Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If Music Could Talk

I got the Cougar album in the post yesterday - thanks to Sinead for the tip 'round Christmas time. Lights down, kicking back, eyes closed, sweet. It's great for Arctic Monkeys that they've gotten "fastest selling debut of all time". They deserve it far more than most of the muck in the charts. Personally, though, I prefer the Hard-Fi album. I dunno why, exactly, although Living For The Weekend swings it, I think. Having said that I have it a lot longer. Don't get me wrong though, monkeys are cool!

Complete Control

You may not have heard Gorgeous George's ridiculous interview with a fawning Dunphia this morning - so allow me to paraphrase, in order that you may get the gist of it...

"George, I watched a lot of Big Brother. As you can see i don't have a life."

"Don't worry, Eamon, we'll go out in dublin soon."

"Ha ha ha, oh i have many powerful friends. So anyway, remember that bit when you signed up to appear on the show?"

"That was a travesty. I thought i'd be able to speak openly and freely about political issues, regardless of the fact that this has never been the case on any series before. It's all Endemol's fault."

"And the newspapers'."

"That's right, the newspapers concocted everything."

"Ba$tards."

"By the way, I'm not standing for election ever again."

"It is a loss, not only to the cuban cigar and fake tan industries, but to lofty rhetoric and opportunism."

"Thanks Evan."

"It's Eamon."

"Yeah, whatever."

There you go, 7 seconds worth of banality.

Friday, January 27, 2006

You'll Never Walk Alone

God has just re-signed for the 'pool!!!!!!!!!

It's a great, great day...

Stan

The moment of truth will soon be upon us. The qualifying draw for Switztria '08, or Schweitzerreich 2008, as our German-speaking friends will probably not call it, is being made right now. Here we go!...

WE GET!
Wales! I'm going to Cardiff!
San Marino! I'm going there too!
Cyprus! Bloody Cyprians again!
Slovakia! Yes! Could have been a lot worse from that pot.
Germany! Que sera sera and all that - we get to Germany after all, just a few months late...
Czech Republic! I've been to Brno (communist industrial wasteland) but never been to Prague.

This is brilliant - could have been a lot, lot worse. Probably won't qualify but we'll run it damn close. Right, drop of black stuff... check; inflatable hammer... check; 'comedy' leprechaun hat... check; shamrocks tattooed on my eyeballs... check; pubes dyed green... check. All set.

MAD DRAWS!
Slovakia and the Czechs reunited at last, and in our group!
Armenia and Azerbaijan in the same group. It's Nagorno Karabakh all over again!
Greece and Turkey another handy pair of 1-1 draws in the bookies.
France, Italy and Ukraine - the group of death (tee hee Scotchland).
Group G - EU wannabe basket-case central in with the Dutchies.

All in all a good day at the office...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Overpowered By Funk

Two bands I've taken free (legit) downloads from recently are The Russian Futurists and ¡Forward, Russia! (you may spot a trend there). They're not at all similar - the former are sort of like The Postal Service (although, personally, that band never did anything for me) while the latter are not dissimilar from many of the British guitar bands around at the moment (doesn't bother me). You gotta love the names though!

Meanwhile I wasn't going to waste my time on this, but how and ever. The latest Lonely Planet has caused ructions in Dundalk by being less than complimentary about the place. As a town with serious deficiencies with regard to civic pride, reaction has ranged from outrage to total agreement. The thing is this story is at least 12 years old. I read all the same stuff in all the travel guides out of curiosity years ago. There's no way those writers are visiting every gap in the ditch every couple of years for the sake of their travelogues, so the same stuff is mostly regurgitated when outside the main travel destinations.

I like my hometown, I love going home and I enjoy myself there - golf, League of Ireland, my favourite pub, kayaking in Blackrock, Carlingford, Cooley and the Mournes. It's a pretty good place to live actually. However, in all fairness, it's not somewhere a tourist would be bothered with, especially if they were looking for some preconceived notion of Oirishness. So I fail to feel in any way insulted by this percived slight.

Those travel guides are taken way too seriously. They all say the same thing anyway - Place X is 'way too touristy' or some such guff, as if some lobster skinned paddy sweating his tits off (or whatever) is going to blend seamlessly with the locals while wandering around the souks of Marrakech. Besides the editor of the Irish guide is some Dub called Fionn. Fionn! Just some southside egg-chasing wannabe - I guarantee it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Somebody Got Murdered

First of all conventional wisdom was that there was an evil paediatrician, sorry, paedophile stalking East Cork. Then the conventional wisdom was that a young man was guilty of a tragic accident and a panic stricken, half-assed cover up. Now?...

'The Irish Times has learned that the semen, which was initially matched to Wayne O'Donoghue, was not introduced by the DPP after the scientist who carried out the tests expressed some doubts after testing a second sample.

The first sample was taken from the palm of Robert's left hand by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy at postmortem and, along with other samples from Robert's body, was given priority by the gardaí and sent to Britain for analysis.

A team under Dr Jonathan Whitaker at the Forensic Science Service laboratory at Wetherby, Yorkshire, tested the sample using a new DNA-testing technique called low copy number (LCN), which allows matches to be found from very few sample cells.

Dr Whitaker tested the swab taken from Robert's palm and compared it with a DNA sample taken from O'Donoghue when he was arrested by gardaí on January 16th, 2005.

Dr Whitaker concluded the likelihood of the semen sample coming from anyone else but O'Donoghue was one in 70 million and, on foot of his report in the spring, the DPP directed that O'Donoghue be charged with Robert's murder.

However, gardaí had also taken a number of items from O'Donoghue's house, including a mat from the bathroom where he said he had lain Robert, as he tried to revive him after strangling him outside the house on January 4th.

Samples of material taken from this bathroom mat were later sent to Wetherby where Dr Whitaker again carried out DNA LCN testing and concluded it also contained semen which was not identical to the semen from Robert's hand.

This second sample led him to express some doubts about his first analysis and he revised his report, declining to give a statistical likelihood of the first sample belonging to anyone else but O'Donoghue.

Upon receipt of Dr Whitaker's second amended report on the semen found on Robert's hand, the DPP decided it would be unsafe to introduce the sample as evidence as it was not sufficiently certain and could prejudice the State's case.'


Regardless of the reliability of the evidence, conventional wisdom will now be that O'Donoghue's story was not the whole truth and that there was some sexual aspect to the crime. An already sad, tragic case just got a whole lot sadder.

Acrobat

Apparently I'm 23% gay, according to Channel4' Gay-o-meter. I can live with that - straight with a sensitive, understanding side. I had to do it twice though. I was 33% gay the first time, but realised that, while I could spend €100 on a shirt, stg£100 is in fact an obscene amount to spend and also that I actually don't need to redecorate a flat when I move into it, just put loads of my stuff in it - which is clearly a different shark. I don't want to be one-third gay; one quarter is acceptable...

Loved the gigs last night. I felt Arctic Monkeys were guilty of blowing their load a bit early by playing their two best known tracks first. The crowd went nuts for them - beer was flying, crowd surges left and right and I haven't seen moshing and crowd-surfing like that in years. It was a great laugh, though I, as a more mature fellow, stood back to observe! Maximo Park were better, loads of energy, weird keyboard player and saved their best 'til last. My mate Pins, who was at the gig with me, was saying that he hadn't seen anything like it since being in the middle of a couple of hundred Dundalk lads going nuts at that Queen's gig years ago...

Round about October '93 I went to Queen's Belfast for an open day as a sixth year. All the college-capable Leaving Cert students, from all the schools in Dundalk, were sent up on buses that day - easily 400 or more 16 and 17-year olds. I remember you could spot the Protestant kids from the Catholic ones by the uniforms. I also remember the fact that the nordies were A-Level students made them all a couple of years older, so seeing that many 19-year old schoolgirls parading around was... well, y'know.

However, on realising that they had zero interest in a bunch of spotty 16-year old taigs from 'down there', we headed for the drink-free student union basement and proceeded to give it loads to Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, Stone Roses, early Radiohead and whatever else was de rigeur at the time. The nordies, who obviously took their education a little more seriously than us, stared at us in amazement through the fire doors, which had been opened to cool the place down. By the time we got back to our buses to head south (3pm or so in the afternoon) half of us had lost jumpers, torn our shirts or got cut and bruised somehow. Memories!...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

If Music Could Talk

Legging it now to drive to Dublin for tonight's NME Awards Tour in the Ambassador. I already love the Maximo Park album and have We Are Scientists and Arctic Monkeys to get used to on the drive up. 'Tis a hard life!

However, in all honesty, this is a much needed distraction. I'm suffering from stress, I know it, and I don't seem to be able to do anything about it. I'll have to put it down on paper to see if I can make sense of it all and do something about it. Alternatively I could get very drunk.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Deny

Yesterday Professor William Reville of UCC followed up a previous column he had written in The Irish Times before Christmas on the findings of the Chernobyl Forum report 'Chernobyl's Legacy - Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts'. One look at Page two of the linked report shows the groups who've invested in the research and, therefore, just how all encompassing it is and how reliable it should be. The gist of the report is that the long term effects of the accident in Chernobyl are nowhere near as bad as conventional wisdom suggests; (*only* 60 people have died as a direct result of the accident and, ultimately, radiation poisoning from the accident could, eventually, cause 4,000-odd deaths.

That's obviously a huge number and a tragedy, but the feeling of sorrow is tempered by remembering that numbers like 'tens of thousands' and even 'hundreds of thousands' have been bandied about for some 20-years. The report also highlights that people in the region are inclined to blame every problem in their lives on the Chernobyl fallout, a fatalistic attitude that causes people to drift aimlessly through their lives.

Considering the report brings relatively good news for the region, the reaction has been mostly of hostility. This is pretty amazing, as Prof Reville points out: "[Adi] Roche hints that the Chernobyl Report data was presented selectively in order to downplay the gravity of the situation. This would amount to falsification - a mortal sin in science. Why would hundreds of scientists conspire to do this? Indeed, how could they do this, since the true story would certainly leak out? The idea is preposterous and such charges reflect badly on those who make them."

He goes on to say: "I have spoken to people, with varied backgrounds, who read my article on the Chernobyl Report - accountants, civil engineers, bankers, technicians and scientists familiar with radiation. With the exception of the latter group, nobody believed the Chernobyl Report. People assume that radiation from Chernobyl has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and interpret the report as a "whitewash" on behalf of the nuclear industry. It is not unlikely that my personal poll would be replicated in a nationwide survey of public opinion. It is alarming that amateur opinion in the specialised area of health and radiation would take such strong precedence in the public mind over the considered study of hundreds of scientists."

Last year I made a point in relation to Eddie Holt's attack on the proposed incinerators that "while people may have genuine fears, they are often ignorant fears. That’s one thing, but when they have ignorant fears and refuse to be educated on them in case they don’t like what they hear, that’s quite another". That point stands here too. People don't like the nuclear industry, therefore any report - no matter how detailed and vigorously prepared - that appears to defend it is shouted down and personal anecdotes are allowed take precedent because people have no interest in believing it may not be such a monster and may be the best alternative to oil we will have for the considerable future.

Two years ago a number of electricians from our plant helped build an orphanage in Belarus. Afterwards Adi Roche came to our plant and spoke about Belarus - showing us pictures of malformed babies. It was quite distressing stuff. Now, while I don't doubt her sincerity or the need to help that country, I do think that maybe encouraging the people of the Chernobyl region to blame the nuclear bogeyman for all their troubles does nothing to help them recover economically and, given the evidence, appears to have hindered that recovery for 20-years.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fast Cars

Most people have a car insurance story, definitely most fellas my age do. Here's mine. I bought my first car this time 7-years ago. The insurance was £3,000 odd at the time. A year later it came down to £1,800 but then I had an accident that summer. On the old N1 there's a turn for Donabate/Portrane about 40 yards past the crest of a hill heading towards Dublin. A car had stopped dead at the junction and, as I trundled over the hill doing 50mph odd, I didn't have enough breaking time and hit the guy's car at maybe 5 - 10 mph. A rear-end is always your fault but I wasn't too upset because all I did was squash his bumper and break one of my own headlights. I offered to pay for any repairs and got on with my life waiting for a bill.

However about 6 months later I got a solicitor's letter informing me of a claim - the guy was claiming for an injured shoulder. You'd be amazed how low the wording of a solicitor's letter, telling you you've been negligent, can make you feel. As a result my insurance went back up to £3,000 for 2001. Then it was €3,000 in 2002; €2,700 in 2003; €1,600 in 2004 and €850 in 2005. As may be obvious from those figures, I had a fairly quiet life from January 2001 to January 2004. This year I get my full No Claims Bonus back - effectively my accident is wiped off the system. I was quoted €529 for 3rd party fire and theft on a 2001 1.4 Seat Leon.

Now I've recently moved - to an apartment on the other side of the road from where I was. Being claims free and due a change of car anyway I decided to treat myself to a spanking new 2006 1.6 Leon. When I collected it the other day I contacted the insurance company to change my details and renew the cover. They told me that fully-comp on my new car would be €1,100. I was surprised it went up that much, but paid it anyway. But it was nagging me then that it couldn't be right, so I entered my details into a few websites and was quoted between €600 and €700 every time. So I rang them back and asked what the story was.

Long story short, by changing my address the insurance on my old car was to go up to €880. The new car bumped it up that bit further. That's an incredible 66% increase on the original quote because I moved to the other side of my street (using the same parking facilities). I tried to point out to the girl on the phone this morning how crazy this was and how I was obviously just going to cancel my renewal and go elsewhere. She could do nothing for me, she said. But I see on my mobile they've tried to ring me back three times. Now either they've copped themselves on or they're going to try refusing me a refund. I'll wait and see, although considering they intended overcharging me without a whimper after loading me for 5 years, I might tell them to stuff it. €18,000 in 7-years. I'm surprised I can type that without... damn there's the tears of rage now...

Egg Chasing Time

"We have a lot of respect for other sports and what their people have achieved. But the most important sport in the world is football" - Rafa Benitez.

Stick that in yer pipe and smoke it, bloody egg-chasers. Six Nations - pure mockery. It's FOUR bleedin' nations, two peripheral provinces that couldn't survive without the subsidies and a rump lumped in with one nation that everyone would just rather forget!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stay Free

I hope Mad Mickey McDowell doesn't get any notions of trying to implement Bliar's Respect Action Plan here...

"... In practice, to prove that person X with £10,000 on them in cash in the middle of the city at 2am got this money through specific acts of drug dealing is too hard. You may know it. But how do you prove it?... [now] the suspected drug dealer loses the cash. He has to come to court and show how he got it lawfully."

Fantastic. In other news, John Charles de Menezes was given his life back after a court accepted he had acquired it lawfully and that police who *knew* he was a terrorist but couldn't prove it were wrong to take it from him...

The Call Up

That clown Gannon has gotten the Stockport job after all.

And they sing: "Welcome to the Conference..."

Ivan Meets G.I. Joe

The Ukrainians are engaging in an obvious bit of tit-for-tat with the Russians by seizing/reposessing lighthouses on its territory, which are crucial to the safe navigation of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The Ukrainians are talking about increasing the rent for these lighthouses, which it probably has the right to do - despite it being crudely analogous to Russia increasing the price of its gas.

The Germans, under their new Chancellor, have signaled that they want cooler ties with Moscow and warmer relations with the US. Following from that, there has been an interesting reaction to the gas dispute in that the conventional wisdom seems to be that Russia's stature as a safe energy supplier has suffered as a result of the Ukrainian dispute. This is a nonsense line of reasoning. I'm sure some political genius could argue the toss with me, but pure supply-and-demand economics dictates that Russia holds all the cards and Europe none. The Russians are making, and will continue to make, a vast fortune from their energy reserves and, with that, Russia's power will continue to grow. The EU knows this and will never really risk alienating the Russians, despite the rhetoric.

Anyway Russia has not applied what are deemed to be fair market practices either to its own citizens or to the countries of the former Soviet Union that it regards as allies. In fact the WTO have demanded that Russia's own citizens pay full price for Russia's gas as a condition of entry to that organisation (and in a country THAT cold!...). That they have chosen to charge Ukraine the going rate for its gas (i.e. the same rate the rest of Europe pays and will have to pay) is hardly surprising given Ukrainian ambitions to move away from Russian influence.

Meanwhile the United States continues to try to squeeze Russia in the great game. Russia is still regarded as a threat to American hegemony and American wingnuts have openly mused about the possibility of war with Russia were it to, for example, try to reassert control over Georgia. Therefore one would think that a strong Russia might act as some sort of counterweight to America's more madcap notions (if getting bogged down in Iraq hasn't already achieved that).

I must admit I have a soft-spot for Russia - "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" according to Churchill - but there's no denying it does not reach the standards that Western democracies take for granted. Having said that the Russia of the 1990s was brought to its knees following the rape of its assets under Yeltsin's corruption-ridden but western friendly government. So it's hard not to say "good on you" to the Russian state for the way it managed to claw back some of the damage (and its power) while upsetting the western uber-capitalists in the process.

Russia's use of excessive force against the Chechens is lamentable, and doomed to stalemate at best. However only the convoluted thinking that leads to a 'moral clarity' distinguishes military action against enemies on your own territory, resulting in 'military bludgeoning', from military action against a basket case on the other side of the world that posed no threat, resulting in 'collateral damage'. Do the Russian's not have a right to protect their own interests in the same way we're expected to support America's right to protect hers? The difference is that the Russians don't bother pretending they're a 'beacon of freedom'.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Man And A Woman

Just out of curiosity, is it sexist for a car insurance company to specialise in insuring women only?...

Complete Control

If ever anyone needed an actual example of why the tabloid press deserve utter contempt then this surely is it:

"In Saturday's edition of The Sun the public were treated to a list of all the under-21 players that Arsene Wenger has bought for Arsenal. These players were then given either a 'Hit' or 'Miss' rating, based on how well they did after joining the club.

One of the players described as a 'Miss' was Niccolo Galli, who was also mentioned in the introductory text above the table. The general point seems to be that Galli never made it at Arsenal, no-one has ever heard of him and he was therefore a duff signing.

The reason Galli never made the first team at Arsenal is because he was tragically killed in a car accident in his native Italy in 2001, at the age of just 17. At the time, the young defender was a lynchpin of both Arsenal's under-17 and under-19 teams.

Brimming with potential, it was evident from his displays that he would have gone on to some success.So no, Galli never made the first team. But there is a damn good reason why - and to slate him as a bad signing is a slur on the memory of a fine young player."

- taken from Football365. I found a copy today in a bar I went for lunch in. Horrific 'journalism'.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

If God Would Send His Angels

You may have seen the first of a 2-part series by Prof. Richard Dawkins on Channel 4, The Root of All Evil?, last Tuesday. The second part is this Tuesday, I think, and I was waiting until I'd seen it to comment. However, reading one of Johann Hari's latest articles in praise of the show has prompted me to comment a little bit early.

There are two things I want to address - one I've mentioned before (that bugs the crap out of me) and another more metaphysical argument. The first is the oft-repeated claim made about the Catholic Church condemning thousands of Africans to death due to it's opposition to the use of condoms. One more time, nice and slowly!: The Catholic Church preaches abstinence before marriage, no contraception and fidelity to your spouse. Personally I don't want to live by those values, but one's opinion on them is irrelevant to the argument.

If people lived their lives according to those values, there would be no AIDS crisis anywhere on the planet. Logic dictates that the disease would not proliferate at anything approaching it's current levels in Africa (or anywhere else). If such notions of relationships were adhered to, then the victims of AIDS would die quicker than the disease would spread (notwithstanding the other, infinitely rarer instances of contracting HIV through non-sexual means). But African people (men) are not living their lives according to such conservative rules, hence it is hypocritical to cherry-pick one aspect of doctrine and hold it up to the world as being the cause of the HIV explosion in Africa.

The liberal lefties, like Hari, that bang-on on this point never criticise African men for the way they treat women as second-class people and virtually as sex-slaves in many parts of that continent (because saying such things is probably racist in their eyes). To be blunt, you can't leave your wife, go off and nail a prostitute or two, catch an infection, pass it on to your wife and any children you might have, then turn around and blame the church for saying you couldn't use a condom while shagging said prostitute to avoid picking up an infection.

Hari also highlights Dawkins' quoting of the philosopher Bertrand Russell who basically said that if he claimed there was a small china tea-pot orbiting the sun that we can't see then it would be impossible to prove him wrong, but it would clearly be ridiculous. This is an attack on the agnostic, which I consider myself to be. Frankly for a 'great' philosopher it is a rubbish analogy. I can comprehend a china tea-pot and for that matter I can comprehend objects orbiting the sun. Also, for another matter, it is theoretically possible for man to make a china tea-pot orbit the sun if he so wishes. The point about a God-figure is that it must be, by definition, something beyond the comprehension of mortal men.

It is easy to cherry pick straw-men arguments about lunatic God-botherers making absurd statements of certainty, or to pick ludicrous passages in the Bible, Koran or wherever. But these are the writings of man (despite claims they are the word of God) - they are within our comprehension. Proving them wrong or presenting them as fools offers no further clues to our existence - atheism remains a belief system - one grounded in logic, reason and the proveable, but ultimately a belief system until we can know everything we do not yet know. The agnostic, on the other hand, accepts that the origins of our universe and our being and whether or not there is a reason for that existence cannot be proven with certainty (and is not likely to be). Therefore any belief system is a belief built on a certain degree of blind faith.

In my opinion the burden of proof lies with the religious when they wish to use the certainties of their beliefs to restrict the freedom of others. Then it's open season as far as I'm concerned and I enjoy seeing them ridiculed as much as any atheist. However those that keep their beliefs personal (the silent vast majority) are under no burden of proof and should be respected by the atheistic, not attacked as being superstitious by Dawkins and his ilk. I choose to believe in a God because I figure that if I'm wrong I'll never know, whereas if I was to side with the non-believers, and be wrong, then I'd die and end up with Satan's hot poker up my ass! It's called hedging your bets.

The one challenge I have for atheists is to explain to me the logic behind any value system in a Godless universe. The answer 'humanism' is often given, but humanism is just a handy way out of an uncomfortable thought process. Besides, humanism is just the Christianity of the New Testament with references to JC removed. We are an animal species and it is not possible for any entire species to strive for and reach shared goals in harmony in a world of limited resources. So, without belief in an ultimate reward for working to a greater common good, there is no logical reason for being 'humanist'. The fact is, there is no value system to be derived from atheism but, for me, the fact that humans have consciousness and consciences implies a... reason... for our existence.

And to Dawkins specifically, being so utterly convinced of your atheism and, by extension, your finite existence; expending your energies arguing the toss with people about their faith, when the lack of proof is why it is called faith, seems like an incredible waste of your pretty limited time.

That was way longer than I originally intended.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

You'll Never Walk Alone

Good afternoon for the footie - The 'pool dominate a potentially tricky Spurs team and God nails a beauty against ManUSA. Also my flagging Fantasy Footie team got a nice lift with Terry Henry bagging a hat-trick. For good measure another fantastically-named footballer, Danny Invincibile, nearly ruined the thug's Parkhead debut when he capitalised on a cock-up by the Mayfield Mentaler. There's so many class names in football - Dexter Blackstock, fantastic; Ulysses de la Cruz - now Invicibile. What a name to have on your jersey!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stan

Without a shadow of doubt, the appointment of Steve Staunton is a gamble by the FAI but the vitriol I've heard directed at the man himself by people in Cork and people on radio phone-ins has me amazed but not surprised. The comments flooding into The Last Word have finished me off. Well I'm well able to descend to their level. I hope that, just for them, that Mayfield thug is never let next nigh or near the Irish manager's job and, for good measure, I hope he wins Sweet FA in the mockery that is Scottish football. He doesn't play for us anymore so I don't have to pretend I have any respect for the guy - no matter what he's achieved or how much he's done for charidee. So what do these clowns do now anyway? If we improve under Stan then they'll have to admit they were wrong or they have to hope Ireland go from bad to worse to prove them right. What a pleasant scenario that must be for a bunch of bitter, twisted barstool rednecks.

Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!....

Right, I'm home and I'm wound up to the hilt.

The following people should be banned from using Dual Carriageways/Motorways forever and preferably prevented from ever being allowed sit into a car again:

Cork people.
Laois people.
People who drive SUVs.
Northern women.
People who smoke while driving.
People who text while driving (this actually happens, amazing...)
Donegal people.
Northern men.
People who drive big BMWs/Mercs/Audis.
People living in North Co. Dublin.
People who drive small BMWs/Mercs/Audis.
People who drive German cars that I haven't covered.
Volkswagen drivers who don't realise I mean them.
Any Northerner not previously covered.
Northerners.

Gits the lot of 'em...

Stories For Boys

Sexist joke of the day...

A man goes to the doctor:

"Doctor, I think of caught that bird flu that's going around."

"Really? What symptoms are you showing?"

"Well, I've started wearing make-up, talking bollocks and I can't park the car..."


Sorry. But I laughed.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

If Music Could Talk

The RTE album review site, which usually seems pretty clued in with some objective critics, has given Will Young's new album 4 out of 5. Obviously I find it hard to believe it's that good. But maybe I can swallow my incredulity?...

Meanwhile I've gotten hold of Brazilian Girls, Animal Collective, My Morning Jacket and We Are Scientists. Each is currently getting a good run out in the car (I'll be making my second round trip to Dundalk in a few days for the weekend, which is 880-odd miles of aural pleasure).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Stan

Stan appears to be the man. Here's how I figure it. That goon Delaney and his motley crew had a big long list of people they wanted. On that list around 10th or so was Bobby & 20th or so was Stan. Everyone else on the list said no because the money was crap, the job is a dead-end, or they had to look after an ill spouse. The brains of Merrion Square were left with a dilemma, Stan "no experience" the man, or Bobby "Eire" Robson, who has one foot in the grave. "I know", said one of the bright sparks, "lets give them both the job..."

How and ever, one Jose Mourinho was once Uncle Sir Bobby's translator in Portugal and look at him now!

I'm not exactly praising the Lord over this appointment, in fact I'd be seriously worried about what it can achieve. But I refuse to start attacking Ireland's only 3-time World Cup participant and record cap-holder simply because he backed McCarthy during the Saipan nonsense. As he said on the occasion of his 100th cap: "...of course it's great to be here, to achieve your 100th cap, and to be playing in the World Cup against the best footballers in the world. Anyone who wouldn't want to be here - well... they've got problems."

Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of

I've been a member of a leisure complex not far from where I work since I moved here. This particular complex is heavily populated by geriatrics for whom, understandably, a lot of things have started to head south. Furthermore there are plenty of middle-aged types who either don't realise they're getting old, or don't care, because they insist on wearing speedos and bikinis and things and, well, it's all a bit unpleasant on the eye! (personally I would rather stick pins in my stones than parade around in a pair of speedos). However, in fairness, it doesn't actually bother me.

What did bother me, though, was when I was shaving before having a shower yesterday after swimming. This bloke sauntered up to the sink beside me, completely starkers, all dangling, and proceeded to shave. His face, obviously. In the process he kept stopping and checking himself out in the mirror. He was one of these who had been using the sunbeds (as opposed to beach tanning, if you follow me) and was clearly a bit vain. So, what had been a routine operation for me, became a tortuous case of 'eyes forward and get the job done' at all costs! I was not a happy bunny and cut myself three times in my haste to get away from the Greek-esque bloke beside me.

Troubling...

Blog Robbing

I spotted a couple of weeks ago that after Alive In Limerick hung up his boots something nicked the address and turned it into a link site for porn (complete with odd random blog entry that is almost satirical). Now the same thing has happened Caoimhe's site, as Sinead has spotted. So is this what happens when you delete yourself from Blogger? Glad I didn't use my real name on this site!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Deny

Yet another sham treatment shown up to be pure quackery:

The study concludes: "Magnets are touted by successful athletes, allowed to be widely advertised, and sold without restrictions, so it is not surprising that lay people think that claims of therapeutic efficacy are reasonable."

Just because someone can run fast, or sink a boat in the Atlantic, or whatever; doesn't make them an authority on all things. But maybe that's a thought process too far for the average doofus consuming 'lifestyle' magazines on a weekly basis...

Debbie Shimadry, director of World of Magnets, said use of magnets was not a cure, but a treatment that was very effective for relief of symptoms of joint-related disorders. She said: "It is important to have the right type of magnet of the right strength, placed in the right area. "Magnetic bracelets worn around the wrist are not going to allievate pain all over the body - they need to be placed directly over the area of injury for the right length of time."

"Right types of magnets..." Sweet Jesus!! "... of the right strength."!! I suppose the big ones used by Wile E. Coyote would be out of the question then:

This stuff would be funny if it wasn't so pitiful.

Know Your Rights

If I was a constituent of Gorgeous George's, I'd want my money back too...

The Colleague

Way back when I took my first trip to New York I was using my new camera for the first time. I wasn't much of a photographer before, but I became very aware of my ability to spot when Lenny was contorting his rubbery head into a great photo opportunity. So it was in Time Square when Lenny decided to turn his newly-acquired Yankees baseball cap back on his head. As it was sitting loose, on his already oval shaped head, he ended up looking like a cone-head. He was yammering on about something inconsequential when it struck me that he was bearing more than a passing resemblance for a Spitting Image puppet. So I took a quick snap mid-yammer. Knowing it would raise more than a smile, I sent it back to a guy he used to work with and forgot about it.

All well and good. However, while I was in last night, I had to go up to Lenny's old department looking for a tank of methanol (don't ask). There, on the wall of the control room, was a framed copy of the picture I took. I was struck dumb. The blokes there didn't even know who I was, never mind that I was the one who took the photo. It turns out that, at that department's Christmas party, there was a secret Santa routine in which a girl, who apparently has history with Lenny, was given this framed photo as a 'gift' to widespread hilarity. I asked about the photo to which one guy replied "whatever ghoul took it really made the langer look stoopid, boy" (apparently he's not well liked up there). Feeling stung I offered "it's hardly the fella who took the photo's fault if Lenny looks stupid", which caused an explosion of laughter. I don't think I know anything like the whole story...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

You'll Never Walk Alone

Uncredible stuff - probably the best FA Cup tie of recent memory. Having said that it was probably because so many Liverpool players had a stinker and needed a kick in the hole to get going. If you haven't seen the summary then go here and watch the video highlights. Hearing the fans taunting Luton "3-1... and you f~cked it up!..." as clear as a bell on the TV was class! Despite the Rafalution's generally cautious approach, Liverpool just have this habit of producing heart attack football matches every now and then - Cup Final '89, Utd in '94, Newcastle in '96, Alaves in 2001, that game last year and now Luton '06 (and they're just the big ones off the top of my head). Wonderful stuff to watch (he says with the hindsight of not seeing them lose!). Great to see God lash a hat-trick for Citeh for good measure. Come on Nigel Clough!!!

In other FA Cup news Stockport County, currently propping up the League in 90-something place, were beaten by Brentford having had a 2-1 lead. So what? Well, they are currently managed by ex-Dundalk manager Jim Gannon who made an absolute hash of our last season and then resigned claiming that the board didn't match his vision (i.e. didn't want to hand him another shedload of cash to waste on tossers). It subsequently turned out he'd been managing Stockport's ladies' team on the QT in the final weeks of the season. Good enough for the git.

UPDATE:
BWAAAAAAH HA HA! AHHH HA HA!

and again...

BWAAAAAAH HA HA! AHHH HA HA!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Miracle Drug

Turkey has bird flu.

What must that be like?

gobble, gobble, *cough*... ?

Sorry.

Silicone On Sapphire

Before I moved to Cork I hadn't realised that anyone took Little Women's Christmas as meaning very much. In fact it's such an institution in Cork that they're surprised to hear me say that. Being on call (again, second weekend in a row) I was co-opted into carting some of my lady friends in and out of town last night. Every year the debauchery just gets worse and worse - it was like a war zone!

The fact it was on a Friday was an obvious factor because men, conspicuous by their absence other years, were out and on the prowl. Similarly there were hordes of women (many acting as if last night is the only release they get all year). I saw fights, flashers, puking, crying, scoring - the works. I know that a weekend night in Ireland is often like that, but this was just... animal, or something. I think it was because the women just seemed to let go en masse (or descend to the level of the men, whichever way you want to look at it).

I wonder how many babies will be born in mid-September...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lover's Rock

I'm not mad about weddings, and have thankfully only ever been to four. Luckily my college friends seem to all be staying either steadfastly single, although two have recently popped the question (well done lads, by the way). But, now that I have to go to another, what's getting my goat is this wedding list craic. Having your own Brown Thomas web page, picking out the stuff you want for your crappy 3-bed semi in the sticks, and having other people buy it for you because you're giving them the pleasure of an hour in church, a lukewarm beef-or-salmon dinner and the chance to dance to a shite band, isn't gift giving, it's called "Social Extortion." And another thing - why do all couples claim that their band will be "good" unlike all those other wedding bands? They're not good, they're never good - stop pretending otherwise.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

When I Look At The World

I've been meaning to get this off my chest for ages and just kept forgetting...

Am I supposed to take Freedom Institute seriously?

I read the website and it just takes itself so seriously that I'm convinced I'm missing some big joke. Not even the actual experts, that the likes of Panorama or Newsnight wheel out, are that pompous and full of their own importance. I could be wrong, I'm open to correction, but they all come across as a bunch of student politicos, earnestly trying to make a name for themselves. It's like everything they write is with one eye on the reaction of those in the intelligentsia they're *really* looking to impress.

For example (and I fully accept that this is an ad hominem argument) Dickie Waghorne, one of the contributors, is only in his early 20s and is the son of quite possibly the worst lecturer I had in UCD - Earl Waghorne, a middle-aged Canadian whose teaching 'skills' were worse than a couple of octogenarians that were barely coherent and a couple of Russians who could hardly speak English. Furthermore, Dickie was subject to a far from flattering profile by The Phoenix a couple of years back in its Young Bloods column. As someone who virtually despises the baby wannabes that inhabit the world of student politics, this was grist for my mill.

I mean the first sentence on the About FI page is "The Freedom Institute is Ireland's Centre for Social, Economic and Political Studies". Really? Says who? I wasn't aware that such a title was up for grabs. And, later, "Our proposed policies will make Ireland a better place to live." Oh. Well the elected-types might as well hand over the keys and everyone else might as well go home, so. I mean does anyone read this and not cringe? It's so toe-curlingly awful! "In conjunction with many other think tanks throughout the world, we will not shy from our responsibility to create a safer, stronger, freer and more prosperous Ireland." Responsibility?... Your responsibility?! Says who?!!!

Does anyone really take this guff seriously?...

Deny

Last August a Korean scientist, Hwang Woo-suk, gained international fame and virtual hero status in his homeland when it was announced that his team had successfully cloned a dog. Unfortunately at the time the focus was on the ethics of cloning man's best friend rather than the implications for humans - people didn't seem to grasp that cloning dogs wasn't supposed to be a means to an end.

This research was part of wider research to clone embryos for the production of stem cells, tailored to an individual, to treat diseases like Parkinson's, for example. Hwang's breakthrough was to announce that his team needed only 17 donated eggs, on average, to make a batch of stem cells when nearly 250 were typically needed beforehand - a hopelessly inefficient ratio and unsustainable given that the donation of oocytes (female eggs) can be traumatic and even life-threatening for women.

But things have gone wrong for Hwang, very wrong. First it emerged that women had been paid to donate eggs, an ethical no-no, and then that some women on his research team had been pressurised into donating eggs, which had previously been denied. These women would then have potentially gone on to experiment on their own eggs (at best a very troubling thought in itself).

All of this was bad enough but could, potentially, have been forgiven - considering the importance of the breakthroughs made. However it now appears that all the other so-called breakthroughs (the tailored stem-cells and the batches from small numbers of eggs) were fabrications as well. In fact Hwang appears to have achieved nothing at all, and now his co-authors have agreed to retract their papers from the journal where their results were published.

This is a bad episode, in an era where people the world over are willing to believe the worst about science (which is essentially a discipline, not a 'belief', which the mystics, charlatans and God-botherers never seem to grasp) and yet accept new-age guff. However it should be remembered that it is the principles of science that appear to have caught Hwang out. There's some comfort in that.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Gone

I started browsing my links over lunch and I saw that Caoimhe had posted a farewell message. Totally unexpected, that one. Two minutes later, when I was about to post an "all the best", the blog was gone! I figure I was the last ever visitor...! I'll have to do it here so. Caoimhe, if you read this, all the best whatever you decide to do, and take a chance and visit Limerick - bite the bullet!

Fast Cars

One of my New Year's resolutions is to stop cursing, at least out loud. I thought America would sort me out but, if anything, I got worse there. The main reason I'm so bad is that I worked in a Dundalk bar from the age of 13 and was thus exposed to the effing and blinding of hardened drinkers deep in to the night.

So this morning I got off to a very bad start. I was driving to work wrecked tired (like I've done each morning over the weekend) when some Cork chav bastard decided to blaze past me across double white lines on a bend doing at least 75 (I was doing 60-odd). I didn't even see the prick coming but I got a good look at his modified Japanese import shit-heap - all tinted windows, body kit and lowered suspension.

Being nasty when I want to be, I immediately wished him a good smash that would involve him totalling his car and, hopefully, losing a limb or two. Then my sensibilities kicked in. What if he has a partner and a child? What if he's actually gifted in some way and the world would suffer?! Why should any more families experience the pain of losing someone in Ireland's never-ending road carnage?

Then I thought screw that. I hope he wraps that fucking thing around a lamp-post and ends up in excruciating pain. Little fucker. Ok, I'll stop cursing as of....

....

....

....

now.
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