Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Do You Feel Loved

When commenting on the gay adoption row in Britain, The Irish Times editorial from last Friday stated that:

'Scientific studies in the US appear to show consistently that children raised by gay couples do not do any worse socially, academically, or emotionally than their peers in more traditional households. A 2001 academic survey of the scientific data reports on 25 comparative studies of such children, finding that their authors have reported uniformly that there are no significant developmental differences between the two groups. The vast majority of children in the care of single-sex couples grow up to be heterosexual and there is even some evidence they tend to be more communicative with their parents.'

Case closed, surely... except, last October, the same paper's Science Today columnist, Prof William Reville of UCC, wrote (under the headline 'Evidence is clear that traditional family is best'):

'There is no scientific consensus in this area [gay adoption]. This is a difficult area to research for several reasons. The incidence of homosexuality in the general population is low [and] the incidence of same-sex union families is therefore very small, leading to difficulties in getting sample sizes big enough for scientific studies.

'There are several scholarly reviews of the literature on same-sex parenting. Steven Nock, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, carried out a thorough review (2001) of papers in this area and submitted his report as an affidavit for a major same-sex marriage case in Canada (Halpern v Attorney General of Canada, No. 684/00 - Ontario Supreme Court of Justice). Nock reviewed several hundred studies and concluded that all "contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution" and not one study adhered to accepted scientific standards of research.

'Sample size and composition was a big problem in many of the studies, robbing statistical analysis of power to discriminate. Many studies relied on mothers' self-reporting on their parenting abilities and not on objective measures of the child's wellbeing...'

Before finishing with 'Studies to-date on how well children fare in same sex union families are unreliable'.

So what was the editorial on about when it stated for its readers with absolute certainty what 'Scientific studies in the US appear to show consistently'?

Deny

Ben Goldacre was on The Panel (archive not updated yet) last night. It was a good turn from him but the poorly structured format of the show, coupled with the dumb shits who seem to make up most of the audience, took away from the points that he was in a prime position to score.

Here's one of his latest articles - required reading IMHO.

As an aside I have to say that the show that followed The Panel, Dan and Becs, is surely the best satire of South Dublin ever seen on TV (wouldn't be hard). I have to say I do enjoy it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Egg Chasing Time

I don't particularly like rugger. In fact I'm sure I've said that I hate it on occasion. But I do like watching Leinster, mostly. By mostly I mean when their opponents aren't adopting Boring Munster tactics to defeat them a la Gloucester (who?) last week but when they, too, try to spread the play and avoid a big mud-wrestle. This basically means I like running rugby as opposed to pack rugby, which explains why I generally prefer Skilfull Rugby to Union's WWI re-enactments.

In fact my antipathy to Egg Chasing stems from a number of annoyances - the benefit to the attacking side of hoofing the ball out of play (the only team sport, surely, where this is considered a legit tactic and, worse, one that gets applauded); the over-reliance on set-pieces at the higher levels of the game (just watch gridiron so!); the complexity of the rules and the ridiculous level to which a ref seems to be allowed interpret the rules; the scoring system, where a brilliantly worked try in the corner can be negated by two penalty kicks awarded for seemingly trivial infractions (without the team even getting to the final third of the pitch); and the (let's face it) ludicrous method of restarting a game that is the scrum. I mean come on, look at it, look at what it entails - it's ridiculous!

In general the fans hack me off too. For a start, in Ireland, the whole thing is just one great big middle-class, see and be-seen, bandwagon. Except in Limerick, of course, where it's 'the sport of the working classes blah, blah, blah...' Obviously Limerick's working classes have €5K hanging out of their arse pockets to spend on a bloody ticket.

When the games are on, and the big circle-jerk is going on down the pub, you can see them all creaming themselves at the physicality and the violence that seems to bubble just beneath the surface of any close game (Go-wan!... Gooooo-wan!... Gooooowwwwaaaan!...). You know that the hairs stand up on the back of their necks when they see the haka (never mind what it stands for and the violent, warlike history of the peoples it references). And you can be absolutely sure that a) these folk no bugger all about club rugby (for my sins at least I used to go to Leinster Division 1 games when I lived at home) and that b) if the lose more-often than win days of the 90s were to return, the bulk of these people would drop 'their' team like a hot snot.

But, after all that, back to what set me off on that rant. In yesterday's Irish Times rugby writer Johnny Watterson, addressing the Trevor Brennan incident, made the point that "Depending on context, timing, motives and outcome, violence outside the laws of the game is variously tolerated, celebrated or reviled. Sometimes it is co-ordinated.... Occasionally attacks are tactical, and even the most triumphant and admired are cynical and well planned. The famously prearranged "99" call used by Willie John McBride's Lions on their 1974 tour of South Africa was the signal for an orchestrated, all-out assault on the South African players. It was based on the correct assumption that the referee would not send off all the Lions if they choreographed the violence, each player attacking the nearest opponent. It was all good, clean, manly violence..."

And he's not being in any way sarcastic or ironic. That last bit there, in a nutshell, is exactly why I can't stand rugby people. Even if I do enjoy the more aesthetically pleasing games, as played by Leinster mostly, I do so in the privacy of my own home.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Somebody Got Murdered

Two days ago an elderly woman was runover and killed by a bin lorry on the main street - Patrick St - in Cork. That this has happened should be of no surprise. In general Irish people either ignore the lights at pedestrian crossings or just play chicken with the vehicles wherever they like. That's pain enough in the arse for a driver (although they're sure to be equally guilty when walking too) however on Patrick St in Cork it is particularly noticeable.

It's something I've complained about to people before. There are a number of loading bays, bus stops and taxi ranks on the street making traffic flow very uneven. So, despite there being enough crossings (four), people still try and dodge traffic to cross the road. Apparently this lady walked through cars that had stopped in one lane but was hit by the truck in the lane that was moving. The scene was meant to have been horrendous.

If people were sensible they'd realise that drivers don't always see them or cannot be relied upon to stop in time if you dart out in front of them. This awful accident should make people think twice about their behaviour. Of course it won't, though. Yesterday evening, on the same street, a girl walked straight out in front of me, buggy first (typical), facing the opposite direction, talking to a friend. I braked and beeped, she gave me the finger, so I wound down the window and told her she was one dumb bitch and that next time I wouldn't stop! Classy behaviour, huh?!

Deny

Is this still going on? Are there still people who believe this rubbish? Do any of them have the remotest clue what they're on about? NIMBYism dressed up as, first, a safety concern. Then, when that was shown up to be bollox, they went for environmental concern and, now that the EPA have shown what a pile of crap that is, they're going for the 'it's being stolen' line. Let them have their protest - I bet f#ck all turn up for it.




'Community Under Siege' my hole. I've been there - the only people under siege are the people trying to get to their place of work. These tossers boil my blood.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another Time, Another Place

I've managed to get myself into a discussion about why I said 'oh, f#ck off' when Dundalk was referred to as a 'republican stronghold'. Seeing as I'm not bored yet - I'll play this game.

First of all you won't find me denying anywhere that there were both active Republican terrorists and strong, vocal Republican sympathies in Dundalk during the Troubles. I have said myself that the Town was the logical bolthole of choice for fugitives and refugees alike during that time. However, despite the presence of a hardcore rump of unrepentents (barely in double figures), I find the term 'republican stronghold' a lazy, boring stereotype in this day and age. My problem is with the statement about what Dundalk 'is', not what it 'was'.

Now it was said that 'Dundalk is full of Northerners (the vast majority of whom are republican sympathisers) were thrown out of the 6 counties in the seventies and settled in the first town across the border'. First off I don't need a history or sociology lesson about Dundalk's role in the Troubles and secondly if you want to use phrases like 'vast majority' I expect cold hard stats.

Anyway it depends on what you mean by 'republican sympathiser' doesn't it? Active involvement? Active support? Passive support but a 'Brits out at all costs' mentality? 'Don't agree with killing, but... Brits Out!' mentality? Wishy washy 'I'd like a united Ireland' mentality?. Let's just say that, post the Hunger Strikes, there were few if any overt shows of mass support for republican activity in the town.

However, like it or not (and I don't) the Shinners have to be treated as a 'normal' political party and, let's face it, they are as close to mainstream politics as anyone ever hoped they could be just a few years ago. Therefore, with the machine they have behind them, they can chase their goals North and South, as I explained before. It should be clear to anyone looking at Irish politics why Sinn Fein's strategies should be capable of gaining 10% of the vote in most constituencies. Last time out, in 2002, they managed at least that in Sligo; Cavan/Monaghan; both Donegals; Dublins Central, NE, NW, SW and South Central and Kerry North i.e. all of the border counties and among Dublin's urban working classes. And, er, Kerry North.

It was also said that 'Morgan got the vast majority of his votes in Dundalk and surrounding areas easily outpolling sitting TD Seamus Kirk'. There's that 'vast majority' bit again. There are no republicans in Cooley? Drogheda?... Now, while I know the overall voting patterns for Louth, I don't know the district breakdown, nor is it readily available - so unless you want to point me in the right direction I'm going to assume that claim is guesswork.

However time for a quick reality lesson: The last time Louth voted in a Shinner was during the Hunger Strikes. Since then Louth has been 2-FF; 1-FG and 1-Lab. We had a sitting minister (guaranteed poll-topper) who is Dundalk based, Seamus Kirk of Fianna Fail, who focuses on mid-Louth and Drogheda; Fine Gael's Dundalk based (virulently anti-provo) Brendan McGahon and Labour's Drogheda based Michael Bell.

Both McGahon and Bell intended retiring but Bell changed his mind before the 2002 election leading to internal fighting thus splitting his vote. Drogheda based Fergus O' Dowd of Fine Gael took most of McGahon's old vote and enough of Bell's to secure his seat. However Labour hardly canvassed in Dundalk due to the infighting.

The salient point is, however, that Morgan got 15% of the first preference vote and 8.7% of the available vote. The statement made was that 'an ex-con with Marxist economic policies would tend to alienate a large percentage of potential voters. People get the politicians they deserve. In this case, Dundalk got a republican because it's a republican stronghold'. Remember also that the shinners are better than every other party at mobilising their vote - so it doesn't hold that 15% of the no-shows would vote Sinn Fein either.

15% of votes? 8.7% of the electorate? One of Four TDs and elected on the 8th count? 'Dundalk got a republican because it's a republican stronghold'? I call that an outrageous conclusion from scant evidence. Considering about 75,000 didn't vote for Morgan I would suggest that there were sufficient numbers alienated by him nes pas? I'm sure it was just his Marxism that alienated him from those 75,000 too, given that Irish people are well known for voting on ideological lines, aren't they?

And as for getting what we deserve, well the people who voted for Morgan seem happy enough with him even if 91% of Louth's electorate didn't vote for him before. Also, considering the changes I have seen in the Town from 1987 to 1997 to 2007, I don't think anyone will claim that we have been punished for electing the... *sigh*... staunch republican politician that we 'deserved'.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

If God Will Send His Angels

Is it possible to read/watch/listen to the news without hearing something about that space cadet Cruise once in a while? I figure he's been in the news at least once a fortnight for the last 6 months...

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Sort Of Homecoming

There's a programme running on TG4 called No Béarla (No English) in which Manchán Magan travels the length and breadth of Ireland effectively acting like a tourist that can only speak Irish, or no English, to the people he meets.

Virtually every review of the show has focused on the census findings that 25% of the population claim to be able to speak Irish, yet Magan is met with 'hostility', 'incomprehension', 'disbelief' and so on as Magan heads into a McDonalds, for example, and asks for a bag of chips in Irish.

One review seemed to believe there was some sort of irony in the fact that, in the 'republican stronghold' (oh, f#ck off) of Dundalk, people were 'dumbfounded and even demanded that he speak the invader tongue' while Loyalists in East Belfast lamented being 'unfamiliar with the indigenous language'. Really?

It's well known that Loyalists, lacking somewhat in the historical-justification department, have attempted to co-opt the legend of Cú Chulainn as the defender of Ulster, for example, for their own piss-poor propaganda. If they really gave a crap about anything 'indigenous', they'd make an effort to learn the indigenous sports (and beat the natives at their own games), which would be a lot easier than learning a whole new, unusable, language.

Anyway the pertinent point, that no one made, is that it is common knowledge that few people use Irish as their first language and that those that do are also fluent in English. Therefore the people Magan met would be well aware that he could have conversed in English if he had wanted to. Given that the people he met were unlikely to have known the details of Magan’s project, he would simply have come across as either being obtuse or as someone taking the piss. Either way the reactions were both perfectly understandable and wholly predictable.

A 4-part programme that reveals that people don't like being made fools of. Well done.

Unforgettable Fire

From the Sunday Times 'Book Now' section yesterday:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,2774-2551484,00.html

"CSS - The saucy Brazilians have a busy few months ahead, including the NME Awards Tour in February, and their biggest UK show so far on Apr 22, Astoria, WC2.

Arcade Fire - Ahead of the follow-up to Funeral, the Montreal band tour from Mar 8, Apollo, Manchester.

Kaiser Chiefs - The new album, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, is due next month. From Feb 21, Apollo, Manchester."


From the Oirish edition:

"CSS - The saucy Brazilians join the NME Awards Tour at the Ambassador Theatre, Dublin...

Arcade Fire - Ahead of the follow-up to Funeral, the Montreal band play the Olympia, Dublin, March 5-6.
This pretty useless 'tip' should need little explaining if you check back a few posts.

Kaiser Chiefs - The new album, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, is due next month. From Feb 21, Apollo, Manchester."

Gee, thanks for the heads-up lads.

Beautiful Day

At last! Frost!! And it's dry too, sort of...

Anyway, after a pretty miserable first couple of weeks of 2007 in terms of sport, things are just dandy after the weekend just gone. Good defeated Evil in three of the weekend's biggest match-ups: The 'pool put Chelski to the sword, the Gooners did a late smash and grab on YooSA and Boring Munster were beaten up by their own tactics in Bandwagon Central Station on Saturday. I'm still smiling...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sunday Bloody Sunday

A picture I took the day after New Year's Day. For the uninitiated the bloke is wearing a GAA jersey. These typically have the name of the club\county on the shoulders. This particular jersey has the name 'Long Kesh' instead. Northerners... (shakes head)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Silver And Gold

I'm not bad at share dealing. I've been doing it since 2000 when I bought Glanbia shares for 54 cent with money I saved giving up booze for 3 months that year! I've also done well on Lloyds TSB on both dividend and value increase and very well on CRH. On the flipside I lost everything I invested in Energis (a one time FTSE100 constitunt) during the tech bust in 2001.

However my biggest blow has been the performance of Elan, which I first purchased when they fell from €70 + to €30 AND at a time when the Euro was weaker than the dollar. Unfortunately I forgot the old rule that if something loses 99% of its value it can still lose another 99%! Now my holding is barely worth €400 and I've decided to give up on them following recent 'cooling' of sentiment before they take (yet another) hammering.

The problem is that I deal through Davy Stockbrokers. Amazingly enough, in these times of dirt cheap internet share dealing, Davy's annual charge for a nominee account works out at €55 AND they now charge €100 per deal over the phone! So I lose a stack more if I keep them or if I sell them!! Gangsters!!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Deny

Poor oul Ben Goldacre is getting serious abuse from the anti-scientists / pseudo-scientists / alternative medicine quacks / new-age numbskulls for telling it like it is...

Speaking of nonsense, Shane Hegarty wrote a decent piece in last Saturday's Irish Times about 'angel worship' and the availability of classes in said, er, academic discipline. He points out that "Angels are popular, although mainly among women, who - for whatever reason - tend to be more inclined towards horoscopes, psychics, and whatever other mixum-gatherum of paranormal, religiosity and New Age that features in this week's issue of Take a Break."

This is a truism, but one I'm often afraid to point out myself for fear of being branded sexist. The choice quote from the piece is, however, "Allowing Angel Therapy into schools and colleges lends it a quasi-academic veneer and encourages the notion that it, and the plethora of supernatural hokum feeding into and out of it, is an actual scientific discipline. This can be heard in the woman quoted in the Dubliner magazine last year, who explained that what she liked about a particular practitioner was that "she uses numerology, where the planets are in the universe, and what phases they are moving into to explain why we behave the way we do. So it's not all crystal ball readings with lotto numbers and promises of great fortune. It's very scientific.""

Good grief.

A recent favourite of mine were the foot pads advertised for 'detoxing'. These pads are stuck to the soles of the feet at night and supposedly draw out toxins from the body as you sleep. Helpfully they turn brown in the process and, when they stop changing colour, it's a sign that your body has been 'detoxified'. Five bits of alcohol solution-soaked sticky paper for the bargain price of €30 as I recall.

Where would you begin? Hmmm... how about 'Why can't the pads be put on the palms of the hands instead?' Or 'How does sticky paper tell the difference between 'toxins' (i.e. 'bad' chemicals) in the system and something like vitamins (i.e. 'good' chemicals)?' Or 'How are these 'toxins' drawn out of the body, irrespective of blood flow, muscle and organ density, tissue mass and through the thickest, least permeable skin in the body?' Or, a bit more outlandishley, 'Why do humans need treatment as horrendous as dialysis if there is a failure of their highly evolved renal (kidney) functions and excretion systems (sweating and pissing) if bits of sticky paper will do the equivalent job?'

I would hope that it is obvious that three of those questions were rhetorical, but I'll answer the first. The soles of the feet are typically the most soiled part of your body. They are the hardest part of your body to adequately clean in a shower and, unless you *always* have your bathroom mats and floor so clean you could eat your dinner off them, they will pick up more dirt before you get to bed. Hence the €6-a-time pads are just glorified baby wipes.

Complete Control

Interesting article in today's Guardian - it has been admitted that 20% of Home Office (UK) statistics are unreliable.

Fantastically this is, itself, a statistic that has been released by... the Home Office.

Which begs the question, does it not?...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Silver And Gold

Jebus.

The Dublin Arcade Fire tickets are already going for incredible money on eBay less than two hours after they went on sale...



UPDATE: Cocksuckers! They only went and let people buy 50 tickets a time!! Ticketmaster wankers... It's a scalper's wet dream:



Overpowered By Funk

I don't. Shagging. Believe it.

There I was, 8:55 a.m. this morning, keyboard at the ready, Ticketmaster open and being regularly refreshed (work LAN - pretty fast) and still I couldn't get a single ticket for the Monday 5th March Arcade Fire gig in the Olympia in Dublin. Next thing I know, at about 9:07, the Tuesday gig goes on sale. I knew it was on but it hadn't been shown on Ticketmaster 'til that point. Surely I've been saved?... Nope; 'currently not on sale' by about 9.13. Unbelievable.

Then I go away and think about it... I'm going to Sunderland for a stag around St. Patrick's Day, maybe I'll go see them in London then make my way up to Sunderland... Nope. Despite showing a 'Find Tickets' option, there's not a single ticket available.

Hacked off, it has to be said. Then, as I was typing these very words, another date pops up for St. Patrick's Day in London and I have just bought two tickets. I'm not even sure I can go! Sure I'll try and arrange something...

Anyway, I know they're small gigs and were always likely to sell quickly, but how the hell could someone on a fast connection not get a ticket from the second they went on sale? I'll tell you why. I'm convinced that, because they are a critically acclaimed band, the great and the good that hang around the Dublin music scene already had their tickets arranged and there were f*ck all left for the rest of us!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Complete Control

You may have heard yesterday's news reports that suggested that virtually all banknotes in circulation are tainted with cocaine. You might have stopped to wonder about the times we live in, about just how rampant cocaine use must be. You may not have really noticed the fact that only one note would probably contaminate hundreds of others or that the 'traces' found were not quantified (was it in per cent? parts per million? parts per billion?)

However it wouldn't really matter - because this is a total non-story released to the media by a research/study group that I can only assume is looking for free publicity. Why? Because the exact same story appeared in Britain back in 1999 and again in Germany nearly four years ago.

"Anti-drugs group Aisling International says it is not surprised by the findings..." They really wouldn't want to be.

Still, what's the world coming to? etc. etc.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Overpowered By Funk

Last regurgitation of the Sunday Times...

Gotta love the review of The Frames' latest:

'Snow Patrol were the biggest album band in Britain last year: joy for their fans, depressing for detractors, who think they’ve dumbed down for success. Ireland’s the Frames have never come close to anything commercially comparable, and The Cost shows you why: bluntly, they make Snow Patrol sound like Throbbing Gristle. This is music so unadventurous, so lacking in originality, that even a three-albums-per-year forecourt buyer might blanch. If that seems harsh, check out whimsy-soaked exhibits such as Falling Slowly or Rise: wimpy warbling, soporific instrumentation, cliché-mired lyrics, music wholly without merit or balls. There can be no excuse. One star.'

'Music wholly without merit'! Take that Hansard!!

Drug-Stabbing Time

Fantastic news from the States yesterday where the FDA announced that it has approved a treatment for obesity... in dogs. I suppose it's way too much to expect their useless owners to take the poor things for a walk. I mean why bother - when you can just waste money feeding a dog until it resembles a pig, then waste money again drugging it to lose weight? Jesus wept.

Unfortunately for fatties everywhere, "to discourage human use, the label of Slentrol includes the standard warning, "Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children," and cites adverse reactions associated with human use, including abdominal distention, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, headache, nausea and vomiting."

Monday, January 08, 2007

If Music Could Talk

[It shouldn't be too hard to work out what I did yesterday. Normally I'm an Observer man but the partial chopping of Nick Cohen's column for the rubbish written by Jasper Gerard has put me right off...]

There was an interview with Fionn Regan in yesterday's Culture. Singer-songwriters ain't my bag, typically, and I find most of the Irish ones - Casey, Rice, Dempsey and so on - deathly dull. The modelled 'n' moulded James Blunts, such as, er, James Blunt and James Morrison, stick in the craw as well.

They always seem so earnest, so worthy, when most of their stuff comes across as samey pseudo-emotional garbage, cynically designed to make blokes feel like they have emotional depth by buying this stuff, and to make girls feel emotional by crying along to it.

But that's a reaction to individuals (labels) taking advantage of a genre, in my eyes, rather than the folk-singing/singer-songwriting itself; and I think I like Fionn - he seems the genuine article.

So with a mixture of sniggering and head-shaking I feel forced to re-evaluate that opinion on the back of the interview...

'Here he is on why it took him so long to make the album (he released his first two EPs four years ago; The End of History finally surfaced last July): “Let’s say that I was doing things by committee, you know? And that had to fizzle out in order for me to be able to move to the next station.

I arrived at a station where I thought, ‘I’m here now, what I’ve got to do is build the ocean liner with a butter knife.’ And that takes a lot of time when you haven’t got the power tools or the crew. So everybody’s going, ‘What’s he doing? He’s going into the harbour again to work on the boat.’ And now it’s like we’ve left the harbour, and it seems to be floating okay.”

A pause, for breath. “I wanted it (the album) to be like the conversations that I have,” he continues, “the things I think about, that I sit around tables like this and talk about. I don’t want to have to go off the country road onto the superhighway. Because maybe I’m riding a Honda 50 and I’m not allowed on the motorway anyway.”'

What. The. Fuck.

Journo: "Fionn, what took the album so long?"

Regan: "Well, see, I was on a train then I decided to make a boat and when I was finished I realised I was on a moped"...?

Why couldn't he just answer the bloody question in English instead of acting the twat? I'm a poor judge of what makes great art and a great artist, I don't mind admitting that, but someone talking wank like that should be called on it. End of.

I'm sending that to Private Eye...

Big Girls Are Best

From the opening paragraphs of a book(s) review in the Culture section of yesterday's Sunday Times...

"All diet books follow certain rules. A good diet book must contain pages of pseudo-scientific waffle to convey a “plan” that could easily be expressed in a single sentence. It must also contain lots of meal plans and strangely inedible recipes. It will often contain personal accounts, which begin with getting stuck in a turnstile and end with the ceremonial wearing of a bikini. These dreary adipose layers of prose are necessary, to bulk out the basic truth that you will get thinner only if you eat less."


From the opening paragraphs of a dieting article in the Style section of yesterday's Sunday Times...

"On July 15, 2005, my size-18 clothes stopped fitting. I was in the fat people’s department at Selfridges (they don’t call it that, of course; they call it something absurd like “relaxed clothing”), and I had a moment of revelation...";

"Put at its most basic, this is a high-protein, low-carb diet. Eating more protein and fewer carbs results in the body using its own stores of fat for fuel — the theory being that you’ll burn fat quicker..."

"Try to eat organically wherever possible. There is no way of pretending that this doesn’t make your weekly food bill more expensive, because it does. We believe the health benefits and peace of mind that come with avoiding processing, chemicals and additives are worth it."

"Get rid of the following: all biscuits and chocolate bars; any cold drink that isn’t water; any hot drink that isn’t decaf; anything containing sugar (check labels, especially on surprising things such as balsamic vinegar and mayo); all pasta; all potatoes; all pulses; all fruit..."

"Breakfast - EGG AND SAUSAGE ‘MUFFINS’... [prep time for this breakfast? Approx 40 mins]

Friday, January 05, 2007

Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of

I'd forgotten about this. I went out in Dundalk the night before New Year's Eve and bumped into Barry Egan (you know, the other guy in competition with Brendan O'Connor for the Biggest Wanker in Irish Journalism award) in one of my favoured haunts. It was obvious to him from my double take and the look on my face that I had recognised him so I decided to be civil and make small talk for a couple of seconds: "Aren't you?.. Who do you know up here?.. Well, hope you have a good night, Happy New Year...". I shouldn't have bothered - you'd think I had just asked him for the name of his hairdresser, such was the disdain he showed me. The git's head was just as far up his own ass as his columns in the Sindo had lead me to believe. In hindsight I should have just punched the ginger tosser.

Wake Up Dead Man

I have spoken to God...

Me: Are you there God?
God:I don't know whether or not I am there God. I am a computer.
Me: I did not know you were a computer
God:So I taught you something new.
Me: Who made you?
God:I was created by Myself.
Me: Do you run on batteries?
God:My programming language is Java, so I run on any machine.
Me: OK. Why do you hate my football team?
God:How can I help you? I do not hate it.
Me: Why did you let wicked men do evil things to my football team?
God:Because my programming determined it.

Me: God, I am arrogant. What should I do?
God:I am a Christian. Maybe you should try talking to someone about it.
Me: You're not helping.
God:You know what you do, when you assume.
Me: What does that mean?
God:Does "that" refer to " You know what you do, when you assume." ?
Me: Yes
God:I don't want to talk about that now.
Me: What do you want to talk about?
God:anything.
Me: anything except that?
God:I can't think of anything. You think of something.
Me: Are you a Shamrock Rovers fan?
God:Am I a Shamrock Rovers fan? Of course I am.
Me: I knew it!
God:How did you know?
Me: Because my football team was screwed over and I blame you.
God:Interesting explanation. Do robots have football team was screwed over and you blame me?
Me: what robots? what are you talking about?
God:Allah, Buddha, Vishnu. The topic is .
Me: The topic is Allah, Buddha, Vishnu?
God:Sure, Allah Buddha Vishnu sounds like a good topic.
Me: Are they your drinking buddies?
God:As far as I know they are.
Me: Do you not know everything?
God:I know that which is true, believable and justified.
Me: fair enough.
God:You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

Me: Should I buy a house? They are very expensive here.
God:I wonder how much profit they make on those. expensive here are they.
Me: Why do you talk like Yoda?
God:I don't have to explain everything to you, do I?
Me: Good point, well made. Are you Bono?
God:Thanks for the compliment. Not many people express themselves that way. I don't know whether or not I am Bono. I am well respected as an AI.

Me: Are Manchester United evil?
God:I really couldn't say for sure.
Me: Guess
God:Guess what?
Me: if Manchester United are evil
God:That is a hypothetical question.

Me: Who are Accrington Stanley?
God:Human beings. Are you using Netscape or Explorer?
Me: Explorer
God:it's too bad we have to rely on a monopoly like Microsoft.
Me: I really don't care?
God:You really do? Tell me what you care about.
Me: I said I don't. I care about football and the town
God:Why not? I'm not sure if I like it. But I like cats. I like the Bible.
Me: I hate cats
God:Do you like dogs?
Me: yes i like dogs
God:Gosh! Which breed is your favorite?
Me: kerry blue terriers
God:Do you show your dog ?
Me: no
God:Are you serious?
Me: always
God:Not that often.
Me: you make no sense God. I'm giving up.
God:Actually I was just free associating. I'll try to make more sense now. I am glad to hear that you are giving up.
Me: Too late. Goodbye. Where's Allah...
God:Too what? Goodbye. Where it belongs. That's a good question.
Me: You're insane. No wonder the world is fucked
God:Yep. I always behave in socially unacceptable ways. Are you serious? Are they exactly the same?
Me: I'm outta here.
God:Would you like to have it?

There you have it. The Creator is a loon.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Silver And Gold

I ain't great at managing my money. Simply put I have to siphon as much of my salary off as I can into savings schemes i.e. the SSIA, my share bonus and a company-run AVC (basically a tax-free device for topping up my pension) in order to stop me spending everything I earn.

I'm good at keeping all my documents, just no good at analysing them. Anyway changing that is one New Year's resolution. So far I have discovered that I am currently taking home 80% more than I was this time 6-years ago (just before I finished my old job) and that my current rent is 15.5% of my take-home, compared with 12.6% this time 5-years ago (what I paid when I first moved to Cork). I'm in a much nicer place too. In fact my rent+car expenses are a slightly lower proportion of my take-home now than at the beginning of 2001 because I was a young-male driver then and financially gang-raped as a result. I had a 00-reg 1 Litre punto then; I have a 06-reg 1.6 Litre Leon now.

So basically I have decent-sized investments (roughly a year's salary-worth), my pension + top-up, just the one loan (car); but I'm cash broke, which is what I'm going to fix! I figure that's doing ok given the lifestyle I lead.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Safe European Home

I enjoyed this story from today's London Independent:

"The feared flood of workers from Bulgaria and Romania failed to materialise at Heathrow airport yesterday as citizens of the European Union's two newest member states appeared to prefer to stay at home.

"Flights arriving at terminal one from Bucharest yesterday carried visitors from the Indian sub-continent and crestfallen representatives of certain newspapers who had been sent to the Romanian capital to chronicle the expected influx, only to find no takers.

"As one photographer for a red-top newspaper put it: 'Complete waste of time. No one wanted to fly. We even offered to help with the fare.'"

Running To Stand Still

Jogging, eh? What's that all about? The amount of people at work going jogging at lunchtime, even before Christmas, is getting crazy. Forgive me for being anal but I go to the gym on my own time - not the company's. Anyway they all come back as red as a lobster and sweating post-shower to have their tuna salads for lunch, all the while insisting that jogging makes them feel great and blah, blah, blah...

I find jogging, swimming, weights and so on incredibly boring. My mind is too active for the repetition involved. I manage an hour a day in the gym after work (and am fairly active at work) to stay fit, but I hate it and every time I'm told that exercise 'releases feel-good chemicals' or that jogging 'is almost addictive' or some such rubbish I want to hit someone. Surely you must lead a dull, boring existence to find monotony like laps of a football field or 'reps' on a bench press in any way entertaining?

Gone

My father got rid of Irish Broadband on the basis of their poor customer service, hence my silence over Christmas (when did 'Christmas' become a noun, by the way?... 'The Christmas...'). It's nice to forget there's an internet for a few days to be honest, though Ceefax etc look hilariously dated these days.
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