Neurotypical Nonsense: A Beginner’s Guide

It all started with a trip to the funfair, complete with its overload of noise, lights and crashing machinery, and a casual remark from my bemused oldest: “what is this neurotypical nonsense?” And so, the Big List of Neurotypical Nonsense was born. And we’re going to share some of it here. Neurotypical nonsense is, according to my two proudly Autism spectrum teens, anything so ludicrously head-wrecking it could never have been invented by an Autistic person*. Because if it had …

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Jeff Bezos flies to the edge of space in giant phallus…

The billionaire space race is equal parts vulgar and hilarious. Last week alleged tax exile Richard Branson put last year’s unfortunate business of asking the government to bail out his companies behind him to blast to the edge of space for a few minutes. He nearly managed to achieve what the Soviets did 60 years ago with less technology than you would find in a modern wristwatch. Not to be outdone Jeff Bezos has gone full Dr Evil and blasted himself …

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The United States’ Democratic Party – America’s Jackasses…

The thing about political symbols is that they can work for you as often as they work against you. The United States’ Democratic Party is a classic example of this rule. The party’s founder Andrew Jackson (president in 1829-37) was dubbed by his opponents in the press as a “jackass”. Whether they meant he was stupid or stubborn is unclear, but, far from being offended, Jackson actually found it funny, and started using the image of a donkey on his …

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Finding Ways Forward for the long awaited Bill of Rights…

Colin Harvey is Professor of Human Rights Law, Queen’s University Belfast. The prospect of comprehensive human rights legislation here appeared to have faded. The Bill of Rights process has been stuck since the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission submitted its final advice in 2008. The pattern is a familiar one. Political unionism’s objections ensured that the British Government did not legislate;  a convenient excuse to avoid adopting a Bill of Rights worth that title. Instead the region is left with …

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We can’t keep putting off investing in NI Water…

As you might have noticed it has been pretty hot the past few weeks. All this heat is not great for our water supplies and NI Water have warned that of supply shortages and a potential hosepipe ban. This happens most years, but it is a good reminder that we take water for granted. NI Water has been warning for years that we need to invest in our water infrastructure. There is the obvious part of the service – the …

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Over the pond Peppa Pig has parents puzzled…

If you have small people in your life (children not dwarfs) then you will be no stranger to Peppa Pig and her assorted friends like Pedro Pony and Emily Elephant. It is quite a good TV show that even the most cynical of parents or grandparents can enjoy. It is fun to spot the various celebrity voices: Brian Blessed as Grandpa Rabbit is a work of genius, he has a job as a lighthouse keeper which entails him shouting FOGGG!!! …

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The genie of amnesty is out of the bottle. Not the last word, but the beginning of the end.

The British government’s announcement of a statute of limitations has not only united all parties against them.  It has also exposed the weaknesses of everybody’s positions including their own. All  other parties are insisting on a role for justice while admitting there’s very little hope left of achieving it. As justice for victims and relatives is unobtainable in most cases, what is the point of holding out for years for the remote chance of a trial?  After decades of deadlock …

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Provisional’s war against the NI public cannot provide a moral foundation for new constitutional order

This week’s coverage in The Economist magazine covers the amnesty proposal with just two words, Closure denied.   Sarah’s powerful polemic on the forgetting that the government now wants us all to do is already this week’s must read. In the Irish Times however, Liam Kennedy brings another, future angle to the process at a time when Sinn Féin activists are both pushing their movement’s bloody campaign and telling voters that the time for a united Ireland is, now. The President, Michael …

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Legacy: Who are we moving on for?

Northern Ireland, it seems, has a problem with moving on. Decades (centuries) of strife and conflict. The pain, the trauma, all of it passed down from generation to generation. In the year of our lord 2021, we’re still angry about it all. Still hurt, still frustrated and in pain. Step forward the Prime Minister and his Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis.  They have seen the light and taken a bold, brave step to help us move forward. The government has …

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My rules for sport…

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved sport. The reluctance for learning I showed in the classroom rarely reared its head on the hockey pitch or athletics field and although I was never going to be an elite sportswoman, I had the determination and resolve to be a reasonable one. It, therefore, follows that in 1973, after taking my A levels and doing particularly badly, I chose a pathway most suited to my abilities and attended …

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Today is the hottest day ever recorded in Northern Ireland as temperatures reached 31.2C…

This will likely not come as a surprise to those of you who have been sweltering under the heat the past few days. Today is provisionally the hottest day ever recorded in Northern Ireland ? ? Ballywatticock in County Down reached 31.2 °C at 15.40 ?️ Previously, 30.8 °C was the highest #temperature recorded in Northern Ireland, reached on 12th July 1983 and 30th June 1976 #heatwave pic.twitter.com/pFIDwHmCvG — Met Office (@metoffice) July 17, 2021 During the parkrun this morning …

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It’s OK not to have an opinion on something…

Last week we were on holiday in a caravan park in Scotland. During a rant about net curtains one of our party remarks that I have very strong opinions. I really dislike net curtains. In this particular case, I was particularly irked that the net curtains were obscuring a beautiful view of a Scotland Lough. The strange thing is I have strong views about small things but generally ambivalent views about big things. I care not a jot about the …

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Let’s put our values into practice in how we govern, argues Naomi Long

If we are to make progress in Northern Ireland’s society, we need to reflect carefully on our core values and ensure that these are reflected in the way government works. This is the message put forward by Naomi Long – leader of the Alliance Party and justice minister – in the second of the Holywell Trust’s Forward Together podcast interviews of Northern Ireland’s political leaders.  Among the points stressed by Naomi is that violence is not acceptable as a means …

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Sinn Féin disowns the amnesty deal it’s been asking for incessantly for over twenty years…

One advantage of running a blog over a long time having access to the archives. Indeed, the reasons I turned to blogging software all those years ago back in 2002 was I struggled to find an article from just three years earlier in the Irish Times. Initially I used Slugger as a researcher’s pin board on which you could trace not just the day to day pulses in the newsflows (very much a feature when the number of journalists writing …

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Planning policy vital to a greener, more prosperous Northern Ireland

Andrew Muir is the Alliance MLA for North Down  Planning policy rarely makes the national headlines but directly touches upon the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland. Whether it’s an extension in your local area, a new housing development around the corner, or a major new business development that could provide jobs for thousands, planning matters. As an MLA at the Northern Ireland Assembly, planning issues are never far from the top of my inbox. Earlier this month the Department …

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National Food Strategy Report – Food should make us well instead of sick…

Listening to BBC Breakfast this morning (other breakfast tv shows are available but my choice is the BBC, it’s the least bad option until Frasier starts on Channel 4) my ears pricked up when I heard the headlines “Tax on sugar, salt and GPs to prescribe fruit and vegetables!!!” I could feel the red mist descend as the conclusion that I nearly jumped to on hearing that headline was that the price of food would rocket and make life even …

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This time, it’s the Troubles legacy. Northern Ireland opinion on a key issue, even when substantially in agreement, is being overruled by Johnson’s Conservatives

The devil will be in the detail but as a example of news management in advance, the UK Government’s plans for a Troubles amnesty could hardly be worse for opinion in  Northern Ireland Veterans who served in Northern Ireland are finally set to be freed from the threat of prosecution. In a victory for the Daily Mail, a planned statute of limitations will today be announced covering all incidents during the Troubles. The move by Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is …

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Amnesty would deny victim’s right to know and underwrite the toxic legacy of paramilitaries

The Moral Maze programme on BBC Radio Four for last week focused on the perennial question of Northern Ireland’s legacy and gave careful consideration as to what the consequences of declaring an amnesty for past crimes might be. The legacy processes don’t really work largely because it’s a hodgepodge of negotiated pleadings from the leading protagonists in the conflict. Less aimed at truth and reconciliation and more at giving maximum comfort to those political operators who, should prosecutions ever proceed, …

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Teenager critically ill with 40% burns to his body after being engulfed in flames at Eleventh Night bonfire…

If anything is it surprising that more people were not injured or killed over the weekend. From Allison Morris in the Belfast Telegraph: A teenager is in hospital with burns to 40% of his body and face on Monday night after catching fire at a north Belfast bonfire. Eyewitnesses say the 17-year-old, who is from the Ballysillan area, lifted a canister of petrol to throw at the already ignited bonfire when the flames caught the accelerant dousing him in burning …

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The killer identified Margaret as a young girl in a dress and then he deliberately shot her…

I normally don’t write posts about the Troubles. I try to look forward and not dwell on the past. That’s easy for me to say because I never lost anyone close to me. I don’t have the raw pain of the missing person at Christmas and family events. But sometimes you come across something so shocking that you just can’t but write about it. Kevin Myers recently wrote on his blog about the notorious activities of the Paras in Northern …

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