Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You'll Never Walk Alone

Absolutely delighted that 'Only One' Keano has made the move to Liverpool. Good for the club, good for the country. Everything is crossed that he'll gel with Torres and be a huge success. The story first appeared in the News of the Screws, so I'm amazed it has worked out!

Chequebook Royston, meanwhile, has signed one of the biggest scrotes in football, El Hadji Diouf, shortly after signing one of the other biggest scrotes in football - Pascal Chimbonda. He could complete the set and sign Joey Barton from Newcastle.

And last night D'Town moved three points clear at the top of the First Division. The mid-season blip seems well behind us now. God, I hope we're promoted...

Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car

If the derogatory generalisations that were made about young males were made about any other section of society there'd be whinging and crying about discrimination and stigmatisation to beat the band. Yet not only is it perfectly acceptable to lump all young men together and demonise them - especially when it comes to driving - there isn't even a politically correct counter-voice to even attempt to rein the stereotyping in.

Those new Road Safety ads that have been running, 'He Drives, She Dies', are staggering in the way they scapegoat all young men as bad, reckless drivers and allow the rest of the population to absolve themselves of any sin - perfectly adequate drivers that would otherwise potter along the roads in complete safety if they weren't in fear of being the next victim of a 17-24 killing machine.

The way the statistics are abused in that press release is just wrong. Apparently 68% of female passengers killed between 1997 and 2006 were killed in cars driven by men, but surely it's obvious to anyone that if a woman is a passenger in a car the driver is more likely to be a man - a boyfriend or husband or something (easily twice as likely I'd wager, which would entirely explain that 68% figure). I'm only surprised that figure isn't higher, actually, unless there's some massive Thelma and Louise sub-culture in this country I'm unaware of.

"Furthermore, over one-third (81) of these were killed in cars driven by males aged 17-24." So basically 23% of the female passengers killed were in cars driven by young men. Less than one in four. If the figure was weighted according to the percentage of all car drivers who are men aged 17 - 24 it would probably still stand out, but not to the extent this campaign is trying to have us believe.

As for "The research also highlighted that 7 out of 10 female passengers aged between 17 and 24 were killed in cars driven by males aged between 17 and 24." Er, is that somehow different to the 6.8 out of 10 female passengers of all ages who were killed in cars driven by males of all ages?

Don't get me wrong, I despise little knackers bombing around the place in their shite looking chavmobiles, but for every one of those there's a multiple of other blokes just trying to get to work or get home (like anyone else) in a bog standard hatchback, which has probably cost him at least two grand to insure for good measure.

Anyway the ad is out nearly a month, so why mention it now? No reason...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Train In Vain

So today I got this email from Waste:
"Thank you for buying tickets to one of the Radiohead shows. The ticket seller
has agreed to send this email to you on Radiohead's behalf. We would be
extremely grateful if you could complete a short travel survey. We are trying to
find out how people travelled to and from the Radiohead shows, and this
information will help us plan shows in the future. In return, and as a token of
our thanks, we will send you a souvenir live track from Radiohead's tour, to be
chosen by the band."
So I filled it in, and here's the end result:




They could just stop dicking around and play Creep.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lost In The Supermarket

Why the hell did RTE gift Tesco tens of thousands of euro of free advertising this week? I've never seen anything like it. So what if Tesco are cutting prices to compete with Lidl / Aldi? That's not news. That doesn't warrant reporters, cameramen and radio and television commentary all day long. Nonsense.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Safe European Home

This month's 'Brussel's Diary' in Prospect and some bigger picture stuff for the people who thought their microchipped aborted foetuses would be conscripted into a Franco-German army fighting for higher corporation taxes:
"In the run-up to the rejection of the Lisbon treaty in Ireland, European
leaders were fond of saying that there was no plan B in the event of a "no"
vote. That was because the treaty itself was a plan B, thrown together
after the European constitution was rejected by voters in France and the
Netherlands in 2005. After that double rebuff, European leaders spent months
sifting through the wreckage of the constitution to separate all the practical
reforms from the elements that suggested a nation-building enterprise such as a
European flag and anthem. Concrete changes were put into the dense and
unreadable 287-page Lisbon treaty. Now that this too has been rejected in a
plebiscite, the options are complicated.

Eurosceptics claim that some of the Lisbon treaty can be implemented under
existing powers. But this applies only to low-key initiatives. The important
innovations require a new treaty because they change the legal basis on which
the EU operates. For example, the creation of a new, more powerful foreign
policy chief combines the current post held by Javier Solana with that of a
European commission vice-president—a fundamental change in EU architecture.
Similarly, changes to the voting system and a decision to endow the EU with
"legal personality"—the right to sign international agreements—require treaty
change. And, as we now all know, to get a treaty change all 27 member states
have to agree.

So what now? The pressure applied by France and Germany to press on with
ratification is a transparent effort to put Ireland in a minority of one. That
would force the Irish to try to negotiate concessions and vote again. Ireland's
response has been to play for time. Even if it is willing to hold a second
referendum, it cannot say so immediately after a "no" vote. It has, however,
been careful not to rule out the possibility of a second vote, and, by October,
the Irish may be in a position to say what concessions they need in order to
stage a rerun. The very minimum solution—"explanatory declarations" spelling out
that Ireland would retain the right to neutrality, to set its tax rates and
control abortion policy—is unlikely to be enough because these in fact offer
nothing new.

Another possibility is to revoke plans to slim the size of the European
commission, so that Ireland would retain the right to send a commissioner to
Brussels. Significantly, this could be done without changing the treaty,
providing the European council decides to do so unanimously. Later this year a
division may emerge, with some, in Germany and the Benelux countries for
example, wanting to offer Ireland the minimum necessary while making it clear
that a second referendum "no" would mean some form of isolation. Others, like
Britain, really do not want to press the Irish to vote again, unless it is
pretty clear that they will say yes. London would not lose too much sleep if the
treaty died a slow death, though it knows it is not in its interest to be the
first to kill it off. It is more alarmed about the prospect of a second Irish
"no" and the threat of consigning Ireland to an outer tier of the EU. That is
because, once deployed, the threat of exclusion could be used again in the
future—maybe against London."

Safe European Home

It's a source of endless amusement that, no matter what bunch of murderous, corrupt arseholes are stomping all over their people in any given week, there are people in this country who somehow always manage to make it all "America's fault".

This guy in yesterday's Irish Times, in particular, will take some beating:

"Now that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC opposition in Zimbabwe have come to agreement with the Zanu-PF government, brokered by Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, perhaps the dogs of war in Europe and America will call off their yelping. Zimbabwe needs peace brought by Zimbabweans, not the western invading forces which have devastated Iraq and Afghanistan for their oil and their pipelines and propose taking over Iran and even Pakistan...

Zimbabwe needs help, assistance and development not sanctions from Europe and America."

Now THAT's impressive.

In A Lifetime

From RTE.ie:
"More than 50 dissident Catholic groups have issued an open letter to Pope
Benedict saying the Church's ban on contraception has been catastrophic.

The letter published as a paid half-page advertisement in Corriere
della Sera
, Italy's largest newspaper, urges the pope to lift the ban.

It appeared on the 40th anniversary of the late Pope Paul VI's
controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae, which enshrined the ban.

Pope Paul's encyclical, written in 1968, has been defended by his successors John
Paul and Benedict.

The Church teaches that nothing should block the possible transmission of life..."

*snigger*

Anyway, anybody who thinks that Catholic dogma is the reason African men don't use condoms is extremely naive and more interested in church-bashing than the facts about Aids in Africa. The Church doesn't help matters with its position, but they are not the cause of the problem.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Deny

I must say that it entertains me greatly that Radovan Karadzic was in hiding as an 'Alternative' Medicine guru. Could there have been a safer open environment for him than hanging out with a whole bunch of other spoofers and their gormless followers?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Deny

The other day Charlie Brooker wrote a great little piece about 9/11 conspiracy theorists... and ended up with nearly two thousand comments on his post wihin three days, before the Guardian closed the comments. Have a read...

People who use the interweb are seriously thick.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Silver And Gold

I must admit I'm loving all this:

'Pressure is piling on the banks due to the combined effects of the
economic slowdown, a severe deterioration in the property market and the credit
crunch in the global financial system; so much so that Bank of Ireland was
unable this week to provide a profit forecast for the current fiscal period,
except to say that profits continue to weaken.

'Although anecdotal evidence points to dire conditions in the domestic
property market, a warning from housebuilder Abbey of much tougher times ahead
came as it reported a sharp drop in profits in the year to April. "In recent
weeks, trading conditions have deteriorated noticeably," the company said. "The
rate and depth of the current slowdown in activity is outside our experience. It
seems clear that the source of the difficulty is the dramatic contraction of the
mortgage market. Unless conditions markedly improve, which seems unlikely in the
short term, a wrenching adjustment lies ahead."

'In Britain, where the Irish financials have big operations, Halifax Bank
of Scotland (HBOS) reported yesterday that an 8.7 per cent reduction in house
prices in the year to June represented a bigger fall than at any time during the
1990s crash. "It is fair to say we are now in the worst housing slide for over
50 years," said Michael Saunders, an economist with Citigroup.'


Keeping quiet these days aren't you Parlon? 'Now's a good time to buy' is it, you bollox...

I wanted to buy a house in Drogheda in 2000 but I simply couldn't lay my hands on enough money for a deposit and I was scared I wouldn't find the lodger I'd need to fund a mortgage. An out of town house then was the equivalent of about €115,000. I tried again in suburban Cork in late 2001, when houses were about €150,000, and again they were beyond me. Remember this was back when banks actually operated to rules and would only lend 3-times a single person's salary for a max of 25 years.

Finally I was approved for a mortgage in 2005, without even applying for one(!). I was informed I could be given €210,000 towards a €230,000 property or €230,000 towards a €250,000 property, if I took in a lodger. Great, except for that price, by the end of 2005, I would either have had to buy a shoebox you'd barely stand up straight in or a three-bed semi in a sprawling estate in the sticks, miles from the city, where even the local Spar was a 15 minute walk away never mind 'luxuries' like bars and restaurants.

Anyway I said no. I said no to all those shoe shine boys who blathered on about rent money being 'dead money'. I said no to all those shoe shine boys who insisted house prices would just go up for ever and ever (defying the bloody laws of physics never mind economics). I said no to all those shoe shine boys who told me I'd regret it in the long run if I didn't 'get on the ladder'.

I tried to point out to the lemmings that having the house you live in going up in value is no bloody use unless you're going to downsize or move to shagging Leitrim or emigrate or just die to take advantage. I tried to point out to the lemmings that they had borrowed at maximum affordability for effectively the rest of their working lives when interest rates could only go up. I tried to point out to the lemmings that getting onto the next rung of 'the ladder' (i.e. trading up) was entirely dependant on there being a never ending supply of fucking eejits coming up behind them willing to take their kennel in the sticks off them at even higher prices. Well guess what, the well of fucking eejits has dried up.

Now sale prices are back at late 2005 prices again (asking prices aren't dropping as fast, because there are still a lot of deluded people out there who need to wake up and smell the coffee, but the gap between the asking and sale price is now -6% where it was +8% two years ago) and I'm now armed with a bigger salary and a lot of savings that would have been lost in mortgage repayments. Furthermore I've had an infinitely better social life renting near the city centre than I would have had to boot.

But I'm still going to hold on longer. There's more downside to come and inflation at the 5% mark will exaggerate the falls even further. If you assume that the average rate of inflation between the beginning of 2005 and the end of 2009 will be 3.5% (it could be higher) then €350,000 at the end of next year would be the equivalent of €293,000 back then. It always astounds me that people forget how inflation ultimately destroys the profit on assets like houses, seeing as they are incapable of creating any wealth.

Anyway, back to today, the amount of vacant property around Cork is staggering. All those 'investors' buying into the dream of a quick buck just cos the other bloke on the golf course did it too. Only they're finding that as well as there being no buyers there aren't even enough renters to fill the vacancies and the rents don't come close to covering the mortgages. I called the peak of the market at the end of 2006 when, short of being let pass mortgages onto your sprogs, there was nowhere left to go.

I hope there's savage (metaphorical) bloodletting. I hope the developers, the estate agents and the 'investors' get slaughtered. And I'm looking forward to being there to pick up the pieces. Fuck them. No one had any sympathy for the likes of me when those gits priced me out of the market. They deserve everything that's coming to them. And so do I.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stories For Boys

Speaking of the Daily Mail:
"When Abbie Hawkins felt a strange vibrating sensation in her bra while at
work she simply assumed that it was her mobile phone ringing.The hotel
receptionist was therefore rather taken aback to discover that it was actually a
bat that had made its home in her underwear – and that it had been there all
morning.

As amused hotel staff crowded around the front desk to get a better look, a shocked Miss Hawkins delved into her bra and pulled out the small furry creature. Miss Hawkins, 19, who works at the Holiday Inn near Norwich International Airport said: ‘Once I realised it was a bat I was shocked, but then I felt quite sorry
for it really.‘It looked very snug in there and I thought how mean I was for
disturbing it."

The bat had remained hidden in her bra since she had got ready for work that morning and had lain undetected until lunchtime."



Probably an illegal immigrant.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Complete Control

I recently finished Flat Earth News by Nick Davies. A book well worth reading, in my humble opinion (and reviewed here). The associated website lets you read some of the sections from the book. The book's release was strange, in that the British print-media tried to ignore its existence - simply because they were the ones on the receiving end. It was only through Private Eye that I even knew it existed.

It was the final chapter I personally found most depressing. It was about how the Daily Mail operates. The gist of it is that the Daily Mail knows exactly what its readers want to read, so they ignore positive stories about, for example, black people (regular English black people, not *even* 'asylum seekers') and seize on the negative. They pander to the ingrained prejudices of little englanders to maximise revenue.

Now I had always assumed such behaviour was borne out of institutionalised racism and xenophobia, and that the likes of the Daily Mail led ordinary folk to have bigoted opinions. Instead it turns out that the readers are already bigots, xenophobes and racists and they read the Daily Mail simply to have their prejudices reinforced. If the Daily Mail didn't tell them what they wanted to hear they would turn elsewhere. Therefore, it would appear, that paper, despite massive sales, not only does not have the power to change opinions, it doesn't even have the power to tell a rounded story for fear of pissing off its readers. My heart sank reading it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Silver And Gold

Here's the link to RTE Radio 1 discussing today's interest rate rise. Note the name of 'economist' Austin Hughes. Mr Hughes was also on TodayFM. He's now talking about interest rates being cut 'early next year'? Why? What on earth is going to change in the next 6-months to turn things around as quickly as that, if interest rate rises are deemed necessary now?

Do a search of the Irish Times website for 'Austin Hughes' (just the Finance section) and you will see 350 hits for articles going back over ten years that quote him.

A similar search of the Business section of the Irish Independent also gives you hundreds of hits.

I dunno what that says about piss-arse, lazy-ass jouralists...

Anyway this is the same Austin Hughes I noticed last month. The same Austin Hughes who claimed repeatedly from last summer til around March of this year that the ECB was going to cut rates at least twice in the middle part of this year.

My particular favourite snippet is from the Irish Independent at the end of January:

'"The ECB will have to recognise global events. It is my gut feeling that there will be a cut in the spring." Mr Hughes said eurozone rates could fall by as much as 1pc by the end of the year.'

Although there is another article from 2002 where he warns that the euro could weaken against the dollar... when €1 was only worth $0.85
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