Thursday, August 31, 2006

Babyface

The people at Gillette (or Proctology Gambles) are a collossal bunch of wankers. I attempted to boycott their shaving products in recent weeks but failed to take into account the natural result of such a course of action and was subsequently flummoxed by the resulting itch and damage done to the necks of a lot of clothes. The reason for the boycott should be obvious - the new Gillette 'Fusion' razor.

Now the only question since Wilkinson Sword / Schick responded to Gillette's Mach 3 razor with its 4-blade Quattro was would Gillette go from 3-blades to 4-blades or 5-blades and how long would it take. Quite cleverly they milked the Mach 3 brand for all it was worth with the Mach 3 Turbo (extra glide-strip thingy) and the Mach 3 Nitro Power battery powered jobby. Now they have decided to skip a blade and throw their marketing juggernaut behind the new Fusion and the simultaneously released Fusion Power.

So products being improved is a good thing - and seeing as only hippies don't shave, this is an improvement that potentially benefits about half the human race plus those women who can't be arsed buying their own female versions of the exact same product or waxing or whatever. However have you seen the bloody prices? Tesco are charging €14 for a pack of four 'ordinary' blades and €17 for four 'power' blades. The Mach 3 blades (not turbo) I use are about €8 for four - and that seems expensive!

So why the boycott? Why don't I stick to the Mach 3 and to hell with 'Fusion Power' nonsense? Well, because the product is a genuine improvement that you can feel - just like the Mach 3 was a big improvement on the Sensor Excel that preceeded it. So whenever you cut yourself or get a rash you know it's because you've deprived yourself of a superior product. You risk cutting your nose off to spite your face (or at least your upper lip). So ultimately I know in my heart that I'll discard the Mach 3 and get the Fusion brand eventually. Gillette, the collossal wankers, have me by the chin as well as by the balls...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Egg Chasing Time

Now this is funny - permission from the police!...

ROSTOV-ON-DON — Scrums, mauls and rucks and an oddly shaped soccer ball? To police in southern Russia, this rugby match sure looked like a mass brawl.

Police responding to a report of a large group of men fighting Sunday evening found dozens of cars and people gathered in an empty field on the outskirts of Rostov-on-Don, and what appeared to be a fight between criminal gang members.

More than 70 officers detained some 100 people before determining that they were playing rugby instead of brawling, releasing them several hours later after scolding them for not alerting authorities ahead of time.

“Given the difficult, troubled situation in the region, at a time when counterterrorism actions are being actively conducted, citizens are obligated to inform [authorities] either verbally or in writing of their intentions,” said a precinct police officer, who was not authorized to speak to the media and so did not want his name to be used. “Then there wouldn’t be such an unpleasant situation.”

The Rostov region is adjacent to the troubled North Caucasus, where violence from Chechnya regularly spills into nearby areas.

Organizers denied doing anything wrong, and said police arrested them in spite of their repeated explanations that they were playing a game. Amateur rugby players in the region have no regular place to play, they said, so they gather around half-dozen times a year wherever they can.

“The fact that police took us to be hooligans, this isn’t the first time,” said one of the organizers, Alexander, who declined to give his last name for fear of offending the police.

“Honestly, it’s the first time that we’ve ever heard that we’re supposed to make public our plans to the local police.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

If Music Could Talk

It might say "Why are all the best gigs on bloody schoolnights?"

Gigs I'm going to (i.e. will have to take holidays from work to go to in Dublin):

We Are Scientists - Monday 30th October
Sufjan Stevens - Wednesday 1st November

Gigs I want to go to this side of Christmas but can't for the aforementioned reason:

Kelley Stoltz - a Wednesday
Cansei de Ser Sexy - a Monday
Hot Chip - a Monday
Captain - a Thursday
Maximo Park - a Tuesday
The Kooks - Wednesday and Thursday
Go! Team - Monday
Forward, Russia! - Monday
The Zutons - Wednesday

Ridiculous. I bet they're all playing in England at weekends. Gits.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Even Better Than The Real Thing

While I *love* most art mediums I just don't get certain things or, more precisely, I have no inclination to try. Along with highbrow cinema, the novel is something I have never managed to enjoy. I think, although I could be wrong, that this is due to a poor attention span. I have an inclination to daydream at the best of times, which makes concentrating on what's being said in a novel difficult. I also find reading a character's thoughts expressed as words (as opposed to the general narrative or dialogue) somewhat disconcerting and regularly implausible.

I'd like to appreciate good fiction so, after a recent, glowing Irish Times review, I figured I'd start with John Updike's Terrorist. Well it happened to be sold out in all of Cork's book stores when I went looking for it so I was going to buy it online until I looked the title up on Metacritic. The reviews there are not so encouraging - in fact the book gets murdered by some of the reviewers I've actually heard of (I don't know why I'm not surprised that Hitchens is particularly scornful...).

Particularly worrying is the suggestion that the book suffers from the one thing I always fear with fiction, namely that the characters aren't believable. So now I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Overpowered By Funk

This video is amazing...



I'm going to Pearl Jam tonight, Radiohead tomorrow night and Daft Punk Friday night all in Dublin.

Happy Days!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hate And War

With all the disappointment of France's apparent unwillingness to contribute peacekeepers to Lebanon - after being the most vocal of Israel's critics - I had a look to see which countries are contributing the most to UN Operations at this moment in time...

10,126 Bangladesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 )
9,797 Pakistan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 )
9,290 India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 )
3,510 Nepal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 )
2,798 Jordan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 )
2,771 Ethiopia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 )
2,598 Uruguay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 )
2,592 Ghana . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 )
2,412 Nigeria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 )
2,094 South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 )

1,648 China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 )

587 France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 )

388 Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 )
370 United Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 )

342 Togo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 )
340 United States of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 )

305 Russia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 )

Pretty pathetic performances from the world's five major arms manufact... sorry, five permanent Security Council members.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Beautiful Day

Amazingly, after an horrendous start to the season, the Town are now top of Division 1 ahead of the homeless (albeit with extra games played). Makes up for Wednesday's travesty somewhat...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Deny

There's a report in today's Irish Independent business section about the success of the 'Irish Psychics Live' premium phone-line, which has just made a 1-year after tax profit of €2.6 million. Savage. Apparently there are about 40,000 users of the 'service' with some people spending about €2,500 a year. That's 40,000 odd people that should have the vote taken off them. That the founder of the business is now a millionaire former painter and decorater should give people some clue as to just why these psychic types are so hostile to mentions of 'reason' and 'evidence' or at least you would hope so.

However, one of his new schemes is to send texts of single tarot readings for €2 to people. I mean just how stupid can people be? I always thought the point of these things was the personal nature of the visit to a 'psychic'. You'll always hear that these things are harmless but remember Ronald Reagan, one time leader of a Superpower, and his wife were firm believers in astrology and other such rubbish during the Cold War. It's only harmless if the recipients of the message can't do others any harm...

Some Days Are Better Than Others


I feel like my dog has died. I've never seen us beaten like that before and it hurt - even though it was only a friendly. It was like watching a tidal wave of spilled fanta advancing on the Irish goal every couple of minutes. We were missing 4 of our 5 proven quality players (Given, Dunne, Duff and Keane) while our 5th (Finnan) was played out of position to accomodate a guy who has been past it for 5 years (Carr). Kavanagh and Kilbane should never be allowed start for Ireland again either. I'm supposed to be going to Stuttgart in two weeks for the first qualifier. It doesn't feel like the best idea I've ever had right now.

I've been dreading this for a long time, actually. We don't have any strength in depth and no sign of the required quality coming through - certainly nothing of the standard the Dutch were able to field last night. We're just not capable of performing at a level that the barstoolers seem to believe is our God-given right. European football is passing us by. Our only chance is to make up for our deficiencies with hunger and bite, but I don't think we have the right players to even do that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Deny



This is the windmill in Dundalk IT, behind the old Carroll's cigarette factory. I took this photo from about 300 yards away yesterday while filling the car with petrol for the trip back to Cork. My own home is about 2 miles from here.

It occured to me to take the photo because petrol is now €1.22 per litre in Dundalk, meaning it costs me over 60 quid to fill the tank. Oil prices are going through the roof and gas prices seem set to follow. Apparently the major economies will soon be slaves to Russia's deliberately restricted Gas output and the price of gas will escalate as a result. While Europe and America get all haughty with Russia's exploitation of gas as a political tool the Chinese and Indians are busy signing contracts. The customer is only king when you have a choice of suppliers...

Which leads me to windmills. Windmills are a relatively easy and logical alternative source of electricity (at least while nuclear and coal remain bogey-men) yet people all over Ireland are objecting to them. Why? There's talk about ruining landscapes, but the people who are doing the objecting have already acne-scarred the landscape with their bungalows. Personally I think they're aesthetically pleasing. Then there's talk about the noise but even 300 yards away I couldn't hear the (massive) windmill in Dundalk and, when I've been near a windfarm in Sligo, the gentle whirring of the blades could hardly match the sound of a house alarm, car alarm or dog barking for annoying noise.

Noise and visual pollution are not even in the same ball-park as greenhouse-gases, carcinogenic emissions and radiation when it comes to potential health risks. Surely people recognise the environmental AND cost benefits of windmill generated power? No? I suppose this further example of NIMBYism would have nothing to do with perceived affects on house-prices?...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Twilight

Books I've finished recently, partly due to a bout of mild insomnia I've had since the end of May...

Blood and Sand by Frank Gardner, the BBC Security Correspondent who was shot and left for dead in Riyadh two years ago (his Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers was murdered in the same attack). This book is a memoir of his career as first a student backapacker in Arab Africa, then a banker in Bahrain and finally a journalist throughout the Arab world leading into the attack and his lengthy recuperation since (he remains in a wheelchair). Review here. (just want to point out while I remember that the search functionality on the London Times website is terrifically shite).

On the Road to Kandahar by Jason Burke, the Observer's Chief Reporter who's Al Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam really is an essential read, in my humble opinion. This book is similar to Gardner's in that it is first a memoir of his early career as a journalist in Islamic countries but then diverges to explain just why the sweeping generalisations made about those countries are so lazy. Review here.

Moscow 1941: A City and its People at War by Rodric Braithwaite, a former British diplomat in Russia. The story of the battle for Moscow in WWII. However it is more a series of journalistic-style reports on the affect of the invasion and subsequent fighting on the 'ordinary people' of Moscow, and their part in the war-effort, than a historical military treatise. Review here.

The sort of books I read tend to be political or historical but personable - insightful but still easy to read. If you're in any way similarly minded I would seriously recommend all three and especially, given the times we live in, the first two.

Egg Chasing Time

*Sigh* If only those gurrier footballers would behave more like the gentlemen of rugby...

Maybe like these Fijians.

Or England player Ollie Barkley.

Still, it's a real man's game and all that...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hateful

I can't stand Brendan O'Connor. In fact I think he's the biggest wanker in Ireland - a bigger wanker than Barry Egan in fact (and he's a ginger).

I can't remember when I first twigged what an absolute wanker he is but I think it was around the time RTE commissioned their first Have I Got News For You rip-off - Don't Feed The Gondolas. It had Tosser O'Connor alongside comedian Dara O'Briain in the Hislop and Merton roles (sort of - no one could compete with that pairing).

The problem was, you see, that the guy truly believed he was funny - literally sardonic wit personified - when he wasn't. Obviously his acquaintances laugh at his 'clever' witticisms, and people who like to think they're clever but are just easily amused by shock-statements ("Oh. My. God! I can't believe he said that!! Oh I shouldn't laugh... *giggle*) thought he was funny. But he wasn't and still isn't.

It was a terrible, terrible show. I mean it was cringe-inducingly awful and further proof, if it was required, that the Irish can't touch the British when it comes to TV comedy (for that further proof check out Naked Camera - the inferior of Trigger Happy and quite nasty in its own right or Stew - the inferior of the already worn thin Little Britain). It got, rightfully, panned, during its first season (although in fairness it rated reasonably well, but so does Big Brother) yet was highly recommended in advance of its second season by the Sunday Independent's TV Critic, Sarah Caden. On an unrelated matter Sarah Caden happens to be Mrs Brendan O'Connor.

I finally realised what a prize twat the fella is when he released a 'comedy' single (an act guaranteed to piss me off in its own right) as Father Brian and the Fun Lovin' Cardinals called Who's In The House? - itself a (bad) rip-off of countless Catholic Church / trendy priest jokes done to death in Ireland. You see (reading that last link as an example) even when the guy is trying to be a comedian he actually takes himself waaaaaaaay too seriously.

His journalism has gone the same way. He writes what he thinks is funny and you can almost picture the fat, piggy-eyed prick laughing away, telling himself how clever he is. The nadir was reached when, following the May Day scuffle between some over-zealous culchie Garda officers and some wannabe hippies, he penned this article for the Sindo. Just read it and cringe.

So why did I bring him up? Well he is currently trying to fulfill the Simon Cowell role (and, again, taking it all and himself waaaaaay too seriously) in Ireland's 'reality tv' cringe-a-thon You're A Star and, frankly, he's acting the cunt he is. And typing all that out has got it off my chest, which is why I brought him up. I think I'll go have a cup of tea.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Drug-Stabbing Time

Nearly a year ago the FDA announced they were looking into allowing Plan B contraception (as they call it, the 'morning-after pill' to everyone else) to be sold over-the-counter rather than by prescription only, as is currently the case. The problem the FDA said they had was that they were being asked to make a drug available over-the-counter for women but with an age restriction, which isn't normally done with drugs. Normally if a drug requires a prescription for a sub-population then it requires a prescription for the whole population.

At the time it was fairly obvious that the FDA's real problem was that it didn't want to be seen to make a decision that could have been construed as promoting promiscuity or some such by American conservatives. Indeed the FDA's Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director of the FDA Office of Women's Health resigned over the issue a few days later.

Well yesterday the FDA announced that the outstanding issues should be resolved within a matter of weeks (it looks like they have gone with an age restriction of 18, which will be a bit odd if the age of consent in the States is 16 - I'm not sure what it is). This is good news. Women empowered to take more control over their own bodies while, hopefully, leading to a reduction in the need for abortions. All they need now is a proper education programme...
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