Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Some whimsy for a mid-week

The ancestry of George W. Bush, as researched on the internet, so it damn well MUST be true!! I'm starting from now and working back. All dates are those his ancestors were born on, and when they are marked as married to Americans, it means they had emigrated, and were thus deemed ‘American’. Plus, don't forget I'm not mentioning the tons of Americans marrying Americans in between all these European ones!!;

American (mostly Ohio, Massachusetts, and Texas) present day
Austrian + Americans 1890
Bavaria + Americans 1850
Co. Down + Americans 1714
Co. Down + Americans 1715
Co. Down + Americans 1755
Co. Down + Americans 1680
Scotland + Americans 1794
England + Americans 1677
Co. Cork + Americans 1680
SIX (6) Germany + Americans 1810 - 1840
England + Americans 1628
England + Americans 1678
Austria + Americans 1714
Wales + Americans 1696
England + Americans 1623
England + Americans 1580
England + Americans 1620
England + Americans 1621
England + Americans 1646
Scotland + Americans 1654
Sweden + Americans 1620
FRENCH (Jerimiah Dumas) - 1681 + Americans
England + Americans 1619
England + Americans 1636
England + Americans 1633
England + Americans 1631
England + Americans 1632
England + Americans 1615
England + Americans 1635
England + Americans 1596
England + Americans 1595
England + Americans 1610
England + Americans 1616
Wales + Americans 1620
Wales + Americans 1614
Wales + Americans 1622
England + Americans 1611
England + Americans 1613
England + Americans 1609
England + Americans 1600
Then LOADS of English born in England and died in America late 1500's early 1600's
Germany + Americans 1596
England + Americans 1590's
Germany + Americans 1590
Swedan + Americans 1580
Holland 1586
ENLAND + ENGLAND (born England, died England - mostly around London and Devon) early 1500's...........they married a couple of Welsh, but basically, George W. Bush is ENGLISH!!!

Though he has got ONE cheese eating surrender-monkey ancestor, I'm sure he doesn't go around mentioning that at dinner parties! Quite a few Germans for the dictator!!! Plus, some Irish - but doesn't everyone!?!?!?! I don't think we should feel too bad about that!

What a shocker to find out the greatest colonial madman of recent history is originally ENGLISH...didn't see that coming!

Friday, April 22, 2005

GORTA Ireland - Presentation to John O'Shea

I attended a presentation last night – my Mam had, along with about 12 other people, organised a charity weekend for the Easter in aid of GOAL. They’d raised over €8400; so John O’Shea (head of GOAL) himself came down to give a speech and receive the cheque. So well done to my Mam, and to all others that did so much work…and to Donard in general for pulling together and giving what they could. Here follows a synopsis of John’s speech:


Thanking everyone for attending, John told the expectant listeners how much he felt the community spirit in our beautiful village when he arrived, and pointed out that communities such as ours should continue to recognise other communities that are not so fortunate. Since the presentation was made in order to help the Tsunami victims (even though the money was actually designated for GOAL in general, to do with what they wished), he pointed out that the world's outpouring of generosity in such a situation was amazing. However, television coverage, the fact that the victims were white and the fact that we ‘know’ Thailand as a holiday destination, meant that this money flowed more freely than to the nations of earth that suffer this level of tragedy on a daily basis. He told us that he didn’t want to undermine the amazing contributions people came forth with for Tsunami victims, but he very rightly stressed that the Third World today is actually worse off than is was when he started with GOAL over 25 years ago, and people need to recognise the ongoing tragedies of the world, as well as focusing on media-worthy events such as the Asian Tsunami. Despite technological advances and medical breakthroughs, people are still starving to death, in a world where there really is more than enough to go around - a point that should be brought home by the bare dent those millions made in the Asian disaster relief efforts.

John continued by telling us about a time, 13 years ago, when he flew in a little plane over India with an Arab man who asked him about himself. John told many stories of his days as a sports journalist – waxing lyrical about footballers and gaelic players – but when he mentioned he was Irish, his companion replied, ‘Ah, the caring nation’. John felt it was significant that he would say something like this, when so many other descriptions of our country could be employed – the drinking nation, the storytelling nation, etc. etc. Some of this feeling must, surely, have arisen from the fact that our small island has sent forth hundreds of missionaries and lay aid workers over the years to far flung destinations where real good was done, and real love given to the poor of the world. John truly feels that the major problem in this world is that governments and those at the ‘top tables’ don’t love the poor anymore.

GOAL has had to pull out of Indonesia in the past few weeks, discontinuing its relief efforts there. The government proved too corrupt in their dealings – asking for ‘backhanders’ for each establishment GOAL attempted to build. John made the decision to go to Sri Lanka where he had made a deal with their government to be allowed to proceed, as he liked, without paying extra to those who already had money, in order to help those that didn’t. Indonesian people, therefore, had aid taken from them by their own governing body – John couldn’t justify handing over cash to them with one hand, as he considered that to be simultaneously taking it from those most in need with the other.

John spoke of the work GOAL has done in India, where he still visits regularly. The gathered group listened as he told us that recently, on a visit, some women in their early 20’s came to him showing off their children…families they would not and could not have had were it not for the care and support provided by him and his organisation. John remembered these women as young girls – 7 or 8 years old – coming to him as prostitutes on the streets of Calcutta. Truely bringing home to all present the magnitude of these situations, at this point in his speech John had to take a moment, overcome by the thoughts of it. Tears in his eyes, he mumbled to himself, ‘I shouldn’t be remembering these things’.

John turned his attention to Darfur, where members of the Janjawiid militia (Janjawiid means ‘man on a horse with a gun’) are sweeping the western Sudan region, swathing a path through the indigenous people with machetes, machine guns, and the age-old terror tools of rape and pillage. Thousands have died, and many more continue to die, while the world sits back in complacency. John told our increasingly shocked audience of an incident proving the uselessness of the UN – where a church packed with up to 600 women being held by the militia was surrounded by UN forces, some with weapons. The militia took the head from each woman’s body while the UN totted up on computers outside the rising number of dead in the conflict. John feels that the UN is a waste of time – a pretend army of justice that has an overwhelming allegiance to the monied of this world. Meeting upon meeting is called by the UN councils in regards to Darfur, but though everyone mentions murder and human rights abuses, nobody mentions genocide – the one word that requires immediate action. Can the lessons of this world be any clearer? We watched thousands fall in the former Yugoslavia, and many more wash down the rivers of Rwanda, yet still we do nothing. The rank and file people of the world want change, but the governments will not allow it – too much thought is given to alliances between countries, and interest in the IMF and the World Bank…money changes hands in the sky, but never reaches the ground where it is needed.

John told us more of the dire situation in Darfur, where he has been in an orphanage these past months, burying tens of children every day – children as young as some of our smaller guests at the meeting. Babies sat on our local spectators laps, listening to John speak, and the pallor on women’s faces spoke volumes of how the needless death of a child continues to be the most damning evidence against any regime. China, with its vested interest in Sudanese oil, voted against UN interference in Darfur at the last summit. All other countries, knowing how sales in the newly capitalist China of televisions, washing powder, clothes, etc. stand higher than any body count can, voted with them. Therefore the aid community – including GOAL – are the only people willing to stay in Darfur, doing what they can for the people. The Janjawiid ride through encampments, leaving a trail of death behind them, but will stop if they see an aid worker – a white person. John showed us all the irony of a 19-year-old Irish nurse providing the ring of steel behind which so many local people can be safe.

He brought us back down to earth – though leaving some of us, myself included, pale faced and feeling strangely detached – by thanking the community, yet again, for their amazing contribution to GOAL. He hoped that people continue to remember how lucky they are in their community, and continue to help others who are not so lucky elsewhere.

I spoke to John afterwards, and found him a very articulate and interesting man – though with an angry edge no doubt carved from many years watching the wealth of many distributed to so few. His speech brought me to the edge of where I felt safe, and threw me down yet again into the part of myself that recognises the terror and pain in the world, and feels helpless and useless in the face of it. I could see in John’s eyes the same sort of feelings, and after many hours deliberation, decided that I should continue what I am doing at the moment – donations, etc. – and plan to help fully in time with whatever skills I can offer to aid others in less fortune. I signed up on the website for a monthly donation to add to my ongoing donations to Concern and Gorta…and these ‘conscience plasters’ will have to do until I can find some better way of helping.

A great evening with a great speaker, and a great fundraising event that brought one small community together to help the bigger picture – our world outside Ireland. Someday the governments of this world will answer for what they have done, but that day is still very far away – until then, all we can do is continue to push for fairness, peace and love.

Visit to make a once off donation, or to set up a monthly/yearly standing order.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


The action genre has gone the way of the ‘intelligent’, self-deprecating teen-horror movies, รก la Scream, and is selling itself as facetiously as possible. Sahara may well mark the beginning-of-the-end for this tendency (if promos for Sin City are anything to go by), but it certainly gives an able attempt at a lasting goodbye.

Delivering on its promise of fast-paced, adrenalin-pumping action, with a storyline teetering on the edge of absurd, Sahara pleases in the baser sense. Comparisons with Indiana Jones are unavoidable, and the movie will most likely benefit from such allusions, but Sahara seems to be carving its own niche as a franchise. Matthew McConaughey (who appears to be just playing himself these days) is the intelligent, rugged, manly naval historian, with the obligatory diamond-in-the-rough sensitive soul, abandoning the search for a ‘treasure’ he has followed his entire life in order to save the earth from an environmental disaster. However, tongue firmly in cheek, McConaughey turns the role on its head at every opportunity – giving life to a somewhat hackneyed character.

Steve Zahn partners with McConaughey in every way - which is really the saving grace of this movie. Most action movie ‘partnerships’ require that one member be dead wood or dumb sidekick…Zahn is McConaughey’s equal and, in some cases, superior. The story gives us two colleagues of like intelligence and bravery, who have a strong friendship enhanced by a desire for adventure. The combination of Zahn’s quirky wit and McConaughey’s own particular brand of southern charm is a charismatic one, and much of the film is carried on their relationship. Penelope Cruz isn’t called upon to do much but, when asked, she displays her usual panache and style (all wide-eyed emotion and whispered words). The support crew of stereotypes amply flesh out their own particular character – father figure William H. Macy being, of course, a standout wasted in a tiny part.

Unfortunately many parts of the movie bring it down as a whole – most particularly the comment from the local dictator that “Nobody cares about Africa”, followed by the usual show of pretend poverty and tribal warfare. This line is obviously meant to be ironic – i.e., implying that nobody cares in order to show us that ‘somebody’ (America) does. As is usual with such films, the US is the centre of the world…toxic waste that is killing local Africans is leaking into the Niger River towards the Atlantic and “will hit New York in six months”. However, taken at surface value without believing too much of the bravado – as most will manage – the movie is standard fare.

Script flairs are virtually nonexistent, but reality issues aside, it actually makes for quite an enjoyable matinee performance. Strong acting, fast action and the engagingly silly storyline ensure a paint-by-numbers action flick in the style of The Mummy. Indiana Jones it isn’t – but with Harrison Ford threatening to don the cap and whip once more, it doesn’t really need to be.

View the review on Film Ireland Website (blowing......trumpet.....etc.) at