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Those trade unionists just can't get enough of congress

HOPES were high for the excitement at the teacher's conferences this week following the example set by their UK counterparts. At the Rivieria International Conference Centre in Torquay, the teachers' union had to ask two of the delegates to cease enjoying what was later described as "an intimate moment" on the balcony.

Nothing says "let's go at it like rabbits" more than a major conference. The air must crackle with pent-up sexual tension and chemistry. It's a miracle every year that delegates manage to control their urges and sit looking bored for two days, when inside they are red-blooded passionistas yearning to express their solidarity in ways far beyond just carrying a union card.

Unfortunately the Irish teachers repeated their yearly miracle this week and managed to keep their hands off each other. Our hopes immediately transferred to the Irish Medical Organisation's AGM on Thursday and Friday, in expectation that the white coats would be flung aside in a fit of amorality. No luck.

So that leaves us with the Labour conference this weekend. According to Brendan Howlin, they've been working tremendously hard for the past year, so what better way to let their hair down that one huge romp? Go on lads. The ratings would be massive.

Wait for the Troika to act

WE must stop trying to interpret the moods of Troika officials. We're all sick to the back teeth of headlines saying things like "ECB official made sad face when asked about promissory note"; "IMF representative faintly constipated when challenged on debt forgiveness"; "EU Commissioner melancholic when shown a picture of Ireland".

Enough. When one of them does something, it will be "news" and will be reported. Until then it's meaningless conjecture and really should be ignored. Although Michael Noonan did seem mildly dyspeptic the last time he was on telly, so maybe we are returning to the bond markets.

When the chips are down

JET engines are extraordinarily reliable. They successfully power everything from helicopters to motorcycles to tanks without skipping a beat. They also have an enviable capacity to live on almost anything you feed them: with small modifications your average jet turbine can consume jet fuel, kerosene, diesel and even cooking oil.

This is however one of those areas where believing the science doesn't necessarily make you want to risk your life on it; Qantas has just launched a service using planes which will be half fuelled with old cooking oil. Knowing a jet can burn old oil is very different from going up to a check-in desk and saying, "I'd like a ticket on the aircraft currently being filled from a van with 'Leo Burdock's' written on it".

The good news is that, if this catches on, the world's airports are going to be much nicer places to hang out. A guy I knew ran his car on old fryer oil for a while and said that he went everywhere smelling faintly of chips. Imagine what Shannon would be like if every plane left a faint whiff of batter-burgers and cod straight out of Roddy Doyle's The Van?

Play nicely with N Korea

NORTH Korea's rocket falling into the sea is the geo-political equivalent of a toddler breaking its hammer. At first, it's good news, because it alleviates the immediate danger of the child hurting itself or anyone else. But the long-term sulk that's sure to follow will be difficult for all of us.

Ireland has an opportunity to be the first nation to take decisive action to defuse this risky situation. All we have to do is quickly send someone from Foreign Affairs over to Korea to distract Kim Jong-un by taking him for ice cream. "Awww, never mind the bold rockie. Have some caramel chew-chew."