Sunday 24 March 2019

Sinead Ryan: 'We're a nation of spacers, not least politicians'

Notebook

Nasa’s HR chief was in Dublin recently and claims that the Irish have traits which make them ideal space explorers. Stock Image: Getty Images
Nasa’s HR chief was in Dublin recently and claims that the Irish have traits which make them ideal space explorers. Stock Image: Getty Images
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a prima ballerina or an astronaut. Indeed, around age seven, these didn't even seem to be mutually exclusive goals, much less unattainable ones.

A growth spurt (not to mention a lack of ballet lessons) put paid to the first, and travel sickness to the second. But I'm still a bit of a space nut. One of the most amazing trips I ever took was to Cape Canaveral and the SpaceX rocket, which docked with the ISS last Sunday, brings the intriguing prospect of space tourism and maybe even one day populating other planets ever closer.

I'll probably never make it there, but Dr Norah Patten from Ballina will. She, like me, visited a Nasa launch site when she was younger and it filled her with a passion. She went on to study aeronautical engineering and is set to become the first Irish astronaut to make it to space.

She may not be the last either. Nasa's HR chief was in Dublin recently and claims that the Irish have traits which make them ideal space explorers. Robert Gibbs says our natural creativity, adaptability and sense of humour are what they look for in astronauts, and it's recruiting for its moon and Mars missions currently.

There are 12 places available and I reckon we should bag them all. There could be State sponsorship of university programmes, extra leaving cert points for engineering subjects and we should make a start by sending politicians up in a rocket to check it out. All of them, preferably.

Telly has gone down the tube - I'm switching off

TV rivals BBC and ITV are joining forces to provide competition to Netflix. 'The BritBox' - and if that isn't post-Brexit branding I don't know what is - will stream boxsets and on-demand content.

It won't be available in Ireland though and I don't know about you, but I find I'm watching less and less real-time television and more online anyway. I've decided to do away with cable TV altogether; it costs a fortune for the 500+ channels I never watch. There are only so many times I want to see lovely jubbly Jamie Oliver or watch Rachel and Ross reunite yet again.

I'm going to put up an aerial and give terrestrial a go and see if it and Netflix do the trick. Now - does that make me terribly old fashioned, or right on trend?

Even the world of bridge has its share of dopes

Anti-doping measures in sport are quite rightly taken very seriously. From cycling to athletics to swimming, there can't be a professional athlete out there who believes they can still get away with performance enhancing drugs and not run the very real risk of getting caught and banned. Steroids which make you run faster, swim longer or win races unfairly are justly slammed by all sporting bodies.

However, my gob was a little smacked to discover that anti-doping has made its way to the rather sedentary and sleepy world of bridge.

It's hard to imagine how world No 1 Geir Helgemo thought taking synthetic testosterone and clomifene would improve his game, but the Monaco player was suspended from competition after failing a drugs test at the World Bridge Series in Orlando (who knew?).

His supporters claimed the drugs were not performance enhancing, which makes it even more intriguing why stimulants were taken.

Bridge tournaments can go on for weeks so staying awake is presumably a key requirement… for the audience as much as the players, I'd have thought.

He overplayed his hand perhaps but it's checkmate to the sporting world.

Irish Independent

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