Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Double Vision

Newspapers make me happy, sad and insane!

Avatar

Published

on

Apparently, if you’re under 25 years of age, you rarely, if ever, buy newspapers, preferring either to read them online or just watch the TV news.

 

What a world you are missing out on! Yes, you can click random links as you surf the web, but that in no way compares to the experience of physically holding a paper in your hands, and turning to pages far away from the front page headlines.

Buried in any newspaper’s hinterland, from page 6 onwards, there lurk two kinds of news: important stories that remain under-reported for reasons that keep conspiracists awake at night; and the bizarre little stories that make my eyebrows rise and my head spin.

Tearing both types of story from the newspaper, I build them into little piles on the bed in my office (it doubles as a guest room) alongside other more dishevelled piles of scrawled often illegible notes.

Loopy I may be, but thankfully, I’m not as bonkers as these stories. How could I be? Yes, there have been insane moments in my life (the time I awoke unexpectedly in New Zealand springs to mind) but in comparison to the bad craziness hidden in my little piles (behave!) I’m as sane as a lump of granite.

Trouble is, these clippings betray in their lunacy snapshots of how far we have lost our way. They act as micro-metaphors for our condition as a supposed civilization.

On top of the pile to my right at the moment is a tiny torn story about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed planner of the attack on the Trade Centre Towers.

According to The Guardian’s Washington Staff and Agencies, while at a CIA prison in Poland, Mohammed was forced to stay awake for 180 hours and endured 183 instances of water-boarding. Popular with international intelligence forces these days, water-boarding is a form of torture that replicates in your mind the feeling that you are drowning.

Ever precise with their very few words, the CIA describe this process as one “… designed to psychologically dislocate people”. 

The CIA use torture because it works a treat, but sadly their – what do you call people being tortured? ‘Subjects’? ‘Prisoners’? I’m tempted to say ‘victims’ but Mohammed is a self-confessed mass murderer, so I’ll settle for that disgusting 21st century euphemism – ‘clients’ often end up schizophrenic and post-traumatic. The CIA’s own medical records suggest nobody makes it out with all their noodles intact.

When the Polish prison was closed in September 2003, Mohammed was moved to another CIA prison in Romania, where his captivity was less aggressive. A request arrived at CIA Headquarters from that secret facility in Bucharest. Mohammed, who had been reading the Harry Potter novels, was asking for permission to design a vacuum cleaner.

My tiny brain can only imagine the conversation which then took place at CIA headquarters, but a short time later a CIA manager called their prison in Romania, approving Mohammed’s request:“ . . . in the hope that it would help preserve Mohammed’s sanity”, according to an ex-CIA official.

Stables, doors, bolts and a little bit late for compassion, you might think.

For the next three years, Mohammed worked on his vacuum cleaner design, but nobody will ever know how it looked, if it worked, or indeed if it really was a vacuum cleaner rather than perchance a craftily-disguised jet pack, which he was planning to strap onto his back before flying away.

Sorry, had to pause there for a moment. I just saw a white-robed bearded devout Muslim climbing high into the Romanian sky, clutching a rocket-powered ‘vacuum cleaner’ like a 21st century Dr Strangelove, while down below be-suited be-shaded CIA agents wave their fists in the air and shout: “Damn you, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed! You may have outwitted us this time, you dastardly devil, but look out, we’ll not be so dumb again. We’ll be ready for you next time!”

Sadly, life is neither a comic book nor a movie, and in 2006 the Romanian CIA prison was also closed down, which resulted in Mohammed being transferred to that testament to moral low ground, which every anti-American terrorist in the world exploits as justification to attack: Guantanamo Bay.

He is still there to this day, being held along with many others who are doubtless far less guilty of such heinous crimes as his.

The reason these obscure newspaper stories mean so much to me is not because they entertain me, on a facile level, but because there’s inevitably something within them that gives me a chill. Somebody is always saying something that makes me fear for our collective sanity and safety.

In this instance, that role is fulfilled by Mohammed’s military lawyer, Jason Wright, who is quoted in this tiny hidden-away newspaper story, trying to explain why he was not allowed to discuss his client’s interest in vacuum cleaners.

“It sounds ridiculous,” he said, “but answering this question, or confirming or denying the very existence of a vacuum cleaner design, would apparently expose the US government and its citizens to exceptionally grave danger.”

From mass murder to the absolutely absurd, via Poland and Harry Potter, one tiny supposedly insignificant corner of a newspaper page has taken us to vacuum cleaner design, through CIA torture and Guantanamo Bay, ending up, tragically yet inevitably, with a global superpower so entirely wrapped up in the fetid blankets of its own paranoia that it can see neither the inanity nor the insanity of its own methods.

Newspapers are great. I’d much rather have the torn corner of that page from The Guardian than an ignorant troll ranting at me online.

Connacht Tribune

Space and silence – it’s all us oul’ lads ever wanted in pubs

Dave O'Connell

Published

on

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The crowds that flocked into the centre of Dublin last weekend provided the clearest indication yet that, thank God, a cure had been found for Covid.

The masses dancing and hugging on the streets was vindication that all of the self-isolation had been well worth it, when you could now congregate as close as you like to each other, to your little heart’s content.

Or so you’d think.

One weekend of slightly relaxed licencing laws was all it took, and in the blink of an eye thousands of revellers were up and at it like this was Paris in 1945 after it was freed from the Germans.

The newly-imposed regulations for relaxation would suggest that all of these bouncy people at least had the benefit of a nine-euro meal inside them – how else could they get served?

So, we’d better brace ourselves for when they go out on an empty stomach.

Much has already been made of the fact that pub life will never be the same again – and that might well be the case.

Social distancing is bad news for the publicans, limiting their ability to wedge the entire student population of NUIG and GMIT into the equivalent of a phone box.

But it’s great news for curmudgeons – particularly for those whose capacity for imbibing alcohol is shot.

Advancing middle age has seen the tolerance of the early twenties reduced from the equivalent of a sizeable plastic bucket to an amount that once wouldn’t have even pass the standard definition of being out.

Three pints? That’s what you’d order when they rang the bell at closing time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Angels took pain out of hospital Christmas

Avatar

Published

on

Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

More than any other time of the year, when we sit around our dinner tables on Christmas Day, we are aware of who is there and who is not. At the age of 17, having performed impressive acrobatics with my Yamaha 250, a saloon car, a ditch and a barbed wire fence, I spent six weeks in hospital over Christmas and New Year.

My femur was snapped in two, which is no mean feat with thighs like mine, and my tibia had a crack or two as well.

Bed-bound, with my leg in traction, I developed a bronchial chest infection after an emergency operation.

Every two seconds for six weeks I coughed in hacking spasms, thus shaking my smashed leg, which was hung in a sling, supported by a metal pole they had driven through me, just below the knee.

Suffice to say I came to terms with pain.

In our part of the ward, there were four beds and three bikers with broken bones.

There was Kev, who had fallen off his sleek and mean Suzuki GT750 (a two stroke 3-into-1, since you ask), and opposite us two was brick shithouse Yorkshireman Gary, ex-SAS, and mighty embarrassed, having survived several covert tours of duty in Northern Ireland, to have to admit to falling off a Honda 125.

Compared to the other patients in the hospital the three of us were well off.

We were not sick. We’d had our operations, and apart from antibiotics for wounds, and pain killers for broken bones, we needed very little medical attention.

We were young, male, bored, and allowed to drink beer. Naturally, we tried to attract the attention of the student nurses as much as possible, and equally, they were happy to have a bit of a laugh with lads who were not ill, physically, at least!

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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

CITY TRIBUNE

Don’t be a slave to the algorithm

Avatar

Published

on

Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

Saying “I love newspapers!” feels these days like buying a ticket for the next David Bowie gig, but I do: I love them. When I read a newspaper, I’m not a slave to the algorithm. Were I ten years younger, I’d read all my news online, on apps that I’ve set to my personal preferences.

Even when I visit media sites I’ve never been to before, there are cookies and bots and gordknowswot working away to offer me more of what the algorithms think I want.

Every link off each page is tailored to please me, but that’s no good.

I don’t want to be fed things that only fit into my areas of interest and opinion.

Sitting at my living room table, mug of tea and two slices of toast (peanut butter, since you ask), and a paper – any paper – open in front of me, I can see the full wonder and horror of the world, as interpreted by The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Irish Times or Daily Mirror.

As I browse into the heart of the paper, far from major news items, I let my eyesight fall all over the place, because each page is full of varied items, and, here on page 14, I’ll find the big story that’s being buried: the story they have to report, but are under instruction to dampen down.

Also here are stories that no algorithm-driven link would ever lead me to. Quirky little tales, able to dissolve an adult brain in seconds.

When driven sufficiently doolally by what I’m reading, I tear that particular piece of madness out of the newspaper, placing it on top of the wobbly towering stack of other torn madnesses by my desk.

There are dark torn madnesses and fearsome ones, but today I’m in the mood to prowl the ones that force me to furrow my brow, gasp for breath, pout my lips and grunt “What the -?” at the universe.

Notes are seeds, from which every writer will grow different fruit. When that writer is working for the Daily Mail, the fruit need bear only minuscule relation to the seed.

To read Charlie’s column in full, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement

Weather

Weather Icon
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending