Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Deferred for 8 months

So, Minister Dempsey finally hit upon something close to the right decision. Deferring the implementation of the more rigid enforcement of the driving test requirement accomplishes two things: (1) it allows many people time to pass their test, although not everyone who has a second provisional license will have passed their test by next June 30 and (2) it increases the odds that the new regime will not fall into disrepute as did the old one despite previous amnesties, etc.

I still think Noel Dempsey should go on a sabbatical for a while. I can't understand how he got this simple thing so badly wrong.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sports as entertainment

Today's NY Times features a column by a British sportswriter explaining all the reasons British sports fans don't like American sports (mostly football). This is to mark the occasion of today's NFL game at Wembley Stadium.

As I was reading I was saying to myself either "fair enough" or "typical". "Rugby players do not dress in shoulder pads and helmets"; "Baseball is viewed as glorified rounders played by men in pajamas". That sort of thing. I've said the similar things in my time: "Soccer - 90 minutes because nobody could endure more than that"; "Cricket? They stop for tea. Enough said."

Just your normal give and take, but he makes a few relevant points as well. The best was this one.
Americans see sport as entertainment. But the British do not necessarily want to be entertained at a sporting event. We require long-term emotional involvement, and that often means the perverse pleasure of grumbling about your team’s horrible form.
If he thinks Americans don't grumble about their own team, then he has not spent any time at a sporting event in the northeast. Philadelphia fans are probably the worst in America, but fans from Philadelphia to Boston are well known for booing (or worse) at their favorite teams.

Still, he has a point. It's this aspect of American sports that really annoys me. Those who run the sports leagues believe you must keep tinkering with the game to try and drag in every last barely aware fan. Of course I understand why that is done, but it's always at the expense of the most committed fan, the fan who turns up or tunes in even when the team stinks. And, even though there are elements of this in sports over here, it's much less a factor than it is in America.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The RSA Chairman

I have been focusing on the Minister Dempsey's role in this driving license debacle, but I am sick of RSA Chairman Gay Byrne's "Let them eat cake" attitude.
Gay Byrne acknowledged a great number of people were upset by what the authority was trying to do but he urged people to "get rid of the hysteria".

While enforcement would be a matter for the gardai, the authority wanted to make the public aware of it and "they better get with it", he warned.
I love that "he warned".

It might seem like a minor issue to Byrne, but to people up and down the country the fact that in 3 days time they might not be able to go to work or the store, drive their children around or visit their families is a big deal. They are not being hysterical when they vent their anger at this ham-fisted decision by the government.

Nor would they be out of line in seeking to put the arrogant Road Safety Authority Chairman back in his box.

Dempsey sings "I sought the law and the law lost"

Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, is going to wake up today and realize that all this upset is his own doing. He's the lead story in today's Irish Times and essentially the story is that, yes, he's changing the law, but no the law shouldn't be enforced, at least not for a while.
Responding to intense public anger at the planned clampdown, Mr Dempsey said the Garda authorities would take a "proportionate" and "common sense" approach to implementing the regulations for two or three months.
Ah, I see, but unfortunately the gardai don't quite see it that way. Or do they?
A statement yesterday afternoon from Garda headquarters appeared to contradict Mr Dempsey's assertion, saying gardaí would "fully enforce the laws in relation to this area". The statement added that gardaí would "where appropriate issue a caution/warning, notice or prosecution".

However, reliable senior Garda sources said later yesterday that in reality, gardaí would operate a three-month grace period. "If a driver is stopped and driving alone is the only offence, it will mean a caution," said one source.

Other Garda sources said the force had been put in a very difficult position, adding that if the Government did not want the new rules enforced for three months they should have waited until then to introduce them.
So, we have a Minister who doesn't want his own law implemented and a police force that might be willing to see that his new law is not implemented. Hard to disagree with Labour Party spokesman, Tommy Broughan, who said, "the situation had degenerated into an absolute farce". Indeed. It's one of those satires that just writes itself.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dempsey should go

It's getting better. I just heard a report on Newstalk that Minister Dempsey says that those drivers who haven't passed their tests should relax because the law won't really be enforced for a while yet. Good G - O - D!

I wonder if all of this nonsense is simply a smokescreen to deflect attention away from the fact that the Minister hasn't got a clue as to what's going on in his Department with regards to Shannon.

I think it would be a good idea for Minister Dempsey to resign today because he clearly needs a break.

The wait from this point to the test is ...

I should have added to my post below that currently, there is on average a 6-month wait for a driving test. What are the odds that the wait is about to get a LOT longer.

Arrogance & ignorance

I knew as soon as I saw this headline "Drive-alone ban to hit 420,000 learners" that this was going to be trouble.
MORE than 420,000 learner drivers will be banned from driving alone from midnight on Monday.

Their insurance will be also invalidated if they crash, road safety chiefs warned last night.

If people flout the new law – announced by the Government yesterday – they face fines of €1,000 or jail terms of up to three years on a second offence.

Gardai last night insisted they would implement the drastic new measures which will put an end to provision licence holders, on their second licence, being allowed to drive without being accompanied by a fully qualified driver.

The new learner permit system starts from Tuesday.
How can this happen? Now, if you don't live in Ireland, this might sound fair enough. People who haven't passed their test shouldn't be driving unaccompanied. True. But, ...

That's how it's always been here. People can basically drive as if they've passed their test once they've taken the test once (& failed). Insurance companies will insure you and nobody will ticket you.

This afternoon I heard that it has always been illegal for someone to drive unaccompanied. I presume that's true, but if the law is so obviously unenforced it's essentially it's non-existent. According to the Independent, that's all about to change very suddenly.

The reason I knew this would be trouble is because I know there are thousands of people who drive to work, but who have yet to pass their test. Many of these live in the far distant suburbs of Dublin (or beyond), in towns and villages where public transport is not an option. So, with the flick of a pen, next Tuesday morning, there will be many, many people unable to get to their place of work.

I can't for the life of me understand how this happened. It can only be due to the arrogance and ignorance of those in the government, the Road Safety Authority and the upper echelon of the civil service.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


There are always people complaining about Ryanair and its lack of customer service. There are times when I find Ryanair annoying, but I've had no serious issue with them. If you want really bad customer service look to Tesco.

I used to actually not mind a trip to the supermarket. Nowadays a trip to the supermarket requires endless patience while customers struggle with Tesco's piece-of-junk self-service scanners. The scanners are too sensitive, too slow, too prone to failure (or "crashing" as the Tesco employees say) and a pleasant experience only for those under 15 years of age. {Kids love scanning and there are often long lines of kids buying chocolate or sodas.}

Only a few checkouts are manned these days and those always have long lines of people with full shopping wagons. As well as the self-service scanners, half the items have no price near them on the shelves (Price stickers? Forget it.) so you only find out what something costs when you scan it.

I know there are people in America who think Wal-mart is the epitome of poor customer service, but Tesco is inferior.

And, yes, I know it's profitable, but I can't help wondering if their whole success is due to the reluctance of planners to allow any new multiples to open supermarkets in areas where Tesco (Quinnsworth before it) has been established for some time. I know I'm considering driving 8 miles each way to avoid going to the Tesco that is less than a mile from my house.

So long Terrible Twins

I think I'm the only person in Ireland or anywhere outside Poland who is sad to see the Kaczynski twins on the wane. They made me laugh. I love the fact that they were the only EU leaders willing to publicly show that they didn't care for aspects of EU policy or the general drift towards a federal state.

The fact that "Europe" is "relieved" is disappointing. You just know what they really mean is that the EU leaders are relieved that those trouble-makers won't be around disturbing the planning and implementing of their federal super-state.

Maybe if I lived in Poland or came from Poland I'd have a different view. Obviously the Poles had had enough of them. The Polish economy has been growing rapidly, but possibly the government still was not doing enough to ensure that the growth was sustainable long-term and the people voted accordingly. Or maybe the Poles were tired of being bludgeoned by the European political and media elite who thought the Twins "strident, xenophobic" nationalists.

Regardless, we now have a new Polish PM, Donald Tusk, who is more amenable to the federal project. At least, his name will be easy to spell and pronounce.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thin-skinned owners

I can't believe that the owners of Sheffield Wednesday are preparing to sue some of their own fans for libel because some of the fans may have gone overboard when they vented their frustrations on an internet chat site.

Of course, the first step was for the owners to find out who these posters were. Last week a judge ordered that
three fans whose postings might "reasonably be understood to allege greed, selfishness, untrustworthiness and dishonest behaviour", should be unmasked.
I don't know what, precisely, these guys wrote about their club's owners, etc., but this shocks me. Although I'm a cautious person even I would occasionally let loose when particularly frustrated by the Mets. And I wouldn't have a leg to stand on if Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner ever decided to come after me.

Sports are all about hyperbole, no? Fans overstate the importance of the results in their lives and make ridiculously exaggerated claims - for better or worse - about the teams they "marry". It's a 100% emotional relationship; reason never enters into it. Are we all now supposed to only speak in legalese when talking about our team?

Look, I know posting on the internet is not the same as talking in a bar, but anyone who reads a blog or message board run by and for a team's fans knows that many of the posters are posting in that semi-sober, barely literate state that fans often find themselves in after a game. People do get carried away, but I would bet Wednesday's fans would be happy if the chairman, chief executive and five directors who are filing suit would simply let it go and tell the fans that they too are frustrated, but they do want to win.

Like I said, fans aren't reasonable, but they can be somewhat appeased if they know that those in charge of their team are suffering, truly suffering. They don't really mean any harm, but they're in agony and they're yelling at the doctor, the only one who can help them with their suffering. That's the owner and being thick-skinned is a prerequisite.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Calling the Lord Mayor of Belfast

Columbia High School students are looking for at least 1,198 people to take part in a Guinness Book of Records attempt at the world's largest game of leap frog ever tomorrow. I would imagine that a leap-frogger of the Lord Mayor's experience would love to be part of such an event.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Milk is a natural!

Now this is just too much. The British government wants people to switch to UHT milk - you know, that undrinkable junk that they serve you in those little 'creamers' - to help save the planet.

Possibly the the greatest pleasure to living in Ireland is the full fat milk is simply without equal on this planet. I drink milk, take it in my coffee/tea and put it on my corn flakes. I know my milk and I've never had anything near as good as the milk we get here. I don't even much care for the full fat milk in Britain or America. The very idea of drinking UHT milk is just OUT!

And, if I won't drink it then neither will the children. I guess I should just give them, what? Goat's milk? That'll be the day. Maybe the government wants me to put coke on their corn flakes.

If the environmental do-gooders have their way, we'll soon be spending our winter evenings sitting in light that's no good for reading, drinking tea or milk that's neither fit for man nor beast, freezing our tails off. And people wonder why the average voter rejects the 'green agenda'.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

PBS showed the Catalpa episode

I'm nearly sure that this program that aired on PBS in May 2006 is the same short film on the Catalpa Rescue that was on Hidden History last week. I just hope it turns up on the History Channel some day.

Turkish genocide

Without making much effort to learn anything on my own I've simply believed that the Armenians were the victims of genocide. I can't remember how I first heard about it or where that view came from, probably a high school history teacher. Wherever that opinion came from I've never read or heard anything to counter my perception of what happened in 1915.

So, last week when a House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to condemn the mass killings as genocide I figured it was about time. But, why now? Does the US really want to annoy Turkey right now?

President Bush didn't seem too keen and now, in what can only be described as an amazing about-face, a lot of folks in the House don't seem too keen either.
Until Tuesday, the measure appeared on a path to House passage, with strong support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was approved last week by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But by Tuesday evening, a group of senior House Democrats had made it known that they were planning to ask the leadership to drop plans for a vote on the measure.
Uggh. Either do the right thing or shut up, but don't antagonize the Turks and then pull back from making a stand.

By the way, thanks to the NY Times recent move to free, you can read about a similar effort in the Senate in 1990. Kind of interesting to read what President Bush (the first), Senators Dole, Byrd and others had to say back then. It seems like it's never a good time to do the right thing when it comes to the Armenian genocide.

Bishop Walsh's donation

Bishop Willie Walsh "donated lands worth €10m for the construction of residential housing and a day-care centre to cater for the growing elderly population in Ennis, Co Clare". Now, this land isn't actually Bishop Walsh's personal property, but is owned by the diocese.

First of all, let me say that this sounds like a worthwhile project. I think these sheltered housing schemes for the elderly are a great idea. I'm not sure Bishop Walsh should be giving away the land, however.

I can't vehemently condemn Bishop Walsh because I half suspect that most of the people in the Diocese of Killaloe probably think this is a good idea. Still, how many people hearing this news will think to themselves, "The Church has a lot more money than it needs these days".

In the past, the Church wouldn't have donated the land, but would have been quite likely to take on the role of managing the construction and operation of the facilities. There would have been a big Church-led campaign to raise the money and build support for the scheme. Obviously, Bishop Walsh decided that the Church couldn't or shouldn't do so in this case.

This has me thinking that the Church simply can't use the assets at its disposal. Does that mean the Church should just simply give it all away? Well, maybe, but why should I (or any Catholic) respond to any request for funding for those services the Church still controls if the Church is giving money away? Why should I dip into my pocket to fund Accord (for example) if the Church has the resources to do donate land that should rightly be bought or rented by either a private operator or the government?

I guess my big problem is that I can't see any benefit to the Church or the people of Killaloe thanks to Bishop Walsh's donation. It's just not hard-headed enough for me.

Kate McCann's looks

Kate McCann, says that people would have a different view of her if she looked more maternal.
If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic.
I don't think it has anything to do with how she looks, but rather it's how she acts.

I think it's because a lot of people don't think she acts maternal that they're somewhat unsympathetic. What her mother describes as a "terrible mistake" (leaving the children while she & her husband dined in a nearby restaurant) a lot of people see as pretty close to neglect.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Film Script

Declan Lynch, reviewing RTE's Hidden History program on the Catalpa Rescue had this to say:
You won't see anything better on RTE this year than Hidden History: The Catalpa Rescue. The story of how six British soldiers convicted of membership of the Fenians were rescued from Fremantle Prison in 1876 by an international conspiracy of their American, Australian and Irish comrades was of a complexity and tension that age had not withered one bit. It was superb and the inclusion of the Aussie novelist Thomas Keneally to give the background colour supplied the Schindler star quality.
Now I'm even more annoyed that I missed it and I can't find any place to catch it.

Lynch also had this to say about the rescue itself:
Only one question remains. Where, in the name of a dingo's daggy didgeridoo, is Hollywood?
I can remember when I finished O'Luing's book and returned it to the man who had loaned it to me he asked me what I thought. I said "it's an amazing story and it would make a great movie. I can't believe Hollywood hasn't taken this book and turned it into a winning film script".

By the way, it's not hard to find O'Luing's book in the library in Ireland, but for some reason it's always listed as a "children's book". I don't know why that is, but I think it's because O'Luing wrote the book for secondary school students during the 1960s. Whatever the reason, it is definitely not a childish book.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The European View

Thanks to Jack, who alerted me to a series of videos (one, two, three, four, five, six) on Europeans' views of America (& Americans) produced by the Center for New America. I think, if I'm reading this right, it was shown on PBS. The videos are entertaining and educational, in a way.

I love David McWilliams's comment (first video at 2'40") that "anti-Americanism has great rhetoric and no down-side risk".

As I watched the videos I was struck by two things:
  1. this stuff is really not all that new (I heard much the same when I came to Ireland for the 1986/87 academic year) and
  2. I shouldn't let it bother me.
So, I'm going to try not to let it bother me.

Catalpa Rescue

I'm really annoyed this morning. I only found out today that I missed a Hidden History program last week on the Catalpa Rescue. RTE says the Catalpa Rescue has "long since been forgotten", which I don't think is quite true, but it's pretty close to true in Ireland.

I remember being amazed the first time I came across the story in Sean O'Luing's book, the Fremantle Mission, which is hard to find these days. At the moment I'm reading a biography of the Catalpa Rescue's chief planner, John Devoy (by Terry Golway - I recommend it), so some of the details are fresh in my memory.

Unfortunately, it appears that RTE doesn't make Hidden History programs available for online viewing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Khalid won't be happy

Today's Daily News reports that Ramzi Yousef (1993 World Trade Center bombing, et al) is now a Christian. I wonder what uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (9/11 et al) thinks.

I guess it's hardly surprising that Yousef has become a Christian. He's in a prison not far from Colorado Springs, "Mecca for Evangelical Christians".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

National Portrait Gallery

I had to go to London yesterday. I found myself with a couple of hours on my own and I went to the National Portraits Gallery. Never before even imagined going in there. I'm still not sure why I decided to go yesterday.

Regardless, I thought it was really worthwhile. Kings, Queens, other royals, politicians, inventors, scientists, poets, actors, scandalous women and loads of others are all there. Although the most spectacular works are of the Kings & Queens, I probably liked seeing some of the lesser known politicians and the inventors/scientists/engineers more.

I guess from an Irish point-of-view I found the treatment of Lord John Russell, Prime Minister for most of the Famine, most interesting.

On display there is a statue of Russell from 1832 and a portrait of him in 1851. He looks proud and confident in the 1832 sculpture, but in the 1851 portrait, his eyes are nearly shut and his head is turned away from us. You get the impression he's ashamed of what his government has done (or not done).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Becoming American

Ireland is 'too American', according to Aurelio Caminati, whose claim to fame is, seemingly, that he "knew Picasso and Matisse".
"I have a very great love for Ireland, but am deeply concerned with the way some Irish – like other European countries – have adopted American capitalist ways," said Caminati, who has been coming to Ireland for more than 13 years.

"The subtlety and refined sensitivity of the Irish could slowly disappear, to be replaced by a brash new breed of greedy nouveau riche."
Yada yada yada. "Greedy nouveau riche" equals American. It can get a little tiresome. Note how the journalist, Richard Curran, didn't seem to bat an eye at that connection. Sheesh.

There is a coarseness in Irish society that I don't think was there twenty years ago. Is that because Ireland is becoming 'too American'? No. Society's changing for better or worse.

Ireland is a wealthy nation and this is a good thing, but clearly the impact of this sudden rags to riches transformation isn't entirely positive. Nothing to do with America or anything imported from America. It's all about Ireland and Irish people adapting to change.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Google celebrates ...

Took me a few minutes to figure out what this was all about.

Initially, the US government responded with low key congratulations to the Soviet scientists. But, the American people were panicked, many thought it was some form of weapon. Eventually, the government decided to join the Soviets and the the space race was born.

I forgive you Padraig

I don't care for golf. I don't play it and I hardly ever watch it. So, the fact that Padraig Harrington skipped the Seve Trophy last weekend down in Laois doesn't bother me. Seve Ballesteros says Padraig "let down the people from Ireland, especially the people from the Dublin area".

I just want to let Padraig know that he need feel no guilt about letting me down even though I live in the Dublin area. I'm a big man - I can brush off this slight.

No fool like an old fool

That's what my mother likes to say and as proof there's always the Lord Mayor of Belfast. He injured a city councilwoman when he decided to leapfrog her during a photo shoot. There's a picture of the Lord Mayor mid-leap here.

It's just so stupid you have to laugh, but the woman seems to have suffered a fairly serious back injury. Just so stupid.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

If it wasn't so funny it would be offensive.

First of all, thanks to William for finding the report that was quoted by the Irish Examiner the other day.

I haven't read much of it yet or really analyzed it, but basically they got together two groups of people in each EU state and let them participate in 'guided' discussions on culture. Unless I'm misreading the report, that means 8 - yes EIGHT - people from Ireland were involved. Now statistical models are a great thing, but I'm pretty sure that 8, NOT randomly selected, people might be just a smidge too small a sample size to allow anyone (ahem, N.B. Irish Examiner) to declare that "Irish people want to become more European and are highly critical of the US, its values and culture". (Oops - what I get for reading too quickly. There were 16 Irish people involved, not 8. Still, a pretty small sample from a population of 4m).

Regardless, there are some priceless quotes here, all of which are not much more than claptrap born of bigotry. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from "Europeans":
  • "I have the feeling what is at stake is rather globalisation. It mainly comes from the Americans and the English, whether you are in a discotheque here in Cologne or in Madrid or Warsaw, you hear the same music" (Germany. Lower-middle social and educational level)
    What? Isn't Nena putting out any good records these days?

  • "Having a general culture, we think more. We refine our judgements by reading a book which also enriches our vocabulary. Then by discussing the book with someone else, we also improve our reasoning capacity and our capacity to question things. That does not happen among Americans. They have no personal opinions on any subject" (Romania. Higher-middle social and educational level)
    In my personal opinion you're a moron.

  • "I would define the European culture as more creative. The Europeans are active and energetic. I cannot imagine the Americans as active and creative" "The European culture has a past. That is exactly why the Americans envy us. Their history goes back in time to some 200 years..., you can extract whatever pottery from the earth on our lands" (Bulgaria. Higher-middle social and educational level)
    Yup, Americans are just green with envy. On an almost daily basis all 300 million of them dream about living in Bulgaria.
Honestly, the fact that this report was commissioned and published by the European Commission is almost beyond belief. When you read the quotes - and I've only really dipped into it so far - you realize that the European Commission obviously considers it all right to publish a report that basically says Americans are a nation of Neanderthals.

What's really funny, however, is that the envy is all in the other direction. Americans hardly even give Europe a thought, other than as a sort of Disneyland of history.

Marriage in America

Hmm. I have to admit that I'm taken aback by the figures in this op-ed piece from Saturday's NY Times.
The story of ever-increasing divorce is a powerful narrative. It is also wrong. In fact, the divorce rate has been falling continuously over the past quarter-century, and is now at its lowest level since 1970. While marriage rates are also declining, those marriages that do occur are increasingly more stable. For instance, marriages that began in the 1990s were more likely to celebrate a 10th anniversary than those that started in the 1980s, which, in turn, were also more likely to last than marriages that began back in the 1970s.
I guess I just assumed that divorce rates were only ever going to head one direction and that's Up. Seems that's not so.

That little caveat about declining marriage rates deserves more investigation, but I think this is good news.

Eircom's wireless issue

I mentioned this two years ago, but I guess nobody from Eircom happened to stumble onto my site at the time. Eircom has finally realized that all those wireless routers that they've been providing to people are pretty easily hacked. They all have the same password, which means the customer should change it as soon as the system is installed. But, nobody from Eircom told the customer.

What surprised me then - and as far as I know they haven't done anything about this - is those customers who were using desktop PC's, who didn't need wireless, were still given a wireless router. People who had no knowledge of WiFi, no understanding of what that piece of equipment on their desk is all about were never told that they needed to change the password of their router. This was the case even when Eircom sent a technician to install the router and get the broadband working.

And, of course, as the market-dominant former semi-state, Eircom has a disproportionate number of customers who just wanted broadband, but were never geeky enough to even consider asking any questions. The whole process was just too mysterious for them. They simply trusted old 'Ma Bell'.

Sure, you can say that the customer should have been more savvy, but broadband is sold like digital television and how many people understand how that works? No, this one's on Eircom because (a) I'm sure they knew that people were leaving themselves open and (b) it was just too much bother to explain this to people or even open the whole security can of worms.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Slightly less grumpy today

Three reasons for this and none of them have to do with the Mets. I'm still mad as hell about them and at them.

First reason I feel a little better is that I read a few pages from Bill Bryson's book on his youth in Iowa in the 50s & 60s. I was reading a few pages on his brainy friend Willoughby and Willoughby's equally brainy brothers and the stupid games that they used to play. One day Willoughby made a cannon and using his own home-made gun powder took out a window in a house down the street. A few paragraphs on and I'm reading about how the brothers used to go into the basement, turn off the lights and throw lighted matches at one another. I was laughing so hard I was crying. It was easy to recognize life with my brothers in those few pages.

Then someone sent me this video on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from Saturday Night Live. (Warning - it's not G Rated, although in today's climate maybe it would be.) It just made me laugh and forget about those pretenders in Queens.

Then there was this article by a guy named Bartle Bull. I don't know who Bartle Bull is, but he is so upbeat about what's going on in Iraq that I decided to not even think critically about his article for a while. Just accept what he's saying like a drug. When it wears off, I'll consider his thesis - that the mission is basically accomplished and the political violence is basically pointless/over - but until then I'm just going to accept this high (to forget, you know what).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Junk journalism

Last Friday the Irish Examiner provided readers with an article headlined "Revealed: Why we want to be like Europe, not the US". That caught my attention, so I clicked to read more and I learned
Irish people want to become more European and are highly critical of the US, its values and culture, a recent study found.

Like the British we see ourselves as an island off the continent of Europe, but have completely different attitudes to it.

The Irish are welcoming and eager to learn about the different European cultures while the British were described as "insular," feeling they have more in common with the US.

Many Irish hold anti-US views and dislike the influence of American culture, despite the strong links to the US and the emigrant communities. They see being part of Europe as a way of fighting American domination. "Anything which helps to stem the flow of American culture is worthwhile," said one Irish person.

Many no longer see western culture as something European, but associate the term with the US and globalisation.

One Irish person quoted in the report said: "I would immediately think of America when I hear of western culture, I think greed, oil, exploitation, colonialism and certain religious values. Americans tend to think the US is the world."
That's some strong stuff. I figured I'd like to read the full study, but the Examiner didn't say who'd conducted the research, how it was conducted nor provide any help in finding the full report.

What kind of reporting is that? I saw a new study that says the Irish Examiner is run by a group of Reavers, but I can't tell you who wrote the report or conducted the research. But, it exists. Trust me.

Again, I told you I'm grumpy.

Is MSNBC a joke?

I don't know all that much about MSNBC, to be honest, but after reading their "contributor's" review of Springsteen's new album, I can't help think it's staffed by half-wits.
The mesmerizing title track is where Springsteen's aforementioned dark side comes to fruition. Whether he was emotionally scarred by a magician as a young boy, or he just has it out for them, Springsteen sees these tricksters as deceitful and reprehensible, their entertainment value be damned.

With lyrics such as "I got a shiny saw blade / All I need's a volunteer / I'll cut you in half / While you're smilin' ear to ear" makes it very clear what Springsteen thinks of these slight-of-hand artists. Of course, he could be a big fan of magicians and is just toying with us.
You'd really have to be nearly brain dead NOT to realize that Springsteen is referring to President Bush in this song. It's a very political album, how does this guy not know this?

I told you I was grumpy.

Yeah, I'm very grumpy today

What's your problem? Just stay clear. It'll take a few days. Okay weeks. All right, all right. I'll probably never get over this one. Satisfied? Is that what you wanted to hear? Now shaddup and getoutofmyface.

Bray this weekend

There is a palpable sadness in Bray this weekend and it will continue until tomorrow when the second fireman is buried. There's not a lot to be said. It's just tragic.

Nice touch by the FDNY to send a delegation to the funeral.