Happy Singles Day

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Guanggun Jie is the most important day of the year for Asian singles.  It’s the day when someone really special buys you the thing you really want.  You, yourself, buy your own gift for ourself.

And now a poem.

Me, We ; by Muhammad Ali

Me,

We.

 

If it bleeds, it leads.

Image result for contaminated water Irish Water gave us the stick, and we are beating them with it.

The press mantra of the title explains the conundrum.  We live in a world that is safer than it has ever been in the history of the world.  Yet fear rates have never been higher.  Crime rates may fall across the board but the reporting of crime continues to raise the threat levels.  If your local friendly rag can’t find a violent crime in your neighbourhood they will simply cast the net wider.  In our digitally interconnected global village there is no effort required to turn up a salacious, lurid or graphic violent crime to further terrify your readers.

If it bleeds it leads because if it bleeds it sells.  We are the authors of our own victimisation, our own anger, our own exploitation, because we give our money or our attention to the graphic, the lurid and the salacioius.

In Ireland water was managed by a plethora of small, under-resourced local authorities.; town and county municipalities, where budgets were allocated in a highly political manner by local councillors.  The approach for water was to make do and mend, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  If water became contaminated the goal was to fix it quietly.  What the people don’t know won’t harm them.  Above all:  Don’t upset the Elected Representatives.  As a water plant manager you could not afford to make the politicians look bad, because they held the purse strings.

Enter Irish Water, a nationally constituted public sector organisation given responsibility for all water management in the country.  For the purpose of this post I am ignoring the misguided attempt by the Government to install water meters in every home in Ireland, and the accusations that this was an attempt to privatise water in Ireland.  Those are issues that require entire books, not a blog post.

Irish Water is constituted in a very different way from the Local Authorities.  It was born of another public sector organisation; Bord Gáis.  When you manage the national gas network you need to be focused on safety.  Gas has the potential to explode.

As a result of the Gas governance framework Irish Water was furnished with the tools and the business culture of risk identification, risk reporting, issue reporting.  As Irish Water management take over the Local Authorities they need to change the culture from one of political expediency to one of “Safety First”.

The result of this cultural change is an explosion in the tracking of faults and the reporting of material breaches in standards.  The newspapers are flooded with lurid headlines, burst pipes, dirty water, boil notices, plant failures, activated alarms, contaminated beaches.

As our drinking water becomes safer and safer the fear level of contaminated water increases.

As the investments in waste water treatment plant begin to pay dividends the media become increasingly vocal on each spill of untreated sewage.

The reaction from the general public?  Irish Water is a disaster.  Things were better in the old days.

They weren’t.

 

 

Happy Birthday George Boole

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It was Claude Shannon, a masters student in MIT, who recognised that Boolean Algebra could construct any logical numerical relationship in electrical circuit design.  Up to that point Boole was considered an interesting but irrelevant mathematician.  Claude Shannon learned about him in a philosophy class!  Shannon was concerned with telephony switch design, and then during WW2 with encryption.

After the war Boolean algebra became a fundamental building block in the design of digital computers (yes folks, there used to be mechanical ones).

George Boole, born November 2nd, in Lincoln, England in 1815 was a self-taught mathematician.  He became a teacher from the age of 16, supporting his family when his father, a cobbler, could not secure work.  He founded and ran a number of schools.  He learned calculus and algebra from textbooks loaned to him by well-wishing patrons who recognised his ability.

Boole achieved recognition in his own lifetime when he was offered the first chair in Mathematics at Queens College Cork, now University College Cork.  He is so highly regarded there you would think he was a Corkonian.

Boole’s legacy surrounds us everywhere, in the computers, information storage and retrieval, electronic circuits and controls that support life, learning and communications in the 21st century. His pivotal advances in mathematics, logic and probability provided the essential groundwork for modern mathematics, microelectronic engineering and computer science.”

—University College Cork

And now a fun fact. The grandson of George Boole, Sebastian Hinton, invented the Jungle Gym, or as we call them in Ireland; Monkey Bars.

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My Uncle; the madman.

Swastika laundry was founded in Dublin in 1912 by John W. Brittain from Manorhamilton in County Leitrim.  A pioneer of the laundry business he was postively futuristic in his selection of delivery fleet.  The swastika laundry fleet were all electric vehicles a century before electric was cool.

He also designed a brilliant graphic as a logo, using an ancient Sanskrit symbol for good luck.

In 1909 Alois Hitler Junior, the older half brother of Adolf Hitler, came to Dublin to work.  While attending the Horse Show in the RDS he pretended to a gullible Irish girl, Bridget Dowling, that he as a wealthy hotelier.  In fact he was working as a waiter in a Dublin Hotel.

In 1910 they eloped to Liverpool and Bridget gave birth to Patrick William Hitler.  The marriage did not last long.  It is well known that the Hitlers came from an abusive family and the pattern continued with Alois.  The marriage was effectively over by 1914 when Alois returned to Germany.  Some say he insisted on returning as the countries moved to a war footing but that she refused to move further from here Dublin origins.

In any case Alois was well positioned, only a mailboat away from Dublin, to observe the flash fleet of swastika laundry vans that hit the streets of the Irish capital.

There are some who suggest that the graphic was communicated, either overtly or subliminally to Alois younger brother, the failed artist and budding politician Adolf.  It was Adolf who claims ownership of the Nazi swastika design with its classic field of red, circle of white and black swastika.  The Nazi version is of course nothing like the Irish laundry van version.  It is tilted on its axis.  Totally different.

As for the young half Irish Paddy Hitler, he visited Germany in 1927 to meet the father who pretended to his family to have died in the War so he could remarry.  Alois was charged with bigamy as a result.  Paddy was introduced to uncle Hitler during his visit.

Patrick and his Mother departed from Liverpool to the USA in 1939 just in time to avoid a second world war.  He gave some lectures about his “madman uncle” until the USA joined the war, when he enlisted in the medical corps.

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Swastika laundry continued to use the sanskrit symbol, and made a point of publishing their foundation date, 1912, predating the Nazi’s.  They share this honor with no less than Carlsberg brewery, where the gate is supported by two great elephants, bearing the swastika symbol.

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Checkpoint

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Reading:

 

Recent recommendations 

The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell,

Spin – Robert Charles Wilson

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun – Peter Godwin – very topical just now as Robert Mugabe has just passed away – a journalists account of the collapse of Zimbabwe.

 

Current read 

Children of Earth and Sky – Guy Gavriel Kay  (Loving it)

 

Next reads in my TBR pile

In a Glass Darkly – Sheridan Le Fanu

American Pastoral – Philip Roth

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

Listening:

The Teachers Pet Podcast

5 Day

This American Life 388:  The Rest Stop

Blindboy Podcast: Soss Potion

Science VS:  The Abortion Underground

 

Watching:

Game of Thrones is over. Do I deleted it from the Sky Box now?

Peaky Blinders

Star Trek Discovery

Lord of the Rings – Movies – Again

 

Playing:

Sniper Elite 4

 

Projects:

Integrated Assurance Management System

Corporate Planning Tool

Selling in Tipperary and Buying in Cork

 

Kids:

Jerry offered an MPhil with TUD in Aerobiology, Atmospheric monitoring and Environmental Sciences:  Fully funded and sponsored by EPA.  Booked into the Point for accomodation.

Esha started 3rd year Elec Engineering in UCC on a WIT scholarship for tuition from Intel.  In a house share in Cork.

Gavin started 1st year Engineering in UCC staying in Deans Hall residence.

 

Fitness:

Rudely healthy but terribly unfit.  Friday lunchtime yoga classes.  Fitbit is broken, but it’s the free one Jerry gave me.

 

Politics:

Still all Brexit, Brexit, Brexit.  UK parliament is prorogued by Boris Johnson the PM.  Prorouge is the word of the year.  Irish parties are pretending they don’t want an election to protect the stability of the country at this sensitive juncture.  In reality they have nothing to gain and the Dáil appears to operate more efficiently with a minorty party in power than it does with a majority.

Greta Thunberg just sailed to the USA for Climate Action.

Donald Trump sent Mike Pence to Ireland to bump his re-election campaign.  Pence insulted the Irish Goverment, many times.  Do Irish American Republican voters even care?

When I read this back in years to come I hope Greta Thunberg is ascendant and nobody much remembers Trump, Pence or Johnson.

 

Car:

I need an oil change.  Driving on an amber light.  Renault megane dynamique 1.4 diesel 131 TN One short of the number of the beast.

 

Louise:

Watching masterchef Australia.

 

Cat:

Likes cheese.  Also likes mice.

 

Sporting Highlights:

Ireland Rugby team are No. 1 in the world rankings.  World cup begins Friday week.

Liverpool lead the Premier League with 4 wins from 4 matches.

Dublin play Kerry on Sunday (again) for 5th Sam Maguire in a row.  The last game was a draw.

 

Poem that sums up my life right now:

Begin; by Brendan Kennelly

Begin again to the summoning birds
to the sight of the light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark
determination and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and future
old friends passing though with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

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Happy Birthday this guy

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I am quite literally from another age, I was born during the Holocene – the 12,000 year period of climatic stability that allowed humans to settle, farm, and create civilisations. That led to trade in ideas and goods, and made us the globally connected species we are today.

That stability allowed businesses to grow, nations to co-operate and people to share ideas. In the space of my lifetime, all that has changed. The Holocene has ended. The Garden of Eden is no more. We have changed the world so much that scientists say we are in a new geological age: the Anthropocene, the age of humans.” … David Attenborough

 

Human Habitat; by Alison Hawthorne Deming

Some did not want to alter the design
when the failure message
said massive problem with oxygen.
Some wanted to live full tilt with risk.

By then we were too weak for daily chores:
feeding chickens, hoeing yams,
calibrating pH this and N2 that . . .
felt like halfway summiting Everest.

We didn’t expect the honeybees
to die. Glass blocked the long-wave
light that guides them.
Farm soil too rich in microbes

concrete too fresh ate the oxygen.
We had pressure problems,
recalibrating the sniffer. Bone tired
I reread Aristotle by waning light.

Being is either actual or potential.
The actual is prior to substance.
Man prior to boy, human prior to seed,
Hermes prior to chisel hitting wood.

I leafed through Turner’s England,
left the book open at Stonehenge.
A shepherd struck by lightning lies dead,
dog howling, several sheep down too.

The painter gave gigantic proportion
to sulphurous god rimmed clouds
lightning slashing indigo sky
while close at hand lie fallen stones

dead religion, pages dusty
brown leaf shards gathering
in the gutter yet I cannot turn the page
wondering what I am and when

in the story of life my life is taking place.
Now what. No shepherd. No cathedral.
How is it then that I read love
in pages that lie open before me?