'Catholic' shark performs miracle

A report in this week’s Irish Catholic tell of how a shark saved the life of a man lost at sea.

The article begins:

God appears to have worked ‘in mysterious ways’ for a fisherman adrift in the Pacific Ocean for over 100 days.

Toakai Teitoi and his brother-in-law were lost at sea when their boat ran out of fuel. After his brother-in-law died of dehydration Toakai began to pray for deliverance.

Weeks later, and still praying, Toakai heard a knocking on the hull and found that a shark was nudging his boat. The intervention by the shark led to Toakai noticing a ship close by and to rescue.

Toakai, a Catholic, said:

He was guiding me to a fishing boat.

Mmmm…perhaps this Catholic shark was acting under instructions from Toakai’s god but I think it’s more likely he was checking the menu.

Least likely thought going through the mind of the shark as Toakai was rescued:

Bless you my son and a safe journey home to your family.

Most likely thought:

Feck, he was a skinny specimen but would have made a nice snack.

Kerry Katona; twitter; marriage breakdown – who cares?

Marian Finucane interviewed some woman by the name of Kerry Katona this morning.

Apparently someone sent a twitter comment about her failed marriage and RTE thought this event was important enough to analyse on prime time radio.

Katona herself wasn’t bothered about the matter at all.

My marriage broke up sever or eight years ago, I’ve move on.

So, when is Marian Finucane/RTE going to move on?

Death by embarrassment

There was an interesting documentary on Channel 4 last night called The Miracle Survivor.

It told the story of a 9/11 man, Pasquale Buzzelli, who was on the 22nd floor of the North Tower when it came crashing down on top of him.

Experts believe that he was saved through being cosseted and lifted at crucial moments by the hurricane force winds generated by the falling building.

Fair enough but what I found astonishing about the documentary was the lead up to the moment when Buzzelli found himself facing almost certain death.

He and his colleagues had just arrived for work on the 64th floor when the first plane hit their tower above their location.

Buzzelli and his colleagues decided not to immediately evacuate because as employees of the owners of the building they thought it right that everybody else should be allowed to flee first.

Instead Buzzelli phoned his wife, who was seven months pregnant with their first child, and asked her to switch on the television and tell him what was happening.

Obviously she was deeply shocked and screamed at him – What are you still doing there?

Buzzelli assured her that he was ok and that all was calm on his floor.

So he and the lads hung around for a while until the second plane hit the South Tower.

Still they didn’t evacuate even though most people in the North Tower were safely out of the building.

Again, Buzzelli rang his wife to reassure her that he was ok and returned to hanging out with the lads while the building burned.

Eventually, he took one of his colleagues aside and asked:

What do you think we should do?

Finally, common sense made an appearance.

I want to get the fuck out of here.

Sadly, only Buzzelli made it, all his colleagues paid the ultimate price for their indecision.

I don’t believe these men put themselves in mortal danger because they thought they might clog up the emergency stairs and thus prevent other getting out.

I think it was a psychological mix of embarrassment and male machismo that overrode their critical flight or fight mechanism.

I saw this phenomenon in a documentary some years ago when a group of people, who thought they were in a room waiting for interview, were actually part of a scientific test to observe their reaction to potential danger.

Smoke, in ever increasing volumes, was pumped under the door of the waiting room. Nobody moved, they all continued looking at the ceiling, picking their noses or reading ten-year old magazines.

The fire alarm sounded and still nobody moved; they were all waiting for somebody else to make the first move.

In effect, they were all prepared to put themselves in potentially mortal danger rather than risk embarrassment.

The ultimate statement

Pregnant mum beheads man she said raped her

A pregnant rape victim shot her attacker then cut off his head and left it in a village square.

Nevin Yildirim (26) has been charged with the murder of Nurettin Gider, who she says raped her repeatedly at gunpoint at her home in Yalvac, southwest Turkey.

The mother of two is five months pregnant and claims the rapist is the baby’s father.

It is believed she shot Gider 10 times, including several times in the groin.

She is then said to have cut off his head before carrying it, dripping blood, to the village square and dumping it in front of shocked onlookers.

She is reported to have said:

Don’t play with my honour. Here’s the head of the man who played with my honour.

James Hider in Istanbul
Irish Independent

The Russians are coming!

The Russian destroyer Vice-Admiral Kulakov is visiting Cobh this weekend.

First commissioned in 1982 she was retired in 1991 and didn’t return to active duty until 2010.

As far as I can remember the last time a Russian naval vessel visited Cobh was sometime around the time the Soviet Union was beginning to fragment.

On that occasion the crew were willing to sell anything in exchange for Western goods.

The people of Cobh, in their generosity, even brought them food parcels and took groups of sailors into their homes for meals.

No such problems with the crew of the Vice-Admiral Kulakov. Every one of them seems to have a mobile phone permanently stuck to the ear, even those on duty.

And the shops in Cobh and Cork city are doing a roaring trade as the Russians buy all around them. Ah yes, capitalism is great, poor old Stalin must be rolling in his grave.

It’s also interesting to note the difference between Russian and US warships.

The American ships have very clean, sharp lines and although equipped with the latest weaponry that weaponry seems to blend into the structure of the ship making it almost invisible.

Russian vessels, on the other hand, are usually dark, threatening and bristling with very visible weaponry.

I know this is not a logical comment but I always feel that Russian ships would fare much better in a hard fought, one to one, standoff battle.

I’m told the Vice-Admiral Kulakov will be open to the public tomorrow (Sunday).

I’ll be down to have a nose around.

Maeve Binchy article

I read the following article by Maeve Binchy in a library and got some odd looks as I tried to suppress my laughter.

Contraceptive conversation

February 16th, 1981 Maeve gave her opinions on Haughey’s Contraceptive Bill to a horrified fellow bus passenger.

TODAY I had an argument with a stranger, a real live argument with a woman I’d never met before as we stood at a bus stop for what seemed a considerable length of time.

“Very depressing kind of day,” she said. “Grey,” I agreed. “But it might cheer up later.”

“Nothing much to be cheerful about, though, is there? Look at the papers,” she said.

Obligingly I looked at the front page of The Irish Times. Compared to some days, I thought the news was fairly neutral.

“Do you mean Mike Gibson not playing rugby for Ireland any more?” I asked, not quite seeing anything that would cause gloom.

“Never heard of him,” she said. It couldn’t be the heady excitement of will-we won’t-we about the EMS; she was hardly brought down by the fact that the RUC may have been kidnapping Father Hugh Murphy, since he was safe and well; the talks were continuing in an RTÉ dispute, but that wasn’t enough to lay anyone low. No, it had to be Haughey and the Contraceptive Bill.

“Do you mean about having to have doctors’ prescriptions?” I asked.

“Indeed I do,” she said.

“Well, I suppose it does make us look very foolish trying to legislate for everyone else’s morality and pass the buck to the doctors,” I said cheerfully.

“But then I’m a fairly optimistic person and I’d prefer to regard it as a step in the right direction.”

There was a stony silence. I wondered, had she heard me? After all, she was the one who started the conversation. “So, even though it’s a bit of a joke, it’s not all that bad,” I said cheerfully, keeping things going as I thought.

“Is that your view?” she said.

“Well, it’s not a very thought-out view,” I backtracked. “But it’s a kind of instant reaction if you know what I mean.”

“You approve of all that sort of thing,” she said in a kind of a hiss.”

“Oh yes, I think people have the right to buy contraceptives,” I said, wishing somebody else would come along and stand at the bus stop and shout “good girl yourself” at me.

“And you’d like to see them in public places,” she said, eyes glinting madly.

“Well, not in parks or concert halls or places like that. But on shelves in chemists, certainly. Then, if people want to buy them, they can, and if they don’t, nobody’s forcing them to.” I though I had summed up the case rather well.

“On shelves so that everyone can see them,” she said, horrified.

“Well, they’re in packets,” I said, “with kind of discreet names on them. They don’t leap up off counters and affront you.”

“And how might you know all this?” she asked.

“Well, I’ve seen them in chemists in London,” I said defensively.

“If they’re so discreet, how did you what they were?” she asked, tellingly.

“Well, you’d sort of know. I mean people have to know where they are, for God’s sake. I mean they shouldn’t have to go playing hide-and-seek around the chemists with the assistant saying warmer and colder.”

The woman wasn’t at all amused. “I’m sure you know where they are because you buy them.”

I began to wonder why it is increasingly less likely that I will ever have a normal conversation with anyone.

“I once bought a huge amount,” I said reminiscently. “As a kind of favour to a lot of people. They knew I was going to be in London, and they kept asking me to bring some home.”

She was fixed to me with horror.

All her life she knew she would meet someone as wicked as this, and now it had happened.

“I didn’t know what kind to get or what the names of them were, so I just went into the Boots chemist beside Marble Arch and asked for four dozen of the best contraceptives and a receipt. They looked at me with great interest.”

“I’m not surprised,” said the woman.

“But really, wasn’t I very stupid in those days?” I confided in her. “I mean imagine smuggling them all in for people, and not making any profit on them and not even . . . you know . . . well, getting any value out of them myself as it were.”

She stared ahead, two red spots on her cheeks, and mercifully the bus came. She waited to see if I went upstairs or downstairs so that she could travel on a different deck.

© 2012 The Irish Times

Oxford break

I was in Oxford at the weekend to see an exhibition of treasures recently found in the royal burial tombs and the palace of Aegae, the ancient city of Macedon.

Artefacts in the exhibition included objects from the burial tomb of King Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great.

The exhibition was hosted in the very impressive Ashmolean Museum, the world’s first university museum.

Oxford itself is also a very impressive city with history seeping out of every stone.

When men were men and women knew their place

While reading a book on Roman history I came across the following interesting item concerning the status of women and their attempts to repeal (successfully) a piece of legislation known as the Oppian Law.

The Oppian Law was passed following the disastrous defeat of the Romans by Hannibal at the battle of Cannae (216 B.C.).

Because of the wars with Carthage, many men had died. Their wives and daughters had inherited their lands and monies, allowing many women to become quite rich.

The state, in order to help pay for the cost of the wars, decided to tap into women’s wealth by passing the Oppian Law. It limited the amount of gold women could possess and required that all the funds of wards, single women, and widows be deposited with the state.

Women also were forbidden to wear dresses with purple trim (the colour of mourning and a grim reminder of Rome’s losses).

Nor could they ride in carriages within Rome or in towns near Rome.

That all sounds perfectly reasonable and fair to me.

Cato the Censor spoke out strongly against all this women’s lib stuff.

Citizens of Rome, if each one of us has set himself to retain the rights and the dignity of a husband over his own wife, we should have less trouble with women as a whole sex.

As things are, our liberty, overthrown in the home by female indiscipline, is now being crushed and trodden underfoot here too in the Forum.

Our ancestors refused to allow any woman to transact even private business without a guardian to represent her; women have to remain under the control of fathers, brothers or husbands.

But we (heaven preserve us!) are now allowing them to even take part in politics, and actually to appear in the Forum…What they are looking for is complete liberty, or rather, if we want to speak the truth, complete licence.

Oh for the days when men were men and women knew their place – *sigh*.