Saturday, December 05, 2020

Stop carding me

Okay America. Enough is enough. When I was asked for ID 20 years ago at the supermarket checkout for my beer purchase I thought it was kind of amusing. I jokingly claimed I still looked 20 (I was 36).

But now? It's really annoying. Is it a chore having to take my license out of my wallet to show the clerk? No, but the woman is my age and she KNOWS I'm over 21. Everyone knows. There is no possibility of a mistake. Even in the pitch black I look over 50.

Last night at Market 32 (aka Price Chopper) I was tempted to just walk out without the beer or the long list of groceries I had because I was asked for ID despite the fact the store's posted policy says anyone under 40 MAY be asked. I'm 55 for God's sake. Leave me alone.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Tom Seaver's first death

We're all talking about #TomSeaver as if he has died & that's because any of us who have dealt with a family member with dementia knows it is death, only worse. 

A few weeks or months on the DL doesn't fix this. It's a one way trip that takes away your loved one - as in death - but leaves this facsimile of the person who is nothing like the man/woman you knew. 

Obviously, Seaver's illness isn't going to affect any fan the way it would if a spouse/parent/sibling/other family member was suffering from dementia, but we can all imagine how it's going to affect him and we know it's a death, of sorts, only less dignified. And we don't want to imagine this man we all admired for his athletic ability AND his spirit, his determination and his smarts becoming the facsimile of the Seaver we loved.

So this is Tom Seaver's first death. We will never see him again, never again hear him talk about the great games of the past or the game today. We get to read all the obituaries today and we'll all do it again down the road, when he undergoes that second and final death.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Why don't Irish people care about school bus safety?

Senator Ross is the Minister for Transport but he "cannot make any demands" as to how school buses operate because it is the remit of a different government department, the Department of Education. Give me a break!

This is a crazy situation and Minister Ross should step up and say so. His department is responsible for vehicle safety and driver testing but not for school buses? Why not?

I've long thought Irish people are, at best, indifferent to the safety of the children that have to ride "school buses." Even the phrase "school bus" is misleading because as far as I can tell from my own observations most of the school buses are just old buses that the owners – sometimes – slap a bit of yellow paint on. They are transport to school but they are not school buses as anyone in America would understand them.

In NY State (and I think most states are pretty much the same) school buses are tested by state officials (NY State Dept of Transportation), the drivers are required to pass state tests (NY State Dept of Transportation) and there are laws regarding what a school bus must look like (including the school bus chrome shade of yellow) and how drivers on the road are to supposed to react when they see a stopped school bus (all NY State Dept of Transportation). School bus drivers are not simply bus drivers – they have to pass an additional test about school buses before they can drive a school bus.

The buses themselves are built for safety and have lights and stop signs that warn drivers that children are possibly going to be crossing the road, etc. The traffic stops when a school bus stops. The children are drilled in safe crossing and riding.

From what I've seen none of this happens in Ireland. This could be fixed with a little commitment but the state and the schools see the school bus as a gift from the gods to those who need them and don't believe they should have to make any effort to make the buses safer.

Changes needed must include:
  • training in how to safely cross students for both drivers and students
  • lights and reflective tape and paints and a standardized color scheme to make school buses stand out and easily identified
  • proper inspections of the vehicles by state operators – every six months
  • a commitment to improve the school bus stock so that within a reasonable timeframe all school buses are properly fitted, have reinforced frames, etc for maximum student safety.
Irish school children should not die on faulty or badly maintained buses or due to poorly trained drivers or due to poor safety training with regards to crossing roads, etc. Come on Minister Ross, work up a plan and see if you can find someone in the Department of Education who is willing to offload this responsibility to where it should right lie.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thank you Donald for causing Florence to weaken

Yesterday a Washington Post editorial on Hurricane Florence said Pres Trump was "complicit" in the storm's threat. That was because yesterday the storm looked like it was going to be one of the biggest to ever make landfall as far north as the Carolinas.

Usually those who make the case for doing something about climate change say that climate change cannot be linked to one-off weather events, but as far as the Washington Post is concerned, that's not true.

So, if Donald Trump was complicit in making Florence a category 4 hurricane I guess we all should get on our knees and thank the president for causing the storm to weaken to a category 2 storm today.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Dear God! Common sense on Irish immigrants?

"Giving the 10,500 US citizens living in Ireland a special deal on residency could unlock a remedy for the tens of thousands of Irish illegal immigrants in the US who are trapped in a legal nightmare, a leading campaigner has said. "

I can't believe I've just read this. I've only been saying – for about 20 years – that the Irish government needs to abandon the broad immigration reform for a specific deal with the US government that includes a quid pro quo.

It's far too sensible. It has an actual chance of getting support from the current ruling party in Congress and the White House. It could WORK.

I'm sure it's far too sane. The Irish government will surely say 'No' to Billy Lawless.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Ireland's "best performing schools" - would be great if someone knew how to measure such things

This sort of thing drives me nuts – "Revealed: Ireland's best-performing schools - including those with 100pc record of sending students to college." The "best performing" schools are those that send the most students to college.

Okay, first of all, why does that make them the "best performing" schools. They may be the "best" at churning out college-bound secondary school students, but is that the only 'performance' that matters? I'd say not. I'd say the best performing schools are those who churn out productive, well-rounded citizens who will be a credit to the nation (and a worthwhile investment of our tax money). I'd say we should try to measure this and then pronounce on which are the "best performing" schools in the country.

But even if we accept that getting kids into college is the only way to measure a school's performance, why should we accept that the outcome – students going on to college from second level – is the best measure. This implies that somehow every school starts off with the same people and the best schools are those that get the highest number of those interchangeable students into college. That's a load of twaddle and everybody knows it.

Some schools simply have smarter, more diligent students entering in first year. They make their way through the 5-6 years of second level education and come out the other end with college placements. Other schools have students who have already found school challenging, who don't come from the sort of background that values education, and/or who aren't of a mind to make much effort at all.

One of those schools with struggling students may well be the "best performing" school in the country if they get a half dozen of their students into 3rd level. How can we know since we have no real statistics on our education outputs normalized for the inputs? For all we know, some school with only one student heading to college could well get 100% of their students into college if they got the same students in the door as Presentation Brothers College in Cork (No. 1 in the Independent's list).

You can stuff your "best performing" nonsense until you explain how you have accounted for the ability and preparation and support from family of the students who enter each school you're measuring.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Irish Examiner is in irrational, full-on panic mode over Brexit

Sometimes I try to imagine what Ireland would be like if it was in Europe or even on planet Earth. It's a little mind game that the editors at the Irish Examiner should try someday. What am I talking about? Their editorial this morning on Brexit finishes with this:
What a terrible Pandora’s box has been opened and for what? Apart from climate change it is hard to think of a greater challenge faced by this island since the Great Famine of 1845. It is hard to be optimistic but we must remain determinedly so.
Huh? I don't deny that the post-Brexit economic environment will be very challenging, BUT there were other events between the Great Famine and Brexit that were bigger challenges than the UK's departure from the European Union.

First, WWI. Tens of thousand of Irishmen died in that war. Somewhere in the range of 30,000 - 40,000 seems to be accepted among historians these days. 30,000+ Irishmen dead in a war. I would imagine that was challenging.

Then there was the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War and all the work that went into rebuilding Ireland afterwards. I'd guess that was fairly challenging.

Then there was WWII. Again, thousands of Irishmen died in the conflict and for a while the future of Europe hung by a fingernail. I would bet those were challenging times and worrying, right? I mean, the Nazis could have won, which would have been an issue if Ireland was in Europe. If.

There were some significantly challenging times post-War too, some that were probably about as challenging as life post-Brexit will be. And there was that whole Cold War thing when life on Earth itself seemed to be at risk.

No, life post-Brexit will not be the greatest "challenge faced by this island since the Great Famine." Not even close.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Last straw? Will unpaid bar bills finally end the Dáil Bar?

The Dáil Bar is still open, still a disgrace, still as clear an indication as any that the people we elect to represent us enjoy a sense of entitlement that is simply breath-taking.

The latest revelation is that some of those who make laws that govern how we live have failed to pay their bar tabs. Actually, that's loose wording because they are restaurant/bar tabs that haven't been paid. More than €5,000 worth.

I doubt I'm the only tax-paying citizen who thinks that those we elect – and pay well! – should pay for their drinks and meals as and when they get them. I see no reason for credit to be extended to any TD or Senator. If they can't afford to pay for the meals and drinks they consume on the salaries we pay them then they are clearly so profligate that they should be disqualified from serving. Or is it simply that they don't bother carrying cash or cards, that paying for things that way is only for the little people, beneath the status of a high & mighty legislator.

This follows the scandal of 'lapgate' and the scandal of TD's drinking in the bar before big votes. This is – I hope – the last straw. If they want a meal or a drink let them go out and find a restaurant, pub or hotel. There are many within short walking distance of Leinster House.

It's time they stopped disgracing themselves and stopped treating us with contempt.

Monday, March 27, 2017

License fees on iPads & laptops is chock full of stupid

So the Irish government is going to redefine what a "television" is which will allow them to say that anyone who has a laptop or an iPad will have to buy a €160 license in order to own such a device. All of this is because RTE wants (needs?) more money.

The obvious answer (scrap the license fee) is unpalatable to the statists who control the government so they have to redefine words and go to great lengths to try to plug a small budget hole in our bloated, mostly unnecessary public television/radio service. This opens up so many potential issues that they will have to deal with in legislature that it will require one huge pretzel of a law to make this work.

First, who will who will have to pay this license fee? Will every tourist touting an iPad have to pony up €160? What about every business traveler with a MacBook? Surely not. So, there's exception 1. What about people who are visiting for a month? 3 months? What about those who come for a 6-week course in Donegal in July? What about American students over for their semester abroad?

The intent of the law is to bring into the license fee catchment all of those people who don't have a television, who do their viewing on their tablet or laptop. How is the government going to track those people? Will everyone who buys an iPad or laptop have to register their purchase with the state? Will shopkeepers demand ID from anyone who wants to buy a laptop. If yes, that will make shopping across the border a whole lot more appealing even when the exchange rate is unfavourable.

Maybe that won't be necessary, but rather the thought police will demand the download records from every internet provider operating in the state. UPC, Eir, Vodafone, etc. will be compelled by the state to hand over all the names of those who they supply, but of course the state says mobile phones will not be included so anyone who is paying  for broadband can say it's for their phone. Very few people would have an iPad or laptop but no smartphone.

So this change to the license law will be even less enforceable than the current TV license. Some lily-livered law-abiding people (as I am) will pay, but I doubt they'll get anywhere near the €5m per annum they expect.

But I already buy my TV license so it won't affect me, right? Wrong!

I'm self-employed and now the government is about to make my TV license a legitimate business expense. I've never written it off before, but I will now as should everyone in the state who needs their laptop or iPad at home for work. Soooo, the question is, will this be a revenue positive or revenue negative change for the government? My guess is negative.

This idea is just so stupid, but it's what governments do.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Water regulator sees the light on water metering

Simply unreal. The water regulator (aka the Commission for Energy Regulation) says metering should stop so that there is money to repair the water infrastructure. {What is the non-crude equivalent for "No Sh*t Sherlock!"?}

All of this could have been avoided, but our elected officials insisted we needed water metering. We never did. It was forced upon us by our masters in Brussels because everyone else in the EU has metered water. So what, they don't live in an arctic rain(denuded)forest.

Newsflash to the Irish government & our Euro-overloards: Ireland gets a lot of rain. So much that virtually nobody waters their lawn. I guess some people wash their cars, but that's about it in terms of non-normal use. And, lest we forget, summers are fairly cool. Very, very few have swimming pools.

People use water to wash and drink. Not much else. We didn't need to meter anyone. The costs of water are not about supply & demand, but about infrastructure. Charge to connect to the mains, but don't waste all that money on meters, bills, billing, bill-collecting, etc, etc, etc. {I'm not in favor of this either because only the suckers (like me) will pay.}

How much money was wasted on meters, on installing them? If we had any elected officials with guts they'd send the bill to Brussels.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Children should not be allowed to vote

James Doorley of the National Youth Council says that 16 & 17 year-olds should be allowed to vote. That's utter nonsense. They're children.

Still, I presume Doorley believes otherwise. He must consider 16 & 17 year-olds capable of reasoning as adults, which should be the minimum presumption for anyone allowed to vote. I wonder if he also believes that that criminals of that age should be tried as adults. If they can reason as adults they can be tried as adults.

Also, if they're old enough to vote that should mean that that they don't need the support of the National Youth Council, in which case that organization's budget can be cut accordingly.

Friday, August 05, 2016

No gain for Hillary digging into the Trumps of the 90s

In the past few days I've seen articles about pictures Melania Trump posed for back in the 1990s - before she was married - and stories about her visa situation from the same time. Now, I'm sure the motivation for these stories is to somehow damage Donald Trump, but I can't help thinking that anything that harkens back to the 90s will not be good for Hillary Clinton either.

Let's see: Mrs Trump was in her mid 20s and posed for what could be considered titillating photographs. I doubt the existence of such pictures will actually damage Donald Trump's campaign at all, but if we're re-examining the candidates' spouses' sexual behaviour in the 1990s I don't think Melania will come off worse than Hillary Clinton's spouse.

All the Trump campaign has to do is keep pounding away with pictures of Bill & Monica Lewinsky and talk about that blue dress. That one escapade alone assures Bill of the title of "Sleaziest behaviour by a candidate's spouse."

And the visa issue?

Again, maybe Mrs Trump's on dodgy ground and maybe she's not, but whatever about the legal murkiness of her having walked a runway while on a visitor's visa, let's face it - Bill's legal troubles from the same time are far more politically damaging.

Even if you take his word for it that he wasn't sexually harassing anyone or taking advantage of a young intern, that everything was consensual and above board, that still means that at best he comes across as a dirty old man and Hillary was his enabler.

I know for people my age and for the seriously involved political junkies what the Clintons did in the 90s is old history, but there are quite a few younger people who actually only have the slightest understanding of what he (they) got up to at the time. I can't see what benefit Hillary gets from people opening up the 90s can of worms or spouses' behavior. Her best bet is to keep the focus on her vs Trump and not on Bill vs Melania and on the here and now and not the past.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cameron bows out a failure, but with honor

© Daily Express
I don't get the logic that says the Brexit referendum has left the UK divided. Well, maybe it has, but wasn't it already divided? I mean, minus the Brexit referendum you'd have had a disaffected MAJORITY, powerless, unable to express its wish that the country leave the EU. How is that preferable to a divided nation where you have a disaffected MINORITY?

I know I'm just about the only person out there who feels this way, but I have great respect for David Cameron as he bows out. During the election campaign he promised to hold a referendum on EU membership, something that seems to have been an unfulfilled pledge for nearly 20 years now. So then he does the unthinkable and FOLLOWS THROUGH on his promise! I mean, how dare he do what he said he'd do during the campaign?

He called for the referendum then did his best to secure a REMAIN vote, but it wasn't enough. He didn't find the right formula, which I actually believe he might have, and the UK voted itself out of the EU. And now Cameron, having failed, has fallen on his sword. He's gone not because of negligence of duty or corruption or abuse of power, but simply because he followed through on his promise and failed to secure the REMAIN vote he believed in.

So he's gone, a failure. I guess. But to my mind, Cameron is leaving the political stage with more honor than any national political leader I can think of (especially from a parliamentary system like they have in the UK & Ireland).

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Hillary's "home state" is not New York

I was listening to "Morning Edition" on NPR this morning and during their discussion of the Democrats' battle they referred to NY as Hillary's home state, and that Sanders would have his work cut out for him as an outsider. I don't get any of that.

When I hear Sanders talk I hear NYC. He's so clearly from NY that I'm sure the people of Vermont never forget that he's not really one of them, although they clearly don't hold that against him. And Hillary? She was born and raised in Illinois and spent most of her adult years in Arkansas and Washington. Her attachment to NY is like that of a European knight to an estate granted to him by a grateful monarch. She is NOT from NY.

{None of that means that Sanders will win the NY primary, but the media should stop pretending that Hillary is a New Yorker.}

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Polish people should be thankful for the "miracle of Solidarity" & Lech Walesa

Lech Walesa is one of the great heroes of the 20th century. That some in Poland - including the current government, it seems - see fit to label him a Communist collaborator is shattering.

I don't equate Gobachev with Walesa because Gorbachev ended up ushering in the revolutions that brought down Communism in the eastern bloc by accident. He only intended to loosen Communism's tight grip; he never meant for what happened. His plan wasn't much different than what has happened in China.

But Walesa? He believed in freedom and risked everything for it. He wasn't the only one in Eastern Europe or even in Poland, but he was the most prominent. He was the head of the defiant labor union Solidarity, the man whom the Polish people chose to make president in their first post-war free election. As Ivan Krastev put it in the NY Times "the miracle of Solidarity would have been impossible without leaders like Mr. Walesa."

Walesa is a hero to all freedom-loving people and should be remembered that way.