Thursday, June 29, 2006

Police And Thieves

Enda Kenny, leader of the main opposition party, is really going for the crime card in advance of next year's election. There's a truism in Ireland, just like in Britain, that everybody believes crime is 'getting worse'. In reality there may be fluctuations from year to year, and changes in how the statistics add up, but the fact remains that the probability of being a victim of serious crime is, thankfully, minute (as nasty as it may be for that one in a thousand, or whatever).

Well Kenny stood up and made a point about peoples' fears about crime using an anecdote about how a knife was once pulled on him. Only he neglected to point out that this happened in Kenya, slightly negating his point about crime in this country. This is par for the course. Last month at his party's conference he made all kind of pledges about crime (like personally tagging suspects released on bail) that were, frankly, daft and probably unconstitutional. He knew that, of course, but if it buys votes, well...

I Fought The Law

Great news. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Bush! Decisions like this remind you why America actually is a great country and just how big a threat to that reputation Bush's crowd are.

Ivan Meets G.I. Joe

'Russia's president Vladimir Putin yesterday ordered his state security agents to hunt down the killers of four Russian diplomats abducted in Iraq and wipe them out, Interfax news agency quoted the Kremlin as saying. "

The president gave the order to Russian special services to take all measures for finding and eliminating the criminals who carried out the murder of Russian diplomats in Iraq," it quoted the Kremlin's press service as saying.

The head of the FSB state security service, Nikolai Patrushev, immediately pledged to see Mr Putin's order carried out. "However much time and effort it requires, we will work to this end," he said.'
Link

I mentioned the murdered diplomats the other day. If the US made such an announcement there would probably be uproar but I find myself thinking "that's class, fair play". Obviously my soft-spot for Russians is a part of the reason but, really, the main reason is that the Russians don't come out with nonsense about 'building democracy', 'good versus evil', 'you're either with us or against us', 'bad guys' and all the other rubbish that America uses to claim the moral high ground.

The Russian logic is 'you killed our men and now we're gonna get you - no apologies, no due process and we couldn't care less what anyone thinks'. Maybe there's a lesson there for the US.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Safe European Home

Here's the link to an ARK report carried out called Racial Prejudice in Northern Ireland. The important thing to note? 46% of DUP voters admit to being racially prejudiced. Nearly half of them admit it.

Don't get me wrong I'm not going to claim racism is unique to DUP voters on this island, but the figures suggest it's more prevalent among DUP voters (i.e. hardcore 'British' Northerners) and also that racial prejudice / xenophobia is not restricted to the working classes, which is an important point.

However, like everything when it comes to the North, blame will be flung back and forth across the parapets; the 'reality of the situation' (dear Christ...) will be that it's all somebody elses fault; and, finally (just so no single group feels victimised) it will be decided that, in fact, all northerners are equally racist. Result!

In God's Country

Read this article from The Weekly Standard linked by CBS...

"[A]ny game which prohibits the use of the hands is contrary to nature. Opposable thumbs allow humans to grasp things (thumbs on other primate hands such as chimps and orangutans are splayed out the side and are not truly opposable.) This is why the games human beings play involve holding things such as baseball bats, golf clubs and hockey sticks, or to grip and throw objects like a ball or a Frisbee.

Soccer denies to its players the very attributes that make human beings, the thinking toolmaker, human. Actually, the donkey would have a significant advantage over humans in soccer. It has four legs rather than two. The donkey has no hands or opposable thumbs, nor any need of them in order to play soccer. And smashing its head into a soccer ball probably would not cause any diminution of equine IQ. Soccer, then, would appear to be a game better suited to dim-witted quadrupeds than to human beings."

Apropos of nothing, the USA's most recent defeat in football came to the Black Stars of Ghana...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Beautiful Day

May I just record for posterity my sheer delight at seeing those clockmaking, Nazi-gold hoarding, bunch of bankers getting knocked out of the World Cup after attempting to bore the entire planet to death last night. Switzerland - like sticking Belgium up a mountain...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Complete Control

In yesterday's Observer Nick Cohen wrote about the cosy relationship between police and journalists that allowed an innocent man, Colin Stagg, to be tarred with the allegation that he had brutally murderd Rachel Nickell - even after the judge threw the case out.

This is hardly the first example of such behaviour, after all the way the killing of John Charles de Menezes was spun by English police (unseasonably warm padded jacket... vaulting ticket machine... running... wires...), and the shooting of the young terror suspect last month (his own brother shot him, not the police!...) are two recent examples off the top of my head.

You're also reminded of the proactivity of the tabloid press in such cases - the notorious example of a paediatrician being attacked in England because a bunch of knuckle-draggers got confused after the News of the World's anti-paedophile witchunt.

It's a good piece, well worth reading.

Somebody Got Murdered

The matter-of-fact reporting of the killing of Russian diplomats - not soldiers or mercenaries or people linked in some other way to the coalition (not that that's remotely a justification, I'm just pointing it out) - shows just how much the world's sensibilities seem to have been deadened by the levels of brutality these nutjobs seem quite happy to descend to. I mean videoed having their heads cut off... in all honesty... I wonder how quickly they'll be forgotten. In fact most people will probably never know.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm So Bored With The USA

George is in Hungary and drawing comparisons between the pro-democracy uprising of 1956 and Iraqi desires for freedom. Of course the links are tenuous, at best. A people attempted to rise up and resist a dictatorship and then got crushed, a bit like Iraq after the first Gulf War I suppose.

But really, after that, there are no parallels whatsoever. According to the report 'Iraqis, he said, would take inspiration and "draw hope" from Hungary's success.' Of course they will, George. And 'Mr Bush praised the new Iraqi PM, Nouri Maliki, saying Hungarians would recognise his spirit.' Do you know it's all anyone spoke about last time I was there. Honest.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

If Music Could Talk

Frank McNally, in today's Irishman's Diary, writes about Sandi Thong's Godawful dirge I mentioned last week. Unfortunately he doesn't mention just how vomit-inducingly awful that steaming pile of dog-turd actually is...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

London Calling

The English media's coverage of the World Cup to date has been plagued by the non-stop references to World War II. Finally it appears that they're moving on. Sort of...

“DEUTSCHLAND! Deutschland!” In the 1930s that was a chant that made the world tremble.
Yesterday, as a full-throated roar from hundreds of thousands of German football fans around the Brandenburg Gate, it signified something completely different. It was evidence that Germany was finally shrugging off the legacy of National Socialism and becoming a normal nation once more.


"... there has not been such naked spontaneous German patriotism since the start of the First World War in August 1914."

Ah well, at least they're expanding their terms of reference lest anyone forget exactly how many World Wars were 'won' along with that World Cup.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fire

Tee Hee

As the old rhyme (nearly) goes "Liar, liar, farm's on fire"

I wonder what he was trying to burn?

News & Tributes

What the Irish Times school of journalism teaches you...

"A week after Wexford and Offaly had done their best to dim the summer's afternoon in Kilkenny, the rain came pelting down on this Guinness All-Ireland hurling qualifier.
Pathetic fallacy or not, the bleak conditions were totally in keeping with another dispiriting day for the championship..." Seán Moran

"If Thierry Henry, whose pronouncements this week hinted at a man suffering, in the best French tradition, from ennui, watched the deluge from his darkened hotel window, he might have smiled at the pathetic fallacy." Keith Duggan

It must have been a bet.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Complete Control

The Sindo is a rag. I would use it for bog roll only a) the ink is cheap and runs easily and b) that would chaff. But seriously it is a rag. Today they have a go at Terry Keane because intimate details of her affair with Squire Haughey are being published in the Daily Mail groups' Ireland on Sunday (another rag, but I digress).

A sign of a rag is when the paper chooses to speak on behalf of the monolith known as 'ordinary people'... "POLITICIANS, broadcasters and ordinary people expressed dismay last night after it emerged that Terry Keane has sold the story of her 27-year-affair with Charlie Haughey for a second time... Broadcaster Marian Finucane summed up the astonishment of ordinary people, saying..."

I'll use that word again - nauseating. All you need to remember is that the self-same Terry Keane had a diary column for years, in which she teased her readers about 'Sweetie' and their, implied, daliances. Those 'in the know' knew 'Sweetie' was the Squire but the general public didn't *know* until it all eventually came to light. The Keane Edge was considered one of the most popular columns of the newspaper in its time. The paper it ran in? The Sindo. The paper Keane didn't come clean in about her time with Haughey either the first time around in the late '90s or now? The Sindo. Not that there's a connection or anything...

Another Beautiful Day

The last decent day of the summer perhaps? Well it's raining now but yesterday I was more proud watching GAA football than at any time in my life as my home county ran the All-Ireland Champions damn close to a crushing defeat. Great game, great performance. We do it all agin next week...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Beautiful Day

I'm on call for the weekend and I'm supposed to be here 'til 7pm, but I ducked out at two to the nearest pub to watch the Argentininians play the Serbonegrans. Now I didn't intend posting about individual matches but, as a teenage girl would say, Oh. My. God! The Argies delivered a masterclass of football and scored possibly the best goal I have EVER seen - 9 players involved, 24 passes, two one-twos and the ball backheeled to the scorer Cambiasso who hammered it home. Truly, truly amazing...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another Day

29 years young today. Not happy. Where the hell has my time gone? Different to last year anyway... I've never even opened that vodka! Ever notice how you think the world should stop and acknowledge the fact it's *your* birthday?...

While the four teams themselves seem intent on dragging the competition down to mediocrity, World Cup Group B has been pretty impressive fans wise so far!...


*snigger*

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Deny

Right now it's 2-0 to Spain at half-time in their game with Ukraine. I'm following it on the BBC website's live update screen. This slightly strange piece has just popped up...

Spanish coach Luis Aragones, who follows the religion of kabbalah, believes the colour yellow is bad news, but on this showing against yellow-clad Ukraine he must be thinking bring on Brazil.

Apart from the fact Aragones has previously proven himself to be racist, I'm not sure what to make of that!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Leader

Charles J Haughey is off to the great tribunal in the sky. Bit inconsiderate of him when the nation is already in mourning over Royston Keane...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Somebody Got Murdered

Just when you think they're finally twigging what a complete mess they've made of the "War on Terror" there's this:

A senior American official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as a 'good public relations move to draw attention'.
Colleen Graffy said the deaths were part of a strategy and 'a tactic to further the jihadi cause', but taking their own lives was unnecessary. The deaths were described 'not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare' by US Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the camp.

Nauseating.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Beautiful Days



It's World Cup time - the greatest show on Earth! And I've been looking forward to this for months. Sure we're not there, but I love my footie and that won't stop me enjoying it.

I've a few bets on - Italy at 9/1 to win; David Villa of Spain to be top scorer at 40/1; Thierry Henry of France to be top scorer at 12/1; Ronaldinho to be top scorer AND Brazil to win at 22/1.

If my bets aren't to win I'd like to see either Argentina or Spain win, I think Mexico will be the dark horses and I intend finding the Polish bars to watch their games (particularly the Germany one) for the craic.

I, unlike so many others, have no problem with England (despite the media and the hooligans). However if they manage to blow it again in hilariously tear-jerking fashion I'll be the first to laugh. I have it worked out...

England to be playing Germany after making a bit of a hames of the Group Stage and finishing Runner Up, the returning Wayne Rooney to then send England into an early lead with commentary teams, pundits etc coming in their pants. England fail to come out in the second half and the Germans, roared on at home, snatch an equaliser when some kraut saunters passed Rio like he's not there. Then, as panic sets in, GNeville attempts a wild clearance and slices the ball into his own net. Cue pandemonium in the stadium and mass blood-letting on the mainland. Magic!..

Meanwhile there was a pretty funny exchange on TV3 in Ireland this morning...

Aidan Cooney (sports presenter, looking at Group C): "What do you reckon about that Paddy?"

Paddy Mulligan (former Irish international): "I reckon the Ivory Coast could be the dark horses...if you'll pardon the pun [pause as Paddy twigs, then goes into a bit of a cold sweat]... Oh jaysus, I hope that's not..."

Aidan Cooney: "No....no, I wouldn't think so...."

CLASS!

Finally I don't intend banging on about the World Cup but I do intend banging on about every dumbass hack-journo, radio phone-in muppet and gobshite letter-writer who complains about the number of games or the jingoism or whatever, blah, blah, blah... Build a bridge and get over it, people!

Career Opportunities

I had an email waiting for me this morning that had been sent to everyone in our plant by one of the managers...

"Following feedback from a number of groups, I am assembling a list of teams that are operating on the site.

If you are a member of a team (on-site or cross-site), please forward me your name and the team you are a member of together with the name of the team lead."

That might seem innocuous enough, but the point of all these "teams" is A) to get work done that isn't being adequately addressed by the normal work structures and B) to give people a feeling that they're so highly thought of that they've been specially selected to be part of some uber-team. The hope is that they'll be so eager to please in return that A gets achieved with the minimum of fuss, management can point to some new result, the bottom-feeders think that promotion at some point is a formality and everyone goes home happy.

The problem is that lazy-ass managers have been delegating loads of mini-projects (an example? Production staff forming "knowledge-sharing" teams to cover up the fact that the level of turnover of research support staff means that that department is no longer considered capable of being the source of knowledge) to the minions to try and make themselves look extra-productive when the next promotion opportunity pops up. So much so, in fact, that senior management now have no clue who has been told to go off and do what. Anyone with their eyes open this morning will read the mail and realise that, instead of being cherry picked and groomed for management, the whole place has been duped into doing extra work to cover up management deficiencies. Of course they were too stupid to twig that in the first place, so I doubt they'll twig it now.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

If Music Could Talk

There is a song.

There is a song by someone called Sandi Thom.

There is a song called "I Wish I Was a Punkrocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" by someone called Sandi Thom.

There is a song called "I Wish I Was a Punkrocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" by someone called Sandi Thom. It is a pile of sugary folk-pap and it made me break my radio...

"Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair
In 77 and 69 revolution was in the air
I was born too late to a world that doesn't care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair"

Mother. Of. Jesus.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Sort Of Homecoming

Heading for home in about twenty minutes. After such a pissy May this really is fabulous weather. Today's playlist includes ¡Forward, Russia!, The Raconteurs, The Futureheads' new album, Hot Chip and Graham Coxon...

The Guns of Brixton

The po-lis in London have shot a bloke in an anti-terrorist raid. Probably wearing his iPod or carrying his schoolbag or something. Or maybe he had an unseasonably warm jacket on. That's probably it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Silver And Gold

There was a great but misleading headline on Vinnie Brown's Irish Times opinion column yesterday - Social partnering is nonsense.

He starts off with the impossible to disagree with: "The idea that a group of business and trade union leaders, along with representatives of the Government, plus a rag-tag of "community" groups, should decide among themselves, in secret, fundamental economic and social policy for years ahead and decide how and when redistribution should happen is absurd."

He later says: "Public sector pay is something that should be sorted out independently of any partnership process. Public sector pay is an issue of concern to the public as a whole for it is public resources that are being used to fund public sector pay. Public sector pay should not be determined by the bargaining power of the unions involved but by fairness."

Again so far, so good... except... "It is a reality that some public servants are far too well rewarded and these include TDs and Ministers."

Oh. So it's not the public sector clock-watchers the public are supposed to be concerned about but the 'unfair' pay levels of a small number of civil servants in the higher echelons. Never mind that, in reality, most of these could command much bigger salaries for a lot less hassle in the private sector.

Vinnie goes on to suggest that: "Everyone paid under the average wage in society should get paid an increase at least equal to the rate of growth of taxation plus inflation. Those paid well above the average wage, say those paid over €60,000, should take a pay pause for at least two years with it being explicitly understood there will be no "catch-up" arrangement down the line."

In all fairness, Vinnie, wtf are you on about? That's not fairness - that's communism. Nothing about performance, nothing about productivity, nothing about value, nothing about incentive. No, Vinnie's idea is simply to arbitrarily close the gap between the many lower and fewer higher paid just for the sake of appearing to be 'fair'.

You could go on about how wrong this is for ever and a day - for starters, how does the taxpayer know we're getting value for the huge increases? What incentive is there for the average worker to perform when his/her peers get the same raises regardless of how much they doss? What incentive do the more able civil servants have to continue to do their jobs to the best of their ability and not just shag off to the private sector if their pay is frozen? Why should public sector workers get to hold the state to ransom for these ridiculous wage levels when, if private sector workers try the same thing, the companies they work for either go under or leg it to a location where workers aren't so stupid?

But one thing is for sure with public sector pay increases - no one is really much better off. They cause tax increases, they cause inflationary pressure and, ultimately, interest rates rise. The public servants may end up having higher gross incomes, but their level of disposable income hardly alters, thus prompting the unions to go looking for more money again... and round the circle we go again...
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