Two books have been in my mind lately. Firstly, this week was the 130th anniversary of the publication of the Unua Libro, the first book in Esperanto, which makes it one of the few languages in the world to have a birthday. On the 26th of July 1887, L.L. Zamenhof created an international language that he hoped would bridge the divide between people and reduce ethnic conflict. The second thing is that I have been reading The Vanquished: Why The First World War Failed To End by Robert Gerwarth. The book details the enormous amount of ethnic conflict that erupted after the end of the First World War and continued simmering until erupting again in the Second World War. Continue reading “Esperanto and Ethnic Conflict Since 1887”
Today is a day of celebration in Ireland. A hundred years ago today, Irish rebels rose up against British rule and declared an Irish Republic (Although technically they did this in Easter 1916, which fell at the end of April). This is a little unusual because in Ireland we don’t really do patriotism like other countries, we don’t even an Independence Day. It is also unusual because the rebellion failed and the proclaimed Irish Republic was crushed within a week. But Irish history isn’t like other histories, it’s not a collection of successes and victories. Instead our heroes are noble failures, almost always defeated, but in a brave and proud way. Continue reading “Uncomfortable Questions About The 1916 Easter Rising”
The best way to imagine the Book of Judges is to compare it to some bad movie sequels, where the writers have run out of ideas and so just keep repeating themselves. Because that’s essentially what the Book of Judges is, the same story told again and again. Every single story begins with the Israelites abandoning God, God sending a foreign oppressor as punishment, the Israelites beg forgiveness and so God rescues them. Every good thing that happens is due to God and every bad thing is the Israelites fault, which makes me doubt the objectivity of the author. Continue reading “An Atheist Reads The Book Of Judges: God’s Glory If You Win, Your Sins If You Lose”
As I write this conflict is raging in Syria. For the past two years a vicious war has been ongoing with 100,000 killed and 2 million refugees (half of whom are children) according to the United Nations. What began as part of the Arab Spring overthrowing dictators across the Arab world has turned into a bloody and relentless civil war. Now with reports of a massacre with chemical weapons, it seems increasingly likely that Western Powers will intervene in some form in the conflict. But is this the right decision? Are we compelled to fight on behalf of Syrian civilians or will it only make the problem worse?
Printing money seems like a no-brainer. Surely it’s extremely obvious that printing money is a recipe for disaster that will result in hyperinflation. Surely the obvious action is to not print money and therefore avoid inflation. Yet every year, every country prints money. Why? Surely the money supply should be fixed. What possible reason could central banks have for risking massive inflation? Why do we print money? Continue reading “Why Do We Print Money?”
The results of the 2011 census show that the population gap between Catholics and Protestants has narrowed significantly. In fact, at current rates, the Catholics will be a majority after 2016. This has the potential to significantly destabilize Northern Irish politics. The fragile peace established by the Good Friday Agreement could fall apart. Republicans are excited with dreams of a United Ireland and Unionists are terrified with similar nightmares. However there is the lurking threat of a return to violence and a second wave of Troubles. Continue reading “A Catholic Majority In The North?”
Mostar is an absolutely stunning town that is definitely worth visiting. It has a glorious medieval feel, a captivating and enticing river of gorgeous colours and of course, its famous bridge, a massive stone construction whose destruction came to symbolise the war in Bosnia. Meticulously reconstructed, it is now one of the most popular tourist sights in the Balkans.