Category Archives: Social Commentary

RIP 2014


A small collection of lovely cartoon tributes to some of the well known personalities who died in 2014.

Philip Seymour Hoffman (January)
psh

Sid Caesar (February)

COWSidCeaser

 

Harold Ramis (February)

haroldramis

H.R. Giger (May)
giger

Rik Mayall (June)

rikmayallrip

Casey Kasem (June)

caseykasem

 

Robin Williams (August)

robinwilliams

Joan Rivers (September)

Joanrivers

 

If you remember any other cartoons in a similar vein please let me know so I can add them here as well.

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Beanmimo – Ice Bucket Challenge


No introduction necessary

Earth Day – April 22nd 1970


I was at a wedding in the mid-1990s, it was a rich, celtic-tigery affair. In the middle of the celebration a drinks trolley clinked its way around the guests. Vodkas, gins, and whiskeys of the best proudly tempted the revellers. They looked and sounded expensive and I was in a mind to stick to the wine until a bottle caught my eye. It was a port wine. It had been fortified in 1970 the year I was born. It was strong and delicious and I gulped again when I saw the £18 price the next morning.

I like to think that I have grown up and am not lead by superficial urges that could govern me in my twenties.

What did that have to do with Earth Day?  The annual celebration of our planet also began on April 22nd 1970; a mere 44 years ago today.  When I found this out I was as attracted to write a blog post about it as I was to drink that delicious port wine.

Earth Day Network
Earth Day’s roots grew from the civil rights and the anti-war movement in 1960s U.S. Before the word ‘Environment’ meant something other than nature the people who began to highlight Green issues were called the “Breathers’ Lobby” by the Wall Street Journal and the emphasis was more on ‘conservation’ of parks and recreational areas.

The Breathers Lobby were made up such anti-air pollution groups like GASP (Los Angeles and Pittsburgh), the Metropolitan Washington Coalition on Clean Air and the Delaware Clean Air Coalition. Other movements which focused on water quality issues were also making dramatic inroads: most notably, the Lake Michigan Federation, and Get Oil Out in Santa Barbara, California.

Even Broadway shows were being influenced by the anti-pollution ‘phase’. Hair lampooned air pollution with a hilarious song called “The Air,” which ended in a choking chorus of coughs.

Hair

Students were being influenced by environmental messages from rock lyrics e.g. “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

By the end of the 60s the committed activists realised that urban environments would be the battlefield for years to come and they needed the American public and American political leaders to understand that as well.

Gaylord Nelson, a Senator from Wisconsin, who had failed to impress many of his colleagues in Congress of the importance of environmental issues.

Gaylord Nelson Denver Colorado Earth Day 1970

While he was travelling across the United States, he had noticed the effectiveness of the dedication and the expertise of the many student and citizen volunteers who were trying to solve pollution problems in their communities.  He put this climate together with the Anti-War Teach-In idea from the previous decade and set the wheels in motion for the First Earth Day.

Hampered by a tiny budget (190,000), mainly a volunteer base for organisation and a similar idea being pitched for March 1970, Nelson together with Denis Hayes, the dynamic former President of the Stanford student body, managed to pull together the first earth day. A full page article in the New York Times was one of the major elements to its success.

In New York Fifth Avenue was closed to traffic between 14th Street and 59th Street. Manhattan was an eerie standstill. A bunch of demonstrators dragged a net filled with dead fish down the thoroughfare, indicating to passers-by, “This could be you!” Celebrities like Paul Newman and Ali McGraw, spoke from a raised platform looking out over a sea of smiling faces. There were Earth Day rallies in Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and may other areas in the U.S. 80% of them were urban affairs.  In New York, as elsewhere, self-policing demonstrators left surprising little litter in their wake.

earth Day Participants 1970

The Environmental Protection Agency was founded in December 1970. It pulled together from 44 organizations scattered in nine departments, and it gave a much stronger profile to and put the Environment onto the political map.

Finding out about Earth Day was more satisfying than that port wine and less expensive.

References

EPA

Earth Day Organisation

Alternative Activities for Arthur’s Day


If you don’t want to go to the pub on September 26th you could celebrate…

World Maritime Day: Put on a life jacket and watch Titanic.

Dublin Theatre Festival: First preview for Brecht & Weill’s The Threepenny Opera, at The Gate Theatre*. The musical play without which we wouldn’t have Cabaret, Chicago, Evita etc.

New Ross Piano Festival: Watch 20 young piano students play the grand piano for sheer fun!

Olivia Newton John’s Birthday: Watch Grease for the 100th time.

Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival: Take part in their intriguingly named Blackboard Ramblings.

Tape your favourite soap for a week and watch the omnibus you have created.

Bord Gais Energy Theatre : Get tickets to Heartbeat of Home, the latest offering from the Riverdance producers, and watch a whole new crew of young dancers lepping about on stage.

Linda Hamilton’s Birthday: Watch Terminator and Terminator 2 back to back.

T.S. Eliot’s birthday: Cat owners could settle down with your furry friend and read them Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

And Finally…

Brew a pot of tea, invite a few friends over, and solve the world’s problems around the kitchen table (bring biscuits).

What are you going to do?

*The previews for The Threepenny Opera at The Gate on the 26th are sold out 🙂

Tidying Up The World – Litterati


“Keep your country tidy”, I first remember seeing these words from a phase of chewing Juicy Fruit gum. On a family trip to the UK when I was not yet ten, I dropped the yellow Wrigley’s packaging on the ground and when my Mother asked me why I did it I told her “This isn’t my country”. It wasn’t funny the second time, I learned a lesson about littering and humour on that holiday.

juicyfruit

We Humans are not instinctively a tidy lot. We have to teach children to get into the habit of cleaning up after themselves. Otherwise they will leave litter all over the place. But some people are not taught this while others don’t care or refuse to comply. This is why we have public litter bins which are sadly neglected and often overlooked.

bin

Cleaning up after other people is not an instinct we enjoy (my family and friends who are parents know this more than most). I remember, as a child, the indignation of the accusation, when one of your parents would tell you to put something away that you had not used?

Litterati is a unique website that uses social media to help us clean up after others while making it entertaining. Their aim is to create a global digital landfill by cleaning up our planet one piece at a time.

Their rules are four

1) Find a piece of litter

2) Photograph it with Instagram

3) Hashtag your photo with #Litterati

4) Throw away, recycle or compost the litter

If you scroll through their digital landfill you will find arty, sad, funny, poignant and even amorous photographs of litter. We like to be entertained and when we can get involved, sure, there is no limit to human creativity and on top of all that the planet will thank you!!

Have a look yourself.

Litterati

Their Global Impact (world map of Litterati sites)

Their Global Landfill (photos)

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter

The Irish Language: Lost in Translation


On reading an advanced copy of “The Revival of Irish – Failed Project of a Political Elite” by Donal Flynn, I was reminded about the failed attempt by the Irish education system to instil in me a working grasp or a love of the Irish language.

It is not easy to be loyal to a language when it was difficult to learn and never used outside the classroom.  Nevertheless I managed to attain a D grade in Pass level Irish. This meant that when I repeated my Leaving Certificate I did not have to sit Irish again. The second time around my grades went up a notch in every subject thus allowing me to get into my choice of third level education.  It is very possible that if Irish had not been compulsory in the first place I would have been let loose on the world a year sooner.

Every day in the news another sector of Irish society is crying out about the cuts the government have made in response to the austerity measures currently imposed on our economy. But not one voice looks back at the time and money spent translating signs and documents into a language which is not used by its own country.

Donal Flynn’s book highlights the efforts of each successive government to continue “The Revival” and discusses the various voices who have been silenced when they dared to publicly announce the detrimental effects that the teaching of Irish has had on the literacy of our nation.

If the down grading of the Irish language means that our country’s literacy problems can be better addressed then I support this.  These much needed funds could be diverted into areas of Health and other public services.

I do not object to a continuation of the teaching of Irish in schools but if the compulsory focus was taken away and we were taught it in conjunction with the cultural side of our history I feel that a more genuine affection may be nurtured.

Anyone who has an interest in Ireland becoming a self-sustaining nation in an increasingly global-focused world needs to read this book.

Please check out the website.

Or

Buy the book at this link.

The Economics of St Valentine’s Day


With collapsible banks on the ropes,
And political opponents dashing hopes,
I propose two simple measures,
To ease a little financial pressure.

Demands of romance can easily make,
The cost of Valentine’s Day quite dear.
To spread the ease of February’s ache,
Be more romantic throughout the year.

But if Valentine’s Day is loved by your honey,
Do something special (avoiding money),
Make them a present or their tastiest treat,
Something from the heart that’s nice and sweet.

Enjoy!