Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Water charges will mean only the suckers pay—again

I'm opposed to the proposed water meters/water charges. For two reasons: (1) no one is ever going to have their water cut off and (2) some people will not have to pay no matter how much they use.

Let's start with number two. You know and I know that if we have water charges some people will get free water. That's just the way with these things. There are always people who "can't afford" heat/electricity/food/garbage collection charges/household charge/whatever. Water will slot right in here. Only water will be free. There won't be concessions or whatever it's going to just be free. Those who don't have to pay for water will be able to use as much as they like while my family cuts back on washing the car, washing the dishes, washing the children, flushing the toilet, etc.

How do I know these folks will have unlimited free water? Because of (1) above—nobody will ever be cut off. Now I know Enda 'Macho Camacho' Kenny is talking tough, saying people will be cut off if they don't pay, but that's the kind of talk aimed at people like me – weak-kneed, lily-livered law-abiders.

He knows, all of Fine Gael knows, everyone in the Dáil knows, everyone in Ireland knows that there's not a chance in hell that they'll cut off anyone's water. Can't you see RTE showing some mother taking her children door-to-door asking people for glasses of water? Or the gritty scenes when TV cameras show us the unflushed toiled in someone's house?

Never gonna happen. NEVER. So, let's have no more of the sort of faux machismo that we got from the Taoiseach this morning or from Phil Hogan regularly. Just tells us straight: "The EU says we gotta charge for water even though water's about as finite here as sand is in Arabia. It's stupid, but we gotta do it. Oh, and you suckers who paid the Household Charge, you we will pursue for non-payment of water charges. The others are too much trouble."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Associations of Catholic Priests' unscientific survey

The Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland) commissioned Amarach Consulting to survey Irish Catholics on a whole range of issues - mostly those that worry the ACP. Unsurprisingly, the results are exactly what the ACP wanted: priests should be allowed to marry, women should be allowed to be priests, the new Mass is not as well-liked as the old, the Church's teaching on sexuality, etc is basically irrelevant.

Now these views may well represent the majority, even the vast majority, of Irish Catholics on these matters, but this survey doesn't prove anything.

First of all, of the 1000 interviews only 187 were conducted face-to-face. The rest were conducted online.

Frankly, I wouldn't trust any online survey and I don't trust this one. Why online? Why not over the phone? Online is (a) self-selecting (easy to treat unseriously, easier to ignore) and (b) not available universally, evenly across the whole population. For example, broadband penetration is much greater in urban areas than in rural areas. Did this bias affect the survey results?

Also, the survey results report says the 187 face-to-face interviews were all conducted in the Republic of Ireland, although 280 online interviews were conducted in Northern Ireland.

Why no face-to-face interviews up north? Is it because the face-to-face interviews were all conducted within a few miles of Amarach's HQ? I don't know, but I doubt they went to rural Donegal for any face-to-face interviews and didn't go to any location north of the border. More bias?

Of course no one in RTE or the Irish Times  – or the Irish Independent or Irish Examiner for that matter – even mentioned that the survey was conducted mostly online. I wonder if anyone at any of those news publishers even wondered about those face-to-face interviews. I kind of doubt it.

No need to query a survey with results that suit their editorial lines. They've given us the "Who?, What?, Where?, When? and Why?". Who are we to ask "How?"?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

New broadband means the Mets live & in color on my laptop from today

I didn't so much dream about this day as see it clearly in my future. Back in 1994 when I got my first e-mail address and had my first taste of the World Wide Web I looked into the future and saw this day more clearly than any other future event.

Today will be the first time I've been able to use my laptop to watch the Mets. I'm so far behind the times that I thought it would seem anti-climactic when today arrived, but I'm really excited. Until this year my broadband wasn't good enough to really watch live video, especially not sports. Too jumpy and too prone to freezing. I've spent the past 6 seasons listening to hundreds of baseball games, but this year I plan to listen less and watch more.

A few weeks ago my broadband was upgraded (thanks UPC) and I can watch live sports video on my laptop. I tried it out a little during the NCAA basketball tournament, but today is the day. Today at 6:10pm I will be able to do exactly as I excitedly described shortly after surfing the web for the very first time. I knew it would come and it has.

From now on I'll be able to watch the Mets and ruin my dinners just as if I was in New York. Only I'll either have to stay up through the nights or watch on delay and ruin my breakfasts. I don't care. This is far greater than sliced bread.