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A Different View

Life in the fast lane not always best option

Dave O'Connell

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Roan Downes, aged 10, from Kinvara, who'll be helping out his grandfather Frank Downes , Chairman of the Galway Branch of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind with the 26th Amphicat Boat Row in Aid of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind which takes place on the River Corrib this Saturday. Also pictured is Gallagher, the fund raising dog. Photo: Andrew Downes, xposure

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When your reaction levels bring you from nought to sixty in about three-quarters of an hour, you seek vindication for your poor fitness levels wherever you can find it – hence the desperate grasping at a new study just released in the US.

Fittingly, it follows on from the recent Rio Olympics where more records were smashed than you’d get at a drunken party in a Greek music store.

But for all of the glory, there is also a downside – or to rework the old analogy: “Run fast, die young.”

The American academic journal, Ageing, studied the life span of medallists from a bygone era – and found that those who finished first also died first . . . on average by four and a half years.

Of course, they could still reflect on their death beds on the scale of their achievement when they climbed to the highest step on the podium – but those who finished behind them then now had the small consolation of at least surviving long enough to wave them off on their final journey.

The findings are based on analysis of the longevity of athletes in the earliest modern Olympics between 1896 and 1936.

What tells its own story is the fact that they chose that time span because they believe that before doping significantly distorted athletic records.

The scientists analysed the performances and life spans of 1,055 athletes from 41 countries and they included only those who survived to the age of 50, thus weeding out those who died in combat in the world wars.

They found that those at greatest risk were the athletes who peaked early and achieved the best results – because they died 4.7 years earlier than their fellow Olympians who peaked later and achieved below-average personal bests.

So they may not have been the quickest on the big day but they also lived life at a pace which kept them in the race a little bit longer.

The serious part of this is that there is a price to be paid for everything – and that includes success.

The great Kerry teams of the seventies and eighties were famously focused on their football above all else; a team of bachelors, as they were called in the language of the day, there was no time for anything other than attaining a level of fitness and skill never before seen on the GAA pitch.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Mighty oaks put us in our place with their majesty

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Michel Barnier became one of the most recognisable faces on the European political stage as he thrashed out a deal on Brexit – but the good news for him through all of those interminable negotiations is that he had one weekly habit to keep him sane.

Because every weekend that he can, he drives from Brussels to his family house deep in the French countryside – and while he is there, he makes a pilgrimage to a four century old enormous oak tree.

The EU’s Chief Negotiator on Brexit is a very private man, but his passion for trees shows – and this isn’t meant to be funny – how anchored are his roots. Because while the tree in itself is a thing of beauty, he sees it more as a symbol of life.

“When you are in front of a tree in a forest, you measure time. The roots are strong and these are trees that have seen generations pass by,” he says.

The other attraction of trees is obvious – a chance to escape the spotlight for a man who might otherwise live in its perpetual glare, after 50 years in politics.

“I think a lot when I’m in a forest. I need to see trees. Old trees have always inspired me,” he says.

“When you are in politics, you have to love people first. You can’t do politics if you don’t love people, but you must also have moments of perspective, of historical distance. From this point of view, trees are a symbol for me.”

And of all trees, none quite signifies a real presence like the mighty oak – majestic when it’s mature, it brings home to you every time that you’re just passing through and it will be here long after you’re gone.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Our politicians have feet of clay – just like the rest of us

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The electorate want gods above them and are disappointed to find humans who turn out to be just as fallible as themselves.’

That’s a line from a bestselling ‘tell-all’ book called Diary of an MP’s Wife written by – as the cover suggests – an MP’s wife, called Sasha Swire.

Up to the publication of her book, few outside of her gilded cage had heard of Sasha. The daughter of a Government Minister, she went on to marry Hugo Swire MP, who ended up as a Junior Minister in Northern Ireland.

The book got a lot of coverage because Sasha isn’t a woman blessed with the gene for introspection – and thus her revelation that her former pal, and former Prime Minister, David Cameron, once told her he longed to drag her into the bushes attracted considerable coverage.

Nobody is spared the wrath of Sasha’s tongue and that sort of indiscretion tends to make headlines – and indeed sell the books – but our opinionated diarist actually has far more strings to her bow.

It was her observation on the standards the electorate demand from our politicians that struck a chord – because it’s the same here as across the water.

We demand standards from others that we’d do well to impose on ourselves; we leave no room for failure without condemnation; no margin for error; no room for second chances.

And on one level, we’re entitled to demand higher standards from those who receive our tax money – but if we keep insisting they remain purer than driven snow, we’ll eventually be left with no one at all.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Inventor of the cassette tape opened up our music world

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

What surprised me most in reading that the inventor of the cassette tape died this month wasn’t his passing; it was the fact that he was still alive.

Because Lou Ottens, rest his soul, had seen one of the world’s greatest inventions come, revolutionise the audio world, and then quietly go, as newer technology roared past like a jet engine.

Indeed, he fully contributed to its demise – because Lou didn’t just come up with the cassette; he was also part of the engineering team at Dutch-based Philips technology company that came up with the compact disc.

And yet – for those of a certain vintage – the cassette tape, even more than the CD, will forever hold a piece of our hearts.

Those days spent trying to tape the Top 20 off 2FM – Comin’atcha! as it was back then – while trying to press record and play simultaneously on the split-second between the time Larry Gogan stopped talking and the singer started singing.

It rarely worked, because poor old Larry overshot the runway more often than a drunken pilot coming into land on a windy airstrip.

Long before the world had heard of illegal downloading or Spotify or Apple Music, we were all at it – taping the hits, making our personalised mixtapes on a C30, C60. . .or occasionally on a C120 for two whole hours of our own musical taste.

The problem with the C120s was that the tape tended to snag or stick – and given the hours that went into recording two hours of music, you were often better to work with the C60 which gave you enough music without the risk of unravelling.

I saw a pic on some social media platform recently of a cassette tape and a pencil, with a line underneath saying that you had to be of a certain age to understand the correlation between the two.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

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