Thursday, September 30, 2010

Radio Nova — here to stay?

I'm almost ridiculously happy with Radio Nova. I've been listening to it quite a bit since it came on air and I just can't get over the fact that after nearly 20 years after I moved here someone has finally started a Classic Rock station.

Will it last? I have no idea, but I was convinced on Sunday that TodayFM's changed its play-list to try and combat Radio Nova. Until I had that thought, I just assumed that Radio Nova would crash and burn, but that thought has made me think it might just succeed.

Why did I think Radio Nova would crash and burn? I guess because I figured a station that is playing music that seems almost perfectly tailored to 40+-year-old teenager would find that too many of those teens prefer political talk shows now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why hating the Green Party is so easy

So, what are you supposed to do if you break one the new Gormley-special light bulbs? I spent a few minutes this morning looking for advice on the Department of the Environment's web site, but there's nothing obvious there. Wouldn't have mattered because I had already dealt with the broken CFL bulb long before I thought I'd have a look.

I'd warned everyone in the house that these bulbs could be dangerous and to be careful not to break one. However, in real life these things happen and when they do you don't have time to think or worry about what is the "right" thing to do. I just went into my daughter's bedroom, picked up the big pieces of glass and the base, threw them in the garbage and vacuumed up the rest. Oh, part of the bulb landed on her duvet so I took the cover off and threw it in the washing machine.

I was aware that there is mercury in these stupid bulbs, but my daughter needed to get ready for school. What are we supposed to do, stop living when we break a light bulb? I opened the windows because I knew that was a good idea, but if it had been raining I'd have had to forgo that bit of safety advice too.

Let me tell you, I was incandescent as I raged about our Minister [NOTE: I edited out some less than parliamentary language] for the Environment. These stupid CFL bulbs are just inappropriate for normal family living. If I had his home phone number I would have called him right there and then to give him a piece of my mind.

I found a 100W bulb in the attic and put it into the fixture in my daughter's room. She'll be good for a year or so with that.

It's bad enough that we're all going blind trying to read by the poor light these CFL bulbs generate, but we're also being poisoned by them. Oh, and one broken bulb more than wipes out the savings the government is touting in its stupid ad campaign.

I'm going to check around to see if the UK has the same stupid ban. If not I'll be heading north to stock up on traditional 100W bulbs.

New Look

I've finally gotten around to getting this blog fixed. I expect to blog more, but you will see many more Twitter length posts.

Oh, and commenting will resume. I have all the old comments saved. If I can figure out to to populate the comments fields with the XML files all the old comments will return.

I have some work to do on the look. I kind of like font and colors, but I need my Eagle in the heading.

UPDATE 1:30PM — Eagle issue resolved.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

OECD report on Education not worth 1 column in Irish Times

Sometimes it's almost impossible to contain the frustration. Pointless reports, reported on by clueless journalists and used by shameless promoters/lobbyists to push home a point they want. What am I talking about? Well, the OECD report on education, Education at a Glance, 2010.

Why is it pointless? Because the study stops at 2007! Maybe the OECD hasn't noticed, but there may have been one or two economic changes that might have had an impact on some of the report's favored stats such as GDP, etc. So, this report is a fine as a history text, but offers nothing for the times in which we now live.

The clueless journalist? Charlie Taylor of the Irish Times, who claims that the figures show "that spending on education in Ireland has fallen back significantly since 1995 when the country invested 5.2 per cent of GDP on education." It's a fall in percentages, not actual spending, which has risen tremendously, but, really, who cares? We're bankrupt.

Shameless is how I'd describe all those teacher unions who think using a report based on 3-year-old GDP data is worth anything. Well, it isn't. Given that we've had a fall in GDP that is 3 or 4 times greater than the fall in spending on the Education (those are my rough estimates gleaned from here, here, here and here) will probably push us up and over that 'magical' OECD average.

To Charlie Taylor and teachers unions I pose this question: Was it better to have 4.4% of a big and growing pie or 5.4% of a small and shrinking pie?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

If this were a war we'd have objectives and strategies to evaluate

If the problems in our economy were a war the public would want to know: (a) What's at stake?; (b) What will it take for victory?; and (c) What will victory look like? From those answers would follow the tactics we'll be employing to win the war and a forecast as to how those tactics will play out.

I think this is one of the great problems of the current crisis and our political system. We have a government that's pursuing a policy that makes no sense to people because they're too scared to come on television and spell out what happens if we fail to save the banks; what it will cost collectively and individually; and what we'll have when we've won. {And, truthfully, this government is too discredited to undertake this now.}

I know there have been a few instances where the government, Brian Lenihan in particular, has given glimpses of what exactly is at stake and what it will take to fix the economy, but still everything's too vague. A year ago, more probably, Lenihan should have boldly stated that the debts the banks have incurred are enormous and we have to repay those because of a, b and c.

Then he would have explained that to repay those debts will require 10, 20, 30 years, whatever it will be and in the meantime this will mean more taxes, lower wages for government employees, reduced benefits for those on the dole and pensioners, lower cost health and education systems, etc. The government should have point blank said we'll be experiencing a significant reduction in our standard of living.

Never happened and never would because these people are too worried about their own jobs. So, we have hints at the darkness that's before us, but no explicit explanation as to what might happen. We have cuts to benefits for young people matched with an official indifference to the potential loss of thousands of young people to emigration. We have a government that caved at the first sign that older voters were objecting to small cost-saving changes (medical cards for over 70s). We have lots of little instances of people blowing on burning embers - trying to encourage banks to defer foreclosures, etc. - while the main fire (Anglo and even the other banks) is laying waste to our collective future.

The worst part of this is that our opposition is content to pick away at the government's tactics, but they're equally unwilling to make the big pitch. We don't need to hear how they'd tinker differently, we need a new strategy or at least new leadership willing to spell out exactly what is happening and what is going to happen.

The enemy's closing in and our leaders are hiding in their dugout.