
2022-07-02 07:49
There are no problems in nature. When something happens, no matter how bad, nature does not look for a solution or a resolution. An asteroid could hit a planet, and there are no tribunals of… Read More
2022-03-22 08:35
I’m reminded of Gareth Morgan’s concept of a “psychic prison” when I think of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The idea is that in organisations, the neuroses, idi… Read More
2022-03-11 00:19
I keep thinking Of the five lone exiles Thrown from their mother planet On a journey through the stars. – They are free now Free of us What happens here: The pa… Read More
2021-08-07 10:33
Everywhere I look these days, companies are trying to get me to sign up to paid subscriptions for their content. While I understand why subscriptions are needed, and I accept fully that comp… Read More
2021-07-10 20:04
One of my big interests is the story of late medieval Ireland. This is a period largely bracketed by the entry of the Anglo-Normans into Ireland around 1170, to the rise of the Tudor dynasty… Read More
2021-06-21 23:56
Does any other adult feel Like they are a wall? Stopping waves of pain crossing From one side to the other? Sometimes that wall breaks Or is insufficiency high, Then the… Read More
2021-06-21 19:01
A stone hit me Square in the head. It hurt me quite badly. Dazed and in great pain I sought it out. I said “Hey stone, Why did you hurt me so badly?” The sto… Read More
2021-06-06 09:46
Years ago, I listened to a great story in a public speaking club I attended. The storyteller, who I will call Steve, was very talented. The story went like this: He had a best friend Tom… Read More
2021-06-05 10:26
In the early months of 1914, nobody thought war was on the horizon. Sure, there were dark clouds, but war? No. All it took was the death of an arch-duke, of a declining power, in an obscu… Read More
2021-01-27 18:03
When I was a young man, I was a very bad driver. In my mind of course, I was a better driver than everyone else.  I used to overtake 10 cars in a row regularly, because I was far… Read More
2021-01-26 09:03
After the last book has been read The last Netflix series watched The last puzzle solved The last tweet, the last Like, The last Zoom meeting endured: The virus persists An… Read More
Photos Of 2020
2020-12-30 14:02
Here are some photos I took this year. 2020 wasn’t a year for travel, so most of these shots were taken in or near the 5km zone around the house. Inevitably, I kept on returning to the… Read More
2020-12-25 21:39
What is a story? A set of events in time, in sequence, possibly with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Yes, but what makes a good story? Perhaps it’s when you move from not k… Read More
Creating A New Narrative
2020-11-08 10:59
Why so many people voted for that charmless fraud is a question that will exercise historians for decades. To so many of us, Trump was a nightmare president. Narcissistic to an extraordin… Read More
2020-06-10 00:32
There are two ways the shitstorm that is the United States goes now. In one scenario, it gets worse. America becomes a police state, run by rich white people for rich white people. The pr… Read More
2020-02-29 21:35
After an 18 month voyage around the North Atlantic, with no crew aboard and nothing but the currents and endless storms to guide its way, the MV Alta ended its travels on the rocks of Bally… Read More
2019-07-16 06:45
50 years ago today, during a time of strife, great political division and poor leadership, three Americans blasted off on a journey of hope for all humankind. Theirs was a mission of incredi… Read More
2019-07-12 19:18
When things seem gloomy and grim, it inspires me to think about all the things that are wonderful and marvellous about being alive on this planet, right now. We are so privileged to have the… Read More
2019-05-06 12:14
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I guess I could say that I’ve been concentrating on other things, that life has taken over and that there have been othe… Read More
2019-03-03 11:00
If you step outside Of the International Space Station With the planet spinning below you At 17,500 miles per hour, You will not fall to Earth; The forces keeping it up Apply to you too. But… Read More
2019-03-02 11:16
What it must have been like to live in the Middle Ages. Though it’s often unfairly caricatured as a time when people knew nothing, there is a case to be made that these times were very… Read More
2019-01-01 01:40
This year has to be one of the most uncertain years in living memory, what with Trump and Mueller, Nazis and Ultra-Nats, Mexican Walls and corruption on an epic scale, Yellow Jackets, cyber… Read More
2018-12-31 00:15
Apologies for the paucity of postings this year. I’ve been remiss on my 2019 anniversaries (for what it’s worth – it’s of interest to almost nobody other than myself)… Read More
2018-09-28 17:23
My biggest worry? All this will end in war. When people lose their senses and descend into conspiratorial thinking, when it’s all heat and little light, when the other side is the enem… Read More
2018-08-18 08:25
I have hazy memories of the Pope’s visit to Ireland in 1979. The early morning start, the huge lines of traffic on the road to Dublin, the long walk to Chapelizod, the corrals, the Pa… Read More
2018-08-17 20:23
If someone was born in Jan 1, 1900 they would have been around for the first plane flight, the first commercial radio broadcasts, votes for women, the sinking of the Titanic, the First World… Read More
2018-07-08 22:54
I’ve been following a discussion on Meetup.com where a guy is alleging that we are not true sceptics. I think his point is that we are far too pro-establishment and that a real sceptic… Read More
2018-03-03 17:53
I’m spending a lot of time with Affinity Photo these last few weeks – originally looking at how to improve my portrait photos on the iPhone, but now looking at trees and building… Read More
2018-01-21 13:49
Over the last few weeks, I have been listening to Neil MacGregor’s terrific “Living with the Gods” BBC podcast. It has helped me to reconsider some of my views on religion… Read More
My Favourite Photos Of 2017
2018-01-04 22:21
In some ways, 2017 was a surprising year. I was expecting it to be all doom and gloom, and it certainly had its moments of awfulness, but lots of things happened and I’m surprised how… Read More
2018-01-01 11:37
It’s hopeless. There is no hope. It’s hopeless imagining that white people will be the only people at the table, that other races will go back to doffing their caps to their supp… Read More
2017-12-30 21:28
Ten Years Ago (2008) This is the year where the Global Financial Crisis came to a head. After months of worries about the state of the global economy, investment bank Lehman Brothers went ba… Read More
The Brexit Shop Sketch
2017-12-06 16:19
Based on the wonderful Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch. Script whipped from MontyPython.net   (then devilishly adjusted). (a customer walks in the door.)Customer: Good Morning.Own… Read More
2017-11-26 23:12
Airport arrivals, the point of transition. From a world of cramped spaces, endless queues and tiresome inactivity, now life can begin again. It is a place where worlds come together. In this… Read More
2017-10-31 22:32
Here go I Frogmarched into a fiftieth year. Painfully aware Of time Slipping like sand Through open fingers. Painfully aware That I am still alone, Undone, Half done, A thin, soft voice In a… Read More
2017-10-30 11:28
I have a small problem with the idea of ‘stories’ and data when it comes to data visualisation. To me, a story is a construct – a neat beginning, middle and end that enable… Read More
Really Scary Costumes For Halloween 2017
2017-10-29 12:01
It’s 2017 and vampires, werewolves and witches are no longer that scary. Been there, done that. Here are some things that should really frighten the bejeezus out of us this year. This… Read More
Alt-J In Dublin
2017-07-12 20:25
My daughter and I went to Alt-J in Trinity College yesterday. We got there early and managed to get right up to the barrier. An hour and a half of sheer bliss. I think we have a convert! Att… Read More
2017-07-10 23:31
I think about death a lot. My death. It’s probably an age thing. I’ve noticed people my age getting ill, dying. I realise that I’m nearing the age when my father became ill… Read More
2017-07-10 23:29
I think about death a lot. My death. It’s probably an age thing. I’ve noticed people my age getting ill, dying. I realise that I’m nearing the age when my father became ill… Read More
2017-07-10 23:28
I think about death a lot. My death. It’s probably an age thing. I’ve noticed people my age getting ill, dying. I realise that I’m nearing the age when my father became ill… Read More
2017-06-10 21:10
Alt-J (Photo: gyduxa / Flickr / CC Licensed) My initial experience of Alt-J nearly drove me mad. I happened upon “Hunger of the Pine” in September 2015; downloaded it, and it ke… Read More
2017-06-06 20:46
We shouldn’t be alone.  It should have been the case, that when astronomers first pointed their listening devices into the stars, they would have heard sounds, blips, buzzes and s… Read More
2017-04-28 22:29
63 million Americans voted for him. 63 million people deciding that a racist, TV addicted sex pest should rule their country. A man with autocratic instincts to his very core. A man who fawn… Read More
2017-03-29 21:12
And yet, it moves. Galileo is alleged to have said this as he was being lead away from the Vatican Inquisition, to be subjected to house arrest for claiming that the Earth and all the planet… Read More
2017-03-26 00:54
On a walk today with my teenage kids, I found myself talking at length about science and astronomy: meteor impacts, dinosaurs, evolution, genetics, putting humans in space, the prospect of a… Read More
Humans On Mars In Sixteen Years?
2017-03-24 09:17
Courtesy ESA Last week, the White House announced that humans would aim to set foot on Mars by 2033, just sixteen years from now. As a longtime space lover, I found this news momentarily exc… Read More
2017-03-16 22:59
Yippee. I was meant to be going to America next week, but I pulled out of it. I can do my work from Ireland instead. I have no desire at present to visit the US. I expect I’m not the o… Read More
2017-01-28 21:54
The world is in the middle of a hurricane right now. A torrent of viciousness has been unleashed. Great damage is being done. Severe pain is being felt. The carnage is not yet over – n… Read More
2017-01-28 09:18
After the hurricane, it’s the good people who are left to pick up the pieces. To heal the wounds. To comfort the broken. It’s the good people who clear away the mess, building ne… Read More
2017-01-20 07:22
Many of them love the trappings of freedom. The flags. The anthems. The guns. The pagentary. The solemn vows. The hands placed meaningfully on their heart. They are not so gone on freedom it… Read More
2017-01-10 22:42
So a vaccine denier will chair a “safety committee” on vaccines during Trump’s administration. I hate to say it, but prepare yourselves. This is only the tip of the iceberg… Read More
My Favourite Photos Of 2016
2016-12-31 09:51
2016 was a long, withering year. A year that brought the world into new and dangerous directions. I didn’t take as many photos as I had on previous years, perhaps because the year exha… Read More
2016-12-29 23:08
Ten Years Ago (2007) After years of lax lending and easy credit, BNP Paribas blocks withdrawals from three hedge funds; this is the beginning of the global financial crisis. T… Read More
2016-12-20 19:41
Another week, another atrocity against defenceless people, whose only fault was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I can understand the reaction. You want blood. You want someone to… Read More
2016-12-09 09:08
Right now, Mowgli is like Schrödinger’s Cat. In my mind, he is alive and dead at the same time. I have to face both realities simultaneously, both of which are not encouraging. He… Read More
On The Plus Side
2016-11-13 13:53
Here’s a photo I took yesterday. Here’s a playlist (Apple Music) that I’ve fallen in love with: DD Dumbo / Hot Chip / Daughter / Warpaint / Dam Mantle / Beck / Austra / Ca… Read More
2016-11-13 10:02
No army. No coherent foreign policy. Breaking apart at the seams. A population in thrall to anti-immigration right wing nationalists. A war on our border that we can do nothing to influence… Read More
2016-11-10 14:34
Is it because liberalism is feminine?   Is that what it is?   Not enough red meat? Not enough guns and bar room brawls? Not enough “telling people like it is”… Read More
2016-11-09 07:20
Clearly, I was wrong. I underestimated the strength of Trump and his supporters. We’re into new territory now. Heavens help us all Read More
2016-11-08 21:17
This election has been the most amazing one in my lifetime. From day one, the Trump campaign has been extraordinary, with regular candidates tossed aside like bowling pegs, one after th… Read More
QED – Part 5
2016-10-22 22:59
This is the fifth and last part of my overview of QED 2016. To see the previous entries, please check out Part 1, Part 2,  Part 3 and Part 4. This is my final w… Read More
QED 2016 – Part 4
2016-10-21 23:02
This is the fourth part of my overview of QED 2016. To see the previous entries, please check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. The March of Unreason Taking a break from the form… Read More
QED 2016 – Part 3
2016-10-19 20:14
This is the third part of my overview of QED 2016. To see the previous entries, please check out Part 1 and Part 2. This post covers some of the talks on Sunday. Matt Parker did a fantastic… Read More
QED 2016 – Part 2
2016-10-17 21:04
This is the second part of my overview of QED 2016. The first part is here. The Future, Jim, but not as we know it. Mark Stevenson is a futurologist, a term he himself is not particularly h… Read More
QED 2016 – Part 1
2016-10-17 11:36
QED is the UK’s largest conference on science and scepticism. It’s a get together for people who are passionate about science and evidence in contemporary culture and current aff… Read More
2016-09-27 21:12
Voters in most countries elect politicians to work in the national interest. This means taking strategic decisions that advance the cause of that country, whether that be economically, polit… Read More
2016-09-24 23:44
Among the things I think about sometimes is how we got here as a species, and where we’re going. We tend to think of ourselves as a young species, having only discovered writing (and w… Read More
2016-09-19 20:47
Hundreds of years ago, people believed that the devil lived among them. Fearful people would witness their crops fail, their children get sick and die, their livelihoods destroyed by fire or… Read More
2016-09-12 20:43
One of the great benefits of being the dad of teenagers is my ability to use The Force at each and every opportunity. I am like a Jedi Knight, inhabiting a world of constant adventure, using… Read More
2016-09-11 07:51
On holidays in the UK when it happened. Hadrian’s Wall. I had no idea something big had occurred until I got back into the car for the trip back to the rented cottage in the Lake Distr… Read More
2016-08-25 20:53
I created this blog 10 years ago. I’ve been posting to it occasionally and regularly over that time. My blogging has been quite random, mainly covering the boundaries between science a… Read More
2016-08-13 09:32
Imagine tending to a very sick patient who was about to die. Imagine having, on one hand, a doctor or nurse working with the patient to make their remaining time as comfortable as possible… Read More
2016-08-10 20:30
It strikes me that Hillary Clinton is going to have one of the easiest campaigns of any candidate for American President in modern history. In normal times, elections often focus on policies… Read More
Field Of Ragwort
2016-08-07 18:57
A whole field of ragwort near the Two Mile Inn by Midleton / N25. Ragwort is classified as a noxious weed, capable of causing liver damage to any animal that eats it. Each plant produces 50… Read More
2016-08-01 23:02
I’ve just finished reading a history of the Plantagenet kings. Even though I am fascinated by the late Middle Ages, it’s now apparent that I am woefully ignorant about the histor… Read More
A Holiday In Northern Ireland
2016-07-28 12:19
I’m just back from a wonderful week in Northern Ireland. I used to work there in the 1990s, but it’s over 20 years since I was last there. I had my kids with me, so I wanted to s… Read More
2016-07-21 08:56
I’m not so worried about Donald Trump becoming the next president of the United States.  Back in 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign was not in good shape. Obama had just presided… Read More
2016-07-06 22:28
So here’s the story: a few days ago, Cara Augustenborg wrote an article for the Irish Examiner about Glyphosphate, the active ingredient in the the herbicide Roundup. http://www.irishe… Read More
2016-06-27 23:49
Dear Britain, Last week, you were asked the question if you wanted In or Out of the European Union. You voted Out. Since then, the Pound has crashed, shares have plummeted, you lost your cre… Read More
2016-06-25 22:05
There’s been a lot of doom and gloom over Ireland’s fortunes in the event of Brexit, but I think we need to take a breath here. Britain is not about to disappear into the Atlanti… Read More
2016-06-25 15:31
Yesterday, English nationalists won a victory in the UK. They voted to leave the EU, to kick the immigrants out of their country, to sacrifice UK cohesion, economic health and a hard won pea… Read More
Zeppelin Animation
2016-06-12 20:32
A few days ago, I shared this photo of a Zeppelin that passed us by when I was on Lake Constance. It was part of an iPhone burst, so I had the idea to create an animated gif file of the exp… Read More
2016-05-31 22:20
Over most of the expanse of human history, populations have been limited by the availability of food. Famines and starvation have dogged humanity from the very beginning. Until, that is, we… Read More
2016-05-23 22:32
I’ve been interested in scepticism since I was a teenager. That’s about 30 years, reading up on science and understanding the boundaries between science and pseudoscience. I have… Read More
2016-05-07 10:06
Just because something happened before it, doesn’t mean it caused it. Just because a footballer forgot to bless himself before a game, doesn’t mean that’s why they lost the… Read More
2016-05-05 11:20
And called an idiot. Turns out I may not have just an army of one after all.  Thank you to the many friends I can call upon if this story goes further Read More
2016-05-02 11:40
Here’s a short story. Once upon a time people used to get sick a lot. Everything would be fine one day, then bang, the next day you were dying. Young kids mainly. They were lucky to st… Read More
2016-05-01 11:04
There is a broadcaster in Cork, Neil Prendeville, who has no problem promoting pseudoscience and instilling fear into people during his radio programme. He regularly invites a guest, Michael… Read More
2016-04-29 14:00
Another day, another speech by a cleric, frustrated that all their historic entitlements are fading away. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/dismantling-catholic-ethos-of-schools-would… Read More
2016-04-10 22:05
A conversation this evening with my daughter as we drove through yet another rain storm. “Dad? What’s a hundred year flood?” “It’s a flooding event that is mean… Read More
2016-03-27 15:44
Today marks the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Rising, when a small group of Irish people occupied prominent locations across Dublin; declaring Ireland a free country, independent of Bri… Read More

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