Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday

It didn't occur to me that there'd be a way Northerners could make the Lockerbie bomber release about them and their own grubby little internecine nastiness. How naive of me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Complete Control

A truism of life is that people are convinced that the world is becoming an ever more dangerous or violent place, that the generation coming after them values life less and has less respect for others.

In Ireland people think back to the 50s and 60s when the murder rate was non-existent and people, apparently, could leave their doors unlocked. That we now know children were being beaten and abused in their thousands by the religious orders seems to be by-the-by. Anyway the fact is those times were a blip in Irish history. Ireland had higher murder rates in the 1800s than it does today, for example.

I recently came across this:

"Now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward: Far from causing us to become more violent, something in modernity and its cultural institutions has made us nobler. In fact, our ancestors were far more violent than we are today. Indeed, violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species' time on earth..."

Unsurprisingly he fingers modern media for scaring the crap out of us. Something I have raged about before. It's worth reading.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Sort Of Homecoming

As you may know I tried to catch a falling knife last year in that I bought a house for about 20 - 25% off its peak value, but an equivalent house in my estate is now down another 10% from that peak (raw figures of approx 390K, to 300K to 260K).

Out of curiosity I did a search in my general area to see how much prices were coming down. Amazingly one particular estate - Mount Oval in Rochestown - is seeing a savage collapse. Houses that routinely sold for 360K and more as low as 220K with 1-beds down below 200K.

One caught my eye because of the following, desperate, sales pitch:

"Last price reduction, this is a bargain not to be missed.The price is set for a quick sale and at this price, the gross cost before tax relief of a 92% mortgaqe of €207,000 over 35 years would be approximately €1,095.40 at a rate of 5.5% APR, allowing for tax relief for a couple, which is €232, the net cost before life assurance would be €863.40, which is about what you would pay to rent, the only difference is at the end of the day you would own the property."

Oh dear! A 35 year mortgage on a one-bed apartment is the same as renting it! That's a good thing!?!

In America, according to David McWilliams and some NY Times article I can't find right now, the long-term price of a house is equal to 14 times the annual rent the place can generate. If that was replicated for this example the apartment is, in fact, worth €145,000.

Or, to put it another way, bargain my hole.

Silver And Gold

So the krauts and the surrender monkeys are coming out of recession already. Good news... except the ECB might jack up interest rates again to head off inflation. So maybe not so good news. If other EU countries are recovering we better be hanging onto their coat tails for dear life.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Overpowered By Funk

I've finally realised why I've been to very few small gigs this year (all I've really done is go to Elbow in Wembley in March and U2 in Paris in July. I'm also going to Muse in the Dublin O2 in November) - the beer brands haven't been sponsoring anything this year. There's been no Bud Rising and no Heineken Green Energy. Coupled with a decision I made to stop going to Dublin for midweek gigs, all of a sudden I have had very little to go to. Besides, I have a feeling that I'm on the verge of entering a late 90's esque period of underwhelment with regards to new music. There's so much being raved about that just doesn't float my boat. Only the Friendly Fires album has proved to be a pleasant surprise.

Friday, August 07, 2009

It's 12:34 and 56 seconds on 7th August 2009.

Or 12:34:56 7/8/9.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Silver And Gold

Some things...

The government announced that VAT receipts are behind forecasts but what the hell did they expect after the April budget?... "Tax receipts are some €575m, or 3%, behind that profile, mainly due to a shortfall of VAT (€448m behind)." Personally I'm down about €300 per month since then. Of course my (and everyone else's) discretionary spending was going to drop.

90% of the people who were in employment during the boom still are and, of those, it appears that about 40% of private sector workers have been forced to take a pay cut by their employer (through pay cuts but more so through reduced hours, reduced overtime and reduced bonuses; and 100% of public servants have taken an effective pay cut).

But people, being the lemmings they are, have also reversed their spendthrift ways and started saving. A lot. "Recent revisions to national accounts showed that the Irish household savings rate fell to 2.3% in 2007 (bar 2000, the lowest proportion of after-tax income ever saved). That rate has spiked to over 12% in 2009, equating to a massive withdrawal of spending from the economy. It has overshot and precautionary saving will eventually ease. Possible triggers for a reversal include the likelihood of smaller-than-feared tax hikes in December."

So, room for hope after all.

As for my shares the Eurostoxx50 have powered ahead to €26.83 - up 38% on what I bought them at, while MAN Group have been very volatile but are now trading at £2.78, plus I've banked a dividend of 15p per share, meaning a 48% improvement.

This market rally can't continue one would feel. A correction in September seems on the cards. I might cash in the lot in the coming weeks and wait for that correction.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Police And Thieves

Just to point out, seeing as these things seem perfectly normal in this country these days, an elected representative went to meet two convicted cop killers on their release from prison today and drove off with them. I haven't the words...

Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car

The radio stations are running those 'He drives, she dies' ads again. I went on a rant about them last summer.

Apropos of nothing, from the last three weeks: "Woman killed in Galway road crash... The 25-year-old driver was pronounced dead at the scene. A second woman in her 30s, who was travelling in the car, was slightly injured..."

"Woman dies in Antrim crash... An 18-year-old woman has died in a road accident in Co Antrim. [The woman] was the driver of a car that crashed on the Bann Road, Ballymoney, at around midnight. No other vehicles were involved in the crash."

"Woman dies after Meath car crash... A 23-year-old woman, who was injured in a road crash in Co Meath early on Saturday morning, has died in hospital. The single-vehicle crash happened at Moynalvey near the Summerhill to Dunboyne road."

"Woman killed in Kildare crash... A woman has died following a road crash in Co Kildare in the early hours of this morning. The 33-year-old woman was injured when her car hit a wall at Allen, Kilmeague, Naas.2

And from 1st July: "Mother admits dangerous driving causing death... A Longford mother has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and serious bodily harm after two young children were killed when a car she was driving was involved in a crash."

Now first of all I don't want to be blasé or heartless about any road fatality. These women are all someone's daughter, sister, wife, girlfriend and the point here isn't that I'm claiming that women are worse drivers than men, or more dangerous drivers than men or more likely to die than male drivers.

My point is, as it was then, that: "ad campaigns like that 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".

It's a cruel irony that so many female drivers have been killed just as that ad was wheeled out onto the airwaves again.

White Riot

RTE are at it again. Barely a mention at all in the national news that multiple Traveller families are regularly brawling in the streets of Tralee due to yet another 'feud'.

The Irish Times on Saturday had an article about it, but all I can find from RTE's archives is this pitiful report from last week, which, again, decides not to mention that the instigaters are Travellers; and the subsequent court report, which does.

P.S. Memo to the Irish Times: normal people who live in houses are not 'members of the Settled Community'.
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