Sometimes, these days, between the horror stories in the newspapers and on the radio people are almost be afraid to leave their homes.
Of course, we cannot allow our lives to be governed by the gurriers and bullyboys and we should remember that by taking reasonable care and keeping our wits about us, we will be fine and can carry on as normal. So it is not to frighten people but rather to warn them that I mention the following matter.
N20S1PicAt present, a low level criminal gang is travelling around an adjoining county to Waterford targeting women in supermarket car parks.
In particular, they watch as women return to their cars with a trolley-load of purchases and, if they spot a window of opportunity, they are there in a flash and away with the person’s handbag.
Loading groceries into a car is one of the few times when women don’t have a firm grip on their handbags and, coupled with the element of surprise, the robbers are gone before you know it.
Again, there is no need for people to be frightened but if this gang is put under pressure by the Garda in their present location, they may well turn their eyes towards nearby Waterford. So, please be careful out there.

Judge gives protection to ‘little person’ debtor

A District Judge said last week that Credit Unions were ‘an amazing, positive presence’ in the community and many thousands of people, myself included, would agree wholeheartedly with her.
For the benefit of all their members, Credit Unions have to keep tabs on their loans and make sure they are paid on time. Because of their ethos, managers and credit committees are also sympathetic to people who find themselves in trouble through no fault of their own.
But, sometimes, things happen that would appear inexplicable and that occurred last week when Judge Mary Devins sitting at Castlebar District Civil Court said she was ‘absolutely amazed’ that a Credit Union had taken a case against one of its members.
The Judge declared that, on the basis of the evidence before her, it would be ‘legally and morally wrong’ to give a judgment to the Credit Union against the defendant.
The case concerned a woman who had repaid over €17,000 on a €26,000 loan and was continuing to make payments.
The court heard that the defendant took out a loan for €26,000 and that repayments of €1,050 a month were agreed. However, after the defendant lost her job, she could not meet those repayments.
After a period of non-payment, it was agreed with the Credit Union that she would repay €25 a week. The borrower increased her repayments to €40 a week in April 2015 and then to €100 per week in June 2015. That amount continued to be paid weekly to date.
Praising the overall role of Credit Unions in the community, Judge Devins said the case before her was ‘an absolutely fascinating insight in microcosm’ of what had been happening in Ireland with debt since the downturn.
She said that millions in debt had been written off for very wealthy investors but this case was at the opposite extreme. Ruling in favour of the defendant and awarding her costs, the Judge said to grant a judgment would be “so punitive as to be unfair”. Interesting.

A game changer in
space exploration

If you talk to people about the possibility of life on other planets and whether or not we have been visited by aliens, they will laugh nervously and say it is all stuff and nonsense.
Secretly though, many people don’t rule out such a possibility but they prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves for fear of ridicule.
This is not an article about ‘little green men from Mars’ zapping everybody with their laser-guns, I’m talking here about brilliant minds discussing the genuine scientific aspect of it all.
Last week, physicist Stephen Hawking, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Russian IT billionaire Yuri Milner announced a project that could send microscopic spaceships to hunt for extraterrestrial life in the far reaches of space.

IT billionaire Yuri Milner and Professor Stephen Hawking at the launch of the multi-million ‘Breakthrough Starshot’ project.

IT billionaire Yuri Milner and Professor Stephen Hawking at the launch of the multi-million ‘Breakthrough Starshot’ project.

The multi-million project, known as Breakthrough Starshot, will examine the possibility of sending a host of tiny spacecraft far beyond the boundaries of our solar system to Earth’s nearest neighbour, the Alpha Centauri star system.
Tiny crafts, each weighing far less than an ounce and no larger than a mobile phone chip, could fly at a fifth of the speed of light and capture images of planets and other scientific data.
Current spacecraft would take around 30,000 years to get to Alpha Centauri, which is almost five light years away. However, the tiny craft being discussed,
powered by a sail pushed by a light beam, could potentially travel the distance over 1,000 times faster and make the journey in less than 20 years.
One of those involved, astrophysicist Philip Lubin, said the wafer-thin crafts could travel to closer destinations such as Mars in just a few days.
Once at their destination the craft would send back images of any planets and scientific data via an on-board laser communications system. The same beam of light that launched them would receive the information and send it home.
The three major investors involved are nobody’s fools and they believe such tiny spacecraft could eventually be mass-produced for the cost of an iPhone and launched for less than $1 million.
Of course, the thought has also occurred to me that, if there are intelligent civilisations out in deep space, they could have come up with a similar idea years ago.
All this time we’ve been on the lookout for giant spaceships like the one portrayed in ‘Close Encounter of the Third Kind’ when, perhaps, we should be watching for little scraps so tiny we can hardly see them if they were sitting on a hedge outside our house. This is a game changer, folks!

Mysterious bird of prey?

Two friends were out shooting last week when they heard a noise above them and, looking up, saw a motorised hand-glider buzzing above their heads. One of the pair quickly raised his gun and took a pot-shot at the glider.
“Mother of God,” said his shocked pal, “why on earth did you do that?”
“Look, I don’t know what kind of a creature it is,” replied his companion, “but whatever it is, it let go of the poor divil it was carrying pretty quick!”