A day of the bike: popular protest and purple prose on Mylesday

This was for the standard protesters’ practice of making noise, and was in no way intended as a commentary on recent news events in Irish policing. Flann O’Brien’s wild imagination would eventually have created something like the million fictional breathalyser tests too Somehow, the plot doesn’t seem quite so fantastic today. First there was a mass demonstration in support of safer cycling conditions on the city quays. Readings in The Palace also included several on another of his favourite subjects: alcohol abuse. They were only waiting for the lights at Matt Talbot Bridge to change. The book is an existentialist murder mystery set mostly in eternity. This year’s Mylesday marked the 50th anniversary of O’Nolan’s comic masterpiece The Third Policeman (written under his Flann O’Brien hat), which he never saw published, having died 51 years ago, on April Fool’s Day 1966. The peloton of protesters proceeded at a stately pace along the north quays Even so, if you had nodded off on night duty at nearby Garda HQ, the accumulation of whistleblowers in the area might have seemed like a Sunday morning nightmare come to life. It was a day of the bicycle, real and imaginary, in Dublin, where popular protest and purple prose combined to elevate the humble velocipede to greater than normal prominence. John Clarke raises a glass to Brian O’Nolan on the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Third Policeman on Mylesday at The Palace Bar in Dublin. It turned out that the several hundred cycling campaigners who had gathered earlier in the Phoenix Park were equipped not just with bells, but with quite a few whistles too. But thanks to recent events back in real-world Ireland, it has never seemed so realistic as it does now. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times Already this year, five cyclists have died on Irish roads, including three in Dublin. A major subplot of the novel, after all, is the falsification of crime statistics by a group of outlandish police officers who, supposedly for health and safety reasons, keep hiding people’s bicycles and then finding them again. The book was written as a follow-up to his similarly quirky 1939 debut At Swim-Two-Birds. And as poignantly recalled in The Palace Bar – Mylesday headquarters – publishers rejected it then because they thought “he should become less fantastic, and in this new novel he is more so”. The peloton of …

A day of the bike – An Irishman’s Diary on a mass demonstration on Mylesday

As it was, Sunday’s events featured an unintentionally satirical twist of which Myles na gCopaleen, his pseudonym for the long-running Cruiskeen Lawn column in The Irish Times, would have been proud. A major subplot of the novel, after all, is the falsification of crime statistics by a group of outlandish police officers who, supposedly for health and safety reasons, keep hiding people’s bicycles and then finding them again. This was for the standard protesters’ practice of making noise, and was in no way intended as a commentary on recent news events in Irish policing. They were only waiting for the lights at Matt Talbot Bridge to change. This year’s Mylesday marked the 50th anniversary of O’Nolan’s comic masterpiece The Third Policeman (written under his Flann O’Brien hat), which he never saw published, having died 51 years ago, on April Fool’s Day 1966. It was a day of the bicycle, real and imaginary, in Dublin, where popular protest and purple prose combined to elevate the humble velocipede to greater than normal prominence. In fact, the main focus of the demonstration was Dublin City Council and the need for a dedicated Liffey Cyclepath on the congested quays. But thanks to recent events back in real-world Ireland, it has never seemed so realistic as it does now. It turned out that the several hundred cycling campaigners who had gathered earlier in the Phoenix Park were equipped not just with bells, but with quite a few whistles too. And aptly, the cyclists paused there for a moment’s silence, although that too was inadvertent. This was a “horrific” statistic, said DCC chair Colm Ryder, but there were also multiple near misses, including “people being knocked off their bikes regularly”, because of poor infrastructure. So perhaps had he been encouraged to write a sequel to The Third Policeman, Flann O’Brien’s wild imagination would eventually have created something like the million fictional breathalyser tests too. Flann O’Brien’s wild imagination would eventually have created something like the million fictional breathalyser tests too Somehow, the plot doesn’t seem quite so fantastic today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times Already this year, five cyclists have died on Irish roads, including three in Dublin. The book is an existentialist murder mystery set mostly in eternity. The book was written as a follow-up to his similarly quirky 1939 debut At Swim-Two-Birds. Then the scene shifted to the annual commemoration of Brian …

Can science ever tell us whether free will exists?

This means also that it is misleading to say that ‘the brain decides before you do’ – as it is sometimes put. What do experiments, like those conducted by Benjamin Libet, tell us about free will? “First, I should note that none of the experiments have uncovered unconscious determinants of conscious choices. For the Libet experiment, we simply don’t know whether participants would move without making also a conscious choice. Choices that are based on reasons are as unobservable as care-free choices of indifference. “It should also be noted here that this way of talking creates a rather strange separation between ‘you’ and ‘your brain’. As things stand, I think it is safe to say that this research has not conclusively proven anything significant about free will.” How might one design an experiment that tested whether free will exists? In one study, researchers were able to predict with 60 per cent accuracy whether subjects would press a button with their left or right hand up to 10 seconds before the subjects became aware of making the choice. Well, that’s logical.” Most importantly, most of our choices are in one sense or another based on reasons. In the first of these in 1983, participants were asked to flex one of their wrists when they felt like doing so. “Further, experiments of this kind differ from everyday choices in significant respects. This is the “kind of freedom that we care about”, he says, not the freedom to press one button or another in an artificial laboratory setting. But if they want to make claims about the kind of freedom that matters in everyday life and that has a bearing on the issue of moral responsibility, then they should design experiments in which participants are given reasons for and against certain options. “The issue here is not whether free will is observable or not. Thus, he argues, “the operational definition of free willshould be revised in accord with the philosophical conception”. Don’t stop asking questions In defence of hedonism How do we distinguish good businesses from evil ones? They might say that we can only talk about the “free will” that is observable, and that anything else is just wishful thinking, or worse, it amounts to “smuggling in” something non-physical like “the soul”. “Presumably, deliberation and decision-making are psychological processes that are realised by the brain. “It has been claimed, in newspapers and …

Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure: A Kostis – ‘The Jail’s a Fine School’

The enigmatic origins of the recordings only add to their allure. Rebetika is a term used today to designate originally disparate kinds of urban Greek music which have come to be grouped together since the so-called rebetika revival, which started in the 1960s and developed further from the early 1970s onwards. Whatever musical dream Bezos was chasing, he did so with passion and great ardour. Satirical song Facts about his life are elusive but it is clear that at the time Bezos made the Kostis recordings he had also begun a successful career as a steel guitarist, singer and bandleader. It can briefly be described as the urban popular song of the Greeks, especially the poorest, from the late 19th century to the 1950s. The fact that he used the pseudonyms A Kostis and K Kostis for the unique series of 12 recordings on this LP was for many years a source of mystery which long overshadowed interest in the major part of his recorded legacy. He was a man ahead of his time. The lyrics and the singing, which is in the style of a much older man, are more reminiscent of that associated with the tough harbour milieu of Piraeus, the port of Athens, with its hash dens, pickpockets, jailbirds and knife-artists. He was truly an early multimedia artist, working as a journalist, musician, composer, singer, artist and cartoonist who, during the years 1930-1938, deposited a chameleon-like legacy which continues to fascinate to this day. It is possible that along with his several other pursuits, Bezos made use of some studio downtime to record these discs in a clandestine fashion consistent with the unlawful themes of the songs themselves. Perhaps Bezos realised using a pseudonym afforded him the freedom to explore this style which at the time was considered solely the music of the low-lifes who inhabited the area. Constantinos (Kostas) Bezos remains one of the most fascinating and unique figures of Greek popular music of the 1930s. Betweeen 1930 and 1938, Bezos is in fact credited on a grand total of about 120 78 rpm sides of mainly Hawaiian-style versions of popular and satirical songs.