Polyarchy, foxes, wolves and other stuff. Jun06

Polyarchy, foxes, wolves and other stuff....

Noam Chomsky In Doctrines and Visions, Chomsky alludes to notion that there are, at any one time, only a minority of men capable of ruling since most men are beasts. Since the Revolution in England in the seventeenth century, democracy hasn’t been about the multitude of “beasts in men’s shapes” but rather the concentration of power in the hands of the few. These “men of best quality” serve to ensure that “a system of elite decision-making and public ratification” is enshrined: “polyarchy” is the term. How is the multitude to be put in its place. One way is to manufacture consent, that “public ratification.” People must believe in and willingly adhere to what their leaders are telling them. Walter Lippman wrote that a “specialized class” of leaders must be empowered so as to direct the public who, without these leaders wouldn’t manage their own affairs. THe public, according to Lippman are ignorant and meddlesome; leaders of men are trained “in the law schools and law offices and in business” so as to “live free of the trampling and the roar of a bewildered herd…ignorant and meddlesome outsiders.” Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince This famous and supposedly precocious political thinker Machiavelli, whose name is nowadays an adjective meaning anything from “devious” to “self-serving,” wrote The Prince as a CV for a job in the administration of Lorenzo De’ Medici of Florence. In it, he says more or less that he has an understanding that men generally do not have and that, while he has access to knowledge and insight that may be unsavoury, it is no less essential for it. Machiavelli advises Lorenzo that “there are two ways of fighting: by law or by force.” The first is preferable but sometimes ineffective. Leaders must derogate to...

Manchester United? Jun06

Manchester United?

There’s a lot today about the Manchester bomb. The Irish Times carries front-page photos of two pretty young girls, Saffie Rose Roussos (8) and Georgina Callander (18) who were both murdered by the suspected bomber, twenty-two year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi, “a Manchester-born son of Libyan refugees.” Simon Carswell writes of how Nadia Abdulmalek and Deborah Henley “embraced and cried among a crowd of thousands at Manchester Town Hall at a vigil” even though culturally they are very different. Donald Trump called the bomber a “loser.” Fintan O’Toole writes that “mass murder is easy and the more outrageous it is the easier it gets. Flesh is soft and easily shredded. Lives are fragile and easily shattered. Decency, humanity, compassion are flimsy and precarious. The barriers that separate earth from hell and civilization from barbarism are porous and full of holes…” “Porous and full of holes”? The editorial says that “even by the standards of the decade…[Manchester] was an atrocity of singular, unspeakable cruelty.” (Goggy used to pronounce it “cruelity” with an added syllable.) Britain, it goes on, “must again confront two grim realities: that the threat of indiscriminate atrocities has become a regular feature of daily life in the world’s major cities, and that free societies cannot entirely eliminate that threat without undermining the very freedoms that define them.” I’m reminded of something Solzenitsyn wrote about America, something about why there was so much (or any) joy and triumph. I’m thinking of The Proud Tower too and how more than a century ago the people we now called Islamic terrorists were known as Anarchists and hoped to changed society or undo it altogether with a single deed, one that would initiate a further series of earth-shattering events and a total realignment of forces and structures....

The face of evil? The Rosenberg Executions Jun06

The face of evil? The Rosenberg Executions...

I’m reading the death sentence handed down to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg by Judge Irving Kaufman in April 1951. The Rosenbergs were accused of spying, of passing nuclear secrets to the Russians. The judge argues that, by his own admission, Julius Rosenberg got a better and fairer trial in America than he could have hoped for in Russia. This galls Kaufman who says that “It is to America’s credit that it took the pains and exerted the effort which it did in the trial.” Still, the defendants devoted themselves to “the Russian ideology of denial of God, denial of the sanctity of the individual, and aggression against free men everywhere.” No wonder then that Judge Kaufman considers the crime for which the Rosenbergs are about to be sentenced to death “worse than murder.” After all, as he argues, “Plain deliberate contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed.” The charges expand as he speaks, getting so large as to blame the Rosenbergs for the death toll (at that stage 50,000) in the Korean War: “I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea.” And it gets worse because “who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason.”   Julius and Ethel Rosenberg went to the electric chair in June 1953. Before they died they wrote letters to each other, to their children. In one letter Julius wrote to his sons Michael and Robert. To Michael he wrote: “I want to tell you that I am confident in the end we will be set free...

My Feelings About Cheese Mar22

My Feelings About Cheese...

My feelings about cheese aren’t straight-forward and why should they be? Who amongst the general populace, least of all vegans perhaps, could feel utterly secure in eating what is the animal equivalent of breast milk? And yet, despite the fact that cheese is exactly this, it is a most popular food stuff, eaten every day by myriad people and in a dizzying array of forms. One can’t help referencing Borat here where he asks the unsuspecting store attendant “What is this?” The answer of course is “Cheese.” But he keeps on asking anyway despite the iron predictability of the answer. The reason he is able to ask repeatedly without seeming to be too unreasonable is because of how many types of cheese there are. The display must be thirty feet long and there is row upon row of cheese products with different packaging, different applications, different demographics. One can easily imagine that there is the block of cheese for the man or maybe the no-nonsense single adult who likes to wield and knife and who enjoys eating chunks of cheese, to choose his own width of slice you might say. You know there’s going to be the sliced cheese with the robust and rigid and wholly wasteful plastic packaging for the mother of two who hasn’t time to slice the cheese for her little darlings and who can never judge the appropriate width of slice anyway. The sliced cheese is also directed I suspect squarely at the lover of the toasted sandwich. Then there’s the grated cheese, I mean the stuff that’s grated for you. This is for the pizza makers, the hipsters. Very few eat the grated stuff in fistfuls while you can well imagine plenty of people enjoying a slice – whether...

THE DEPLORABLE DAMNATION OF THE MODERN LUNCHEONING MAN by Cian Morey Mar22

THE DEPLORABLE DAMNATION OF THE MODERN LUNCHEONING MAN by Cian Morey...

One of my few solemn and unwavering beliefs is that mankind has never been graced with a greater stroke of genius than The Ham Sandwich. In 200,000 years of – for want of a better word – life, the human race has accomplished nothing approaching the culinary creativity, the artistic acumen or the sheer splendid simplicity of that most cherished foodstuff. It is (in short) the ideal intersection of all the efficiency, economy and ease that modern life necessitates, and the rich, rewarding rapture that fine dining bestows, sprinkled throughout with just a little dash of getting the job done and filling you up damn well for the rest of the good old diem until you get your literal teeth into the next one. Fast, functional and fairly fully flavouricious, It has never once let us down. Woe betide, ladies and gentlemen, were we ever to find ourselves bereft of the good work of The Ham Sandwich, woe betide. Unfortunately, we find ourselves increasingly bereft of the good work of The Ham Sandwich. It must be realised here that the crisis in question has been steadily simmering toward an eruption for years. This is not a sudden, unstoppable catastrophe; this is rather the minimum point of a gradual plunge in global standards that society not only failed to prevent but actively encouraged. Even I allowed this plague to fester under my not-inconsiderable nose for too long without taking notice or action. We are all to blame for the downfall of The Ham Sandwich, and this is a tragic truth up to which we must face if we are to make any vertical progress out of the whacking big hole we’ve so effectively eaten ourselves into. Allow me to illustrate this approaching apocalypse with a...

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall...

The full title of this wonderfully informative and sympathetically written jewel is Prisoners of Geography: Ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about global politics. Tim Marshall has a list of credentials the length of his driveway: his blog, for instance, Foreign Matters, won the Orwell Prize in 2010. I like Tim Marshall because he writes like a genuine teacher; he wants you to get it and so used simple language and clear reasoning. In fewer than thirty pages he explains why Vladimir Putin appears to many Europeans to be aggressive, war-like, a sabre-rattler, a Cold Warrior as it were and why such an impression might be said to be simplistic. It’s mostly about geography with a generous smattering of history. Marshall reminds us that geopolitics haven’t gone away, even in this, our 21st century. Russia, he won’t let us forget, is “vastest.” However, it’s mostly snow. The Western end is where all the action is it seems. Some of the story I already knew. The end of the Second World War saw Russia occupy most of what Germany had taken during the war but soon enough NATO put paid to any especially grandiose designs The Bear had on Europe. Even its answering military fraternity, The Warsaw Pact, broke apart and most of it members joined NATO.  Putin laments the subsequent break-up of the USSR and blames Gorbachev for weakening Russia. Russia has genuine national security concerns in Ukraine because of the behaviour of NATO and the EU. But while no power would ever consider invading Russia unless it deemed it utterly necessary due to all that size and snow, there are several ways to skin a bear. The EU, for instance, is actively trying to decrease its reliance on Russian gas...

Cork City Library’s 10th Annual Short Story Competition...

Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh has done very well in this competition and the Cloud wants to encourage pupils to write and submit entries for the 2017 Competition. It’s open to pupils aged between 14 and 18. There are no theme restrictions and submission should be between 1000 and 4000 words in length. The winner will be announced on World Book Festival during Teen Day on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 in the city library, Grand Parade. Each story must be accompanied by a cover sheet with the writer’s name, address, email address, telephone number, scho0l address, title of work and word count. (You can get a cover sheet from Mr Cooney or Ms Cahalane.) First prize is €200 and there are two runners-up prizes of €50. You can also contact Eiblin Cassidy at eibhlin_cassidy@corkcity.ie Best of...

FNAF World Review by Max Keegan Jan11

FNAF World Review by Max Keegan...

Five Nights at Freddy’s is a horror franchise which I have yet to play. It has been quite successful, yielding a book, merchandise, an attraction at Fright Dome and even a movie in the works. Eventually, Scott, the creator, decided to make an RPG. I was excited since the concept seemed amazing and I love the Mario & Luigi RPG series. Then I played the game: it was disappointing to say the least. FNAF World is an RPG where you walk around the world, fighting enemies and stopping the glitches from happening in the world of the game. First, I should say that it gets a B+ on graphics and concept and a C on Story. Unfortunately, it gets a D- on everything else. I’m not saying this to complain about the creator since he seems nice; it’s just that the game is not good. The battle system is annoying, since it isn’t even turn-based and you can’t predict when the enemies are going to attack twice before you can. You start off with Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, Foxy and their Toy counterparts. You unlock more characters by fighting them at random. Sometimes, the enemies can take forever to kill and kill half my team which for me is stressful. If you want to flee you need to hold ‘R’ on your keyboard – if it decides to work properly. And not being able to dodge enemy attacks, except with ‘Neon Wall’, isn’t bad in Paper Mario: Colour Splash. You need to find buttons to open gates to get to the final boss, but when I played it one of the buttons in the game was in an area I hadn’t explored yet. It also gets an award for being the first game to make...

OUR ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A Few Words On 2016 by Cian Morey Jan01

OUR ANNUS HORRIBILIS: A Few Words On 2016 by Cian Morey...

At last. Rarely if ever will the words “Happy New Year” be uttered with such genuine goodwill as they are now, as the world bids good riddance to 2016. In decades to come, grandchildren will flock to the feet of their fireside elders to lap up the legends of “the year it all went wrong”. Poems will be penned; songs will be sung; the history books of the future will look back on all this, say, “So yeah, that happened” and skip sheepishly on to the next twelve months. 2016 was literally the most hated year of the century. I’m reluctant to talk about this as a sort of detached, omniscient narrator declaring all manner of things like, “Meanwhile in the Cincinnati Zoo, Death was making yet another guerrilla strike”.  This year has had a deeper effect than that on most of us. But I’m also reluctant to get too personal, as too many of us already have. God’s landline isn’t in the Golden Pages (trust me, I’ve looked) and no amount of screaming down the sidebars of Facebook can change a single thing. Maybe a sort of analysis, then. Not a bland police report, not a bloodbath. A case-study, if you will. Who knows? Maybe 2016 can teach us one or two things. Politically, most people would find some way to agree that the last twelve months didn’t exactly cut the proverbial mustard. From our current perspective in our new post-Obama world, it might be hard to remember just how hopeless it all felt back in February’s General Election, when we thought we had seen the worst of it with the prospect of a Gerry Adams-led Ireland. Ha. The latter half of 2016 began with the bloody end of a reasonably steady period...

Dishonoured 2 by Jakub Zancewicz Dec12

Dishonoured 2 by Jakub Zancewicz...

Dishonored 2 is a stealth genre video game made by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It was released on the 11th of November 2016 on ps4 Xbox 1 and PC. Gameplay Dishonored 2 has many great attributes. A single mission can be played in a multitude of ways. Do you want to be seen by every guard in the city, running in with your sword and pistol, eliminating everyone in your way? or maybe you’d prefer to sneak around not making a sound and escaping the guard patrols’ attentin?. Don’t worry if you have to move somewhere where guards are looking around; you can get rid of them by using a Tyvian choke hold which is just a fancy way of saying that you can choke your enemies to put them to sleep. Finally, the best part of the gameplay – the exploration and arsenal. As a stealthy assassin you possess many useful gadgets to aid you in your missions. Your sword is your primary weapon. You have a pistol but only use it when you are in a critical situation or else all the enemies will descend upon you. Your crossbow fires many types of darts from the weak and regular crossbow bolt to the powerful and dangerous incendiary dart that burns enemies. If you are trying not to kill your opponents you can use a sleep dart. Dishonored 2 is unique in that the protagonist has special powers that helps him in difficult situations. There are two characters to choose from when playing Dishonoured 2 and each of them has a different set of abilities and powers. Emily Kaldwin has a more passive set of powers, meaning that her abilities are non-harmful but that doesn’t mean she isn’t dangerous. Corvo...

From Jack to Jack by Jack Kelleher Dec02

From Jack to Jack by Jack Kelleher...

Dear Jack (age 18) I want to be ready to go to college to study business technology. When I am eighteen, technology will be an even bigger part of everyday life than it is now.  When I finish my degree, I want to progress to an M.B.A. Then I would love to venture into the vast open world out there, and set up my company here in Ireland and eventually go global.  I would then become a millionaire. I suspect you may not believe me but you will see. I read a great quote from Eric Thomas: “When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful.” If I was given a magic wand I would make it much easier and more accessible for people with these so-called learning difficulties to access assistive technology. I do not like to categorise people in such a way; I like to refer to them as people who have a different style of learning. I would also provide courses to help people to use this technology. This will allow people who learn differently to reach their potential. Yes, people might say, “Why don’t you just take away their learning difficulty?” but if we were all the same we would get nowhere in life.   From Jack Kelleher (aged...

Afterword to the First Year Flash Fiction Competition by Cian Morey...

There once was a man called William Cuthbert Faulkner, whose writing was almost as deep and meaningful as his moustache. He was a man who liked to say things as they were, with no frilly bits thrown in to make it sound more interesting. He just smoked a pipe to give himself some much-needed gravitas instead. Faulkner dealt in the simple facts of life. This was one of them: “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” Now, Faulkner lived way back in the first half of the 20th century when things like meaningful moustaches and pipe-smoking were commonplace. Some might claim that he would be thoroughly out of place today. But his writing is relevant even now, and Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh’s first Flash Fiction Competition for 1st Years has proven that. When we launched this competition, we knew that there was a story in each and every 1st Year, even if they didn’t know it themselves. Our job, on behalf of the moustachioed Faulkner, was to find away to “get it to come out”. And to our delight, the response to the competition was overwhelming. We received over two dozen excellent submissions in total, all of an exceptionally high quality, across a wonderfully wide range of themes and genres from clowns to inept house burglars, from malicious Weetabix to stranded children. It was a joy and a privilege to read them all, and a great challenge to decide on the three best. In the end, though, the decision was finally made. The three prize-winning stories are available to read on this very website. But it wouldn’t be right to just leave the competition with such an abrupt end as that. At CloudofThink, we encourage both writing and learning. The great thing...

STRANDED (1st Year Flash Fiction Winner) by Luke Murray...

Hi, John here, and before you start asking questions, yes, I am the John that got stranded on the islands, and if you didn’t hear about it, turn on your TV! Everywhere I go it’s like, “Oh you’re the poor little boy that got stranded on that island-” No old lady I didn’t get stranded, I got ditched, by whom you ask… MY MOM, and, as you can clearly already see, my mom’s not very nice. My mom never really liked me so this was her big chance to get rid of her underachieving son all because she wanted a...

PURSUIT (1st Year Flash Fiction 2nd Place) by Alan Hodgins...

I swerved onto 56th Avenue and continued driving towards the inner city. I worked for the Boston Police Department and was heading to intercept a car that had been called in over the radio. It was five A.M., still dark. My lights cut through the inky darkness. Traffic increasing, I turned on the sirens to clear a path. There it was, speeding along the street in front of me. I was gaining quickly. Suddenly a large item came flying from the car, hitting the road. Too late to avoid it, I hit it head on. My world flipped upside...

EMILY IN TIME (1st Year Flash Fiction 3rd Place) by Daniel Roche...

My mum sent me to my room. I was furious at what she had said. I banged my bedroom door so hard the whole house shook. The weird thing was, the house didn’t stop shaking. It grew stronger and stronger until I slipped and banged my head. I woke up in a completely different room. I called for my mum but there was no answer. I slowly got up, the pain in my head increasing. I walked to the door and opened it. I looked out. Instead of my boring corridor I was on the verge of a rugged...

Super Mario Galaxy 2 by Max Keegan Oct05

Super Mario Galaxy 2 by Max Keegan...

Mario is the best-selling video game franchise ever. There may be a few unpopular Mario games (cough cough Hotel Mario, cough cough) but nevertheless, Mario is the king of video games. The Wii game – Super Mario Galaxy – received enough critical acclaim for Nintendo to make a sequel. Its plot isn’t as good as the original. The story begins with Peach telling Mario to come to the castle for a cake during the Star Festival. Along the way Mario finds a Luma who goes into his hat. However, when Mario gets there, Bowser has arrived. He traps some Toads, causes chaos, kidnaps the princess and flies away. Some other Lumas send Mario to another galaxy where he gets a Power Star. He ends up getting a Starship shaped like his head and goes off to get Grand Stars, stop Bowser and save the princess yet again. The gameplay is incredibly fun and addictive. Mario can jump and stomp on enemies; players can make him perform a spin attack by shaking the remote. The game uses the Nunchuck to move Mario around. Mario also has some power-ups like the Fire Flower, the Cloud Mushroom, the Rock Mushroom, the Rainbow Star and the Bee Mushroom. Yoshi appears in the game and can eat enemies, pull things with his tongue and flutter jump; he even has his own set of power-ups. In every galaxy you can choose a mission to get a Power Star. There are some mini-bosses guarding the Stars occasionally. You need Power Stars to unlock gates to get to the Grand Star which unlocks the next world. To get the Grand Star, you must fight either Bowser Jr or Bowser himself. Despite these virtues, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is imperfect. The Dash Berry...

Open Night 2016 Sep22

Open Night 2016

The end of the world The Apocalypse (anonymous) I was walking down an alley at the side road to my school when I saw something, a flashing green light. I walked up to it. It was what looked like a mine bomb. It was labelled “The End of the World”. (Ross McCarthy)   Your dream vacation My dream vacation is to go to Africa so I can see the wildlife and safari parks. (Ryan Durkan) My dream vacation is to go to Hawaii and go to all the beaches, go swimming and go to a hotel. (Kate)   A lie you told and got away with I broke my brush at home and I hid it under the shed and I got away with it for a week. 🙂 Ha. Ha. Ha. (Leah Durkan.) My name is Billy. (Niall)   Describe one of your bad habits and why you secretly get joy out of it Biting my nails (anonymous)   What’s the stupidest thing you used to believe whole-heartedly? I used to believe that I had two imaginary friends called Kevin and Arnold who lived in Mexico. (Luke Cremin) I thought in 3rd class that I had too much homework.  (Brendan Mee)   Explain the off-side rule If you are behind the last defender when the ball is played then you are off-side. (David Byrne)   The glow of success I like this school but more importantly… Messi is the best player in the world. He has won five ‘Ballon d’Ors.’ He is better than Ronaldo. (Troyo Romith)   That snappy reply I never had a chance to say I think golf is stupid; it’s up there with the ‘Ban the Wheel’ campaign!   My hopes for the future A happy life, a good...

Flash Fiction Competition for First Years...

Flash Fiction is writing for people who like to do other things. But you can do a lot with a little. We think that by choosing the right words and by putting them in the right order, real magic can be achieved. We’re looking for First Years who would like to write some Flash Fiction just for the fun of it. You might be wondering what Flash Fiction looks like. Well, just log on to cloudofthink.ie and type in Flash Fiction in the search box in the top right-hand corner to see some examples. Do you think you could write a story in fewer than a hundred words? We’d love to read it if you do. Email your entry to cloudofthink@gmail.com and make sure to put your name and the words “Flash Fiction” in the subject box. This competition is open only to first years. The prize for the winner is €25; second prize is €15; third prize is €10. The winning entries will be posted on cloudofthink.ie and will be reviewed by several of the best writers in the school. The closing date is  Thursday, October 6th 2016. Here are some tips: Try to create an interesting character; Don’t be afraid to rewrite your work; Try to create pictures the reader can enjoy; Don’t explain everything – let the reader do some of the work; Model your story on stories you’ve heard; Think about different kinds of stories: detective stories; romantic stories; war stories; mysteries; ghost stories; funny stories; action adventures; thrillers; silly stories. Remember, you can base your story on truth if you...