Sunday, September 30, 2007
The Irish Rugby Team - An Apology*
In recent weeks, in common with all other newspapers, we may have given the impression that the Irish rugby team were in some way completely useless and were about to be humiliated by their vastly superior Argentine opponents. Headlines such as "Eddie's Flops Fail Again", "The O'Gara Farce Touches New Low" and "Why Don't You Top Yourselves, You Bunch Of Losers?" may have lead readers to believe that we had very little confidence in rock-steady Eddie and his team.
We now accept that there was not a jot or scintilla of truth whatsoever in these wholly baseless and inaccurate innuendos, and that, following their bonus-point victory over Argentina, we would like to make it clear that Mr O'Sullivan is a tactical genius that towers over the world rugby scene, while his players are scarcely less distinguished in their prodigious talent, and that the very least the people can do when they return home is to throng the streets in homage to these latter-day legends.
© All newspapers 2007
*Note to sub-ed: Use this one if we win.
The Irish Rugby Team - An Apology**
In recent months, in common with all other newspapers, we may have given the impression that the Irish rugby team were world-beaters, a credit to the nation and a shoo-in for the Rugby World Cup. Headlines such as "Heroic Heroes March On", "Unflappable Eddie Is A Tactical Genius" and "Does Superman Wear Paul O'Connell Underpants?" may have lead readers to believe that rock-steady Eddie and his team only had to turn-up in France to land the big prize.
However in light of the abject and facile defeat to Argentina, it has become apparent that our rugby team is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, and that prima-donnas such as Ronan O'Gara and Brian O'Driscoll are all washed up and ought to be dropped from the side immediately. It is also apparent that so-called 'Steddie' O'Sullivan is a rugby dinosaur - totally out of touch with modern-day rugby tactics and preparation and should be relieved of his position immediately.
© All newspapers 2007
**Note to sub-ed: Use this one if we lose.
'Ireland Not Going To Win Tournament They Were Never Going To Win' Shock
by Our Rugby Staff
There was an outbreak of national despair yesterday, as it emerged that the World Cup - which had been widely predicted would not be won by Ireland - was not going to be won by Ireland.
Experts who had said that "It's all over" were forced to concede that now "it was all over".
Ireland's chances of international glory lie in tatters. Where once we could look forward to going home after a second round trouncing by New Zealand, now we... (cont. p. 2) ***
*** Note to sub-ed: finish paragraph after today's match.
'Ireland Exit From World Cup Means End Of World And Possible House Price Collapse
by Seán O'Pocalypse
An ESRI report predicts a terrifying scenario for Ireland in the very near future. As the fortunes of Ireland's rugby squad are inextricably linked to Ireland's economic performance, experts say the current flacid performances in France - totally lacking in drive, dynamism and competitiveness - are a reflection of the current impotent state of the Irish economy... (cont. p. 3)****
*** *Note to sub-ed: may need to hold this one until trashing by New Zealand next week.
That All-Purpose Irish Rugby Team Piece In Full
EXCLUSIVE TO ALL PAPERS
Three cheers/yawns for Ireland's rugby superheros/superflops. Yes they're the dishy/dull beefcakes who make the nation's women swoon/snooze.
Can anyone think of anything more exciting/tedious than watching Ireland's dreamboats/automatons driving/dragging Ireland to glory/ignominious defeat.
Welcome back/clear off, guys. It's great to have you around, so that we can have something to be proud of/start making you the butt of our jokes again.
'Why Won't These Journalists Leave Our Rugby Players Alone?'
by Our Man Keeping The Story Going
The tearful, lined faces tell their own story. The agony is etched in every feature. And the final twist of the knife for the tortured rugby players has been the outrageous behaviour of the French press.
For weeks these irresponsible and callous so-called journalists have been indulging in a daily orgy of speculation without a shred of evidence to support their poisonous guesswork. No story is too wild for these heartless hacks to repeat ad nauseum, no theory too ridiculous for them to splash over their front pages.
How dare these vile foreign muck-rakers continue to peddle their endless obsessive stream of innuendo in a desperate bid to promote the circulation of their revolting apologies for newspapers. Don't they realise that that is our job?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Now I may have mentioned this before, but I have a really nice office! It's about 5 stories up and looks across Cork harbour towards Monkstown on one side and Cobh on the other. It's especially nice today with the low sun shining across the water and the water is rippling nicely with the breeze and bobbing all the boats about. Very relaxing!
However the ONE thing wrong with my office is that a PA system speaker is right outside my door. And it's pretty loud. And, for some reason, getting people to carry pagers or walkie-talkies seems entirely beyond this factory. So every ten fucking seconds for the last three weeks I've heard a message blare out for some fella or other to contact '960' (the number the foreman is at).
But it's not '960' - it's 'NIIIIIINE, SIX, OOOOOOOHHHHHHWWWWW...', complete with inflection at the end, because this factory is full of bloody Cork people! Full of bloody Cork people that seem to accentuate their already ridiculous accents when asked to use the God-damned PA system.
On top of that, a whole bunch of the said Cork people using it have got it into their heads that they're supposed to blow into it before speaking. I mean WHAT. THE. FUCK! My head is absolutely wrecked and, earlier on when some of my work was busy going tits-up, and that yoke was blasting away, I nearly attacked it with a spanner in temper.
But I didn't. Instead I have written this in the hope that it will be cathartic. It isn't yet...
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Egg Chasing - soft porn for girls and closet-case homosexuals.
I got the train from Cork to Dundalk on Saturday to see my sister before she heads off to do the Australia thing. I had the iPod on 'shuffle' all the way, hoping to pick out little gems I'd forgotten about or never really registered. Then, as the train slowed down approaching Dundalk Station, this song started up on the iPod. Emotional... and spooky!
I haven't been myself of late
I haven't slept for several days
But coming home I feel like I
Designed these buildings I walk by...
I never know what I want but I know when I'm low that I
I need to be in the town where they know what I'm like and don't mind
The streets are full of goths and geeks
I haven't seen my mum for weeks
But coming home I feel like I
Designed these buildings I walk by...
Friday, September 21, 2007
'I hate offended people. They come in two flavours - huffy and whiny - and it's hard to know which is worst. The huffy ones are self-important, narcissistic authoritarians in love with the sound of their own booming disapproval, while the whiny, sparrowlike ones are so annoying and sickly and ill-equipped for life on Earth you just want to smack them round the head until they stop crying and grow up. Combined, they're the very worst people on the planet - 20 times worse than child molesters, and I say that not because it's true (it isn't), but because it'll upset them unnecessarily, and these readers deserve to be upset unnecessarily, morning, noon and night, every sodding day, for the rest of their wheedling lives.'
Obviously Saipan stands out, but there are loads of examples. Do you remember the huge row over the homecoming in the Phoenix Park for the footballers after the USA '94 World Cup? A nation up in arms when word filtered back that the players didn't want to do it? Then there was the time Sonia O'Sullivan won some race and there was a big outcry over the fact she wouldn't carry a tricolour someone draped around her shoulders and let it drop to the ground.
We also had Michelle Smith and a nation in denial of the truth staring them in the face, including the classic Gay Byrne quote 'Who are these FINA people' when in full 'how dare they' mode. We had the near lynching of Eamon Dunphy when he criticised Big Jack during Italia '90.
Maybe you don't remember this one, but after the Grand National That Never Was in 1993 some English trainer caused uproar across the country by saying something along the lines of 'Even a backward country like Ireland knows how to start a horse race' with Des Lynam going 'Careful now, I'm from there...'!
Then, in recent years, in the rugger, we had 'pig ignorant' Martin Johnson 'snubbing' our president and new villains to villify in Keven Mealamu and Tana Umaga after the spear tackle on Brian O'Driscoll during the British and Irish Lions tour. And, of course, there was all that media-driven crap about God Save The Queen in Croke Park.
Now we have our misfiring peanut-huggers and the dual controversies over the playing of the anthem and the 'attacks' on the squad in the French media. There is so much crap being written and spoken about the anthem you almost couldn't make it up. The gist of it is 'We are not playing as well as we think we should be, we have a rubbish anthem in Ireland's Call (which is true), the Argies cried during their anthem then went and beat France; ergo our rubbish anthem is responsible for our bad performances' Like I said, you couldn't make such shite up.
For starters it does the Argentines a disservice to suggest that the only way they could beat France is to be emotionally charged mentallists (they had done it before after all) and it also ignores the fact that the French were a bag of nerves that night and played brutal. But apart from that just the whole idea, and the amount of sensible people taking it seriously, makes me scream 'Would you ever fuck off!!!' Maybe we're just not as good as we like to think we are - maybe beating crap Welsh, Scottish and English teams has been deluding us, huh?
As for the Irish reaction to what seems like fairly asinine stuff in the French media (I'm only going on what I heard, obviously) it all smacks of a fairly desperate attempt to galvanise the squad in the face of adversity. And the Irish media are playing along with the charade. '[A] series of astonishing attacks made by the French media' my hole! Eddie O'Sullivan sounds more ridiculous by the day.
When it comes to sport no one does ludicrous outrage better than us, and to think we give the English such a hard time...
Madam, - Another inter-county GAA season comes to an end. Some of the games - especially some of the hurling matches - were well worth watching. However, is there a more partisan sports media in the world than the GAA sports media?
For example, we are regularly informed that almost all games are going to be full houses and mouth-watering prospects. (This is not great news for the main sponsor; if only they were dry-throat prospects.) Almost every score is superb, magnificent, fantastic, even those from in front of the goalposts. Common assault is referred to as "handbags". Play double-digit games for your county and you are "a legend".
So, after tons of newsprint and countless hours of television and radio, who won this year? Kilkenny and Kerry. Who won last year? Kilkenny and Kerry. Who will win next year? Well, it would probably be a good idea to ignore the GAA sports media and look at the odds offered by your bookie instead.
Something I've always felt myself, yet never really said out loud for fear of appearing churlish.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Through the reams and reams of bullshit, though, one gem stands out from the ever-lovable Daily Mail: 'The director of Faro police, Guilhermino Encarnacao, 59, was the officer who looked Mrs McCann in the eye in the interview room and accused her of killing her daughter. But his handling of the case has been questioned because police so often blundered - including failing to 'lock down' the resort - during the investigation. A source said: "Other officers jokingly refer to Guilhermino as Inspector Clueless. He likes to stay behind his desk and send everyone else out into the field."'
'Inspector Clueless'. Seriously. So Portuguese police officers made a pun about Inspector Clouseau, despite the word 'clueless' meaning nothing in Portuguese, but, conveniently for the Daily Mail, meaning something absolutely hilarious to the sort of people that read the Mail back in Blighty.
Yeah right, sure they did...
They're obviously not playing crap on purpose and, seeing as I don't subscribe to the 'no passion...', 'no pride in the shirt...', 'pampered over-paid millionaires...' cliched nonsense about the footballers I won't subscribe to it now about the peanut-huggers. I've met a couple of them - Shane Horgan is very pleasant as is Peter Stringer and O'Driscoll seems grand (although I'm not sure about Rog) - and would like to see them do well for themselves.
But loads of the 'fans' are showing themselves up to be the braying, glory-hunting, day-tripping, see and be-seen band-wagon jumpers I have always been sure they were. After seeing some of them booing the players off on Saturday night for scraping past Georgia Reserves, and the rest standing around looking perplexed in their nice new jerseys, designer gear and perfectly coiffed hair, doesn't it feel like an awful long time since all this?
There's an odd phenomenon at work, thinking about it. On one level it annoys me that those who practice the less skilful form of rugger seem immune to the sneering ridicule and hyperbole that currently accompanies the football team. Yet on another level they're being written off and talked about as if they've had the bare-faced cheek to scupper the demands of a nation. It's like they were our chosen few but they have let us down and we are angry.
But there's still plenty of game-time for Ireland to turn things around at the 10 White Nations. Given their history the French might just throw the white flag up and let the goys go from being zeroes to heroes again. It would be nice for the players to prove it to themselves, and to the (first) world, but I just don't think their so-called fans deserve to get the opportunity to bask in such glory.
While waiting to see what happens you can get this comedy gold through iTunes (download 'Jay talks about the rugby performance').
Thursday, September 13, 2007
'Madam, - Paul Grealish (September 8th) misunderstands and misrepresents my argument that faith and science are compatible (Rite and Reason, August 28th) coming to the dogmatic conclusion that such a view is "wholly falsifiable". I did not say Richard Dawkins's belief in natural selection was a "faith". I did say that "scientism" - the idea that science can explain everything - is.' [my underline]
The underlined bit annoyed me, so I fired off a wee letter of my own over lunch...
In his letter of September 12th, Patrick Mitchel states that he ‘did not say Richard Dawkins's belief in natural selection was a "faith". I did say that "scientism" - the idea that science can explain everything – is’ in his Rite and Reason column of August 28th.
It is important that this statement is addressed as ‘scientism’ is a pejorative term, used here to make the subsequent fallacious argument that scientists believe ‘science can explain everything’. No scientist worth his salt would make such a claim (or, indeed, claim that science is ‘always right’ – another fallacious argument). ‘Scientism’ implies a belief system that one has ‘faith’ in. However scientists do not have ‘faith’ in the scientific method – they ‘trust’ the scientific method. They trust that the scientific method, which uses evidence, experimentation and analysis to draw logical and rational conclusions, is the most reliable method we have for trying to figure out how the universe works. The fallacy is to claim that ‘faith’ based on no evidence at all is as valid as a ‘trust’, which has been built based on evidence.
Furthermore, as it is obviously true that science can’t ‘explain everything’, the proponent of the fallacious argument then draws the corollary that any idea he likes the sound of, that cannot be proven false, is worthy of consideration. To those who trust the scientific method something is only worthy of consideration if there is a reason to suppose it is true i.e. some evidence exists. If one does not restrict oneself to things that are backed by some evidence or at least some logical reasoning, one can believe in absolutely anything. This is just an appeal to other ways of knowing. If the believer claims that there is an alternative method to science, it is up to him or her to explain their method, and provide testable evidence that it works, to justify that claim. If they cannot do this their appeal to other ways of knowing is vacuous and fallacious. The burden of proof should always rest on the person making the claim.
Strangely enough I do, sort of, believe in God despite my dislike of irrational claims.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I'll never know what difference Hunt's ridiculous red-card made to the game. We had three savagely good chances to score but at the end of the day our players did well despite the manager, not because of him.
Watching the results Wales and, especially, Scotland are getting tonight just compounds the sense of despair about the whole thing. I wouldn't have said this at the end of Kerr's reign, but I think we really do have some great lads in our squad now and they need a quality coach to bring them forward...
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
'Big Brother' twins Sam and Amanda Marchant have recorded their debut single, a
cover of Aqua's 'Barbie Girl'.
The 19-year-old sisters from Newcastle-under-Lyme were joint-runners up in series eight of the reality show.
The twins said: "It's a dream come true for us to record our favourite song of all time."
Monday, September 10, 2007
The criticism of the peanut huggers, entirely justified, has remained factual and to the point, and has been devoid of the hyperbole, personal insults and cliched nonsense that has characterised the reaction to the football team's performances, which have long since entered the realm of lunacy.
Where, for example, are the wails of fools saying they wanted Namibia to win because that's what the players/manager deserve, which was said after the San Marino game. Especially seeing as the ref robbed Namibia of a potential bonus-point by ludicrously awarding Ireland's last not-try.
Liam Mackey in today's Examiner summed it up best: 'It would be churlish not to accentuate some of the positives on a night when, lest we forget, the Irish scored two goals away from home against decent opposition and, admittedly having ridden their luck for alarming spells in the game, came within one minute of recording a victory which would have had the huge travelling support raising the roof instead of drowning their sorrows.'
Quit with the sober analysis Liam...
Meanwhile, if I were superstitious at all, I would seriously be regretting making this statement a few weeks ago... 'we're storming the First Division this season, top since the opening day, where we will remain.'
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Anyway there was a PowerPoint slideshow to accompany the announcement. I particularly liked the opening slide, which reads exactly as follows:
- Participation is voluntary but there is strong encouragement for a high turn out.
- Each site participation level is expected to be 100%.
Saddam Hussein himself would be proud!
The reasons given for this lark are that the company wants to have:
- highly informed colleagues.
- an engaged workforce that is to be part of the company’s future.
Well they could try not laying people off who do actual work while simultaneously creating layer upon layer of middle-management invent-a-jobs to satisfy the 'ambitions' of lazy, talentless fools. That might work. But hey! Whose idea is it to have such a survey? Why some jobsworth in corporate head office trying to justify his/her middle-management invent-a-job in the first place!
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Call for Europe-wide Ban on Brazilian Beef
Members of the European Parliament have called for a Europe-wide
ban on Brazilian beef imports amid growing concern about foot-and-mouth
Evidence was presented to the Parliament after a joint
investigation of the Brazilian beef market by the Irish Farmers' Association and
the Irish Farmers' Journal.
It found failure to tag or trace animals, failure to administer
vaccines, and failure to prevent livestock being taken across regional and
MEPs, including Fine Gael's Mairead McGuinness, tabled a written declaration in
Strasbourg demanding an immediate ban on all beef and beef products from
I mean look at this story... 'Members of the European Parliament'. How many? Which ones? From which European countries? 'Including Mairead McGuinness'... so the only named MEP would be the Mairead McGuinness - a former journalist for... the Irish Farmers' Journal! And ('duh' moment here), which vested interest has most to lose from Brazilian beef imports?... European (and Irish) beef farmers perhaps?
The claims may well be true, and serious. I don't know (or particularly care as long as my steak tastes good). But whatever investigation has been carried out should be thoroughly assessed by someone coming from a slightly less biased angle, surely, before demanding bans on imports that would have the EU hauled up before the WTO in jig time.
And shouldn't such stories also be assessed for bias and wilful exaggeration by the media organisation doing the reporting (RTE) before they scare the crap out of all of us? What's that? Mairead McGuinness presented a farming programme on RTE too, you say?...
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Whenever these topics come up in conversation, as they do (especially when you're in the company of a lot of women (not sexist - it's true), I find it hard to keep my mouth shut. I just fail to remain impassive when seemingly intelligent people speak of such things in the same breath as proper medicine or science.
Often you get the line 'you can't prove it doesn't work', which makes you wonder about the quality of the education system when, as you may know, a lot of the people I'm talking about work for a drug company with me and have degrees and (worse) PhDs in the sciences. Or you get the line 'science is often wrong.'
Now when people say that they usually forget that science is self-correcting. It is scientists that do the correcting - not tarot card readers. However the statement itself is mostly incorrect. Can you name a single major accepted scientific theory from even the last 150 years that has turned out to be 'wrong'. It's 400 years since (so called) scientists said the earth was flat.
Part of the problem, though, is the amount of junk science in the mainstream media. It doesn't matter what the topic is, just read what the report says and think to yourself 'who is trying to sell what?'. They're always about bad or non-existant studies that have bullshit results designed to increase the sales of crap products people don't need.
Ben Goldacre talks about one recent example that made the front page of the Daily Telegraph (which was also in no way related to the Telegraph's penchant for sticking beautiful women on its front page in the guise of 'news')...
“Jessica Alba has the perfect wiggle, study says”. You have to respect a
paper like the Telegraph, especially when they report an important piece of
science news like this on their news pages, especially when it gets picked up by
other people like Fox news, and especially when it’s accompanied by a photograph
of some hot totty.
“Jessica Alba, the film actress, has the ultimate sexy strut, according to
a team of Cambridge mathematicians.”This important study was the work of a team
– apparently - headed by Professor Richard Weber of Cambridge University, and I
was particularly delighted to see it finally in print since, in the name of
research, I discussed the possibility of prostituting my own good reputation for
this same piece of guff with the very same PR company in June.
Here was their opening email: “We are conducting a survey into the
celebrity top ten sexiest walks for my client Veet (hair removal cream) and we
would like to back up our survey with an equation from an expert to work out
which celebrity has the sexiest walk, with theory behind it. We would like help
from a doctor of psychology or someone similar who can come up with equations to
back up our findings, as we feel that having an expert comment and an equation
will give the story more weight.” It got them on to the news pages of the Daily
I replied immediately. “Are there any factors you would particularly like
to have in the equation? Something sexual perhaps?” “Hi Dr Ben,” replied Kiren.
“We would really like the factors of the equation to include the thigh to calf
ratio, the shape of the leg, the look of the skin and the wiggle (swing) of the
hips… There is a fee of £500 which we would pay for your services.”
And there was survey data too. “We haven’t conducted the survey yet,” Kiren
told me: “but we know what results we want to achieve.” That’s the spirit! “We
want Beyonce to come out on top followed by other celebrities with curvy legs
such as J-Lo and Kylie and celebrities like Kate Moss and Amy Winehouse to be at
the bottom e.g - skinny and pale unshapely legs are not as sexy. I will find out
when we will have the results of the survey for you. Are you pretty free this
month to work on it?”