Since I’ve moved abroad, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be Irish. In Ireland this isn’t too relevant of a question because almost everyone is Irish, but I’m currently living in a town where I am the only Irish person. I’ve always been proud to call myself Irish, but lately I’ve been wondering what does this mean? What makes Irish people different from others, such as the English and Americans? What is special about being Irish? Continue reading
English is a strange language. As a native speaker, I used to think it was completely normal and the natural state for a language, but lately I’ve been seeing the strange parts. There is a huge gap between how words are written and pronounced, with a multitude of silent letters, sounds that can be spelt with more than one letter and letters that can be pronounced more than one way. There’s also irregular verbs that defy any logic and almost look randomly thrown together. While the present and the future is straight forward, the past tense is a complete mess. Eat becomes ate, sit becomes sat, go becomes went and think becomes thought. Where is the sense in that? Why do words completely change like that? Continue reading
A few months ago I was working in an office and I got fed up. At first I was happy to get the job, as I had been looking for work for a while and these days it’s hard to find a job in Ireland (when talking with friends I don’t ask what job they have but if they have one). Plus the money was really good so I started off enthusiastic. But after a few weeks I was worn down and fed up. Part of it was specific to the job, I was in a backroom completely cut off from the rest of the company with only one other person to talk to. But the job itself was incredibly dull and monotonous. It was a brainless repetitive job that you could train a monkey to do. Worst of all, it was pointless. It didn’t serve any real purpose or do anything useful, it was essentially shuffling paper all day.
So I decided I needed to get out. I have the rest of my life for boring office jobs, so I can take a year or two out to travel before I get tied down with commitments. I wanted to do work that I actually cared about and that I felt was worthwhile. I was younger than the people I was working with, so I could take two years out and come back to the same place. So I thought, what the hell, why not travel, see other cultures, learn other languages, live in other countries? Continue reading
A lot of people these days don’t see the need for feminism. To many it’s just a lot of whinging and moaning about superficial things that don’t matter too much. Others see it as an issue that belongs in the history books, important in its time but not today. Don’t women have equal rights today? Hasn’t the movement run its course? A recent survey found that 85% of people support gender equality but only 18% consider themselves feminists. Basically, most people just don’t understand feminism (for a long time neither did I). However, I think there is another ideology that is more easily understood and can be used as a guide to explaining feminism, especially to people who wouldn’t otherwise see where Feminists are coming from. Continue reading
Let’s play a game. I will name two forms of football and you tell me which you think offers better incentives to players. On the one hand is soccer, the world famous sport which receives huge funding from sponsorship, merchandise and ticket sales. This allows large investment in the sport and the ability to pay good (sometimes even exorbitant) wages. On the other hand is Gaelic Football, played only by Irish people mainly in Ireland. Unlike soccer, it is an amateur sport and none of its players get paid. All athletes must also have full time jobs, meaning they can only train in the evenings after work.
This should be obvious. Continue reading
America has a serious problem with inequality. The gap between the rich and the poor is one of the widest among developed nations and has reached levels last seen in the Roaring Twenties before the Great Crash. Although the productivity and wealth of the nation have grown rapidly, the wages of ordinary workers have stagnated. Average wages have remained more or less the same for forty years. While wealth becomes increasingly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, more and more people fall into poverty. Unions have had their strength drained from them and adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is lower than it was fifty years ago. To be successful in America nowadays has less to do with your skill and abilities and more to do with where you were born and how rich your parents were. Continue reading
Every day the news is full of reports on the refugee crisis as hundreds of thousands of people flee their homes and attempt to reach Europe. Countries such as Hungary are building barriers to stop them and scenes of police holding back refugees fill the news. There are scores of desperate people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean in rickety rafts. 3,573 have died trying to cross the sea in the last year, roughly ten people per day. Most people are confused about the crisis and what it means, so hopefully this will shed some light on the issue and answer some common questions. Continue reading