Your Call Is Important To Us

Imagine a single phone number for every government service. Apparently, the taoiseach was impressed with New York’s 311 service when he visited the city earlier this year, and thinks it’s an idea worth copying. ‘The Irish Government is planning to introduce the number in an effort to improve customer services,’ according to the Irish Independent […]

Word To The Wise

At the end of the day, it comes as no surprise to find that there are cliched phases that tick us off no end. Though each of our personal choices of are fairly unique, a team of researchers at Oxford university has tweaked a few statistics and compiled a top ten list of the word […]

Unsage Fennell

Barack Obama must be a sign of the times. In a recent opinion piece for the Irish Times, writer Desmond Fennell bemoaned the decline of the ‘white race’, a dying breed by all accounts. The at times rambling and rather strange article puts the blame for this decline squarely were it belongs: a ‘flagging will […]

One Born Every Minute

What with the Olympics and war in Georgia, I’d thought we’d manage to get through the summer this year without a silly season breakout story. However, two men from the other Georgia (the American one) proved me wrong, holding a press conference last week to announce that they’d found Bigfoot. Bigfoot, AKA Sasquatch, is the […]

To Infinity And Beyond

Which came first, the thought or the word? Or put another way, can you have a concept of without a word for it? In one of his Discworld novels, Terry Pratchett writes a scene in which a troll, despite a limited counting system (one, two, three, many, lots) is able to carry out sophisticated calculations. […]

Information Society

This was in the days before Eircom, my informant told me. It was even in the days before Telecom Eireann, all the way back in the dark ages when the telephone system was controlled by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, rural exchanges were still connected manually, the handset came in any colour you wanted […]

Overheard in Donegal

The night was already dark, even in Donegal, far to the west and north of Greenwich, where official time is set, and the days are shorter. The fiddlers were just getting warmed up in the pub kitchen, while in the bar, the patrons moved in and out as orders were placed. Many simply placed their […]