Nov 29

More than a decade ago I applied for and was granted Irish citizenship. Some of my friends have heard the story: I applied through the Irish language, had my interview with the gardaí in Irish, and took my oath in Irish, to the evident delight of the barristers in the back of the courtroom, who were waiting for citizenship formalities to finish so the day’s court proceedings could begin.

In Ireland, as in most countries, one makes a verbal declaration using a prescribed formula when one is in court being granted citizenship. According to Acht Náisiúntachta agus Saoránachta Éireann 1986 (Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1986), clause 4.15.e, one makes

dearbhú sa tslí fhorordaithe go mbeidh sé dílis don náisiún agus tairiseach don Stát.


a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

And so I did. And so I have tried to act in the decade since: I have been faithful to our nation in representing her in International Standardization meetings, by supporting linguistic minorities of all kinds. I have expressed my loyalty to the State by ensuring that I vote regularly, by encouraging my fellows to do so, by carrying my passport proudly, and recently by joining a political party so I could try to make a difference, in a small way, to bettering life here for everyone fortunate enough to live in this beautiful country.

How gutted I am that “our” Taoiseach (Prime Minister) has expressed nothing but contempt for our nation and for our State. Knowing that 80% of the electorate and half the parliament has called for a General Election so that the people can give a government a mandate to help us out of the economic crisis we are in, he has nevertheless expressed nothing but the highest arrogance and selfishness, a grubby and cynical clinging on to power at all costs. Despite his obvious incompetence and the obvious incompetence of all his cabinet, he has slimpered through financial negotiations with the EU and IMF, gaining nothing for us but a debt that we will doubtless one day be forced to default on, not to save our country, but to bolster and protect German investors who put their money in a bank they doubtless knew was behaving recklessly. I thought that capitalism meant that investors were expected to bear the risk of their investments failing. Not that the populace of a free country should be made to pay for such failures.

“Slimper” is a portmanteau word. It is a little like simpering, and a little like slinking, accompanied with a bit of a pathetic whine.

We have been made like unto serfs to a handful of German investor-lords.

By slimpering Brian Cowan and Brian Lenihan and their “Republican” comrades. People who were born here. People who did not have to make a promise or take an oath to be worthy to live here. People who ran our republic into the ground and then kept on digging. To save their faces. To save their friends at Anglo. To save their arses from whatever secrets their friends at Anglo knew.

These people have committed what can only be called treason. Even if it was inevitable that we take some sort of help (it is a high-interest LOAN, not a BAIL-OUT), these spineless cretinous cowards could not even allow the Irish people a general election to give a mandate to a government to lead them through these dark times. Their reckless and craven egotism beggars belief. Their ministerial pensions should be stripped from them and they should be tried and offered exile or prison.

It is difficult to think of adjectives sufficient to describe their villainy. All we can hope for is for every single one of them to lose their seats in the election, and for this to be a sea-change in Irish politics, and that we look back on this time as the time when we learned to put parochial, tribal, civil-war cronyism behind us.

So very many people will emigrate now. They will have no choice. Young people in their twenties and thirties have already begun doing it. I’ve made some comments on Facebook about how I’m considering Iceland. And I do like Iceland. And Icelandic. A lot. But I have chosen to be dílis don náisiún and tairiseach don Stát, and I hope that I can find the strength and honour to stay here and try still to make Ireland a better place for myself and my fellow citizens.

And hope that one day Fianna Fáil will be nothing more a bogeyman name to frighten children with.

Nov 18

The Wikipedia has a splendid article on a British poster from 1939 called Keep Calm and Carry On. It was intended to raise the morale of the British public under the threat of impending invasion.

Since the failed Irish government coalition between Fianna Fáil and the Greens has driven Ireland to enter into talks with the EU and IMF about a bailout, it seems clear that the Irish public at large is getting more and more despondent as the days and weeks go on. Accordingly, to raise the morale of the Irish public under the threat of the impending loss of Irish sovereignty, I offer the following:

Keep Calm and Carry On

Please feel free to share it. You can show your determination to weather the crisis with an inspirational coffee mug! Visit the Keep Calm and Carry On IRL Café Press shop! I bought two mugs for myself today. When I’m drinking a cuppa I’ll take some comfort in my calmness. Perhaps. There’s a North American Keep Calm and Carry On IRL Café Press shop too.

And now there’s a Keep Calm and Carry On Ireland Facebook page, too, for this little bit of cheerfulness.

Aug 22

Evertype is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of Saki’s The Westminster Alice, a political parody of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

The Westminster Alice
From the introduction:

Saki was the pen-name of Hector Hugh Munro (1870– 1916). He was an author and playwright best known for his subtle and witty short stories. He wrote for periodicals such as the Westminster Gazette, the Daily Express, the Bystander, the Morning Post, and the Outlook.

Francis Carruthers Gould (1844–1925) was a political cartoonist and caricaturist who contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette until he joined the Westminster Gazette when it was founded. He later became an assistant editor for that publication. In addition to illustrating Saki’s Westminster Alice in a series of publications from 1900 to 1902, Gould also illustrated Charles Geake’s parody John Bull’s Adventures in the Fiscal Wonderland, published in 1904.

The Westminster Alice vignettes were collected together and published in Westminster Popular No. 18 in 1902. Twenty-five years later, John Alfred Spender (1862–1942), who had edited the Westminster Gazette from 1896 until 1922, published them again with a foreword and a set of footnotes. These are re-published here, to help guide the reader into understanding and appreciating the context of Saki’s parodies.

In his 1927 edition, Spender re-arranged the vignettes in chronological order—that is, in the order in which they had been published in the Westminster Gazette. Here, I have reverted to the order in which Saki had published them in 1902, as it seems to me that he may have arranged them thus for reasons of narrative or—well, to be honest, I don’t know, but I’d rather not second-guess him. The dates of publication are given for those readers interested in the chronology, however.

I am grateful to the University of Bristol Library, Special Collections, for permission to reproduce Francis Carruthers Gould’s “His own Inventions”, originally published in 1922, as an appendix to this edition.

I am likewise grateful to Hugh Cahill, Assistant Librarian at the Foyle Special Collections Library in King’s College London for his permission to reprint, as an afterword, his 2008 review of The Westminster Alice, which first appeared on the web in a slightly different form as as one of continuing series of pieces based on notable items from the collections of the Foyle Special Collections Library.

Alice certainly was; the Knight was riding rather uncomfortably on a sober-paced horse that was prevented from moving any faster by an elaborate housing of red-tape trappings. “Of course, I see the reason for that,” thought Alice. “If it were to move any quicker the Knight would come off.” But there were a number of obsolete weapons and appliances hanging about the saddle that didn’t seem of the least practical use.

“You see, I had read a book,” the Knight went on in a dreamy far-away tone, “written by someone to prove that warfare under modern conditions was impossible. You may imagine how disturbing that was to a man of my profession. Many men would have thrown up the whole thing and gone home. But I grappled with the situation. You will never guess what I did.”

Alice pondered. “You went to war, of course—”

“Yes; but not under modern conditions.”

Nov 06

On a quick trip to Vienna to work on encoding the Teuthonista phonetic alphabet as well as Old Hungarian, I went to bed at about 01:00 on the night of the U.S. Election. At 06:30 I woke and pretty much rushed to the TV to turn on BBC World News.

And lo! But the election had been called for Barack Obama!

I’m pretty much a bellwether myself, but the President-Elect’s leadership really does inspire.

Indeed, for the first time, I understand what all the fuss about Kennedy was about.

Apr 10

I filled out my Oregon absentee ballot today for the Democratic Primary. I voted for Obama, because I like him more than Clinton, though I would be happy to vote for either in November. (Why do I like him more? Because he belongs to my own generation, not to the previous one. It’s time.)

Personally I hope the Super Delegates draft Gore for President and Obama for VP. Then we could have 16 years of Democrats in the White House.

But then I read a lot of science fiction.

Oct 05

20:30, 2007-10-05: I’ve just spent two and a half hours talking with my friends now that the internet is (at least for now) up and running.

17:30, 2007-10-06: My friends tell me that unofficially the internet is up from 22:00 to 05:00 local time.

Sep 30

I said when I started that I’m not much of a diarist, and lots has happened that I might have blogged but haven’t. Maybe later I’ll file the exciting tale of My Experience with Telecoms in Iran.

But for now I am thinking of Burma and all that is happening there. One of my friends there has not been online since internet access was cut off on the 28th. He promised to stay safe… Another friend there happens to be in Bangkok right now, and another is in Chiangmai.

One source of news, translated from Burmese to English, is this blog. Read it. Share the URL. The people who are responsible for it are heroes and patriots.

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