Sunday, April 30, 2006

Enda does the bell tolls for thee ?

Enda does the bell tolls for thee ? On Irishelection

Myres to get €200,00 a year

Looks like Kevin Myres could be earing up to €200,000 for a weekly column for the indo. Good work if you and get it. By the way any newspapers wants to give me €200,000 drop me an email.

It is worth a shot.:)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ireland’s Neutrality do we need to change?

Just posted this Ireland's Neutrality do we need to change? On Irish Election. Basically the question and point is should we change Irelands triple lock system away from a UN mandate to a EU mandate. I am turning off comments on this one so if you have a comment to make please make it on the Irish Election site to keep the debate in one place.

Leaving Cert messing up our schools

the failing standard of Honours MathsEducation in Ireland is becoming Machiavellian activity. In a piece in today’s Irish Independent about the falling standards in Honours Maths this line jumped out at me.

There is also a decline in the capacity of candidates to engage with problems that are not of a well-rehearsed type.

Now I will admit I am a bit of a Maths nerd and to me this

the time independent Schrödinger equation is quiet beautiful. However this rant is not merely about how maths is so vitally important. But about how the education system and in particular grind schools are messing up the system.

The leaving cert is not a test of skill it is a test of memory. Also the points system is not a measure of intelligence but popularity. This is a concept that not many people get. Indeed Physics is one of the lowest points courses in the CAO system. But the reason is not that it is easy but because it is perceived to be very hard.

Due to the fact that the Leaving Cert is a system of recurring questions and patterns people predict the papers, people prepare for the system. This has been championed by the Grind Schools preparing model answers that the students regurgitate on the day. And who is to blame the kids doing this, they are trying to get the best possible outcome and by learning and not understanding they will achieve the best results. But this should not be the job of the schools the aim of the schools is to educate children not teach them. You can teach the method of how do a sum but you have to educate them why the method is. Due to the high pressure on students to produce high points they don't care to understand. The schools are relenting to the pressure and teaching the kids not educating them.

This is leading to the above quote. The Exam papers nowadays ask questions that do not challenge anyone. They learn off the question and plant it down on the paper without thinking. While this might seem harmless to some it is disastrous to the country. If people coming out of the schools do not understand what they have learnt them this countries prospects are pretty dim.

My solution change the format of the papers that removes the predictability to the paper. The papers are far too formulaic and leaves its self open to predication and prepared answers. Changed the format so kids have to understand the material not learn it off. It will be better off for them in the long run.

What Grinds my Gears Friday

You know what grinds my gears, the pathetic state that television is in these days.

What has happened to televison? I'll tell you what has happened; 'We' happened. We've gotten lazy. We see TV only as a source of cheap, lazy amusement. We don't like to be challenged by TV whether it be drama, comedy or current affairs.

Reality TV has had a big hand in it. It's devasted the attention span and standards of the public and so now every few weeks we're hijacked by pathetic wanna-bes or 'Never-were' 'Z-listers' who are given a public forum to make asses of themselves for our 'amusement'. Of course, given our sandwished location in Ireland we get crap from all sides as well as from home. Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother, X-Factor, American Idol, Celebrity Love Island, I'm a Celbrity..., Celebrity Jigs n Reels, Celebrity Farm, EuroStar, Celbrity Eurostar, Temptation Island, the Osbournes, Newly Weds, The Simple Life, The Apprentice, The Apprentice UK, Paradise Hotel etc. etc. There's also Punk'd, Jerry Springer, Ricky Lake etc. quasi-reality shows.

And what about soaps? Starting at 6.30pm every weekday my TV is taken hostage by Home and Away, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Eastenders and Fair City, pretty much one after the other.And even if you don't watch them, you can't escape, because they're all over the news and radio. People gossip about them! I've sat, bewildered, and listened to women at work, in their early 20s, gossip about relationships on Coronation Street as if they were real and impacted on their lives.

And as for our American friends, where shows like Will & Grace and Charmed can get 8 seasons each whilst shows like Arrested Development, Alias, Family Guy, Futurama etc. struggle to survive for a couple of seasons. People, admitting that Will & Grace is not funny does not make you a Homo-phobe, so it's ok to stop watching!

We need to rise up and reclaim television. We live in a world where shows like the ones above thrive. We don't have to take this crap, Christ! it makes us look bad. People, it's time to take some responsibility and think about the consequences everytime we sit down to watch something on TV.

Creationism Class.

Anyone ele scared by this?

Also a BBC Documentary

Thursday, April 27, 2006

National Treatment register

The national Treatment register. Over 2604 people are waiting over a year for surgery.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Colm O Gorman in Wexford

I had this earlier on Irish Election.

Wexford is not my area so someone else can probably give a better prediction then this. The biggest problem for Colm O’Gorman taking a seat in Wexford will be the lack of a political organisation in Wexford for the PD’s not since 1989 have they contested a Dail seat when William Willoughby gained 1.1% of the vote. Indeed in the last local election they only ran one candidate. In Enniscorthy with Sean Quirke gaining 639 votes and not getting elected. So this is far from PD territory. However in the last election Liam Twomey won on an independent ticket so this constituency is far from locked up by the main parties.

Liam Twomey won on the independent ticket but then joined Fine Gael. This is supposed to annoyed some people as they voted for him as an independent and not the Fine Gael candidates Michael D’Arcy and Avril Doyle. This may result that some of his votes will be up for grabs. However his platform was on Health issues. So to secure these votes the PD’s need to perform in the Health department.

The other TD’s in the constituency would be Labour’s Brendan Howlin, Fianna Fail’s John Browne and Tony Dempsey and Fine Gaels Chief Whip Paul Kehoe. Tony Dempsey won the last seat beating by 78 votes Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy. Tony Dempsey was the former Wexford Hurling manager and is not running in this election. He was considered a quiet backbencher and this may hit Fianna Fail in the election especially if Fianna Fail take a hit nationwide.

Liam Twomey may increase his vote as he is Fine Gael’s health spokesman and in an Fine Gael victory may well become a minister. Some of that might come from the Fine Gael vote in the constituency reducing the first preference Paul Kehoe vote.

I think there is definitely going to be one or two seat up for grabs in this constituency. Colm O’ Gorman’s reputation in this constituency is going to be huge. He has massive respect in the country and may even attach much of the anti-PD vote due to this. Another advantage he has is that he is from the North of the constituency. In the town of Gorey which has seen a high migration of people from Dublin. Who would not have the same historical voting patterns as “native” Wexford voters. This should give him a very solid base. Also only Michael D’Arcy is in the North of the constituency so he will get a good lot of the regional vote.

Sinn Fein are also targeting Wexford as a seat with John Dwyer. Who is also based in the South of the county. I would guess that the addition of Colm to the ticket will be a major dent in their hopes. As even though he will be a member of the PD’s he will get a large portion of the vote from the people who are sick of the political status quo.

My prediction would be that he will certainly be in the final running. While Brendan Howlin Liam Twomey and John Browne are safe. I think the other 2 seats are open. I would say that unless the Progressive Democrats don’t mess up seriously he will take a seat. Indeed if Mary Harney makes inroads into the A&E and Michael McDowell on crime. Colm will probably top the poll.

America’s strategic imperative: a “Manhattan Project” for energy

Interesting paper from the American Joint Forces Quarterly. America’s strategic imperative: a “Manhattan Project” for energy.

One of the points.

Biorefineries also hold great prom­ise for urban areas. A typical large city has a substantial surplus of yard waste and wood debris, products that can no longer be deposited in landfills. New York and Philadelphia pay $150 per ton to dispose of municipal solid waste. Creating a simple urban wood recy­cling routine of household recycling bins would ensure a steady biomass supply and strengthen the economics of urban biorefineries through prox­imity to markets. Building an urban biorefinery in the hundred largest met­ropolitan areas could produce 7 billion gallons of ethanol a year, offsetting imported oil by 5 percent while help­ing solve urban waste problems.
Farmers need incentives to grow energy crops such as switchgrass, a na­tive plant that does not require fertil­izer or irrigation. It is estimated that 15 percent of the North American con­tinent consists of land that is unsuit­able for food farming but workable for switchgrass cultivation. “If all that land was planted with switchgrass, we could replace every single gallon of gas consumed in the United States with ethanol.”18 Farm policies that encour­age energy crop plantations are crucial for creating a firm supply base for cel­lulosic ethanol.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Next IMC report.

Slugger has the news of the latest IMC report. Key quote

It notes

"that where members of PIRA had engaged in acts of violence this appeared to be contrary to the instructions of the leadership and that certain PIRA units were closing down criminal operations, although some members were still involved in serious organised crime”.


We are not aware of current terrorist, paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the leadership. We have had no indications in the last three months of training, engineering activity, recent recruitment or targeting for the purposes of attack. There has now been a substantial erosion in PIRA’s capacity to return to a military campaign without a significant period of build-up, which in any event we do not believe they have any intentions of doing.
Of course this will not be enough.

Is this what our Taxes are spent on.

People keep going on about how little we spend on the arts. Then I watch the view and watch people dance in front of a post office. Which is supposed to be symbolic of "How Irish people dance". Maybe I am missing the point but I have never seen anyone dance or do anything remotely like dancing outside a post office in my life. This short film ~5 minutes That involved about 2 camera angles. Had 4 Assistant directors. Four. The Godfather had 3. I wouldn't even try to describe the utter crap that followed it. Sufficed to say it "had a non-linear narrative" Fine Gael are going on about the Government wasting money in the health service. Maybe they should be saying the government is wasting money on the Arts council. Why are the tax payers subsidizing the Arts to facilitate dinner conversation clap trap in pseudo-intellectual upper-class.

Then people have the gall to criticise the government for partial funding of Croke Park which is a place where more people will want to go to. And then say it is great that the Government is funding the Abbey where few outside the wealthy elite will go. Now I have no problem with the wealthy elite. But why should I and the majority of the nation with no interest in people dancing in front of post offices pay for what they can well afford themselves? Are am I just a heathen?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What is a country

If I had a classical education I could probably quote some one famous but I don’t so I guess I have to articulate it in my own words. What makes a country is it the land or the people? On the 20th of October 1818 a treaty was signed between His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the United States of America. And it said

It is agreed that a line drawn from the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woods, along the 49th parallel of north latitude, or, if the said point shall not be in the 49th parallel of north latitude, then that a line drawn from the said point due north or south, as the case may be, until the said line shall intersect the said parallel of north latitude, and from the point of such intersection due west along and with the said parallel, shall be the line of demarcation between the Territories of His Britannic Majesty and those of the United States, and that the said line shall form the southern boundary of the said Territories of His Britannic Majesty, and the northern boundary of the Territories of the United States, from the Lake of the Woods to the Stony Mountains.

And thus the border was formed between Canada and the US. Anyone South of that line (and North of the Mexican border) pledges allegiance to the stars and strips anyone north of it are patriotic Canadians. Both are passionate about there country yet all that divides those two people is a line that some people picked nearly 200 hundreds years ago based on a line defined by a scale centuries old.

During much of the immigrant rallies in America many people carried plauqers saying we are Americans too. Many American’s took offence to this believe that they were Mexicans and they themselves were American. But what makes them American when they are not the native people of the land and are merely immigrants of earlier period and not Canadian due to a line draw almost 200 years ago.

Another thing that the American and Canadian examples shows is the ease of intergration. America was the melting pot of the world. You meet an American in a train station in Italy and he will tell you that his is 17% Irish. (True Story) Now as you try to calculate how you can be 17% Irish. (Guessing it envolves Great-Grandparents and Great-Great Great-Grandparents). Think about this that person is mixed up of other nationalities that have come together as equal. Much of the reason maybe to do with the fact that most people come with nothing were equal. Which is an argument for equality. Perhaps due to 9/11 Americans are beginning to come a distinct people. They are now talking about immigration controls. The melting pot is not taking in or melting as much as it did before. As time is progressing America is becoming defined as a people.

I should have more for this post but I can't quiet think of what I want to say. It has been sitting on my desktop for the last week. Basically I think America is become more nationalist. Where this will reduce people going I'm Irish-American or Italian-American just saying I am American. This might lead to a more inward looking more economical nationalist America.

Munster Munster Munster

WOOHOO we won the civil war. See the moisturizer boys of Leinster didn't have a chance.

Top for Dossing.

At time of posting I am top of google for the word dossing. :)

Kevin Myres Found

Richard wondered why Kevin Myres was missing. Well seemingly he has resigned from the Irish Times and moving to the Independent.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

PD Conferance

I have written about McDowells speech on Irish Election. McDowell’s speech.

Also about Tom parlon and Fiona O'Malleys speechs. PD Energy tag teaming

Also on Mary Harney's

PD’s Leaders address

Summer Movie Preview

I pride myself as someone who likes to sees a broad range of movies and I take seriously their quality and the respect they show audiences though the pretension ends there as I expect nothing more than to be entertained well. When it comes to previewing the summer, any summer since a Great White Shark made its first appearance you can expect nothing more than films that allow us be kids so my list is unapologetically of Hollywood fare. Harry Knowles concluding a preview of Mission Impossible III has said he has a good feeling about this summer. I too am hopeful that amongst the money-grabbing and hopes to reverse the box-office slump stateside at the moment someone has taken a bit of time to putting some magic into my selection below. There is no particular ranking, they are listed in the order of release:

May will see the release of ‘Mission Impossible III’- Tom Cruise’s first movie since he developed verbal diarrohea and became tabloid fodder and a PR nightmare. Nevertheless, this man surrounds himself with quality and every undertaking of his is worth the effort. He has taken a serious risk employing first time movie director J.J. Abrams, he of the best programme on televison- ‘Alias’ and the most frustrating- ‘Lost’. The trailer gives hope, the scripting and directing ability of Abrams is undoubted so lets hope the 3rd time’s a charm. Either way, the Summer starts here.

Next is ‘The Sentinel’, which based on its eclectic cast alone is a banker for me. Michael Douglas is another man needing to escape tabloid ridicule and remind us of his calibre as an actor, Kiefer Sutherland now of TV fame used to be a movie star while Kim Bassinger and Eva Longoria represent women at polar ends of the career a actress can enjoy in Hollywood but are welcome on my screen anytime. As for the plot its something to do with a Neo-Nazi Aryan Disciple infiltrating the White House, murder, blackmail and an affair with the First Lady.

Thirdly, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ certainly doesn’t have any pre-publicity concerns. Discussion will merely surround its faithfullness to its source, the focus of which to date has primarily been the selection of Tom Hanks to play Robert Langdon. Realistically though an ‘everyman’ that the public could empathise with was essential, they have chosen well with Hanks for such a role. My concern is have they chosen too safely and how this will bode for the movie itself. With Ron Howard at the helm, and Hanks, the gorgeous Audrey Tatou, Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany filling out the universally known roles it seems nothing can go wrong, I worry.

4. ‘X-Men 3’ (‘X3’) sees the mutants of the biggest selling comic book series in the world return for the third and alleged final instalment in the series. ‘X2’ has recently been accorded the greatest comic book adaptation ever so there are high expectations. Hurdles for the movie are a change of director (Brett Ratner responsible for the strange mix of ‘Red Dragon’ and ‘Rush Hour 1 and 2’ takes over!) an ever expanding cast (gracious welcomes to Vinne Jones and Kelsey ‘Frasier’ Grammer) and a number of plots threads to treat respectfully. The original X-Men is credited with setting the standard for recent comic book movies, lets hope it does not undermine this legacy.

Up fifth is yet another remake, that of ‘The Omen’ and I’m sure someone got paid very well for coming up with the bright idea of releasing the movie on 6.06.06. Beyond this gimmick its going to be very faithful to the original, literally replicating scenes and the structure of the original. We all know by now that kids are evil, the unsettling element of the original is it took away that security blanket for the 1st time. However, we’ve since seen Jake Lloyd in ‘Episode I’ so I fear audiences have reaches their quota on how much kids can scare the beejesus out of us. The film opens with a sequence portraying the bad state of affairs the planet currently finds itself in, suggesting its apt for the anti-christ to make an appearance. Starring Live Schreiber (Cotton Weary in the ‘Scream’ series) and Julia Stiles the end result will hopefully not justify an apocalypse.

6. ‘Nacho Libre’ is the next deployment in Jack Black’s ploy for world domination. Only a picture could do justice to the premise - suffice it to say Black plays a priest, part time wrestler looking to raise some badly needed funds for his school.

Number 7 is another caped wonder: ‘Superman Returns’, a movie I’m equally excited and worried about. The clue is in the title. Directed by Bryan Singer he of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and just departed from ‘X3’, the film ignores the lesser 3rd and 4th films in the Christopher Reeve series and sees the Man of Steel return from Krypton to a world that has learned to survive without him. Every element of this film is the subject of debate online, the selection of Brandon Routh, a nobody for now to play the man himself, changes to the suit and Kate Bosworth an unproven actress in my view has been chosen to play Lois Lane. There are safety nets in the form of Singer’s credibility and the great Kevin Spacey filling out the role of Lex Luthor. Warner Brothers are claiming 2006 to be the Year of Superman, lets hope the movie doesn’t tarnish the iconography of the originals and adds to the character so that he can reassume his status among the young pretenders we’ve been recently been subjected to.

8. I watched the first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ not knowing much about it and was blown away. A movie inspired by amusement ride in Disneyland done good, who knew! Once the inevitable sequel, ‘Dead Mans Chest’ maintains the charm and humour of the original balancing story and effects we can be assured of a winner. The third in the series was shot simultaneously so expect the movie to end on a cliff-hanger ala ‘Back to the Future’, hopefully not ala ‘The Matrix Reloaded’. Hopefully the appearance of Keith Richards, the inspiration for how Johnny Depp portrays Jack Sparrow is not mere speculation.

9. Any movie from Michael Mann is highly anticipated. This summer the man behind ‘Heat’, ‘Collateral’ and ‘Ali’ adapts 80s TV Show ‘Miami Vice’, a show he was a producer on, for the big screen. Starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, it seems the character’s names and flash cars are the only element of the kitsch source material retained. As Farrell said a while back on ‘The Late Late Show’ they will be wearing socks with their shoes! Expect crime gangs, drugs and shoot outs courtesy of the only man who can make LA look like more than a concrete block.

If I were to rank these films I think no. 10, Oliver Stone’s ‘World Trade Centre’ would stay at this position. The thought of Stone directing Nicholas Cage as a fire-fighter caught up in the events of 9/11 does not appeal to me. Maybe I am alone but I am burnout from coverage of the terrorist attacks and the events that followed. The film makes my list purely because of the column inches it will undoubtedly garner and whether Stone suggests a novel theory behind the attack.

Black and Tan ice cream

This really is quiet funny. Seemingly the Ben and Jerry's ice cream Black and tan "debacle" has reached the mainstream press in America. Ben & Jerry's sorry for Irish "Black & Tan" upset

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" -- the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland's war of independence.

"I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on

Friday, April 21, 2006

Unions taking the Piss

From RTE

Waterford Stanley has issued protective notice to all its manufacturing workers following an escalation of the relocation dispute.

The company wants to move production of its cookers and ranges to a premises on the IDA industrial estate three miles away.

The union representing most of the manufacturing staff, the TEEU, wants €2,300 for each employee for the relocation.

Also they are up in arms about this.

The Health Service Executive has said that it does not plan to continue paying for taxis for staff who were relocated one mile from their old workplace in north Dublin.

Since September last year, the HSE has been paying for 24 staff who use public transport to get a taxi from their old office to their new office, and back again, every day at a cost of more than €700 a week.

Seriously how selfish is this. With all the exploitation taking place this is the shite they are campaigning for. Shameful

Private hospitals

I am still trying to figure out the health service in my head and what needs to be done. Here is an interesting report from the Irish Examiner.

Private hospitals not most effective

He said patients in private hospitals would not have the same quality of care as private patients in public hospitals because they did not have comprehensive care teams or the extensive services available to those in the public system. Mr James Sheehan, founder of the Blackrock, Galway and Hermitage Clinics, dismissed Dr O’Ferrall’s claims that private hospitals were costlier and patient outcomes worse.

He said these claims were based on US and Canadian research and there was no Irish evidence to support them. Mr Sheehan said there was a role for “independent healthcare” at a time when the State is lagging about 20 years behind in meeting healthcare needs.

Hot Fuzz

Work has just begun on the next film from the Spaced and Shawn of the Dead Crew (If you have not seen both sort it out). They have a collections of Video blogs on the site. The plot
Police Constable, Nicholas Angel is good at his job, so good in fact, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, his superiors at the Met have decided to sweep him under the carpet. So it is that London's top cop finds himself in the sleepy West Country village of Sandford. With garden fetes and neighbourhood watch meetings replacing the action of the city, Angel struggles to adapt to his situation and finds himself partnered with Danny Butterman, an oafish but well meaning young Constable. Just as all seems lost, a series of grisly accidents motivates Angel into action. Convinced of foul play, Angel realises that Sandford may not be as idyllic as it seems. With his faithful new partner in tow, Angel fights to prove his instincts are correct and uncover the truth about Sandford. Is Angel simply losing his mind in the safest, sweetest village in Britain? Or is something far more sinister at work? Whatever the truth, Sandford is about to get a lot less sleepy.

What Grinds my Gears Friday

Do you know what grinds my gears.

Duncan Stewart.

Do people like him

Anyone at all

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Changing the Presidency

I posted this over on Irish Election

In a previous post. I talked about the Greens plans to change the Presidency. United Irelander has found a bill doing just that as was brought in on the same day so I guess it is the same one.

He believes that it will extend to right to vote in the Presidential election to people in the North of Ireland as the Provisions of the Bill state the purpose of the bill includes

“the opportunity for those not resident in the State of Ireland but citizens of the State of Ireland to vote in Presidential Elections”,

The actual text to be inserted into the constitution Part 2 states ” Every Citizen who has the right to vote at an election for members of Dail Eireann regardless of their residency shall have the right to vote at an election for President.”

Does this mean as the right to vote extends to British citizens and Irish Citizens that these people can vote in the Presidental Election. That would be an interesting developement.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dossing Times censored in China

Seemingly I am censored in China. Am I that dangerous.?

Fleetwood McDowell

One of my favourite bands is Fleetwood Mac. Their greatest album has to be the 1977 album Rumours that dealt with the personnel tensions in the band. My favourite track of the album and indeed one of my personal all time favourites is Dreams. The mercurial tones of Stevie Nicks float through the air as if part of some divine mystical entity emanating from a simple set of speakers. I am not particularly sure why that song comes to mind when I read all the print and posts predicting the down fall of the Progressive Democrats. Neither do I know why the opening line of the Dreams “Now here you go again” repeats over and covering my mind.

Socialism is great isn’t it? I know some of you who may read what I write might think I am taking the piss but I am genuine in saying that. The idea that everyone in the country gets to share in the countries wealth equally is really appealing. Karl Marx said “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” and this sounds like the foundation block for a utopian society. Alas it is flawed and will never come to pass because humans are fundamentality flawed. Humans are selfish. True, humans can give, commit acts of great charity but in the whole of our lives, humans will act for two reasons for their immediate circle of friends and families or for self. They will act for the betterment of their circle at the expense of others. That is why communism failed and socialism is moderating. Humans simply are not good enough to be socialist.

If one paraphrased Marx to describe Capitalism his above quote would appear something like “ From each according to his ability, to each according to his ability”. That selfishness that embodies capitalism is also the selfishness that embodies humans. Is also is that selfishness that drives our countries economy. When kids are young they have to learn to share it is in their nature to be selfish. Society has always tried to dictated what people should do even when they are not that. This is what I see socialism doing.

The object of society should be to ensure the best conditions for all. To do this need to harnessing human selfiness not deny it. Hence we only should only tax at low levels for what is needed, education for example not for what it is not need Aer Lingus for example.

Now I am sure you are all wondering what is the point of all of the above other then just to attract the ire of all those who disagree with me but leave your angry comment until the end I do have a point.

Many people still do not want to admit that humans are not the divinely pure creatures that true socialism requires and when a group of people who seem to symbolise all that is unpalatable about capitalism emerge people desire that they disappear again.

Recently many people have been sometimes gleefully other-times sincerely predicting the fall of the PD’s. This is not the first time this has happened. Since the parties inception they have been continually written off and yet they remain.

In the Irish Times on the 11th of April 2002 Mark Brennock is Political Correspondent of The Irish Times. wrote

The party says it has high hopes for former farmer’s leader Tom Parlon in Laois-Offaly, and the Attorney General, Michael McDowell, in Dublin South East. Neither can be ruled out, but the odds are against both. Party figures insist they have three other prospects in Ms Mae Sexton (Long- ford/Roscommon), Tim O’Malley (Limerick East) and John Minihan (Cork North Central), but their prospects are remote.

As we now know all save John Minihan won a seat and the PD’s increased their seat allocation. Yet again the talk is about the impendent doom of the PD’s. Much of this is centred around the fact that the next election is going to about “Quality of life issues not tax cuts” And thus the PD’s have lost their precieved main selling point.

In an Ireland were socialism possible then people would be motivated by the issues such as health, education and road deaths. Those issues would dominate people interaction with the government. Looking at the reaction to Brendan Gleason’s out burst on the Late Late about the state of the health service it would seem maybe we do care about society rather then our circle. However in the last year the biggest topic that motivated the people, that damaged the government and gave the opposition the biggest boast in the polls was not the health service or road deaths. It was tax. Eddie Hobbs came the peoples champion for highlighting the stealth taxes. The thing that got people was not that the money in the health service was not been proportioned to the people of greatest need it was that people were paying to much tax.

That is the issue that (pardon the pun) taxes people’s minds the most. We have a national emergency in the health service and one of the lowest tax burden in EU yet high taxes were the issue that vocalised the masses. Hence why only Sinn Fein are daring to mention the word raise and tax in the same sentence. It is rumoured that at the PD’s party conference over the weekend. The PD’s are going to unveil a series of tax cutting measures. Indeed looking at the conference schedule where after the Leaders address they have a “Press Briefing on Tax and Economic Policy”. It looks almost certain that this is the issue they are going to address. Many dismiss PD policy as Populism but is that not exactly what democracy is about popularity.

The PD’s policy of tax cutting has coincided with Ireland’s historically stellar recent economic performance. Is it merely coincidence? Can we discount the effect it has had on the economy? When business people talk about how the low corporation tax is a major if not thee major reason they do business in Ireland are they lying? I think this will come one of the debates of the next election.

Now I could go through the various constituencies and say who will win what and who will lose. From reading the media you would think that everyone hates everything McDowell does but listen to the text messages flooding into the Last Word they are often saying McDowell is spot on. While much of the Progressive Democrats policies are certainly not popular in the media on the ground they have a lot of support. Many attribute the rise of the Progressive Democrats to the fall of Fine Gael which presumes that people are following the economic policies which are similar. But their social policies are in some respects miles apart. Would a member of Fine Gael copy Liz O’Donnell and call for the end of church control in education? Some people seem not to realise there is a electorate that believes in the free-market and being tough on crime to allow people to live safely in a liberal society. No other party files this market?

The consensus in the media is that the PD’s vote is going to collapse. Yet this prediction is made every time and they are still here. Mark Twain was once (incorrectly) reported to have said “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. Will this be the mantra for the PD’s after the next election, write them off at your peril.

Munster Vs Leinster Tickets for £1,220.00

Munster vs Leinster tickets going for £1,220.00

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The problem on Irish roads - Part 1

Transport minister Martin Cullen hit the nail on the head over the weekend when he stated that it was too easy to get a driving licence and too difficult to lose it. As the carnage on our roads continues the Minister and uncle Gaybo face the very difficult task of tackling the 'Feck the rest of ye, I'll do what I want' attitude that exists amongst Irish drivers at the moment.

In this post I will look at how easy it is to get a licence in Ireland and the adequacy of our driving test. In a later post I will examine how easy it is to lose your licence.

Currently the average waiting period for sitting your driving test is 43.3 weeks, with the highest waiting period being 60 weeks in Raheny in Dublin. The average pass rate across the country is 53.3%. As has already been stated in the media, this waiting list situation needs to be addressed urgently, and some possible solutions have also been discussed.

Despite these waiting lists and the 53.3% average pass rate, I agree with the Minister, it is too easy to get a licence and indeed to drive on our roads. The driving test as it is at the moment is not a stern enough test of driver competence. Think about what is considered an adequate test of driver competence. A fifteen minute run around a city or residential area at speeds no greater than 60kmph, where the driver is asked to do a three point turn, a hill start and reverse around the corner.

Why aren't drivers taken onto motorways? Learner drivers are not allowed to drive on motorways, and for good reason, so why not test drivers on a motorway to see if the are capable of handling themselves on one. Why aren't drivers tested on country roads? That's where the majority of fatal accidents occur and the skills needed to drive country roads are different from those in a residential area. Finally, why are our potential full-licence drivers not tested driving at night? Driving at night is a different task to driving during the day.

Next, why is it that a person can fail the driving test, and then proceed to get into their car and drive home? Indeed why can I go get a provisional licence, then buy a car and start driving without any need to ever get myself a driving lesson? Sure I have to sit a theory test, but having the skills to drive a car safely is fundamentally different from knowing how to identify a clearway.

Here's what I suggest...

We need to educate our drivers, before they start driving on the roads. A friend of mine suggested targeting the schools, introducing some kind of drivers-ed scheme where the kids are learnt the fundamentals of driving before they are old enough to get a provisional licence. You could also introduce such schemes in the community for older individuals starting to drive. Make participation in such a scheme compulsory before someone can get a provisional licence, as a sort of partner to the theory test. Thus we can be sure that Jimmy has some experience when he gets his 2 litre turbo from Daddy when he turns 17.

Next, if you fail your driving test, you should not be allowed to drive home immediately after. O.k that's a bit harsh. How about extending the rule where by drivers on their first provisional are not allowed to drive without the presence of a fully qualified driver? Thus if you fail your test, you will require the presence of a fully qualified driver and you will be required to take at least 5 lessons with a professional instructor before being allowed to drive on your own again.

Finally and fundamentally the driving test needs to be overhauled so that it more accurately reflects the challenges facing our motorists on Irish roads today. I would also advocate drivers having to resit their tests every 10-15 years.

Now I know that you're probably sitting there thinking 'The waiting list for driving tests are long enough as it is' or 'How do plan to fund these reforms?' I agree and can't say that I have the answers to that. Nonetheless, I use these examples merely as a tool to illustrate the problems that exist and the need for these problems to be tackled in some way.

Coming soon...a look at how easy it is to lose your driving licence on Irish roads and what can be done about it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

And the Middle East takes a major step backwards

And suddenly I heard a big boom. It is sad really. Who manipulates 16 year olds to do this.

What are WE at

11 killed on roads over Bank Holiday . When I say we I mean WE this is not the governments fault this is us not taking responsibility on the roads.

Should Taxes Depend on Age?

Very interesting idea coming out of Harvard. Should Taxes Depend on Age.
Yet tax cuts do not affect everyone the same. For instance, suppose that the government were to cut the tax rates that apply to the first $50,000 of earnings. Taxpayers with incomes below $50,000 would have a greater incentive to try to make more money because each dollar of earnings would be taxed at a lower rate. But that is not true for someone earning above $50,000. This person would view the tax cut as infra-marginal--the reward for additional work would not improve.

How much incentives are improved by such a tax cut, therefore, depends on the ratio of low-income to high-income taxpayers. That ratio, in turn, varies by age. Few 20-year-olds make more than $50,000 a year, so this tax cut would encourage almost everyone in that age group to work harder. Yet because many more 40-year-olds are in the high-income group, the tax cut would boost incentives for far fewer of them.

Not only is it easier to improve incentives for young workers, but they are also more likely to respond. Middle-aged workers are often locked into jobs that give them little choice about how much they work. Young workers are still choosing career paths and have more flexibility. As a result, their labor supply elasticities are larger. Kremer estimates that young workers are about four times more responsive to work incentives than the middle aged.

Why We Fight

Why we fight a documentry about the reason for the Iraq war. A bit biased towards the anti-war side but still interesting.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fine Gael’s Energy Policy

I have a piece about Fine Gael’s Energy Policy on IrishElection


Just listening to coldplay here, they are a great band. Pity they only released one song over and over again on three albums.

Now The Moldy Peaches there is a band. Read these lyrics Chris Martin.

Sleepin' in a van between A & B
Suckin' dick for ecstacy
Paid a 70 year old hooker to make out with me
Now the "get high shack" is just a memory

Downloading porn with Davo
Downloading porn with Davo
Put a latch on the door so Mama don't know
That I'm downloading porn with Davo

Tried to buy your love, but I came up short
So I fucked a little waitress in exchange for a snort
My girl's got a dick hangin' out of her shorts
Me and Eric in the bathroom with the weather report

Downloading porn with Davo
Downloading porn with Davo
Put a latch on the door so mama don't know
That I'm downloading porn with Davo

Baby, I know ya love the good old days
Cruisin' on the Long Island Expressway
I used to be dead, but now I'm gay
All I ever think about is drowning, drowning

Downloading porn with Davo
Downloading porn with Davo
Put a latch on the door so Mama don't know
That I'm downloading porn with Davo

Pure Gold

EU New Speak

The EU are again showing that they want to regulate everything. Where before this just included regulating the fruit we eat now they want to regulate the language used in Public Comunication.
Now the EU officials are “discreetly reviewing the language it uses to describe terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam. EU officials are working on what they call a ‘lexicon’ for public communication on terrorism and Islam, designed to make clear that there is nothing in the religion to justify outrages like the Sept. 11 attacks or the bombings of Madrid and London. The lexicon would set down guidelines for EU officials and politicians.”
The term “Islamic terrorism” will no longer be used. Nor will words such as “Islamist,” “fundamentalist” and “jihad.” The latter, for example, is often used by Islamic terrorists to mean warfare against infidels, but according to an EU official “for a Muslim Jihad is a perfectly positive concept of trying to fight evil within yourself.” The EU civil servants drafting the lexicon claim it will be a “non-emotive lexicon for discussing radicalisation.” The lexicon will be submitted to the 25 EU leaders in June. An EU official said the point of using careful language was not to “fall into the trap” of offending and alienating citizens. “This is an attempt [...] to be aware of the sensitivities implied by the use of certain language.”
While it is honorable in intent. It is counter-productive to its objective. It's aim is to encourage tolerance of difference it will only increase intolerance as instead of being out in the open and dealt with. It will fester in the hearts of men and women. Before it finally boils over into something ugly. Owell would be proud

Friday, April 14, 2006

So what we going to do about electricity.

Previously I wrote that Nuclear is not the answer to Ireland’s energy needs. So what are the options Oil, Gas, renewables, hamsters in wheels. Both Oil and Gas are running out while we need to tap the Corrib Gas field as it can supply 60% of our gas supply that is still a temporary measure eventually it will run out. Also with lack of energy security in my opinion one of Ireland’s greatest dangers. So what can we do?

First things first one of the buzz words we hear about energy now is the need for conservation of energy. This is indeed what we do need to do. But we are Irish and seem to lack the ability to take responsibility for anything whether it be curbing road deaths or alcohol. What we want is the government to do what Homer Simpson promised the residents of Springfield “Can’t someone else do it”. So how can some one else conserve for us and save us money. Firstly about 10% of household electricity comes from light. Roughly 30% of Ireland’s electrical demand comes from households. That means that about 3% of electricity used in Ireland is from light bulbs. Normal (incandescent) light bulbs waste 90% of their energy in the form of heat. Fluorescent bulbs use about a third less electricity then normal light bulbs. If they replaced light bulbs this would reduce electrical demand by 2%. However there are other technologies that have the potential to be far more efficient then fluorescent lights. Light Emitting Diodes(LED) (the little lights on your TV our LED’s and some car rear lights are LEDs) can produce in theory 100% energy to light conversion. While at the moment they are still not as efficient as Fluorescents they soon will be. Reducing the 3% down to well under 1%.

So we need to move away from normal light bulbs to more efficient sources of light. But people will not do this even though they will save more money about €10 euro pre bulb in the year. So what do we do? We already came up with the answer. Like the plastic bags we tax them. We put a tax/levy on incandescent light bulbs force people to buy more efficient light bulbs. Also we invest in more innovation in LED’s. (Full Disclosure. This is kind of my field) They are the lights of the future not only will they help reduce our electricity requirements but also as they conquer the world if Ireland can become an innovator in the field we will gain a portion of the $40 billion world market for light bulbs. It is predicted that if all the traffic light bulbs in America were changed to LED’s (like some in Ireland) then the American tax payer would be saved $225 million. While we have far fewer traffic lights in Ireland it would save money and reduce electricity it is small measures like that that will help lower electrical consumption.

So how do deal the other 90% of household electrical use. Much of that electricity is not actually used. A TV on standby uses about 50% of the power of when it is on. Considering that people use the TV for maybe 3 out 24 hours. TV’s consume about 3% of the houses electrical use yet only about 1/3 of that is watched. Thus turning off could reduce TV demand by 2/3 and 0.6% of Ireland total electrical use. While not on the whole large if combined with more energy efficient models of appliances. It could put a serious dent in the amount of electricity being used in Ireland. Also new technology will reduce the electricity consumed by products.

Now while electrical conservation might well save electricity, maybe even as much as 10% it still not going to solve our problems. One way is to increase every person’s electrical production. For instance if someone installs a normal photovoltaic solar panel on their roof this could supply a third of their needs. If this was made so that investing in solar panels can be claimed against stamp duty or income tax. Then it could supply 10% of the electrical need in the state. This could be done in the form of grants for installing panels. But this requires some altering of the grid. As the solar power can be variable although not as variable as the wind. Some times people are generating more then they need. Thus when this happens then the grid has to take the extra electricity. Causing their electrical meter to go backwards. This also has the advantage that it is cheap for the state as much of the capital cost burden is being taken by private individuals. And advantageous to the consumer as they reduce their electrical bill.

Wind energy in Ireland is massive and unreliable. If we build a lot of wind energy we have to supply backup to it. However this does not mean 100% fossil fuel plants. The fifth largest electrical plants in Ireland is Turlough Hill in Wicklow. However it is not a power plant it is in essence a battery. Basically it is a pumped storage plant. During the night when the electrical demand is low. It uses the electricity on the grid is not being used. It pumps water from a lake to a reservoir set in a mountain above the lake. During the day when the demand for electricity is high. Then the water is realised from the top reservoir to the lack and goes through turbines generating electricity. For wind to work then more of these kind of facilities would be needed to be built to store energy when the wind is strong and release it when wind is low. Due to Irelands landscape there is plenty of locations where this kind of facilities could be built. Indeed there were plans at one stage to build a plant in Killaloe Co Clare on Lough Derg. But how much do you need. Due to winds unreliability there is a limit to the amount of power it can give. What a happens when a big high pressure plants itself over Ireland for a few weeks and the batteries have all been drained. Then we would have to find something to replace it with. Either other electrical sources or interconnector with the continent. However considering the amount of wind that Ireland gets and the fact that the most likely time we are going to get low winds for sustained periods is also the time when electrical consumption drops and solar power increase i.e. Summer. It might not be as big a problem as its seems. Also dispersing the wind farms through out the country would help secure supply.

But how much can wind actually give us. The Arklow bank wind farm is going to be the largest wind farm in the World when completed and will supply 10% of Ireland’s needs when completed it will cost 700 million to build. It is said that Ireland could generate 35% of its electricity needs from Wind. I am not sure if this figure is based on minimum energy production or not but if it was incorporated with a system of pumped storage facilities it would be possible. To provide a significant portion of the Irish energy needs. However wind is not very cheap initially and its intermittence limits its potential.

Much of the loss in electrical energy occurs in transmission. But because wind generation can be spread around the country this effect is lowering the loses. To make wind more economical viable would also require the placing of interconnectors to Britain so as to give a market to sell wind generated energy when the electricity produced exceeds what is used.

One of the most obvious methods for generating electricity is by burning stuff. New technologies like “Clean Coal” have potential as coal supplies are predicted to last around 300 years ( they also emit less CO2 but I am not 100% convinced by global warming) However we in Ireland do not have coal reserves and while clean coal technologies might be good in the short term in the long term they are not a solution. When you burn Bio-Fuels you release the amount of Carbon that the plant absorbed during its lifetime. Thus it is carbon Neutral. According to Trinity College botanist, Professor Mike Jones Ireland could meet 30 per cent of its entire electricity requirement by planting just 10 per cent of arable land with elephant grass. Elephant grass is a type of grass like bamboo and has been successfully grown in a trial in Limerick. With the death of the sugar beet industry and CAP being slowly eroded. Farmers are going to have to learn to farm the market not the subsidy. Providing fuel for electricity would certainly be profitable. This personally is the most sensible measure for me. While wind energy is unreliable Irish grown crops would be more reliable then most. If the above figure is true does that mean the if 30% of arable land (Arable land takes up 13% of land) was planted then we would be practically self sufficient in energy and also solve budgetary problem that is CAP? This could also provide the back up to Wind and solar power. When the output from either decreases Bio fuel out put could be increases and when Wind and solar is high Bio Fuel could be scaled back.

One of the great things about the above sources is their security. Oil and gas can be dependant on the world’s markets where if Russia can simply turn off the tap. Also Uranium is also open to market fluctuations. But Wind, Bio-mass, and solar all make us self-sufficient in energy. In a world of terrorism and instability that trait makes the fuels priceless.

All the above measures would have a large capital cost. But once built they are either pretty much free or funding Irish farmers thus cuting the Balance of Payments deficit. Also they increase our competitiveness as we can guarantee industry low price fluctuation in the price of electricty. Also it elongates the lifetime of gas and oil. Over a long enough time scale say 20 years they will have already paid for themselves. (Comparison of energy costs) No one knows what state the world will be in 20 years time. We need to secure our energy needs now. But one way to lessen the cost is to open up the market to competition. If you try to do this by the state it will struggle to do this. But if you open up the market allow anyone to enter the market be it Airtricty or a small farmer that has a spare corner of a field to throw up a wind mill the national grid should allow for. The ESB are in the process of separating the grid from the generation system. This is needed to allow competition in the market place to flourish and increase the use of renewable. While the costs are high they are new and likely to fall due the economies of scale industry will be able to make in producing such things as solar panels and wind turbines.

When speaking about Britain’s supply of Oil in their Warships before World War 1 Churchill said “Safety and certainty in oil lie in variety and variety alone”. The same for Ireland can be said only in a variety of sources can be truly safe. Only with our own sources of energy can we be truly safe. We have to prepare for the worst geo-political situations while crossing our fingers waiting for someone to make Nuclear Fusion economical.

I have a number of sources for this post but lost many of them. Anyway. here is an excellent study by UCC THE IMPACTS OF INCREASED LEVELS OF WIND PENETRATION ON THE ELECTRICITY SYSTEMS OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND

Also ESB Impact of Wind Power Generation In Ireland on the Operation of Conventional Plant and the Economic Implications

FIFA hypocrisy

FIFA hypocrisy over Israel.

Top 6 Friday no more

Top 6 Friday is no more. I didn't do it last week as I could not think of anything and it is getting more difficult but I might occasionally do a list. So I am going to try What Grinds my Gears Friday Do you know what Grinds my gears. Americans that Drive rental cars at 100KMph down dual-carriage ways in first gear as they think they are in Automatics.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Alcohol and Good Friday

Today is probably the biggest off licence purchasing day in Ireland. As tomorrow is good Friday and by law all the bars have to close. This law is one of the last vestiges left in Ireland of the time when the Catholic Church ruled the country and said that all bars must be closed on Good Friday. I am surprised they didn’t have a similar law banning the opening of butchers.

In this new multicultural Ireland where we have people of all religions and none it seems wrong that the bars are been forced to close due to some catholic tradition. Na in fact it is a disgrace. We are not Dev pious spiritually people we are materialistic alcoholics. So why is this law still in place?

The law that covers this is the Intoxicatin Liquor Act (2000) yes you read it correctly 2000 this is not a law that was brought in Dev’s time this law was amended by the present government. The same government who’s main party has a member that decided it was part of his job description to release a press release giving out about the an increase of 4 cent in the price of a pint. Would a party in any other country say “efforts must be taken to ensure drinkers are not being ripped off.”? this is of course coming from the party that scuppered the café bars. What kind of message does this send out. With all the troubles in the country do we really think TD’s should be devoting their energies to a price increase of 4 cent by a single product. Only the polls will tell whether the voters of Dublin North East think they are getting value for their taxes for Martin Brady.

Anyway back to Good Friday The original law dates back to 1927 here is the amended version.

“(1) Save as otherwise provided by this Act, it shall not be lawful for any person to sell or expose for sale any intoxicating liquor, or to open or keep open any premises for the sale of intoxicating liquor, or to permit any intoxicating liquor to be consumed on licensed premises—

(a) at any time on Christmas Day or Good Friday;

(b) on any other day, as specified hereunder, outside the times so specified in respect of it—

(i) Saint Patrick’s Day: between 12.30 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. on the following day;

(ii) the 23rd December: if it falls on a Sunday, between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 p.m.;

(iii) Christmas Eve and the eve of Good Friday: between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 p.m.;

(iv) the eve of any public holiday (other than Christmas Eve):

(I) if the eve falls on a weekday, between 10.30 a.m. and 12.30 a.m. on the following day, or

(II) if it falls on a Sunday, between 12.30 p.m. and 12.30 a.m. on the following day;

(v) any other Sunday (except a Saint Patrick’s Day which falls on a Sunday): between 12.30 p.m. and 11.00 p.m.;

(vi) any other Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday: between 10.30 a.m. and 11.30 p.m.; and

(vii) any other Thursday, Friday or Saturday: between 10.30 a.m. and 12.30 a.m. on the following day.

Now really this law makes little sense to me why are these days been excluded, why don’t we have a similar law banning the sale of Tobacco or McDonalds. Now I disagree with pub closing times but I can see some logic to it. It is in effect to stop people excessively drinking and being violent. Good Friday is picked because it is a catholic holy day no other reason. To a non-Christian good Friday is just a Friday like any other. It is a disgrace that we still do this in this country. The government talk about equality if they believe that then they should remove this ban. If you are Catholic don’t go to the pub don’t expect the government to legislate your religion. My point is not that I want to go drinking on Good Friday it is that I should have the choice

However possibly the worst thing about this is that fact that people stock up for the day. They see it as a challenge. They panic buy alcohol thinking my god I can’t drink tomorrow I better stock up. This says something about us in Ireland that is not nice.


I just saw the latest South park(First part there can't find second on You tube) cartoon Cartoon Wars possibly the best statement about the Danish cartoons.I have seen.

It is making a bit of a stir.

On other Cartoons. This one is probably one of the strangest I have ever seen.Donald Duck in Der Fuehrer's Face

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ryanair flight got fighter escort

A ryanair flight from Paris to Dublin was diverted to Glasgow due to a threat. It got a fighter escort there. Update: Seemingly a note was past to the captain saying a bomb was on board

The R Team

Check out The R Team :) Hat tip (Adam)

A runaway train?

It would appear that the Iranian nuclear program is something of a run away train. Responding to criticsim from around the world a senior Iranian offical has said that their nuclear activity 'cannot be stopped'. Needless to say this is worrying.

American and Russia have both stated that Iran are going in the wrong direction with their nuclear program. Mark Little on Morning Ireland this morning stated that Iranians now view the issue as a matter of national pride. Irresistable force meets immoveable object anybody?

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, heads to Tehran today to investigate Irans claims. Its clear that Iran are not going to meet the U.N deadline of April 28th so strong international sanctions are likely to follow. However will such sanctions have any effect other than to further entrench both sides?

How is the U.S going to play this? Will they be happy to follow the U.Ns lead on the matter or will they feel the need set the pace themselves as was the case with Iraq?

Finally, is military conflict, in some form, inevitable?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Terrorist stereotyping

Police assuming Terrorist have good taste in Music. To avoid detection reference here. Hat tip (Washington Rox)

Should Ireland go Nuclear?

Currently Ireland generates about 4.829 GW of electricity. Recently there has been a lot of talk about bringing Nueclar Energy into Ireland. Considering that an European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) the ones the Fins are installing at the moment can produce 1.6 GW of energy it would seems like a good idea. Also as many Nuclear plants consist of more then one reactor. We could technically get all our power from Nuclear and reduce our emission drastically.

When ever you talk about Nuclear energy one word springs to mind. Chernobyl. Now I wouldn’t get into this as we all know the story with it. The reason for the disaster is three fold. One, the design of the reactor was terrible the RMBK design had many flaws the flaw with the control rods was one of the main causes of the accident. The people carrying out the test messed up. They reduced the power to fast. Thirdly the clean up operation was disastrous.

Even though time has moved on since then and reactor design and procedures have moved on from then. Designs of plants are vastly superior and pretty much impervious to terrorist attack. But another Chernobyl is a possibility if even a remote possibility the advantages of Nuclear energy have to far out way the negatives.

Firstly some stuff about radiation. Radiation is quiet a normal thing. Banana’s are in fact quiet radioactive with Potassium 40. A cargo container of banana's could in fact look like someone trying to smuggle a nuclear weapon. Also where would medicine be without x-rays. By far and away the largest radioactive treat to us in Ireland is radon from the ground. I think Salthill in Galway is in fact on of the most radioactive places in Ireland which is on the other side of the country to Sellafield.

One of the main sources for energy loss in electricty generation is in transmission. When a current travels through a wire it heats up the wire proportional to the amount of current flowing in the wire. This effect is what is used in kettle’s. In transmission wires the voltage is very high. This is because the current is inversely related to the voltage. With Nuclear power because of its high output it will be one big power station. In Ireland we have the least dense population in Europe. This means that to serve the people of the country requires a lot of transmission lines per person then the rest of Europe. Therefore this means that the transmission system will bring in very high inefficiencies in the transmission of power. There is roughly a 20% loss in electrical lines on a 1000km journey with our most high voltage lines. Ireland has over 5000km of cables which would mean (terribly rough calculation on my part as it does not take in population density centres, line voltages and numerour other stuff so don't quote me on this) roughly a 66% loss over the entire country. Now if we have a nuclear power station in lets say Wexford to power the country because of the length of the transmission network needed to distribute the power. The cost of delivering the electricity to the customer increases rapidly as you have to not only produce what the customer wants you also have to produce what is lost. This is taken into account by the ESB already and they produce more then is used. But because they have numerous power stations spread throughout the country the distance between user and power station is short. However a big power plant in Wexford could be powering places hundreds of miles away leading to massive losses and increasing the price per kwhr for the consumer. Because of our needs we only need 1 or 2 Nuclear power stations the transmission distance would be a lot longer then they are now adding to the cost per KWhr. This same reason also runs in the favour of wind. As a turbine could be near every village the loses would be small. Also there is probably issues with having to upgrade the national grid but I don't know anything about the state of the grid so I will just say we can't simply plug in the Power Station we would have to redo a lot of the countries national grid.

Also one of the roles of the government should be to encourage to promote competition in the electrical generation market as this has positives for the market and society. Nuclear power plants will lead to a centralised National grid which will make it difficult for competition to enter the market. Peter Nolan of the Freedom Inistitute talks about the need for Competition in the Business Post

A Nuclear plant would produce a high % of our power. That means that it would mean that we are putting our eggs in one basket. If for instance we took 1 generator off the market for maintance we would be taking out a large portion of our electricity generation capacity. This would mean that we would have to then import electricity from Europe as backup. This requires interconnectors. Currently there is 1 interconnector between us and Britian that comes via the north. It imports about 330MW into Ireland. This would have to be expanded about 500% to cover the fall in electricity if the generator(presumming we follow the Fins) had to be taken down for maintance. The interconnector being proposed between Ireland and Wales has a capacity of 500MW and is expected to cost €183 million. The interconnector beween Northern Ireland and Scotland cost about €220 million.

Nuclear will not make Ireland self-sufficient in energy. It requires Uranium to work. Currently the main sources of Uranium are in North America and Australia which is nice as they are stable unlike the sources of oil. It is predicted that there is about 50 years of supplies left. There is renewed interest in nuclear in the world. China is planning to build 32 plant in 15 years. The demand for Urainium will increase further decreasing the amount left. If new resources are found they are predicted to be most likely found in China, Africa and Russia which are also not that nice, stable and as the Ukrainian Gas controversy showed they would not be unwilling to use resources for political ends. While it is possible to recycle it that requires reprossing plants which are expensive and increase the cost of the fuel. The cost of reprocessing is expensive it is predicted that until the cost of Uranium is at $360 per Kg will reprocessing be economical. Thorp in Sellafield cost £2.1 billion to build.

The reason Nuclear is coming back in vogue is due to the increase in oil prices. Oil in the last 4 years has increased by 300% and is considered high. Uranium on the other hand has increased by 400% and is considered low. While the cost of the fuel is a large proportion of the cost with fossel fuel burning (60% in a coal station for example) then with Nuclear it still about 10% of the cost and Uranium is set to rise as it is considered at a low price and demaned is increasing. In case you are wondering the current price is about $40 pre KG. Thus it would require a 900% increase to make reprocessing feasible.

The costs of building Nuclear plants are huge. The new plant in Finland was €3.2 billion. This figure is considered by some to be low balled by the companies and is an as built basis. This means that if the cost of the plant is over run then the company building it covers the rest of the cost. The company building it is Areva which is 84% owned by the French government. A new reactor has not been built in years. This reactor in Finland is an EPR reactor which the French company that is building the plant has been working on. It has yet to be fully tested and operated this will be the first plant it will be used in. This plant is needed by them as they need to test the reactor. They promised a load factor of 90 percent, a degree of efficiency of 36 percent, a technical operating life of 60 years, a 15-percent lower consumption of uranium than for earlier reactors, and considerably lower operating and maintenance costs than at existing reactors. This is considered optimistic. With so few nuclear reactors being built in the world and with varying designs giving various operating costs it is difficult to get what the generation costs of a plant are. While with other forms which are widespread like oil and gas the cost per kwHr (includes building and decommissioning cost) is well known. Thus figures on cost per KWhr are open to interpretation and vary hugely.Not only has there been many papers about the costs there is also papers about the papers.

The figure from the International Energy Agency is 1.2–2.7 p/kWh while the forecast for Sizewell B the latest British plant is 6p/kWh. The figure for the Canadian association is 3.3/kWh. While MIT have said 3.7-4.4p/kWh and the Royal Academy of Engineers say 2.3 Which of these figures is right I have no idea. All come from various good sources and all differ so take your pick. Many of the low estimates are based on plants that got state aid. So should that be included in the calculation. I would say yes and take a guesstamation figure close to 3.5p but as they say lies dahm lies and statistics.

So then what are the costs roughly of other plants from Royal Academy of Engineers.

Gas 2.2p

Coal 2.5p

Clean Coal 3.2p

On Shore Wind 3.7

Off Shore 5.5p

The Graph came from the Economist

Again wind is a controversial figure with other sources claiming lower figures for wind but I will deal with that in a post about what to do with the future energy needs.

Most of those figures did not to my knowledge deal with the waste issue so they do not included the cost of the managing the nuclear waste. Nuclear waste is radioactive and highly dangerous for thousands of years. Thus the waste has to monitored carefully. Conventional wisdom is that it has to watched for 100 years very closely and then can be buried in highly elaborated specially built geological caves about a km under the ground however none have been built yet in the world. The costs for the latest Finish plant are predicted .

"The total investment costs of the disposal facility are estimated to be 503 M€ (Million Euros), the total operating costs are 1,923 M€ and the decommissioning and the closure costs are 116 M€ totaling 2,542 M€. The investment costs of the above ground facility are 142 M€, the operating costs are 1,678 M€. The repository investment costs are 360 M€ and the operating costs are 245 M€. The decommissioning costs are 7 M€ and the closure costs are 109 M€.
The one thing that is probably saving Nuclear in a debate is Kyoto. Nuclear has less carbon emissions then fossil fuels. Even though the mining and the milling produce carbon dioxide is it not as much as fossil fuels. Thus it can reduce carbon emissions for a country and thus save it from being penalised by Kyto emissions trading. However I am not 100% convinced by the dangers of global warming. But I am convinced of the dangers of radioactive waste. If we want to reduce emission creating an environmental problem for 1000 years is not to way to go about it.

Nuclear is not the option for Ireland. The economics of it do not suggests that it has any great advantages to it. Coupled together with the peculiarities of the Irish Transmission network, the smallness of the country, the cost of dealing with waste, the running out of Uranium, the cost of reprocessing, the security of supply issues and the likely delays in construction due to protests the case for Nuclear in Ireland just doesn’t add up. Add to the mix what would happen in the remote likelihood of an explosion and Nuclear just doesn’t make sense.

For more read the recent British Sustainable Development Comissions report The Role of Nuclear Power in a Low Carbon Economy. Which argues against additional Nuclear capacity

Update: Fecking blogger one word was massive there for a while changed now.


I worth this over on Richard's Critics Corner

The reason for going to war in Iraq and the reason I support it is simple. Democracy. One of the worst crimes against a person is to deny them their say on polling day. Be you the Taoiseach or some one on the dole in Leitrim on polling day you are equal. The Iraq people have the right to this too. Anyone who says that they are not ready for this system need only look at history to see that people like the American's when they got their democracy embraced it and flourished. It can happen in Iraq too now thanks to the coalition.

But Democracy is about more then just polls. It is about certain values. Truth, Justice and human dignity. Tony Blair called the War on Terror not a war of civilisations but a war for civilisations. We are on the side of civilisation; we are the ones that has right on our side. But what is civilisation? One of the earliest definitions was "law which makes a criminal process civil". What is civil about not giving a person one of the most basic rights their day in court? Dostoyevsky said that you can tell what a nation is like by the way it treats its prisoners. So what does Guantánamo say about us. Whether or not detainees in Grantanamo are tortured or treated better then Belgian prisoners doesn't matter. By denying them their day in court we have already crossed the line that divides civilisation from terror.

When we capture a criminal we read them their rights. Why? Because they have rights. We are not the Taliban we have due process. Bush said "Our enemies murder because they despise our freedom and our way of life. We believe in human rights, and the human dignity of every man, woman and child on this Earth".

America intern people in Guantanemo without trial. Recently the US Supreme Court refused to question the government's power to hold US citizens indefinitely as enemy combatants. Interment in the North was brought in to stop the IRA did it? No. Sure it captured some of the heads of the IRA but it also radicalised hundreds that would never have been radicalised otherwise. By abandoning civilisation the British did not beat the IRA they made it stronger.

Many argue that these enemy combatants might go back on the field of battle if released. But isn't releasing these people not the very essence of what we are fighting for. For our beliefs. We let criminals out on a reasonable doubt. True they might offend again and true we might save a life by not letting them go but we do it all the same. Why because we believe in Justice. And if we let your selves give in, to abandon our beliefs, to deny the human dignity of even one person then we have lost the war for civilisation as we have become our enemies.