Harvey Walnut

What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence

Wilie O’Dea and religious prejudice

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Limerick TD and Fianna Fail attack dog, Willie O’Dea has according to the Irish Examiner claimed that Minister for Defence, Alan Shatter is “prejudiced against Catholics” because he refused to allow the army to provide a guard of honour for a procession at the recent International Eucharistic Congress.

How this amounts to prejudice is beyond me since I don’t see why the army has to or should provide any form of escort in a religious ceremony that has nothing to do with the state. Not to mind the waste of taxpayers money and that the army has better things to be doing.

Since Mr Shatter is Jewish, I also have to wonder would O’Dea have called a Catholic Minister for Defence prejudiced for making a similar decision. When looked at from this angle it adds a darker hue the O’Dea’s reasoning and should be viewed with the contempt it deserves.

O’Dea has spent his entire career turning up at bars and funerals in Limerick and doing very little else for the city. This smacks of an irrelevant politician from a dying party trying to court the Peoples Front of Judea.

However he wouldn’t be the first religious person in the country to shout prejudice now that the Government has realised we live in a multicultural state and has made moves towards a more secular republic, albeit slowly.

David Quinn, head of Iona Institute and regular contributor to the Independent, has made a career out of shrill warnings that the end is nigh because of the secularisation of the state and left-wing conspiracy. The slow demise and relevance of the Catholic Church in Ireland has the religious right clutching their rosary beads praying for a return to the good old days.

While it is easy to laugh at O’Dea and his ilk we shouldn’t forget that they represent two of the major hurdles Ireland has faced in becoming a modern secular republic. Parish pump politics and Religion. It should also remind us that neither has gone away.

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Written by harveywalnut

July 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Mars Curiosity & Human Curiosity

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On August the 5th at around 10:30pm PDT, NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity  should be just about touching down on the red planet.   It is the most difficult landing and mission of its type ever attempted.   The Curiosity rover itself is the largest and most complex ever built.  A robotic laboratory sent from planet Earth to planet Mars to investigate the possibility of life amongst many other tasks.

I’ve been following this mission for a few years now and when I think about the scope, importance and even the majesty of what NASA is attempting. I find it inspiring and uplifting.   I see in it the very essence of the human condition; a never-ending desire to see beyond the next scientific horizon. An insatiable curiosity born from an unlimited imagination.

To think our species has evolved to the point where we are sending semi-autonomous robots to a distant planet in such a short period of evolutionary time is simply astounding.   We may be still in the infancy of the 21st century but technologically where we stand today even when compared to the 90s is staggering.

Watching the animated simulation of Curiosity’s landing and the complexity of it leads one to contemplate where we could be in another few decades.  Landing human beings on Mars? even more ambitious interstellar projects?.  Look at the 100 year starship project currently underway as an example of the audacity of our thinking.   This project aims to achieve interstellar travel for humankind within 100 years.  It is led by an ex astronaut and backed by DARPA, America’s far out military science agency as well the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Now I just need Ray Kurzweil to be right about the Singularity and extended human life so I’ll be around to see it.

How cool would it be?

You can follow Curiosity on Twitter @MarsCuriosity

Written by harveywalnut

July 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Headlines and lies

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We’ve all seen them.  Newspaper headlines that catch the eye, shock us or even get us to buy a paper (becoming a rarity in these digital times).  And boy do they range from the good, the bad and the ugly.  But whatever they say or how good they happen to be there is no excuse for lying,rank stupidity or deliberately misleading the reader as to what the content of the main piece is going to be about.

The Irish Independent has had headlines that were demonstrably untrue or manifestly stupid.

This headline appeared on the 12th of July –  ‘This verdict will tarnish island and damage tourism’, say Irish priest   The readers will most likely  assume that they are now going to get a quote in the first paragraph regarding the priests statement.  Instead we get this.

“A 95-year-old Irish priest who has lived most of his life in Mauritius said he fears the murder of Michaela McAreavey will tarnish the holiday island’s hospitable reputation”.

So on top of the fact that the headline is a lie and has misquoted the priest, the headline writer is either not the brightest person in the world or has so little regard for readership of the Independent that she/he thinks they won’t notice that in the first paragraph of the article we’re shown that the priest said nothing at all about the verdict and was talking about the murder.

The word verdict is not to be seen anywhere in the article outside the headline.  What they did was use the verdict to get people to read a page filler. A non story.

I’ll admit that the Indo is not the only paper to do this but at best it’s shoddy journalism and at worst it’s pure cynicism.

Written by harveywalnut

July 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Constitutional Convention

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Messers Kenny and Gilmore, had a piece in the Irish Times yesterday outlining the details of the upcoming constitutional convention. 100 people in total, 60 of them random members of the public and the rest TDs and academics. All brought together to review, analyse and suggest alternatives to elements of our constitution. In essence it is an excercise to try and modernise how our political system works.

A noble endeavour, to be applauded. If of course it was going to modernise our institutions and change how politics works in Ireland. But the convention will only be discussing a limited range of issues that I would imagine almost everyone in the country already agrees on.

Are they really trying to suggest that the removal of the section in the constitution regarding women’s position in the home is something we need to discuss? or that the insane blasphemy law brought in by the monumentally corrupt and morally bankrupt Fianna Fail, is trailblazing modernising stuff?. Changing the voting age to 17 and limiting the presidential term to 5 years are all good ideas but if these are the only issues to be reviewed then it is clear that the entire convention is nothing but a sleight of hand trick to distract the masses from their increasingly vocal demands for change.

Our TDs do not legislate, they fix peoples social welfare problems and we have way too many of them for a country our size. New Zealand has 120 and we have over 166 most of whom do little or nothing except engage in the worst forms of parish pump politics. The opposition has zero influence on the government of the day and the executive essentially has no cheques and balances. We have seen the results of this in Biffos’s disastrous bank guarantee which helped sink the country into penury.

We also have a country that has a constitution riddled with references to the disgraced and medieval Catholic church. All references to Catholicism being the states main religion need to be removed and the guarantee of the separation of Church and state,religious freedom and plurality inserted in its place. This is of vital importance if we are to finally limit the power of the church in our society and create a true democratic republic.

But we now know the convention won’t even be discussing these issues, so when Kenny says that this is great opportunity for the public to get involved, he really means it’s a great opportunity for you think your involved but we’re going to pat you on the head and then head away and make only the changes we want.

Written by harveywalnut

July 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm

What’s in a name…

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Nine stabbings in the Phoenix park, 3 deaths, 1 missing girl( thankfully returned safe and sound) and then last night we have 2 more men injured in stabbing incidents.  All in Dublin and all in space of a few days.

Yet I’ve not seen a single paper describe Dublin as stab city.  Were this to be Limerick, that particularly disgraceful moniker, would be plastered all over the papers and that pathetic excuse for a journalist Paul Williams would be turning up on every radio station giving his ‘inside info’ on the situation.

No nickname for Dublin,  no Paul Williams ‘articles’ on the ever-increasing amount of aggressive drug addicts with titles such as “Dublin’s Heroin Epidemic” or “Junkie Dublin”.

For far too long the crime level in parts of Dublin has been ignored. Unless there was a high profile gangland shooting then it didn’t really count according to most of the national newspapers.

While we shouldn’t get all Daily Mail on the situation or Irish Independent for that matter (twin masters of hyperbole) the level of aggression and random violence around certain parts of Dublin has been very high for as long as I’ve been living here, yet it has been ignored for far too long.  Yes the majority of the Dublin is very safe but the inner city does have a lot of problems.

It’s time the powers that be face up to the fact that inner city Dublin has been ignored for far too long and the results are plain to see.

 

 

Written by harveywalnut

July 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Posted in crime, drugs, dublin, Ireland

Tagged with , ,

Mr Higgs and his Boson

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With Cern set to announce the arrival of the pesky Higgs Boson which has been hiding amongst the primordial cosmic soup since the big bang. I thought I would post this video as it’s a great explaination of what it is and since I’m not a particle physicist and have never been involved in the building of particle colliders my explaination may be less than illuminating.

Written by harveywalnut

July 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Science, Tech, Uncategorized

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Scientology v Christianity

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Scanning through the news today I keep coming across the non-story that is Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s inevitable divorce.

Each report starting out with some blurb regarding the divorce followed by updates that Miss Holmes has already moved on and sold the wedding ring on E-Bay.

Then it is followed by the questions, “Did Scientology cause the divorce?” and “Is Scientology a cult?”  the excited reporter then spends several minutes expounding on the fundamentals of Scientology and their belief system, while trying not to laugh when they get to the part about aliens and Thetans. Insinuating that it is indeed a nasty, evil, mind controlling cult that brave little Katie finally escaped from.

Yet I doubt very much if either of them were members of the Christian community the news media would be filled with serious faced reporters asking “Is Catholicism a cult?” with follow ups like, “Was Jesus a conman?”

So Scientology is a cult because they believe in aliens and Catholicism is an accepted religion even though they believe in a Jewish zombie who is his own father and can grant you immortality if you pray to him telepathically?

I’m confused.

Written by harveywalnut

July 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm

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