The King of Pop is dead

Michael Jackson

Where were you when you heard? My wife and I were relaxing in the sitting room of the Dingle Skellig Hotel when we heard that Michael Jackson had died. An elderly couple across the room had the Irish Examiner and were poring over the news.

I remember the day he played in Cork. I lived in Blackrock, only a mile and a bit from the stadium, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, where he played to a sold out audience. That day my French exchange student arrived by ferry and spent the evening in bed recovering from the trip. I hung around the house since I didn’t want to be away in case he woke up.
I could hear the glorious pop tunes from my front door and I longed to walk down and sneak into the grounds around the stadium for a better listen, but nooooo, I bloody well stayed at home. He never woke up. He slept through until the morning! Argh!

Thankfully my wife has better memories of the day. She was there, and even before today she’s said it was the best concert she’s been to. She has mentioned it several times over the years. She remembers the 15 year old teenager with tears of joy as MJ sang “Man in the Mirror”. She went on and on about how he played all his hits rather than pushing “the new stuff” nobody knew yet.

*Sigh*. Jean-Jacques, I wonder if you’ll ever read this. I don’t hold it against you, but I should have had the sense to wander off down there!

Edit: a few more posts about Michael Jackson:

  1. MS Paint Portrait
  2. A mashup of “Rock With You” and (Queen and?) David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”.
  3. Did you know MJ registered a patent?

Life Before Death

A series of powerful images, taken before and after the death of each subject. The images are striking, but what I found most moving and upseting were the stories that accompanied them. Some had accepted their fate while others rallied against it.

“Death is nothing,” says Maria. “I embrace death. It is not eternal. Afterwards, when we meet God, we become beautiful.” Maria Hai-Anh Tuyet Cao, 52

“Get me out of here”, she whispered as soon as anyone held her hand. “My heart will stop beating if I stay here. This is an emergency! I don’t want to die!” Elly Genthe, 83

(via Photub.com)

Thanks Arthur for all the great stories

I couldn’t possibly let today pass without noting that Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday at the age of 90. I read it first last night when Scott Beale twittered it and my first emotion was shock, and then of course sadness. I don’t know how many Saturday mornings I spent in Cork City Library looking through the science fiction section for his books. Then it was back on the bike and off home to devour my latest find if I was lucky and found one I hadn’t already read.

His Mysterious World tv series was compulsive viewing for a young fella like me (and I’m not the only one!). All I remember of it now is a rotating crystal skull but every week I was glued to the tv screen. Ah, Youtube to the rescue. Here’s that programme about the crystal skull:

Here he is years later on his 90th birthday last December, sharing his reflections and thoughts.

Wired interviewed him way back in 1993 and Jeff Greenwald asked him the following,

WIRED: As a futurist, do you spend much time thinking about your own death?

ACC: I think about it more than I ever did in the past, of course, since I’ve had these brushes. It doesn’t worry me; I hope I won’t have any discomfort, is the main thing. And I’m more concerned with the people I love, and the animals I love, than myself, in a way.

WIRED: What is it that you’d most like to be remembered for?

ACC: I’m happy that people are calling the stationary orbit the Clarke Orbit. I think that’s enough. And of all my books, The Songs of Distant Earth. It’s got everything in it that I ever wanted to say.

WIRED: Have you given any thought to what you’d want your epitaph to be?

ACC: Oh, yes. I’ve often quoted it: “He never grew up; but he never stopped growing.”

I have to go dig out Songs of Distant Earth again. That was an amazing story, and so sad too.

The bodies keep piling up

I remember something a friend said to me about the UK. He came back for the weekend a month ago and we were catching up. Traffic and road deaths and crazy driving came up in conversation and he said that in the UK they’re nowhere near as obsessed about deaths on the roads as the Irish are. People die here, people die there. So what? It’s part of society. That was shocking to me, but then I remembered that they have an order of magnitude bigger population yet a much lower per-capita death rate on the roads. Why is that?

Damien Blake asks what can be done to stop the carnage on the roads? Up to this morning 55 sites or posts linked to Damien Mulley’s post about Thinkhouse PR. We bloggers can do the same for road deaths. Unfortunately it’s unlikely that the guys doing 200kph are the ones reading blogs. What Damien Blake can do is present our ideas to the people in power. It’s been brought to our attention that no single body has responsibility for the roads. The responsibility is shared so nobody is blamed when things go horribly wrong. Damien can bring our ideas to the attention of all of them. Go read his post, he has some great ideas to start with.

I’ve given up ranting about the bad driving I see. A quick search of my blog brought me back 2 years and I’m still saying the same thing. There will always be idiots, no that’s not right, careless and irresponsible people on the roads. I could go on and on. I could tell you about the idiot in the sports car who tore down Sunday Well past the traffic jam, risking a head on crash, or about all the times people speed past me on the Commons Road. Gardai – post a guy permanently there. He won’t be bored, he’ll have a great time and an empty ticket book when he gets back to the office!

Jeremy Clarkson is so eloquent you’d almost believe him. Almost. Go on, read his car review. Three quarters of it is taken up with his speel against anti-speed campaigners. I am glad he recognises truly bad driving as a danger to the rest of us, but his blase attitude to speeding is doubtless upsetting to anyone affected by speeding incidents.

This follows a weekend in which 7 people lost their lives. A fifth person involved in the Monahan crash died this evening. I heard on the news yesterday morning that the speedometer of one car had frozen at 150kph. Don’t try to say that was simply inappropriate speed. That’s never an appropriate speed on Irish roads! Why were they traveling that fast?

As we are oft to do, the Irish Government is following in the footsteps of the British Government and introducing a proper network of speed cameras to the country. At the moment there are 20 fixed speed cameras with only 3 operating at any one time to serve the whole country but that will be increased to 600 including mobile cameras in the next year. It’s expected that 11.1m checks will be made which means you and I will be checked on average 6 times a year. If you don’t speed you won’t have anything to worry about. The private operators running the system will be paid a flat fee so there’s no incentive for them to catch people. Hopefully it’ll have the same effect that the introduction of the penalty points system had when people were actually afraid of getting caught. I admit it’s scary to think that going 1kph over the speed limit will result in a fine and penalty points, but the manpower isn’t there and nothing else has worked. People don’t respond to the carrot, only the stick.

What should we do? The country can’t be paved with motorways, there will always be back roads and bad roads. I have one suggestion. Time. Offenders should serve time. Haul a speeding driver to the nearest Garda station and hold him there for 6 hours or overnight. He’ll soon forget what he was rushing to. Lock up a drunk driver for a week. Even though it is drastic, can you weigh any solution unfairly against the life of even one victim of our roads?

Help protect the kids on busy roads

There was a knock at the front door a few minutes ago. That’s not something that happens very often during working hours. At the door was a teenager in school uniform with what looked like a notepad in hand. He was collecting signatures for a petition to have more zebra and pelican crossings built in Tower and Blarney.

The petition was set in motion by the death of Clodagh Murphy in a road accident on September 20th last. She was only 14.

Hopefully we’ll see some positive results from the petition but it’s going to involve education too. There’s a pelican crossing on the main road in Blarney. It’s a very busy road with several junctions leading onto the road in less than a few hundred meters distance. There’s also a bus stop on one side of the road, and a school on the other.

  • I saw a teenager standing ready to run across the road. He was waiting for a break in traffic. He was right next to the pedestrian lights.
  • Every morning over a dozen students pile out of the bus and go to the back of the bus. They too ignore the nearby pedestrian lights and by weight of numbers force the traffic to stop and walk across the road. I’ll have to get a picture of that some morning.

The mind boggles.

Paper Blogs

-ChanServ- [#wordpress] Welcome to the WordPress IRC Channel
wpbot donncha is someone who blogs on the Internet
ketsugi o rly!
ketsugi as opposed to blogging on paper?
donncha yup
Kamigoroshi i tried blogging on paper once..
Kamigoroshi but no one commented..
donncha Kamigoroshi: lol. the good ol’ days?
ketsugi teehee
* ketsugi leaves a trackback on Kamigoroshi’s paper log
donncha actually, so did I, and I expect that blog will survive for a lot longer than my virtual one

Who will take care of your weblog after you’re gone?

Our Family Cat, Puss

You know, we never named our cat. I like to think it’s because cats are always half wild and you’re never sure what they’ll do. That’s certainly true for Puss. One moment you’re rubbing her soft fur, or scratching behind her ear, she’s purring and you’re relaxed. The next moment she has her claws into your wrist and her jaws are going for the flesh between your thumb and first finger.. ah.
Come to think of it, that pain doesn’t compare to the time she got caught up a tree in a gale. Yours truely had to go up fetch her down. As I dropped her down to my brother on the ground she did not want to let go of my hand at all!
She was a damn lucky cat too. While holidaying with my aunt, my brother and sister found her in Co. Cork up the side of mountain trail. She was meowing and thin and looking for food. For some reason they took her the many miles home to Cork. In the late Summer of 1989 we didn’t have a pet, never had one, and weren’t going to have one. However despite that, it was clear from the start that she adopted us.
“I want food!” “Give me attention!” “Go away, I’m tired!”
Such is the life of a cat.
Did I say she was lucky? She’s had her scrapes. On St. Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day) 1990 she jumped out of her box late at night. Unfortunately there was a fishing hook hanging down from the shelf above. She got caught in it and raced up the garden in great pain. When I heard the commotion, the meowing and the crying, I raced outside in pijamas, picked her up and cradled her as I took her indoors. The hook had lodged in her belly and her paw had stuck in the briars at the other end of the hook. I cradled her for what seemed like ages while my father rang a vet. I’m not sure at this stage did he call out to us, or did we call to his surgery, but he sorted her out. We continued to bring both Spring and Puss to the same vet for the last 14 years.
I rang home last Saturday to hear bad news. Unfortunately, Puss hadn’t been too well of late, she wasn’t eating, and was very lethargic. When I left for Chicago I guessed there might not be too much time left for her. I was right.
She was put to sleep last Wednesday. It must have been very hard on my father and brother to bring her to the vet, but it was the only humane thing to do.
Cats are known to be solitary creatures, they like their own company and shy away from human contact. Maybe that’s true in the wild, but I wouldn’t believe it for a moment when it comes to domesticated cats. Puss was part of the family, as was Spring.

John Tierney, friend and class …

John Tierney, friend and classmate, died in 1996 in a car accident in Limerick. I debated long and hard with myself all day whether I should post this or not. I searched extensively on various Irish news sites for reports on the crash but to no avail. Their archives just don’t go back that far. A search on ireland.com found an article about it (second link on that page), but it’s subscription only so I can’t link to it. It seems so meager and little to do but hopefully if my classmates google for details about the accident they’ll find my webpage and this commentry.

The photo below is a detail from the college newsletter of the week following the accident. I found it while cleaning up at home and took a photo of it with my digital camera.

If you’re reading this and you write a weblog, please link to this commentry with John’s name in the link, I want there to be something to find..

johntierney-whatson-obit-1996.gif