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Aidan Maconachy

Aidan Maconachy
A non-partisan blog that discusses a wide variety of topics. These include politics, religion, secular issues, culture, news stories. The blog also features a regular cartoon strip .
Articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


Charlotte Roche's Feuchtgebiete: literary porn with a difference
2008-06-09 06:14:00
Charlotte Roche's first book, Feuchtgebiete (which roughly translates as "wetlands"), has sold half a million copies in Germany and is an Amazon worldwide bestseller.Granta recently posted an interview with Ms Roche that provides some background on the writer who although well known in Germany, is a relative newcomer to British and American readers:"Thirty-year-old Charlotte Roche, born in High Wycombe (UK) but raised in Germany, has been a recognizable face in her adopted home country since she started working as a presenter on Viva, the German equivalent of MTV, in the mid-1990s. She went on to write and present programmes and late-night talk shows for Arte and ZDF, and won the highly respected Grimme Prize for television in 2004."Buzzfeed offers links to some of the best reviews, including the Granta interview - here.Charlotte Roche's first book has been described by some reviewers as "literary porn." Roche is okay with this description. Feuchtgebiete is an important book. I...
More About: Charlotte , Difference , Literary
Lesbian kisses: Mariners need to chill out
2008-06-08 18:01:00
It's common to see straight couples making out just about anywhere you care to mention - parks, movie theaters, restaurants and yes, even ... perhaps especially ... ballparks. Rarely does officialdom intervene to issue a warning or a reprimand.In fact, some ballparks even feature "kiss cam" when couples kissing in the ballpark are beamed up on the big JumboTron screens so everyone can enjoy the spectacle.When gay or lesbian couples kiss in public the reaction can be dramatically different, as we know from the numbers of "kissing incidents" that have made the news. A lesbian teen was kicked off a bus in Oregon when a passenger complained that she was kissing a female friend. Four women were asked to leave a restaurant in Kansas City because two of them were spotted kissing.So it comes as no surprise that when Sirbrina Guerrero kissed her woman friend at Safeco Field during a Mariners game someone got upset. Seattle's reputation for being gay friendly didn't hold up on this one. An...
More About: Lesbian , Kisses , Chill out , Chill
Mom ... check out uncle Phil
2008-06-08 17:36:00
Tags: lesbian kissing, baseball, kiss cam, jumbotron
More About: Check , Phil , Uncle
German newspaper Die Tageszuitung runs satirical Obama cover
2008-06-07 14:04:00
A newspaper in German y, Die Tageszeitung, has caused a bit of a stir by running a picture of the White House on its cover under the title "Uncle Barack's Cabin."The Uncle Barack reference is a play on "Uncle Tom's Cabin" - the title of the anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher-Stowe. "Uncle Tom," has come to be used as a put-down of African-Americans who are perceived as being too deferential to whites.Die Tageszeitung or Taz is a left wing German newspaper that tends to be politically correct. Germans have expressed surprise at its cover - a few have called it "racist."Taz editors claim the cover is intended to be satirical:"The fact that he (Obama ) is African-American plays a constant role in the campaign, but no one talks about it explicitly. One can play with that fact."In fact there has been a great deal of discussion in the US media about Obama's mixed family background - the Kenyan ancestry on the father's side. There has also been discussion about the fact that he didn...
More About: Cover , Newspaper , Runs
No to Lisbon: Ireland seems set to reject EU treaty
2008-06-07 13:32:00
A few months ago in a post titled "Why Ireland should say no to Lisbon ," I argued the con position on the EU treaty now before the Irish people At the time it seemed that the Yes forces were destined to carry the day. However the tide has dramatically shifted, and it now appears that Ireland is likely to give the thumbs down to the treaty.The Lisbon treaty is an amended version of the constitution for Europe that was rejected by the French and the Dutch in 2005. The new treaty retains many of the earlier institutional innovations, but critics have complained it is too complex, contains many loopholes and can't be easily understood by those unfamiliar with the sometimes obscure protocols and legalisms.An Irish Times poll has shown a major shift in public opinion over recent weeks. Treaty opponents have doubled their support, going from 17 to 35%, while supporters of the treaty have slipped from 35 to 30%.Ireland's governing and main opposition parties all support the treaty. They...
A few basic requirements
2008-06-07 13:20:00
Tags: Ireland, EU, Lisbon treaty
More About: Basic
Air India flight attendants: a heavy judgment
2008-06-06 19:06:00
An India n court has ruled that Air India has the right to ground its flight attendants for being overweight. The court was responding to a case brought by five air hostesses who had been grounded for being a few pounds over Air India's scale limit.A previous court edict urged female flight attendants to "battle their bulge" and "control their girth." A judge also offered the controversial opinion in one case that "It is universally accepted that overweight people have a tendency to suffer from diseases."Air India has been known to be picky when it comes to cosmetic requirements. Not so long ago the airline said it wouldn't consider applicants with acne and bad teeth.Air India spokesperson, Jitender Bhargava, claims that a "scientific" system is used to determine weight standards for flight attendants. The airline calculates weight according to an employee's height and age. For example an 18 year old hostess with a height of 152 cm is allowed to be 50kg. For hostesses in the 26 to...
More About: Flight Attendants , Judgment , Heavy , Flight
John McCain's phony smile and dated rhetoric
2008-06-05 19:44:00
June 3 : The contrast between Barack Obama's inspirational victory speech in St Paul and John McCain's truly dreadful speech in New Orleans was like night and day.Obama channeled the energy of the crowd and communicated in a relaxed engaging style. His language was current, unlike McCain with his dated Roosevelt-like appeals to "my friends." McCain has a tendency to talk doggedly at his audience - when not forcing a macabre smile as a cue for a smattering of applause.The choice of location for the McCain speech was odd. It appeared as though he was speaking from a makeshift stage in the rec room of an old people's home, or possibly a refurbished honky tonk lounge. The audience was almost entirely white and of a certain age. Half the time they seemed unsure how to react - maybe the green backdrop had an hallucinatory effect.Most distracting of all was McCain's self-conscious smile-grimace, that he kept turning on at 30 second intervals. He looked a bit like a rabid miniature pins...
More About: Smile , Phony
The Clintons: Todd Purdham and a rocky campaign
2008-06-03 22:05:00
Vanity Fair writer, Todd Purdham, has been widely criticized for his article The Comeback Id that paints an unflattering portrait of Bill Clinton. Chief among the outraged is Bill Clinton himself who recently described Purdham as "sleazy," "dishonest," "slimy," and "a scumbag."To characterize Bill Clinton's response as an overreaction is putting it mildly. It comes across as an example of "protesting too much" - especially since Clinton claims he hasn't even read the article.His main complaint is that the article includes "lies" (which Clinton doesn't identify), that it fails to cite sources and includes anonymous quotes. Well, surprise surprise. Why would any associates of Clinton voluntarily offer up their name for publication, when they know there could be consequences.Whether or not Purdham should have gone to print without named sources is another issue. But this isn't or shouldn't be a purely partisan issue, because enough questions have been raised in the course of the c...
More About: Campaign , Rocky
Taste tester
2008-06-03 09:50:00
Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton
More About: Taste
Facebook: "a minefield of privacy invasion"
2008-06-02 15:40:00
The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) has filed a complaint against Facebook with Canada's Privacy Commissioner. The substance of the complaint is that Facebook collects sensitive information about users and employs it without their permission.There are legitimate security concerns with Facebook use, also with the site's lack of transparency. Privacy protection options aren't always spelled out clearly. Facebook's claim that "we pride ourselves on the industry leading controls we offer users over their private information," doesn't tell the whole story.The outcry over Beacon is perhaps one of the best examples of Facebook's controversial data mining practices.Facebook is partnered with sites such as Blockbuster, Fandango, Kongregate, Vox, NY Times, TypePad and others. Thanks to the miracle of javascript, these sites have been in a position to relay info to Facebook in the form of a "user alert." User's online purchases would show up on their news fe...
More About: Invasion
John McCain: The 8 Trip Wonder
2008-06-02 01:57:00
John McCain has been making a big deal lately about his eight trips to Iraq. As he keeps reminding Americans, Barack Obama by contrast has made one visit to Iraq.McCain makes it sound as though he has intimate, in-depth knowledge of the situation on the ground in Iraq thanks to the fleeting glimpses of Iraqi life gleaned during his famous walkabouts. The more likely version is that his views are derived not so much from choreographed walkabouts, but from the opinions offered by American military personnel and embassy officials.Whether in relation to his position on Cuba or his Iraqi visits, McCain has a need to come across as muscular. He certainly appears to relish holding his Iraq trip record over the head of his younger Democratic rival. Perhaps some of this is compensation for perceived vulnerabilities. After all much has been made of his advanced years. His medical history has even been called into question.He spoke of the relaxed drive from the airport during a recent visit t...
More About: John , Trip , John McCain
I'm living proof
2008-06-02 01:50:00
Tags: John McCain, Iraq
More About: Living , Proof
Joe Lieberman's complaint: good call by Google
2008-05-31 09:47:00
Recently Senator Joe Lieberman contacted Google to express his concern about videos on YouTube from radical Islamist groups.Numerous videos were identified by Lieberman's staff as problematic. A number of the named videos that contained gratuitous violence, advocated violence and/or engaged in hate speech were removed by Google. Most of the videos though were not removed since they don't violate Google's Community Guidelines.Google overall succeeds in striking a decent balance, especially when you consider the volume and diversity of the material they host. Hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day.Lieberman's complaint is one-sided. There are videos on YouTube that reflect a radical anti-Islamic perspective. For example, not so long ago Geert Wilders, the right wing Dutch politician, had difficulty finding an outlet for his anti-Qur'an video, Fitna, and eventually released it on YouTube.Not long after this, a Saudi blogger named Raed al-Saeed produced a...
More About: Call , Good , Complaint
Michelle Malkin: Dunkin Donuts, keffiyehs and Rachael Ray
2008-05-30 00:56:00
A recent Dunkin Donuts ad featured pitchwoman Rachael Ray wearing a scarf that looked like a keffiyeh - at least according to eagle-eyed conservative pundit Michelle Malkin . Unsurprisingly Malkin views the keffiyeh as not simply a fashion item, but as "a symbol of murderous Palestinian jihad."The scarf used in the ad was not in fact a traditional cotton keffiyeh (the Arab headdress worn by men - can also be draped around the neck and shoulders), it was a silk scarf with a paisley type design. This didn't stop conservative bloggers from demanding the ad be removed.A spokesperson for Dunkin Donuts denied that Ms Ray's scarf was guilty of "symbolism" :“In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.”The petty objections of Michelle Malkin to a scarf...
Michelle Malkin on the keffiyeh
2008-05-30 00:50:00
Tags: Michelle Malkin , keffiyeh
More About: Michelle Malkin
Sharon Stone: karma comment adds insult to injury
2008-05-29 05:01:00
From the safety of the red carpet in Cannes, Sharon Stone made an unfortunate comment about the earthquake in China:"I am not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans ... then this earthquake and all this stuff happened and I thought, 'Is that karma, when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?'"The earthquake centered near China's Sichuan Province has taken the lives of 70,000 people. Karma is about cause and effect. Neither the actions nor the personal opinions of the majority of those who died so cruelly at the hands of nature contributed directly to official Chinese policy toward Tibet.Thousands were killed when the earthquake struck, others were entombed in the debris. Small children were trapped in the rubble, condemned to a slow, lingering death. In the face of such a monumental human tragedy even if the word "karma" flickers across the screen of your consciousness, out of respect for the death of thousands of innocents, you keep it to yourself...
More About: Injury , Comment
Harper's Canada: secrecy, control and the Obama memo
2008-05-28 05:44:00
Barack Obama is promising to bring greater transparency and accountability to the business of government if elected president of the US. In Canada we seem to be headed in the opposite direction.Like Obama, Stephen Harper campaigned on a promise of great transparency and accountability, but the reality has turned out to be the polar opposite. In Harper's ship-of-state the hatches have been firmly battened down - journalists side-lined, bureaucrats gagged and cabinet ministers put-on-notice that they must get the okay from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) before speaking to the press. Harper has centralized the apparatus of government, in effect making MP's more answerable to the PMO than to their constituents, especially if speaking out entails some perceived conflict-of-interest.Federal Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, contends that Harper is running "the most secretive government in our history." David Taras, a professor of communications and culture at the University of Calgary...
More About: Control , Secrecy , Memo
We don't need loose cannons
2008-05-28 05:34:00
Tags: Stephen Harper, Canadian government
Obamamania sweeping ... Germany!
2008-05-27 06:55:00
According to a Der Spiegel article Germans are crazy about Barack Obama.Karsten Voigt, the German government's coordinator for trans-Atlantic relations says "Germany is Obamaland." He says Germans view Obama as a "mixture of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King."There are perhaps echoes of these American icons in Obama's style, but first and foremost the senator has always struck me as his own man.Part of Obama's appeal is his ability to connect with people. The accusations of "elitism" seem almost frivolous when you watch him work a crowd. The unaffected, easy manner he brings to his campaigning, conveys most of all the man's humanity.The anti-Americanism that has been so widespread in Europe, especially in the years following the Iraq invasion, all but vanishes at the sound of his name. He makes people feel good. Particularly it seems - in Germany.Constanze Stelzenmuller of the German Marshall Fund in Berlin says that many Germans are projecting their 'hopes and dreams' on...
Lou Dobbs: ginning it up on CNN
2008-05-26 05:05:00
At a fundraiser in Florida, Barack Obama accused Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh of "ginning things up," leading to a rise in hate crimes against Hispanics."A certain segment has basically been feeding a kind of xenophobia. There's a reason why hate crimes against Hispanic people doubled last year. If you have people like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh ginning things up, it's not surprising that would happen."Obama set off a heated reaction with this statement, because Dobbs is an icon to those who view him as a defender of the middle class - a media voice willing to take on the corporate elite.Dobbs' approach so impressed Kurt Vonnegut a while back, that the writer sent him a note that said: “You, as the only big-time television personality capable of not only feeling but experiencing sorrow for American working stiffs, are our hero.” High praise coming from Vonnegut.Dobbs apparently believes that if he wraps himself in the mantle of the populist, he can get away with channeling b...
You gotta love Lou
2008-05-26 05:01:00
Tags: Lou Dobbs, Christine Romans, CNN
More About: Love , Gotta
Mehdi Kazemi: granted asylum in the UK
2008-05-24 17:40:00
The gay equality organization, Stonewall, welcomed news this week that the young Iranian, Mehdi Kazemi, will not after all risk being returned to Iran where he could well face a death sentence. Thanks to a campaign in support of his case, Mehdi has been granted asylum in the UK.Much credit has to go to British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Simon Hughes, the local MP who dealt with the case. Credit needs to go also to the many bloggers who helped to draw attention to the plight of Mehdi. The UK based Independent newspaper did an excellent job in covering the case.In 2004, Mehdi left Iran and traveled to England on a student visa in order to pursue his education.While in the UK he learned that his boyfriend, Parham, had been arrested by Iranian authorities. During interrogation Parham revealed the nature of his relationship with Mehdi. Following this Tehran police arrived on the doorstep of the Kazemi home with an arrest warrant for Mehdi.In April of 2006, Mehdi was informed that...
More About: Asylum
Hillary Clinton descends to new depths
2008-05-24 06:36:00
While meeting with the editorial board of South Dakota's Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, Hillary Clinton descended to new depths, if indeed that is possible.Clinton chose to raise the specter of Bobby Kennedy's assassination in June of 1968 in the course of making her argument for staying in the race. The only possible interpretation of this sick evocation of the Bobby Kennedy killing is to inform us that, delegates aside, the jig is not yet up. June is "assassination season" and the snipers are still home working on target practice.To argue for the continuation of her quixotic cause celebre crusade on the grounds that ... who knows ... someone might knock off Barack Obama, is about as low as it gets.There are those who argue that Clinton was simply referring to competitive contests. But why refer to a tragic assassination to make that point? There are lots of other examples to draw on - Ted Kennedy in 1980, Gary Hart in 1984 for example.She knows as well as anyone about the threats Ob...
Nazi stamps courtesy of Deutsche Post
2008-05-23 12:15:00
Germany's national postal service, Deutsche Post , recently issued stamps bearing the image of Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hesse.Deutsche Post printed twenty stamps that show Hesse sitting next to a bouquet of flowers. Twenty envelopes bearing the stamps were mailed out. This is part of a service that allows clients to design custom-made stamps by uploading pictures over the internet.It isn't the first time customers have ordered stamps bearing the images of Nazi leaders. One one occasion a customer attempted to have stamps printed featuring Hitler as a small child.Deutsche Post described the incident as "unfortunate" and said they suspected the request came from people on the far right of the political spectrum. A spokesman said they would make every effort to prevent a repeat situation.The far right magazine Deutsche Stimme (German Voice), a vehicle for the far right National Democratic Party (NPD), made a point of celebrating the printing of the Hesse stamp.Rudolf Hesse is a hero o...
More About: Stamps
Geraldine Ferraro: Hillary Clinton a target for sexism
2008-05-22 23:46:00
According to Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton has been a target of sexists and misogynists during the course of the Democratic campaign.When it comes to hard evidence of sexism Ferraro comes up short. She brought up Obama's "Annie Oakley" comparison during interviews on NBC and FOX. How is referencing Annie Oakley sexist? It was an apt and amusing comparison. Following Obama's "bitter" comments, Clinton presented an image of herself as a younger woman that did in fact evoke Annie Oakley-like values of the family, guns and God variety.Ferraro even brought up hip-hop music, linking a gesture of Obama's with Jay-Z's song Dirt Off Your Shoulders. She must be getting her lyrics mixed up. In fact there is a level of gender equality in the song. It includes the line - "Ladies is pimps, too, go and brush your shoulders off."Ferraro has stated that she regards some comments about Clinton's appearance as sexist. But apparently the double standard doesn't apply. She has commented on Ob...
More About: Target , Sexism
Oh there's my foot
2008-05-22 23:40:00
Tags: Hillary Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro, sexism
More About: Foot
Diego Maradona takes a shot at 'undignified' Pele
2008-05-22 04:08:00
Diego Maradona is in Cannes to promote a documentary, Maradona, by the Serbian director Emir Kusturica.The film offers a glimpse into the cult of personality that surrounds Maradona. Footage is included of fans who belong to the "Maradonian Church", where the praises of Maradona are sung to the tune of Ave Maria.The film also explores Maradona's cocaine use and his political views. He is an outspoken leftist, and has described George W. Bush as "a murderer" and "a piece of human garbage."Despite his personal challenges with substances over the years, Maradona remains a football hero to many.The Brazilian great and "football ambassador", Pele , has been pointedly critical of Maradona. He has said that Maradona's World Cup winners' medals should be stripped from him because of his drug offenses over the years.Maradona answered Pele's criticisms at a press conference in Cannes. He suggested that Pele would do well to "keep quiet." He claimed that he has heard "a lot of stories" abou...
More About: Shot , Diego , Diego Maradona
Spike Lee slams Clint Eastwood movie Flags of Our Fathers
2008-05-21 07:27:00
During a recent press conference at Cannes, the director Spike Lee hit out at Clint Eastwood for failing to provide a role for a single African-American soldier in Flags of Our Fathers , Eastwood's film about the Battle of Iwo Jima.The press conference was for Lee's new film Miracle at St Anna, a story about members of the all-black 92nd Buffalo Division, which fought the Germans in Italy. An eight-minute trailer of Lee's new film premiered at the festival.In Flags of our Fathers, Eastwood exposes the cynical fashion in which the iconic flag-raisers of Iwo Jima were exploited in order to help boost the war effort. With Eastwood's keen eye for injustice, you would think he would have noted that his movie renders all-but-invisible the role of black troops in the battle. This isn't a minor detail - almost a thousand African Americans took part in the historic battle.Spike Lee is right on the mark with his criticism. The irony is that while Clint Eastwood exposes exploitive practi...
More About: Movie
Max Mosley: Nazi themed orgy with an MI5 spy agency connection
2008-05-19 07:55:00
Stories about masochistic Englishmen who enjoy a little flagellation on the side at the hands of assertive ladies, have been doing the rounds for years. The stories took on added believability recently with the release of a video featuring Formula One boss Max Mosley .A YouTube video (since removed) shows Mosley engaging in an S & M Nazi -style orgy with five hookers. Although Mosley admits his involvement he has refused to step down as FIA boss and intends to fight demands that he resign.The original video is five hours long. Some of the hookers are dressed in Nazi death camp uniforms and Mosley, dressed as a camp commandant, is seen whipping two of them. While brandishing a leather strap over the bare tush of one of the hookers he is heard yelling "she needs more of ze punishment!" When the whipping begins, Mosley counts the lashes out loud in Geman - "eins! zwei! drei! vier! fünf! sechs!" and becomes noticeably aroused. In turn, he also plays the role of an inmate. He is chain...
More About: Agency , Connection
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