Monthly Archives: January 2015

Facebook to Charge Money for Photo Removal

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A friend of mine told me of his issues with removing photos from Facebook. Apparently there is a pilot program/agency being implemented to the social media site. The program/agency consists of an entity charging money to remove your unwanted photos from Facebook. Perhaps I am introducing The Facebook Photo Removal Services. Here is his story.

Events:

I didn’t like the pictures I found on Facebook. It was sort of embarrassing, and it could affect me and the position I hold at work. I needed to take them down. I am a dishwasher at a restaurant in an old area of town, I usually get no respect. My manager tells me I don’t know how to use proper English, and that I am not allowed to speak Spanish in the kitchen. Most of my coworkers are foreign. This is a tragedy because most of those in the kitchen are unlicensed employees. I think of these images of me online, people click them, like them, comment on them, share them, and I am judged. I am not fluent in Spanish. So we say nothing.

The other day while scrolling, I found a picture of me holding some knives on Facebook. I was in a kitchen, I was red-eyed drunk, and I was looking rude. I tried to take them down, a new notice came up. I was unfamiliar with this notice. It said Facebook owns the rights to all of my pictures, -all content rather, from whenever I started my life on Facebook, and the only way to get my photos back, or down, or offline, would be to buy them from Facebook the corporation directly. This is true. I guess Facebook had changed since I first created my account.

You see, if I had more money (a better job), I could afford to buy these pictures, my pictures. I could save my life. I could get a better job. I would have a brighter future. These photos are ruining me. I had no control over what the photos looked like and how they portrayed me. I mean, my selfies, they were art. They really showed the who I was, and am. This tragedy is catching up to me. My Facebook friends have become my adversaries. These photos are powerful. I find it hard to handle because I could not present myself how I wanted other people to see me. In real life (IRL), I may be complex and flawed, but here was my chance to be simple and easy, desired. I am a drunk. I am a loser. I am single. And above all I am unsuccessful. I don’t want those photos out there, online, for millions to peruse. They may see the real me.

I think about this now. The price tag on these pictures, which I voluntarily post on social media are going to cost me more than two paychecks. I don’t have enough money to take them down. I wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I really do. Now the debt collectors call, now my manager questions. The waitress brings my credit cards back with a look fake empathy: it was declined she says… I fake astonishment: Really?! I cannot take these photos down, photos of me failing, stuck in my head. I wish I had not done this… No one thinks, I don’t think. Why?!

Today I took out a Payday loan to afford this Facebook service. You know, the convenient and fair lenders who reside in the non-sketchy part of town? -Something like that. These are nice when you have no money and need to remove certain pictures from your Facebook page. I really wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I wish they would have told me that there would be a price to pay for these images one day. I now, not including my students loans ($80,000.00 +), am about $5,000.00 + in side-debt. Side-debt is debt you accrue through regular everyday activity, it was necessary. Stuff like antidepressants, beer, whisky, Facebook Photo Removal Services, and condoms. I needed this money, absolutely. I also needed these photos removed, it was a drunken night like last week.

I think of money as the most important thing to me, aside from my image. I hurt my hands washing dishes; they are cut and bleed and blister and turn red. My image is in jeopardy. People will see these photos and they will think things of me. The other day my manager called, she is a pink heavyset drunk with greasy hair, always tied back taut, she yells a lot. Once she saw me naked. I think she yells a lot because she gets yelled at a lot, and told she is nothing. She does nothing about this. I think she is in a violent relationship, they both smile a lot. Next time I work I am to come directly to her office to discuss some “new discoveries” that my boss had found recently. I was not expecting the call. It was rather late at night. I go in tomorrow morning around 10:00am.

The friendly and helpful people at Facebook Photo Removal Services took my money and now I wait. Of course I have to wait. These things take time. There is a process to Facebook photo removal, naturally. My check has to clear, they have to take money from my bank account, and then some of their staff will select the picture and remove it. They work one at a time. It is a process thing. I understand. Though, I can upload a whole photo album to Facebook in less than three minutes, this removal process has taken three weeks. The results were average.

Payday Loans have been calling more too. I am the not good kind of popular. I have deferred on my student loan payments, once again, and still the photos are not removed. Also, since this time more people have posted questionable photos of me online, on Facebook and other social media. I receive emails telling me of these updates. The money, the clicks, the notifications, and the conversation with my boss, they are all real things. I walked into her office and she told me my check would be a week later than expected, maybe, and that I did not get the promotion I had asked for, though I will have the opportunity to train someone new for the job I so wanted. I am given this opportunity. Thanks… If only this conversation was about the photos.

After the photo scare, the discussion with my manager, and thinking it over in her office, I had to ask her something. I asked her for a raise. She looked at me confused. She could lose it at any moment, I mean this quiet rage. She kept her cool and said my name. She told me it is not feasible. She also told me I knew where the door was. I walked out of her office. I said it was silly under my breath, she said what?! I walked out and put my sweat-stained uniform on; what was white had turned yellow. We only got one shirt.

What I would say to someone posting online is: this is your life. Everything you post is part of you, forever. It is your virtual footprint. You will pay for it as any action. I have applied for numerous jobs, they see my photos, new photos of the same event, and I am told this each time: Thank you for applying to this position. We have decided to go a different route. Please try again in the future. Best wishes. If only I could contact Google and get them to block-out my name. No images would show up. I have setup a plan with Facebook Photo Removal Services now, I pay monthly, where they take photos down (for a price), to protect my person. My future is at stake here. The importance of this entity is beyond quantifying.

I realize now that I am plugged in. I love my job. I am concerned about photos, people taking pictures, and uploading them. The reason is is because of the cost. The monthly payments surpass my student loan payments, which I don’t make anymore. –Hey! Uncle Sam is trillions of dollars in debt, what’s my debt compared to that. Whole countries function in debt, though they don’t work shit jobs, wasting their time, killing their bodies, while paying corporations to not do things to them, perhaps. I think I should collect taxes too. This extortion is reality though. And what I realized while secretly speaking to my co-worker in broken Spanish the other day, while eating some prime rib ends, was that I shouldn’t complain. We all steal things. Facebook steals reality, and charges you to take it down. I steal meat and words with my peers. Emilio said he crossed the border to come here to work this job to pay for his family in Mexico. He loved it. I agreed. So, I picked up a new phrase, picture that, I couldn’t complain. I smiled as sweet fat sluiced down my face. This kitchen was warm. I told him: I think we can be Facebook friends now.

The Murals of Belfast

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We woke up with snow on the ground. The pink dawn caught my eyes from the Wellington Park Plaza Hotel, just past Queen’s College in Belfast.

That morning we had much in store. We were to tour the murals of Belfast. Belfast is known for its separatist viewpoints; actual communities living apart from one another, next to one another – separated by what is essentially a wall and ideology. The difference is The UK’s influence vs. Irish influence in Ireland proper (the continent), but rather a UK providence (ownership). Our tour guide, a man removed from Belfast years ago, and the struggles (The Troubles), a professor of Queen’s took us around and spoke on sites. Our bus driver Paul came in with adage as well, as he was from the area himself. We pulled out of the lot and the tour began.

Along the way one takes note of the churches, the pubs, and the ubiquitous barbwire. The stuff was everywhere, hung on fences, adorning walls, sharp and varied. Most of the time it was razor-wire, or these brush type spindles – it would have fabric, torn, attached to it, blowing in the wind. Next to that I saw a fat bird on a stone ledge; it sat there flapping its wings just as our speaker’s mic went out and then some electrical engineering took place. Things were resolved.

In the narrow streets multitudes of repetitive red brick buildings, what seemed most prevalent crowded the road, these narrow passageways. Our tour came to a wall, a solid block of political writing, rich color with bold letters. The images shed light on things which were taking place around the world, not just in Ireland. Murals begged the question, asked about the truth and justice, and called out for help to those in power: “Obama holds the key” one mural said.

Freedom was a topic of most, others were messages of remembrance; remember this event, never forget, and do not repeat history. The messages in Belfast were eerily poignant to me, coming from the land of the free, America. I took in murals asking our country to free our imprisoned volunteers, they asked to let go our political prisoners. When I am stateside they are considered local, neighbors. I read about it here, abroad.

Now seeing this, and the strife and static nature which is the separation of those with money and those lacking, differences, and the comparison of this Northern Ireland to Palestine or Israel, one can take the gravity of their concern with our political prisoners, this Native American: Leonard Peltier. Why should they care? Why is this important? How have I never heard of this person? Why do we in America still have political prisoners? Why is this mural?

These installments of art, these messages struck me deep. They asked me and those with me to look at things a little harder, a little closer, to see what is really important: freedom, truth and justice. Now I sit back in Dublin, in flat 43, I know nothing of Leonard Peltier but what I saw in Belfast, on a mural, and I think, I must do some research because Belfast knows more about my country than I do.

PSA in Dublin on Paris; future fears

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WORLDWIDE CAUTION

January 10, 2015

The Department of State is updating the Worldwide Caution to provide information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated October 10, 2014.

The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. On September 22, 2014, the United States and regional partners commenced military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq. In response to the airstrikes, ISIL called on supporters to attack foreigners wherever they are. Authorities believe there is an increased likelihood of reprisal attacks against U.S., Western and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Kidnappings and hostage events involving U.S. citizens have become increasingly prevalent as ISIL, al Qa’ida and its affiliates have increased attempts to finance their operations through kidnapping for ransom operations. ISIL, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund the range of their activities. Kidnapping targets are usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of paying ransoms for the release of individuals in custody.

Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.

U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services. In the past, these types of attacks have occurred in cities such as Moscow, London, Madrid, Glasgow, and New York City.

EUROPE: Current information suggests that ISIL, al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe. Authorities believe the likelihood of a terror attack in Europe is increased as European members of ISIL return from Syria and Iraq. Additionally, there is a continuing threat in Europe from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis. In the past several years, organized extremist attacks have been planned or carried out in various European countries. European governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.

MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA: Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests.

No part of Syria should be considered immune from violence. The security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country. There is an increased threat of terrorism from groups such as ISL, al-Nusrah, as well as other extremists whose tactics include use of suicide bombers, kidnappings, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in March 2011, the United States has received reports of numerous foreigners kidnapped in Syria, many of whom are still in captivity. The majority of the victims are journalists and aid workers. U.S. citizens and other Westerners have been murdered by ISIL in Syria. Violent extremists from various countries operate in Syria and may be planning attacks against the United States and other Western targets.

A number of extremist groups also operate in Lebanon and the potential for death or injury in Lebanon exists because of periodic terrorist bombing attacks throughout the country. As a result of spillover violence from the Syria crisis, Sunni groups are active and Hizballah, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, has been present and active for many years.

U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Numerous insurgent groups, including ISIL, previously known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persists in many areas of the country. ISIL and its allies control Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and have captured significant territory across central Iraq and continue to engage with Iraqi security forces in that region.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and al-Murabitun remain active and operate primarily in southern Algeria, southwestern Libya and Tunisia in the wake of French and African intervention in northern Mali. In Algeria, terrorists sporadically attack Westerners and Algerian government targets, particularly in the Kabylie region, and near Algeria’s borders with Libya and Mali. In September, a French tourist was kidnapped and murdered by an Algerian-based terrorist group. Terrorists have targeted oil processing plants in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In Libya, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

AFRICA: Al-Qa’ida continues to operate primarily in North Africa. Vestiges of extremist elements, including AQIM, MUJAO, and al-Murabitun continue small scale operations in northern Mali mostly related to planting land mines on lines of communication used by UN peacekeeping troops. The major parts of these groups were forced to move to southern Algeria, southwestern Libya and Tunisia in the wake of French and African intervention in northern Mali. Terrorist groups have stepped up their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.

Additionally, the terrorist group AQIM has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (an area that stretches across the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea to include Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea). It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region, including southern Algeria.

Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide bombings, hostage taking, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas are frequent in Somalia. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia, and non-military targets such as international donor offices and humanitarian assistance providers. Al-Shabaab retains its demonstrated capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territory in Somalia and in neighboring countries such as Kenya and Djibouti.

Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria, has claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. The first months of 2014 have seen a continued increase in Boko Haram attacks and clashes with Nigerian government security forces in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has also targeted women and children for kidnapping, reportedly kidnapping women in northern states for marriage as “slave brides,” and kidnapping more than 200 school girls from a private school in Borno state. Boko Haram is known to descend on whole towns, robbing banks and businesses, attacking police and military installations, and setting fire to private homes. U.S. citizen missionaries in northern Nigeria have received specific written threats to their safety and well-being, although none have yet been harmed.

U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by pirates. The threat of hijacking to merchant vessels continues to exist in Somali territorial waters and as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters. There has also been a recent rise in piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, including hijackings.

U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys and maintain good communications at all times. U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents. Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.

SOUTH ASIA: The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests. The presence of al-Qa’ida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region. Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack locations where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.

The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom.

No province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and crime, and the strong possibility exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other foreign nationals at any time. Elements of the former Taliban regime and members of other terrorist organizations hostile to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and foreign nationals remain active in every province of the country. Furthermore, travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to ongoing military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, and the possibility of insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices. U.S. citizens are increasingly targeted for kidnapping. The threat situation in Afghanistan is still considered critical and is expected to remain so through the current political and military transition.

India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas. Attacks have taken place during the busy evening hours in markets and other crowded places, but could occur at any time.

CENTRAL ASIA: Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa’ida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests.

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC: Information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group, have cells operating throughout Southeast Asia and JI is linked to al-Qaida and other regional terrorist groups.

There is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu Archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao.

Over the past year there have been several kidnappings-for-ransom targeting foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and in the southern Sulu Sea area by terrorist or insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago of the Philippines. In addition to incursions on the coastal and island resorts themselves, criminal or terrorist bands may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists in the area.

Indonesian security forces have disrupted a number of terrorist cells, including JI, a terrorist organization that carried out several significant bombings in Jakarta and Bali over the past decade. Although Indonesian counterterrorism efforts have been successful in preventing terrorists from conducting large-scale attacks in recent years, extremists in Indonesia may demonstrate a willingness and ability to carry out small-scale violent attacks with little or no warning.

Before You Go

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). When you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to Traveler’s Checklist.

U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

As the Department of State continues to develop information on potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, including Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information, and Emergency and Security Messages, all of which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Stay up to date by bookmarking our website or downloading our free Smart Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy is located at 42 Elgin Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland. Our telephone number is +353 1 630 6200. In an emergency, the Embassy may be contacted after hours and on weekends at +353 1 668 9612. The fax number for the American Citizen Services Unit is +353 1 668 8056. Queries may be sent to the American Citizen Services Unit at ACSDublin@state.gov.

Project: Photograph Ireland

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1. A Literary Image: This photo represents literary works of Irish playwrights, specifically Synge and McDonagh, in The Riders to the Sea and The Beauty Queen of Leenane. This image captures the nature of these isolated islands, and a perspective only their inhabitants may have had; although this distant land is beautiful and cause for awe, it also imposes extreme desolation, and removal from society. What you see here represents the truth in beauty, its binary. Yes, the island of Inishmore is immensely inviting and quite wonderful to experience; however it brings one away from the Irish mainland and its society, and closer to one’s immediate community, for good or ill.

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2. Water: This photo of the River Liffey represents water, a basic human need, within Dublin, and throughout Ireland. The River Liffey flows through Ireland, dividing Dublin, and into the surrounding ocean. Ireland is surrounded entirely by water and made up of water within its largest city. Water is of the inhabitants; 60% of the human body is made up of water. The River Liffey is important as a port, in history, and for supplying water to the polis. It is a quintessential entity for the progress and existence of Dublin. Lastly, the River Liffey is adorned with beautiful bridges, wildlife, and people which offer to the culture of the city. The River Liffey gives life, as translation of the name suggests “An Life in Irish”.

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3. An Irish Architecture Feature: The doors. The Doors? No, not the band. The painted doors of Dublin, actually. In this photo the painted doors of Dublin symbolize divide within the country of Ireland, by way of blue and red paint: English/Irish, Catholic/Protestant, Male/Female, Fate/Decision, and Progressive/Tradition. By way of contrasting these two opposing colors on these two opposing doors, and showcasing their proximity, the viewer is looking into the entry way of a family, a culture, a lifestyle, at the difference in their neighbor, and their beliefs, and seeing life. Ireland to me, in this photo, represents how two people, two ideas, or two (or more) cultures of differing viewpoints can live, interact, and thrive next to one another, offering something unique and poignant to the community and city as a whole.

Inventing Ireland: Glendalough