Monday, June 27, 2011

Aer Lingus in T2 - better leave plenty of time.

I know Dublin Airport's Terminal 2 is new and this is the first time they've had to deal with the busy summer season and there are probably a few kinks to work out, but really the lines to check-in or just drop your bag at Aer Lingus this morning were ridiculous.

I would not be surprised if the people in this picture had to wait 30 minutes to do a 'bag drop.' I presume this has more to do with Aer Lingus than anything wrong with T2, but I'm not sure. I didn't see too many unmanned bag-drop desks – I didn't have to go to check-in desk – so maybe it's just that Aer Lingus was not allocated sufficient desks? Or maybe Aer Lingus has decided that T2 means fewer employees on duty?

Whatever the issue, I hope they get it straightened out soon. The only lasting impression for T2 made on departing tourists this morning was chaos and mismanagement.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is the state considering confiscating church property?

A report in the Independent says the Department of Education will "take action on the divesting of schools if there was a delay in reaching agreement on a handover from Catholic-run schools to different patrons." What the report doesn't say is what action the government will take if the Forum on Pluralism and Patronage doesn't come to a speedy resolution of the issues that are currently being discussed.

It is intriguing to consider whether the state will simply confiscate church property in order to meet this "urgent" need for providing more diversity in primary education. I can't see any other option because to simply start opening new schools in temporary facilities while the Forum does its job would mean hiring a whole load of new teachers, which I would imagine our EU/ECB/IMF overlords would frown upon.

Until now I thought this process was going to be a voluntary one, but maybe not? Would Fine Gael back such a move? This could get interesting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NY Times - American soccer's number 1 cheerleader

Another NY Times article on how hot the MLS and soccer generally is in America. This time the NY Times reports on the "hottest ticket" in Portland – the Timbers. I'm sure the Times isn't about how popular the Timbers are seeing as there's no NFL, MLB or NHL team there so competition is light. Only the the Trailblazers  offer major league competition. I don't know much about Portland so I can't say whether college football and basketball draw fans in Portland as they do in many American cities and towns.

The Timbers are a new franchise - this is their first season in the league - which helps make their games a bid faddish. This phenomenon is repeated in every town that suddenly finds itself with a new sports team.

The key is how popular the team is after the fad wears off. We won't know that about the Timbers for a few years yet. At the moment, revenue wise and franchise-value wise they're still far behind the local NBA team, the Trailblazers.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I don't wish the Timbers ill. I hope the franchise succeeds. In terms of weather and demographics - it's actually a pretty big market for so little major league focus - I would imagine soccer in Portland is a good fit.

It's just that the Times annoys me on the topic. They were too busy cheer-leading to offer much of a discordant note on the team's owners Peregrine Sports, LLC, which is controlled by Merritt Paulson. Merritt Paulson is the son of  Henry M. Paulson Jr. - ex-Goldman head, ex-Treasury Secretary, who we got to know very well during the financial melt-down in 2008. Henry Paulson owns a chunk of the team himself.

I guess I'd have expected a bit more of a critical eye on the Paulsons than the Times offers. The most Times offers is that the Paulsons "raised eyebrows" in the " left-leaning and sometimes insular city."

Peregrine roped the city into spending a $30m to renovate the stadium - it had been renovated at a cost of nearly $40m in 2001 to accommodate the the local minor league baseball team, the Beavers. Peregrine bought the Beavers at the same time as it acquired the franchise rights to the Timbers, but when the city didn't pony up for a new baseball stadium in addition to the renovations at Timbers' home field they sold the Beavers, which then relocated to Tucson.

I would have imagined some of that possibly jiggery-pokery would have merited a bit of attention from the Times, but no. The Paulsons basically get a free pass because they're running the "hottest ticket" in town - a soccer team. 

Leasing vs selling iPads for school

A Lisburn school is leasing iPads to parents for £170 (€190) per year. The Mayo school in the news at the end of last month is selling the iPads at €700. I think I'd be happier with the leasing arrangement, but really I don't see the need for them at all. I'm happy knowing my children will still be using dead tree products for their schooling.

By the way, despite all the hoopla over that St Coleman's in Mayo, Rathdown in South County Dublin introduced iPads months ago.

No kidding - where are the missing goats going?

Goats missing in Waterford may have been used to make bodhráns. I have half a memory of hearing of goats going missing before. Is this what's happening to them? Is this the dark side of one of Ireland's traditional instruments?

Irish newspapers back to free online

I don't think I've seen it commented on elsewhere, but in the long running battle between free and paid for online newspaper content many Irish local papers recently rejoined the ranks of the 'free' after another failed effort to get people to pay. Local papers on the platform were "premium" options, but are now simply free to all. The Bray People, Drogheda Independent, Sligo Champion, Enniscorthy Guardian, etc. are among the titles that can now be read online without charge.

Friday, June 17, 2011

America is not riven by hatred

Walter Ellis has followed up his Irish Times column from earlier in the week with a letter to the editor in today's paper. Ellis says Ireland looking to America for help would be a mistake because "the US is in desperate straits itself these days, uncertain of its place in the world, riven by internal hatreds."

Okay, I agree with the first point and can see the argument for the second (although I don't think this issue is much different than it has been since 1900), but the third point? Is America "riven by internal hatreds?"

I get over to America quite a bit and I haven't noticed any sudden surge in hatred. Political debates seem a bit more heated than was the case 25 years ago, but that's more a new media (talk radio, cable tv as well as online) phenomenon rather than anything all that real.

Too many people make that mistake, confusing the media world with the real world.

I would have thought Ellis, who lives in New York, wouldn't be one as I doubt he encounters anything like the hatred he must have experienced in his native Belfast. No, I would wager that the hatred Ellis is talking about is the excited language used in ratings-driven radio & television programs or in Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.

Real hatred would lead to real violence, but that seems, if anything, to be down from 25 years ago. Violent crime is in decline. Racial tensions are certainly in decline, although, again, politically motivated newspapers would never want that truth to be admitted. And general politically motivated violence? America experiences less of that than you'd get in Athens on what seems like a monthly basis.

America has been riven before and that led to 1 million dead. We're way short of that today.