Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gone

Second stag of the year - this time four days of golf on the Costa del Sol. It's a tough life.

I Threw A Brick Through A Window


Well actually I didn't - some Limerick knacker did. I went up yesterday to collect my girlfriend who'd been away for a week, parked in the city centre at 5:30 to go get a coffee before driving back to Cork, and sometime between then and 6:30 this happened. Pain in the hole.

It was probably a Boring Munster fan... although he got nothing, whereas I am now the proud owner of half a brick. Limerick 0 Me 1.

If I'm lucky he severed an artery reaching in through the window. If not, but if I'm really lucky, he'll be another 'victim' of Limerick scumbaggery sometime soon. And, y'know, as we walked back to the car, we had been talking about how dead the streets were and just how chavvy the few people that were around looked.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Complete Control

A month ago in the ManYoo v Liverpool match Javier Mascherano got an early yellow card for a late tackle and a second yellow, for haranguing the referee (after Fernando Torres got booked for complaining about the kicking he was taking from ManYoo's superstars). In the aftermath of the Argentine's sending off the Brit-media did its usual hell-in-a-handcart hand-wringing about football and footballers, demonising Mascherano with gusto.

On Saturday ManYoo were away to Blackburn. In that game, which I watched live, Wayne Rooney deserved one straight red card for a horrific knee-high scissor-challenge from behind; a yellow for a ridiculous dive in the box, at least a yellow for continually abusing the ref and at least a yellow for abusing the linesman. Instead he got one yellow card (for the challenge) and that was that.

Rooney's behaviour - far worse than what Mascherano did (even if I am a Liverpool fan and I'm biased) was virtually ignored on BBC's Match of the Day. The abuse wasn't mentioned and the dive and horror-tackle glossed over. It's also worth mentioning that the alcoholic hypocrite Ferguson tried to claim after the Liverpool game that his players don't abuse referees anymore.

But really this is the moment that I'm waiting for James Lawton of the Independent to shine. Possibly the most pompous and withering of football commentators, he devoted two full columns to the OT game - one to Mascherano and one to Benitez for not apologising for Mascherano. So far, however, neither he, nor any other English football journalist I read, has typed a sentence about Rooney. It's as if it never happened.

Rooney, of course, is not from Argentina...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Silver And Gold

Tom Parlon (failed politician and now chief mouthpiece of the construction sector) and David McWilliams (celebrity economist and soundbite artist) debated the housing market on RTE's Drivetime on Thursday (7 mins - 17 mins on the 'whole show' link).

Listen to Tom Parlon and listen to him tell people that now is the time to buy. In a falling market. Listen to him almost beg people to jump back in, thus shoring up current prices and, of course, his clients' profit margin. Listen to him still pretend that our 'fundamentals' are 'different' even as the country has already spent at least 12 months proving that to be the load of crap it is.

Why on earth should buyers jump in now? If potential buyers wait they'll all get cheaper houses this time next year. Buying now would be like buying a flash TV in December while in the full knowledge of getting it 20% cheaper in the January sales.

Anyway McWilliams nails the greasy fecker Parlon as he still tries to scare the Irish public (admittedly they're not hard to scare when it comes to property). And remember Parlon was coming out with all this nonsense last summer too. Anyone who chose to ignore him then and decided to take the plunge today is most likely getting at least another 7% off. Worth a listen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Career Opportunities

In a move straight out of some management manual somewhere we're heading to West Cork today to an activity centre for a Teambuilding Corporate Training Programme. This is going to include a Space Hopper Grand National (I shit you not) as part of an ice-breaking exercise this evening followed by the ultimate teamwork cliche - a build your own raft and survive a 'shipwreck' scenario - tomorrow.

The trouble is that we already work quite well as a network of individuals and also get on quite well on a personal basis, so what exactly all this is going to change is a little beyond me. Furthermore we're all conscious of how much money it must be costing because, in a spectacular own goal by the company, it's coming right on the back of all our pay reviews and salary increases, which have the whole place in a foul mood.

We have discovered that almost everybody in the plant at our level (non-management engineers, chemists, regulatory and other technical salaried staff) have gotten pretty much identical pay rises of approx 4.2% - despite the fact our salary increases are supposed to be entirely performance related (unlike, for example, the across the board pay rises union workers get gifted regardless of individual performance).

The new salaries have been so blatantly spat out by a computer with absolutely no sign of personal review that my annual salary is now €XX,937.30. That's annual - my monthly is, therefore, €X,X78.1083333. They couldn't even round it up (or down) to the nearest euro!

So people that have really bust their balls over the past 12 months (I'm talking 40 hours+ per month in unpaid overtime, phone calls in the middle of the night and at weekends) have gotten the same, below inflation, pay rises as women who have spent the last eight or nine months out on maternity leave (and who have since arranged transfers to cushy office jobs or 4-day weeks); lads who leave every single day at 3:25 on the button to go training; and, of course, people who are downright incompetent and yet suffer no consequences.

Me? I've been just about smart enough after seven years to twig that ball-busting gets you nothing more than a sense of personal pride that you've done a job properly and so my unpaid OT is mostly down to under 20 hours per month. But I'm still cross that my contribution is valued as being identical to someone who hasn't set foot in the place since some time last summer!

So, tomorrow, I might just see which raft has the managers on it and see if I can capsize it.

If Music Could Talk

... it might ask why the hell Cork people don't realise just how many great gigs local promoters are providing for them? Yet again a non-mainstream band that, nonetheless, anyone who even reads the music supplements in the national press will still have heard good things about, turns up to play in Cork and, yet again, there's about 50 people there.

This time it was for the Green Day-esque (but superior) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, who have nearly 5 million plays scrobbled on last.fm (if that means anything!). If the bloody Frank and Walters played the same set 15 nights in a row the place would probably sell out every single time. What's more annoying is that the utterly gash line-up at this year's Live at the Marquee is both a) ridiculously expensive and b) selling out anyway. I mean Dolly Parton for God's sake...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Overpowered By Funk

I dunno how, exactly, but one of Cork's best pubs - Crane Lane Theatre - will have Caribou back on May 19th, ably supported by Born Ruffians. I is pleased!

Edit: Stupid Blogger keeps appearing in German?!?

Exchavaganza

Totally forgot I intended posting pics of Cork chavvery at its finest. Looks like some of our visitors are getting in on the act too...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Koka Kola

Fine article on advertising (a most noble profession) as seen on Mad Men on BBC4 in this months Prospect:
'The impact of the creative revolution can scarcely be overstated... The idea of the advertising creative as an artist took hold. Jokes, puns and puzzles began to tumble from the minds of Madison Avenue, drunk on their liberation from the drudgery of "20 per cent off" coupons and product improvements. In the 1970s and 1980s, with the best work now being done in Britain by the Saatchis, advertising left the product behind altogether—and reached new heights of popularity.

Tobacco, lager, phones and coffee had nothing to do with the appeal of Silk Cut, Carling Black Label, British Telecom and Gold Blend. Yet people bought their products and services just the same.And more than just buying them, we talked about them, quoted them, even tuned in specially to watch them. For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, the era's advertising has become as much a part of our shared identity as the programmes it interrupted. Unhindered by a duty to inform, ads were free to become sponsored works of art.

By 1998... The industry had become wildly pretentious. One shudders to
think what David Ogilvy would have made of Benetton's blood-streaked baby, or
Guinness's bombastic "Surfer" commercial of 1999, voted Britain's favourite ad,
which contrived to use Moby Dick, Leftfield and Lipizzaner stallions to conjure
the experience of waiting to have your pint topped up.

It was at this time that clients also began to notice something rather worrying. Even creatively successful ads, launched at great expense, were often doing nothing for their sales. Or less than nothing. In 2000... Budweiser's "Whassup!"
campaign, created by DDB, won numerous awards and, for a time, changed the way twentysomethings spoke. And yet, during the campaign Budweiser's US sales in barrels dropped 8.3 per cent.

Just as consumers who were once happy to listen to sales pitches became bored of them in the 1960s, so today's young consumer has developed a resistance to almost any message they recognise as advertising.As a result, we are now living in the early years of a new revolution. And this time it is the search for credible media, rather than a credible message, which is important—whether it is in Google searches or in the recommendations of a friend who has unknowingly been targeted by stealth marketers. The Mad Men made us laugh, then they made us wiser. We should thank them for it, and start trying to outwit the next lot.'

Really, though, I just quoted all of that as an excuse to stick up a YouTube clip of possibly the best ad of all time...



Way better than that surfer shite, or the new domino one. I still don't drink the stuff, though.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beautiful Day

For half an hour I thought my post yesterday was going to be more than a bit prescient.

But then! What a fabulous, fabulous game of ball!! No doubt Liverpool were lucky. Again. For the third time in four seasons.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

You'll Never Walk Alone

I fully expect Arsenal to dump liverpool out of Europe tonight. One reason - Pepe Reina. His poor positioning / flapping in recent weeks is directly responsible for four of the last five goals Liverpool have conceded. If Arsenal score early I'd expect them to get a second, meaning Liverpool would need three. That's pretty much what I think will happen.

ManYoo should go through easily enough but with both first-choice centre halfs out (so it appears - they're probably lying) maybe now, finally, is the time for an overdue wobble. Unlike the other three 'big' teams in England, they've had a settled, fit, first choice defence all season. Uber-kunt Gary Neville no longer counts.

Interesting interview with Royston Keane in the Irish Times on Saturday. It included this gem: 'For instance he pays some attention now to the wisdom of crowds. A few weeks ago against Everton in the Black Cats' own backyard he heard a voice behind him having a pop. He swivelled around and caught the end of the it. "Playing for 75 minutes with one up front and it isn't effin working ya . . ." His face darkened and then. "Do you know what? He was spot on. We had five in the middle and one up front and it wasn't working. It's like that. He was right. I don't always agree but a lot of time fans are spot on.'

Jebus, I said the same thing. It wasn't exactly rocket surgery. Yet Tom Humphries has the gall to suggest a few lines later that he's 'perhaps the brightest young manager in the game' !!!

They move on to talk about the All Blacks: 'He has long been interested in the All Black's warrior tradition and the Haka. "If the Haka didn't inspire you before a game what could," he wonders.' Humphries clearly too scared to share his real opinions on egg-chasing. Nonetheless I shouldn't be surprised that Royston is mightily impressed by the Riverdance for Wife Beaters.

P.S. Royston slagging off Chippy - a real ledge - is bang out of order. End of.

I saw last night that Boring Munster won. Pity. They'll beat Saracens too, you would think. The Kwik-Fit fitters must have been on overtime trying to fix up the Sundireland and Munster bandwagons at the same time. I only heard they won yesterday because all the bars where I was for the weekend (the Algarve) were showing Leeds v Wigan in Skilful Rugby after the Arsenal v Liverpool game. Incidentally a quick sconse at the post-match Munster brown-nosing seems to have completely ignored the fact that the same Gloucester side have lost eight of their 12 matches since the New Year while the pampered Munster lads were getting a nice rest in the apple juice League...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Radio Clash

A few weeks back I mentioned that radio ads for websites were really grinding my gears.

Well the new worst is for inkjet.ie or, as the Norn Iron accent doing the ad has it: 'INKJET DOT AYYYYYE-EEEHHHH'. Can nordies talk without bloody shouting?

Gone

I'm away abroad first thing in the morning for a long weekend.

I'm going to a European country that couldn't care less about the so-called European Cup in egg-chasing (and Boring Munster by extension).

That should narrow it down to one from 46 if you want to take a guess.


Incidentally...

'Big fellow primed and locked on to the target.'
'Munster load heavy artillery.'
'Tooled up Munster looking ready to roll.'
'Big guns restore order for Red Army.'
'Melia rallies his troops for Scots.'
'Mortars destroy fragile peace.'

... are all recent national newspaper headlines. One is not about 'sport'.

A Sort Of Homecoming

David McWilliams on the housing market yesterday:
'Like thousands of other Irish people, he believed the twin fallacies
that (1) property always goes up and (2) there will always be cheap money.


No one in a position of responsibility -- from the State to the
banks that were lending to the (often financially-compromised) commentariat who
hogged business pages -- questioned these fatal assumptions.


The upshot of this collective thinking is that the housing market became, on the way up, more an exercise in mass psychology than individual economics.

The herd took over and very few people sold when the market was
going up. Indeed, why sell if the bank was prepared to give you equity release
if you needed the cash and, more importantly, why sell if the prices were
rising?


Today, according to the TSB/ESRI index, Irish house prices adjusted for
inflation ("real house prices" in an economist's jargon) are lower than they
were in 2004. This is a steep decline. As inflation is likely to move upwards
and house prices downwards, the real price of houses is going to fall even
further.


One of the great myths peddled in the boom was that the house price boom was all dependent on fundamentals, like demography. Well sorry to have to tell you, but the demographic situation has got better for the housing market in the past two years, yet prices have been falling.

You would be mad to buy this year when even estate agents and banks are
expecting prices to drop. Buying now is tantamount to giving money away.'


And if you want to believe he's wrong (instead of proving him wrong, which none of the swindlers seem to be able to do) then compare the price of houses now with last September when all the vested interests were telling us that 'Now is the time to buy'.

They lie, they lie and they lie again. And all to, literally, rob us of our hard-earned. Why anyone listens to them is beyond me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Leader

Ooh! Bertie's gone!! The man who has lead the country for almost my entire adult life.

I honestly believe the man was/is not corrupt. At most he's guilty of tax avoision and probably trying to screw his estranged wife out of alimony (the real reason for all those lump sum donations in the early '90s, I'm sure).

As politicians in this country go I don't think he's anywhere near being the worst and, regardless of what the revisionists would have us believe now that the inevitable downturn has arrived, he did preside over policies that gave nearly every section of society access to a better life than had ever been possible in Ireland before. Just because there will always be problems and certain people marginalised doesn't mean that doesn't still hold true.

Seeing some of his lackeys almost in tears is quite funny though.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wrong 'em Boyo

So there's a bloke called Cathal O'Searcaigh. He's a poet as gaeilge, apparently sponsors the education of boys in Nepal and was seen a recent RTE documentary to admit having sexual relations with a number of young (i.e. teenage, but over the age of consent) men.

Three weeks after the documentary aired there's still a controversy in the media over whether or not the man has done anything wrong. The man's supporters - mostly acquaintances, 'artists', Irish speakers and gay people - have tried to paint the controversy as a complex issue or have accused O'Searcaigh's critics as being, variously, homophobic, anti-Irish or a mob. I even heard one woman claim that if he was straight, and we were talking about teenage girls, men would be jealous!

But it boils down to this - would those young lads sleep with O'Searcaigh if they weren't benefitting from the cash he supplies? Yes or no? The answer, it would appear, is no. Therefore he's effectively a sex-tourist regardless of how genuine and appreciated his charitable work is and also regardless of how genuine his affection for those he sleeps with is.

To be honest, up 'til now, I haven't really cared about the whole thing but this column in last Sunday's Turbine really got my back up:

BEFORE last Wednesday, it would have been hard to imagine what Cathal O
Searcaigh could possibly do to alienate himself further from the heaving,
bullying mainstream...

O Searcaigh's latest trespass against orthodoxy was to give his first
interview to Radio na Gaeltachta...

He was defended
[for conducting his first interview since the controversy broke in Irish] by Donall Mac Giolla Choill of La Nua, who said that the poet had explained that he wanted to speak first of all to his own people. After all, "he is a native Irish speaker from an Irish-speaking community."...


Jesus H Christ! The 'Irish speaking community' in this country are even more lacking in self-awareness (and even further up their own arses) than Travellers, Shinners, Unionists and Munster rugby fans (if that's possible) and it shows.

Well, I want to be a member of the heaving, bullying mainstram orthodoxy. Because I think that someone who takes advantage of an economic disparity to travel to the third world, and persuade local teenage boys to sleep with them, isn't really in a position to choose who he talks to if he expects a fair hearing when the scandal breaks. So sign me up and get me a t-shirt.

Safe European Home

This is fabulous!

A 'Paul Jiggins' in The Sun has a fairly obvious April Fool's gag about Fabio Capello ordering England's footballers to learn Italian because he can't learn English.

But just look at England's finest knuckle-draggers' responses to the story:

Posted by: pom1954
i am missing something here,,30 people have to learn Italian rather than one person learning English!! makes good sense, i suppose only chianti and pasta on menu also!

Posted by: LabourOUT
They should all learn Polish and Punjabi like the rest of the nation because we'll all be forced to speak them languages soon anyway. What a joke this country is!

Posted by: Warrior
The clue is in the job title, "England Manager", if you cant lean it, take a hike!

Posted by: sarah123
this is England are players shouldnt have to learn Italian to play English football, you should learn English.

Posted by: jimbo1
HE WANTED THE ENGLAND JOB SO HE SHOULD WANT TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE FRO THE PLAYERS PRESS THE LOT!!


Biggest Idiot of All prize must go to:

Posted by: mikeprice
what a day to say it-April 1st.Suggest that FA demand he stops messing about and sit down and get a grip and make an effort to start learning now.How dare he demand the team to now learn Italian!!


Although this guy, who can clearly at least type, should hang his head:

Posted by: Daps
I dont think this is true. If however it is true, I would advise the FA to sack him as that comment is a disgrace to England. If he cant learn to speak English, he should quickly resign. It is insultive enough for him to use a translator for his interviews after deceiving the FA with a promise to start speaking good English by January 2008. If an English manager takes over Italy, how will they take such suggestion for Italian National team to learn English to be able to communicate with the coach. If this is true, Capello has simply said to the FA: Guys, I am not competent to manage England. Where is national pride by the way?

P.S. Saw story on Football365.
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