How Trumpian politicians “flood the media” with embarrassing issues they’re guilty of too…

man in black suit jacket

“The art of progress is to reserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.” — Alfred North Whitehead The news that Facebook is going to let Donald Trump back on to Facebook at time when his public profile is not what it was (but apparently when speaking to those who can hear, he’s gotten a lot more extreme) has not gone down well with some. As the never Trump commentator Charlie Sykes notes in the Bulwark yesterday: The …

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By engaging with the rage farmers, we merely add fuel to the fire of polarisation…

white and black cat sketch

Peter Lockhart is a law student at Queens A term which has recently entered common parlance is ‘rage farming’ – broadly defined as a manipulative tactic by bloggers or journalists to elicit outrage with the goal of increasing internet traffic, online engagement, revenue and support. Originating in the US, once one recognises this tactic, it becomes difficult to ignore its prevalence. Imagine that one individual who, when they appear on your timeline or tv screen, creates an instantaneous feeling of …

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“If there’s going to be a united Ireland, that Ireland is going to look different.”

aminoindane, psychoactive, drug

“Every voyage is intensive, and occurs in relation to thresholds of intensity between which it evolves or that it crosses.” — Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari It’s interesting how Tommy Tiernan has moved from raucous bad boy of the Irish comedy stage, to a sort of father confessor, conscience of a nation figure on his recent interview programme, The Tommy Tiernan Show (most of it is available globally). That’s partly because from the first episode he’s wanted to ‘horse into’ …

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New air of seriousness about EU/UK negotiations promises to defuse the NI Protocol for Unionists

explosive, explosion, bomb

John Manley reported earlier in the week that whilst the timetable may not coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, there seems a seriousness about EU/UK talks that was entirely missing under the Boris Johnson administration. In today’s Irish News Newton Emerson notes that even the Restoring Northern Ireland’s Place in the Union report from a new think tank Centre for the Union, and coauthored by Jamie Bryson and Ethan Thoburn, editor of the Bruges Group… Unionism’s practical concerns …

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Health Crisis: “When you don’t have political leadership, you don’t get decisions..”

bridge, autumn, nature

This is a useful addendum to my post on Friday, which highlighted the deleterious effect of political boycotting of the only institutions that can deliver real change both in the here and now and in the longer term for four out of the last six years. John Compton, author of the previous report the joint first ministers of the DUP and Sinn Féin also chose to ignore, Transforming Your Care had this to say about the total absence of any real …

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NI politics still mired in fear and loathing largely because it remains stubbornly unaccountable…

Have you noticed how weird the democratic world is getting (yes, outside Northern Ireland)? The UK has had three PMs in as many months, and now the US Congress is being to ransom by a caucus of no more than 5% of Representatives. The world (not just the UK) is getting more and more like Northern Ireland where we’re never sure what we want but we are sure as clear about what we don’t want. One common link between all …

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Unconditional Unionism: blind loyalty and why it doesn’t work…

people holding flags during night time

For some time, I’ve been trying to put my finger on why unionism seems to be in a state of perpetual existential crisis, and have managed to settle on some semblance of an explanation. I put it down to unconditional unionism, a condition amongst the most ardent political unionists that pledges unconditional support for the UK Government, Union and its institutions. Critically, unconditional unionism restricts any criticism levied towards the UK Government to the superficial, thereby weakening the ability to …

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For a resilient society we must challenge the master narratives that catastrophise our past suffering with our own stories

music, cassette tape, cassette

Stories for me kick in about the time I finally began to do some interesting things with my working life. I spent a large chunk of my 20s and 30s helping groups of kids mostly (in schools mostly) across Ireland, Britain and in what was then a carefully delineated western Europe from Lisbon to Wilhelmina in northern Sweden to Keady in south Armagh. In west Berlin, nearly four years before the wall came down, I vaguely recall gathering a story …

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If you’re a commenter on Slugger, then please read this short note on civility, pain and learning…

I inadvertently got caught up in the staid drama of the US House of Representatives failing three times to elect a speaker. A small band of hold outs when to (in my limited view) the ludicrous extreme of voting for someone who didn’t want the job. It is emblematic of a modern era in which signalling discontent is more politically profitable pastime than fastening down the more challenging job of getting stuff done. This was a protest against the ‘secret …

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Ireland’s grand coalition (that Micheál Martin built) throws its job share switch half way through…

We live in a world where fewer journalists chase fewer and fewer stories. The change of Taoiseach just before Christmas has come with a flurry in the southern press chasing a newly refreshed PR initiative from the less-than-shy Leo Varadkar. The contrast with his predecessor Micheál Martin is stark. Martin’s love of and focus on policy means rather than the press there’s been very little in the media about what has been the most active period in central government in …

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Driven to distraction…

aerial photography of road with cars

When I was a child it was necessary for me to do things accompanied by an adult – learning to swim, riding a bicycle, reading, writing and so on. Now I am a (pretty senior) adult I find myself begging to be accompanied by a child, my grandchild to be precise. Things of a technological nature are becoming increasingly mysterious and confusing. Just when I think I have a thing cracked, it changes and my confidence and capability are crushed. …

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died aged 95…

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has died, aged 95. Benedict held the papacy between 2005-13 before resigning, the first pope in six centuries to do so. Regarded as an intellectual and a doctrinal conservative, Benedict could be polarising. He also has been criticised for his mishandling of clerical sexual abuse scandals. Vatican bells ring after the announcement of Pope Benedict’s death. pic.twitter.com/m0IruS8r6X — Times Radio (@TimesRadio) December 31, 2022 Brian O'NeillI help to manage Slugger by taking care of the site …

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How realistic is the doomsday scenario?

Back in the bad old days a mitigation presented for loyalists convicted of unlawfully possessing firearms was that the guns were stored for a ‘Doomsday scenario’, the doomsday in question being a United Ireland. Nationalists should consider that for a moment. For many Unionists, a united Ireland spells the end of life as they know it, an unknown, full of dread. As a child at the start of the Troubles I can remember such fears being voiced and although one …

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To “save” the Belfast Agreement we need a strategic deployment of our own democratic values

black traffic light

A variety of questions have been raised over the past few days in the Irish Times opinion pages, including Alex Kane’s asking whether the Belfast Agreement is worth saving at this stage. Those of us who know and love Alex know this is not a new tune. He’s one of life’s pessimists, though not without good reason. He was out on the doors during the twin disaster elections (for the UUP at least) in 2003 and 2005 which saw the end …

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Its tolerance for #Bullshit is slowly eating up the US’s once prodigious appetite for long term gains

man, secret, face

Nothing is true; everything is allowed. -Naked Lunch, William Burroughs This is a US story with useful universal lessons attached. Congressman Elect George Santos fate may be sealed by the fact his defence of his lies has taken a Woody Allen-ish comedic turn. He now claims that rather being a Jew or Jewish, he’s Jew-ish. As blogged here a long, long time ago, this is, quite literally, “Bullshit” [There’s a book on it! – Ed]. “Bullshit is trying to impress the listener …

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We go to see new things, then perhaps see home with new eyes…

white and black bus with green pine tree scale model

The High Street of a North Down coastal town is abuzz this morning with charity Santas atop tractors, their klaxon horns fit for a second coming. Christmas jumpers are also out, tinsel wrapped, in queues outside butchers’ or flitting in and out of un-shuttered shops: saddlers, greengrocers, jewellery and watch repairs, then bakers, hairdressers or ‘Ice Creams to go’. This street from another age has kept One-Click purchasing at bay. For now. It’s still a place of interaction, of social …

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Music for a relaxing Christmas…

woman in red shirt reading book

I am doing a digital detox over Christmas and trying to go off social media and the internet. I did it last year and it worked quite well. I was actually able to read some books. Remember them? I called into the library the other day to get a pile of books for junior and me. You can borrow double over the Christmas period. The librarian said that library use has been declining over the past few years as more …

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Real politics should co-evolve with experience, not just chase after a bunch of groundless abstractions

an abstract image of a purple and pink cube

Every model of abstraction you make, your models get prettier and prettier but the world you’re describing gets farther and farther away… -Katherine Collins One downside to institutional unsteadiness in Northern Ireland is that we end up talking about what might eventually replace them, rather than how to fix the obvious flaw of how easy it is for one party to lift the ball, walk off the pitch and end the game. Oran Doyle in the Irish Times observes: Northern …

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The ongoing revelations about sexual, physical and psychological abuse in schools gives rise to mixed emotions in many of us…

grayscale photo of people sitting on chair

I have previously written of my experiences in covering the child abuse issue for the now-closed Offaly Express. More recently, the coverage of events relating to the Spiritans, Dominicans, Vincentians and other orders has brought the matter to the fore once again. However, arguably less attention has been paid to physical and psychological abuse in girls’ schools, an issue explored in a recent Irish Times article. After I posted that article on Facebook, I must admit I was gobsmacked by …

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Elon Musk’s Twitter drama continues…

happy birthday to you print

I am not sure how 2022 was for you, but it has been a tough year for the world’s former richest man Elon Musk. He bought Twitter for $44 billion, but some analysts estimate it to be worth only $15 billion at best. Given the disastrous few months it has had, even that valuation looks generous. Twitter is a money pit; last year, it posted a net loss of $221 million. All the drama has had a contagion effect on Musk’s …

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