Wednesday, February 28, 2007
'Equity markets are continuing their upward march in 2007 but it looks like they could be losing momentum as year to date increases are much less than we had been used to in the second half of 2006. Hence there has been a growing desire to 'take profits ' because the rise since the middle of last year has been too strong and thus the feeling that some sort of correction is due...
... we are not tempted to 'take profits' at the moment. Since June there has been a very strong run in markets but this is from a very over-sold position and against a backdrop of improving fundamentals... keep the faith.'
Goodbody Stockbrokers' Tuesday Market Comment:
'The Dublin market, like all major European Bourses on Tuesday, suffered severe losses...'
'THE Eastern European exodus to Britain has shot up by 25 per cent.Enough people to fill a city the size of Leeds have now flocked to Britain from the former Eastern Bloc since Tony Blair threw our doors open to them.The number of Poles officially approved to work has passed the third of a million mark for the first time. And more than 70,000 are now claiming benefits – costing the taxpayer £77million a year...'
The London Independent today...
'Britain's harsh asylum policy is deterring persecuted people who fear for their lives, immigration campaigners warned yesterday as the number of applications for refuge fell to a 13-year low. Just over 23,500 people applied for asylum in Britain last year, a fall of 9 per cent on 2005 and the smallest figure since 1993.'
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Cult Of The High Moral Tone
IT seems to be an article of faith among a large section of the sports media that the Premiership is in grave trouble. We are constantly enjoined to remember that, for all the hype surrounding the league across the water, the football is vastly inferior to that produced in the Primera Liga or Serie A. Every weekend the prophets of doom on RTE's The Premiership tut-tut and shake their heads like CSI operatives confronted with a particularly mangled corpse.
Last Wednesday night's clash in the Nou Camp between Primera Liga table toppers Barcelona and Liverpool, barely hanging on to a distant third in the Premiership, should therefore have been a foregone conclusion. Instead Liverpool carved out a comfortable 2-1 victory and looked a far superior side.
A... likely conclusion is that external factors are blinding the pundits to the excellence of English domestic soccer. Chief among these is the oft-expressed distaste for something called, "the culture of the Premiership," (also known as "the corrupt/decadent/distasteful/insert sniffy adjective here/culture of the Premiership.")
Take, for example, the furore which surrounded the contretemps between Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise during Liverpool's trip to the Algarve. More column inches were expended on the duo's off the field antics than were devoted to examining the forthcoming match against Barcelona. The tabloid press had the bit between their teeth and were looking for Bellamy to be delivered up as a sacrifical victim, one more proof that they can take down whoever they want to. Jade Goody would understand.
The notion that Bellamy and Riise's antics were somehow detrimental to Liverpool's Champions League hopes (the only justification for running the story in a sane world) would, you'd imagine, have been blown out the window when the pair shared Liverpool's goals on Wednesday. Bellamy even laid on the winner for Riise to underline that what happens off the field stays off the field. Yet the English press still weren't satisfied.
On Friday morning, for example, one Sam Wallace bemoaned "Rafael Benitez's decision to pick Bellamy after the alleged attack on Riise that left the Welshman's team-mates in disbelief. That is Benitez's right as a manager but he has to be clear that in doing so he made clear that the founding principle of his management is winning and not any other bothersome concern like the basic standards of behaviour and decency." Hang on a second folks. Bleeeuuuuuuuggggh. (Hold The Back Page would like to thank Acme Sickbags for their kind assistance.)
The fact that Mister Wallace writes for one of the more respectable English newspapers, The Independent, indicates how far the cult of the high moral tone has spread among soccer writers across the channel. You really do have to admire the way Benitez is slapped on the wrist while the weaselly "alleged" is popped into the paragraph just to cover the hack's arse.
There is, however, no reason for Irish fans of the Premiership to pass any heed on this moralising, which largely stems from the peculiar English hang-up about class. After all, the vast majority of stories about footballers behaving badly originate in the British tabloid press, perhaps the most poisonous journalistic entity on the planet. While decrying the influence of the tabloids in other areas, some of us are far too inclined to use these stories as evidence that there is something rotten with the state of the Premiership.
In reality the hounding of the likes of Bellamy by the red-tops has a great deal to do with jealousy and the instinctive hatred of largely middle class journalists for footballers who mainly come from the class fashionably demonised as "chavs."
Premiership footballers undoubtedly, from time to time, get drunk, engage in unwise behaviour and have sex with women who are not their wives or regular girlfriends. They are young men after all. But perhaps the next time we're tempted to join the chorus of approbation we might reflect on what we were like in our 20s and how good we'd have looked had there been members of the gutter press on our tail 365 days a year.
Instead of focussing on the occasional departure of players from middle class standards of propriety, perhaps we should consider the marvel of their escape from such surroundings. A place like Huyton, in Liverpool, which has produced Peter Reid, Steven Gerrard, David Nugent and the serially derided Joey Barton, is one of the poorest areas in Britain, one of the sink estates reduced to urban jungle standards by Thatcherism. How well the likes of myself and yourself would have done if we'd started off with such a handicap is something we might consider next time we're tempted to ascend the high moral ground.'
The occasion, as an occasion was special. What I'm railing against is the whole idea that the nation, as some kind of amorphous mass, 'moved on', 'grew up' or 'matured' on Saturday. It is already conventional wisdom that 'we' put the past behind us on Saturday - as if the country suddenly, and finally, threw off the chains of our post-colonial hang-ups. Well excuse me, but I find that insulting.
I know that there are plenty, perhaps a majority, that still have a persecution complex about England, but there are many who don't. To me it's nothing to be proud of that we had to beat England in a rugby match in the home of Gaelic Games, 85 years after independence, for some people to cop themselves on. To me, people (the media, and the usual suspects among the great and the good, I suppose) have no right to preach about how 'we' have done anything. And to me it's even worse that we're congratulating ourselves for getting over something that (surely hindsight will prove) should have ceased being an issue by the 1950s.
BBC's Ireland Correspondent, Denis Murray, stated on Saturday, "The Irish never forget their history, the English never learn it." Nice soundbite. But not all of us let our (distant) history colour our attitude to the present. So that's my problem with the whole thing. Maybe some people needed to 'move on' (or catch up?...). But not all of us were wallowing in the past in the first place.
Monday, February 26, 2007
However it's also mildly curious that, despite the extended bout of satisifed self-congratulation...
However the guff about Croke Park, in particular, is really getting out of hand...
Tom McGurk, RTE, after the match - "He [Croke Park historian] rang us to say that the spot where Girvan Dempsey scored his try was the spot where Michael Hogan was shot dead."
Keith Duggan, Irish Times - 'All week, it had been made abundantly clear that this match, this occasion, was about Ireland. And obligingly, meekly, England bowed. Somewhere along the way Irish history, GAA folklore and the pomp and glitter of modern day rugby had become muddled to create a strange and fascinating night on the Jones' Road.'
James Lawton, Independent - 'Ireland had moved on, in its heart and its sport. And it happened with so much haunting beauty you were bound to ask a question brutal to English ears. Who, really, was playing the foreign game?'
David Walsh, Sunday Times - 'It was the most absorbing occasion and a quite brilliant Irish performance. The home fans and their team arrived at the GAA's fine stadium to deal with one of the older enemies and to help bury the ghosts of history. They nailed the ghosts and buried the men in white jerseys. All week, the talk in Ireland was of moving on to a new, better future. This morning the future will seem like the promised land.'
Gerry Thornley, Irish Times - 'Everyone bar England was a winner: the country, sport, rugby, the GAA and Croke Park, and most thrillingly of all, of course, this exceptional Irish rugby team. As the song says, just a perfect day.'
Editorial, Irish Independent - Last Saturday the Irish team took centre stage again, this time against world champions England. And Ireland, as a nation, took one small step in its history, one giant leap in maturity. It truly was one hell of a spectacle.
Stephen Jones, Sunday Times - 'What is one rugby squad against a nation, and against a reverberating opposition?'
Miriam Lord, Irish Times - 'The music swelled in Croke Park, and somehow, we swallowed the lump in our throat. We sang. Misty-eyed, we sang our hearts out... How could England have touched these men, imbued with such an unshakeable sense of destiny on this historic day?'
Vincent Hogan (his smell is all over this one!), Irish Independent - 'It didn't exactly feel like a betrayal of the dead, did it? Watching Ireland stockpile points like hungry business moguls manipulating a market? Seeing the English stagger about, their expressions full of oppression? Savouring the wild proliferation of green everywhere in the stadium, like great cakes of dye on a sky-touching canvas?'
Colm Keys, Irish Independent - 'It was like one of those nights when a rare comet streaks across the sky or an unusual eclipse hugs the horizon.'
Brian Hutton, Examiner - 'The historic Croke Park stadium once again hosted a truly momentous occasion that struck deep into the hearts and minds of Ireland... Everyone was certain they had stepped out into a different Ireland. Ireland had moved on, it seemed, during one of those rare and memorable events where sport triumphs over politics and exorcises the ghosts of a troubled past... It shows that Ireland has grown up.'
Billy Keane, Irish Independent - '"What happened on Saturday February 24, 2007?" will be on the Leaving Cert paper in years to come. The answer? It was the day Ireland grew up.'
Good grief, Penfold...
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Thankfully, and I'd say predictably, next to nothing *actually* happened. The fact that 30-odd scumbags went looking for a scrap with the Gardaí was entirely down to the media who were willing it to happen so they could dust-down a few social commentary editorials for our perusal. Bunch of wankers.
Nothing to declare...
Maybe it's photo-shopped? Surely the knack boxes aren't that moronic??
At this moment in time the world appears to be still turning. I'll keep an eye on it, though, and let you know of any developments...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Anyhoo why do I mention CSS? Well on their first trip to Dublin I had tickets, only to have to go to a funeral of a relative (not to imply that my priorities are up my ass, there...) that day. Then I had tickets for their next show only to realise I had tickets for the Decemberists on the same night too. They're doing a gig in April but I'll be at a buddy's stag and now they're playing Oxegen but I'll be at a buddy's wedding the same weekend. I'm being CSS-blocked, it would appear.
(Don't worry Dermo - none of that implies I have my priorities up my hole either!)
So what they're usually wasting a lot of ex rain-forest giving out about is that some no-mark is a 'celebrity'; that they're famous for being famous and not because they have talent or have achieved anything or whatever. The irony that is most definitely not lost on these hacks is that the no-mark celebrity culture can only exist because of the media (as opposed to real people) talking about them.
Anyway the hacks have created a problem for themselves. You see small-time celebrities were referred to as being b-list for a while, like the way no one genuinely world-famous would ever bother turning up to an Irish awards ceremony, for example. Very quickly, with the advent of Reality TV, the 15-minuters were being referred to as c-list in order to put them in their place; then d-list for the truly desperate.
At this point there should have been some kind of international conference of worthless journo-hacks, d-list journalists working for 3rd-rate publications if you like. They should have come to an agreement about when it would be acceptable to introduce the next letter of the alphabet when trying to be derogatory towards some poor, dumb 'celebrity'.
That way they could have continued with their death by a thousand cuts hatchet journalism for years - being ever more insulting as they went along. But no. They got greedy, they got impatient, they climaxed way too quickly with excitement and jumped from 'd' to 'z' like a child pretending to say the alphabet really fast. Worse they, very quickly, jumped from z-list to 'Z-list with a capital Z' thus ruining a potential escape route.
So now they have nowhere to go. Football commentators were able to go from 'Row Z' to 'Row double-Z' for Beckham-esque shooting, but that's because football fans know that big stadia just might have a row double-Z. The same path is not available to celeb-watching hacks. Could this calamity signal the death of 'celebrity' journalism once and for all?...
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
But hey! Why turn down a chance to wallow in some good-old fashioned victimhood? I mean just because it was 86 years ago, the events are remembered only in history books, no witnesses are still alive, a lot had happened before that and a hell of a lot has happened since, doesn't mean we shouldn't feel outraged at the atrocity perfidious Albion visited upon Croke Park that day.
I think a National Day of Rememberance should be enacted for 21st November every year. We could even have an eternal flame of burning poppies outside Croker to symbolise the atrocity perfidious Albion, as personified by demobbed WWI veterans, visited upon Croke Park that day.
The Brits just don't know how we feel. Imagine the Germans turning up in Wembley Stadium, for example, within, say, one generation (instead of four) of trying to obliterate London and expecting people to show respect for Deutschland Uber Alles before some sort of sporting event. I'm sure they'd be looking for apologies and wreaths for dead people no one remembers...
Anyway, if there's any sanity left in this country, it won't happen.
There's a military museum in Edinburgh Castle. I learned two things from it - one, despite Braveheart and all that, their record in war is pretty much French-esque and two, for all the celtic cousin crap we get and talk of independence, they were right out front when it came to fighting to win the spoils of empire...
I flew with Aer Arann, who are a bit ramshackle to be honest. I had the strange feeling yesterday of being impressed when receiving an automated text message from them yet simultaneously being pissed off by its contents - it was a message to tell me my flight home was being delayed til 11pm!
Friday, February 16, 2007
'The boy, aged two, is seen crying after being punched in the face by the three-year-old girl and is told by one of the four women in the room "not to be a wimp or a faggot" and to hit her back.
The four women, all from the same family, are heard laughing as the toddlers are urged to keep on fighting.
When the boy tries to get away and climb into an armchair, the women shout at the girl to punch him again.
She does and the boy is urged to fight back, but says: "No, I don't want to."
The girl leaves the room, and when she comes back the two are taunted and told to fight again.
The court heard that when interviewed by police, one of the women said: "I didn't see any harm in toughening them up. I done the same with my own children."'
Doesn't fail to get me no matter how often I read back over it. Jesus wept...
Thursday, February 15, 2007
They are offering redundancy for three people out of a group of about 25 of us who, sort of, work in the same roles. The redundancy is pretty generous - 8 weeks pay for every year worked up to a maximum lump sum of 2 and a 1/2 years' equivalent. I'd be entitled to about 11 months salary if I took the offer.
I don't know all the ins and outs but the sum is tax free until you find another job so I could effectively take 14 months off work at my present income before having to begin another job, which shouldn't be too difficult with my experience and modest-ish pay requirements. I have no ties in Cork whatsoever bar some friends so I don't have to worry about family, loans or anything like that.
There are downsides, of course. I like my job, I'm good at it and I have decent (if dull!) workmates and bosses. I am, in fact, in a bit of a comfort zone and who knows if I would find that again. Also, I don't know if any application for redundancy on my part would be accepted. I'm not blowing my own trumpet here but there have been murmers about which individuals they'd like to be shot of and I don't know what sort of position I'd be in if I applied and it was refused - I'd be the bloke they wanted to keep but who'd demonstrated an interest in leaving.
For the comfort zone factor, more than anything, my gut reaction is to keep schtumm and see how it all pans out. Time will tell if I'm doing the right thing...
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I will follow to the ends of the Earth any team captained by a man named Trent Johnston!...
Ireland play two warm up games in Trinidad versus South Africa and Canada, before moving on to Jamaica, where they will play Zimbabwe on March 15, Pakistan on March 17, and the hosts West Indies on March 23.
The fifteen are:
· DT Johnston, captain (Clontarf)
· A Botha (North County)
· J Bray (Eglinton)
· K Carroll (Railway Union)
· P Gillespie (Strabane)
· K McCallan, vice-captain (Waringstown)
· J Mooney (North County)
· P Mooney (North County)
· E Morgan (Middlesex)
· K O'Brien (Railway Union)
· N O'Brien (Northants)
· W Porterfield (Rush)
· B Rankin (Bready)
· D Langford-Smith (Phoenix)
· A White (unattached)
Monday, February 12, 2007
It's going something like this...
Howard: 'You want the terrorists to win custody of Warren Terror, age 5, by saying you'll pull out troops...'
Obama: 'Oh yeah? Well if you care so much why don't you send more of your troops?'
Howard: 'We've loads of soldiers there. We're only an ickle small country full of ex-convicts and casual racists and we've contributed our fair share already...'
That's the gist of it although I might be misquoting when it comes to the ex-cons and racists bit, but, come on, it might as well have been in there. I mean Australia is just like South Africa except the white man won.
Anyway, apropos of nothing, The Australians have a military strength of about 70,000 including reservists, 1,400-odd of whom are in Iraq. The Americans have about 2.7 million including reservists, 140,000-odd of whom are in Iraq according to Obama.
So the convicts could definitely afford another 2,000, all things being equal, if not quite the 20,000 Obama was going on about. So maybe Howard should keep his yap shut so the Americans can get on with voting the nutjobs out of office before they get cold feet...
Friday, February 09, 2007
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Apropos of nothing, since we last defeated a 'decent' team away from home (Scotland on 18th February 1987), here is a selection of results in competitive matches, er... achieved against teams that we would class as minnows in comparison to us (Ireland score first):
28.05.1987 Luxembourg Luxembourg 2-0 ECq
15.11.1989 Valletta Malta 2-0 WCq
26.05.1993 Tirana Albania 2-1 WCq
16.06.1993 Vilnius Lithuania 1-0 WCq
03.06.1995 Eschen Liechtenstein 0-0 ECq
02.04.1997 Skopje Macedonia 2-3 WCq
10.09.1997 Vilnius Lithuania 2-1 WCq
08.09.1999 Ta'Qali Malta 3-2 ECq
09.10.1999 Skopje Macedonia 1-1 ECq
06.06.2001 Tallinn Estonia 2-0 WCq
29.03.2003 Tblisi Georgia 2-1 ECq
02.04.2003 Tirana Albania 0-0 ECq
08.06.2005 Torshavn Faroe Islands 2-0 WCq
08.10.2005 Nicosia Cyprus 1-0 WCq
07.10.2006 Nicosia Cyprus 2-5 ECq
07.02.2007 San Marino San Marino 2-1 ECq
So, apart from the comedy factor that was the San Marino goal, we have plenty of form in this area. The phrase ‘no easy games in international football’ is bollox – but we have shown that maybe it applies to us...
Still, STAN OUT!!!
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
North identified as most bigoted place in western world
07/02/2007 - 11:35:29 AM
The North is the most bigoted place in the western world, according to research conducted at the University of Ulster.
The finding, which is due to be published in a leading economics journal, is based on a survey of almost 32,000 people in 23 countries. They were asked how they would feel living beside Muslims, Jews, homosexuals or people of another race.
Forty-four per cent of respondents in the North said they did not want people from these groups living next door.
The main targets of the prejudice were gays, followed by foreign workers.
The North came in just ahead of Greece for levels of bigotry, with the lowest incidence of prejudice found to be in Sweden, Iceland, Canada and Denmark.
I cried my eyes out as an 11-year old watching Arsenal win the League in the last minute in Anfield in '89 and, ten years later, shed tears when Dundalk were relegated from the League of Ireland's Premier Division for the first time since joining up in 1926.
Back in the early '80s, though, Liverpool and Dundalk even played each other in European Competition and, to show that the gap between English and Irish football wasn't *that* huge, Liverpool won less comfortably than they had, ahem, previously...
Now, however, the gap between League of Ireland and English Premiership is about as wide as it can probably get. So it's strange for me keeping up with the news about a storm-damaged roof in Oriel Park and an American stg£219 million takeover at Anfield. One thing is for sure - I have to stop calling Utd 'Man YooSA' now!
Football, if you think about it, is as pure a form of globalised capitalism as you're likely to find. The quality of the product is undoubtedly constantly improving; endeavour and success is greatly rewarded; failure is mercilessly punished and, all the while, the gap between top and bottom - the haves and have-nots - is constantly increasing. Thank God we still have international football!
Anyway this deal had to be done. There is a Top-4 in English football now (small-club Everton, rightly, excluded) but it is in danger of being a Top-2 and a Second-2 - and that would not be good. Liverpool have bowed to the inevitable and Arsenal, surely, are close behind.
Now if only we could flog Dundalk...
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
Decemberists in Dublin
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There's a time and place for clapping, don't you think? I know Sinead isn't mad about them! But it was a great show, reviewed today by Peter Crawley.
The only good to come out of Saturday was Rafa nailing the WUM of the year award 2007 in early February with his excellent "When you play against the smaller teams at Anfield you know the game will be narrow."
It's some measure of how well the jibe hit home that the Toffee's chief executive released a statement in response. Good lad Rafa!
In other news the NFL both started AND finished this weekend. So there you go. The Land of Legends got off to a flier against the less obnoxius half of Newry. Onwards and upwards.
Less importantly the chasers did their level best to lose to Wales yesterday or, more specifically, the Munster contingent did.