Friday, February 27, 2009

A Sort Of Homecoming

On RTE Radio 1 this afternoon there was a vox-pop in Stockholm (for some reason) where the hack was asking local folk various questions about the Irish recession and the banking scandals.

Unsurprisingly the answers to questions like 'Have you heard of Seán Fitzpatrick?', 'Have you heard of Anglo Irish Bank?' and so on were mostly met with a short 'No' and I detected a hint of 'what the hell makes you think I'd know?' but that might have been just me.

The best answer I heard was to the question 'Have you heard of the Irish banking crisis?' The lady said 'doesn't the whole world have a banking crisis?'

I'd like to believe the woman was trying to say 'What makes you think your crisis is so bloody special?'

Seriously, what's the fascination with caring what foreigners think of us? Why do we have to be so precious that, somehow, our crisis has to be worse than everyone elses, just like we had to make a point of making our boom better than everyone elses?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Silver And Gold

This protest march today is, ultimately, a complete sham. When it's presented as 'a national protest... against the manner in which the financial crisis is being handled by the Government' I'm all "Absolutely! Count me in!!" But it isn't about that at all. Not really.

When the unions say 'It is accepted that everyone will have to contribute towards resolving the current problems, but this should be done in a fair and equitable manner' that's just coded crap for 'this is all someone elses fault and you can feck right off from my pay packet.' It's as if we’d suddenly balance the books and everything would be ok if we seized the assets of a couple of dozen bankers and property developers and chucked them in jail. We should do that anyway, by the way, but it just wouldn't solve anything.

The truth is that it is an absolute fact that, despite having the highest levels of disposable income in Europe for years, people in this country believed and still believe they are over-taxed.

It is an absolute fact that the vast majority of the population believed and still believe that they are fully entitled to ‘first world’ healthcare (whatever that means) and education; Guards on every street corner; free child care or child care assistance; free water, free waste disposal; care for the elderly and those with special needs and so on and so on - all to be paid for by their existing, relatively paltry (by other European standards) tax burden.

People are aware the country is banjaxed but the problem is that people are both refusing to accept any responsibility for either the mess we've made or cleaning it up. The way people are carrying on you’d think that the number of people who benefited from the Celtic Tiger can be counted on one hand with a missing thumb. The public sector workers brazenly acting as if benchmarking never happened now grinding the civil service to a halt even before the strikes. The construction workers in their 20s who were earning more than their parents and who flashed their wealth in everyone’s faces now spitting in the face of their employers' body's leader. The middle-aged who flogged their houses for ten times what they paid for them and who told the world and its children that property ‘never lost value’ now stuck with buy-to-let shoeboxes no one wants to rent. The unionised workers who rode their multi-national employers sideways for wage increases, bonuses and overtime now acting all surprised and upset when they upped and left and dumped them in the dole office. The car dealers and shop owners who fleeced us royally now whinging that they're closing because no one wants to buy their overpriced goods anymore... and all the rest who were all at the same sort of thing.

The fact is we live in a country of lemmings who believe whatever it suits them to believe. The electorate are, generally speaking, that stupid. They saw the waste and the mis-directed money for 10 years, then went along with it again in the last election because they never thought all this would happen or that it wouldn't happen to them. But it has, so it's out to protest...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Acrobat

When did people go from saying 'I couldn't care less' to 'I could care less'?

No one sent me the memo.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

OK Computer

I've waited to mention that I bought a Samsung NC10 netbook recently until I was convinced I liked it. Well I LOVE it! 160 GB hard drive for all my music, movies and pictures; a 1.8 Ghz atom processor, which easily handles everything I need to do; 1 GB of RAM (I bought an extra 1 GB, which I mightn't have needed); it has a built in webcam, weighs about 1 Kg and the battery easily lasts about 6-hours.

330 Notes on pixmania.com, although they have since gone up.

Fairly reviewed here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

All I Want Is U2

Apparently U2 are playing Croke Park the last weekend of July. Well I'm not going. Last time out I queued overnight only to get horrific tickets in the part of the stadium with the worst sightlines and even worse acoustics.

Instead I'll just work out where they're playing on the Ryanair route map and go there.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Complete Control

You can pretty much sum up the results of the Irish Times polls as one big collective shout of 'something must be done, just don't expect me to pay for it'. Then again that doesn't take into account the opinions of Ireland's substantial ostrich community.

Furthermore you just know that Fianna Fáil's national poll ratings will never translate into General Election results. The parochial crap that goes on in this country will ensure that a lot of the anger directed at Cowen and Lenihan won't translate into lost votes for the local pothole fixer, who'll be spending the next two years slagging off the main men at local level to try and save their own skins.

Just as annoying has been Labour's huge jump while Fine Gael have more or less remained static. Labour have done a grand job sniping from the sidelines but has no one noticed that when it comes to proposing solutions they have said absolutely nothing, compared with the infinitely more impressive Richard Bruton, for example?

At least the Shinners aren't benefiting from the woes of the working classes so far but I won't bet on it staying that way. We really will be in trouble if Beardie and the rest of those economic simpletons get a say in anything important.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Deny

The world of stupidity we live in crystallised almost simultaneously by the recent experiences of three journalists I link to:

Ben Goldacre and the anti-MMR media halfwits.
Johann Hari and the oppressive Islamist hate-mobs.
Skeptico and the Global Warming denialists.

Overpowered By Funk

Just heard of this today. What an amazing line-up. I'll be getting my hands on it ASAP!

DARK WAS THE NIGHT

THIS DISC
1 Knotty Pine – Dirty Projectors + David Byrne
2 Cello Song (Nick Drake) – The Books featuring Jose Gonzalez
3 Train Song (Vashti Bunyan recorded, written by Alasdair Clayre) – Feist + Ben Gibbard
4 Brackett, WI – Bon Iver
5 Deep Blue Sea – Grizzly Bear
6 So Far Around the Bend – The National (arrangement by Nico Muhly)
7 Tightrope – Yeasayer
8 Feeling Good (popularized by Nina Simone) – My Brightest Diamond
9 Dark Was the Night (Blind Willie Johnson) – Kronos Quartet
10 I Was Young When I Left Home (Bob Dylan) – Antony + Bryce Dessner
11 Big Red Machine – Justin Vernon + Aaron Dessner
12 Sleepless – The Decemberists
13 Stolen Houses (Die) – Iron and Wine
14 Service Bell – Grizzly Bear + Feist
15 You Are The Blood – Sufjan Stevens

THAT DISC
1 Well-Alright – Spoon
2 Lenin – Arcade Fire
3 Mimizan – Beirut
4 El Caporal – My Morning Jacket
5 Inspiration Information (Shuggie Otis) – Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
6 With A Girl Like You (The Troggs) – Dave Sitek
7 Blood Pt 2 (based on original song “You are the Blood” by the Castanets) – Buck 65 Remix (featuring Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti)
8 Hey, Snow White (Destroyer) – The New Pornographers
9 Gentle Hour (Snapper) – Yo La Tengo
10 Another Saturday (traditional song) – Stuart Murdoch
11 Happiness – Riceboy Sleeps
12 Amazing Grace (traditional song) – Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues
13 The Giant Of Illinois (Handsome Family) – Andrew Bird
14 Lua – Conor Oberst + Gillian Welch
15 When the Road Runs Out – Blonde Redhead + Devastations
16 Love vs. Porn – Kevin Drew

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Sort Of Homecoming

I can't wait 'til the Irish football team are out of Croke Park and back in Lansdowne Road. It really is an awful stadium to watch football in. In fact, between the relatively brutal U2 concerts of four years ago, and the eerie or non-existant atmospheres of smaller and one-sided Championship matches, I'm not even sure it's half the place it's cheerleaders regularly crack it up to be.

I couldn't enjoy last night's match at all, even though, in hindsight, it was pretty entertaining (if a bit short in quality). Because we were a goal down for so long, all I could think about was the hatchet job that was bound to take place if we lost or only drew. I'll have to consider stopping listening to the radio altogether, because there's hardly a programme broadcast that isn't infected by the virus of idiots text messaging.

As for the game itself, Kevin Kilbane was his usual noticeably limited self and Glenn Whelan stood out in midfield... for being absolutely nowhere near the required standard. The rest of the team played reasonably well, especially in the second half on what was, again, a shite pitch. True, it was never a penalty. But then again there's no way the Georgians should have finished the match with 11-men. From what I have seen since at least two players deserved red-cards and the decision to disallow Andrews' goal was a bit harsh.

So 10 points from 12, albeit with the four hardest matches in front of us. We'll know a hell of a lot more about the true state of Irish football by 1st April.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Complete Control

Have a read of this letter in Wednesday's Irish Examiner:

'HOW Karl Marx must be chuckling. He wrote the following many years ago in Das Kapital: “Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take on more and more expensive debt, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to the bankruptcy of all banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.”

Communism is little different in practice to the current USA: total power is total power — left, right or centre — so the nomenclature need not worry us.

The only doubt I have left is whether it is a conspiracy or simply caused by the total and utter self-interest of politicians who have never had — or wanted — the basic training to run a corner shop, let alone a whole country. My bet would be that the current shambles is sheer neglect and incompetence rather than a conspiracy, and we can expect nothing better as they blunder on, feathering their own nests.'


Karl Nostradamus Marx was one smart cookie, huh?

Except, of course, he never wrote any such thing.

The Irish Examiner - a quality newspaper...

Overpowered By Funk

Last Saturday Elbow played a live set of the full Seldom Seen Kid with the BBC Concert Orchestra for BBC Radio 2. You can watch and see it here. The band are also selling the dvd and cd from their website. It really is excellent - and I may have mentioned before that I adore One Day Like This.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Silver And Gold

You know all these Public Sector workers who don't have to take a pay cut and, instead, are just being forced to contribute more to their own - state-guaranteed - pensions could always just jack their jobs in and take their chances like the rest of us, couldn't they?

Oh.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Britain and Ireland are both in recession and on the verge of depression and what's the most important thing exercising the minds of those spanners up North? The proposal to pay £12,000 to the families of everyone who died in the Troubles.

To be honest I would take the side of the unionist politicians on it - it is ludicrous to equate dead terrorists / combatants with dead civilians. They're position from principle is in stark contrast to the mealy-mouthed rubbish emanating from your average Shinner bullshitter.

But, at the end of the day, these people are supposed to be in government now and running their daft wee country. It might sound cruel but they have a lot more pressing concerns than who gets a 12K pay off for their dead loved ones.

It really is about time they copped on up there and got on with the here and now - because the here and now is one hell of a problem to deal with and, to be honest, those clowns up there probably don't have a balls notion what's going on. In fact that might explain why they've kicked up an almighty row over this - at least they're back on familiar territory and able to shoot their mouths off again without little things like global recessions getting in the way.
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